Friday, March 26, 2010

Lawn Darts and I, 1971 or 1972.

It was hot, so like any other Panama City Trailerpark boy, I was in cutoffs and dirty white converse sneakers. The kid on the other side of the ditch was buzz-cut and bronze colored just like me, only barefoot, his parents were poor. We were tossing a pair of Jarts over the low-hanging power-lines which ran parallel to the dolomite road and his trailer house. White and Blue. It was deep summer and everything was emerald green, so there must have been a recent rain, as it would have been dusty otherwise.

A short fence ran below the power lines and there was a shallow ditch just in front of the fence. I stood on the roadside, in the crushed dolomite, because I had shoes and he didn't. He is looking up, with his right hand high and quick as lightening at just the right moment, he snatches the jart right out of the air. Grinning like he'd won a gold medal, he watched me sail the second one up, and wham, another perfect performance!...

We'd been at this for a while now, because apparently he'd gotten bored with the agreed upon rules of throw-catch-confirm-ready-throw-catch - Brag on each other - - repeat

I snatched the first one out of the air like a pro, proud of another fine catch. I look over the short fence,. I think he was a year older than me, I looked up to him a little, and ... well my memories aren't very clear before this memory, and after wards it took a while I think before everything got back into a harmonious system. I have vague notions that his family life was horrible. I witnessed a ... well I saw him and another boy doing things boys weren't supposed to, and even then, when they got old enough it was supposed to be with a girl! And that paragraph is destined for another story.

But I look over the fence, and little bronzed trailer park boy has a grin from ear to ear, but no Jart. And then two things happened at once, and my exact perception of time isn't that great for that moment, but my primary memory is of how cartoon like he looked. His eyes suddenly got double their size, his hands began to fly up to his mouth and he tried to say something. Something hit me in the head. And then He just drained of all color. He literally went from bronze boy to what my redneck brain could only think of as (no offense) a yankee! It was like the color fell out of him, through his feet. Something was ran down my nose, and dripped off my nose and into my right shoe. It was red, and more of it fell all around my foot as I was looking at my foot. Then, my head kinda wiggled, and the jart landed on the ground at my feet.

About then, the A+B=C of it all hit me and I ran and I screamed all the way home. It as a fair run for a 6yr old, I'd say just over a quarter mile. In the kitchen door, I didn't want to bleed on the carpet, that was a standing rule, no bleeding on the carpet, or else.


She is in the kitchen leaned up against the counter with the kind of dramatic lean that only a red-headed trailer park wife of the trailer sales lot of Cedar Grove, Florida can have. Smoking another link in her chain... and watching All My Children, ironically. And she turns disgustedly from the TV, as I expected, but then she had a whole body spasm and looked momentarily shocked. And then busted loose with the standard string of words in trailer parks to this day, "What the hell's wrong with you, quit that crying, what are you a wimp or something" And that is very close to a quote, because I've heard that part of the story at more than one get together. From her. It's a family tale. :)

And I stopped crying, because I knew one thing for damn sure, I was no wimp. And she cleaned it up with some peroxide, and I don't think a doctor was even considered right away, because I don't really remember well at all for a long time after that.

there's the memory of my parents being physically violent, that stuck out. We moved shortly thereafter, to Crystal River and they were divorced shortly after that...

I'll get down to the last bit. I get curious tonight and I hit wikipidia and start feeling the scar and imagining the angle of entry, and I narrow it down to the portion of the brain that is responsible for Self Awareness.

Self-awareness is the awareness of the self as separate from the thoughts that are occurring at any point in time. Without self awareness the self perceives and believes the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment.

I got really lucky though, I'm guessing that the Jart had to enter the skull at a depth of an inch or so, just to have enough stuff there to hold it upright, and it fell out on it's own accord so it didn't get me as deep as the boy in the video, and it was miraculously well centered so that the point of intrusion likely swept between the hemispheres and cause only surface damage.

