Arrested Development

displaced from my home
pets art music clothes car everything
homeless for 6 months lived in hospital
climbing out of a wheelchair is harder than any mountain I’ve climbed
creating a new home finding 30,000.00 to do it
from a hospital bed
/family/therapists/doctors/nurses/cabbies/grocery people/
complaining to me that I’ve inconvenienced them
was the worst of it
most people are insane orphan 4 year olds
competing everywhere
for the the parents that abandoned them
manipulated through guilt obligation and fear
conditional acceptance
we all suffer
setbacks
it’s part of life
grow (some empathy) the fuck up

How to Deal with a Health Scare Using REBT

  1. I had a stroke. Reality is reality, not the way I think it has “got to” be.
  2. Although I keenly prefer not have a stroke, a preference does not equal a “got to.”
  3. Although I have extra financial and employment hassles with a stroke, that’s all I have—hassles, not horrors.
  4. It could be nice to have a respite from work, which would provide a longed-for break to make art and write a book or two.
  5. I have savings and pension income I am able to live on for life. I am able to take my time and do a really excellent job of rehab & recovery.
  6. Having a stroke could give me just the push that I have been lacking to take a chance on my dream—returning to my profession as an artist.
  7. Having a stroke has given me a golden opportunity to practice accepting misfortunes, rather than needlessly worrying about them.
  8. I can see, concretely, that even the worst-case scenario is not as bad as I had anticipated.
  9. Having a stroke, this is a bad situation, but it would not make me a bad or worthless person.
  10. I am more money-conscious, for example, move into a shared apartment, eat at home more, and buy a new car in five years rather than immediately. This would mean some deprivation, but I’ve survived deprivation before, and I will survive it in the future.
  11. The simple fact of having a stroke, by itself, can never disturb me. Only my bellyaching about it can do that.
  12. Even if I never get a job as well-paying the one I lost, I accept that and still considerably enjoy life, although I could enjoy it even more with a better salary.
  13. Having a stroke provides an opportunity to eventually get a position that may have certain advantages over this one: self employed so a more supportive boss, more friendly co-workers, less pressure, more interesting work, shorter commute times, less crowded work space, or potentially better pay.
  14. Pressuring myself saying I shouldn’t have had a stroke will not help me recover. Moreover, it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more I demand this, the more stressed and distracted I get, and the worse I perform in my recovery.
  15. In the larger sense, health is temporary. Health changes, unemployment, and lost jobs are part of life.
  16. I started at “square one” at relearning to walk, I worked my way up out of the wheelchair and continued to improve.
  17. Everyone has significant discomforts, inconveniences, and hassles in life. This is part of the human condition. No reason exists why I have “got to” be exempt.
  18. It is a relief not to be so focused on competitive work and instead do contemplative art.

This is adapted from Dr. Michael R. Edelstein’s book Three Minute Therapy Chapter 2, on worry.

The Major Sting

The view over Glenmore Dam from the hospital where I learned REBT

astrologists/religionists/ know it doesn’t work
ruthless in their preying on the vulnerable
for profit
those in transition/loss are vulnerable
they seek certainty
where none exists and never has
the demand for certainty created vulnerability
it is the major sting
of loss

A Successful Relationship

According to Dr. Burns the CBT guy, a successful relationship is based on 20 things I find satisfying. So I rate my level of satisfaction 1-5 for each thing. This gives me a percentage when I add it up.
20% – coffee buddy
40%- dining dance sex whatever
60% – marriage
Because a successful relationship means I am accepting and putting up with 40% bullshit.
Because I’m not a damned perfectionist.
There are deal breakers like drug addiction etc. but I am talking reasonable mentally/emotionally compatible adults from the get go.
So what about my relationship with me?
Here I find I am a damned perfectionist.
I must I should endlessly, making myself anxious and depressed for not being perfect.
Then along comes a stroke, and now I’m really not perfect. Now I’m fucked because I’m living with a tyrant. Me.
Oh.
Fuck.
Hmmm
Is there any evidence that I must should be perfect at anything?
Nope.
I highly prefer to, and so I work hard, but I don’t have to.

here is my 20 things:

compassionate
sapiophile/sapiosexual
affectionate
likes art
available
attractive to me
exhibitionist
internet savvy
mentally/emotionally reasonable health
good conversationalist
likes to dine out/coffee shop
likes exercise/gym
likes healthy food
atheism/rational
frank conversation willing to compromise
has at least one strong interest
liberal at least
life long educated learner
introvert

Adults Having Adult Conversation

I wish I could run the universe like you, and decide what is art and what should be shown

Adults having adult conversation are self censoring,

we are not children that need to be protected from the world, and neither are you.

