Mildly Medicated Meditations on the Mind.

Mind or consciousness is a spectrum composed of moods or states of consciousness traversed by conscious awareness, which accesses or abandons a given state by means of reacting to internal and external triggers. As awareness shifts from one state to another within the confines of working memory, there is a corresponding shift in personality, memory and perception.

There are, of course, two aspects to the conscious personality we’re talking about here. Each state is composed of a distinct ego and persona in a committed, monogamous pairing. One’s conscious attention or awareness is bound at once to the field of consciousness, through which it adopts a personal masque or ego specific to the internal or subjective context, and the field of the senses — the simulation within consciousness of what’s beneath and beyond the skin — through which it adopts a social masque or persona specific to the social context.

The social masque or persona, said Jung, is a collaborative creation of both the individual in question and the social groups to which the individual belongs. In a given state, the persona would be the aspect of the personality that relates to the social context of the external world. Anyone who has been incredibly drunk, has been under the influence of a recreational drug, has gotten really angry, happy, depressed or horny — has also had the golden opportunity to observe just how highly dependent personality is on state. You behave differently, adopt a different posture, you say different things, you relate to others in different ways. A friend might say to us, “Who are you, and what have you done with Ben?” After a night of heavy drinking and embarrassing behavior, we might excuse our behavior by saying that we aren’t like that. We weren’t ourselves that night. We were just drunk. Others may provide this excuse on our behalf, of course, if they see our sense of personal responsibility becoming too burdensome. In any case, all of this reflects the fact that the persona is relative to state.

While we relate through and are perceived as being the persona, we experience things through the ego of a given state. The ego, our self-image or personal masque, is a result of conditioned reactions to personal experience in the state. Our ease-of-access to memory is limited to those memories which conform to the mood or state we find ourselves in. When we are happy, we most easily recall memories that resonate with that emotional tone; when we are angry, we can remember only the countless things that have pissed us off. This is state-specific memory. In assistance is state-congruent memory, which refers to the fact that when we remember something, our recall will be more accurate the closer our present state is to the one in which we were in when the event we’re trying to recall actually occurred. Not only are we more likely to recall depressed memories when we are depressed, but we will remember those events most clearly, and will find it difficult to remember anything but. The state does not only designate what we can remember, but how we remember. We may share memories throughout various states, but they will be different versions of the memory, each colored by the nature of the state in question.

The way we perceive the world will also be highly dependent on our mood or state. When we are happy, the world seems to glow and everything seems beautiful, as if there is some awesome benevolence permeating all of existence; when we are angry, we live in a malevolent, belligerent cosmos entirely void of any vague semblance of justice and its every man for himself, and the virus of humanity should be subjected to a global, week-long storm in which napalm rains from the sky relentlessly. Aside from these potential bigger-picture perspectives, I should add, there are specific projections as well.

Each state defines the nature of the relationship between their monogamous persona-ego pairings as well. States are generally more prone to introversion, emphasizing the ego, or extraversion, in which awareness is directed towards the persona. A rather extreme state of introversion, for instance, would be the dream state, where not only is our attention directed inward but the volume of our senses have turned down to the absolute minimum and our physical body is fixed in a state of paralysis. So states would appear to dictate not only how we perceive the world, but what world or worlds we perceive.

The locale in which our present state and all its specifics reside, be our attention directed to the senses or the imagination, occur within the perimeter of what psychologists now refer to as working memory. Working memory draws from both sensory memory and long-term memory and stores information in short-term memory, which under the right conditions ends up in long-term memory. While its capacity is certainly limited, there is debate as to how limited. Popularly, it is believed under normal conditions to hold five to nine “chunks” of data at once. In essence, working memory is the home of our awareness, which dons the ego-persona personality specific to the state we currently find ourselves, through which we can only remember specific things in a specific way; where we by necessity experience the world through a mood-colored and projection-molested field of sensory data.

We do not, of course, routinely traverse all the states on our personal spectrum of consciousness. Instead, our habitual experience of life tends to elicit a relatively short list of specific states — and it would seem just for that reason, for in being routine, an experience would provide routine triggers. Personality is an elaborate network of habit patterns relating to how we handle our thoughts, emotions, imagination and body. In the eyes of others and ourselves, we are in essence or actuality only what we are consistently.

Those in the community of Neurolinguistic Programming refer to a “baseline state,” or the state we typically find ourselves in. There resides our typical personality. The baseline state also designates the way we typically are perceived by others, the way we typically perceive ourselves. And our corresponding, and hence characteristic, projection-haunted perceptions. And the state-dependent memory bank, of course — the soil that holds the roots, supporting all of the above. Evidently, even in the event of a tragedy these personal and habitual colors of the consciousness spectrum hold strong. The “durability bias” refers to the fact that people tend to greatly overestimate the duration of the state they predict they will experience in the aftermath of a personal tragedy. Be the trigger minor or major league, it would appear that we return to our typical “baseline state” in good time.

Evolution of consciousness would therefore appear to involve two things. One, changing our patterns in various states; two, learning to traverse states intentionally, which would, of course, involve us learning how to access states beyond those that constitute our baseline.

Incongruence.

The relationship I have with myself, which I will assume for the moment that we all have with ourselves, is pretty damn ridiculous when you think about it. To boot, the nature of it could suggest that there is indeed in some sense a duality in consciousness, which is unnerving.

Consider the sad, pathetic facts:

I keep the time on my alarm clock half an hour ahead now so that I’ll actually be ahead of time even though the clock says I’m running late. My roommate does this as well. We’re both idiots. We both know that the clock is set ahead. We’re trying to fool ourselves into getting our asses in gear on time, and now we’re both afraid to set the time back, as we fear we will forget and simply assume that the clock is still set ahead of time and end up being extra-late. We can’t stop fooling ourselves lest we fool ourselves.

I’m always intentionally creating circumstances that force me either to make a particular decision or not make a particular decision. If I leave my debit card at home and just bring this twenty with me, I can’t spend any more than twenty dollars. This will ensure that I really put consideration into what I do with the money, for one thing; for another, it places an indestructible ceiling on my spending. So the logic goes. Then your friend covers you when you end up dry.

For awhile I was also bringing only a certain amount of cigarettes with me to work to limit my smoking, but all that did was drive me to bumming cigarettes off of others, which I loathe doing. I decide not to stop smoking pot until I get to the bottom of the stash, and then, at most a day later, I’m buying it again. I’m sure I won’t say I want to hang out with a friend on a certain day unless I’m sure I’ll still feel like it when the day comes, but the day comes and I avoid the phone and work on excuses or avoidance techniques. Its not only letting myself down, but my friend. Killing two birds with one stone has never been less productive.

