Preface/Postscript to Love & Other Madness


You may have noticed that I no longer use this blog as my sounding board. 

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 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 real.

A New Dream, of Math!


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, at least, my head is clear now. Maybe I can be more creative. Maybe I can get on with my life now.  

Video Stalking


– Karen at the Espresso Cafe –

Seems I’ve become a stalker.  Initially, it was Karen who established the unbroken routine of our lunches together.  Then, she changed her mind, although I probably had something to do with it.

It’s funny that I said this was over.  It’s over for her, of course, but she stays in my head, even though I’ll never see her again, except at a distance.

April10, 2009 12:27 pm:

Sounded like you would be busy today, but do let me know when you’re free for lunch. I always enjoy your company.

April 10, 2009 12:49 pm: I will probably be busy through may

April 10 2009 3:04 pm: I’m available other days, meals, times, and places. 🙂

—-(no reply)—————————.

June 19, 2009 8:14 am: Do you have time today for lunch with an old friend?

June 19, 2009  11:40 am: don’t know.  It all depends on when my boss gets out of her meeting.  We are short staffed this week.

June 19, 2009 11:48 am: OK. Let me know.  I’ll wait. 🙂

June 19, 2009 12:44 pm: Don’t wait.  I could be any time from now to 1:30.

June 19, 2009 12:49 pm: I don’t mind. I’m busy here. I’ll eat later if I don’t hear from you.

—-(no reply)—————————.

June 26, 2009 11:49 am: Got time today?

—-(no reply)—————————.

That’s it! Between the job stress and the union stress, coupled with no word from Karen, no replies to my email, I decide to retire early. Fuck it all.  I can’t take anymore.

July 3, 2009  8:39 am (sent to her non-work, Hotmail account, which she may not have opened or read at all):

Hi Karen.  I sure miss those Friday lunches, something I looked forward to every week.  I always enjoyed them.  I loved the way we liked so many of the same things. Sharing videos or books was really fun.  I’ve never actually known anyone quite like you, with your preoccupations and obsessions with Babylon 5, Straczynski, and all the anime and manga stories – things I’ve enjoyed for years by myself.  I loved hearing about your Halloween preparations, or your nieces and nephew.  Loved the way you spoke of them, and enjoyed spending time with them. You have that quality of being able to relate to children, and they like you too.  I liked you immediately, and just was amazed to find out how interesting you really were, and how much I liked listening to you.  Do you know those Fridays, one hour a week, was the most time I spent with anyone else besides my ex wife? Ha ha.  I’m such a  dork.

When my marriage was crumbling, you were a bright spot in the world for me.  Of course, I should never, never have done what I did, which was fall in love with you.  The one really good thing about getting divorced was that then I thought we might be able to spend more time doing things like movies, or even, wonder of wonders, dating. Ha ha.  Sorry.  I told myself how stupid it was; beat myself up over and over for thinking and feeling that way.  I just couldn’t stop.  You became an obsessive, compulsive infatuation with me. Dreams and fantasies.  Sigh. Thought about romance, then living together, then marriage, and children.  All the while I knew it was impossible, but I couldn’t stop.  There were such highs in that fantasy, romantic and erotic, and such lows when I couldn’t be with you.  You made it clear that such thoughts were inappropriate, I know. Compliments were inappropriate; asking you out would be, in your words, “Like a date,” and of course that “inappropriate” idea must have horrified you from the way you said it.  Just as well we didn’t spend even more time together: I’d have just gotten worse, if that’s possible, so, thanks for that.
Why am I writing you ask?  Hard to say.  It took me a while to climb out of that obsession with you.  One day I looked in the mirror long and hard and realized how old I actually looked from your perspective.  I had never been bothered by growing old before, until I realized that being my age meant I couldn’t just meet someone, fall in love, and be with them if they were younger, especially way younger.  I had honestly never thought of that before I met you.  Suddenly I hated being old.
Well, going back to why I’m writing: I have gotten over the obsession. I don’t know how; it just stopped one day.  Took me years.  Ha ha.  It’s hard to believe I could have been such an idiot now.  Again, I apologize for the inappropriate remarks, attention, flowers, last year’s X-mas card with the money.  It’s finally over for me.
I still like you of course, always did, always will.   It seems you have little need for me anymore, and that’s OK.  You have a whole life to live yet.
I like living alone now.  I’ve gotten used to it.  I’m much more withdrawn now, even misanthropic, not wanting much interaction with people anymore. (how emo) I’ve resigned as President of the union. I’m leaving UNM in the fall; Halloween is my last day.  I am trying to find a reason for living.  I practice guitar, go for hikes in the mountains, play chess, read a lot.  I got some medication for depression, and combined with a little counseling, I think I might be coming out of this emo fog.

