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Treats and Tricks

I guess you could say that I’m not really a holiday person. The reason why you could say that is because I hate holidays. (You see, the world can be a very logical place when you break things down into their component parts.) Halloween is my least favorite holiday because it focuses on children dressing up like horrible creatures and doing horrible things.

I guess you could say that I’m not really a “children” person.

In recent years, I have come to hate Halloween for more political reasons, as well, although even my curmudgeon’s heart must admit that there are aspects to it that I do like. I like how the holiday affects adults who can still discover the joy in it. I am obviously not one of those adults, but my husband is, and as I walked across my neighborhood to attend a party earlier this evening, I thought fondly of how much Rob enjoys preparing for Halloween. Passing dozens of giggling little witches and ballerinas, I pulled out my cell phone and called him in New York to express my warm feelings.

“Oh, honey, I love you so-YOU GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKERS!”

Rob was probably a bit startled by my reaction to the group of a dozen or more teenagers who had just broken through a gate and started pelting everyone in the area with eggs.

“Yo, do something, bitch,” one of them taunted me, and when I took a threatening step toward him, he threw another egg. None of them hit me, so I just turned and kept walking. Mind your own business, that’s my motto, but it left me in a foul mood.

When I arrived at the party, forty-five minutes after it was supposed to begin, no one was there. The decorations were up; through the window, I could see the house was misty with chemical fog, which glowed in the light from a red lamp. These are more people who are able to react with joy and genuine celebration of life when confronted with Halloween and every other holiday. I love hanging out with them because they are all so brilliant and creative, but with creativity comes unpredictability. I stepped through the unlocked door because I heard the egg-throwers turning the corner, but everything was so quiet that I was afraid someone was going to jump out at me in some brilliant and creative and unpredictable way.

“Um. Hello?”

No one jumped out at me, I just got there before anyone else. I hate that. Everyone was upstairs preparing their costumes, and I sat and drank a soda before realizing that the increasingly bizarre tightness in my chest and throat was either a reaction to the chemical fog or an unwelcome new symptom in my never-ending illness. So I went home, passing hordes of pint-sized monsters and princesses, chatting with some of the neighbors I recognized, and actually seeing the egg-throwing bastards once again as they marched in single-file down the sidewalk, terrorizing everyone in their path.

There are people whose first impulse is to be creative and enjoy life, like Rob and my neighborhood friends, and there are people who can do nothing but destroy. I don’t know quite where I fall on that continuum, but when I got home and saw Goblin Foo and was able to ease my coughing, I felt better.

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Here Comes the . . . Something

I was chastised for writing about the horrors of Jonestown on morn of my best friend’s wedding. As a matter of fact, this was not meant to be prophetic; I had been thinking about the film since I saw it and was prevented by illness, sleeplessness, and travel from being able to address it until it came pouring out yesterday in a cathartic burst.

But I should talk about Viki and Steven’s wedding in order to clear the air. The ceremony took place in a cathedral of the Greek Orthodox faith, which has the distinction of being the religion I am least compatible with on belief.net’s Belief-O-Matic quiz.* The church sported gorgeous earth-toned decor that would compliment any ritual, although the priest came bursting out of a cage dressed like a Fabergé egg and singing an interminable song about god or something. According to the flyer they handed out, every stage of the ceremony was to happen three times, and the Fabergé egg made sure this promise was carried out to the letter. There were fun moments like when he put crowns on the couple’s heads, and they all scooted around the table in a game of marital Duck Duck Goose. Seriously, though, it was lovely. You may gather from my current writing that I disapprove of religion, but this sort of thing is what it was made for: to give glamour and magnitude to the transitions in our lives.

Afterward, we all met up at the Walters Art Museum for the reception, where the swanky marble statues were complimented by the fabulousness of Spuds’s bagpipes and Viki’s coterie of disco-dancing gays. Yes, it was raining men, thank you, most of them dear old friends it was a joy to see again, if only for an evening.

So, no overthinking it . . . it was a wonderful experience that I hope brought the happy couple much joy.

 

* To no one’s surprise, I am most compatible with Liberal Quakerism and Unitarianism, those bland soups in the religious salad bar.