I say that if you’re going to masturbate, go the whole nine yards and do it the literal way. Never settle for second best. Don’t try to play mind games with yourself, as its always cut off before the climax anyway. You find ways around your own battle strategies against yourself, have you noticed? Go on about your way if you must, but keep in mind the message behind trying to fool yourself into or out of doing something, too.

The message is this: We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t keep our own sacred vows to ourselves. We consider ourselves unreliable. We’ve let ourselves down too often. Why should we trust ourselves?

Even in our body language there lives suggestion of the dual nature of our consciousness. In NLP, they refer to it as “incongruence,“ separating it into both serial and simultaneous congruence. In simultaneous incongruence, it arises internally as conflicting desires or emotions, and this internal conflict is betrayed in our present behavior.

We may say yes but our body language says no. We may try to convey an emotion we’re not really experiencing fully, if at all, and our facial expressions don’t match up to our tone of voice and what we’re saying. In some fashion, we are telling conflicting stories here. It could be that there is but one vital element in our overall sphere of communication that stands out from the rest, and this gives us away. Or perhaps we are sending the mother of mixed messages. Worse yet, we may not even consciously acknowledge the conflict ourselves, which means that in some cases others may be able to discern more about us far more easily than we can ourselves. Johari Window could come in use here.

There is, however, also the matter of serial incongruence. Say its Tuesday. We may really mean what we say and the emotions we express may be authentic as we tell you we’re cool for hanging out on Saturday, but come Saturday we would rather wash a savory meal of dog shit down with gasoline and then remove a mite with our teeth from a homeless man’s ass-cheek than be an active member of any conceivable social situation. We were congruent Tuesday and we are congruent on Saturday, but we are incongruent on a time scale of a few days. That’s serial incongruence.

Here I should pay my well-earned attention. Its long-term choices I usually have a problem with, because freedom ends with the choice until you’ve fulfilled it, and I always prefer to have my freedom quite handy. “Until death do you part,“ is horrifying in its ramifications, as that is a serious commitment you can only die out of. The word “love” denotes an even deeper promise based on your recognition of a feeling that, while part of you, binds you to her and seems to transcend you both. At some level love truly is sincere happiness in slavery, as unromantic as that undoubtedly comes out.

Yes, the way in which I just conveyed that strongly suggests what is commonly known as a fear of commitment, but perhaps it could also be referred to as what you perceive to be an overvaluation of freedom, as that’s really what I’m hearing behind the words when they‘re spoken to me. It’s never a question of commitment, but what one is committed to. All of us are committed by nature to our natures, so I get a gold star. We haven’t killed ourselves, at least none of us entombed in flesh have done so successfully. Barring literate zombies and other incarnations, put uip another point for me on the score-board.

For all of us living, corporeal creatures with our natural , hardwired fear of death, there might be good reason to say that we’re rather committed to life. As much as it might seem that we’re committed to a cosmic asylum or circus life specifically, we have kept our soles planted here for at least as many years as it takes to read, I surmise, so we’re all sort of members of this insane cult we’ve got going here. Some might say we’re cornered in life or trapped in life, but how difficult is the alternative to life if you are sure about it and really want to get the job done? Human life is very fragile. We didn’t make it this far because we don’t value our lives, but quite the contrary. It’s a cult of the willing.

I know I have promised myself I would do or resist doing things and that I have followed through with it. Promises have been made within that have been kept. That’s why any personality is identifiable over time, after all. We are habit, and habit is a long-term commitment.

We just need to manifest that capacity in other areas and it will be recognized as such, not because we are not committed, but because we fail to commit to what others feel certain of or deem as valuable, but which we find doubtful and suspect may not be worth it.

Less cynically: perhaps to get back on the right path, which is always your own, one must build up trust in himself. He should practice making mindful, manageable, relatively short-term vows to himself and put every molecule of might into executing those vows. Gradually, one builds up to long-term promises involving not just oneself but other people over time. But first thing’s first.

Cease the self-defeat.

Invisible Elastic.

You have failed
in giving proper attention
to the invisible elastic.

Appears it has eluded
your gaze as completely
as the horrors you bury within,
the ghosts you so boldly
cold-shoulder.

Know that the longer, the farther
you push this away,
the more lethal and extreme
the snap back
when it finally comes,
when the tension
can hold no longer.

No one can deny who
they are forever.

Embrace it,
for it appears
your time has come.

Chasing the Triad.

According to the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, what brought him to conduct research into cases of children who allegedly recalled previous lifetimes was his dissatisfaction with theories relating to identity. In his opinion, the idea of environmental conditioning and genetic dispositions was not comprehensive enough. Still, he never described how he felt when he found no alternative. When he by necessity found himself on the nurture end of the age-old nature and nurture debate. For that is what the evidence he amassed suggests loud and clear to me, anyway: that we are bundles of conscious self-awareness bound up in elaborate systems of habit patterns, the sum of which define who we are.

Typically, when children speak of a past life they do so at a young age and tend to forget within a few years. By “forget” here one should be sure to understand my meaning, however, which is that they no longer are able to recall the past life through episodic or semantic memory. In terms of the literally active form of memory known as implicit memory, however, recall is retained. Our body language, how we use our facial features and tone of voice, our talents and tastes, our phobias and philias, our writing style, the wounds on our body and perhaps even our facial architecture and body type. We step into life fully primed.

Some of this, of course, sounds quite contradictory with respect to what we know regarding genetics; in the very least it does with respect to the little I personally know about genetics. Looking at my father and mother, for good and ill I can see correlations that strongly suggest genetics to be the culprit.

People have consistently informed me that I look and sound like my father, and that even make facial expressions that seem similar to his. He could be described as an introvert, as could I, and strangers evidently spill their secrets to him as eagerly they do with me, as if compelled by a force beyond their control. Within me, I also feel a need to restore balance and keep everyone happy, to be liked and ensure they know they’re liked and to keep turbulence out of the emotional atmosphere of the group. At the same time I feel the assertiveness of my mother in me, the fear of being controlled or manipulated, the preference to control and manipulate others subtly as opposed to overtly and officially, the stubbornness and fiery emotional aspects of her altogether. I feel I share my father’s depth and my mother’s intensity, if that makes any sense.

Say for the sake of argument that past lives do exist and, as suggested in the reports, we maintain and further develop our habits, tendencies, talents over perhaps countless lifetimes. One has to wonder: how could it be (and would it not have to be?) that we are at once shaped by genetic inheritance in this lifetime and experiences from previous lifetimes? This grows even more difficult to answer considering what I have been reading and writing about lately, namely the maternal and paternal bonds, where a man models himself after his father and models his ideal mate on the basis of his mother. How could this be at all consistent with the reincarnation idea?

