…Problems Arising…

When one is unable to find a settled point of view full of sympathy or sadness after being attacked, unable to let the initial outsized reaction pass through and within after being attacked, unable remove from conscious thought those words used in the attack, opposing forces of attack and push-back create a storm front which rains a river which separates the forces on the banks which remain solid and unchanging while the river carries time away from both.

>If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true or false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced. — Frank Herbert

The contending forces of keeping to one’s self the hurt and anger versus requiring external validation for it all tends to be the fundamental energy draining activity in a given dust up, demanding so much time that the only way to justify it all is to elevate it to principle. Write and wrong, true or false, self or world+dog: these are the things at stake when you’re stuck in that local minima in your mind.

The wiser course of action of course is to avoid the internal contention and the way you do that is to wick off the negativity before it gets out of hand. Find the bigger, broader view of things and you’ll see witness the relative unimportance.

>[H]umans tend to think of everything in a sequential, word-oriented framework. This mental trap produces very short-term concepts of effectiveness and consequences, a condition of constant, unplanned response to crises. — Frank Herbert

Only through experience (i.e., practice over study) of dispatching of conflict in the shorter term (i.e., argument, which is a dialog intended to change the nature of truth) can keep you out of the gravity wells of prolonged dissent. The obvious Catch-22 is that it takes experience in conflict resolution to be able to resolve a current conflict!

I can throw out some aphorisms, “nip it in the bud”, “practice makes perfect”, etc., but it really comes down wherewithal, and the desire to return to harmony and the unwillingness to settle for an enforced peace.

The unplanned response to a crisis is nothing more than running about and putting out fires instead of addressing the source of fires in order to prevent them.

A learned ability: entering conflict despite hesitation & fear with the goal of vanquishing the conflict, not the person.

The unpracticed person will deal with conflict by “putting it behind us” instead of sorting through it in the moment because the unpracticed person never developed the chops to stand up, arms out, and let the unpleasantness pass within, where the mind then must deal with it. It makes you vulnerable, but even that can be ameliorated by the very admission of vulnerability (I don’t like to think about that too much because, like recursion in software development, paradox is magic. Besides, the truth can suffer from too much analysis: better to accept the axiomatic and move on).

So how can you spot the unpracticed soul? Pay attention to the not-his/her-usual-self behaviors, word and deed. In the face of dissent the unawareness reacts, throwing whatever it can to avoid conflict: lies, misrepresentations, reversal of blame, distance, silence, lobbed bombs over self-made walls.

And what to do when you face the unpracticed soul? Absorb the bile, because likely it’s not bile (for that is an intentional force), absorb it and then let is pass, because deep-down you know it’s not representative of that person’s core. It’s panic: ugly, banal panic. It’s a duck-and-cover freak-out.

Instead, be the other person as best you can and inhabit that. Be alone with that and understand, for we’re all the same, all theme and variation. Ciao illuminated the beauty of that point of view for me. And when you’re alone and trying on the emotions of another, ask yourself what you might do?

>The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. -Thomas B. Macaulay

Would you protect the lies? Would you see your “self” diminished by secrecy? Would you be inured to it? Would you prefer the unspoken? Would you wish yourself unburdened by the rusted wreckage of past sins of commission? Of omission?

Put it all back, situate it back into the original person and look at him/her again. How can you fail to understand that none of your impressions could be correct? How could you continue to think you know the happiness or misery of another? How little does being right or superior even come close to the simple humility of the unknowable?

Anyone who could claim they know if another person is happy or sad—unless it had been told explicitly by that person—is too unpracticed in the art of candid conflict and resolution thereof to engage and thereby all hope of healthy dispensation must be belayed, in which case another art must be practiced: Spannüngsbogen, the bend of the bow. To fly an arrow one must first pull back, wait until ready/prepared.

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which runs from the lower end of the spine down the back of the thigh and it divides right above the knee joint. The function of the sciatic nerve is to innervate the skin of the foot, as well as the entire lower leg, but not the medial side. Sciatic nerve pain is usually related to obesity and overweight, prevent and treat this with sfgate help.

What are the symptoms of sciatic pain?

Pain is the main symptom of sciatic nerve injury or inflammation. Sciatic pain feels like a burning, tingling or stabbing running down a person’s leg. The constant pain can cause numbness or weakness in the leg. Sciatic pain can also occur in the lower back and it can become worse if a person makes any sudden movements.
What causes sciatic nerve pain?
There are many conditions that can lead a person to experience sciatic nerve pain, such as the following:
  • Spinal stenosis: This is a condition which involves narrowing of the canal which contains the spinal cord and it causes nerve compression and severe pain. GoodmenProject can help you treat chronic neuropathic pain.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis in the vertebral discs can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
  • Spinal neoplasms: Spinal neoplasms are cancers which occur within the spinal nerve and it results in extra pressure being placed on the roots of the sciatic nerve.
  • Spinal injury: An injury that impacts the spine can lead to damaging the sciatic nerve.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Disc disorders
  • Muscle imbalance

How can a person alleviate sciatica pain naturally?

