Monday, February 27, 2006

What are needs?

They are conditions within the individual that are essential and necessary for the maintenance of life and for the nurturance of growth and well-being.

So says my psych book Understanding Motivation and Emotion

Of course, there are different types of needs: biological (thirst, hunger, sex)
psychological: competence and belongingness

When I read the chapter on the three psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), my worst fears were confirmed! Though I feel I have the autonomy and competence thing down, the relatedness is just not there.

The book says:

Relatedness is the need to establish close emotional bonds and attachments with other people, and it reflects the desire to be emotionally connected to and interpersonally involved in warm relationships.

Of course, I feel I understand and know relatedness in regard to my children, but it seems it has become very difficult to know it with anyone else.

and more:

When a person feels emotionally connected to and interpersonally involved with another, he or she believes the other person is truly looking out for his or her welfare, relatedness is high, and internalization occurs willingly. When a person feels emotionally distant from and interpersonally neglected by another, relatedness is low and internalization rarely occurs.

Emotionally distant. That is where I am. There was once a time in my life when I felt I had many friends. I married young. I had children young. I had friends then who also had children. Many of my high school friends left for college, and that was basically the end of the friendship. Little by little, the friends I had when my children were younger starting drifting out of my life.
I know I had much to do with that.

I was changing, and though they were too, they couldn't see their changes as they could see mine.

I started going to college. I was working full time, taking care of my kids, and trying to go to school. Things I had been doing no longer seemed very important. There's this really inane dice game people in these parts play. It's called Bunko. It's more for socialization than anything else. It had gotten to the point that every time I played with this group of women, someone had just had a boob job, or nose job, or liposuction, or any number of cosmetic things done adn they would go on and on about it or show the group their new bodies. Or they would discuss their sex games (or lack thereof) or any number of things that are just meant for idle, meaningless conversation. One particular night, I had had all I could take. I just kept hearing Bob Dylan's voice saying:

"You can't even sense if they got any insides, these people so pretty in their ribbons and bows."

And that was that. I couldn't sense if they had any insides. I left in the middle of the game and I never went back. Not to say I want to go back now. I don't belong to that any longer. I just want to belong somewhere. I want to sit around at the writer's group and feel a part of the group. They are great folks--all MA's and MFA's in English. All witty and funny as hell. All decent writers. All of them most welcoming. But I feel on the outside. So, I don't belong there.

I go to writer's retreats. Take my poems and review them with the group. Some there are better than I am, others not as good. The fellowship is good. The food and wine are great. The readings are interesting. But as the weekend comes to a close, no one asks for my address or indicates they'd like to stay in touch.

Relatedness. It just ain't happening for me.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mostly troubling dreams last night. More of the sanitary napkin symbolism stuff going on as well. Someone was having a baby. At first, I thought it was me, but I was watching the woman, so I am not sure. Maybe it was me watching me. My husband said he knew what to do to get the baby here. The woman said she was going to take part of the roof off the house as she needed the shingles to help with the birthing process. I watched her lift a portion of the roof off (seems she removed the roofing over a dormer window).

Next, my husband starts cutting into her abdomen and removing these slabs of what appear to be fat as he's cutting them(no blood anywhere), but whatever they are, they are very firm to the touch and made of roofing-like material. It's as if her abdomen had been covered in these (these pieces being in the shape of large sanitary napkins) strip by strip in preparation for birth. I look at my husband and the woman and tell them that is not the way to have a baby, but they keep on working. Then, she starts cutting these same things from my husband's abdomen, as he is now the one carrying the baby. After that, the scene flashes to the woman breast-feeding the child. She, my husband, and the baby are sitting on the roof. She has long black hair and she's wearing a very bright flannel shirt. They looked like a family of large birds perched on the rooftop there with their newborn.

