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.  


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.

Message to Karen Lopez – 4 mos early

Fluffy_in_an_ambush_by_glooh(Fluffy in an Ambush by Glooh)

Well, I finally managed to put Karen behind me (this drawing is a really good likeness of her, except add tattoos).  I had one last thing to do, and that was write to her, tell her just a little bit of the depth of my depravity.  It was like a final purging.  Of course, I sent it to her main email account, not the one at work, and I think she has me blocked, because she never responds to or acknowledges those emails at all.  She used to forward funny or interesting things to me, but stopped doing that two years ago.  It’s possible she’s just too busy at work, and in all honesty, just doesn’t have time to meet for lunch, but it’s just been too long since we had lunch regularly, and too long in between, and the months go by with just an occasional sighting at work.  When I emailed her at work to ask if she still wanted to have lunch sometimes, she said yes, but she was real busy.   When I ran into her last, asked her about lunch, she said she had just been so busy, and would probably be busy through May. May came and went; June came and went. No word from her, no response to my emails.  Well, c’est la vie.

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, were 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.inuyasha demon and kagome(1) Sigh. I 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) 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,fishrock-large 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, Terry

Even if Karen reads this, she’ll never acknowledge it. Too weird. She has always had problems with old perverts, so I did my best to keep this to myself, and the people who have read this blog.  At first, I hid most of the blog entries that had to do with Karen. They were so silly, perverted, and too “inappropriate,” for me to post for the world to see anymore, but nothing matters anymore, so I un-hid ’em.  Of course, Karen is almost 29 years old now, and hardly a child, so I’m not that perverted.  I’m just old. Finished. Done.  My life enters a new phase now, but I can’t see the future.

It’s Raining Again – Wonderful!

desert_rain Started raining not long after I got home.  I love it when it does that – waits for me to get home.  Traffic goes nuts in the rain, and I’m not too fond of riding soaking wet.  It had been hot and humid today; unusual for this dry desert-like climate to be humid.  So the rain cooled things off, and sounded good coming down, hitting the roof, pouring down the walls, splattering on the sidewalk and patio from the canales.  It stopped for awhile, and I hadn’t given it much thought until it started in again. Not too hard. Pleasant.  Soothing.  I got to thinking that I don’t know what to write about anymore, at least as far as my life.  The obsessive infatuation I had at least gave me a focus!

I don’t see Karen anymore.  She avoids me.  She’s always busy. Once she told me she’d be busy throughout May, but she’s still busy now.  I’ve asked a couple times if she wanted to continue having lunch, and she said she did, but she was just so busy. It’s a good indication, I think, of her immaturity.  Can’t say outright she doesn’t want to have lunch, even when I give her an opening.  Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore.  I like her still, without the infatuation, and would have liked to continue the friendship, but her interest in me, whatever it was, seems to have evaporated.

Still I’m taking an antidepressant, something I thought I’d never do.  Lacking any zest for life, or feelings for anyone, any reason to continue living, seemed incentive enough to try something.  I am still practicing guitar, and hiking in the mountains.  I have a pretty and intelligent friend I hike with, and we both like sushi and salsa dancing and hiking.  I have every reason to be hopeful.

Still, I get into rages.  I nearly blew up at the Parking Services clerk.  I had visions of coming back at night to destroy the building, or at least break the windows.  I even thought about seeing which car was his and coming back to break his windows.  Such a pitiful excuse for a human being.  Him, or me.  I was angry so long over that, but the director apologized, gave me my money back, and trained her staff on how to do things the right way for motorcycle permits.  Over and done with.  I sure was angry for awhile there though.