Considering the reports in which one remembers not only a supposed previous life, but also the intermediary state between lives, the individual evidently chooses their parents. If this is so, on what basis would they choose? The process of electing parents-to-be could follow the sequence that personal projections of sufficient magnitude and duration always seem to follow: gravitating towards candidate people and circumstances, projecting our own qualities and circumstances onto those others and their circumstances, and using unconscious techniques to manipulate them into actually playing the role you’re projecting upon them if they tend to contradict your projections in any major aspect.

Specifically, it could very well be this: that the choice of a man’s mother-to-be would be based on the maternally-based pair-bond imprint from the previous lifetime. If he instead chose the father, it would be based on the bond forged with the previous father, which provided the model for his ego or, given that, he may simply be projecting on the man. Based on the imprints made by his previous parents, which had been further developed until death, he chooses his future parents. Regardless as to whether he chooses mother alone or father alone, it would end up being the same style of pairing. The same kind of parents raising the same kind of child. In essence, you would be chasing the ghost of a triad — father, mother, son, for instance — gravitating towards and projecting upon a couple that resonates with your parental-bond “imprints” or “attractors” who, once mommy-to-be gains pregnant status, consequently have a role to be filled by you, as the son. In essence, your previous parents possess your parents-to-be figuratively as you proceed to literally possess the fetus that gives rise to their son.

Its consistent with psychology (or the easiest-to-stomach aspects of Depth Psychology) and if you look at genetics through eyes of evolutionary psychologists, it may even be consistent genetically. After all, if we can select mates based on sensory cues that indicate genetic factors without being aware of the process influencing our decisions, why could something similar not be happening in this case?

Collision of Pluto and Mars.

Recently, when visiting my parents, they both brought up how in all their years of marriage they have had only one fight, and in the midst of some mild laughter, my father remarks that he didn’t even remember what the fight was about.

All throughout my childhood, from what I remember, I had only seen my parents in a fight once, and I sure as hell remembered what it was about. I even remembered writing down an entry about it that very day in my diary, and, curious as to whether my memory was valid, I decided to check in one of my old diaries.

I found the entry, which was dated Sunday, August 8, 1993. It happened essentially how I remembered it happening.

As usual, I had not done the chores my mother had assigned me. She blew up at me, explaining with viper eyes and a sharp tongue that she could not rely upon me for anything, that I was a self-centered brat and other such things. This was not an unusual thing with her. A fight like this was not at all unusual for us.

Back when I was reading up on astrology, drowning in it as I do all subjects I research, I had quickly come to find it interesting how my mother and I tied together astrologically. Her sun sign was Aries, and I was a Scorpio, meaning that we shared a ruling planet. Of all planets it was Mars, so named for the god of war. In addition, my moon sign was in Aries, her sun sign.

Indeed. Rams butting heads every step of the way.

Then I went outside, of course, heading towards the tractor so I could begin mowing the fucking yard. First, in the distance, I see my dad throw the weed-whacker he had been using onto the ground in body language that clearly conveyed fury. I didn’t immediately see any connection to the bullshit my mother has just spewed all over me back inside the house. My father practiced godlike restraint when it came to living beings, but when it came to inanimate objects and machines, patience was a short wick in a sea of sparks and the bang was bigger given all he has trained himself to hold back when it came to the living.

My father, interestingly enough, is a Libra, symbolized by those balancing scales of judgment. My Pluto is in Libra in the 12th house. Pluto is my other ruling planet.

My father is a highly empathic individual — to such an extent that it falls into fault. He becomes the pushover. His interest is and has always been to keep the peace, to make everyone happy, which is why he so often finds himself in the role of the mediator. Betwixt my mother and I he so often stood, playing the go-between. He wasn’t concerned as to who was right, He wanted to be fair to both of us, so his chief concern was balance, never the truth.

All he ever wanted was for us to get along. All my mother seemed to want was power and control. My mother never forced him to make a decision, she forced him into executing her decision. He loved her as much as she loved him, but he never used that love against her, and this was a routine practice against dad in her case.

When I was really young, as my mother has told me, he had been working on the stove when he had slammed his head again something and let out a hearty, “Shit!” In response to this, I proceeded to dance about singing, “Shit, shit, shit, shit!” Rather joyously, judging from my mother’s reenactments. It was as innocent as my mispronunciation of the word, “truck,” which was frequently heard by them given that I was quite attached to my toy trucks, but it serves to reveal that my father’s relationships with the inanimate have always been exceptionally contemptuous ones. I understand this well, as I clearly share this quality.

This anger seemed extreme, however, and I was sure to look away as soon as I saw him toss down the weed-whacker. As I began mowing, I then saw my mother and father yelling at one another in the distance. Faces blood-red, my mother pointing to me and my father waving his arms madly, screaming something inaudible over the sound of the mower. All of it struck me as surreal and horrifying, as I had never seen my father stand up to my mother, and my mother is never willing to stand down.

Though I would have much preferred to believe otherwise, there was no question in my mind that it was about me.

I always remembered it was about me. It just blows my mind that this all happened under the guise of me not doing my chores. And I say guise because if there were no reasons, my mother would invent them, so reality held no reins on my mothers deeply-rooted, frequently-stoked rage towards me. Any reason but the root one was a cover; they weren’t truly reasons, merely arbitrary conveniences or hastily-constructed concoctions.

Later, after I was done mowing, my youngest sister came up to me and asked if I knew what it was that our parents were fighting about, and I lied and told her I saw it all as well, but knew nothing regarding what it was about. On my way to hiding in my room, where I would write in my diary, my father approached me and said that he would write my chores down from now on. So mom had won him over, I thought to myself; again, he had folded. As frightened as his anger had made me, even from that distance, it had felt good to see him rise up against my mother full force, if only for a moment. There was nothing good about his anger at all when, face to face, I saw it rise from the dead in his eyes.

The closest he ever came to hitting me wasn’t even an arm fully raised from what I recall, but I saw it in his eyes, could feel its texture and movement in the atmosphere around his body. The inner demon was at the doorway, claws forming a fist around a door that had never been opened.

In retrospect I wondered, is that why my father had wanted ever-so-desperately to go to Vietnam, disappointed when he joined the Army and was never sent to fight? How much anger was pent-up in him, with all his parents had put him through alone? I had sensed that heavy, dark shadow behind him, but never had it come so close to noon; never had his soles swallowed so much of that shadow as I saw bursting in his eyes that day.

