3/22 Timewarp.

On Fatherhood.
3/22/05

“Don’t you ever want to be a father?”

I’ve certainly considered the idea. I mean, I can’t even get laid now, so that’s obviously far, far in the future, but I sometimes think it would be nice to have a kid. Then reality strikes my brain like a bolt of lightning: everything would have to change. I would have to change. I’m not the role model I’d want to be. Too many things would be in conflict between me and the girl, whoever it would be. I mean, I’d never allow my kid to grow up within the structure of some religion. I’d never allow her or him to be conditioned like that from such a young age. There’s no way. I’d have difficulty with the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy thing, because that confused the fuck out of me when I was a kid.

“No, dear, there’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s no such thing as monsters. No such thing as ghosts. Magic doesn’t exist, except for the tricks.”

Yet I’m supposed to believe that some obese motherfucker in a red and white suit fits his bloated ass down our chimney, fills up our socks with goodies, leaves presents under the tree, eats milk and cookies and then, by placing his finger on his facial booger-factory, zooms back up that soot-covered smoke-hole back to his flying sleigh, parked on our roof, with eight flying reindeer and one with a luminous schnoz like Bill Clinton’s so he can do the same to every other children’s house in the world before making it back to his toy factory in the North Pole where crafty midgets make toys for all the world’s children with brand names on them?

And people wonder why our world is so fucked up.

And besides that, would I really want to raise a kid in this world? I really have to contemplate that one. I mean, I know it sounds pessimistic, but our education system’s crap, our society seems to be headed for self-destruction, and we’ve got a numbskull like Bush running the country. What am I supposed to say to him after I first see him as he squeezes out through the sacred lips of his mother: “welcome to hell, kid, somehow I thought this was a good idea”? Or, “it’s not my fault, blame the poor quality of the rubber”? I hate to be so bitter, but considering how miserable I feel and have felt, would I really want to throw a child into the same sea of vomit-inspiring stimuli? Is it better to be born into hell, or to never be born at all?

And another thing, which, judging from the fact that I held off throwing it in this post until just now when it’s been at the forefront of my mind all along, is actually more of a concern that I wish to let on, even though by saying that I might have let on: I know how weird and lonely I feel; how out of place. Whatever’s inflicted by brain — psychosis, neurosis, the introduction of various elements of extraterrestrial psychology by means of transgenics while still in the womb as part of a slow process taking place in certain bloodlines over generations in a program unerringly aimed at creating a perfect mix of humanity and them for the purposes of colonization through living in a body that has naturally adapted to the earth’s ecosystem over a long process of evolution, or whatever — would it be ethical to pass it on, to multiply it?

I just don’t know.

But the kid thing keeps popping up. I don’t even know why it keeps pushing itself into my mind. Like that child-hallucination I sometimes have in my lucid dreams — or astral projections or out-of-body experiences or whatever — the one that named himself Josh: is he, perhaps, just some fucked-up manifestation of my desire to be a father? Of my fear of being a father? I don’t know.

I always have that fear that years from now if I ever have a kid, I’m going to be there in the hospital holding him for the first time, and I’m going to look down into his eyes and — he’s going to give me a big Cheshire Cat grin and I’m going to get telepathically sucked into his pupils.

Don’t ask.

There are two pregnant girls at work. One’s just a little younger than me, and the other’s sixteen. Mitch the manager has a kid and keeps telling me about how cool it is to be a father, to watch this small being you helped create explore life with fresh, new eyes and senses, full of curiosity and wonder, touching objects, giggling, looking at you mysteriously, sucking on their pacifier. I mean, sure, it sounds a lot like just having a midget raver around the house, but still, it gives rise to this two dual responses in me that wrestle and fight like… well, like so many other things. but the point is, it keeps popping up lately. Why?

The girls around get all excited, start saying how they want a baby and all that. This is what Rena calls the `itch’ — seeing another girl with her child and wanting one of their own. Maybe all the talk of children and parenthood lately and the lack of any real purpose in my life has brought out of latency some male rendition of the `itch’.

Unlike so many others, however, I’m not ready to scratch.

My Naked Green-Eyed Monster.
3/22/06

Separating you from yourself and looking at yourself from a third person perspective (and then talking about it in second person) is incredibly amusing: makes every aspect of your insanity amazingly amusing.

This emotion is such a wild one: only guilt rises to meet it.

For instance, I’ve noticed not once, but twice this week now that in particular situations that the rate of value I hold in a person increases my disdain for their happiness when such happiness is not produced by me.

