Veteran of the Psychic Wars

If things get any weirder, I’ll have to check the water supply. Just when I thought things were going to calm down, this weekend delivered a better curveball than any I’ve ever seen in Major League Baseball. And I want it all to go away, just for a day.

I had a different attitude about change once. Change isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the way of the universe. There would be no life without it. Every belief and creed is based on that: God calls forth Light; Vishnu dreams a new dream; a void explodes; the end of a cosmic status quo. Change can be exciting. I can’t be the only one to think so.

Still, some people panic. They run and hide, assuming the worst, lashing out. They hold true to the ancient Chinese curse and make it prophecy. May you live in interesting times. So you can imagine what a downer it is when somebody freaks out and you have to spend the next several days picking up the pieces.

I’ll bet you’ve noticed a total lack of hard info in my kvetching here. I won’t go into the specifics, not here. I’m tired of that. It’s the trend, not the event, that’s getting to me. The schtick, not the dialogue.

I’ve spent the last few days kicking ass and naming names. I never wanted to do it in the first place. I keep getting volunteered to be the pointman in someone else’s war, knocking down their personal demons just to defend myself. I want to speak in a soft tone, civil, mature and sensible. I’m tired of shouting. I feel like I ought to carry around a water cannon just to have it on hand in case someone flips out again.

Again. It always happens again. No rest, no peace. The pace and the tension goes up a notch every day. It takes so many energy–sheer willpower–to keep someone under control when they don’t want to be. Each day for the last three years, my will gets spent faster than I can recover it. It gets harder to get out of bed. To eat. To write. To care. And I have to keep doing it because no one says it should stop. No one except me, anyway.

Hence the references to Blue Oyster Cult at the top. (No, no fraggin’ omlaut. Deal.) The song of that title was based on Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, the cosmic hero reincarnated again and again to yet another conflict he must resolve. In college I lost my interest in the mordant weariness of the character in all his guises. When my life began to take on the tone of those stories, I finally understood the character. He wasn’t morbid or world-weary. He was burned out. The battle between Order and Chaos never ends. In it, ethics become a luxury.

I’m the only one playing by a set of rules. A few entries back, I raised the question of whether preying on other people was the right way to go. It’s times like this when the idea seems the most appealing. I feel beaten down, and yet the only time anyone gives any quarter is when I beat them down in return. It happens so much that I wonder whether this is supposed to be Life’s Great Lesson or something. I was raised to believe in the Golden Rule. Left to my own devices, that’s how I’d do things. But that doesn’t protect me…more like the opposite. It leaves me vulnerable to those who won’t play by the same rules. I’m forced to fight just as dirty just to make them back off. And the arguments get more brutal, more draining, each time.

Ironically I started the weekend on a very different note…courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Jamie got a copy of the DVD in a steal of a deal, so I filled my brain with webbing for almost 24 hours. It brought up a lot of memories.

Strange as it sounds, I learned more about ethics and morals from comic books and the Bible more than I ever did from my parents. Even now, I see ol’ Spidey as a spiritual mentor. A totem, maybe? And while lots of people have written off Sam Raimi’s flick as just another soul-sucking, money-hungry Hollywood blockbuster, he captures the heart of that character. For all the garish color and adolescent wish fulfillment, there is a strong philosophical message in Spider-Man. “With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s the whole point of the character and thus the movie. The script places protagonist and antagonist on opposite ends of the issue of power. The Green Goblin represents a reckless, selfish use of power, the darker and older instinct in humanity. Spidey has realizes that someone else suffers when power is used selfishly. He made that mistake once and, as Spider-Man, struggles and sacrifices to atone. Instead of being a martyr, paralyzed and impotent, he grows into maturity and becomes something greater than he was at the start.

And it’s that message that informs my actions, even now, after three decades. I just hope I have the strength to stay in there and…well, keep swinging.

No Fur Flying, At Least…

Yesterday was Nita’s Urinary Infection Day. Her problem was still going on after two days, and still no clue and no urine sample, so we turned to the experts. Jamie packed Nita off to the Allen Boulevard Vet Clinic for a few hours and let Dr. Mark Nielsen get it from the source. Of course they had to get off the exam counter before they got it into the specimen cup. After a few drinkee-poos, kitty-kat kut loose.

The diagnosis was a more confident one, but still had a tentative ring to it. Apparently the urinary tract is uncharted territory. (I guess I can’t blame ’em. I sure couldn’t fit in there.)

But at least every other possibility has been eliminated. It’s urinary for sure. That’s our number one suspect. We minded our P’s and Q’s, and that’s what it all trickles down to.

In blog space, there is no pun tax.

Jamie and I used to host a local writer’s group meeting thingie. I’m starting to wonder if this was ever meant to be. These meetings hardly ever happen anymore. I know everyone’s busy and, since we’re not exactly rich, these are basically trying times for all of us. All the same, something about people not showing up…it really brings me down. I mean, what’s the point to the whole group anymore?

Maybe men really are allergic to rejection. The slightest whiff of it drives me up the wall. I’ll stop there before I start sounding all weepy or something. “Oh, the world sucks, no one understands me! Rhubarb, rhubarb, martyr rhubarb….”