Hate to bare my soul like this; I never wanted to make you uncomfortable around me. Since we don’t work together, it’s rare to run into you, and you’re too busy, or uninterested in having lunch anymore, so I thought I might as well get this off my chest.

Again, I stress this: I am over the infatuation.  I would like to resume Friday lunches, or some other day, if that’s better for you.  I really, honestly, like you, and I won’t mention any of this ever again if you’d prefer not to talk about my insanity.
I’ve been reading lots of interesting comics and novels lately, and getting into some old movies. It’d be nice to share again. Discuss books, movies, politics. It’d be great to exchange books and movies again.
I totally understand that you would be freaked out by these admissions, so I understand if I don’t hear from you.  I don’t even know if you’ll read this.  I just felt I had to write it, and couldn’t wait until Halloween to put it in the mail as I planned.
Your friend

—-(no reply)—————————.

August 3, 2009:

I see Karen at work, while I am waiting at this cafe.  She is heading for the glass door entrance.  In the corner of my eye I happen to notice her reaching for the door handle.  I hope she will say hello when she comes in.  She never comes in.  I turn around to look for her, but there is no sign of her.  There is no place else she could have been going.  She has just avoided me.

August 5, 2009:

Karen does it again.  I have gotten coffee and am heading into my building with a coworker who was also getting coffee.  I am talking as I enter the door, and don’t notice Karen at first.  I see someone to the side, and as I turn to look, it is Karen, just finishing an about face.  She was heading for coffee at her usual time. She saw me and turned away before she might have had to acknowledge my presence.  I have no doubt now that she is purposely avoiding me.  I will never bother her again.

October 9, 2009:

Two months, but I’m suddenly thinking intensely about Karen again, although I know how crazy it is, how depressing, how horribly, terribly bad it is for me to think about her.   I forward to her an email that has been sent out to everyone I do business with announcing my retirement party.  I wait two weeks, and then –

October 23, 2009 8:07 am:

Lunch today? I know you’re busy, but next week is my last, and I’d expect you to be even more busy next week with Halloween.

—-(no reply)—————————.

October 29, 2009:

My retirement party at work.  It is a two-hour affair, from 3 pm to 5 pm.  Long enough for Karen to make even a brief appearance, even to say good-bye to an old coworker.  Although nearly everyone I’ve ever known at work shows up, and the room is crowded with well wishers, Karen does not show.  She does not even send an email. One day of work left, so, on –

October 30, 2009 12:35 pm:

My last day. One more lunch?

October 30, 2009 2:20 pm:

Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.

October 30, 2009 4:57 pm:

Been pretty busy myself.  Working late today too.  You know, you are the one person I will miss more than anyone around here.  You brightened up my last few years.  Thanks.  If you’re ever in the mood, I’ll meet you for lunch whenever you have time, or after work someday for a drink or dinner?  Well, anyway, I guess you wouldn’t want to do that.  So, Have a frightfully good Halloween, and really great Birthday, and a wonderful Xmas.  I enjoyed those lunches one hell of a lot. Enjoyed meeting and knowing you.  I really hope life treats you well. I wish you the best possible life.  I care about you a lot, and I will never forget you.

—-(no reply)—————————.

November 20, 2009 12:36 am:

Good morning. Care to meet for lunch today? Is the Med II cafeteria still open ’till 1:30 on Fridays? Anytime is good for me.

—-(no reply)—————————.

January 8, 2010:

I find new photos on the Halloween website that Karen has uploaded from October 31 and November 1, 2009.  The link takes me to Photobucket.  I download pictures of her from Halloween, made up as a Zombie at work, and photos of her at work on Dia de los Muertos in a skeleton/sugar skull costume. I click on a box that will notify me when she uploads new photos.  I have forgotten that Karen will be notified that I am “following” her on Photobucket.  I add the images to my Oct 9, 2009 post.

January 10, 2010:

I receive a message from Photobucket that Karen has uploaded new photos.  Thinking that perhaps she has uploaded them especially for me to see, I click on the link that takes me to her photos.  Even after I log myself in, I am asked for a password to view her photos.  I am blocked.  Her account is now suddenly private.  It is a clear message from Karen.  She wants nothing more to do with me.  She doesn’t even want me to look at her photos.  I remove the check from the box that asks Photobucket to notify me of new photos.  Thinking that Karen thinks of me as a stalker now, I remove her email addresses from my email address book, and I delete all photos of her from my computer.  She exists now only in these terse old emails, my memory and this blog. I will never be able to have contact with her again.  She will never reply to any email again.