This is, again: jealousy. An unwarranted sense of ownership. A feeling of greed. A total fear of losing what somewhere, hidden beneath the rubbage of denial, you secretly consider `yours’.

Envy and jealousy are relatives. Envy is, through the eyes of the envious, wanting to possess what they perceive to be another’s possession: “I want his girlfriend.” Jealousy, on the other hand, is being protective over what you already consider a possession of yours: it’s your possession and no one else has the right to possess it: “She’s my girl, get your fucking hands off her.” Envy and jealousy go together in a way; it may in a sense be necessary, as you envy the rival possesser’s power over that which you assume possession — “I want the girl you have, because she’s rightfully mine” — but the true emotional focus, in jealousy, is not on the rival possessor and your envy of his powers, but the perceived possession of yours which you’re threatened to lose: “why does she want him instead?” It is a primitive, instinctual reaction to the threat of losing something highly valued: the more intense the reaction, obviously, the higher the sense of value you imbue the `possessed’ with.

Still, it seemingly reduces the subject to an object of possession, which is an embarrassing, shallow perception I seem to have trouble accepting in myself.

Evolutionary psychology says one thing, but your body says another: that’s funny, too. That for men, the act a woman he feels he `possesses’ means more than the meaning it holds for her: a man, they say, is more likely to get over the fact that she feels something for another man than he is to get over the fact that she’s fucking or kissing another man. For a woman, its reversed — so they say.

Perhaps this just goes even further to show that as heterosexual as I am, I tend to take on many psychological characteristics typically associated, in modern culture, with the feminine.

Because I’m looking down at that green-eyed monster right now, happy for the moment that I’m outside his skin, and I’m laughing and laughing at how ridiculous all this is: twice in the same week. Now, much angrier than before, of course, but that’s probably due to the long history with the second, the monster says to me in growls. I laugh. Whatever.

Excuses. Rationalizations. Eyes wide and green and fixated on her but blind to yourself, you’re such a goofy little fucker.

I shall call you: Othello.

I keep my little green-eyed monster in his cage, feed him well: like usual, yes, though now the curtain’s off. You need some sunlight. Little naked green-eyed monster, they can both see you now, because I’m taking this little photograph for them and putting it where they can see it if they choose. Can’t let another Kodak moment pass me by…

Moe’s Labyrinth and Saving Face.
3/22/08

“If this does end up to be a bunch of bullshit,” he says, “I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust anyone ever again. The way she made me feel, I never felt like that before. It was very sincere.”

I don’t want to say, ”I know how you feel,” even though I do, because I’m afraid it would close the door, that it would sound like I was dismissing his pain, that I was competing. That it would be a way of saying, “It’s not big deal,” a way of downplaying his present agony. And the last thing I want is to sound dismissive. Because I’m not being dismissive. I couldn’t possibly dismiss this, even if, well, even if I didn’t, know how he feels though experience.

To lay complete trust in another, after fighting against yourself just to keep your guard up so you won’t be shit on again, and then, after much interior battling and juggling, to finally be convinced it’s okay to open up, give in, let go and trust again, to let yourself be vulnerable due to the other’s convincing sincerity — and only, and seemingly inevitably, to be casually, and so coldly, shit on again…

But I remind myself, so as to not be blinded, that I really don’t know, from experience, how he feels: my circumstance with Kate was circumstantial. One could argue it really wasn’t her fault that she never came back from California. Here, in Moe’s circumstance, the girl is being downright malicious, or so it would seem.

Still, the way he’d explained it to me, how he’d finally trusted in the experience, how he finally gave into it just to have this happen — it sounded so familiar. It’s like you’re hanging on the edge of a cliff for dear life, and you’ve been hanging out there for as long as you can remember. It’s been a long and difficult time, but you’ve managed to keep a hold it all on your own. Then, one day, someone reaches out a hand. You hesitate, you try to be smart about it, but finally, after taking it from so many angles in your head, by honestly questioning and analyzing the situation, you reach out your hand and let it wrap around hers and her hand wraps around yours. You still keep your other hand hanging on, though, because you can’t be sure. A part of you is still suspicious. She’s so convincing, though, so convincingly sincere, and so eventually you put your guard down, open up, learn to trust again, and you let go off the cliff, you take her other hand. She smiles, holding you there.

And then, then she casually drops you. Or in the very least slaps or kicks you in the face.