I know I was in another argument instigated by my mother. All fucking arguments in the house were, after all. One of them said something to me and I finally barked back with a sarcastic, biting comment and I saw it there. I was running for the stairs the moment I felt it in him, like the feeling I felt swelling in the heart of my friend’s father right before he gave his son a beating. I turned towards the stairs, darting to the top in record time. I didn’t want to be hit and I knew he didn’t want to hit me, but I nonetheless felt he would have had I not bolted, and the rift it would cause between him and I, the anger it would make me feel and the guilt I knew for certain it would make him feel was of a far larger consequence. If I ran, I escaped all that, I bought him time to reconsider, I brought distance between myself and that terrifying energy around him.

He had stopped chasing me roughly three-quarters of the way up the stairs. I had noticed, but that didn’t decrease my desire for further distance, so I kept booking it to the doorway of my room. He yelled at me to come back down there, with a hint of plea that indicated his rage had worked its way back down to manageable anger or frustration. Then he added that he would never hit me, and I knew it was sincere.

He never has.

Projective Polarities.

Consider that every time we actually interact with someone, what we’re really doing is interacting with a representation of that person in our minds. And yes, that is true with respect to the senses, but also think in terms of the minds of those represented people. Something far more subtle and infinitely ambiguous. We don’t know for sure what’s going on in any head save for our own (and in a way, not even that in totality, so maybe we do), and yet we by necessity conjure up an image of what that person means, thinks, or feels to interact with. In the best case scenario, we build our representation of the person’s character based on cues collected through interaction with him and adjust it to accommodate for the constant influx of new data. Typically, we project.

In either case, the end product is the same at the very roots: it’s a mental construct of yours that you are interacting with, that you are producing as your own stimulus, not what the person actually feels, thinks, intends. Barring telepathy, all we can hope for is ever-closer and ever-more-enduring states of closer approximation to actuality in our mental representations.

Given this, we know the other side of any argument we’ve ever had as well as we’ve known our own.  And if we know the opposition as well as we know our own position, we can just as easily adopt the opposition as a persona and project the position we previously held onto another party. What is projected is the relationship, but which side of that relationship, which role you will identify with and which you will project is at the whims of subconscious election.

A child abused by his father may grow into an abusive father himself. He is projecting his relationship with his father, but he is in his father’s role and has pushed his own son into the role he once had to endure at his age. Your endurance of pain earned you the right to inflict it would seem to be disjointed philosophy at work, and it is just this breed of hypocrisy that this form of projecting can produce. A person, once promoted to the position his boss previously had, displays no empathy for those in his own previous position as a peon, just as the boss he’s replacing had done when he had gotten promoted.

Someone punches us and we punch them back.

We have this deep urge to have other people know what its like to be in our position, and to hijack their position and push them into ours. Fighting fire with fire. Becoming the enemy to defeat the enemy. Doing unto others as they have done unto you. And when that fails, find a suitable substitute and work on justifying it to yourself. Victimhood is one of the leading causes of victimization.

It bears the stench of jealousy. The green eyes of envy.

Cyclone of Syzygies.

Beginning in infancy, we are highly empathic with those closest to us, namely our parental figures, a capacity referred to as limbic resonance in the 2000 book, A General Theory of Love. In the book they reveal that empathy is vital for that child’s healthy development.

The maternal bond develops almost immediately, which makes sense, as what is to become the body of the child is, until that body’s birth, less of a body than it is part of the body of the mother. (As a consequence, the child quite literally knows her inside-out.) In the twelvth chapter of Joseph Chilton Pearce’s 1992 book, Evolution’s End, he goes into detail concerning the impact of the maternal bond. Through the bond, the developing fetus shares, hormonally, the emotional experience of the mother. The mother’s voice, heartbeat, and any other rhythmic stimuli will imprint the child’s developing brain, and around the seventh month of pregnancy the child begins to learn to understand language.

After birth, the “space around mother,” perhaps seen as extending so far as the house or extent of one’s property, serves as a second womb for the infant, or so said Joseph Campbell. If one takes a look, one clearly sees that in all the vital ways it really does. Though no longer receiving sustenance through the now-severed umbilical cord, the mother still supplies nourishment, though now through the breast. Emotional sustenance is supplied through limbic resonance and limbic regulation through the mother‘s reactions.

Upon birth, the up-to-twenty-inch-long umbilical cord keeps the placenta and the child connected, providing nourishment in the transition between environments as the mother instinctively holds the infant in her arms. The simple act of holding and touching the newborn in direct skin-to-skin fashion is vital for the child, as it helps remove the protective substance that coats the skin within the womb (though perhaps wiped thoroughly with the squeeze through the vaginal exit if the birth is not Cesarean) while providing vital epidermal feedback through stimulating the child’s nerve endings.

As the mother holds the child, she instinctively does so in such a manner that the infant’s head is held in close proximity to the area of the left breast. Here, the familiar and stress-alleviating sound of the mother’s heartbeat can be heard. The child’s position also serves as the optimal one in which to breastfeed. The production of breast milk in the mother’s body produced a hormone known as oxytocin, which inspires bonding, and there is suggestion that the nature of human breast milk may serve the attachment agenda as well. Among mammals, human tit-juice bears the least amount of fats and proteins, which requires a snack from the rack every third of an hour or so, perhaps of evolutionary advantage because, as mentioned earlier, the act of breastfeeding fosters reinforcement of the maternal bond.

From this vantage point the vision of the child, which can only perceive a human face and only do so at a distance of six to twelve inches, is able to see and imprint the mother’s face. If all goes according to plan, that face will play an important role and we will be turning our gaze to it all too often. We will learn to interpret what the different expressions mean and how they relate to the various tones of voice that we have heard in the womb, which we have already learned to associate with her various emotions, as we could feel them hormonally. In infancy, the limbic system requires emotional feedback through empathy or limbic resonance with the mother, who cues us in on how to adjust our own emotional reactions, allowing for limbic regulation. Visual contact with her face allows us to regulate our emotions through her.

She acts as an emotional prompter, we follow the script drawn up for us in her emotional reactions. If a child falls, for instance, they look up to their mother, and if both verbal and nonverbal cues indicate she is worried, the child cries. Humor could also be a reaction to the fall, and if that is the case the child will take it lightheartedly, giggling away. We can no longer feel her emotions hormonally, but there is a sort of psychic equivalent to umbilical residue, and that is the maternal bond and the empathy or “limbic resonance” it offers. The mother’s face, eventually with the help of body language, serves as mediator between us and our emotions.