If you don’t prefer it,

push the magic button to make it go away,

then do that for the rest of life

until you die in a soft padded room

with

no light

no sharp corners

no pain

or loss

or pleasure

or hope.

or magic

or love

I am unconvinced of your belief that you can’t stand it

that you can’t handle life

big beliefs require big evidence.

I don’t have to disprove your belief,

you have to prove it to me.

So far I remain unconvinced of your assertions about the nature of

art,

woman,

sex,

me, or my art and it’s intent and meaning.

Perhaps its better that I speak for myself,

since you doing it for me and for art is a tad patronizing,

and poorly researched,

based on, you know,

evidence.

Getting Waxed


courtesy © Caroline Luez Mallet
caroline-mallet@orange.fr

I’m in hospital, last year, victimized by a stroke, can’t move the right side of my body, and my nails and toenails are growing.
So, I ask the nurse, could I get them clipped please? Oh, we don’t do that, was the indifferent reply, followed by an indifferent shrug when I asked for advice on who does it.
Family, get your family to do it.
This is the standard Catholic conservative solution du jour put off of the typical Alberta health system employee.
Hmmm they (family) don’t visit, and not only are they not close family, they are actively competitive and hostile. The kind of people you disinvite from your Twitter feed.
Still, I called up my estranged sister, a former private investigator and current Tantra sex groupie/leader, Eastern spirituality cult recruiter for hire and asked her to come to the hospital to cut my toenails. “I don’t even cut my own!” was the ridicule response.
I’ll pay for you to get it done, she offered.
OK, when will you be by to take me to the mall? Well I’m pretty busy. Well we are all busy, can you make this a priority? Well, the dogs need walking, your wheelchair is a bother, I mean the list of put offs was never ending.
And my nails kept growing into my hand. which was clenched post stroke tight into a fist 24/7 except for therapy sessions where they managed to get it open using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), electrodes attached to my arm. I was selectively electrocuted to make my hand open, at a 150.00 a session to the taxpayer, once a week.
I bought the same machine on Amazon for 80 bucks and use it daily now for an hour a day, but the hospital wouldn’t receive deliveries so I had to wait and use their machine.
So, anyway, the conservative family values option disintegrated into the usual self pity and inconvenience. The next solution was a store I had never been in, at the mall where they would do a pedicure manicure for 130.00. No wonder my sister weaseled out of paying for it, I thought.
I booked an Access wheelchair transport, had to be 24 hrs in advance, for the next day at -30 in summer clothes, as it was summer weather when I went in hospital and all my cold weather gear was in storage. I couldn’t get up 4 flights of stairs to my home, or pay rent, as I couldn’t work or drive, so I returned my Toyota to the dealership as well. Serial loss piled upon loss, even the cat had to go to the kitty homeless shelter.
The Access driver was an asshole. This I discovered was typical. Career drivers are working class conservatives, their base, they listen to Fox news on the radio. We aren’t friends. Also I imagine he was pissed about loading me in a blizzard, his frustrated inconvenience was a tangible thing emanating off him in waves. This wasn’t a medical trip, it was going to the mall, considered by many conservatives as an abuse of the system. He showed his disapproval by jamming the brakes and gas, throwing me around when I didn’t have proper muscles to hold myself up in the wheelchair. In the past my day gig was as a driver trainer for a bus company, I knew he knew how to drive with consideration for his passenger because I know his training. They refer to their vehicles among themselves as gimp-mobiles, the passengers as gimps, sometimes raisins or prunes if they are elderly, and treat the clients like children with dementia. It’s really humiliating.
He got me dumped at the mall, pushing my chair with one arm and leg, in the snow, my first outing since the stroke, I had been indoors in an institution for months.
I was really anxious after the abuse of the ride and didn’t know what to look for at the mall. Later I found out it’s called a spa.
I really had to pee after the cold and the ride, with no options for that obviously accessible and available.
It turned out that there was a nail place right by the entrance, thankfully, the mall was as least a km. long on 2 levels, and they had no washroom anywhere nearby.
200 bucks later I had a haircut, nails and feet bathed and expertly trimmed with the realization this was a monthly expense, and I had no job. Anxiety piled upon anxiety loss piled upon loss.
I was the only male, in the spa, I was surrounded by women, in bathrobes, having just arrived from the waxing booths presumably hairless from the neck down, looking I imagine as prepubescent children or porn actresses for their lovers enjoyment.
They were acting much the same as children in the spa what with a man being there. Giggling at being busted by my gender for having a hairy ass I suppose.
The attendants were all immigrants, Asian mostly, Korean and Vietnamese.
Now I understood why the conservative white nurses and my white sister wouldn’t do my nails. This was nigger work, to use a relevant term from a past age.
They felt themselves above the class of coloured help: their child’s au pair or the spa wage slave that ripped the wax off their hairy rectums. The nurses aids that emptied the bedpans at the hospital were similarly Asian and immigrant.
I once had a coffee buddhy, a retired Brit doctor, and one day I started my sentence with, “As an immigrant you must realize”, which was as far as I got before he exploded in indignation, as I had just called him a nigger in his British conservative mind. He offered me a prescription for Prozac, saying under every bad concept is a bad molecule.
Shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and he took his bad molecules off to die in the niggardly hospital system he helped to create.
The ride home from the mall was awful. My mall buddy from the stroke ward with the walker was too short to climb up the seat of the Dodge caravan. The driver wanted to leave her at the mall which was closing. I suggested we swap because I’m tall, so I managed to stand up and then fall up into the passenger seat, the wind howling the snow blowing at 30 below. I felt like I was in search of the northwest passage on the open Atlantic in February.
The driver stuck my buddy in my wheelchair, crammed her in the back and took off for the hospital. The freeway was black ice, the driver was insane. He obviously had to pee badly but there was no place in the mall for him within the km. of stores. He wasn’t allowed to leave us alone at any rate, why he didn’t stop ahead of time I don’t know.
So there we were, racing on black ice, passing cars going half our speed, I’m flying around inside the vehicle unable to hold myself upright, the driver is steering one handed, the other holding his crotch, his face screwed up in obvious discomfort. We get to the hospital and were left alone anyway, the driver racing for the washroom. I got another Access driver to help unload us and get us inside, I never saw my guy again. I’m not convinced he ever returned, due to embarrassment.
It was a surreal day full of obstructionist class privilege, animosity and assholes, some bearded, some waxed. A typical day on the stroke ward in a Catholic conservative hospital system. A typical getting around as well to outside appointments listening to Fox news and pissed off drivers. They don’t seem to like me somehow….

