Sparky was filing his teeth when he exploded….

Ffolkes,
Once again, fear strikes deep into my soul, faced as I am with a blank sheet of paper and an empty mind. That’s figuratively speaking, of course, as we’ve progressed beyond the paper stage, so it’s actually a blank white screen I’m looking at…. The mind remains empty, alas, and the fear grows….. Well, literal or figurative, we’ve got some issues to deal with, so, I’d likely do well to follow my usual policy in such cases, and go take a break now…. I’ll be right back….

In the usual state of affairs around here in the morning, such a break would solve any difficulties I am encountering in getting started, but today seems to be resisting normality a bit more than is standard. Of course, ‘normality’ is rather scarce here anyway….. The paper/screen is now a bit less blank, thanks to my gift for producing something from nothing, but still with no indications of anywhere brilliant to head off to…. I’m going to have to figure something out here pretty quick, as we’re now two paragraphs in, and still not a single clean idea, or literary device, to be seen…. The brain cops are going to want me to move along soon, so let’s try this….

Howdy, ffolkes! How are y’all this fine morning? It’s 0458 here in Northern California, and I’m once again up, eyes wide open, and rarin’ to get going on today’s Pearl, having already had coffee and a session of worship at the porcelain throne! Why I am up at this hour remains a mystery, but, since I’ve been arising at 0400-0500 now for the last six days or so, I suppose I have to accept that arising at this insane hour is becoming a new routine, that my brain has decided upon without any input from my conscious mind. I’ve tentatively come to terms with it, as I don’t seem to be able to sleep past those hours, no matter when I crash….

But, that’s okay! I’m fine! I’m happy! I’m absolutely fucking crazy!…… Well, maybe not quite that far yet, but, if this keeps up, it won’t be long before that latter statement becomes reality….. Come to think of it, though, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing….. If nothing else, it might give me a whole new set of ideas for intro sections, coming at the issue from a totally new, and unpredictable direction every day! Hmm…. well, for now, I’ll keep total insanity in reserve, as a backup procedure, such as I had to use yesterday, when it was necessary to break down and use Emergency Procedure #4….. I think I’ll call this one the Bell Jar Procedure, in honor of Sylvia Plath….

And, see, it works….. or, rather, it worked today…. Without having to actually go totally batshit crazy, and without actually having to write anything particularly coherent, or sensible, I’ve completed a five-paragraph-intro….. without you ever noticing what I was doing! Amazing, eh? And so creative! And, if I keep on with the exclamations, and the back-patting, I’m going to hurt myself, so, maybe we’d best get on with the rest of today’s effort….. Shall we Pearl?…..

“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.” — Steven Wright
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“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it takes a really long time and the light bulb has to want to change.” — Smart Bee

Boy, if it wasn’t for the power of metaphor, I would be lost!….. This statement, though presented in a manner that makes it obviously a joke, is actually quite serious in its relevance to sanity, psychiatry, and how the mind works, in general. I worked for many years in the field of mental health care, as a therapist, and I can tell you quite honestly, that this is absolutely true, in many cases of what the rest of society terms insanity….. a word, and a concept, that most of society avoids at all costs, and completely misunderstands, for the most part…. You see, every person who lives in this society on Earth today is just a little insane, with some of them reaching higher levels through their own efforts to excel…… 🙂   Society itself is insane, you see, and one needs to be the same in order to effectively cope….

It may surprise some ffolkes to know that they are insane; I know it surprised me when I first became aware of this fact. We all go through our lives with a certain image of ourselves, and very rarely does that image in our minds look insane. But, let me assure you, there really isn’t any visible way to be able to tell if a person is insane, as it is completely invisible, under most circumstances, as long as the person isn’t speaking, or acting in some way that provides a clue as to their inner state of mind. Even for those of us trained in recognizing its presence, through the use of observation of other defining characteristics, there is no guaranteed method for spotting someone with a mental condition, unless they give it to you up front by acting out in some overt fashion.

Sure, there are tells, as a gambler would say…. When one eye is happily spinning in the opposite direction as the other, it’s a pretty good sign of some inner turmoil…. Pacing and mumbling to oneself, back and forth in a small area, while ignoring all around them, can be another dead giveaway of someone who is experiencing a few extra perceptions in comparison to the rest of us. Sometimes, really bad grooming can be a sign that the person’s mind isn’t focused on how they affect others, and staring at a wall, holding what appears to be a conversation with oneself, can be another indication that not all is well in that person’s world….