Thing is, it’s hard for him to tell if he’s over-reacting at this point because he can’t really know if anything’s going on. Then again, regardless as to what’s going on, is he really over-reacting? After all, what she texted him was far beyond suspicious. I had just clocked in to begin my third shift, I was back in the kitchen area by the sinks, washing, sanitizing, and Moe walks passed he grills and fryer vats and he tells me something along the lines of, “I’ve got a bad feeling.” I ask him what specifically, and he tells me he doesn’t know, and I know from the way that he tells me, ”I don’t know,” that he really does know, and the next time I turn around he puts his cell phone up to my face.

On it is a text message. I don’t have to look at it to know it’s from his girlfriend, Stacey. I probably don’t have it down to the exact words, but it went something like, “I changed my mind about tonight, I’m hanging out with Bailey! Is that okay?”

Baily, you should know, is her ex-boyfriend, and they had gone out for quite a long time. Her parents still talk about him. Moe knows he still texts her, and he tries not to be suspicious or jealous, I know he tries to trust her, but it’s not the kind of thing you can ignore. Many might think he’s being unjustifiably suspicious, but this is just a lone node in a network of things; to think his reaction is unreasonable would require taking it out of context. Stacy has pictures of Bailey everywhere, and though I think she took down some since Moe had casually commented on it, they’re still around, and plentiful. She used to have pictures of him all over her bedroom wall. On the sun visor in her car. And as a screensaver on her laptop, which she asserts she does not know how to take off, even though I — not being at all that computer literate, understand — know damn well how to change my own background. And not a day or two ago, Moe tells me, she explained, basically, how much Baily is an asshole. And now they’re hanging out tonight. Not only that, but she’s breaking plans with her current boyfriend, Moe, to hang out with the guy, who is, as I said, her ex-boyfriend.

And take into account the fact that Stacey is not only a physically beautiful girl, but an indisputably intelligent one, which puts her in a certain disadvantage when it comes to people such as Moe and me, who just happen to know that she is intelligent. How could she text something like that and not think that it would spawn a relentless sea of worries in Moe’s head? That it wouldn’t spawn jealousy and concern in him?

Considering her intelligence, it’s just not possible that she couldn’t know. And since she’s not stupid, one must come to the conclusion that she wrote that text knowing that it was going to make him jealous. As a result, she either knows that he knows she’s trying to make him jealous or she doesn’t expect him, as jealous as she knows he is, to suspect that it was her intention to make him jealous, expecting instead that his value in her would blind him to the possibility that she could play such a game with him. And in that case, well, it’s just a blatant insult to his intelligence. And, of course, it’s as equally malicious as the aforementioned possibility, if not more so.

All too often I’ve witnessed and experienced girls playing these games, testing guys to see how they respond, to see how much the guy cares for them and trusts them. These women, do they realize the futility of this game? Do they know that this game is a lose-lose situation for the guy?

Think about it.

For instance, if Moe were to call her right away (and she actually answered the phone) and expressed how he felt, what would her reaction be? If he said he knows his feelings might be irrational, that he might be paranoid, but he can’t help but feel absolutely uncomfortable and insulted that she had broken plans with him to hang out with her ex-boyfriend, especially in such ambiguous circumstances and for totally unstated reasons that didn’t take into account his feelings in the matter at all. Really, if he was totally raw and honest with her, what would her reaction likely be? Probably, she’d think he was being a jealous, controlling boyfriend. Moe knows that, of course, and he doesn’t want to look like that, let alone be that, and this is one of the reasons why he’s hesitant to go that route.

But consider the other option: he says nothing. Tells her, “Yeah, it’s okay,” and then leaves it at that. Doesn’t question her, doesn’t express how he really feels. Takes her at her word, tells himself he’s just paranoid, reminds himself that a friendship is a facade without trust, and a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship even more so. What then? And what if she really was doing something with her ex-boyfriend? Moe would feel like a fool, Stacey would see him as a fool, and she’d think he was so naive she could walk all over him and he’d let her out of his immense value and deep care for in her. That or she would take this as an indication that he simply doesn’t care for her — for, she thinks, if he did care for her he would have said something, done something, expressed his disapproval. If he cared for her, in other words, he would’ve acted like the typical image one has of a jealous, insecure and controlling boyfriend.