The Joy of Teeth

I was at the dentist the other day. I felt treated with such care and consideration and empathy. Not the sentimentality that would keep her from removing a tooth if necessary but true compassion.
I was able to recognize that same care and compassion, in me, I was able to finally see it, by her example, in myself, too close to it to see it previously, taking my care of others for granted.
You see, was constantly panicked and hurt and depressed ashamed and embarrassed and worried from the harm done to me from my parent and siblings. They hate us for our compassion for it makes them look bad, so they attack, the narcissists in my life, my so called family.
The knowledge that I can handle life comes with the knowledge that I can give myself this unconditional care and understanding independent of others.
My lifelong anxiety and loss was as a child who had never known anything but institutional care, an virtual orphan who needed to ‘be of use’ to have any worth to himself and only conditionally to others.
I became free of these emotional consequences when I decided I no longer had to ‘be of use’ as I was no longer dependant on others for care, I am self caring. Both sides of the business contract of love and compassion for hire, thrown in the trash.
So my being treated with unconditional care, it an intimate physical way, my mouth, with no expectation of similar return, gave me an example, a reminder, of how to treat myself. I don’t believe that I had ever had a relationship of any kind, professional or otherwise, where there was such obvious care.
My typical relationships were like the social worker in the hospital, whose focus was on what an inconvenience I was, how I made life difficult for her, with my situation, conditions of no supportive family, only able to support myself and my art by working hard, none left over to save, not yet old enough for seniors annual income.
She said, ‘your body has let you down’, whereas I thought my body had suffered a random injury in my brain, and was busy healing, taking care of it.
She scared me, typical of the harsh institutional ‘care’ I had known since birth. When she left, her replacement was even worse, a true conservative sent in to deal harshly with the freeloaders like me. Either get a job or we send you to the single men’s hostel she said. But I can’t walk, and my right dominant arm is flaccid. Doesn’t matter, lots of people in wheelchairs have jobs… My previously agreed upon recovery plan was to apply for government funding for the severely handicapped and stay in hospital continuing to recover and receive treatment till the funding arrived, then see where I was going to go, an institution probably, assisted living, where someone wipes your ass at worst, or set up my own home at best.
I mean this nazi social worker hadn’t even read my file, she was a former welfare intake worker whose job it was to reject folks, with a holy zeal. This I knew how to deal with, having grown up in the welfare system. These types of bullies are common and revert to their sycophantic ways in the presence of authority, in this case the Doc who ran the unit, making a proclamation that it wouldn’t be appropriate to send me to the single men’s hostel.
He knew me as a professional artist, making me the same class of professional as him, the welfare worker knew me as a labourer, my day gig at the time, self employed courier of meds to patients from the hospital.
The system warehoused working class people regularly, on foam mats on the floor, side by side, in neat rows, puking from a nights drinking of Listerine.
I first experienced real compassionate care when I met Arlo Guthrie the folk singer. His Mom had started the Huntington’s Society after her husband Woody Guthrie and his siblings and kids died of this genetic degenerative terminal brain disease. His Aunt woke up one day and decided to set the kids on fire. Brain diseases are like that.
I knocked on his bus at the folk fest where I was volunteering with my wife with Huntington’s disease. Hi we’re with the Huntington’s Society…C’mon in!
Turns out he was mainly an aids worker in NY, touring a bit, and making sure he made time to spend with folks who were lonely and scared and hurting. He wasn’t asking for anything in return, he already had it, he was giving it to himself.
And now since that fateful and loving dental appointment, so am I.