But, without some overt signs such as these, you just can’t spot mental illness, and it is extra hard to see it in one’s own image, since we tend to clean that up before we look at it, or try to share it. And, since EVERYONE ELSE is also insane, at least a little, it can be hard to spot, for the same reason one cow in a herd is hard to pick out. You may have heard the old saw about “one in four people are insane, so if you have three sane friends, it’s you”….. What would be more accurate to say is, “all of you are insane, but three of you are coping well with it in an effective manner, and one isn’t…. ”

It’s helpful to know that the overt signs one may see are indicative of the severity of the condition, i.e., the more acting out one observes, the more severe the break in the mental state. But, that isn’t always accurate, as normally sane folks, acting in the grip of strong emotion, can show the same kind of acting out, with the difference of not having it occur all the time, but only when provoked. Thus, it can be seen, it can be very difficult to judge whether a person is insane, or merely temporarily out of control…..

This is where I bring it all together, by referring back to the original pearl…. Coping with life can drive anyone crazy, and does, every day….. Some  cope with it better than others, and those are the people who are considered to be sane, as they can deal with reality without resorting to outlandish ways of dealing with their fears. Those who cannot find ways of coping with their fears, which arise from what reality gives us to deal with, end up acting in ways that are strange and uncomfortable for the rest of us, and are often dangerous, in a physical sense, for them, and for those around them…..

In all my experience, with every kind of mental illness I saw in almost 30 years working in mental hospitals, the primary characteristic of those who got better, was that they made up their own minds to do so…. That’s it…. Simple as it may seem, deciding to give up the methods they used, and make a change, was always based on a personal decision on their part, and was THE key ingredient in the regime of ideas, medicines, therapies, and treatments used to combat their illness. In other words, it took a long time, and they first had to want to change….. Without that, nothing worked…. It is a well known aphorism among mental health therapists that, “they get better IN SPITE of what we do, not because of it….”

So, if you’re getting worried about your own coping skills, just keep in mind that to remain sane, it means you have to want to do so…. But, that’s all it takes, if your are sincere, for you will do whatever else is needed, once your will power has been engaged…. That’s what people do….

“Great minds think alike, apparently so do we.” — D. Bennett

“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake?” — James Thomson (1700-1748) — The Seasons, Summer, Line 67
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In keeping with the tradition established for today, and in honor of yesterday’s romantic events, here is a brilliant poem by someone very familiar with the idea of insanity, as it was her lifelong companion….. Maybe that’s why I feel so connected to her?…..

Mad Girl’s Love Song

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

~~ Sylvia Plath

Brilliant! Absolutely, insanely brilliant!   🙂
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“The media are now the tool of tyrants and despots. Tyrants and despots encourage fear, because fearful people will accept extreme political solutions, will demand extreme political solutions.” — Jon Carroll, S. F. Chronicle, January 8, 1997

Jon Carroll, on the political scale, would be considered to be just a bit left of the center, maybe a foot or two, as he tends to side with liberal ideas more than conservative. Over the years, I’ve found his take on life and society to be, most of all, even-handed, and reasonable. He avoids the trap of becoming overly critical of conservative ideas, while at the same time showing absolute fearlessness in addressing difficult questions and issues. As a media member, for him to make this statement was most likely painful, in that he had to admit his own culpability to do so. He does that, quite well, without becoming overly pedantic or shrill about it…. while still nailing the controversial point he is shooting at….

The recent hullabaloo over gun control is a perfect example of the process he describes, in action. Whenever a madman grabs a gun and starts shooting people randomly, or even targeting one group or another, the media immediately descends in hordes on the location of the shooting, giving out endless bulletins with the latest news on the events, interviewing police, victims, bystanders, and pundits to provide “balanced coverage” of events the public “has the right to know”…. regardless of how degrading, or painful, or ignorant, or insane, or stupid it may sound, or how much pain it may cause the victims. No stone is left unturned to examine and evaluate every emotional nuance for the viewing public, without any regard for morality, or justice, and definitely without any regard for compassion, or empathy….

After the event has ended, the media then turns to the “discussion” of the meaning of the events, which means it gives the Beloved Ruling Class a free source of advertisement for its agenda, which, allow me to reassure you, has nothing to do with what may be good for YOU. All the talk you hear from politicians after these shootings is aimed at increasing the fear of the public, to make them believe they are powerless in the face of a madman with a gun, and only if the people will allow ONLY the police and government to have guns, why, everything will be fine, and there would never be any more shootings at public schools…

I’m sorry, but, I’m afraid I can’t buy that…. There are over seven billion people on this planet, and there is nothing at all that is going to prevent some of them from going crazy, getting a gun, (or knife, or poison, or grenade, or dynamite, or…….) and using it on other folks. Believing such nonsense is, I’m sorry, just stupid….. It won’t stop, and there is nothing that will stop it, unless we figure out a way to change human nature…. a quest that, so far, has been completely unsuccessful, and isn’t likely to ever be otherwise….. People have violence in their nature, and thinking that the government, or any other entity, can change that is, well, not too bright….