It would seem he can’t win. Stacey, in a single text, has placed Moe between a rock and a hard place and now he’s just a ping-pong ball bashing his head back and forth from either end. I watch him, and his emotions are like an electric windstorm. He wants to cry, he wants to beat the hell out of something, he wants to scream, he wants to kill. He’s angry at her for putting him in this circumstance and he’s angry at himself. Alternatively angry at himself for feeling this way when it might be nothing, for doing nothing when it might be justified, but forever angry at himself for just not knowing what the fuck to do.

He texted her back when she threw him that text, and just said, basically, “Yeah.” That it was okay. He expected a response, expected her to say something back, but she never did, and so now this war is raging within him. It’s like an atomic explosion trapped inside an indestructible box. No matter what he does, no matter how much he kicks and punches and screams and cries and whatever, he’ll never be able to completely and accurately vent what’s within him. There’s so much within him right now nothing he could say would ever properly articulate it to himself, let alone anyone else. How do you translate that cyclone of emotion? You could be the best writer, speaker or painter in the world and you wouldn’t be able to do it. Nothing but pure interface could ever hope to express this.

I tell him that I know anything I suggest would sound stupid right now, any advice I could possibly give would necessarily sound absolutely lame. That being said, I suggested to him that he call her. Just tell her what he has managed, in part, to tell me. Tell her he thinks it’s fucked up that she would say that and not expect him to get angry. If he would explain to her how he feels, if he would explain to her the complexities I’ve just described here in his own words, maybe he could transmute this lose-lose situation into a win. Potentially, if he said it right, conveyed it in full, she’d know he cares for her and that he wouldn’t look like the average jealous, controlling boyfriend or the naive or apathetic boyfriend that can be pushed around, walked on, and yet raise no complaints.

But he tells me he can’t talk to her now rationally, that he couldn’t be calm about this, and I can totally see that. It just adds another layer of complexity to this. Another twisting hall in this dark labyrinth.

Outside, as I smoke my last cigarette for the night and he’s waiting for his father to come pick him up, I ask him what is going to happen if, as planned, they hang out tomorrow and she says nothing about it. If it all doesn’t happen how he expects it might happen. That he doesn’t get a call tomorrow before they’re to hang out, and she says, as he says has happened before with him, “I didn’t want to tell you because you’re such a nice guy, but it’s not going to work out. You’re just not good enough for me.” What if, in other words, she blows it off, acts all casual and natural and doesn’t break up with him? What if he sees her tomorrow and, amidst hanging out, he doesn’t see a hickey on her neck that she says nothing about and which he knows he didn’t put there; that when he comes in to kiss her she doesn’t turn away, push him back, and finally tell him she cheated on him and no longer wants to be with him. What then?

He tells me he doesn’t know.

I know he’s risking a lot by telling her, by being absolutely honest with her, by telling her how paranoid this makes him. I tend to think a degree of jealousy is natural in any relationship, and that, all things considered, Moe’s level of paranoia, jealousy, anger, fear, sense of betrayal right now — all this is a perfectly rational response to this circumstance, given the context. She was fooling around with other guys, after all, while she was still dating Bailey. Word of mouth, though always spoken in whispers, indicates her tendency to not take commitment seriously. Again, it’s only ”rumor” that has it in this case, and rumor has a lot of things, but again, one has to consider the whole, elaborate context.

Trust is pivotal in a friendship, and more so in an intimate relationship, and Moe has remarked that in the case of him and Stacey, for the first time, he seems to have both a friendship and an intimate relationship. I don’t believe, however, that trust can ever be complete. There’s always some doubt injected into the mix and there’s nothing wrong with that. So maybe it’s not the presence of that level of distrust, no matter how high or low, that makes a relationship a healthy or unhealthy one, but what you do with it. Maybe the important factor is the communication. The honesty. The doubt inspires decay if left alone; it inspires growth in one way or the other, at least, if it’s worked with.

He should talk with her about it. When he’s calm, when he can handle himself, he should tell her about his labyrinth of paranoia completely, with all its complexities, just like he told me. If she hears it in part, in only a condensed form, yeah, he’ll sound like a paranoid, controlling boyfriend. But if he tells her it all, like he told me, she’ll understand not only what he feels but, more importantly, why. And if nothing is going on between her and Bailey, at least he won’t seem like a jealous, controlling boyfriend, but a boyfriend who cares for her and is afraid of losing her because he’s been shit on before. And if there is something going on between her and Bailey, then at least he won’t seem like a naive fool in her eyes, like someone who can be pushed around and stepped over.