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Thoughts on Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple

This past week, I saw a new documentary about Jim Jones and the events that led to the Jonestown suicides in 1978, a year that, depending upon which version of history you believe, I was either a sheltered suburban youth or a decade away from being born. Either way, I was not exposed to those gruesome facts at the time and discovered them only by accident years later when the world had moved on to other atrocities and the passions surrounding those fateful events in Guyana had somewhat cooled. It’s a topic I find fascinating because given my daily ideological battles, it’s easy to fantasize about running off to a distant land to start a utopian community where everyone agrees with you, but I would never do it because, while I have the soul of an idealist, I ultimately distrust any form of dogma, even my own, and I’m also deathly afraid of tropical insects.

Despite their violent downfall, it’s difficult to be overly judgmental of People’s Temple, a group of cultists that part of me wants to dismiss as lunatics but who had every reason to believe they were effecting the positive social changes of integration and equality. The apostates and Jonestown survivors interviewed for the film are thoughtful and sincere when discussing that period of their lives, and the editors do an admirable job of contrasting the loving message of the group with the sinister undertones that were more obvious in retrospect. As one of them said, no one thinks they’re joining a cult, but rather a group of people with similar ideals, and those of People’s Temple appeared to be beyond reproach, other than the fact that it was run by a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur and a persecution complex. But that part wasn’t on the pamphlets.

Ironically, on the train on our way home from the movie theater, a group of religious people gathered to proselytize. They were boisterous and young, and their faces bore the happy glow of those who are thrilled by their ignorance. “Here’s some information about a Christian church,” they would say, handing out badly photocopied flyers to people who were minding their own business. “You just never know when you’ll need one. I mean, you just never know, right?” With the slick instincts of hucksters, they avoided those who they knew would be a tough sell while zeroing in on the easy marks, and within moments they had lured several people on the crowded car into praying with them and revealing their innermost secrets. “Why does this sort of thing always happen when you’re around?” my husband asked me as the beatific carnival unfolded around us. Why indeed. Why does it happen at all? I think it’s lovely that, in a lonely and unforgiving world, full of confusion and heartache, there are places that offer acceptance and direction to those who find themselves lacking either. I was just going to continue by writing that the price of surrendering the self in exchange for comfort and safety may be too high, but isn’t that what we ask of people who live in secular society, as well? Something of the individual must be repressed to live in harmony with any community, I suppose, and the greater the desired accord, the greater the price of admission. In Jonestown, social harmony was enforced by authoritarian edict, mental and emotional manipulation, and if those failed, guns and other terrors. Not an atom of it makes rational sense except for the basic desire to create a fair and loving society, a desire that was perverted with little difficulty by that smooth-talking evangelist in sunglasses.

Ultimately, what the cultists gave up in exchange for a feeling of security was the part of themselves that could see the world as it was instead of in the terms of what they wanted it to be. Succumbing to Jones’s paranoid delusions, they contributed to the conditioning that led to their own downfall by participating in what were called “white nights,” practice runs for the scene that eventually played out on November 18, 1978. After Congressman Ryan was gunned down at the jungle airstrip, the good Reverend called his flock together and entreated them to poison their own children first and, while the youngest ones thrashed and foamed at the mouth from the effects of the cyanide, to gulp it down themselves. This gut-wrenching incident was captured on audiotape and replays in gruesome detail during the documentary, interspersed with accounts from the few survivors on how they watched their families and friends die around them. Although we can hear a few voices try to reason with Jones, these are mere drops in the vat of Flavor Aid, easily overridden; in the end, their dreams of a utopia on earth dashed, over nine hundred people were persuaded to meet up in heaven and try again.

Thirty years later, the audience of the film will find this literally stunning. As the story unravels on the screen, we will not breathe or twitch a muscle, not because this is so foreign to our experience, but because it is not. What happened in the space of one day in Jonestown is the ultimate expression of all forms of authoritarianism. This is how empires fall, religions clash, and corporations implode under their own weight-although usually in slower motion. Throughout history, innocent people have been all too willing to act against their best interests by predators who compel them, whether by force or by charisma, that their sacrifice will bring them peace, or acceptance, or love, or prosperity, or whatever the antidote is to the prevailing fear.

