A very elaborate costume by Karen, with flashing lights, wings, and red hair. She ain’t talking to creepy old me anymore, so this was the best shot I could get.
A very elaborate costume by Karen, with flashing lights, wings, and red hair. She ain’t talking to creepy old me anymore, so this was the best shot I could get.
Most recent photos of Karen, as captured from the WWW.
Although it occurred last June, I did run into Karen one more time. In my fevered imagination, she’d be single and open to dating. In one of the convolutions and permutations of my old obsession with her, I imagined that, even were she pregnant, she’d be single, and I could convince her that I’d be a good dad to her baby, or even that she was a single mom, and we’d hook up, whereupon we’d subsequently live together, probably in marriage. Such was the depth of my obsession that I always imagined there was some slim chance that we’d still get together.
Now, of course, I know there is no such chance, ever. I saw her, spoke with her, was dissed by her. She’s an ass, really. I was taking photos at the Albuquerque Comic Exposition last year, and saw someone in my viewfinder that looked like her. I think I’d recognise her profile anywhere, under any circumstances. She was standing near a booth in a crowd. I snapped a couple of quick, badly focused long shots. I think she saw me, but she moved away. I saw where she was going and circled around the area, so that I would be walking directly into her as I came around a line of booths. It worked. I walked directly at her as I came around. At first, she gave me her nod, the nod that says: “I know you. I see you, but there is no need to speak to each other.” Fat chance of that. I walked right up face to face and said hello. She was polite. I asked her if she still worked at the medical school (where we used to see each other). She said: “Yes, but that may change soon.” I asked: “Why? are you going back to school or something?” She said: “No.” It seemed she glanced down because my eyes traveled to her stomach. She appeared to have gained weight since I last saw her, both in the face and in her abdomen. I was trying to think of what to say, not sure what she was hinting at, when she just turned and walked away, right to a nearby booth she had already been to and chatted up the proprietor. Rude, but effective. She really doesn’t want to ever have anything more to do with me, never talk, or be friends or acknowledge my existence, really.
That settled that fantasy.
But, I did realize what she meant: she is pregnant. There’s no mistaking that bulge. That would explain why she’d leave a good job in an uncertain job market. Whether she married or is still living at home I have no idea. I suspect she has a husband to support her when she quits work. I’d have asked her, if she’d paused long enough, but she was in a hurry to get away from me. I would have congratulated her on her pregnancy. I know how much she likes kids, and I remember how much time she would spend with her nieces and nephew. She loved reading to them and playing with them and taking them places. I knew she’d make a good mother. I dreamt so often of impregnating her myself, of being the father of a kid or two with her. In my mind, it would have been heavenly. I’d have adopted a kid with her, since she often spoke of adoption. Such deluded fantasies I used to have! Oh, well.
At least I can shut down the little loop in my mind that still entertained the possibility of hooking up with her after a random meeting.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Fuck you Karen. I hope I never run into you ever again, or hear anything about you.
It began as a place for me to sound off about the weirdness in my life.
My marriage was failing, and my step-daughter Maya had just undergone treatment for a brain tumor. I felt that I still loved my wife Linda, but she had become almost impossible to live with since her daughter had been diagnosed with the tumor. I say this now, but at the time, I simply couldn’t understand her coldness to me. She was depressed, of course, about Maya’s illness, and feared she was going to die. Even after Maya was operated on, experienced the hell of chemotherapy, and then had been through radiation treatments, Linda continued to be depressed and refused counseling. She believed that Maya would die. She drove me and Maya crazy with her obsession with that, despite the fact that Maya had survived and was found to be free of cancer. Her cancer had been an extremely rare brain tumor, one that had not spread to other parts of her body, and Maya’s blood and spinal fluid were free of any cancer cells. In short, there was every reason for optimism, but Linda would not let her fear go.
I learned, through the experience, that I loved Maya fiercely. I had lived with her about 13 years as she grew from girl to woman, and I had been shocked and scared as well that we would lose her. It was this possibility that Maya would die that hit me over the head with the fact that I loved her dearly. I hadn’t thought about it before. It was new to me that, (1.) I loved someone else besides my wife, and (2.) it was an unconditional love for another human being, and (3. ) she might die, and (4.) I didn’t want her to die. After she began treatment, I relaxed. It looked as though she would survive. I felt something new: joy, joy that she would survive. I had been so depressed at the prospect that Maya could die, that the idea that she would not die came as the purest feeling of happiness I’d ever experienced. Up until that epiphany, I had never known such a feeling existed in reality.