I almost have a headache suddenly. But I'm glad I found this out because it sure explains alot! I've got an excuse for being an insufferable know it all with the bad habit of saying things that probably shouldn't be said, and in a calm rational manner. I'm just trying to help!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

“About me” A thought provoking notion

I loaded up Barbed Wire Monkey this morning to write a post, and I realized, My personal information was rather bare. I scanned down the list, wondering why I hadn’t filled any out yet, and how long it may take to complete, I’ve got other things I’d like to finish today… etc. And my “right brain” as I call it, seemed to have been amused by the About Me section. I’ve come to think that our brains are more than just two hemispheres of some miracle organ, so much as a beautiful example of evolution at it’s finest failures. It’s a long, convoluted story that I’ll get to at another date. I am going to give you a long paragraph (those who know me won’t be surprised), about my mind theory, as it is very pertinent.
I read a science story about a frog mutation that was usually fatal, I didn’t remember at the time, but Mr. Soluri, my highschool biology teacher taught me in 1983, amphibians have two-chambered hearts. They are limited in size, endurance and a vast number of other ways that humans are not, as mammals have an improved design, with four chambers. In much the same way as a 4-stroke engine is preferable to a 2-stroke engine. But this frog mutation resulted in two hearts forming inside the frog, effectively giving them the correct number of chambers, but configured in a fatal way. When I read this, the way my right brain understands genetic mutation and evolution caused me to experience what the Greeks called aporia. It’s where you run out of information and are left speechless. In other words, it’s the new frontier, unsettled land if you will. And an inquisitive mind stands there and begins to construct, where an un-inquisitive mind will turn back, and say “I can’t go there.”

So I stopped for a moment and focused on the particular thing that had caused me this mentally unbalancing pause. Imagine you’re walking, holding hands with someone, and suddenly that person stops walking. Are you the type of person that becomes annoyed, and drags at them, slow down to their pace, and look at them to try to determine what’s up? I felt this way inside my own mind. This time I stopped and investigated.
Well what if one of these four chambered frogs didn’t just mutate in one way that caused the four chambers, but also in such a way that proved, not fatal, but beneficial! The frog could be incapable of breeding with it’s own kind if the mutation was too great, or it might get gobbled up by a fish, but it also, might survive, and mate with another frog, or many frogs who also were prone to the fatal four chambered heart… well now. We’re on to something here. And as I realized that notion, I had another “right brain moment” as I call it, where I’ll get a faint, mental notion or image of something I’ve read, seen, or thought before. And this time it was several facts:
1. Some human birth defects are fatal, one of which is being born without a brain at all, just an empty skull. I don’t mean this in the funny, you’re a dumb-ass way, I mean it in the tragic, you’ve carried a child to full term and are expecting a happy new addition to the family, and a dead baby comes out because, though it is completely functional in every way, there is no impulse to drive it’s organs. It was alive only because it was on autopilot. It’s a great tragedy
2. A human being can be born with only half a brain, and again, I’m being serious here, even though the statement is inherently comical stay serious with me here.
3. A human being can survive losing half their brain, say to cancer, and still have a happy, long life after the loss, only paralyzed on the opposite side of the body missing the brain.
4. A human being having terrible seizures can be saved from certain death by having their brain cut in half, as the seizure is a “noise” “feedback loop” that bounced from one half of the brain, to the other, getting louder until it gets so tired from the effort they fall down, exhausted in the failure. You can imagine this clearly buy thinking of two people, trying to explain something to one another, and getting louder and louder, until they get blue in the face and pass out, or Democrats and Republicans trying to discuss Healthcare.

So, how did we get two halves of our brain, stuffed inside one skull? Think about it people. Real Hard. And as you do, chew on this notion. People who have split brained surgeries develop two, separate personalities, each controlling half the body. In this condition, the right hand literally does not know what the left hand was doing. If I had this problem there would be so many spanked tushes I’d get put in jail trying to go to Wal-Mart.

But my brain is in two pieces still connected, thank you. But I realize there just MAY be another me over there, and maybe he’s smarter than me. (Egad, what if it were a she, over there?)

My belief in this dual-mind causes me to stop when I’m “given pause”, because I realize that I may be missing something very important that my right brain can’t tell me about with words, because ironically enough, the portion of our left brain that generates and orders our thoughts into words and speech, is in all other primates, devoted to accurate memory. Please read this paragraph again, even if you think you got it. I read it five times to make sure I had it right, it’s a really difficult brain pretzel for me, the me on the left that is.