January 26, 2010

I see her on a web cam, and post the pictures above of her at our workplace coffee cart, where she goes for her iced mocha cappuccino with whipped cream, where I used to go for my simple Americano.  We used to drink those together sometimes after lunch.  Now, I can only ever see her again as a low-quality image on a web cam with a 2-second delay. Why do I even care?

Bicochitos and Beer


December 28, 2009

My blog had abandonment issues.  Ha!  I have not been posting lately.  I’m not sure why.  No compulsion to write I suppose. Having retired means several things:

1.) I no longer see Karen, even accidentally.  There is no possibility of ever seeing her accidentally or otherwise.  I sent her an email before I left my job; told her it was going to be my last Friday there.   She said: “Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.” Accepting that, I decided, three weeks later, to ask if she’d like to meet for lunch anyway.  I figured that, since she used to come in just to have lunch with me, before she got the job she has now, then perhaps I could do the same, and go there just to have lunch with her.  No response at all this time.

So, I’ve finally had to give up the fantasy for good.  I don’t understand why she responded to the previous email at all, if she was going to ignore me anyway.

2.) My life is pretty boring now.  I either get up early and laze around, drinking coffee and doing nothing, or I turn over and go back to sleep, getting up late, and then having coffee, making something to eat, and checking the mail.  Sometimes I have to run to the store, or to the Post Office when someone buys something from my Half.com, eBay, or Amazon accounts.  Most weekends, I will go hike in the mountains Saturday or Sunday.  Lately I do easier hikes.  Only hiked three hours yesterday, climbed up about 1650 feet; no danger, reasonable pace, no exhaustion. Donated blood today.

3.) No works means no tension, no stress. See #2 above.  I eat when I want, sleep when I want. I read, watch movies, or play games on Facebook.  Once in a while I still pick up the guitar. My life has little meaning without a purpose.  No more union meetings.  No worrying about other people’s problems, or the union, or the University job, or the University itself.

4.) I met someone new, much closer to my age.  We’ve hiked together. We’ve eaten sushi together.  We watched movies together.  No romance. No sex. Just friends, like Karen must have always expected me to be.  She invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. I met her mother. After her mother went home, we watched TV movies until late, and then I went home.  We made a batch of beer together one week later.  When it was time to bottle it on Dec. 20, we met at the brewery, had a great time bottling, and split up our beer.  She had been planning to make some more cookies but changed her mind.  I said I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and had all the ingredients.  We dropped off my share of the beer at my house and picked up everything I had for the cookies.  Back at her house, we had eggnog with rum, and I made the cookies while eating some of her biscochitos.   I had just received an old Hitchcock mystery, so we watched that when the cookies were done, had some more eggnog, and then watched another old movie on her cable until we were falling asleep. No indication from her that she wanted me to stay.  It was really late, but she clearly expected me to go.  Gave me some biscochitos to go, and a present!  She had a present for me.  She said to put it under my tree.  Unknown to her, I had bought her a present.  It was/is under my tree.  She asked me if I wanted to go to her friend Kathy’s house on Christmas Eve.  So, I planned to open my present then, and give her the one I’d ordered and wrapped and put under my tree.  I was beginning to have some nice fantasies about her.  Wondered if we could go to my house after we left Kathy’s, since it is only blocks from my house.  Wondered what might happen.  She has such a pleasant voice when she calls me; she seems to like me, to want to talk to me.

Stupid me. Just before I left her house the night after making beer and cookies, I tried to kiss her good-night.  She turned away, and my lips brushed her forehead.  Didn’t hear anything from her for days.  Finally called her, just to see what time we should meet and where on Christmas Eve.  She didn’t answer, so I left a message.  She returned my call next day; said she wasn’t going to her friend Kathy’s after all.  She said her mom wanted her to come by and help her cook a Christmas turkey and help her with other things.  I asked if she wanted to come by after that.  Interestingly, her mother lives just down the street from me.  This is the neighborhood she grew up in.   She said she didn’t think so, since she would have to go back to her mother’s house early in the morning to help her out some more.  She said she’d call me, let me know about getting together.