People who experience sciatica pain may want to explore natural ways to alleviate the pain, rather than resorting to the last possible option of surgery. The following examples are good ways to relieve the intense pain caused by an irritated sciatic nerve:
  • Magnesium and bromelain supplements: One effective ways of treating sciatica pain is through taking magnesium and bromelain supplements. [2] Magnesium helps at keeping the muscles from becoming swollen, while bromelain helps to alleviate inflammation. Try out meticore pills.
In other words, delay further action until you’ve got it all just right and ready.

I wrote to my good friend Vince because I was struggling with understanding of something specific:

>I have been thinking for a while now that given a choice of allegiance to the truth/facts or allegiance to a friend (who lies and you know it), I’d choose truth every time. Consequently, I try to be the kind of person who doesn’t make friends choose between me and fact.

>Anyway, do you have any advice for allowing the high despisement I feel to pass over & thru, so as not to give the ego any attention?

Vince, being both learner and (excellent) teacher understands me when I speak using this kind of framework.

His response?

>Well, often times we set ourselves off as “separate from” others… “I am like this, they are like that…” What I find most useful is to remember that They are me, I am them. We are all suffering, some in different ways than others, but all the same…[…] It really helps me to remember I am not really all that different or separate from anyone…

>If that isn’t helpful, you did start the process by recalling the ways he might be suffering? Having compassion and building your compassion is a great practice. Often referred to in the Theravadan tradition as Metta Practice, it’s to really focus your attention on the well being of those who may have hurt us.

Completely ass-backwwards to “common wisdom”, no? But it makes sense: I do have a grasp (however tenuous) on what he’s saying. Still, if I didn’t, if nothing else, it provides a mindspace which is relative instead of absolute: dissent is never about facts. Argue facts and you’re on your way to offering proofs and evidence. Understand that we all “inter-are” and you see a wound and set about finding healing. I don’t mean mending, necessarily.

>So many faces in and out of our life, some will last, some will just be now-and-then. — Billy Joel, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”

We live, we understand. Singly only we know our happiness, collectively we should add more to the general good will than we take. Thoughts of another are unknowable. Deeds are knowable to all, attempts to cover up out of fear, anger, loathing, shame to the contrary.

In the end, do you want to win or do you want solace?

Example: Obscenity

A gay male student, age fifteen, was shot and killed by a fellow student, in all likelihood because he was gay. Or just different. Or both.

So what’s a mom and dad of a now-dead son have to say about it? They’re suing the school for allowing the boy (their son) dress in a “feminine” way (the boy also wore makeup to school).

Never mind that their own son is dead. Never mind that a fellow student pulled out a gun and shot their son dead. No, they’re pulling the equivalent of “dressed like that he was asking to be shot and killed.

And from that assumption, the parents are suing the high school for not enforcing a dress code.

You stupid fucks. I’ve never come closer to hating anyone than I am right now.

Eventually I’ll calm down and realize the parents are simply misplacing their extreme emotions and lashing out at everyone. I really hope I’m right, here.

It’s nothing short of piling tragedy upon tragedy when you realize that the justice system is taking better care of things than the boy’s parents: they’re going after the killer. Novel idea, I know.

I’m very sorry for the parents’ loss. I cannot even begin to empathize there, though if I had my own children—something that I’ve thought about my entire adult life—I suppose I could begin to.

Do the parents think that in death everyone becomes an ideal of their former selves and that they’re just helping to guarantee that happening by erasing the child’s aberrance? Are they that misguided about a child’s sexuality that they’re being politically correct about their priorities right now?

I suppose it’s a lack of empathy again, living here in my historical and emotional idyll, where upon coming out to my parents, they took their shock, their feeling of loss (they had expectations for me, as I did myself. In fact, I think the most difficult thing to cope with in admitting to yourself that you’re gay is having to discard most, if not all, you’re own expectations of how your life will proceed from a given present), their struggles with religious and societal inveighing against their own egos, and simply (but not easily) chose love over all that. Period.

In fact, if they’d never offered me promises and also demonstrated such, it would have taken me much much longer to own my sexuality and accept it as part of the gestalt of self.