I think my right brain is far wiser than I. And I was given Great Pause over the About Me section…. And this is what I got when I stopped and thought about it a while.

I am an insignificant organism.
I live on the outer crust of a body of space junk whose core is so hot, it may be as hot as the surface of the sun. The stuff surrounding it is melted into a glowing hot mud we call magma. On top of this layer of mud, is a very thin crust of hard stuff, about 20, of the 1800 miles it takes to get to the center. Imagine the skin around your arm being crust.

I live on this skin. My species was once nearly extinct, but now has covered the skin in what I would consider a splotchy, putrid, infectious rash, if the earth’s skin were on my body. I would go see a doctor if I had an infection that did to my skin, what we are doing to the earth.

I’m male, I have offspring, I have a mate and there is great disharmony between us. My extended family is spread far, and in poor communication. I am a primate, who requires close family, and a cohesive community for complete happiness. It is my instinctual, nature to be this way, and as such, I am unhappy much of the time, if I do not specifically remain conscious of how things really are, and not how my nature craves them. (I have to exert mental effort to maintain my happiness, but I am most often successful).

The crust of this planet is surrounded by a very thin layer of air about 500 miles thick. I need this air to survive as it allows my body to combust the food I eat, and continue my life. Beyond this thin layer of air, is the harsh reality of the universe. I am only capable of life in the lowermost section of this layer of air. All in all, with the layer of air and the earth below, all 2300 miles of it, I can only survive in roughly 5 of these 2300 miles. That’s a thin layer only .21% of the whole.

This ball of stuff surrounded by air is spinning at 1000 miles per hour, orbiting around the sun at 65,000 miles per hour and our solar system is orbiting around the galactic center at a speed I can’t find on the internet quickly, and our galaxy is hurtling through space, faster with each passing second, at over 2 million miles per hour.

Add this to the recent scientific discoveries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. They have just begun to scratch the surface of this, it’s about as well understood now as rocket science was in the 1800’s. And we have routine advanced in rocket science! So far, the majority of the people doing the science on things Dark, tend to believe, all visible matter composes only 15% of what’s out there.
So imagine how it changed people’s idea of the world around them when it became known that the stuff we breathe is actually SOMETHING! That there’s atoms floating around out there, and that’s what we just found out about the “vacuum of space”. We’re essentially floating in Dark Matter where we thought we were hurtling through space!

So what in the hell can I really say “about me” no matter what I say, I’m only going to be 15% sure, and in the big scheme of the universe, I’m so fragile and insignificant, me writing something “about me” is about as relevant as asking a bit of plankton about its neighborhood, what it does to survive and its family tree.

I can only conclude I’m nothing of consequence.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love at First Sight

Some years ago, I was a married man in new town. I liked my wife, but I certainly wasn't deeply in love with her. She was very cool, and we had many of the same interests. I had intended to retire, but as (mis)fortune would have it, things worked out to where I got in over my head and had to go back to work.

My usual tactic for seeking employment worked. I never "ask for an application". The first words my future employer will hear from me is "I'm ready to go to work, who do I need to talk to." I've never been without employment for more than two weeks using this tool by the way.

Several days later, while getting a tour of the sawmill and fabrication facilities, I was closely paying attention to my new boss, as I will do. I'm not generally distracted with ease. We walked through one building, where they were gluing wood planks into "panels" which would then be milled into cabinet door parts later. We started walking into another part of the plant, and as soon as I walked through the doorway from one building to the other, I immediately lost all mental focus, his lips were moving but I was not registering the words. It was one of those moments where you have a "notion" but you have to concentrate on it to decipher its meaning into words. (I think the prophets of old mistook this as the voice of god(s)) It took a moment, but "There's someone here you're meant to meet." was what I got. I tried to get back on focus as he showed us one machine where huge glued up panels were being sanded down into tabletops. There was a woman there working the back end of the machine who was so tiny, I felt less a man watching and not helping, until I saw she wasn't sweating, and had two full carts behind her! But she wasn't the one. That was simply amazing, not someone I was meant to meet. I just "felt" that, and then we walked around the corner, and there she was. Flowing long red hair, built like a brick shithouse, riding on a "mule" an electric pallet jack with a deck on front you could stand on. Imagine a small forklift without a seat.