Next dream was of tornados. I know where that one came from. In November of this year, an F-4 hit the town I live in. I was at work at the time. I had picked up my son from school (he's a freshman), taken him home, and returned to work when things started looking bad. We had tornado watches in effect all day, so before I headed back to work, we went through the drill about what to do in the event of a tornado warning. At around 3:25 that afternoon (roughly 10 minutes after I got back to work), I called home and asked him if he was in the basement. He said he was. A few minutes later, he called and told me he couldn't see much down in the basement because it had gotten very dark outside and the power had just gone out. He wanted to know where I thought he should go. I told him to go to the corner we always go to, but I could hear panic in his voice. I kept telling him which wall to go to, but he kept saying "There are lots of walls, Mom, where do I go?" Then he said, "Someone's in the house...I can hear them upstairs" and then we lost phone connection. Needless to say, I was was terrified. I couldn't leave the building I was in as the sirens were going off and I would have been driving straight into the path of the tornado, but as soon as I could, I left work and drove home. When I got there, he was sitting on the back steps. I got out of the car and he said, " I'm sure glad you're ok, Mom." And I said, "Are you ok?" I was trembling and so angry at myself for going back to work that day. Turns out the people who came in the house were our next door neighbors and their black lab, Katie. When I found out that it was bad enough for them to come over and bring Katie to boot, I knew it must have been bad. Thankfully, our neighborhood was spared, but hundreds of people in this community lost everything. A few weeks ago, I read an article in the paper about the 2005 tornado season, and the F-4 that hit M'ville was the worst one on record. We were very lucky that there were no fatalities.

So, last night, I dreamed that a tornado was hitting our home, only we weren't in the house we live in. We were actually in a facility that looked like some type of medical facility. In the dream, my children are with a nanny on another floor, and I remember saying, "Why can't I be with my children? I want my children!." And then the wind started roaring and I could hear things hitting the building, and I woke up.

So much for trying to get a good night's sleep!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Brain fog. Gets worse every day. I do all these things that are supposed to be helpful, but all I feel is foggy and sleepy. I feel that if I had a choice and could stay home, then I would have today, and I would have kept sleeping and then I would have felt better.

I am thinking of the movie Forrest Gump. When Jenny comes back to Greenbow, Al (I think?) to live with Forrest, he says something like: Jenny must have been working hard because all she did was sleep most of the time.

Seems like I haven't really slept in years. Feels like it too. And it feels like I could if I could just choose my time. I am not, by nature, a morning person. My circadian rhythm is outta whack (like the rest of me). On that note, a little bit about CR (from Wikipedia):

The circadian "clock" in mammals is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a distinct group of cells located in the hypothalamus. Destruction of the SCN results in the complete absence of a regular sleep/wake rhythm. Contributing to this clock are photo receptors found in the retina, known as melanopsin ganglia. These cells, which contain a newly-discovered photo pigment called melanopsin, follow a pathway called the retinohypothalamic tract, leading to the SCN. It is interesting to note that, if cells from the SCN are removed and cultured, they maintain their own rhythm in the absence of external cues.

It appears that the SCN takes the information on day length from the retina, interprets it, and passes it on to the pineal gland (a pea-like structure found on the epithalamus), which then secretes the hormone melatonin in response. Secretion of melatonin peaks at night and ebbs during the day. The SCN does not appear to be able to react rapidly to changes in the light/dark cues.

Recently, evidence has emerged that circadian rhythms are found in many cells in the body—outside the SCN "master clock." For example, liver cells appear to respond to feeding rather than light. Cells from many parts of the body appear to have "free-running" rhythms.
Disruption to rhythms usually has a negative effect in the short term. Many travelers have experienced the condition known as jet lag, with its associated symptoms of fatigue, disorientation and insomnia. A number of other sleep disorders are associated with irregular or pathological functioning of the circadian rhythms.

Recent research suggests that circadian rhythms and clock genes expressed in brain regions outside the SCN may significantly influence the effects produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine [1][2]. Moreover, genetic manipulations of clock genes profundly affect cocaine's actions [3].
Circadian rhythms also play a part in the reticular activating system in reticular formation.