Parents of that boy: your behavior is appalling. The implications present in that behavior are doing nothing but preserving the hateful mentality that people are less because their sexuality is non-hetero. You’re suggesting that your own son somehow deserved to die because he was different. You’re suing a school because they didn’t make him dress ‘normal’ instead of suing the school for refusing to protect their gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer students.

I hope you find an authentic means of unburdening yourself of grief instead of this nonsense. And I hope you find true peace and not just this illusion of it.

A Temporary Departure

This is not one of those “Hey, Check This Out!” kind of linky-blogs, but Hond Dichter posted a short and extraordinarily funny entry.

Click Here.

Reminds me of a coverstation with Mr.Viking Lighting from a few years ago. We were talking about maybe creating a Bear Dance Bar in the Castro where The Patio used to be.

ME: So what would make it a ‘Bear’ Dance Bar?<br/> <br/>HIM: Dunno. Snack machines by the Dance Floor?

Time Bombs & Land Mines

There’s been a giant pile of tech stuff in the back room of my house. Like, for a while now. There just hasn’t been any place to put anything.

So Stork suggested that we each go through all the crap—some of it from our Pittsburgh days! In case anyone’s counting, that’s about ten years for him, and about (gulp) seventeen years for me.

Yeah, it’s time to clean things out. My younger brother and my mom will be doing cartwheels—they’re near-psychotically obsessed with throwing things out (I dunno, you tell me!). Turns out that I only got most of the way through things. There’s still a small box to go through and also a head count of devices around the house that I have to match power cords to.

Now, it wasn’t only tech stuff in these boxes like I thought. In a hurried move of much stuff in order to accommodate Sam’s stuff, things got…stuck.

So going through things presented some surprises. Some good, some bad, some baffling.

First the bad, because I want to dispense with that right away. There was a lot of Sam’s stuff in there, pictures and what-not. And given that a misunderstanding between Sam and me exposed some stuff that I didn’t want to see, and that a “friend” counted on being secret. Never count on secrecy to hide a thing, because that’s tantamount to betrayal no matter how you slice it. The few things I saw in that box were nothing major, except to locate me in better times, times before the world went pear-shaped. Step gingerly in a mine field, kids.

The baffling next, because positivity is the most important thing in my life right now. Positivity tends to diminish internal unawareness because it produces the kind of elixir that has kept me on the sunny side of the street throughout the last three and a half years of horrific circumstances. No mean feat, but I’ve been largely successful. I found in a box under some consumer electronics (two VCRs, an upscaling DVD player and an old-school Class A amplifier) many articles of clothing I’d forgotten I even had, including a black 100% wool sweater that I bought at Kirkwood many years ago for a staggering amount of money. Four or five of the same would total a month’s rent. Zoinks.

Now the good. I didn’t expect to find anything Allen-related, but not only were there pictures of Yog, but a few strange personal affects as well: several pairs of glasses (both sunglasses and eye glasses), glasses with impossibly huge lenses. As was the thing back then (late 80s, early 90s) in West Texas. I also found a couple of watches that we’d bought in 1994. Well, he bought them, but he didn’t wear two at a time, so I often “borrowed” the one he wasn’t wearing. They’re only Timex watches, but he did have awfully good taste. One is dark red—almost purple— with gold Arabic numerals. The other has a squared-off face in black, with silver numbering. Also Arabic numerals because I have a thing-thing about clocks with Roman numerals. Is there an official phobia for that? Well, there should be. In particular clock makers can’t seem to decide on whether a four should be rendered in the standard IV or the apparently-more-pleasing IIII. I don’t care because I hate those clocks.

I also found his CA driver license. It had to be gotten late 1994, because he was already looking gaunt and his physical attributes were listed as Height: 6’3, Weight: 165. His weight had dropped to 143 at one point, but he’d gained some ground against that after the TPN bags every night.

Immediately I inhabited the back-then. Things that he’d said that surprised me, amazed me, made me laugh, made me cry, things he said that assured me how much he loved being with me. Back in a more genteel time when swift and completely inappropriate objectification wasn’t the norm. When he said things like that there was always an element of hilarious irony, for neither of us let too much of the “culture” in between us. There was too much “us” for that stuff to contravene.

I also found a tennis shoe. Yes, just one. The left one. Size 10 1/2 so I knew it wasn’t mine. Orange, with brown trim. Stylish back then even though I always thought they were hideous. Back in style now. And still hideous.

I threw it away, trying to remain the thrower-outer I’ve never been able to sustain. But I did snap a photo of it on my iPhone. Then I looked at the iPhone and began to think of all the things he’s missed that he’d find wondrous.

He’s also have missed how gray I’ve turned—especially in these same terrible last three years. I glanced again at his driver license and realized that the poor man never had a chance to become gray.