Generally, I’m improving. Life does not appear so pointless and empty anymore.  I think less of dying. I still think about moving to Afghanistan to help them rebuild schools and infrastructure.  Might still do that.  Retirement from my current job looms ahead.  I look forward to it, but fear the loss of income and shaky future of it.  My plan had been to pay off the house my wife and I had and retire without any house payments. Our divorce screwed that up royally.  She got to keep what she’s always thought of as her house, even though we’d borrowed money to pay off her ex, and it was in both our names, and I’d made all the payments myself, including the extra money.  I’d had my own house when I met her.  It would almost be paid off now too, but I sold it at a loss to pay off debts, debts we both had.  I never dreamed that I’d end up with nothing for all that.  Well, I have my pension, but that’s all.  Rents are high.  I won’t have money to travel as I’d planned. I really don’t know what the fuck I am going to do.  I’ll probably end up working part time at something.  The chances of making a living at writing or photography seem slim, but I’m going to try.  Maybe I’ll end up playing bad guitar on the street for spare change.

I did have a real surge in my life recently.  Rarely do I go out to dinner or anywhere much anymore.  I’d been trying to get together with my step-daughter for awhile, ever since she had her last brain operation, and we found out she was cancer free after all.  It hadn’t come back.  I wanted to celebrate so much when I heard that.  I’d have bought champagne for my ex and partied, but she was in Texas, and hadn’t wanted me there.  She had a pleasant dinner with her daughter and the first husband, Maya’s dad, who she hadn’t spoken with in 25 years, but we could have gone out to celebrate if I’d been there.  Even after telling me she didn’t want me there, she called, at Maya’s insistence, to tell me how it went, and how she wanted to celebrate, maybe find a bottle of champagne.   Well, anyway, I took my step-daughter Maya to a very nice fondue place in the Old Town part of  Albuquerque. melting-pot We had a great time. We didn’t eat too much, or drink a lot, but we laughed and talked for three hours.  It was the best time I’d had in two years.  Maya said it was the best date she’d had in a long time.  It was fun, and we  reconnected.  Always had a good relationship with her.  We opened up to each other more than usual, and it felt comfortable.  A wonderful boost to my morale!

Things at work, however, are deteriorating. The loss of gas and oil revenue the State of New Mexico depended on has meant less money coming down from Santa Fe. Everyone is cutting corners, cutting operations, looking for things to cut, purge, or lay off to make ends meet.  My lab may be next, before I even get a chance to retire.  The bean counters are king now.  Regulations require that I not overcharge anyone for the work I do.  The Dean of the Medical School is slowly cutting me off of the tobacco settlement money they’d used to pay my salary, which meant my lab went into deficit for the first time ever.  I can cut costs, raise prices some, but the crazy people there don’t understand what it is I do exactly, so they have come up with outrageous calculations of costs, based on a spreadsheet that is badly thought out.  One example is raising the price of one service by 15 cents, but increasing a similar service, that actually costs less in supplies, and takes less time and effort, by over 30 times the current rate.  Unreal.  They don’t even think it’s a big deal, but it means there will be no more revenue from that service ever.  I can’t get them to understand. I accept we have to raise rates, but it has to be based on real data, not numbers plugged into a hilariously inventive spreadsheet, just to satisfy auditors.  Gotta have a paper trail to prove we are charging the right amount!  Even when the premises of the spreadsheet are insanely wrong.  Doesn’t seem to matter that we cannot long operate under those conditions.  We need more business, more efficiency, not less income.  Idiots!  I’ve worked so long and hard at this job, and now pencil pushers are going to ruin it.  It makes me furious.  I see red, feel violent. It attacks my own efficiency all these years in maintaining a tight budget, in helping scores of researchers, and contributing to dozens of their research papers.  My knowledge is suddenly inferior to a paper-trail spreadsheet.  It must be right – how could it be wrong?  Haha.  Idiots.  Little tiny minds, desperately trying to feel important, destroying everything they touch. Fuck the assholes.  I may be depressed, but I don’t have to let them destroy all this when they don’t even understand the basic fallacies behind their calculations.

So, I don’t know if I’m improving or not.  On the one hand, I have good days every once in a while.  On the other hand, my bad days seem worse.  I will be lucky to survive the next few months without killing someone.