In fact, I had been unhappy. Life with Linda had become difficult. Her negativity, her constant put downs, and her coldness were not new. She had been that way all along, and I simply didn’t care. I loved her, so I made excuses for her abusive behavior and her lack of human warmth and kindness to me. I was making do. During sex with her I felt closest to her, but sex was not something she cared much for. It was as though she allowed me to have sex as her duty as a wife. It was not something important to her. I had known passion with other women in the past. I loved Linda passionately, I felt, but she did not, could not, respond in kind. Such is life. I became accustomed to that, but I felt trapped. I wanted more from life. I was willing to accept that Linda gave me all she could, and my love for her was enough. Sometimes I felt that I deserved no better than that.
However, one day, when Linda roughly pushed me away, again, when I touched her, I made a decision, a decision based on years of being pushed away, without explanation or gentleness: I was no longer going to stay committed to monogamy. This was the one relationship I’d had where I had actually felt monogamous. I hadn’t wanted other women. Other women were pretty, but not sexually attractive to me. My life before this marriage had been one in which I was always seeing or meeting women I felt physically attracted to. Being in love with Linda, I found her to be the only woman I wanted to be with. Now, I was tired of longing for her and being rejected over and over. I could have tolerated little or no sex if she had been respectful of me, of my opinions, my feelings, my hobbies. She was not. If she had given me any comfort at all during Maya’s illness, I’d have been happy. If she would have touched me sometimes, with a caress, or hug, or a warm kiss, I’d have stayed happy. But, there was none of that. I’d begun to feel as though I existed in her life only to provide entertainment, and pay the bills.
Having made this decision that I was open to other women, I began to notice the women at work, and notice that I could be attracted to other women than Linda. I spoke with a woman who worked in the department office, and found her appealing. Her accent and manner reminded me a bit of my brother Pat’s Texas wife, who he is now divorced from. She was very pretty. I lightly flirted with her, but she didn’t appear to be interested, although she was single and quite friendly. One day, at an office Xmas party, I was introduced to a young woman who worked part-time in the department: Karen.
Karen and I hit it off right away, discovering that we had an unusual but strong affection for a science fiction TV show, Babylon 5. Trekkies didn’t seem to like it much, and although we had both been interested in Star Trek at one time, we had both been much more fascinated with the Babylon 5 universe created by J. Michael Straczynski. Karen pointed out articles and blogs by Straczynski, which showed that his politics and beliefs heavily influenced the show, and that those politics and beliefs were the same ones held by Karen and myself. This was beyond belief to me at first. I’d had never met anyone like her.
Over time we discovered a mutual admiration for certain science fiction authors, of the characterization in Marvel Comics, of Japanese Anime, and a love of peace, and justice. I came to believe Karen was like a soul mate to me, trite as that phrase is now. I fell in love with her. I desired her intensely. I lusted for her. She is quite sexy. Two major problems: (1.) I was married, and (2.) I was much older than her. At first, I was not that interested in Karen except as a friend; she was just too young. Over time, I decided, self indulgently, that I didn’t care about her age. She was in her middle 20’s and quite old enough for me after all. I found that, although I felt I still loved my wife, I wanted Karen. I loved her too. Initially I wanted both women; something very selfish, and very impossible. Karen made it clear she wasn’t like that. She would never be a married man’s lover. (In theory, since we rarely talked about anything personal). In fact she did not want to know anything about my wife, or hear me speak of her at all. I wondered about that; in my delirium, I thought it meant she was jealous of my married life, perhaps of my wife. I hoped it meant she cared for me. However, she never wanted to meet except for lunch. Lunches with Karen became very exciting for me.