Have you ever had to shave another man’s face? Near the end I had to help him into the platform tub here, and shave his face while he sat in the warm water. Like I said in my last post, intimacy came to us in many forms:

I didn’t need sex. I needed intimacy, always intimacy. And thanks (thanks?) to Allen and I having found other ways of being intimate after sex was no longer part of the equation, I had no need for sex with others. I just didn’t want it. The after-times are incredibly lonely, the part that’s beyond the ejaculation is what remains, and that’s all about what was missing.

After all this, somehow I miraculously found the spine to continue with the purge of no-longer-needed tech stuff. That is, until I discovered a PhotoCD (remember those?) of the memorial “party” that my good friend Bruce Mayfield (with whom Allen had worked) organized. I told him “no sadness”. He didn’t ask, but I told him that I needed a break from sorrow and “would that be alright?”. I think he started to cry a little. Of course it was alright.

It was at Tuba Garden here in San Francisco, in Presidio Heights, and it was a lovely, lovely place. An old Victorian with a small house in the back of the yard was gutted and opened to house more diners, so that seating flowed through the house, across the beautifully landscaped back yard (that day in the bright sunshine) and up the stairs into the two rooms.

Allen’s boss, the owner of the graphics/print company had offered to pay for everyone. “Everyone” included close, close friends who knew Allen better than anyone else here besides me. Judy was one of them, “Babycakes” I’ve always called her. It was a bit of playful irony. Judy was the one that, a day and a half before Allen died said goodbye to him for the last time—he was already non-responsive. I was standing at the back door saying goodbye to them when she turned around, walked over to Allen there on the bed. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of Jeff.” Had I not been all cried out at that moment, the Anhydrous Stoic, I would have completely broken down. I’m also pretty sure she’s the last non-blood-related person to have vocalized that I’d be protected/taken care of. Fancy that.

Anyway, in addition to those friends, Allen’s two nurses were there, all of his former co-workers, his former boss and his wife, folks from Compuserve who’d known Allen as long as I had came up from Santa Barbara and from Santa Cruz, other friends from San Francisco and a few others. There were probably twenty of us.

It’s a wonder I got anything done at all. But I did, and Stork will be here in moments so that we can cart the stuff down to the South Bay.

Today the sun is shining. And I’m very glad of it.

The Edwards No-Win Situation

It says a lot about you (neither good nor bad) how you prioritize the fallout from the Edwards admission:

  • Punishing John Edwards
  • Feeling sympathy (or empathy) towards Elizabeth
  • Cheering the situation
  • Feeling like it isn’t our business because you just don’t know the details
  • Feeling like it isn’t our business because it’s private.

Given my personal history (both good and bad), would you be surprised that my first reaction was to feel bad for Elizabeth?

I can just as easily—well, I should be just as easily—want to punish John Edwards (again, given my personal history), but I can’t. Why? I could argue intellectually that he cheated. Period. But my intellect is repulsed by absolutes.

I have known male couples where one was sick—terminally so—and the one who was sick pushed the other to find someone else. Or to go out and have sex (ostensibly so that the other could take care of a physical need) because the sick one just wasn’t interested in sex. It’s definitely not anything I would have done, even if Allen had given the go-ahead. Which he didn’t. It probably just didn’t enter his mind. And when his partner before me, George, was sick (at the end he was blind and wasting away) I doubt that he gave Allen any kind of go-ahead. I doubt as well that Allen would have availed himself.

I know the need. I know a lot about it. The temptation. But sit with that temptation awhile and—yes, what a daring thing for a man to do—considered the after-times.

I didn’t need sex. I needed intimacy, always intimacy. And thanks (thanks?) to Allen and I having found other ways of being intimate after sex was no longer part of the equation, I had no need for sex with others. I just didn’t want it. The after-times are incredibly lonely, the part that’s beyond the ejaculation is what remains, and that’s all about what was missing.

Contrary to misguided ideas out there about me, I have need to pass judgment on those for whom sex is something that is nothing but friction and/or an external means to prop an ego: notches on the bedpost are of time immemorial. All well and good and I choose not to participate. And I choose not to be around it. Should I have to be? I also choose to speak my mind when the nature of that (two-backed) beast incurs on my life. And I grew tired of being silenced in a thousand little ways.

I feel bad that people are hurting. I would have chosen (did choose) to go without sex rather than hurt my partner and I certainly wouldn’t rely on secrecy as a justification.

I’m glad Edwards owned up to it. I’d like to believe that he’d already confessed to Elizabeth long before today or yesterday.

And I hope she forgave him. She’s the only one that can pass judgment. She’s the only one who should.

Violating a trust hurts everyone.