It was like something from the movies, ray of light, heavenly chorus, the whole nine yards. I was as if every woman I'd ever had a crush on was rolled into one.

Several months of flirting, a year long affair and two destroyed marriages later I found myself expecting my first born with her. We never did get along well, we were far too different in upbringing. 14 years have come and gone since that fateful moment I laid eyes on her. The relationship was so bad, I no longer to hear her voice, see her image or even endure thoughts that make me think of her. I cannot hate, for it destroys peace of mind, but my lower brain functions WANT to hate her. I refrain because I know my daughters must have a good opinion of their mother in order to attain mental stability later in life.

It was some time later, 8yrs into the hell, I think, I read an article in "The Smell of Love".

I realize now, two brilliant, athletic, beautiful and healthy daughters later, my "lower" mental functions, ones left over from the countless centuries of evolution beyond the 6,000 years many believe the Earth to have, simply detected an optimal mate for me. As a result my amygdala caused the secretion of increased dopamine, adrenaline and epinephrine and who knows what else, and caused me to love this person for the sake of reproduction and the well being of my offspring, by remaining with her, regardless of the emotional abuse, infidelity, drugs and poverty induced by her pursuit of happiness outside our family. To this very day, it would take only an occasional act of kindness to string me along indefinitely. Fortunately, she's not able to manage it, and I believe I can finally break free.

If you've found yourself heartbroken, obsessed or depressed over someone you have met. If your pulse quickens, and your eyes dilate and you find yourself hanging on their every moment, most likely there are forces deep within your mind, and deeply rooted in your ancestry, screaming at you like a referee in an Ultimate Fighter ring, "Let's get it on!" Do not mistake if for true love, or "the one", and blindly march into a committed relationship. Statistically speaking, you'll get your heart broken.... proceed with caution, and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of emotion, attachment an fondness. But beware, as a side effect of this love cocktail of hormones, you'll be unable to detect the personality flaws of this person until they hurt you enough that your brain stops making these love juices. You may find yourself married and with new life on the way obligations for life, because you didn't understand your biology.

Know thyself and the truth shall set you free" Jesus

Friday, March 12, 2010

Barbed Wire Monkeys

In may of 2007, my world was turned upside down. 7 years into a hellish relationship, with two perfect, healthy children 7 and 5, my father passed away. I got the call about close to 10:PM, they told me that my father had been found without a heartbeat, in his room at the old folks home. They didn't know how long he had been dead, but they had worked on him for about forty five minutes before they got a steady heartbeat. The first question I thought to ask was, "what was his body temperature when he arrived at the hospital." I don't recall the number exactly, but my intuition is that he was 8 degrees below normal for him, which was at the low end. He wasn't really all himself mentally there at the end and his health was just gone, years of managing his sugar addiction by self-regulating his insulin, combined with an MRSA infection and a host of other ailments not the least was losing his toes to poor circulation.

So I arrived at the hospital, after, for the first time ever in their lives, asking a neighbor to watch my kids. My significant other at the time didn't reply to my texts or answer her phone for over an hour, and by the time she got home I was nearly back from the hospital. Smelling of Margaritas and not terribly steady on her feet (a common situation for her at that bad point in her life) she'd arrived home close to midnight, she'd been out dancing with her "friends". (drinking buddies) The next day, my trip to the hospital ends with a phonecall from the parking lot, "... I didn't know this trip up here was going to turn into some kind of ****ing bedside vigil, I thought you just needed to sign some paperwork..." as I'm watching a nurse siphon some rather wrong colored fluids up from my dad's lungs so he could "breathe".

She didn't come home that night. Not unusual.

Things weren't happy at home, but how could they be. The year before the only time I'd had off from work or parenting was two trips to see a movie, half a day, and I had to endure accusations of infidelity to get those few hours off. She was gone at least 3 nights a week, and out drinking on most of them. She blew through so much money it's not funny, while we lived in poverty almost. We were not cold or hungry, but we had no luxury, and she did as she pleased.