If you’ve read the entries in this blog, you know that things got worse and worse for me. Linda and I divorced. I briefly hoped that an obstacle to at least dating Karen was gone, but no, Karen told me that even going to a movie together (Silver Surfer) that we had both planned to see was like a date, and a date was inappropriate. After that, our relationship (we had been eating lunch together every Friday for about four years) deteriorated. She was more and more often busy, and just didn’t have time for me as often anymore. Our lunches became rare and awkward, and pretty much stopped. Between Karen and my divorce from Linda, I was often sad, and becoming more depressed by the day. My job no longer gave me any satisfaction, and I wanted out. The divorce had resulted in my loss of the house I had jointly owned, and all the money and time I had put into it. I had previously sold my own house, paying off debts Linda and I had accumulated, so I didn’t think I could retire, as I had no money left to buy another house of my own. I had been close to paying off the house Linda and I owned, but she got the house and I got to keep my pension. After two years, and giving it a lot of thought, I said: “Fuck it,” and I retired anyway.
I didn’t see my ex-wife again for four years, and I never saw Karen again. I came to understand that Karen may well have been a substitute Linda, for one thing, in that I hoped to have my feelings for Linda reciprocated from Karen. I may have simply transferred my feelings for Linda over to Karen. But, there is an odder possibility that I spent much thought upon. Since Karen was just slightly older than my step-daughter Maya, and initially there was the possibility that Maya could die, perhaps I unconsciously began to substitute Karen for Maya? What that said about my feelings for Maya troubled me, but I came to believe that I wanted Karen more than anyone in the world, that I would die for her, that I would do anything for her, and she was all I ever wanted in the world anymore. It was, I believe, a psychological illness. I was loony tunes, out of my head (well, trapped in my head to be accurate). I no longer had any anchor to reality. Impossible things seemed possible, and the possible seemed false and unreal. I spiraled into a deep depression, and I really did want to die. There just didn’t seem to be any reason to live any more.
It took some time, some brief counseling, and a bit of antidepressant, but I lost all interest in Karen; I can no longer believe I was ever interested in her. It shocks me to think I thought I loved her. I loved my ex-wife Linda, and still do. I love my step-daughter Maya. Nothing else ever mattered; nothing else matters now. I have tried dating, but without success. A woman I used to hike with was very nice to me, but the relationship never went anywhere, and appears to have died out. I was initially extremely lonely and often horny, but all that seems to have faded away now. I do not find most women attractive. Recently I found myself interested in another young woman, a model I took photographs of, but that was brief, stupid and doomed to failure, for the same reasons my relationship with Karen was never going to go anywhere.
I once wrote, in the short story, The Boy Who Rode His Bicycle Into Manhood, that I spent the rest of my life simply walking the ditches around my neighborhood, reflecting on my life, and never interacting in any meaningful way with another human being ever again. It seems that pessimistic and depressing ending of my story is actually coming true! That is my life now, although it is not as depressing as I thought then. It just is.
What prompted this sudden return to this blog? I went to a salsa concert the other night. I was enjoying the music, and watching the dancers, and then Linda walked in. A friend of hers recently moved here and they share our old house, so they came together. I think they both saw me, but neither acknowledged it. They looked in my direction when I was the only one in that direction (up on the balcony above their heads). I was shocked to see Linda, and that she looked really good to me. I considered going over to where the two sat down, and asking Linda, or her friend, who I had been friendly with, to dance. But then I saw Linda dancing with someone, and having a great time. It reminded me of how much we loved salsa dancing and how often we went: usually once a week, but sometimes twice a week, and for most of the 14 years that we had been together. It wasn’t unusual for Linda to dance with other men at the club we went to. Most were friends she had danced with before meeting me, and other times she just liked to dance with the experts. That’s the way things are in these salsa clubs and dances. Even if people come with a date, everyone dances with everyone else. A man usually asks a woman’s date or husband for permission first, and after a few times it is understood without asking.
So, I was not jealous seeing Linda dance with another man the other night. It was a feeling of sadness, terrible sadness, that I was no longer part of her life, that I could never dance with her again. My feelings so overwhelmed me that I stayed rooted to one spot for an hour. Then, I considered jumping off the balcony. Obviously I didn’t. I never asked anyone to dance, never went over to Linda and her friend to say hello. I just listened to the music, watched the other dancers, and drank three beers. I am not part of Linda’s life and can never be again. We could not live together anymore anyway, but my desire for her is no less, after four long years of sobriety, soliloquy, and solitariness. Oh, well. That is most certainly the way life can turn out. I had a good run. I stay busy these days, hiking in the mountains, reading, watching old movies, and helping make wine at a local winery. All of it distracts me from my sadness for brief amounts of time, so I’m optimistic that I will actually find happiness in just living again. I used to want passion in my life; now, I would just like a reason to live. Love & Other Madness was a small slice of my life, a time when I slipped the bounds of reality and dared to dream of greater happiness and passion. In so doing, I lost everything I cared about. I make the motions now, do things, talk with people, get some exercise. It’s my reality.