But, fear is strong in most of society, and those folks have no clue, in general, that they are so easily manipulated. They tend to allow anyone who promises them to stop the fear to tell them what to do, just so they don’t have to think about it, or face it themselves. Governments have known this for centuries; look up Hermann Goering, the Nazi general under Hitler, some time, and see what he had to say about the people, and how their leaders could, and did, make them do whatever they wished, just by fanning their fears….. It’s a practice by no means uncommon among governments throughout history, up to and including the present day version….

Yep, ffolkes, that is indeed what it means…. most people are cowards, plain and simple…. When it comes to their own fears, they won’t do much of anything in the way of conquering those fears themselves…. They would much rather let the politicians promise them to keep the streets safe, if only they will give up the right to defend themselves, or allow a preacher to tell them to submit to earthly authority in order to receive eternal life (Or, in other words, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today…..” — Wimpy, Popeye’s friend, and metaphorical common man….). The media, whether out of ignorance, or out of deliberate dispassion, will continue to give them a public platform from which to perform their manipulations, and never blink an eye in guilt….

Me? I’ll pass on the hamburger, thanks, and go make sure my powder is dry…..

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” — Ronald W. Reagan
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Okay, that will do…. It is barely after 0700, and I’ve proofed once, and buffed a few scuffs so they shine a little…. It will have to do, as I’m not going back and doing it again…. not unless I suffer a power surge that deletes it all, an unlikely event in the face of the precautions I have in place to deal with that possibility….. 🙂  

Nevertheless, precautionary techniques notwithstanding, it’s done…. So be it…. It’s probably a good thing, as I’m getting tired of pretending to be sane, and need to go let it out somewhere…. Oh, wait, that’s what THIS is supposed to do…. Oops…. Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best, I suppose…..  Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

dozer3

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Even running amok requires proper attire….

Ffolkes,
Mmm, coffee…… coffee good. Want more….. there, that’s better. Focus now achieved, thanks to the life giver….. There are a lot of folks who don’t drink coffee. So they say….. I myself don’t believe it; they may hide it from everyone else, but I don’t believe that anyone in their right mind would deny themselves that morning shot, that moment of truth.

There is an instant every morning, right before I take the first sip, when I hate everything in the universe passionately; that hatred is immediately dismissed, eliminated completely and efficiently, as the benign jolt of divine caffeine strikes my bloodstream, and all is suddenly well with the world. That moment is highly addictive, leading as it does to a happier, more stable frame of mind, and I flat out disbelieve anyone who says they don’t like it, or can do without it once tried….

But, that’s okay, we’re all allowed a delusion or two, and if they want to insist on perpetuating such a lie, even such a white one, well, hey, it’s their karma, neh? As long as they don’t proselytize to me about it, or make any attempt to sell me something better, they can live…. Awfully big of me, I know, but I’m a nice guy most of the time, as long as I’m not crossed….. and even then, I’m very neat about my mayhem, and try to be accommodating by offering folks their preference as to landing spots, i.e. “Which wall would you prefer to fetch up against?”……

It is interesting to note that J.S. Bach wrote a Cantata to Coffee, complete with poetic text by a collaborator, in the early 1700’s, when Europe was first discovering the magical beans, and assimilating them into European culture, especially in Vienna, where some of the world’s finest coffees are brewed…. A noble bean indeed……

Now that we are completely off the track, let’s try to get back into Pearling mode, shall we? Without further distraction, we will now enter the world of deep knowledge known as the WWW; watch for the oysters, and try to spot the ones with pearls….
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If you lie, you’ll cheat. And if you cheat, you’ll steal. — Smart Bee

Though there is no attribution for this statement, I regard it as a truism, having been demonstrated in reality uncountable times. Not only is it true, but has been adopted as the cultural definition of a required skill for politicians. If one can assume that the latter sentence is as true as the first, then both of the major political parties in this country are guilty of acting this out on the public stage.

Democrats, thanks to the President who had the unforgivable temerity to get caught lying, are generally regarded as being subject to this “stretching” of truth, but Republicans have the unique skill of uttering lies, with a completely straight face, then denying not only the lie, but the utterance itself. (Hence, G. Bush denying a statement from two years earlier, a statement that had been recorded…..)