Seething with Anger Again

anger-1 You’d think a little thing like a parking permit wouldn’t get me so upset.  I need a permit to park at work.   Space is at a premium, so I can understand it; it even encourages people to ride the bus or carpool, which makes sense.  I don’t like having to pay, but I pay my fees and keep my permit current. I ride a motorcycle. Very fuel efficient, pollutes little, takes up very little space.  I replaced my wind shield last evening.  The permit was attached; it cannot be removed and transferred. It shreds if one tries to do so.  Previously, Parking Services had told me that if I brought the old permit in, I could get a replacement free.  So, I cut that entire section out of the windshield and took that in to parking services to get a replacement.  I gave it to this guy Charlie, who was the only person working.  I told him I replaced the windshield, so I wanted to exchange the permit.  He told me he couldn’t do that.  He asked me if I had gotten a new motorcycle, and I told him no.  I patiently explained the situation again, and he kept saying he didn’t understand, no matter how many times I tried to explain it.  Every time he asked if I’d gotten a new motorcycle, I said, no, I had just gotten a new windshield, pointed to the old one, and said I couldn’t use that one, since it couldn’t be detached.  He would just shake his head. I could not believe such density.   However, it didn’t bother me.  I’m taking bupropion to try and deal with my depression.   I’ve been calmer lately.  Finally he wants to know if I want a new permit, so I happily say yes, not even mentioning that was what I’d already said many times.  So he fills out the the paperwork, removes the old permit number from my computer file, and adds the new one.  Makes me sign for a new permit, filling out all the information again, and pay a $10 fee for replacing it.  He wouldn’t exchange the permit; he didn’t even seem to understand the concept.  But, I figured that they might have changed their policy, and $10 isn’t so much.  So far so good.   Then he tells me there are no permits to give me!  He says they ran out; demand exceeded what they had, and no new permits were going to be ordered since the permit year ends in August.  Then they’ll have plenty of new permits to give out.  So, I asked him how the parking officer would know I have a permit, if I didn’t have one to display.  He tells me that the officer can just enter my license into  his scanner, and he’ll be able to tell I have a permit from that.   I was dumbfounded.   I asked him why I needed a new permit at all, if they could just scan my plate?  He just looks at me.  Tells me he doesn’t understand.  By the third time I had to try and explain to him what I was asking him, and he still didn’t get it, I was getting angry.  My voice rose up, and I could hear the anger in my voice.   I asked him for the money back.  Another teller had come in, so I explained it to her too. She got it, after a couple tries.  But, she tells me the supervisor is the only one who can authorize a refund, and the supervisor is off today.  In fact she won’t be back until Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday.  She says she’ll give me her card so I can call her or email her, walks to a desk behind her, and then walks away to help another customer.  She even stops and walks back to the desk again, but still no card or number.  Finally Charlie asks her if she has a card.  She says maybe.  He goes and looks for one and gives it to me.

By this time I was so mad I could hardly speak.  I left, throwing the door open as hard as I could, but it didn’t go all the way, and another customer was leaving behind me, so it couldn’t slam shut either.   I wanted to break something.   I wanted to throw everything in the office at this idiot.  I climbed on the bike and sped away, livid with anger.  Raced in to work, because even though I’d gone in early, now I was already 15 minutes late.

So, no improvement in my mood there.   I’ve been through anger management counseling before, and I knew better than to throw things, or yell at the idiot.  I did my best to calm down, and patiently explained the situation to the other teller, but my adrenalin was pumping!  I felt like telling Charlie what an idiot he was, berating him, and questioning his ability to hold a  job, but I said nothing, beyond asking for a refund.  As soon as I had the supervisor’s card, I left, without saying another word.

But the anger I felt!  Unbelievable.  Disproportionate.  I’d have liked to destroy the parking services building right then. anger-2

What possible benefit am I getting from the bupropion or counseling if I can’ t control my anger?  If something like this almost turns me into a raging maniac?  Maybe what I really need to be taking is an SSRI (serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor) like Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft?  I hate the thought of having to deal with those.  People report a lack of feeling, no emotions, and a sense of disconnectedness.  Hell, I already felt disconnected; that’s why I went for the treatment in the first place.

Of course now, with no way to control my anger, I could end up in jail. I’d rather not do that, even though I’m not real concerned about where I go or what I do right now.