Okay...on to other things.

I was listening to a Chemical Brothers song on the way to work this morning. They're too techno for my taste, but I do love the song (actually, it's just a refrain), Sunday Morning. Beth Orton is the singer. After I heard the song and fell in love with her voice, I bought her CD Trailer Park. It didn't disappoint.

Sunday morning,I'm waking up
Can't even focus on my coffee cup
Don't even know whose bed I'm in
Where do I start, where do I begin?
Where do I start, where do I begin?

It seems so long ago now that my daughter was living at home. We loved much of the same kind of music, so we went to concerts often. Those were the days of Lilith Fair and Counting Crows and Weezer and Throwing Muses, etc. Though I confess to liking little of that music now (other than Orton and Throwing Muses), it was fun to go to the concerts with Lauren and her friends. I remember how excited they were when we were invited to an after-the-show party and we got to meet Adam Duritz and the rest of the band.

Of course, our musical tastes have changed and we no longer like many of the same groups. I have always been a Dylan junkie, and Lauren did go to one concert with me, but that was enough for her.

We like Cat Power and Smog and some other folks that just aren't coming to mind at the moment.

Lauren was an extra in a new Cat Power video that played on MTV2 on Subterranean Videos. It was cool to watch her (though you couldn't tell which one she was because all of the extras were wearing burkas!).

Anyway, I was thinking of how quickly 10 years has passed. It makes me sad. I am sad (or"Estoy triste" in espanol!). I should be studying my Spanish right now. Big test tonight!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Last night's dream:

Dawn comes in to see me to tell me she's being released. I tell her I will meet her at her apartment to help her pack things. She asks me to wait for her to get there before I do anything. I arrive at the apartment and Greg is there (no clue who he is but he looks like Robert Downey, Jr) . It is obvious we know one another though I don't recognize him. There is a very intimate feeling though we don't touch.

Dawn has been incarcerated, but her cell is an apartment. Very bohemian. No bars on the windows nor on the doors. It's late in the evening and it's raining. Greg and I are looking around the apartment trying to figure out what to do, so I decide to wash dishes. On the counter in the kitchen are several pairs of shoes and boots. As I washed dishes, I also washed Dawn's shoes and boots. I remember one pair of shoes (and a pair of boots) were brushed suede in a lime green color. After I washed those, I washed a pair of above-the-knee boots in a brown brushed suede. Then I washed a few dishes and began to worry that perhaps I shouldn't have washed the shoes and boots, so I took a hair dryer in the livingroom (don't remember how they got there) and tried to start drying them before Dawn got there.

Greg was talking to Sherry (who happened to be sprawled out on the livingroom floor like a cat--and like a cat, she expected me to keep stepping over her or walking around her). She wanted Greg to be interested in her, but he just kept looking at me and smiling and making me feel uncomfortable but excited.

The dream shifts to another scene. Sherry is blocking a door and won't let me in. Her entire family has joined arms and are virtually blockading the entrance to a place I can't quite place. It was a large building with very ornate, sort of rococo and art deco style walls. That's all.

Don't know why I am wanting to record these dreams. What purpose will it serve?

Monday, February 20, 2006

I finally did it. In my dreams last night, that is. I finally told all those so-called friends off. Night after night I dream about the friends I no longer have, and day after day I wonder what happened to those relationships. I sorely miss some of those old friends. I just can't imagine how anything could have been big enough (or small enough) to cause us to lose touch with one another. I first noticed the change when I had my youngest child. No one else that I was spending time with had a new baby. Their children were school age, and they were just starting (the friends, that is) to have more time for themselves. They didn't seem to want to be around a little one again. I chose to stay home with my youngest for almost 2 years, so I got out of the loop a bit where work and work relationships are concerned, but I so much enjoyed being home with him that I wasn't bothered by that. As a matter of fact, I would have stayed home until he started school if we could have afforded it. I was on a leave of absence and we were paying an astronomical amount of money to keep health insurance. Then, after I returned to work and my little one was almost preschool age, several of our couple friends divorced. So, we rarely had anyone to do anything with as a couple, and several of my grildfriends who were getting a divorce found new single friends.