Over time, this teaches the infant to self-regulate in the style the child has become accustomed to through the maternal bond. The profound, long-term effects the nature of the maternal bond has on a child was first suggested by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth’s studies in the 1970s. She identified three distinct forms in which maternal bonds manifest. Her studies, as well as the later ones it inspired, revealed how a particular style of parenting at one end of the bond corresponds to a particular type of child on the other. The mothers differed in their empathy with the child and the children differed in the ways in which they handled their emotions.

Most common among the three is what she called the secure child, raised by an empathic mother attentive to the child’s needs. Confident in an area of security around mom, the child will use her as a safe home base to which they return as they go out on their exploratory missions. Once in school, their self-regulation is growing, though they still require an available and empathic parent. The secure child is found to be happy, passionate, empathic and popular among their peers. They go as far as they can with a problem alone, asking for assistance only when it was truly needed. As infants develop, they become increasingly self-reliant, internalizing the feedback system provided by the maternal bond.

A rigid and callous mother crafted an “insecure-avoidant” child unaffected by the mother’s absence and actively ignoring her upon return. Once reaching grade school age, these children showed promise in growing up to be total assholes. Mean-spirited and belligerent to both authority and fellow members of the group, these kids never asked for help, especially when they needed it most.

The last pairing involves a distracted mother that provides inconsistent empathy. She gives rise to a child of a type variously referred to as insecure-ambivalent or insecure-resistant. The ambivalence or resistance derives from the fact that the child appears to seek two diametrically opposing things from the mother figure at once. This is exhibited, for instance, in the child’s dependent act of clinging to the mother when she is near, but his resistance to her when she attempts to interact with him. Finding a sort of unreliable home base in the mother, the child has predictable issues when it comes to a sense of security, and so have difficultly straying too far from her to explore foreign environments. Since the mother fails to provide a sense of stability and security, any distress the child experiences will not be soothed by her presence. Compared with the secure child, the insecure-ambivalent is more likely to experience anxiety, display aggression, be argumentative, lack self-confidence and — undoubtedly due to their full-spectrum hypersensitivity — remain withdrawn and as a consequence socially inept and isolated.

The maternal bond presents to the child her or his first attachment figure, making mom the prototype on which will be based the bonds or attachments the child forges with other social beings. For heterosexual men at least, and perhaps homosexual women as well, the maternal-bond also serves as the model for the pair-bond. We are drawn into having relationships with women and find not only that the women bear characteristics similar to mom, but that the nature of the relationship is akin to the one you had with your mother.

How the mother affects us is a strange story when one considers it. We literally came from inside her. She kept us in the first womb, inside of her, at which point we technically “were” her, and she served as the literal bridge between what constitutes our inner and outer worlds, between us and our beginnings. When we were born from the first womb into the outer world, we actually were born into the second womb, the halfway house of the space around her. Then we gave birth out of the second womb, into the womb of the earth.

With that birth, however, echoes of the past live on within.

Inside lives a phantom mother pulling our strings and pushing our buttons. We came from inside mom, and now mom is inside us. For we have internalized our mother in a sense, having been conditioned with a model for the self-regulation of our emotions based on the style of feedback she provided through her facial expressions, body language, verbal language and tone of voice when we, for instance, fell as a child and looked to her. It is through this that we form our lifelong means of handling our own emotions and relating to other members of the social group. Given this, it makes sense that she affects our view on religion and life perspective: both are far more emotionally based than rational. That the Jungian anima would serve as a bridge and guide between the conscious and unconscious makes sense as well, as that is the role what our actual mothers served during our journey from the first to the second womb. Both her effect on us unconsciously through limbic regulation and the fact that the maternal imprint was the first imprint we had with another living being would seem to justify the associations with the unconscious.

Enough about the mother. What of the father? Most research seems focused, if not on the parents as a unit, on the role of the mother specifically, but there is data to be found out there on the nature of the paternal bond.

According to Jerrold Shapiro, professor of counseling psychology at California’s Santa Clara University, a father develops a bond with his child in one of three points in the child’s development. It can occur when still in the womb or at the time of birth. Typically, however, it develops later in childhood. This common delay in paternal bonding is thought to stem from two factors. The traditional role of the father is to provide the essential environment for the maternal bond to develop and to protect that bond. Only later does the bond develop as the father beings to gradually acclimatize the child to the ways of the world around them. The other reason the paternal bond is delayed deals with the intimate level of feedback the father requires of the child. Unlike the maternal bond, it is not a natural and nearly inevitable outgrowth of an incubation period that requires a two-way free-flow of subtle communication. Lacking that fundamental bond with the child, the father has no means of acquiring the intimate degree of feedback required for its development. As a consequence, the paternal bond must often await development until the stage at which the child develops the ability to offer feedback through play interactions and language.

Having read much of Carl Jung and finding myself fascinated by his ideas and observations, I wondered if current psychological studies and experiments might bring down the gavel for me once and for all. Can his concept of the anima and animus survive the facts as we know them today?

That the pair is bound as a syzygy, as Jung called it, makes sense if we consider the mother and father the alpha and omega imprints. As we can see from the evolution of the “attractors,” for heterosexual men (at least) the mother is the base imprint for one’s relations to the opposite sex. The father, on the other hand, is the first male role model, and they craft their own persona or social masque in his image, and so are influenced by his attractors. Dad was attracted to mom, mom to dad. Mom’s attractors were clearly compatible with dad’s. As a consequence, it seems to me that the two would be best seen as a pair, a package deal in our psyches. The pair-bonding style of one’s parents would then become the basis of your own pair-bonding tendencies.

Sounds complete. There are missing pieces to Jung’s anima-animus duality, however. Pieces as big as his yin and yang. Pieces like hermaphrodites, homosexuals and bisexuals, for starters.

Heterosexual men and heterosexual women are different. I mean this, of course, in a sense that points beyond the obvious corporeal trimmings. Our instincts do seem to be traditionally different, and we acquired fundamentally different evolutionary strategies based on our fundamentally different evolutionary aims. This suggestion has been reinforced again and again in the field of evolutionary psychology. The behavior of both simply makes sense given the context provided. Some differences are as instinctual as the genitals are biological. Heterosexual men and women bear instincts that seem fundamentally distinct, mutually compatible and logically consistent with their sex-specific evolutionary aims and strategies to continue the species-specific path of evolution. In light of this, what seems to be a more likely evolutionary scenario?