For if there is something going on and he says nothing, the time could come where she drops him, and he’ll feel like a fool, even though he wasn’t a fool, because he’d seen what he thought might be signs. And if she doesn’t drop him, he’ll still wonder whether something had gone on, if something is still going on between her and Bailey, and that unspoken suspicion, that lack of honesty with her, it will make him grow increasingly cold and distant from her. Secret thoughts and emotions will pile up and, in the end, things are just bound to get worse.

Communication may not abolish distrust, but it will open the lines, break through the walls building up between people, give the person a better chance at verifying or falsifying their suspicions. And in the long run, either way, they can save some face.

An Elf, Not So Jolly (Senex III).

The first of many strange memories that surfaced when I was sixteen involved an incident which I know occurred on Christmas Eve, though I am uncertain of the year. Judging from the fact that I had my own room at the time, it could not have been any earlier than 1984, which would make me at least six years old.

No matter how hard I tried that night I simply could not get to sleep. This bothered me a great deal, too, as somewhere along the line I had latched onto the idea, no doubt fed to me by my parents, that if I was not asleep Santa would pass by our house and leave us with nothing. As I am a compulsive worrier, thoughts of a Christmas morning without gifts or so much as a lump of coal in my stocking filled my paranoid little mind and that, of course, made it all that much more difficult for me to get to sleep. So I just lay there with my restless mind, trying to give off the appearance of being asleep, painfully aware of the alleged ability of the jolly old elf to see through such a facade and hoping that if, by chance, that were true that my efforts might be enough to earn some sympathy.

For what must have been hours, however, I had been terribly thirsty. While I always kept a cup of water beside my alarm clock on the shelf below the window to the side of the top bunk of my loft bed, I had been afraid to move a muscle, let alone reach out for it. After all, if my sudden movement to reach out for the cup didn’t give away the fact that I was wide awake, drinking the water itself would undoubtedly make me have to leave my room in order to pee, and that would most certainly give away the fact that I was awake. My inability to fall asleep and my tremendous thirst ultimately won me over, however, so I sat up in bed, leaned over the safety bar and extended my hands towards the cup. I don’t know if I ever actually took so much as a sip of that water, however, or if my hand ever came to touch that cup, as in the midst of reaching out for it I happened to glance outside my window.

Once I saw the face staring in at me through the window I swiftly retreated to the far corner of the bed. As I shook in that corner, heart beating wildly, my mind tried desperately to put together how it could possibly be real.

At that point in my youth, I had found it rational to adopt a “Pascal’s Wager” sort of attitude towards the idea of Santa, reasoning that faith in his existence in either case would only be beneficial to me. After all, if he didn’t exist and I called my parent’s bluff, I may no longer receive the gifts that perhaps only came as a benefit of believing in the lie. And if he did exist and was as omniscient as the holiday tales made him out to be, he might very well take disbelief in him as a n insult and skip over our house in his annual rounds. Though my parents had never said it, by that time I had, of course, suspected that Santa Claus was nothing more than a lie parents told children and it was really them that stuffed the stockings hung by the chimney, that it was actually themselves that put the presents beneath the tree.

Yet here it was, Christmas Eve, and there was this strange face at my window. Was this Santa after all? If so, his appearance did not seem at all resonant with what I had been told of him. He had no beard, he wore no white-and-red-colored suit, and that face did not look at all human. Nor did those wide, violating eyes bulging out of that wrinkly, brown-colored skin give off the appearance of being the eyes of a saint. And with that bottom lip firmly pressed against that little monkey-like nose to stretch out that long, unearthly frown, he didn’t have the look you would expect to be on the face of a jolly old elf.

Just as I was in the process of convincing myself that the whole thing had been the product of my overactive imagination, that was when I heard it: a deliberate, persistent tapping on the window. At the sound of it I just locked up and stopped breathing. From where I was the creature at the window could not see me, save for perhaps my legs, and I had no intention of so much as moving, let alone getting back within its line of sight to answer its apparent call. Instead, I just remained there, motionless save for my terrified trembling, thinking that perhaps if I only ignored that gruesome creature he might go away.

A short time later, when the periodic tapping at the window had finally ceased, I thought perhaps that I had managed to will him away through the awesome power of denial, but as I peered down into my dark room and towards my bedroom door, my terror returned and wasted no time blasting to a fever pitch. There was unmistakable movement down there. There was a figure, what I remember as a dark, featureless silhouette, walking through my closed door with the ease of an apparition. I would later call it “the ghost of Santa Claus.”

