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.  



Love is many things
or nothing

Love stinks
Love sucks
Unrequited love
is worst of all

I get confused

If I’m sexually attracted
I fall in love
greedily, needily
If I like someone
I love the company
If I am lonely
I love desperately

There are so many ways
to love
so many ways for love
to end

Which is real
which illusion?
Is love real
or just a myth?

We pretend we know
it feels like it’s so
How can it be real
if it ends?

If it ends
Did it
really exist?

perhaps all I
really want
a lover sometimes
a friend sometimes
a companion

and that’s all?


Perhaps I
don’t need
at all.

Spamalot, life, the universe and dating in general


I saw Monty Python’s Spamalot on Saturday afternoon.  Once Karen mentioned she wanted to go, I looked for tickets, and only found some for Saturday afternoon, and not together.  I briefly considered asking her to go with me, but really knew better than that.  I noticed they were almost all sold out, and pretty expensive, considering that it was a traveling Broadway show, and those kind of things are pricey, even when they suck.  However, I thought I would buy two tickets and simply give her one.  I could tell her that the seats weren’t together, and there was no obligation on her part intended, and nothing was implied by it; I just wanted her to have a ticket.

This one was going to be fun.  I had this odd dream about it too.   I dreamed that I gave Karen the ticket, explaining that she would be sitting alone, and I would be way off to one side and further back.   I dreamed that I got called up on stage by the cast and played some brief role in some skit of theirs in front of everyone, including Karen.   As it happened, in the play, the Holy Grail is discovered to be under the seat of an audience member, and they do indeed call that person up on stage to thank them for finding it.  I had no idea they did that.  Of course, Karen didn’t get the ticket.  It turned out that she had already bought two tickets and her uncle was going with her.  I don’t know what show she went to.  So, I was going to be going alone.  I tried to interest my step-daughter into going with me, but she had plans.  She said it was possible she wouldn’t go to a party she had been invited to, so she’d call me.  However, I never heard from her, and I didn’t know who else to ask.  I was going to a party Saturday evening with my neighbor Benay, so I asked her if she wanted to go to the play too.  Since it was at 2 pm, there would be plenty of time to get to the party by 6, but she said she had too much to do to be ready so early in that day, so she begged off.   So here I was with an extra ticket to an expensive Broadway play, and no one to even give it to.   I had hoped my new neighbor would be around; she a damn good-looking pharmaceutical rep, but she wasn’t around.

I went to the play, and walked up to the ticket window,  Some guy with a bicycle was there trying to get a good seat, so I plunked the ticket down in front of him.  He said, “What’s this?” so I told him: “Free ticket,” and went inside.   I didn’t see him again, so I don’t know if he used it.

My plan was to give the one ticket (front and center) to Karen, and use the ticket on the far right and further back for myself.  However, given all the money I’d spent buying two tickets, and not having anyone but a stranger to give the ticket to, I used the better seat for myself.   Lo, and behold, the Holy Grail is found four seats to the right of where my second ticket had been, and sure enough, the girl sitting in that seat was called up on stage, introduced to the audience, congratulated on finding the Grail, and given a round of applause.

I have the strangest prescient dreams sometimes.

A Holiday of Dreams


I watched an old movie tonight: Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn in her first starring role, as a princess who escapes her obligations for 24 hours on the town, with Gregory Peck as the newspaperman who shares her day.  In 1953, it was far easier to believe that people from different worlds could fall in love, but not that there would be a happy ending.  In the end, they must each return to their respective worlds.

Me and Karen.  It has been fun sharing lunches and a few laughs, discussing the stories we read and the movies we watched, even though we never did those things together.  It was quite a holiday from my boring life, and perhaps Karen enjoyed having someone new to talk to.   I certainly enjoyed listening to her, watching her smile when she talked about Halloween, and her decorations and the life-size horror diorama she sets up on her lawn every year.  It gives her a lot of happiness.  I don’t know if I gave her anything but my strict attention.  Perhaps that’s all she needed.

I knew all along how impossible it was, but somehow, I allowed myself to fantasize, to hope, to imagine.  I guess one never outgrows romance, once one accepts that there is such a  thing.  Who knows?