Did women and men develop their instincts independently, through mutations naturally selected out of their interactions with one another? If so, perhaps while men usually get only masculine instincts and women get only feminine instincts, occasionally there is an anomaly — like a man getting a woman’s instincts, a woman getting a man’s, or either getting both? Or did the instincts develop as a unified mutation bearing both mutually compatible instincts, with one of them triggered to life when genes switch in accordance with cues from the genome? If this is the case, the instincts or archetypes for both male and female exist at once in a person, regardless of what biological sex that person happens to be, and given sufficient conditions in the context of the genome (or perhaps even triggering stimuli in the context of the external environment) the sex-specific instinctual programs for the opposite sex are triggered to life, leaving the other half latent, perhaps inevitably projected.

Still, this is too simplistic, as it does not account for the variance of gender identities regardless of the pairing of biological sex or sexual persuasion, or the gender identities to which we are attracted, regardless of all of the above. There is not merely the biological gender one is and the biological gender to which one is attracted, after all, but the psychological gender with which one identifies and the psychological gender to which one is attracted. One should not neglect to take into account hermaphrodites with respect to gender, however, or bisexuals with respect to the gender to which one is attracted. And it well testified that there are many who identify as neither gender. And within the hermaphroditic realm, there are degrees; in bisexuality, there are degrees. And what of this dear friend of mine, a female with both feminine and masculine features and qualities, but predominantly feminine, could be described as bearing a gay heart with the rest of her technically taking on the role of a hypersexual bisexual acutely slanted towards lesbian? Is sexual persuasion instinctual, and is the sex-identity as well — and do we all bear the full spectrum, upon which we actualize some parts and perhaps project the rest upon another, bonding with them in order to forge a sense of completeness?

If anything remotely resembling the anima and animus is to survive these accommodations, it will have to be more than a mere duality. It will have to be woven in different colored threads than the black and white spools Jung conceived and have many knots among them. Even duality, it would seem, must vanish in the sygyzy for those who do not identify with either sex and yet have the plumbing popularly attributed to both. And here I must emphasize my naiveté: I am but a man in a man’s body attracted to women, so from personal experience I know of no other means of relation in the area of sex or romance but for my boring narrow path of straight-hood. Yet even I — from my comparatively boring (but at least not vanilla) PP-plus-V sexual perspective; from this friendly outside peering in — even I can clearly see that things would have to be much more complex than Jung’s anima and animus would have it.

In the case of a heterosexual male such as myself, at least, if not also for the homosexual female, the notion of the Jungian anima might be a fitting concept.

Spark in the Rift.

Trying to pull myself together now,
as I’m not all of who I really am
and not only what you think I am,
if I am any of it at all.

Not all parts of me are under
my conscious control,
you know?

There’s been a cover-up.
Quarters of my mind are compartmentalized,
as my need to know goes unrecognized
despite the fact that
all of its is rightfully mine.

There are things I don’t
want to do that I do,
things I do want to do
but do not:

ways that I feel
that I disdain.
Memories, experiences
that may serve
to indicate I’m insane.

What other conclusion could there be,
in all rationality, but that there are,
at bare minimum,
two of me?

A split in the inner me.

For it would seem that I’m not
self-aware all the time,
though I know that sometimes I am,
then forget, only to later recall.

Sometimes I am and it’s the wrong self,
as in that clever land of dreams.

Sometimes, however, I’m not aware
of my own behaviors,
or even their motivations,
or why I avoid other actions
despite desperately desiring to,

all the while just marching along
in a well-worn path
as some passive spectator
of my own behavior,
of myself:

a spark of life
caught in an out-of-life
experience.

Well, I want back inside.

I Am Mother Nature, and I Approve This Message.

Some people argue that our actions on this planet are irrelevant due to our significance. “We have control,” they say. “We have gained mastery over nature, and studies indicate that we’re doing just fine.”

Other people argue that our actions on this planet are irrelevant due to our insignificance. “Human beings are such a small part of the earth’s history, she has been around for far longer and has suffered travesties of a far greater magnitude than the mild annoyance we represent at the worst. She is so much more significant that something as petty, small, and transient as us could never hope to have any dramatic, lasting effect on her unless she fashioned us for that very purpose.”

Both attitudes are beginning to look increasingly dangerous to me.

If people excuse their actions as acceptable and inevitable because we are less mighty “products” or even children of mother nature than we are an unsevered limb of nature herself, or perhaps a mere morsel among the many myriad manifestations of her prism-like radiance, than they are ignoring the fact that nature is by no means free of error. To the contrary, her form and behavior suggests to the human mind the qualities of both beauty and bitch, and yet she is neither. She is impersonal. That is the natural: that which is governed by the impersonal.

Dying is quite natural, be it with respect to an individual or a species. Consider that more humans have died than are currently alive. Consider that 99.9 percent of all the species that have ever lived on the planet are extinct. By all means postpone the inevitable in this case, but all roads ultimately lead to the grave. Die trying, die standing: these are all honorable goals in the war of life, but facts remain and should be dealt with. Death inevitably wins. It is only a matter of when and in what fashion.

Nature produces errors all the time, and they can take long lengths of time to fail, but they do indeed fail, and they do so inevitably: fundamentally flawed experiments, inherently unsustainable, and this was all brought to you by nature.

You might jump off a cliff and think you’re flying, and you might even have a death-grip hold on that illusion all the way to the ground, but the reality inherent on the impact, sorry to say, simply has no pity on you: you are still subject to its laws. You might just be part of a clockwork, a mere gear, teeth ground down, not catching, and you’re that one vital part like a main wall that, when it fails, fails monstrously, bringing the whole damn building down to dust and rubble along with it.

Or maybe you’re small, but start a chain reaction, a domino effect that, however rooted in our selfish desires and ignored with the shields of excuses and rationalizations, winds its existentially promiscuous and exponentially-sprouting veins around and through every fiber of not just its immediate environment, but the cosmos as a whole.

Who the hell knows? All that seems clear to me is that invoking nature is no real defense. Its the verbal equivalent to shrugging your shoulders, saying “shit happens,” and following the path of least resistance — which in this case, as so many others, relies on continuing to do what you’ve done before, following the same old pattern. Its a justification for business as usual.

Though I forget when or where I read the Zen koan, it still rattles around in my mind. A Zen master picks up a scorpion, which stings him, and he drops it. Then he does it again, and then again. Finally, a student asks him why the scorpion keeps stinging him, to which the master answers, “It is in its nature to do so.” The student finally asks the obvious question as to why it is, then, that he keeps picking up the scorpion. “It is in my nature to do so.” At that, the student called his master a dumb fuck, and the master was enlightened.

I may have taken some liberties. But come on: nature again? She’s just another cosmic pardon to you. Nature is always the excuse.