In Constant Sorrow

Dawn and her Mom

I sent a friend request to Angela Gadley yesterday. She had been suggested by the Facebook AI. William Gibson’s cyberpunk world of the corporate and sentient AI has arrived.
She mentioned in a post ‘animal slaves’, a term I used in my profile on a dating site. The thinking being that if your pet has to be ‘good for something’ then so does your man, your art, and worst of all you.
It just so happened that I was expounding on this to a friend with a farming background earlier in the day. He was surprised that my cat doesn’t have to have a ‘job’, he is a cat. Then I said treat your self the same way.
Unconditional acceptance.
When I did suicide prevention counselling, the common cognitive distortion, almost always ingrained by religion btw, was that we must have a purpose a meaning to life, then of course the religion provided that, for a price. They would give us little jobs to do, usually fund raising through evangelical activities, spreading the word of corporate religious greed.
When I had fewer options I sold my photoshop and writing skills to the advertising execs, who seeing the financial value of the same strategy, an anxiety based ‘call to action’, used it in order to sell everything from tampons to cigarettes.
OK now I’m using the same strategy to hurt myself daily.
Why? I had a stroke, so what am I good for?
To counteract this daily I remind myself I don’t need a job, a girlfriend, a life of travel, conditions du jour. I won’t die without that highly preferable stuff. That ‘need’ is treating myself like an animal slave, I have to be ‘good for something’. which creates consequences of daily anxiety, which can lead to depression and suicide.
Or I can work instead to accept myself without condition, and stubbornly refuse to upset myself. If I had a stroke then I had a stroke, I’m not going to make myself crazy about this with the self defeating consequences of shame embarrassment guilt and anxiety, that come from saying I must have a purpose and now I don’t, so therefore I’m useless.
I am and will be using the motivating self helping emotions of sadness, regret, concern, annoyance and disappointment to get my ass to the gym, make art because it pleases me, sing loudly because I’m really ‘no good’ at it, and I don’t have to be, talking to strangers, asking for what I want, applying for teaching jobs because I like to have the money to spend, grants and art shows too, in other words everything I ever liked to do, that’s fun and self helping.
My friend Will Ross whom I met online on FB while he was dying of liver cancer, found great satisfaction in teaching REBT psychology (which what this post is), and asking ‘what good can I make of this?’ when life’s problems arrived to be solved or be put up with. This is a guilt attacking exercise. I get to do all the things I love to do, that I couldn’t do because I had to go to work and be good for something, as well as pay the rent.
Recently, my stroke doctor said I was fired, I have reached a plateau of recovery, he thinks, and should not expect huge improvement now. He agreed I will never play guitar again and should sell it.
Two women friends, one online and one not, said they were too busy to pursue any kind of relationship, friends or otherwise, essentially I am not a priority, whatever the ‘good for something’ reason was in their heads.
So, what good can I make of this?
Same old same old….talk to strangers, meet nicer friends, ask for what I want, exercise, eat healthily, apply for gigs, do things that are satisfying, like putting waffles on Dawn Eyland’s (whom I love like a sister) head.
Being accepted by doctors and potential lovers, or not, describes them, not me, it’s their set of conditions.
I don’t plan on having any conditions on myself, if I ‘need’ a job, or a purpose or meaning in my life I’ll use that. Unconditional acceptance of myself, of you, and the universe, just like my cat, those don’t need a job, they are just fine the way they are. In constant sorrow, sure, and perpetual satisfaction, if I choose. And I do.