In the end, Jim Jones was not the main character of Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple. We do not get his perspective, only the speculation of his victims, but that doesn’t mean he’s an enigma. His trajectory of consolidating power and wielding it with an iron fist over his followers, while at the same time posing as a kindly patriarch, is neither new nor particularly interesting. Jim Jones has existed throughout history in the form of petty dictators and corrupt religious leaders, and despite the minor blip of Jonestown, he survives to this day in multiple incarnations. The fascinating part, to me, is the decision to sell one’s soul to such a figure, especially in the cases where this flies in the face of common sense. When Jim Jones wears the face of George W. Bush or Kim Jong-il, after all, it stands to reason that he is viewed with a certain level of credence by his people. But when Jim Jones is Jim Jones, or David Koresh, or Pat Robertson, or Fred Phelps, or Chris Simcox, or whichever fiery pastor sends people out to find easy marks on the subway . . . well, I want to understand the process by which surrender of key elements of self seems like a good bargain, no matter what glorious cause is offered in exchange. In the end, I fear the film fails on that basic level, but it’s a failing we can forgive because we can’t expect any ninety-minute experience to explain such an intrinsic, although primitive, aspect of human nature. But the sad thing is, as such, we all know the answer in our hearts anyway. The only question is, when we are offered the same deal, whatever flavor of Kool Aid seems tastiest to us, whether we will be strong enough to back away from an imaginary paradise and vanish into the dark confusion of the surrounding jungle.

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Clackity Clack! (Don’t Talk Back!)

I’ve heard of being addicted to computers, but does anyone have the problem that they just can’t think or communicate unless they’re tapping away on a keyboard? I do. Rob calls my rapid-fire clackity clacking “fake movie typing” because I type a hundred words a minute; that’s only about a third of the speed I can actually think when a computer screen is blasting radiation into my eyes but twenty times the speed of my thoughts when I’m sitting face to face with someone and mixing up my sentences. This has come up before, but I clearly need to be a disembodied brain in a vat of saline juices, communicating telepathically with the Internet on a constant basis and through a speaker to the visitors who will occasionally drop by.

Then again, as a brain in a vat, I wonder if I will receive invitations to lovely dinner parties, such as the one I attended last night, which was probably one of the most triumphant dinner parties in all of Christendom. In any case, it was one of the only dinner parties I have ever attended in Christendom, which isn’t a very good ratio considering the number I have thrown, but my guests tend to have been raised by wolves anyway.

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Comedy the 13th

Hello, Blog World. How are you? OMG, you are so lucky I’m here because I could right this minute be committing that cerebral seppuku known as “going to a comedy club.” I know, right? They still exist? You could knock me over with a feather.

Yesterday, I was minding my own business when this text message came in from my husband: “I just met a comedian on the train. We have 4 tix for his show tomorrow night at Rascals.”

“There is so much wrong with that sentence,” I texted back.

“I actually know who he is. Semi-famous friend of Sam Kinison.”

“It’s not sounding any better.”

“We are so going.”

My stomach was snarled in knots of increasing dread all day. I don’t know why I had such a visceral reaction. I’ve been to any number of comedy clubs before and didn’t quite die, although I came out of every one swearing I would never go to another. For a while this afternoon, I coaxed myself up onto a high horse, reminding myself how gratuitously and nastily homophobic stand-up comedy tends to be, and how even if Sam Kinison’s semi-famous friend or his opening acts did not happen to fit that bill, I still didn’t feel like supporting the industry.

Anyway, Rob, in his sweet and determined way, arranged for an outing with the two of us, jwer, and Broadsheet, but when they got here, I couldn’t go through with it. I stuck to my guns during the uncomfortable guilt trip, and here I am alone on a Friday night.

I am alone most nights, but this somehow isn’t the same.

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Butterflies, Part Four

Oh my, oh my, my lies have made an angel cry. Gratitude (or perhaps Adventure) weeps salty tears into his heavenly robes. I have to confess that I did not attend a therapy session with a nut who diagnosed my psychological condition via the tendonitis in my foot and then immediately suggested past-life regression as a way of locating the root of my troubles.