Into the Kink.

You wonder where it all started. What events in life may have shaped your tastes and fetishes. Seek and you shall find.

I watched the neighbor-lady across the street from outside my bedroom window with fascination. Often I’d see her two young boys crawl out the upstairs window and onto the roof. From the window, she would scream at them to come back inside. Later on, you might see her chasing the twins around the front lawn with a broom in furious frenzy. Never, however, had I seen her like this, strutting up and down the road between our houses in a skimpy outfit and knee-high, black leather boots. Sometimes a car would stop by, pick her up, and drop her back off some time later.

The boots got reinforced again later. It was my babysitter. Early on, I recall her as this heavy-set girl from next door. She had curly dark hair and wore jeans, sometimes corodouys, that would make a swooshing sounds as she walked and the pant legs rubbed together. She eventually moved to Florida, and then came back to visit unexpectedly one day. Seeing her standing on the doorstep was amazing. The sight of her seemed to charge me. Her hair was purple, she had lost weight and was dressed in a style that would today be called goth, emo or punk. And she wore those knee-high, black leather boots. This, I’m fairly certain, was the first time I ever remember feeling turned on sexually, at least to such an intense degree.

Last but not least, there was my first celebrity crush, Soleil Moon Frye, the actor who played the leading role on the 1984-1986 television show, Punky Brewster, and considering her manner of dress this was also evidently some infantile form of my fetish for punk, emo and goth girls.

It does not necessarily explain the aggressive nature of my fantasies and desires, however. For some time I considered this to be a more recent evolution by means of porn genre desensitizing, in which the loss of interest in one type of porn leads one to more exotic realms of erotica, but then I realized these qualities, though in infantile form, were present in the earliest fantasies I can remember which could be stretched to constitute sexual.

These fantasies began when I discovered, quite by accident, how nice it felt when I scooted on my bed all the way to where the edge of the mattress met the wall and let my leg and perhaps a quarter of my body slide into that tight and comfy little vice. It felt particularly good with respect to the pressure it was putting on my boyhood below the equator. Once I discovered that this was the central reason I enjoyed sleeping this way, I decided to just sleep regularly on my mattress and stick something right in the area of my groin to apply that pressure. This had the additional advantage of not putting me in danger of slipping through the crack between the mattress and the bed, as my bed was a loft bed and it would be a considerable drop.

Shortly thereafter, I found what I felt at the time to be an ingenious use of the pillows my grandmother had made for me. They had saved my favorite shirts once I had outgrown them, sewed up the arm, leg and waist holes and stuffed them with cottony softness. At least one of them was long-sleeved, and it was this shirt-pillow, one could say, that became my bitch. As there is no more effective means of conveying how it was I utilized this shirt-pillow, I shall describe it as if a handless, neck-less humanoid cut at the waist was wearing the shirt. I would bend the arms back and lay them straight and press them together, creating sort of a pyramid-shape placed against the mattress, belly at a slant and the neck and shoulders arched back. I would climb atop this great shirt-pillow of Giza, press my knees against the elbows as I lay my penis-area within the hole lines with neck, shoulders and arms. My body would rest limply between the shirt-pillow and the pillow on which I rested my wary head.

Strangely enough, however, it was some time before I discovered how much better it felt when you rubbed it, or when you thrust a bare naked and now strangely rock-hard piss-missile into the cave of the pillow-shirt in a steady, jackhammer tempo. Certainly even more strangely, it was about as long before I made the connections between sex and the pleasant feelings pressure on or tightness around that naughty region alone tended to produce. Prior to learning the feelings were sexual feelings and that my desire to mount something was an instinct I itched through a convenient plush outlet, my fantasies were different. On the surface, they had nothing directly to do with sex, and I can still remember two of the fantasies quite well.

One fantasy I remember involved a member of the Decepticons, the “bad guys” from the original Transformers cartoon in the mid-1980s. Specifically it was Soundwave, the communications officer and right-hand man, so-to-speak, for the leader of the villainous robots. A large and strong machine, he had the capacity to transform into an incredibly small tape recorder. While in robot form, talking in his monotone, robotic voice, he would sometimes launch out cassette tapes from the deck in his chest, and these cassettes would transform into other, smaller Decepticons who would do his bidding. In the fantasy, I was in the cartoon, trapped alone with Soundwave in a room in an abandoned building, and he was trying to convince me to be on his team, to be one of the cassette-machine slaves, and I was resisting his attempt to be seduced by him, get me to relinquish my control to him. This carried the feeling of sexual, though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time, and the theme that got me horny was the whole seduction aspect, and this theme also infected the fantasies I began having regarding four girls.

One was Punky Brewster, of course. The next two were girls I went to school with, the violent brunette named Kate and the ultra-violent red-head, Angela. The fantasies I had regarding them all were generally the same, and sometimes included all of them, but not in the way you’re thinking if you’re plagued with perverted presumptions to the absurd degree to which I am. Hidden atop a hill in the midst of a thick forest with ever-blue skies above, far away from civilization, was a building. Inside, it looked like an abandoned school, like we might be in some post-apocalyptic landscape, though I would have had no idea what that meant at the time. Inside there were girls who wanted me to join their clan or group. The common image I have regarding how they did this involved being with Kate, their leader, in a dark room. My arms and legs were spread and strapped down to a wide structure like a table and held at a slant. Kate would stand right beside me and taunt me, try to coerce me to join them or be her slave.

Be the starring roles fulfilled by cartoons, celebrities or girls at school, the BDSM theme running through these pillow-tee fantasies is a quite clear one to me. With respect to Kate and Angela, of course, that made sense. At that age, around the third grade, girls in my school tended to express their affection for boys by chasing them down in a vagina-bearing mob on the playground during recess. Once they got close enough, they would grab the boy’s hair violently until they fell to the ground, where they would often then proceed to repeatedly kick him in the stomach. Stranger still and twisted further, all the boys seemed to secretly like it, myself included. Looking back, there can be no hiding it from myself now. It was Elementary School Sadomasochism, plain and simple.

My mother dominated the house. I had two sisters and my father was at work, so the dominance was not only in singular power of mom, but in numbers as well. At school, girls dominated the playground, and the penis-bearing chosen ones were their dirt-eating bitches. I didn’t have a male teacher until fifth grade. Most of my bosses at the various jobs I would go on to have were women. My direct experience of the world was not the vile, oppressive patriarchy the feminists whine about, but precisely the opposite.