Anwyay. My dream. I am in a bar/restaurant talking to Sherry and Kenna. They are making plans for dinner and have already called a place to make a reservation. They didn't ask me if I wanted to go. Patti and several other friends were there as well. I got up and said, "I'll see you guys later. Have fun!", but as I was walking toward the door to leave, tears starting to fall, I started feeling very angry, so I turned around and marched back to their table and said, "Just what in the hell is wrong with me anyway? Why don't you guys want me around? What have I done? I think you're all very cruel and uncaring and I don't know why I let any of this bother me!!!"

I really can't remember what happened after that. I just know I woke up feeling sad. I am thinking of a Jane Kenyon poem...Having it Out With Melancholy...going to see if I can find it...

Yes, here it is:

Having it Out with Melancholy
by Jane Kenyon

If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.
A. P. CHEKHOV The Cherry Orchard


When I was born, you waited
behind a pile of linen in the nursery,
and when we were alone, you lay down
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore.
And from that day on
everything under the sun and moon
made me sad -- even the yellow
wooden beads that slid and spun
along a spindle on my crib.
You taught me to exist without gratitude.
You ruined my manners toward God:
"We're here simply to wait for death;
the pleasures of earth are overrated."
I only appeared to belong to my mother,
to live among blocks and cotton undershirts
with snaps; among red tin lunch boxes
and report cards in ugly brown slipcases.
I was already yours -- the anti-urge,
the mutilator of souls.

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin,
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax,
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft.
The coated ones smell sweet or have
no smell; the powdery ones smell
like the chemistry lab at school
that made me hold my breath.

You wouldn't be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

Often I go to bed as soon after dinner
as seems adult
(I mean I try to wait for dark)
in order to push away
from the massive pain in sleep's
frail wicker coracle.

Once, in my early thirties, I saw
that I was a speck of light in the great
river of light that undulates through time.
I was floating with the whole
human family. We were all colors -- those
who are living now, those who have died,
those who are not yet born. For a few
moments I floated, completely calm,
and I no longer hated having to exist.
Like a crow who smells hot blood
you came flying to pull me out
of the glowing stream.
"I'll hold you up. I never let my dear
ones drown!" After that, I wept for days.

The dog searches until he finds me
upstairs, lies down with a clatter
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.
Sometimes the sound of his breathing
saves my life -- in and out, in
and out; a pause, a long sigh. . . .

A piece of burned meat
wears my clothes, speaks
in my voice, dispatches obligations
haltingly, or not at all.
It is tired of trying
to be stouthearted, tired
beyond measure.
We move on to the monoamine
oxidase inhibitors. Day and night
I feel as if I had drunk six cups
of coffee, but the pain stops
abruptly. With the wonder
and bitterness of someone pardoned
for a crime she did not commit
I come back to marriage and friends,
to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back
to my desk, books, and chair.

Pharmaceutical wonders are at work
but I believe only in this moment
of well-being. Unholy ghost,
you are certain to come again.
Coarse, mean, you'll put your feet
on the coffee table, lean back,
and turn me into someone who can't
take the trouble to speak; someone
who can't sleep, or who does nothing
but sleep; can't read, or call
for an appointment for help.
There is nothing I can do
against your coming.
When I awake, I am still with thee.

High on Nardil and June light
I wake at four,
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome
by ordinary contentment.
What hurt me so terribly
all my life until this moment?
How I love the small, swiftly
beating heart of the bird
singing in the great maples;
its bright, unequivocal eye.

