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.  

Message FROM Karen


Well, hey, I finally got a reaction from Karen.  I had asked her to just email one word, like “No” and she’d never hear from me again.  She didn’t respond, hasn’t responded to anything I’ve written her, which is response enough, but being the hard-headed type, I wanted to hear it from her that she really wanted nothing to do with me anymore.  We had been friends for years at work, eating lunch once a week together. At first, it was a simple friendship, despite a big gap in our ages.  We talked about anime, and Sci Fi, and writers we liked, and the world of animation, comics and manga.  We traded books and videos.  It was great.  I was, unfortunately, married when I met her.  Before long, however, I was in love with her.  We stayed friends, even after I was divorced.  She considered the idea of the two of us meeting outside of work to have dinner, or seeing a movie together, as dating, and dating was, in her word: inappropriate.

Still, up until I left that job, we still ate lunch together, but the weekly ritual had lessened to an average of every other week, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on her work schedule.  That was fine.  I missed the regularity of our lunches, but I was still in love, albeit unrequited, a strange state of being, an alternate reality where there was a slight chance we might connect some day, even though I knew how unlikely it was.  The psychology people call it limerence.  I was crazy, basically.  I felt I got over it, and let Karen know what my feelings had been all along, how I’d gotten over it, and how I wanted to resume our normal lunches.  By this time she seemed to be avoiding me.  After that, she was avoiding me, even to the extent of spinning on her heels and going the other way.  Well, I left that job anyway, so I didn’t see her again.

I didn’t, however, stop thinking about her.  Recently I watched a fascinating movie, Mary & Max, about an older man in New York with severe Asperger’s Syndrome who ends up as a pen pal to a little girl in Australia.  Despite the difference in ages, they strike up a real friendship, and write regularly.  It is a great comfort to both, because neither have any other friends.  Well, I bought a copy and had it sent to Karen.  I wanted her to watch it.  Unfortunately, after I did that, I noticed that, although the movie was in English, it was only formatted to play in Australia.  I quickly sent Karen an email, saying I’d made a mistake, but maybe she could still view it in her computer’s DVD drive.   Not getting a reply, I found another copy online, and had it shipped to her.  This time I made sure it was the correct region for US DVD players.  No word from her.  After a period of time, I was going to write to her, ask if we could be friends again, just like Mary and Max, writing each other, and sharing events in our lives, what we were reading, watching and doing. Her 30th birthday is approaching, and I was going to wish her a Happy Birthday also.  Hell, I thought, maybe she wouldn’t think I was a pervert anymore. Yeah, she’s way younger than me, but it wouldn’t be that perverse of me to be interested in a sexy 30-year-old woman.  I mean, she is an adult, right?

Today, wonder of wonders, I got a package from Karen.  I knew what it was before I opened it: the two DVDs.  Sure enough, they were both in there, and neither had been opened at all.  She hadn’t even thought enough of me, or is so disgusted with me, that she didn’t even try to watch the movie.  And, a note fell out with the movies:

Well, that was plain enough, even for someone like me.  I just had to have it spelled out clearly, without any possibility of misinterpretation.  Thanks Karen. Message for Karen.

What does death taste like?


The_Sweet_Taste_of_Death_by_JasonGoad art by jasongoad.deviantart.com

I wonder what death tastes like.  Does it taste like the blackened bits of carbon that burn forever on the sides of a cast-iron pan?

Does death taste like brown and yellow agglutinated crap served cold?

Perhaps death tastes of the rotting, putrefying meat of dead animals slaughtered for food served steaming hot?

It is often said that the stench of burning human corpses is sickeningly sweet.  Perhaps death brings an overwhelming flavor of sweetness with it?  Burning corpses layered with fatty oils, burning, smoking greasily, filling the air the nose the lungs the tongue with a cloying odor of blackened leather?

Is death sweet? The aroma of almonds, dead and broken, cut in bloodless slices, layered with caramelized sugar; does death taste like that? Or sweeter still, like the honey of billions of dead flowers?

Or could it be, could it taste like bitter astringent pee? the pee on her labia, like a sharp spice around the honey within?

Oh. Back to her. Her, she, the one who makes me long for death.  Her of the twisted mind and tortured soul like me, the one I longed to be with for these wasted years?  What of her? She is life itself, and smiles and joy and soft flesh and music and reading and video and laughter and companionship.  And death. She is death for me. To long for her is to long for death. O, to taste her would be joy!  Joy denied. Love denied. Laughter denied. Companionship denied. The sweet look in her eyes.  The poetry of her hands moving about in space, the hands I long to touch, to caress, to feel warm in my hands….  A_Day_Without_You___2nd_Phase_by_Beloved_Creature A Day Without You by Beloved-Creature

Zombie Karen If she were a real zombie, I’d rush to her, embrace her, kiss her, and die.