She never called.  I left her another message on Christmas day.  Wished her a Merry Christmas. Asked about getting together to open presents. No response.  Next day I left another phone message. I invited her to come by for her present; told her I didn’t want to open mine until she came by.  No response.  The weekend ended.  Today I sent her an email, asking her what’s up.  Told her I was still waiting for her to get her present before I opened mine. Apologized if my attempted kiss had offended her.  If she hadn’t taken offense, then I asked if she’d like to go dancing on New Year’s Eve.  We had previously talked about going Salsa dancing but haven’t done so yet.  No response.  Perhaps the 14-year difference is still too big of a gap for a relationship?

It’s not a tragedy, unlike Karen’s total disaffection for me – that hurt a lot, even more than my divorce.  I’m saddened, but not that much.  I do wish women could say what’s really on their minds.  I wish I knew what it was about me that made women want to break away clean, without even giving me a reason or ever wanting any further contact.  Ha! Women, it seems, are like life itself.  Things in life often happen for no reason at all.  Why should women be any different?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

UPDATE: 12/29/09

Well, I heard something after all:

Sorry I have not been in touch (i.e. returning your phone calls).  Christmas was very hectic, trying to help my mom, etc.  In fact, I was so exhausted on xmas day that I didn’t stay out too late, I just went home.  I have just been laying low; I still feel exhausted and I have a sore throat – I feel like I’m coming down with something.  I might take a day off this week before New Year’s to rest.   I normally don’t do much for New Year’s Eve.  I just stay out of drunk drivers way.  My friend Gaby is coming out for the weekend from CO and I think we are just going to hang out at my place.   We will get together as soon as I feel better.

So, I opened the present she’d given me: 64 small chocolate bottles with various liquors, like Jack Daniels Old No. 7, Cutty Sark, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.  The best looking thing is probably the Borghetti Caffe Espresso (31% alcohol).  What is so very odd, is that my old girlfriend, who introduced me to her, also gave me a Xmas present of 48 chocolate bottles in a little wooden crate: Jim Beam, Stoli’s, Remy Martin, and Grand Marnier. Very cool stuff, but now I have 112 of these things, and I don’t drink much anymore.  Perhaps my step-daughter can help me with these things.


Don’t care no more. No, no.


earth-no-more-1 (from the game: Earth No More by Recoil Games and 3d Realms)

“This poor fellow’s weary and confused. Probably doesn’t know what he’s taking about.”  That’s a line they use on the radio station I listen to. They use it all the time; I have no idea if they mean it to mean something, or if it just fits into their idea of being odd, hip, and different.  Generally I do like the music they play.  But, the description does seem to apply to myself.

I’ve given up on the anti-depressant.  The doctor who prescribed it didn’t really know what to expect.  The psychologist I consulted told me to give it six months.  Five months is long enough.  I can’t see it really doing much.  My ennui persists.  Directionless, purposeless, alienated and alone.  I’ve become very settled in my new persona.  I still pick at the guitar; told the teacher I’m ready for more lessons.  I still hike in the mountains; I’ve gotten better at the long hikes, not feeling so much pain, and recovering more quickly afterwards.  But, I will still retire from work in less than two months now.

I’ve initiated the paperwork, notified all that need to know.  I still can’t stand working there any more.  I can hardly stand being there when I am working.  Once the moving everything from one building to another and getting the new lab in place was over, my spurt of energy drained away.  There was a lot to do; working with an electrician to get a dedicated line of backup power, and having the place cleaned and painted.  Looks nice now.  It was a pit before the move. Managed to convince people to move all the old crappy stuff out and store it in an empty lab space.  Surplused out anything else.  It’s a nice place to work now, almost as nice as where I was, but smaller.  Now the department chairman wants to move another lab-full of equipment and supplies in with us.  It will make it cramped and hot and unbearable to work in, if we can even get it all to fit.  Makes me really glad I’m leaving.  Can’t leave fast enough.  On top of that I’m being forced to raise prices on the services I provide because the medical school Dean wants to use the little money he’s been giving us out of the tobacco settlement fund for other things.   I charge people a good rate for our services, but with any increase, we will lose business.  I’ve cut all the expenses to the bone already, gotten the cheapest supplies I can, and still the Dean wants “his” money.  Unfortunately, the researchers there expect DNA services to be available at a reasonable rate.  When business falls off next year, and the lab runs an even bigger deficit, the lab will be closed, and people will bitch and gripe and have to go out of state for DNA research services.  It will cost even more, and will make researchers think twice about bringing any more grants into the place, but, hey, what do I know?  I’m not a great, powerful Dean.  He gets to put up new buildings and claim credit for expanding the work of the University.  The work is teaching and research, but research is going to suffer.  He could care less.  Blames everything on the economy. I’m out of there soon.  I keep trying to make them see the importance of keeping the lab around.  I put a lot into it, and it will die now.