Extraordinary! I woke up at 4:30 am after dreaming. That in itself is not unusual. For years I have been doing that, waking up at odd times of the night, sometimes from nightmares, other times from dreams of longing, or sexual excitement, or violence, and often, fear. It’s hard to get back to sleep after that, even if I need more than 4 or 5 hours sleep. Today was unusual in that there was none of that. I had a teaching dream. I dreamt I was a substitute teacher or guest lecturer at a grade school. I was there with the teacher, whose other appointment had been canceled, so she was there. We were trying to come up something for me to do. I asked about lesson plans and where the kids were in their studies, when all of a sudden I decided to lecture about the number/concept of one. I found a green chalkboard on the side of the classroom, and the teacher had the kids rearrange their desks to face me.
I talked about one, and how, of course, one times something is still one something, how division is just a question of finding out how many of some thing are part of something else. I used the traditional example of one, starting with how many of those ones are there in, for example 25. There are twenty-five. Twenty five times one is twenty-five. But, that is not the whole story. The things under analysis don’t have to be the same. I could have 25 apples and 4 oranges. The question, represented by mathematical symbols, could be how many apples are there in 25 apples and 4 oranges. Well, there are still 25 apples. There could also have been 21 apples and four oranges; 25 pieces of fruit. The question itself has to be defined, and it is, just using symbols. That, of course, led to questions from the students, and more discussion. I spoke of how numbers were originally used to represent philosophical concepts, how useful the number one was to represent the concept of a thing, and other symbols were invented to represent other things under discussion, and how that enabled counting, and the representation of sums, and how zero had to be invented to represent the concept of no thing, or nothing.
I talked of using mathematics to run a warehouse. I gave many examples of ways to understand inventory. I came up with an example of a warehouse that sells two things. One day, the owner had everything in the place counted, but she was only given two numbers: 634 boxes, of which there were 389 boxes of, say, can openers. However, she needed to know how many knife sharpeners she had in stock but everyone had gone home for the day already. So, it’s simple, the students said, you just subtract. Certainly, and many of you can do this in your head, or we can put this on paper, or on the board here: 634, less 389 is 245. 634 minus 389 equals 245. 634-389=245. So there were 245 boxes of knife sharpeners. However, she needed to know how many knife sharpeners she had, not how many boxes of them. Fortunately, she knew that each box of sharpeners contained 24 of them. Then we were back to mathematics, and multiplication. 245 boxes of sharpeners, 24 to a box, so 245 boxes of 24 sharpeners is 5880 sharpeners. 245 times 24 is 5880. 245 X 24 = 5880. “Classic representations of problems, but using symbols,” I said to the students, “that you all know by now.” Simple. But, it could also be represented other ways, using other symbols, for more complex calculations. Boxes could be B. Can openers could be C. Knife sharpeners could be represented by S. 389 plus 245 is 634. C + S = B. This led to more questions, and I went on the show them how this little statement could be even more representative of the actual inventory. It could also be written as say, 15C + 24S = T, or total number of items on hand. So, knowing, at any given moment, how many of each item is available depends on knowing the values of those letter symbols, in this case boxes of each.
I went on to explain how this use of symbols can more useful. I used the same example, but the warehouse had three types of things: can openers, knife sharpeners, and knives. So, we had, on the chalkboard, C + S + K = B. “OK,” I asked, “what if the owner had a similar problem, but had different types of things to be determined. For example, she knew that she had 389 boxes of can openers, 245 boxes of sharpeners, and she did not know how many total boxes she had of everything, but she needed to know how many knives she had in stock. So, using our symbols, C is 389, S is 245, but K is unknown and B is unknown. I asked the students how to solve this problem. They said, just count all the boxes. “But,” I said, “it’s too late to do that, and everyone has gone home. She needs to know, right now, how many knives she has. “She has to work all night, by herself, ” a student offered. Yes, I said, that’s one way, but there are other ways, and it doesn’t solve the problem of telling the manager on the phone, right now, how many knives they can ship tomorrow to the various stores the company has. He has to know, so he knows how many each store gets, and they each want to know today how many to expect. “Can’t be done, ” a student called out.