I guess it’s time for us to return to our separate worlds now.  She’s no princess, and I’m no writer, but it’s certainly analogous to our situation.  30 years?  Too far apart.  Just too different.  I think she’s like me in many ways, but really, she’s only 27, and there’s so much she has yet to experience.  She has so much fun yet to have, and love to enjoy too.  I wanted so much to be a part of that.  I don’t know why I see my younger self in her, and why that was so important for me.  It sure surprised me to find out that there are people like her.  Perhaps I’ve just never let myself really know anyone before.  Of course, I hardly know her at all.  So much of what I think I know is all in my imagination.  

No, she’s not really like me after all. She has friends, family, and dreams. The only dream I’ve had is being with her.

I saw an old friend at a Salsa concert the other day.  She said that I’ve always been a loner.   Perhaps I am slightly autistic after all; I certainly have the difficulties in social interaction and restricted, stereotyped interests and activities, along with the motor clumsiness of those with asperger’s syndrome.  Not impaired, just different.  Of course, so many people think they are unique and different, but really aren’t.   I’ve never understood why social interactions are so difficult for me, why I had to question everything in order to learn to at least partially interact with others.  Lots of lovers, some friends, and two or three marriages, but, in the end, I’m unable to understand what’s going on, or what my responses should be.

Karen told me the other day that her friends take her to dinner and parties.  I should have asked, “So, I’m not a friend?” but I already know the answer, because all interaction outside of work is inappropriate, she says.   I can’t even speak up when she gives me openings like that.  It all seems so unreal, like it’s happening to someone else far away, and I’m not even there.

I see her sitting there on the grass, so clearly, so beautiful and lovely.  The light clothing, the untanned areas of exposed skin.  A smile on her face, but I just say something about how she’s dressed for the sun but she is sitting in the shade.  It was cold in the cafeteria, she said, as least the way she was dressed.  I turned to the cafeteria and ran to get something to eat, to sit with her there on the grass, but she was gone.  She may have even been preparing to leave as I saw her.  I have no idea why I rushed away without even saying anything else.

I have to be some kind of idiot.  I just don’t know what else explains such behavior.

It’s times like this when I really wish I’d die soon, because I just don’t know what’s left for me.  I went to a singles’ picnic, had a good enough time, met someone interesting; I asked her out and she said yes.  It doesn’t excite me or anything.  I feel sort of like I’m just going through motions.  Where am I? Where did I go?  Why am I talking to myself?  Why this dissociation?

Just life, I guess.

Went home early from work yesterday; I could barely tolerate being there.  At home I slept some, ate, tried to watch the Hepburn movie, but ended up cutting and drilling some wood pieces to fix my cutting board.  I enjoyed that.  Next project is getting the bicycle running again.   I need a fork tube for the motorcycle too.  One thing at a time, and then the next, and the next.  Just the way it is.  No reason to expect anything more out of life than that, really.


December 18, 2007

I dreamed about Karen last night, and this time it was about her and she was definitely there. Last time it was just her room full of cats that could have been dragons.

I was at a party in the dream, at my old house before the divorce. Karen was there. We sat together and talked. My ex, The Dragon, was there close by. The other guests gradually left until it was just the three of us. The Dragon began talking to me, but Karen was also trying to keep my attention on her. It was getting hard to talk to both. Karen told me about some craft project she was putting together. She was trying to figure out how to add something when she hit on the idea of using green twist ties. I said that was a real good idea. The scene shifted suddenly. We were outside. Karen was walking away fast, and I was following. She said I was never going to get the twist ties. I desperately, lamely, told her I didn’t know she wanted them right away. She began running. I ran after her, yelling her name. She turned suddenly, yelled at me to stop following her. There was a woman there, a biochemistry grad student from work, and she stepped in front of me with her hand raised like a traffic safety. She said: “You lost.”


As enacted by my internet friends siesam and girlwiththespatula. Thank you.

The dream ended right there; I was awake. 3:30 am. My head was clear. I remembered a meeting I had forgotten the night before. I tried to return to sleep. Time crept by until it was time to get up for work. tea_lime.gif I’ve got to stop drinking green tea sodas before bed.

I can see the chasing scene showing up in my dreams. I’d watched a movie of the lovehina.jpg Love Hina series in which the hapless Keitaro keitaro_002.jpg chases the object of his affection and she yells at him to stop following her? Check. Affection divided between Karen and the Dragon while still married? Check. Craft project? That’s Karen. Check. Chasing Karen? Check. Rejection? Check. “You lost”? Loser. Check.