Because that would be stupid.

In all honestly, I must report the truth: after diagnosing my psychological condition via the tendonitis in my foot, the nut merely said that she was going to use hypnotherapy to help uncover the root of my troubles. It took at least another minute for her to lean forward and earnestly ask, “Now, tell me your sincere impression and we’ll go from there. Do you think the source is in your current life or a past life?” And it was only upon receiving my response (for the record, it was, “Uh”) that she decided we would investigate both.

I have to say that I believe in hypnosis, and there is evidence to suggest that I can be put into a light trance by a skillful practitioner. I also have some half-formed theories about reincarnation, although far from being the typical fare, they have more to do with dimensional physics and the illusion of time. There was plenty of time to ruminate over these ideas and calm my mounting dread as she had me lie on the couch while, like a cavewoman trying to operate a ham radio, she fiddled with the ancient cassette recorder she would use to tape the proceedings. The evening was fading into night, and there was a bluish-purple tinge to everything in the nearly dark office as she finally croaked her induction. An elevator going down, a clearing in the woods, blah blah blah, all very standard fare. I honestly tried to pay attention to what she was saying, but it’s hard to be hypnotized when “Jesus God, I can’t fucking believe this” is ricocheting around your skull. I tried to put the time to good use by doing some planning for work, but she kept interrupting me with dreamy questions. “Can you think of a time in your life where . . . ?” “OK, go back further, how did you feel when . . . ?” My answers were consistently “No” and “I don’t know,” which didn’t phase her a bit. “You’re doing fine,” she kept saying as if I were taking the S.A.T.

Having struck out on my current life, she had me float through a hazy mist, or some such thing, and wind up in the past life that was the origin of all of my current distress.

“Ooo, who will I be?” I thought. The choice was automatic as I was in middle of a novel about the life and times of Cleopatra. When she asked what I saw, I began describing a scene where a man was moving a bunch of scrolls around a mud hut.

“Do you get a sense of why he is doing that?”

I pretended not to know in case she had read the same book, but if she pressed, I was going to say, “It seems like a flood is coming.” I thought at the time she must have sensed I was putting her on because she was strangely incurious about the details of this mystical vision and how it connected with my current litany of woes. There was barely time to invent some exotic birds flying past the window before she had me “return to the present and wake up refreshed.” This was fine as it saved me the trouble of coming up with an asp to bite my foot and set off centuries of painful limping, but I did find it odd that, after finally getting what she wanted out of me, she instantly backed off . . . especially when it became clear from our post-hypnotic discussion in the nearly dark room that she had believed me after all.

I think now that she merely lacked the confidence and analytical skills to extrapolate her loopy logic to its natural conclusions. For her, the focus was in executing the actual tricks of her dubious trade, not where they led; in terminology they were “tools,” but in practice they were ends in themselves, like a hammer existing merely to be a hammer and not to pound the nails that hold a house together. Thus she was able to check the Angel Game off her list and put it away without a backward glance. Thus we did past-life regression because, in her mind, that’s what “came next,” not because it built on anything we had already done or would lead somewhere else. Of course, it could only lead to fantasy, but it had the potential to be a distracting fantasy, engaging, worth the time and effort and money I had already devoted to it. But when she finally flipped on the light and we sat blinking in the cluttered office that, thanks to “them,” she only could use one evening per week, I realized that the entire session had gone to feed a different fantasy altogether.

As I put my shoes back on and reluctantly fished out my checkbook, she once again discussed her various credentials, this time putting them in the perspective of her life’s journey. For once paying attention, I learned how her various degrees, finished and unfinished, had given way to twelve-step programs and self-esteem seminars. These had somehow spurred her interest in Transformation, a concept with apparently universal application, as she expressed interest in Transforming herself and other individuals and groups. Into what, I still have no idea because she then went off on a tangent regarding the Rosicrucians, that legendary secret order that recruits via ads in the back of Fate magazine, and various retreats she had attended during her lifetime of searching, searching, searching. It was the awe with which she spoke of her spiritual teachers that provided the final piece of the puzzle. After decades of bouncing from swami to swami, she wanted a chance to play the esoteric master herself, dispensing wisdom like a fresh spring in the desert. Only, because her quest had focused on “techniques” that bring enlightenment the way a magic trick produces a bunny, and not on the enlightenment itself, that was all she had to offer. The sessions that she provided were not for the benefit of the client but to validate her shallow philosophy against her own insecurity that there was nothing to it; at the same time, she was terrified that her victims would, through the same techniques she used, achieve some sort of spiritual awakening that was beyond her, hence the pulling back from any revelation, no matter how imaginary it may have been.