“But,” I said, “what if she has other information?” For example, what if she knows that for every set of six knives sold, she includes one sharpener. “Could it be done then?” I asked. This riled the students up. Many of them had suggestions, and some said we needed more information. The discussion was lively. The students were engaged in the problem, and things were beginning to click in some heads. Math was no longer esoteric and boring. This is, as I said, a teachers dream. I had opened a discussion, gotten students involved, and pushed them to think. That is what motivates any good teacher. It is what drives some to become teachers in the first place.
Well, this is all very interesting, you say, but, what the hell has it to do with you? You’re not a teacher. What has this to do with Love, and Madness? This blog is about those things, not teachers, not math, not symbols, or the philosophy and use of symbols.
True. But, this is the extraordinary thing. I never dream about such things. I have been caught in a loop of unrequited love, an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and confusion. My dreams were about her, about the possibilities of life with her, and the impossibility of that ever happening. There was no solution. My marriage broke up, but there was no solution to that, and even that was no solution to my problem. In fact, I was far worse off. My dreams became worse, my sleeplessness increased, my brain spun out of control, and I couldn’t focus, couldn’t think about anything else. I retired. Work was nearly impossible. On my own, I got worse and worse. Depressed. Dysfunctional. Remote. Alone.
Two days ago, I resolved the problem caused by my obsession with Karen. She helped. She told me to lose her address. Finally, a clear message from her. I liked it. It was what I had wanted all along. In fact, I hadn’t been able to resolve my feelings, my emotions, or lack of them. I was stalled out. I no longer felt anything at all, but I didn’t seem to be moving on either. Karen’s message to me hit home. I had carefully avoided being angry with her for any of this. She had done nothing wrong, had always been straight with me and could not be blamed. However, the typical scenario for getting over a lost love, failed marriage, or even death usually involves several steps, of which anger is one. I was angry with Karen now, even though I brought that on myself. For a brief moment, I hated her. I wrote it down. I said, in this blog, “Fuck you Karen.” Never before had I thought such a thing or wanted to direct any anger or negativity towards her. I was wrong, very wrong. That was precisely what I should have done long ago. What a relief! Fuck you Karen, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. CLICK HERE It was a mantra for me. It worked. For another brief moment, I wanted to die. Seriously, my depression came back full force, and I really, really wanted to kill myself. But, it passed. My head cleared. Logic does not apply to emotions. I would never have solved these equations: Me plus Karen equals happiness, and Me plus Karen is impossible, and Me minus Karen is death, or zero, anyway, nothing. Does not compute.
So, I don’t think the dream meant I wanted to be a teacher. The reality is usually far different from that anyway. I could try being a substitute, bring in a little cash. Hell, the damn retirement board just decided, upon careful analysis of my pension, that they had made a mistake, and I was being given $7.80 more a month than I was entitled to. They sent me a letter, stating that, and the fact that, since I have gotten $7.80 a month too much for ten months, I now owed them $78.00! And the motherfuckers have already deducted the entire amount from my next disbursement. Well, fuck ’em. I’ll survive. My budget was tight enough. Actually, in their complicated math, I will get not just $78 less, but $84.25 less this month. I don’t know how THAT works, since, if I was getting $7.80 too much, then the ten months of that is $78.00, and $7.80 less for the current month would mean I should get $85.80 less.
So, really, I may have to get that part-time job I’ve been dreading. Hmm. Substitute teacher? Always in demand. Flexible hours.
Well, hey, I finally got a reaction from Karen. I had asked her to just email one word, like “No” and she’d never hear from me again. She didn’t respond, hasn’t responded to anything I’ve written her, which is response enough, but being the hard-headed type, I wanted to hear it from her that she really wanted nothing to do with me anymore. We had been friends for years at work, eating lunch once a week together. At first, it was a simple friendship, despite a big gap in our ages. We talked about anime, and Sci Fi, and writers we liked, and the world of animation, comics and manga. We traded books and videos. It was great. I was, unfortunately, married when I met her. Before long, however, I was in love with her. We stayed friends, even after I was divorced. She considered the idea of the two of us meeting outside of work to have dinner, or seeing a movie together, as dating, and dating was, in her word: inappropriate.