But it is death!  It is death to touch her, to want the untouchable.  It is death to taste her, death to want to smell her honey, taste it on the end of my thrusting tongue probing her sweetness, stirring our flesh into spasms of delight and ever more desire, fevered heat on every part of our skin, and all is sensing and touching and smelling and tasting without thought.   Sugar Skull: Dia de los Muertos Karen

And there is la petit mort also.  That is the death I would taste.

Aha! Confirmation of my imaginings


Goodbye-friend Looks like either way I look at it, I won’t be having lunch with Karen again.  She IS avoiding me, not that I blame her.  I think she did get that email I sent her, my confession of my obsessive infatuation/ unrequited love for her these last few years.  I went for coffee just now, at an unusual time when there was no one else there.  As it was espressing, I walked over to get some raw sugar to put in it, in and in the corner of my eye, I see Karen walking towards the door of the Cafe.  I think, “Well, I can say hello, see if she’s still friendly,” and waited for her to open the door.  She never came in. There was no other direction she could have heading, there is only the door to the Cafe she could have been heading to,  and straight on.  She saw me. I noticed that she did, and her head went down. She must have decided she can’t stand the idea of running into me anymore.  Either she is just trying to avoid my asking her about lunch, or she got the email I sent.  At least I  know for sure now.  You’d think she’d have the honesty and consideration to tell me so, rather than avoid me, but after all, she is at least as immature as I still am.   I have the luxury of a bit more experience, and tried to get a response from her directly, but she wasn’t having any of it.  It’s one thing to lose a relationship; it’s another to lose a friend too.   I suppose I’ll have to pretend I never knew her now, never had lunch with her every Friday for four years or so, never had anything in common, never traded movies and books, never discussed politics, Sci Fi, or manga or anime.  I blew a fine friendship with my “inappropriate” interest in  her.  I guess I’ll never learn.  brysi-goodbye karencrop

goodbye goodbye_my_love goodbye1

(but I cannot really ever say good-bye)

The Lover


I wander through my house tonight. Calm. Introspective. I rented The Lover, a 1992 movie set in 1929 Vietnam, then a colony of France. The Lover I rented it because there is a 15-year-old French girl at a boarding school in Saigon who meets a 32-year-old Chinese aristocrat. There is love and sex and passion, but the relationship is doomed, because, in 1929, this was an interracial coupling, and such things were not approved of. Inappropriate. Ha ha. Of course, I thought of my friend Karen, 30 years younger than me, and the dreams I used to have about her. Her word: inappropriate. It seems so insane now. There was never going to be more than a casual relationship, and I knew it. Still, I imagined we might be lovers, even if we couldn’t marry. I’d have married her.  Our mutual love of children would have meant we’d have children, something I would still like. Karen was adopted herself, and she spoke of wanting to adopt a child, but she seemed open to the idea of having one of her own. I don’t know why we talked of all these things. She said she’d like to get married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator, even as my heart skipped a beat imagining that we’d go to Vegas and get married. I’d have adopted with her, married her, fucked and kissed her like crazy. I was way too old for her to even consider as more than a casual acquaintance, but I felt I knew her so well. I have never met anyone in my whole life like her, someone who reminds me so much of myself at a younger age. I felt she was as strange as I am, that I’d find true happiness, a rare connection with someone who went through life in her own private world, much as I always have, and still do to some extent. In truth, I wanted to escape; to escape responsibility, to escape stress, to escape from my life and live in hers. I wanted to watch Science Fiction movies with her, read comics, graphic novels and manga, and watch Japanese anime. I wanted to see her every day, even if it meant we never went out much, if we just stayed in with our computers and movies and books. I was so crazy in love with her, nothing mattered anymore, except her. If she’d been a crazed drug addict, I’d have joined her. If she’d wanted to live in a fantasy world, I have done that, pretended we were children in a never-ending Halloween, with costumes, and props and a horror-themed home. Our home. I’d have robbed banks with her, killed for her, died for her. I wanted to die anyway, because if I couldn’t have her, even for a few years, months, weeks, or days, life was no longer worth living.

I can’t imagine why anymore.

I feel more like my old self, whoever that is. Except, my zest for life, for love, for sex, for passion in all things, for living at all, is gone. It went away. Went with Karen. Went with my ex-wife, the Dragon.  I’m slowly coming around to maybe starting to believe I could ever feel that way again. It’s possible after all. I couldn’t have believed that a few weeks ago.

Perhaps it is possible to come back from that obsessive, compulsive, delusional fantasy world I invented for myself, without giving up life and passion and emotional highs and lows.

Perhaps I will care if I do.

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Lunch & Life, on Hold, Again


February 01, 2008

emails:

>>>Hi T,
I won’t be able to make it for lunch today. I am just going to grab some food and head back to the office. See you next week.
Karen
<<<

>>>OK. I have your Silver Surfer comics here. Do you want me to just hold onto them until next week? – <<<

>>>OK <<<

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