It is so similar to the failed marriage, the work on the old house.  I put a lot into those and now I’ve nothing to show for it. Nothing to show for my life at all.  A small pension.  Might be enough to survive on, but I had so much more in mind before.  “I don’t care no more,” Phil Collins sings on the radio.  “No more, no more, no more.”  “No, no.”

nwts War No More NoMoreCuts no-more-tears

Time to move on.

racing sofa

(Edd China’s motorized sofa, powered by a Mini 1300 cc engine)

Where to Now?


success_and_happiness therapy ?

hermit1 ?                   ?

prisoner ?                     foreign service ?

What the hell am I?


whoami Yeah, yeah, I know; the question of who am I has been asked a trillion times.  But, I really don’t know myself anymore.  I had this conversation recently with someone who told me he has become a different person many times. What I said was that I have always been able to think of myself as the same person I was from my earliest memories.  There was an unbroken chain stretching all the way back.  I remember sitting in my grandmother’s house as a child, looking at her copy of the painting The Gleaners. I remember her cuckoo clock chiming.  I remember when my brother Pat was born, and I was only 6 years old.  I remember many events, of course, as most people do, but I also remember who I was, how I felt, and what I thought.  I can remember the curiosity I felt when my mom came home with this new brother.  I remember that my brother John and I didn’t want him tagging along with us when he was old enough to walk.  He got into our stuff and broke things, after all!  🙂   I remember how stupid my parents sounded when they were fighting.  I remember loving them both and going to them when they were fighting, so they’d stop.  It embarrassed them when my brother and I would walk right into the middle of them while they were fighting.  Sometimes we laughed; sometimes so did they. So many things, people, and events bounce around in my head.  My father going to Eisenhower’s inauguration alone – without us!  Watching the TV on John Kennedy’s election night, hoping, praying, that he would be elected. I was 10 years old, but my teachers at school were excited about him, and told us how great it would be to have a Catholic in the White House.  I was so happy when he won.   I remember what I was like in grade school after being out for 6 weeks after my appendix ruptured at the age of eight.  I was behind, and worried about it, but my mother drilled me in my lessons every night, and the nun seemed more sympathetic than I thought she would be.  I was ecstatic when I caught up to the class.  But, outside, I was told I shouldn’t run or do anything strenuous.  At that age, the schoolyard was for playing, running, roughhousing.  At first I had to stay inside the classroom while everyone else when out for recess.  Out of boredom, I raided the round tin of chocolate bars that my teacher kept to sell to us (for a nickel).  When they finally let me go outside again, I felt like an alien.  I was alone and apart.  I didn’t know how to play the new games, and no one would talk to me or hang out with me.  They had all known I was in the hospital; they’d been told to pray for me, made to send me a card.  I wandered around the schoolyard looking for candy that had been dropped.  Loved sweets.   My grandmother always had candy in a covered cut-glass bowl.   My godfather,  the cousin of my mom’s that we called Uncle Fred, always brought candy bars with him when he visited, which was every week.

I remember the time a classmate died, in second or third grade.  They said he drowned.  I was shocked, appalled that anyone my age could die, but I was also fascinated.  They said he drowned, chocked actually, drinking a glass of water or kool-aid, something like that, watching TV.   The details are a little sketchy, because for years afterwards I looked for every instance of  how one could die in small amounts of water, or even drinking water.  I never forgot that death, although I had not known the kid at all.  It was humbling to learn early on that death could happen at any time.  Shortly after that, I was in the hospital taking penicillin every four hours for the peritonitis that results from a ruptured appendix.  I remember hiding in the bathroom when the nurses were coming with my shots.  They’d given me pills at first, but I threw them up.  They switched me to drinking the penicillin after that.  It was a foul-smelling, foul-tasting tall glass of thick liquid that I hated almost more than shots.  I remember that there were older patients around.  One of them told me to hold my nose while I drank.  It didn’t help.  I remember how relatives brought me gifts. rubber bands Someone gave me a rubber band board.  With a pile of multi-colored rubber bands, I could stretch them on the white pegs covering the all-white plastic board, and create designs.  I enjoyed it.  Someone tried to make me give it to them, which upset me, because I knew how angry my parents could get if I broke a toy.  I would be in trouble if the board got broken or the rubber bands lost, but a nurse accused me of being selfish.  I had no way to make her understand why it was important not to lend things, so I did it anyway.  I was easily shamed, cajoled, or influenced by almost any adult figure, and did what I was told.   I never forgot that it is important to share, even if it was potential trouble.  I began thinking about sharing as a way to have friends.  I always shared with my brother John.  Later on, I always wanted to give my sisters and parents presents.  I enjoyed giving.