From Constance by Jane Kenyon, published by Graywolf Press. © 1993 by Jane Kenyon. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Reading Cicero's "On Old Age"
He says:

Men, of course, who have no resources in themselves for securing a good and happy life find every age burdensome. But those who look for all happiness from within can never think anything bad which Nature makes inevitable.

Can never think anything bad if you look for happiness from within. Hmmmm....

What if you don't know how to do that? Is it something you can learn? Something innate? Something innate that gets lost in the environmental chaos of one's upbringing? Is it possible?

I started this last week some time and got busy. Today, there are things I could be doing right now at work, but I recognize that my brain is in slo-mo and it might be best to leave some things until tomorrow. Sunny, beautiful day out there, but really foggy in my head.

I feel sleep-deprived but actually think that I got some decent sleep last night. Of course, there were dreams on top of dreams. I have forgotten most of them now, but one remains clear simply because the colors were so vibrant--eye candy like Moulin Rouge. But the things happening were strange and frightening.

I was in a former neighbor's house. A plane had crashed right next to it. It looked like a huge snake making love to the side of her house. It slid in there like it was meant to be there, and it didn't cause an explosion, but the house was very damaged. I remember she had this beautiful cerulean blue ceiling with some type of a faceted light fixture that cast a very bright white light onto the ceiling and walls (they were blue as well). It was a pulsating light that seemed to skip around the room like there were thousands of little tinker bells dancing around in there. She pointed to the ceiling and showed me the damage from the plane. It looked like the ceiling was bursting at the seams, and I could see all sorts of beautiful quilts protruding from the gaping plaster--Double Wedding Rings, Tulips, Honeycombs, Crazy Quilts, Sunshine and Shadows, Pennsylvania Flower Baskets--so many vibrant colors and patterns. I remember thinking that she must have been insulating her house with those beautiful quilts. I also remember feeling that we probably needed to get out of there as the roof could go at any time, but she was in no hurry. Then someone came in the house (one of her children it seems). She had a green kitten, and I said, "I've never seen an emerald green cat before. How extraordinary! Where did you get it?" It was so small (maybe the size of a guinea pig). I reached out to pet it and it bit me. She told me it wasn't very friendly, and it wasn't feeling well. Then I noticed that it had what appeared to be a sanitary napkin between its legs. The neighbor changed the pad and I remember thinking that the poor thing was going to bleed to death. Then I woke up.

Oh Carl, where are you when I need you!!!!

On my door, I taped a Douglas Adams quote:

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

By the way, my mom was never heavy. I thought she was a little fat when I was in high school, but probably because I was so thin. Now, I outweigh her by at least 30 pounds. She's never been the size I am (let's say I am closer to 200 than 150...Errr and Yuck and I don't know what to do!!!!!).

I feel like Indiana Jones--the scence in which he looks into the tomb and sees all the snakes and he says, "Snakes, why'd it have to be snakes?" Only I look in and say, "Weight, why'd it have to be weight?" Which makes me think of Marge Piercy's poem Barbie Doll. I wonder if I can find that poem and paste it here. I think I shall look. Yes, here it is.

This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.

Of course, in the magic of puberty, I never heard anything other than how pretty I was and how badly some guy wanted to get into my pants. I didn't feel pretty, so consequently, I never believed it. I wanted to be more than pretty. I wanted someone to see how smart I was and how cool I was and how fun I was and then how pretty I was. Life was painful. My refuge consisted of books and music. Sure, I hung out with people. I was always on the go. I bought my own car and my own clothes. I dated and went to proms and ballgames. I ran track. I had a boyfriend who had a TR7 and he used to let me drive it to school, so everyone thought I was all that and a bag of chips, but then again, I always felt lonely and on the outside. I moved here in May 1972. There were 2 weeks remaining in the school year. The curriculum was roughly 2-3 years behind Virginia Beach. I hated it. I hated that we had to move here.

