Insanity isn’t What I Thought it Was

Sup everybody.

(Hmmm…word of warning up top: this one is a little heavy. I was going through some of my random files and found the following. It was deep into a really tough life event (about a year ago), and is basically a diary entry from then. I’m mostly putting it on here as…well, going on whim, really; but also in case it resonates with anyone. I’m going to omit some names, given the nature of the thing, but otherwise, it’s just something I sat down and typed out as the feelings arose. Anyway, consider yourself informed [sounds less dramatic than “warned,” and we’re trying to have fun here- well, not today, exactly, but just in general and you get what I- oh God, okay, onto the thing]).

I think I might be going insane.

It’s been about seven months since mom went to the hospital, and about that long since we first heard the word “dementia” as it relates to her. Since then, it’s been neurology visit after neurology visit, insurance call after insurance call, email after email with hospital management – everybody either not knowing what to do or trying to get rid of us.

I just woke up from the same nightmare, three times in the same night, and bawled my eyes out.

I cried for an hour.

In it, mom died, the bank wanted to take her house, [landlady] said she couldn’t keep me as a tenant, and nobody was around – Mandy, [uncle], [aunt], [cousin], [in-law], [in-law], [aunt], [Pierre], even city workers from the damned coroner’s office – absolutely nobody.

There were people, but no one I knew and no one who was willing to help.

I was utterly alone.

And I woke up feeling that way, thinking that way.

Mandy came to bed when I called and lie there, consoling me. I told her the voice in my head kept telling me that the dream was right, that no one would miss me if I was gone. She told me that I was loved and listed people who felt that way.

In the nightmare, though, that was just the thing. Nobody was around, nobody cared. And all the people who would love me…the feeling just didn’t go that far. Nightmares have always been that way: I need to run, I’m slow; I need to punch, I hit light as a feather; I need love, the most someone can feel towards me is casually like me.

It was a world where love towards me just didn’t exist.

Every name she gave, the voice found a way to tell me why that wasn’t true. (Except when she said “Jeremy”. Weirdly, the voice said “Yeah, I guess him, actually”.)

She told me that I was family, and that her family was mine too, that I needed to let go of this feeling that I’d be so easily abandoned. She gave [a sibling] as an example of how persevering her family was with troubles.

Again, the voice piped up and told me that that was different. [A sibling] is family by blood, it said. Of course they won’t abandon him, it continued, he’s a son and brother by blood – you, though…?

“Even marriage,” it said, “is different.”

It seems true for everyone else, I tried telling it.

“For them, yeah. But for you…?”

I went from crying to laughing into her chest and shoulder. And I’m not sure why. I think it was because I could see how crazy this all looked and sounded, and the laughing didn’t help but kept going anyway.

When we had to put Ferdinand (our cat) down a couple of years ago, it was the reminder of how harsh but sure a teacher experience can be – or rather, just is.

I stood in the bathroom and she brought me a glass of water and a hug. After she left, I swirled the water around and drank it. And I think I know why people prefer the burn of whiskey or scotch in moments like that, like in the movies.

I’m starting to wonder when people describe voices in their head, whether they mean actually hearing someone speaking to them inside their head or if it’s impulses or thoughts that just don’t sound like what they’d usually think to themselves. Foreign ideas and concepts that feel like invaders.

Because this voice was fully the latter.

But boy it was convincing. And I think that’s because it sounds like I’m talking to myself, telling myself things. But it still sounds like a voice that’s not mine.

So I’m starting to think that’s what insanity is. It may not just be a sudden crack into mad raving, but soft touches like this, a voice that tells your low worth, how easily you’ll be forgotten, and that if you confide this in anyone, that gives them power over you and they might use it just for fun, because they know they have it now.

The more I woke up, though, the quieter the voice got – which isn’t really a super sign in and of itself. You shouldn’t be afraid of sleep, afraid of whatever-this-is waiting for you when you’re tired. But as I woke up, another voice spoke up that told the first to shut the fuck up.

It told me that I’m not the only who gets like this, and I believe that.

Which is both comforting and kind of scary, isn’t it? I don’t want the people around me to wake up crying and then cackle about it, and to have that be something normal.

But se la vie.

Which is what the voice said next. “That’s part of the human experience, baby. Learn to love it. Happiness, anger, thrill, depression – they’re all in the same basket.”

It didn’t say the parts past “baby”, but I know it’s what it meant.

While I was crying into Mandy’s shoulder, I told her something. Something very true that I don’t think I’ve told anyone – even myself.