I look at this now with some sympathy, but I confess that I left her office with a mounting fury, wondering how many of her “patients” had paid for the privilege of psychoanalyzing her. It was only weeks later, when I came across her brochure with its sad clip-art of a butterfly, that I wondered again about the nature of fantasy.

The brochure did not say “Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Spiritual Counseling, Life Planning,” the phrasing that had led me to make that fateful appointment with a new therapist.

It said “Hypnotherapy, Spiritual Healing, Life Consultant” and was chock full of the code words used by crackpots and charlatans through the ages to lure in their hopeful prey. For all of my vaunted intellect, I had fallen for the mimeographed version of a Psychic Friends commercial.

I really should begin the search for another therapist to discover what all of this says about me, or perhaps I should just cut out the middle man and dig out my old tarot cards.

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Butterflies, Part Three

I wonder if you have ever been in such a situation, where you had assumed one thing only to have an entirely different thing be true. I don’t refer to thinking someone would turn left and have him turn right, but rather in a Wile E. Coyote sense, where you assume you are standing on solid ground only to find yourself hovering over an abyss. In my experience, as in the coyote’s, the remembered sensation of solid earth sustains you for a while . . . but eventually you fall.

I fell after the Angel Game. While it was happening, I kept telling myself that I was in a real therapy session, and this couldn’t be serious. But when it was over, I stopped resisting. Not that I willingly entered whichever misty dimension my therapist occupied, I just decided to endure it for the rest of our time together, sort of like sitting quietly when I visit my parents and Fox News is on.

Once the angel cards were away and forgotten, we lurched into a new area of exploration: Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, a well-worn copy of which the therapist produced from her bag of tricks and wielded with the zeal of an evangelist. I have long been familiar with Ms. Hay’s work, having had second-hand dealings with her while working in a Chicago publishing house toward the end of the last century, and I respect her basic thesis of a mind-body connection. Her theory that complex psychological issues can be revealed by a cursory review of one’s physical ailments, however, strikes me as being as ludicrous as phrenology; so naturally, this was the encore to the Angel Game. With as little to go on as the words shoulder, feet, and jaw-the chronic pains I had described earlier-the therapist flipped through the pages and concocted her diagnosis, a Byzantine saga of literal and figurative burdens with masculine and feminine undertones. I was literally speechless, which suited her approach perfectly, my sore foot being a better source of psychological insight than anything I might actually say or think. “Does that sound right?” she asked at last, clearly feeling that she was as reasonable as could be. Indeed, she had a professional air about her, no doubt feeling on solid ground with irrefutable written evidence to back up her claims. It was like talking to a preacher about his bible or an astrologer about his charts: everything can be explained in their paradigm except for the things that can’t be, which are conveniently ignored.

It was at this point that I decided to pretend I was in a psychic’s parlor rather than on a therapist’s couch. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me earlier as I love consulting the supernatural and see psychotherapy as an unpleasant but necessary chore. But that’s like saying that I love chocolate cake and see green beans as an unpleasant but necessary chore: if I want to address a real health problem, I’m not going to unwrap a Hostess Ho Ho.

It’s lucky that I adopted this attitude when I did, as having come to a verdict, it was time for us to discover the underpinnings of my condition.

This was a journey, she explained, that we were going to undertake together, into murky and potentially dangerous territory, with her as my guide. It felt like a lecture on natural history presented by Ronald McDonald. By this time, I strongly suspected that, despite her professional tone, her methodology was not going to be approved by the American Psychological Association. But I have to confess to being taken aback when she stared into my eyes and announced that the time had come for past-life regression.

To be continued.