One more poem (cause I like it and it makes me feel special). It was written for me once, long ago now. Though my hair is no longer exactly honey-colored, it is still light brown and I have very little gray (a few strands at my temples). I actually just had a perm put in a month or so ago and it lightened my hair a little. I am basically a do nothing to my hair type person--no dyes, no perms, an occasional cut. So, it's getting longer and now it has some curl and I think I like it.

The poem:


You used to drop in and hand me words.
I couldn't read them because your hair
fell across my shoulder, and my lungs
drugged themselves on your perfume, wavy
as summer honey. But the words were dutiful
little soldiers who dug right in and died,
though my eyes were less on them than your

perfect skirts. Once, you said you were fighting
and trying to make sense of things and again
you offered me poems. I watched the way
your knee bent when you sat in the blue chair,
was pleased to see you ankle conforming
to its neat heel and the lacy way your blouse
offered its arms. Paling beside your body,

those words fell bugle up on the frozen snow.
Tonight you are a million miles away
as I trash my lungs with cigarettes and drag
my eyes across your lines again. Their
configurations are strange and sudden,
evocations at every turn--I'd almost forgotten
the way your hair smelled of roses.

Ok...time to get some work done.
09 February 2006

I am so f'ing tired that I shouldn't be working today. I rarely get a good night's sleep anymore, but I've been saying that for years.
47 and still regretting the same old mistakes. Still clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose (as Sarah McLachlan says, or at least I think it is Sarah on "I Will Remember You"). I dream all night long (like I always have) and the dreams just get crazier. I am always younger and always as pretty as I think I am (that sounds arrogant). What I mean to say is I rarely think of myself as attractive anymore. Once you pass that 35 yrs of age mark and you let yourself go a bit, you don't get the compliments that you once did, and yes, I know how vain and petty that sounds, but I am just trying to explain my comment. When I look in the mirror, I see a really decent, nice-looking face that is starting to show the years a bit and the weight gain. I am not dissatisfied until I get out around people and think about how they are judging me. Man, that sounds paranoid or like I am suffering from delusions of grandeur and persecution. Why in the hell do I think anyone would be yakking about me anyhoo???!!!
Back to the dreams. I look younger but know I am the age I am now. My hair looks honey-colored like it once did. I am thinner (but by no means thin). Last night, my oldest brother was in my dream. My mother too. Here's the way the conversation with my mom went:

Mom: "Do you know that I once weighed 450 pounds?"

Me: "No way. When?"

Mom: "When you were in high school."

Me: "Where was I when I was in high school?"

Mom: "Oh, here and there, but mostly here."

Me: "Then why don't I remember?"

Mom: "When you were six we played with clay together."

Me: " I can't remember us ever playing anything. I don't think you are telling the truth."

Mom: "You sat in my lap and we took the clay in our hands and made things. We made many, many things."

Me: "We never made anything together. We weren't friends. You were not nice."

Mom: "You had red and blue clay. Remember? I used the green. We made things."

Then Mom faded away and I was talking to my eldest brother. He was scaring me. I thought he was trying to brainwash me. I thought he was thinking about hurting me. He looked like Dr. Frankenstein's monster. He looked very strange. Like himself, but bloated and much taller. Looming over me. Then he was looking for my daughter. I was concerned for her but at the same time, I felt she was protected. I looked over to where I knew she was, but the only person there was a 8-10" tall fairie. A lovely, lovely fairie. And I knew she was Lauren, and I knew she was not.

Much more that went on all night. Needless to say, I only got about 3 hours of sleep, at the most.

I tried going to bed at 11 or so, but around midnight, when it was clear that I could not sleep, I started reading Technopoly. Very, very interesting read thus far.

I really should get some work done and some reading. I have three classes this semester: Spanish I, Philosophy 426: Philosophy and Old Age, and Psych 450: The Pshychology of Motivation and Emotion. 9 hours, full-time job, family, and no sleep is taking its toll. Even my merlot was no comfort last night.