I’m afraid of dying alone.

Not “dying while single” or “dying and not being in a relationship” or even “dying with nobody around at that particular moment” even though they’re all definitely true.

I’m scared (ironically to death) of dying and nobody caring.

Then my team of mental coaches – Deadpool, Kevin Hart, and Kratos – ganged up and beat up the voice in a cartoon dust cloud.

And I’ve been pretty optimistic and comfortable in my skin since.

Also, because I think I learned something.

When I was a kid, I thought going crazy was scary, but maybe a little fun. I thought you’d get used to seeing people that weren’t there or hearing voices no one spoke and you could just make it a fun new world view.

But I think insanity’s a little softer than that and a LOT more intimate.

We’re all a little bit insane.

Or at least part of me hopes so.

A Different Look at Optimists II

(It’s a re-post, on account of being busy. Sorry + Thanks for being you!)

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.

A Different Look at Optimists

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.

Interpreting Dreams: “The Spoon” and “Grad Night”

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

I started this whole thing off as a way to share stories, tales and parts of me, so today we’re going to lean into that last part.

Now I get that normally dreams kind of follow the same rule of thumb as family photos: “If I’m not in them or nobody’s naked, I don’t really care.” I hear you, but would also counter that like the stomach being the direct route to a man’s heart (ho-ho-ho! supposedly), dreams are a great way to get an honest, raw CAT scan of how a person thinks. So the catch here is that I’ve gotten these interpreted (not professionally – if that’s even a thing that happens).

Also, lastly, I want to note that my bar for “weird dreams” is pretty high. My major cross to bear is that the woman I live with and share my home and heart with has painfully mundane dreams with very few exceptions:

Mandy: “I had the weirdest dream last night.”

Naive Me: “Oh? Sweet, lay it on me. What happened?”

Mandy: “I was in the kitchen, it was the middle of the day, and you weren’t home…”

Naive Me: “Great, then?”

Mandy: “I was packing up some leftovers and used the tupperware and was like, ‘Whoa.’”

Naive Me: “’Whoa’ what?”

Mandy: “Hon, we have glassware, not tupperware.”

Naive Me: “…”

Mandy: “Weird, right?”

Naive Me: “NO!”

Oh, and I should mention here that if you’re squeamish around talking about genitals in a civilized, grown-up, adult manner…I’ll see you Thursday.

Anyway, let’s get to it. First up:

The Spoon

I open my eyes and I have a bird’s eye view of a soccer stadium. I don’t really follow soccer (or futball, to my international brethren), so I don’t know how big stadiums get, but it was gigantic. Step-aside-Thunderdome-Papa’s-here kind of gigantic. And I say a “bird’s eye” view, but I’m not a bird. In fact, in the dream, I don’t have a body period. It’s just like watching a movie play out from that sourceless perspective.

Anyway, thing is, for how enormous this stadium is: it’s completely empty. Not abandoned, just plain empty. No one on the field, no one in the stands, nada. As I fly closer, my vision zooms in and I see there is someone in the stands. A single person high up in the stadium’s seating. My vision gets closer and I realize I know the person in the stands.

It’s LeBron James.

What’s he doing, you might ask. Well’p, he’s sitting there, calmly eating a Yoplait yogurt.

The only two things that make this weird are the last two elements that complete the picture.

One, he’s using a spoon to eat his Yoplait, not the folded foil cover like a normal person. And not just any regular plastic spoon. He’s using a piece of silverware, like brought from home. I don’t know why, but it struck me as fundamentally abnormal.

Two, a feeling dawned on me about that out-of-place utensil. To this day I can’t place my finger on how this identification or relationship formed, but I am certain of it. I realized, intuitively, unambiguously, and indubitably…I was the spoon.

It was like an out-of-body experience, but instead of a human being, I was a spoon watching itself be used to feed Lebron James Yoplait yogurt in an empty soccer stadium. And it wasn’t a sexual thing at all (as far as the psychologists I haven’t talked to would probably tell me), I was just a spoon helping a famous athlete enjoy his yogurt.

Say what you will, but I remember feeling very safe there in that moment being a spoon.

The Take pt 1: So, I think this should be obvious, but everybody I’ve told this dream to has offered in trade the oh-so-insightful divination that “I’m weird and/or probably gay.” (Don’t think so, but who knows? It’s a spectrum and LeBron’s admittedly a peak human specimen, objectively. At the time of this posting, jury’s out.) I might make fun of that interpretation, but truth is I don’t really know what to take from it. I was a spoon that felt safe in the gigantic hands of a famous black man that used me to eat yogurt. Hell, maybe it’s a metaphor for my future? Or a sign of father issues? Maybe I- actually, no. I’m spit-balling and that was supposed to be your job, not mine.