It’s hard to say whether the other parties out there, the ones who never get elected (Libertarian, Independent, Socialist, etc.) are as devoted to this principle as are the major parties, but, if they wish to ever get elected, they’ll have to buy into it…. it seems the public demands that our politicians lie to us.

There certainly hasn’t been any evidence forthcoming that might indicate that the public WANTS to hear the truth…. no one is ever rewarded for telling it. Usually, a person who stands up to tell the truth is shouted down by the liars, who use all sorts of tried-and-true techniques to draw attention away from, or to de-legitimize, anyone who dares wax eloquently for the truth of any matter.

“Things true and evident must of necessity be recognized by those who would contradict them.” — Epictetus (c. 60 AD)

This is the worst part of the process of lying; those who do so in public CHOOSE to lie, deliberately. As well, it sometimes it seems as if the whole idea of truth is one that the common man ignores completely. It doesn’t seem to matter to him whether or not some talking head is telling him the truth…. all he cares about is that what is being said feeds into his own desire to be left alone, and doesn’t cost him any money, or thought, or extra work. If it meets those requirements, it is acceptable, and anything that doesn’t, anything that makes him think or sweat, becomes an object of dislike, and even hatred….

How many of the men who went after Clinton for his Oval Office BJ’s were doing so because they wished it could have been them? A lot, I’d say…. Many more than the number who actually cared at all (most of the entire European continent still remains confused about why that whole thing happened, as in their cultures, sexual affairs are not considered inappropriate behavior for public figures….) , and far, far more than those who actually cared about the truth of the matter…. Ah well, all one can do is SIGH……

“We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme.  It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are more concerned with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent, nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today.  Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby ulcerous little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive.  We are sorry if this impression has come across.” — Monty Python

In truth, I have to say, sorry, I’m not sorry, and this is exactly the impression I’m trying to give you….. I wouldn’t want to lie to you, now would I?…..
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“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” — Alan Watts

One of the less comfortable aspects of having a lot of time to think is just that…. having a lot of time to think. Since there is a lot more past to remember than there is present to think of, our minds linger in that unforgotten but never recoverable time. It is all there, the good, the bad, the ugly, and it can be a tricky task to keep from becoming maudlin when one lingers too long in the past, too easily turning to regret, and that is as useless as it is painful, in the long run.

At my age, the future is, of course, an uncertain, yet delightful unknown, so the present becomes, as Alan observed, all there is. And regret in the present is foolish, for there is no solution to it, other than resolve to change whatever produced it in the first place.

This was driven home to me this morning (whatever morning it is…. they’re all sort of blurred together….) when I opened the door outside for the first time. I was a bit under the weather, and full of the angst the above serious inner debate had brought. The sheer beauty of the sky, and the light, and the colors of the grass and buildings, all overwhelmed and made insignificant whatever burdens I had been carrying. I took a deep breath of air, stretched a bit in the sunshine, and felt a new man emerging….

Why you look so sad when the sky is perfect blue? — Smart Bee

When this popped up before me, after experiencing the jolt of universal connection I just described, I realized that the entire experience felt even better when I look at it as a lesson…. When I had opened the door, the Universe had seized my perceptions, and forced me to exist only in that moment, absorbing the visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli, and the feelings those produced in me, creating a form of experiential gestalt of Now that I would never forget, no matter how far from Now I may find myself…… I have no doubt it will come in handy at some point….    🙂  

But I’ll settle for what I have Now….. for Now….
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“I cannot here avoid giving my most decided suffrage in favour of the moral qualities of maniacs.  I have no where met, excepting in romances, with fonder husbands, more affectionate parents, more impassioned … than in the lunatic asylum, during their intervals of calmness and reason.” — Philippe Pinel, ‘Treatise on Insanity’ 1801

Mssr. Pinel relates an interesting observation here, one that parallels my own experience with those who struggle with mental illnesses. The only difference between us is that he is surprised by this observation, while I am not. I observed mentally ill folks for many years, and have come to the conclusion that those who suffer from long periods of insanity have an intense, strong attachment to those types of feelings that give them relief from that mind-storm, much more so than the “sane”, and love of family certainly tops the list of effective sources for those feelings.

Those who have only periodic forays into the world of sanity tend to appreciate those times most avidly, as they are often few and far between, and offer them the only moments of peace that can be found in their all-too-active inner lives. I believe it is this appreciation that drives them to love so strongly, to give so much to those they love when they are feeling well. They are aware, if only peripherally, that their time with those they love is limited, and they make their best efforts to show what they truly feel.