The figure remained there, before the door, as a parade of shorter forms marched along the wall of my room, towards my closet and the step-ladder at the end of my loft bed. They, too, seemed to be featureless silhouettes, and though basically slender with large heads, they seemed to be morphing in the shape, almost fluid in a way. For years I referred to them as a gang of shape-shifting elves, though I often speculated that the shape-changing nature may have been an inaccurate interpretation on my behalf, inspired by the coupling of my unadjusted eyes, their actual form, and the shadows they cast on the wall as they moved.

In any case, watching those forms approaching the area where a step-ladder would provide them easy access to me was the very last thing I recalled regarding the events of that night before Christmas.

The next thing I knew it was morning, and not only were the events of the previous night still fresh and clear in my mind, but I had the distinct, nagging impression that far more had occurred; things which, try as I might, I was entirely unable to recall. An ominous shadow seemed to drape itself over the excitement that traditionally filled me in untainted form on Christmas mornings. Cautiously, I told my parents about it, hoping that perhaps they could provide some sort of explanation. The only person that had anything to offer was my father, who suggested that the whole incident may have been a hallucination due to dehydration, but that interpretation was far from satisfying.

The question as to what had really happened that night hung with me all year, and by the following Christmas I had a plan. In an unfortunate coincidence, I believe that this was the very year that my parents called me into their room and announced that the whole Santa thing was, as I had long expected, a lie parents told their children. A confusion seemed to fill the room as I cried, for, as they quickly revealed to me, they would have thought I had by that time figured it out on my own anyhow. While in a deep sense I most certainly had, they had, with their sudden and unexpected announcement, entirely eliminated the only explanation I had within my worldview at the time for the events that had occurred the previous Christmas Eve, leaving me with nothing but a frightening, mysterious memory devoid of a ready-made context.

Despite the grim revelations only hours before, that night I remained awake in my room until the early morning hours with my camera in hand, staring at the window, all my senses acute as I patiently awaited the return of that frowning creature and his vertically-challenged henchmen. Of course, they never came. As much as I knew there was no Santa, as strongly as that had now been confirmed, I felt the comfort of thinking that perhaps I was wrong, perhaps my parents were wrong, that perhaps he was real, and that this could still explain what I’d seen that night — and that the mysterious beings would reappear in anniversary of their previous visit and I would capture evidence of their existence on film.

At some point during the second grade year, our teacher had to take a leave of absence, at which time a substitute teacher came in to replace her for what I believe was the remainder of the year. It was a maternity leave, though so far as I know it was an unscheduled one, which seems strange, considering it should have been anticipated. Regardless, at some point after she took her leave I remember feeling ill during school. When I went down to the nurse’s office, however, I seemed incapable of describing to her what the problem was. I was only able to convey to her that my head felt strange, that I felt dizzy and confused and was unable to walk straight. Quickly, I picked up on the fact that this was not enough for her, and that she suspected that I was only faking an illness to get out of class, but she nonetheless permitted me to lay down on the cot she had in her office. Grabbing the white curtain around the cot, she drew it around me, concealing me from the office and the rest of the world, and there I lay alone, the nauseous feeling escalating, my mind spinning like a top. Though I would have no way of knowing it back then, what I was experiencing was almost drug-like, almost like a psychedelic experience. In tandem with the symptoms previously described, I began seeing strange, spinning visions in my head that were frighteningly vivid and horribly perplexing. In these visions, I found myself running around in this room at high speed, trying to find a way out. The room was dark and everything was draped in this eerie, red highlight. Chasing me around in the room were these creatures, these little monsters, that looked like demented versions of the Muppets, and one of them in particular I recall staring down at me with its big, buggy eyes, beneath which it wore a long, unearthly frown.

My parents were called and they took me home. I remember that I stayed in bed a lot, and my mother grew concerned due to the time I was taking off from school. I only recall that I felt depressed and frightened about something that seemed beyond my ability to explain. When my mother came into my room one day while I was in bed and confronted me, however, revealing that she knew I wasn’t sick and pressing me for some explanation, I didn’t know what to say. when she questioned as to whether it was the new substitute teacher I didn’t like, I figured that was as good an explanation as any, so I “confessed” to it. My mother seemed satisfied, and understanding, though she did say that I had to go back to school, and when I later asked her whether she told my teacher that I “hated” her, she said that she had told my teacher that I had problems adapting. That made me feel awkward for the rest of the time that we had her. What made matters worse was the fact that I couldn’t articulate what was truly wrong.