I remember moving then at the age of ten, the new school, but the same apartness.  New kids never fit in right away, but I didn’t know that.  I remember Kathleen in 5th grade; I tired to date her, but her parents said no.  Sometimes I rode my bike to her house and watched her skip rope. She must have told me where she lived. I even had her phone number.  Not the first time I’d gotten involved with a girl.  In second grade I had proposed, but got into a name-calling fight after her mother said no.  Got punished by a nun when she found those notes.  Of course, in fifth grade, I was older, but not any wiser. schoolgirl I wrote a love-drenched letter to Kathleen, passed it to her, but I had enemies in class, especially another girl I’d once passed a note to also.  She sometimes had a friend of hers trip me as I walked up the aisle to my seat.  She was the one, that Janet Blickenstaff, who persuaded Kathleen to give the note to the teacher.  The fucking nun read it to the whole class, cementing my reputation as a fool.   The nun even called my father to come get me, and he took me home for a spanking with the leather strap.  I have no idea why.  He didn’t say much.  He had read the note.  I can’t remember much of what I wrote, just the shame of it, and my father’s anger.  Maybe I put in that dream I’d had about snuggling naked in bed with her?  I don’t recall the specifics.  I remember that dream, but I had no idea of anything about sex then.  The embarrassment and beating sure got me sworn off of writing notes anymore.  Never spoke to Kathleen after that.  The next year they put me in an all-boys class.   I went to an all-boys high school after that.  It never even occurred to me that there wouldn’t be girls in high school, but I was more interested in school work then.  Except, except, well, there was my cousin Teresa that I dated, and fell in love with.  I remember how that felt.  And how it felt when she made out with another guy at a party I took her to.  And how it felt when I heard she’d run away to Texas with an older guy.   After that I stayed largely to myself, and in myself.  I thought about all of these things, obsessed about them, replayed every word and action, especially what I should have said or done.

Always, I was the same person.  I learned more, figured out how to talk with other people, even how to kiss, make out and have sex.  I got a job right out of high school.  It took me awhile, but I managed to get along with new people who weren’t family.   I read a lot, went to movies, plays, music festivals.  Had more unrequited loves, but real lovers came into my life too. I never considered that I was a different person at any time. Same guy, same issues, same problems.   Traveled a lot, met a lot of people.  Had a lot of sex.  Lived with a lover for a short time. Got married twice.  Always I was the same person, the same guy who wanted to please other people, to be liked.  I went from a proponent of using nuclear weapons to a ban the bomb, stop war, fight racism, end hatred, fight for justice kind of guy.  Marched. Chanted in demonstrations.  Visited courtrooms, picketed outside jails, picketed the White House, got arrested, learned about unions, and strikes, and boycotts.  Felt I was part of a world-wide movement to change the world.  Worked in a physics lab, for a carnival, in a bronze foundry, for an electronics plant, and ended up in medical research.  Finally got a University degree.  Always, I was the same person.  From my earliest memories through every thing I did, wherever I traveled, however I was with.   I wasn’t always happy with who I was, but I constantly strove to improve myself – nothing less than perfection would have really satisfied me.

Now, suddenly, I don’t care about anything, or anyone.  I’ve been seriously depressed now for at least a year.  Lost interest in life itself.  I have dreams now, not about having sex, or being in love, or changing the world, but of  killing someone.  I wouldn’t mind dying.  Most of this fit into who I was initially, but one day I realized I was totally different from who I’d always thought I was.  Selfish, uncaring, boring – real indifferent to the world.  That was never me.  This me is not the me that grew up, traveled, worked, fucked, married, helped raise kids, negotiated union contracts, worked for an end to war. This me doesn’t care about any of those things, and I don’t recognize myself anymore.  My memories are there, but only as echoes of who I was, what I used to feel, what I used to think.  I appear to be a different person altogether, and for the first time ever, that’s OK.  I just wish I knew who the fuck I am.  I appear to be a selfish, careless, rude asshole, who could do anything, would do anything at all.

Now that’s different.