Life Drawing and Empathy

Life Drawing and Empathy


Egon Schiele, Standing male figure (self-portrait) 1914. Photograph © National Gallery in Prague 2017

A study of narcissists indicates that you can’t create empathy, or teach it and things like observation of the human body isn’t a magic solution to the problem of caring for another when you only care for oneself.Reading the article it shows that the author has created over-anxiety by extreme self downing. 
Things like repetitive concentration, yoga, meditation, prayer, drawing, music are good distractions from over-anxiety, though not a cure. When I worked in prisons as a drug counsellor everyone said what good artists the prisons created. But it was all the same, detailed , repetitive concentrated work, a distraction. It wasn’t art unless art is the medication of symptoms of poor mental health. 
When I worked with suicidal ex-military it was the same, extreme conditional downing of self and others, an objectifying learned and encouraged in order to ignore empathy long enough to kill. 
Empathy is acceptance without condition of self, others and the universe. It requires using free will and power of choice to accept the randomness of life and the hope and beauty and tragedy contained therein.
When I see a show of any kind of art that is highly repetitive, highly skilled, rubber stamp art all traces of humanity removed I know what I’m looking at: mental illness.
When I see the opposite, from the cave paintings to Egon Schiele, I am filled with the beauty of the hand made mark an act of acceptance of self, others and the universe.
My best art prof Alan Dunning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Dunning) said, your work is looking stylized, you’ve gone back to emphasizing fundamentals. Ya, my wife has a terminal genetic brain disease, and I’m freaking out about it. He gave me a A for the honesty of my work.





Walking

The weather turned warm and I’m out walking to the store and coffee shop. Takes me 45 min to go the five blocks. Thinking of the intrusive things people say to a total stranger in order to either signify their virtue and thereby subconsciously signal their intent to victimize when you walk slow with a cane.
Possible responses.
Can I assist you across the street? is the most common one, How ya doing? is #2. As I’m 6’2″ 180 lbs and I work out daily I don’t require assistance, but folks think others should walk briskly and not impede. So there must be a problem, they would like it if I went faster in other words.
I like to stroll I always have. I have been on first dates where the woman starts speed walking and doesn’t even look to see if I keep up, to which I just turn around and head back to the car. I know she is signifying her virtue, keeping the rules of sidewalk social order, but I prefer a less authoritarian lover.
Can I assist you across the street?
1. Why? (Said to guy trying to impress his date, she rolled her eyes and smiled, she knew he was creepy but it was a free meal.)
2. How? Are you going to carry me? (said with a smile to a nice young church going lady)
3. You just want to cop a feel, I know what goes on…(Said to an attractive to me woman as a banter ice breaker, she looked at me funny…no social skills…)
4. Look at them funny (to the standard religious virtue signaller who is probably raping kids and wants to hide the fact.)
5. Ya,you just want to steal my purse (said with a smile)
6. That’s very kind, I’m good thanks…(said to most folks as that’s why they offered, to hear that they are very kind. I watch them puff their chests with renewed self esteem, and think, man they are more handicapped than I am, panhandling on the street to get their self esteem fix.)

Street survival skills, if they can’t get close to you, they can’t harm you. Predators look for victims that they perceive can’t fight back or defend themselves, because they are cowards, they perceive boundaries as abuse.

They ask if they can help, how are you, and they talk softly so you invite them in close to hear, just like politicians and ministers.They are the reason my Irish walking stick comes with a manual of cane fighting techniques…

How ya doing? said softly by the street junkie person, slithering close, no one else around
7. Take one step closer cocksucker and this cane goes right up your ass…cop voice, cop eyes…

Ah yes, just nice Sunday stroll in the inner city. I love it. It’s my home.