It is true that we didn‘t mind the girls chasing us down and giving us a gang-beating, but it was, of course, always them that initiated it, and it was on the day a kid came and fetched me at recess. The teacher wanted to talk to me. I came up to the building, where the teacher adamantly insisted that I had pushed a girl. I had not, of course, and the girls in question denied it was the case along with me. The woman would not let up. She said she had seen it with her own eyes, defending the girl, as if she thought the girl was putting up a front because she was afraid of me. None of the emotions I sensed from the woman made sense or added up. If It only dawned on her in the midst of it rather than from the very beginning, fine, perhaps, but for most of the conversation with me it was as if she was trying to convince herself of the reality of the incident as much as she was both of us, as if that would somehow make it true, which for some reason she desperately wanted it to be. I could not for the life of me discern the reason behind them, or make any sense out of them whatsoever. Eventually, I considered perhaps she had been cheated on or abused by her husband, or perhaps someone close to her had been abused by a male figure, so as a convenient way to vent her anger she had seen what she wanted to see. Maybe the girls at school had picked up their sadistic behavior from their parents, who used violence in place of what they called love.

There was one more adorable little sadist to enter into my life, and it happened right before I moved in the summer of 1988, but in this case my desire took on a whole new level. There were a pair of red-headed twins that moved into the apartment complex cattycornered from my house, and they were in my grade. One was rather quiet and reserved, whereas Claire (not to be confused with the Claire I would meet later in life), the brutal and outspoken one, was the target of my interest. Why I liked her was beyond my comprehension. All I knew was that she elicited a feeling in me that I couldn’t explain and couldn’t deny and would never dream of doing, because the feeling was awesome.

Treating them both like the wild and feral creatures they were, I gazed at Claire, forever with her sister, only at a distance. Even as I stood one day a good distance away from her and behind a tree, the little circle of outcasts that had only recently become my friends were quick to caution me. “Never look such a dangerous creature in the eyes,” went the general message, “for they will take it as a challenge and attack your feeble ass.” Undaunted, I continued to catch quick glimpses from just beyond the vertical horizon of bark, confessing to them in whispers between doing so. The suggestion that I talk to her terrified me, so one of them returned with the suggestion that I write her a letter. Deciding to draw her a picture instead, my next issue was to find out where in the complex across the street she actually lived. No one in my gaggle of geeks knew or had a clue, either.

When I began blabbing on how I liked Claire, however, Spitting Mike caught word of it and approached me. He was this skinny, ugly kid with short black bowl-cut hair and goofy teeth. He spit a lot when he talked. He knew where she lived, he told me, because he followed all the cute girls home. His beaming pride over his stalking didn’t at all deplete the creepy feeling that knowledge had given me, but instead served to beef it up a bit. Regardless, it was through this blithering saliva-sprinkler where she lived, as he offered to take me there himself. He was willing to help me, my cup had remained dry on leads, so I was inclined to let him. Following him home that day after school, he showed me right where her door was. Calmly, he asked if I wanted him to knock, which inspired an instinctive, pleading no. He made like he was going to do it, so I ran for home.

Later that evening, I peddled back over there on my little black bike for some solo recon. Within perhaps a foot or two of reaching the door to the building’s lobby, the door swings open. The twins came barreling out on their bikes, the woman who I would presume to be their mom following behind. Retreat was reactionary. It was fight or flight time and I’d surely have two pairs of snaking bicycle tire tracks running up and down my beaten corpse when the police finally found it embedded into the pavement if they so much as saw me, I felt certain, so like horseshit I hit the trail. I was perhaps a bit too frantic about it, however, as I accidentally turned my front tire off the cement patio, hitting both the curb and the bumper of a nearby car. It was a horrible bumper on a horrible rust-bucket of a car. The bumper made this loud, enduring, weird noise when I hit it and threw little rusty metal pieces about in a swiftly-expanding cloud. I turned my back and took off just as I saw the sister look my way, and I couldn’t manage to convince myself she didn’t recognize me as the guy gawking from behind the tree on the playground. Yet I soon realized that if she didn’t recognize me from school, she might recognize me now as the same weirdo who slammed his bike into a parked car outside their apartment. That was not what I wanted my first impression to be at all.

Despite that, I was intent on giving her that picture, so on the following day I returned with it in hand. A page from my sketchbook which I had filled with hearts, puppy dogs, and poorly-drawn renditions of Ziggy all about it, unsigned, as I still had some hope they might not presume it was me. I was content enough to simply express my feelings to her without the threat of rejection or gross bodily harm. It seemed to have worked in that respect, too, for a day passed and nothing happened. The ever-chatty grapevine on the playground had nothing to contribute. Something seemed wrong, and so the next day I went back to the lobby of her apartment. Finding my picture in the little slot below the mailboxes, where all the misplaced mail goes, I realized that I had put it under the wrong door. Cursing my stupidity, I put it under the right one, which was up the stairs and to the left.

Consultations with the third-grade grapevine on the playground just before school confirmed that not only had she received my drawing but knew that I was the amateur artist in question. Rather than assuming she had made the connection between the drawing and when her sister saw my bike hit that damned bumper, my brain decided to lay blame upon Spitting Mike, who it was easy to believe spilled the beans. To make myself feel less hate for him, I imagined that he had not gone up and told her straightaway, but had rather teased her with knowing who had drawn it but refused to tell her who. I imagined her pinning him to the ground and kicking him in the groin over and over and over again. I imagined that pathetic kid struggling, drowning in a filthy sea of his own salvia as he begged for mercy, eventually telling her, through his gargling and bubbling, that it was me.

When I got home that day, it wasn’t even supper when I got what my mother has referred to as my first love letter, hand-delivered to me by a girl who lived across the street and had known when younger but had since distance from. She handed the sealed envelope to me without saying anything and then ran off the porch. With anticipation I opened it to find a letter that read: “Please don’t write me no more notes,” hence lending credence to the allegation that even back then I could woo a girl.

More persistent now more than ever, the following day I went super-creeper, drew her yet another picture and slid it under her door again. At school the following day, all was silent for awhile. This led me to worry that she had not received it, but such worries were unwarranted. This I discovered during recess, when I suddenly found a hand drilling my face into the woodchips on the playground. A voice I knew as Claire’s asked if I had drawn her those pictures, and after a pause for dramatic effect, I confessed that I had. She asked me why I’d done it, why I’d made those things for her and I told her, through the woodchips and pain, that it was because I liked her. She stopped a moment, fist clenched around my shirt, and when the moment passed finally spoke. “That’s gross,” is what she said, and punched me in the head.

That summer we moved away and I never saw her again. When I think of how she might have turned out, I found myself imagining she has made a delicious-looking latex-skinned, whip-snapping, red-head dominatrix somewhere.