Those who are considered sane, I have found, tend to take such feelings for granted; this is one reason that there are so many divorces in modern life, as people don’t seem to want to do the work that is necessary to maintain a relationship. In this sense, their feelings are less important to them, or at least less in their attention, and they suffer the consequences that follow as certainly as a sunrise.

In fact, relationships are not the only area that so-called sane people could learn valuable lessons by copying what insane folks do. I’ve found that a lot of folks who can’t handle reality very well are very good artists, and studying their techniques and mind-sets can be a tool of some value for other artists, who don’t necessarily suffer from insanity. This is true even though a lot of artists are accused of it because of their art, and what it makes them do….. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “he’s not insane, he’s an artist….”   That’s me all over…..   🙂

“Insanity — a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” — R. D. Lang  ( R.D. Lang was a psychiatrist who lived in the twentieth century, and wrote a lot of material on mental health, in individuals and society. I like this statement, as it is a perfect representation of reality.)
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A Lecture Upon The Shadow

Stand still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produc’d.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduc’d.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us, and our cares; but now ’tis not so.
That love has not attain’d the high’st degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
As the first were made to blind
Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westwardly decline,
To me thou, falsely, thine,
And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day;
But oh, love’s day is short, if love decay.
Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his first minute, after noon, is night.

John Donne

No worries…. morning poetry break…. enjoy!….
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We all do some of our best thinking in places that otherwise might not be considered particularly conducive to deep, complex subjects; serendipity comes where it may, though…. and it just occurred to me, in another room that shall be nameless for the sake of delicacy, why I’ve been struggling so hard of late to produce these Pearls.

Over the last few weeks, it seems as if quotes/pearls are hiding from me. It’s been taking me up to three hours a day just to find five pearls worthy of being explored in writing. Very frustrating, even though I read so fast I can cover literally thousands of quotes in an hour…..

What occurred to me is that one of the things that makes me what/who I am is reading books. At the age of 10, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was put in a situation where reading was just about the only form of entertainment available. So, I read, and practice, practice, practice pushed my reading speed up to a point where I could actually read as fast as my mind could absorb the material.

This works out to about 1200 words/minute, basic speed. Deeply complex material, of course, slows it down, and light material allows it to run free, but on average, that number is about right. It works out that it is a perfect speed for consuming one 250-300 page book in one day.

So, I did. I started reading a book a day, and the habit became not merely fixed, but unbreakable. If I go too long without reading, I get physically ill, seriously. Headaches, malaise, distraction, all are caused by not reading enough, and are cured by just a few minutes spent in a novel I’m currently absorbing.

Just letting my eyes work their way over the “words in a line” is soothing; any words will do… cereal boxes, magazines, comics, anything, but a book is best. My mind NEEDS the stimulation that taking in the concepts, ideas, and stories that a book supplies; it’s like breathing to me, I don’t feel right when its smooth functioning is interrupted, and I’ll do almost anything to put it back to rights…..

Thanks, however, to the lasting effects of PTSD, I’ve been unable to concentrate long enough to sit and read. It has been hard, as well, to sublimate by visiting my co-blogger’s sites to read what they are thinking about. And this inability to read sufficiently is what is behind all my difficulties here…. For me, this is an epiphany, for it is a problem with a simple, sustainable solution, easily and immediately applicable.

All I have to do is set aside more time to read, and use a bit of tough-self-love…. I’ll tell myself whatever I need to in order to sit and finish a few books (which, of course, I’ve already got lined up…. it’s not like I haven’t thought of reading, just haven’t dug in to do it….), and all dysfunctional habits, or at least the underlying cause, will disappear like the illusions they really are….

This also, in short order, should act as a spur toward being able to read more blogs, which will be good, too. I’ve been feeling some guilt, something I almost never give in to, because I’ve been unable to get to a lot of sites where I’ve become attached to the authors and their work…. But, I’ve been instructed by at least one of them that I am not to feel guilty, so I won’t. I’ll just be glad I can get back to reading some of them….   and back to eating, er, reading, a book a day….
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There is something to be said, I guess, for falling asleep at 6 PM and sleeping straight through to 4 AM. This process went much more smoothly this morning, after a couple of rough starts. More proof that “sleep is a weapon”, no doubt…..

As usual, after a good effort, I’m a bit let down, not yet having finished the technical aspects of publishing, but done with the creative part. Good practice for learning to enjoy even the negative experiences in life, if only for being the precursors to all the good…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Kowabunga!