Next clip!

Grad Night

I’m standing on a pedestal with a spotlight hanging over me. It’s empty blackness all around. Just me, the pedestal, and the cone of light. Out of the dark, maybe thirty feet away, comes walking a woman in maybe around her mid-thirties. She stops about ten feet from me, looks me up and down, makes that “impressed Obama” face and gives me a thumb’s up, before walking away off into the dark.

I’m confused at first, but then I look down and realize I’m naked. Nude. Sportin’ my birthday suit. Buck-ass nek’ked.

Soon another soccer mom steps out of the dark, followed by another, and soon another after her. An infinite conga line of cougars (not say mid-30’s qualifies, I’m saying there was an age range, okay?) extends out to the distant horizon. One by one, they approach in an orderly line, compliment me on my penis [EDIT: I must have written a dozen different words before finally settling on the basic term of anatomy (“peen”, “wang”, “cockadoodle”, “mah dick”, etc) – just so you know] and then walk off into the void.

It was never anything specific, they would just walk up, say something like, “God, just, good for you young man” and then leave. So I did whatever a self-respecting Beta-male would do and absorbed the moment and savored it the way I should: with hands on my hips and a grin with an awkward raised eyebrow sidekick.

A moment later, everything began to spin and blend together. The next I knew, I was “waking up” – the way you do in dreams, but you’re still in it, Inception-style – at my uncle’s house in my cousin’s bunk bed. I had the top bunk – rad – and was just rubbing my eyes as the bedroom door opened. In walks my uncle carrying a covered silver tray, the fancy kind you see in movies about super rich folks. I’m thinking, “Sweet, breakfast in bed” and sit up nice and tall.

He walks over, wordlessly places the tray on my lap, pulls off the lid, and can you guess what was on the tray?

Was it bacon and eggs?

Waffles with a cube of butter?

Oatmeal with raisins like I’m a freshly retired city worker?

…nope.

It was cocaine. Five neat, straight lines of cocaine.

My uncle looks at me, mutely pumps his eyebrows like he’s a proud cat presenting a dead bird, and proceeds to do a line straight of my lap. He does that classic coke movie “Woohoo!” as I wake up for real.

The Take pt. 2: So, like the Spoon Dream, there was nothing erotic about this one. I get that it’s about being naked in front of an endless line of ladies, but genuinely: it wasn’t actually sexual in the slightest. This one’s called “Grad Night” because for my high school’s graduation party, among the many kickass stations they had set up, one was a dream interpreting station some poor mothers decided to volunteer for (bless their hearts). At this point, I’m seventeen and this dream is a few months old, so anybody who’s heard it is dragging me to that tent. I sit down and reluctantly given them a PG version of events which, as you could imagine – like watching a censored-for-television Tarantino movie – kind of left a lot out of it and left them confused. So, round two, I told them everything as you’ve just now read and this is what they (Oh! Bear in mind they had to act like they were psychics and receiving the interpretation like a vision!) had to say:

“Hmm, well. Yeah. What I’m getting from this is that you have a great…mmm, gift deep within you that you’ll share with a lot of people. Probably women, predominantly. You have a healthy sense of esteem and…[EDIT: I’m sure they were going to say an ego problem, but left that part out] Well, any way, the part about your uncle…hmm, I’m feeling…you’ll soon be offered something dangerous by someone close to you. Make your decisions wisely.”

A lot of the stuff about the “gift deep within” was actually kind of extra funny because at the time I was graduating, I was planning on going into Emergency Response and EMT training (wound up not being right for me), so I thought it might be kind of applicable. When she added the “predominantly women” part, it got screwy. By their divination then, I might be entering psychology, some sort of activism role, or porn (TBD on all three – we’ll see where life takes me).

Anyway, hope you enjoyed, and if you have any alternate meanings you saw poking out from between the lines, feel free to share.

Catch you Thursday, everyone.

PS – I have NEEEEEEWS! Another story of mine, “The Scars of Eliza Gray”, is currently in the works to be featured on the NIGHT LIGHT horror podcast in a few weeks. So stayed tuned, ’cause I’ll be posting updates as I get them and blasting it out there once it’s up! Also keep an eye out and an ear open for the episode where we discuss and give our takes on Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and “Us”! Yaaaaay!