Still, up until I left that job, we still ate lunch together, but the weekly ritual had lessened to an average of every other week, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on her work schedule. That was fine. I missed the regularity of our lunches, but I was still in love, albeit unrequited, a strange state of being, an alternate reality where there was a slight chance we might connect some day, even though I knew how unlikely it was. The psychology people call it limerence. I was crazy, basically. I felt I got over it, and let Karen know what my feelings had been all along, how I’d gotten over it, and how I wanted to resume our normal lunches. By this time she seemed to be avoiding me. After that, she was avoiding me, even to the extent of spinning on her heels and going the other way. Well, I left that job anyway, so I didn’t see her again.
I didn’t, however, stop thinking about her. Recently I watched a fascinating movie, Mary & Max, about an older man in New York with severe Asperger’s Syndrome who ends up as a pen pal to a little girl in Australia. Despite the difference in ages, they strike up a real friendship, and write regularly. It is a great comfort to both, because neither have any other friends. Well, I bought a copy and had it sent to Karen. I wanted her to watch it. Unfortunately, after I did that, I noticed that, although the movie was in English, it was only formatted to play in Australia. I quickly sent Karen an email, saying I’d made a mistake, but maybe she could still view it in her computer’s DVD drive. Not getting a reply, I found another copy online, and had it shipped to her. This time I made sure it was the correct region for US DVD players. No word from her. After a period of time, I was going to write to her, ask if we could be friends again, just like Mary and Max, writing each other, and sharing events in our lives, what we were reading, watching and doing. Her 30th birthday is approaching, and I was going to wish her a Happy Birthday also. Hell, I thought, maybe she wouldn’t think I was a pervert anymore. Yeah, she’s way younger than me, but it wouldn’t be that perverse of me to be interested in a sexy 30-year-old woman. I mean, she is an adult, right?
Today, wonder of wonders, I got a package from Karen. I knew what it was before I opened it: the two DVDs. Sure enough, they were both in there, and neither had been opened at all. She hadn’t even thought enough of me, or is so disgusted with me, that she didn’t even try to watch the movie. And, a note fell out with the movies:
Well, that was plain enough, even for someone like me. I just had to have it spelled out clearly, without any possibility of misinterpretation. Thanks Karen. Message for Karen.
Dreamt this morning that I was in a room with two women. We were all sitting on hard-backed chairs. We were waiting for something. We also had to sleep. One woman nodded off, while I was talking to the other. The two of us were flirting. All three of us were sitting very close, so I grabbed the sleeping woman to keep her from slumping off the chair, while I continued my conversation with the other woman. We couldn’t leave our chairs. I got sleepy myself. My arms were around the sleeping woman anyway, so I leaned my head on her shoulder, and dozed off. Oddly, I had a similar dream several nights ago, in which I was in a crowded movie theater, sitting next to two women. In that case, I couldn’t see all of the movie screen, so I was leaning over close to one of the women in order to see more of the screen. It was uncomfortable, so I rested my head on her shoulder; she didn’t mind.
In this morning’s dream, however, I didn’t just doze off. I woke up to find the woman I’d been flirting with naked, on her hands and knees next to me in bed. I felt the smooth contours of her body and was aroused. (As if the sight of her naked wouldn’t have been enough!) I clasped my entire hand over her vulva, slipping a finger, then two, into her. She opened like a flower and I suddenly realized that I had my clothes on: heavy jeans and a t-shirt. I had to get those jeans off. They were tight, and I had to really work to get them off. Fortunately, my erection hung in there. I mounted the woman then, not bothering with foreplay. I left my shirt on. My underwear hung off one leg. I plunged deeply into her, as her vagina was now very wet. It felt wonderful, better than the fabled bliss of nirvana. I moved slowly, enjoying the sensation, reveling gloriously. Of course, then I woke up, no surprise, with an erection.
Maybe I should have a shot of absinthe before bed every night.