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Butterflies, Part Two

Although she had asked me to arrive early, I was actually running a bit late. Feeling guilty and sensing her annoyance, I didn’t observe much about her person when she met me in the lobby; it wasn’t until she led me into a cluttered attic of an office that I was truly able to absorb the situation. My new therapist appeared to be in her sixties. She wore athletic tights and a baggy button-down shirt, and her hair was coiled into a severe brown permanent that looked almost, but not quite, like nylon. She wore too much makeup. Indicating that I should sit on a doughy couch, she rolled a desk chair around piles of junk and positioned it across from me.

“So what brings you to me today?”

With the distinct sense that I had made a mistake, I nonetheless plunged into the various unpleasant feelings that had recently been defining my life, a litany of anxieties, stresses, frustrations, mental blockages, and insecurities that should have come accompanied by the wail of a strings section.

“Uh huh,” she said brusquely and then asked me if I had had any pains in my body. I described the problems with my feet, shoulder, and jaw for which I was seeing the rolfer. I wondered why she needed to know this, but she began interrogating me about other aspects of my life, and I figured that she was trying to generate some sort of snapshot of my present condition.

The therapist then began describing what she saw as her qualifications. She had a list of credentials that would have told me everything I needed to know if I had paid any attention to this stupefying recitation. Always suspicious of someone with too many degrees and certifications (she listed about fifteen), I thought, No wonder her office is a mess! At that very moment, however, she said, “Now, you should know that this is only my part-time office. I’m not always here, just one evening a week. In case you need me, you should call my direct line and not my message service.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, they use this office for a lot of things. There’s a child psychologist in here a couple of days a week.” Which explained the teetering pile of toys in the corner.

“Oh.”

“I’d like to work more often, but I’ve been recovering from an illness.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“I want to come back, but they’re keeping me from it.”

“They are?”

“They’re forcing me into semi-retirement.”

“Are they.” I felt as if, instead of a therapist, I was speaking to someone clutching too many paper bags, who sat down next to me on a bus.

After a few more pointed references to “they” and “them,” as if “they” were listening in and would register her displeasure with “them,” she decided to get the ball rolling. “Now, the first thing I like to do in my appointments,” she said, suddenly businesslike, “is some work with angels.”

The only thing that stopped me from fainting dead away was the idea that I had misheard her. She put that hope to rest by continuing. “Well, I call them angels,” she said defensively, perhaps a little apologetically, as if she had suddenly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror of my incredulous stare. “You can call them whatever you like. Spiritual guides, Jungian archetypes, they’re just abstract concepts.”

“Just words,” I choked.

“Yes, it’s all just words,” she said. “You don’t have to think of them as angels. First we’re going to play a game called the Angel Game.” She opened a wooden box and showed me a pile of thin strips of badly laminated cardboard that looked as if they had been hand-cut from index cards. On one side of each strip was printed a crude drawing of an angel, and on the other was a word. She shook up the box to mix the cards and instructed me to pick one and not show her the word on it. In a daze, I reached in, and she did the same.

“Now, what’s your angel?”

“Huh?”

“Read your word out loud.”

My appointment was on the evening of a cloudy day, and the room had grown much dimmer in the time we’d been sitting there. I could still easily make out the writing, although I stalled for a moment, squinting, in a futile hint that she might flip on a light. “Uh, gratitude.”

She beamed. “I got adventure! This is going to be fun!”

Then she plucked the angel card out of my fingers, deposited it back in the box, and stuffed the box onto a shelf. For the rest of our appointment-which we saw through to the bitter end-she never once made reference to gratitude, adventure, angels in general, or the Angel Game in particular. This would ordinarily not have bothered me one whit as my aversion to it on principle was so great as to be not measurably affected by its arbitrary nature.

It was only later that I realized I was annoyed because she never told me who won.

To be continued.

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Butterflies, Part One

Content Challenge, this is your swan song. Perhaps the swan will also sing about how I missed three days this time around. Perhaps the swan will also sing about love between my brother and my sister all all all over this land. Perhaps the swan will also go on Star Search and win a million trillion dollars, except I am dating myself because isn’t Star Search called something else now, something that is a part of an intricate bargain between the devil and Paula Abdul?