Three days after my dad died, I find myself walking down the stairs, again, listening to her denigrate my family and my morals, cursing me and calling me all manner of foul words I'll not repeat, and she sparked on a particular "word-fist" that just struck me in a place I was unable to put up with, "... you'll wind up old and alone in a house with your feet rotting off, just another *&^($*& child molesting *&&^$*&# &^#*&# just like your father..."

I had shared many intimate things about my past with her, much to my chagrin, for I'd never thought she would turn them back at me as weapons of words. I do not have full recollection of who my molester was, I survived several head injuries throughout my childhood, and I have very dim childhood memories, and by the grace of God or Random Luck, however it may be, I failed to record the awful events, but I had many of the telltale signs. She had speculated about every male member of my family at some point in the years of verbal abuse, even my dad. But not 3 Days after he dies, alone, in a home, because my wife was too selfish of me and I to weak to get rid of her, alone. I feel ashamed of this, to this very moment I type.

I went up the stairs and ran her out of my house, I broke things, I shouted, I jumped down the stairs and landed on the landing like a silverback gorilla in full rage. But I have no recollection at all of touching her.

By the time the police arrived she was telling them I had shoved her down the stairs and was acting acting like an angel, pretending to be blameless. I did over night in jail, and moved into my dad's house and the divorce proceedings began.

The abuse wasn't over, but it was the beginning of the end.

I was at someone's house about 6 months later, looking at their bookshelf and I was most astonished to see a book I had been asking for. That very day, while riding around with my good friend, and boss, I had spoken the words, "I wish there was a book that explained human behavior." And there on the shelf was a book titled, "Understanding Human Behavior".
It was a college text, psychology 101 or something. And the owner saw my interest, and loaned me the book.

I was like a sponge, I loved it! One of the first chapters covered a series of psychology experiments done in the 60's I believe. Baby rhesus monkeys were taken from their mothers and raised in small chambers, without social interaction, in isolation. One group was given a fluffy stuffed animal with a warmer inside, and milk was provided by the same stuffed animal. Some of them had un-heated mothers, others had just wooden planks, or a board with a towel wrapped.... and one group were given a cold, wooden plank, with barbed wire wrapped around it. I cried when I read that.

For the first several weeks, given the choice of a cold stuffed animal, or a warm board with barbed wire on it, they chose the warm board. After this initial phase, the most comfortable surrogate was chosen, regardless of warmth. They raised these little monkeys this way, and then suddenly, introduced them to a socialized group.

During times of stress, they'd scare them to test them, and a frightened baby monkey would return to it's mother and cling to it, even when that perceived mother was a barbed wire board and there was a soft fluffy stuffed animal there.

So these monkeys are introduced to a social group. The ones with warm fluffy mothers integrated quickly, and formed nearly normal friendships with nearly all other monkeys. The ones with cold stuffed animals and warm toweled boards were the next most normalizeable group. Even the ones given warm boards and even warm ones with barbed wire made at least some friends, and would socialize. But the barbed wire monkeys, they always shunned the group, and if they ever made a friend, and they seldom made more than one, it was another barbed wire monkey or one of the other less fortunate mother types.

It dawned on me that many of us are just that, we're barbed wire monkeys. Our parents, in many cases give us little nurturing, we just grow up alone, taking care of ourselves or sometimes our siblings too. And we have problems with relationships later in life, and our friendships are often lifelong and few.

So what kind of monkey are you? One of the lucky ones, with a healthy social group? Or a broken home, and abusive home? And how has that affected you, and the people you interact with. How often do we consider the status of the monkeys around us, and see them for what they are, and how they've been "programmed". Or do we judge them, and use their "lesser" status to feed our own need to feel better than someone else, or group of people.

I ask you all to take a look at yourselves, and see that scared monkey within that we all have. Has it managed to normalize? Will it ever? I realized the other night that most of the sorriest points of my life, I don not blame them for it but, are the results of those around me, whom I care about, behaving irresponsibly and selfishly. And it came to me, that most of us, are still the product of our programming, and not the masters of our own destinies yet.

If a person is on autopilot, and not writing their own program, can one genuinely hold them responsible for the harm they do? I don't know, but I think we should begin to see the people around us, particularly the ones who have harmed us or caused us suffering, and not see them in such a hard light. They may not know how to change.