I wasn’t sure, but I guess a few people have been reading this after all. Every once in a while, someone comes up to me and asks if I’m okay or something. I don’t know why that’s such a surprise for me. In the last entry, I practically hint at going postal the way most people might talk about going Democrat or Republican.

“And how are you voting this year?”

Postal.” Insert maniacal grin here.

I’m just used to writing and not getting any apparent effect out of an audience. When I write something, no one stands up and applauds. It’s just me, a cat, and her tiny tiny bladder in the room. Looking for feedback is a waste of time. Someone says it’s good. When I ask for more detail, the answer comes back, “It’s really good.” It’s hard to tell if anyone’s there at all. I’m not a TV set; I need to know someone is receiving. I’ve written things to shock or get people mad just to see if anyone’s really listening. It’s a waste of time. People don’t turn into English lit. scholars when they’re massively cheesed.

Dickens would’ve shot himself with help like that. “Do they say anything about Miss Havisham’s wedding cake? A single word about the double irony about Pip, Estella, and Magwitch? No, no, it’s just ‘really good’! Forget it! I quit! I knew I should’ve gone into taxidermy….”

So anyway, I’ve gotten used to working in complete isolation. I didn’t show anyone my work for years. I just did it. I couldn’t stop. I had words and images in my head, and I had to get ’em out of there. I was convinced that being alone was the best I could hope for. If there was no audience, they couldn’t ruin it for me. You don’t get applause or cheers either, but after years of people laughing at the wrong parts and nitpicking even my choice in word processor, I stopped expecting any.

And frankly, most people can’t see what’s in front of them anyway. In high school, I was on self-destruct. For days I would walk around, at home, at school, with my hands coated in my own blood. I know of only five people who took a second glance. OJ gets off scot-free. Posers and corporate shills are lauded as artistes. My prez the Shrub argues with the debating skills of a mummified walrus, and even without evidence, he’ll get his war.

And I expect people to wake up half a minute just for me?

So whenever I get a clear and positive response to something I’ve written or said, I’m stunned. Old habits die hard.

The Rush Hour of Our Discontent

I’m not quite as liberal as Jesus, but I’m not too thrilled with the election results. Locally it’s pretty good for my li’l hobbit hole, but throughout the rest of the United States…well, I think the next six years are going to be a long, hard ride. I can only hope the music scene picks up during this Bush’s administration as it did for Bush Senior. At least we’d have a cool soundtrack for the disaster movie to come.

Of course we had Kurt Cobain to kick everyone’s butts into gear back then. Marilyn Manson (the goth answer to Sideshow Bob) and N*Stinc ain’t gonna cut it.

And man, I need something to go my way here. Our cats–all fourteen of ’em–are rapidly turning into the Typhoid Mary brigade. Nita, a dilute tortie introvert/assault vehicle, has some kind of urinary infection. Jamie and I took her to the vet a day or so ago, and we’re still puzzled as to why. She keeps bleeding all over the office, so I’m surrounded by puddles of watery blood even as I write. Visitors are going to think I’m a devil worshipper or something. (“See? I knew it! He wears black all the time, he’s got heavy metal records! He even does blood sacrifices fergodsakes!!!”) Meanwhile a couple of Jamie’s Japanese Bobtail kittens, henceforth referred to as “JBTs,” keep chunking charlies all over the rest of the house.

We’re living in mortal dread that more than one cat might need professional medical attention at the same time. That’d take us instantly into three figures. Even if we weren’t in the throes of bankruptcy, it would’ve hurt plenty.

Anyone who’s kept up with Jamie (or her blog ) knows a lot of this BS already. For me, it’s a different kind of pain. I never thought I’d ever have to file for bankruptcy, let alone spend enough money to go there. Technically it’s not being filed in my name, but I’m about as screwed. All our efforts are being channeled to fix it. We’re bleeding money. And frankly it’s humiliating. A bunch of strangers show up at my door, demanding that I account for money I never saw. Yet I see all around me things bought with that money. And I didn’t want even half of it. The whole situation is ridiculous, at least to me.

I’ve seen some strange things in my life, courtesy of very strange people, folks who were eager to believe anything, no matter how absurd or outrageous, as long as their consciences or perceptions got an easy out. For a long time I was surrounded by such humanoid creatures, subjected to more personal demons than Max von Sydow, forced to tangle with them just to free myself of them. And I learned, like any victim of brainwashing, that reality is liquid. It changes with the wind. People see what they want to see. Dysfunctional people, even more so. It’s taken many years–after the efforts of so many to convince me 2+2=5; that there were five lights when I saw only four; that meddling with my life was their way of loving me; that I was a monster for not letting them get away with it; all because it suited their pathetic ends–for me to trust my perceptions again. So it takes a lot of thought and willpower to override the fear of retribution invading my flesh like an electrical shock when I speak my mind. Part of me wants to hide every time I feel anything. It might not be what someone else wants me to feel.

They say he who dares, wins. I look at all the horrors that happened in my life, at the ones plaguing the world at large, and the kinds of people who profit the most from them. I forget who was it who claimed that a barbarian has the upper hand in any battle because he’s willing to do anything to win. Of late, I begin to wonder if that person was right.

And a horrible thought strikes me: Is this what it feels like when someone is about to go postal?