I will cap off my month of daily (except three days) blogging by revealing something that I have been saving for a special occasion, and this is about as special as it gets round these here parts.

*

This past summer, perforated on the horns of numerous dilemmas, I began toying with the idea of seeing another therapist. Although I heartily recommend it, this is not an avenue in which I have had a great deal of luck. My first therapist, whom I picked from an extensive list based upon the sole qualification of having an office on my block, treated me like an intellectual curiosity. My second was a taciturn Lilith Sternin clone who would not speak unless spoken to, and even then, she communicated through an intricate system of pursing her lips. Her dank office was over the indoor pool in a condo tower and smelled of chlorine; on the wall was a painting of a train entering a tunnel, which I hope was a Freudian joke, as that would indicate a (deeply) hidden sense of humor rather than an overtly bad taste in art.

With the idea of a new therapist in mind, I idly investigated what my insurance would cover and glanced over the stark list of names on their website, but I didn’t call anyone because I was afraid I would be true to form and end up with a therapist even crazier than I am.

You know, irony is like a cougar, stalking its pray on pussycat feet, letting the unsuspecting morsel think it is safe before leaping in for the kill.
One day, I took a chance and asked my rolfer for a recommendation, but she couldn’t think of anyone. And yet, on the way out, in her waiting room, I discovered a brochure with a picture of a butterfly on it. “Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Spiritual Counseling, Life Planning,” said the butterfly. “Whatever,” I said, taking the brochure as a sign of fate. I wasn’t sure what “Spiritual Counseling” entailed, but I figured that a lot of my angst had to do with reality either not lining up with my spiritual beliefs or, even more annoyingly, lining up too well.

I made an appointment.

Later that week, I received in the mail a packet on hypnotherapy. This is something I find interesting in general although I was not dying to try it. I figured that the therapist had either sent her generic materials or somehow worked hypnotherapy into her regular sessions; either way, I was annoyed by the tone of one of the photocopied articles, which discussed hypnosis with the fanatical closed-loop logic of religion. Even if you don’t think you can be hypnotized, you can be hypnotized. During a hypnosis session, even if you think you aren’t hypnotized, you really are. It made no sense, but I knew that if I backed out of it then, I’d be too lazy to find another therapist. How bad could it really be?

The cougar tensed and sprang.

To be continued.

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It’s Sorta Self-Defeating

My acupuncturist told me on Friday that my homework assignment is “to have fun.” Perhaps a deficit of fun is why my pulses are in such a snafu, I couldn’t say. I don’t think I’ve had fun in years, if ever. I’ve been entertained, certainly. Amused. High. But always my blasted brain is there, surveying, analyzing, measuring trajectories, categorizing time and space. This is why I am trying to get back into not thinking. Thinking never got anyone anywhere. If George W. Bush ever thought about anything, he’d be an unemployed drunk in Texas today instead of busily sucking the life out of the world. If only I were that stupid and irresponsible, I’d have it made.

OK, maybe I’ll have fun tomorrow.

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Seize This!

What the goddamned hell do people see in myspace? I’ll tell you what I see: a hideous flashing advertisement that is going to give me an epileptic seizure in about five seconds. Oops, there I go. I also see that until today, I only had one friend, and that was Tom, the same friend everyone gets when they sign up to stop them from feeling like pathetic losers. I also see something about a REPUBLICAN CHILD PREDATOR. Oh wait, that’s in my other browser window. Good lord, we’ve got Republicans actively trying to bring about the end of the world so they will float gently up to heaven on gossamer wings and the scandal that sticks is an Instant Message about measuring penises?

Why is everyone, everyone, everyone insane?

This means you.

Here is my myspace URL, in case you want the electricity in your brain to misfire, too: http://www.myspace.com/davidb1224.

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Playing Catch-up

No, no, Content Challenge. You got it all wrong, see? I wasn’t avoiding you! I just discovered something called myspace, which seems like it might catch on one day. And while I was getting my account set up there, I started listening to this cool new band called Evanescence. They have a song where a girl sounds like she’s howling at the moon accompanied by violins.

So, I really and truly meant to post yesterday, I was just too busy hanging out in 2003.