My Fantastic Weekend

I awoke Saturday morning to a text message in which Paula, my closest friend here and neighbour, said that her cat had drowned in the local pond. Indy was sweet and lovely and has spent many evenings curled up in my lap purring, or lolling about hoping for a belly rub. Oh no! I said I would walk my dog and head right over.
Paula's catsMy normal dog walking route goes right past the pond where the cat had died, and I was looking at it sadly, thinking of Indy when, with some distress, I noticed that Indy’s body was still in the pond.
I went around to get a closer look, in case there had been confusion, hoping it was some other cat. I couldn’t see his most distinctive marking, but I was convinced it was him.
Cat and Christmas Tree 1I went around to Paula’s and we tried to figure out who to ring to remove poor Indy from the pond. The RSPCA is only involved with living animals. I found the non-emergency number for the police and called them, apologising for ringing the wrong number, but explaining that I thought the cat’s body constituted a public health hazard. The police woman was annoyed at first, but then sympathetic and gave me the number for animal control and the department of environmental health, both of whom were closed until Monday.
Desperate for distraction, I shaved Paula’s head. However, Jara, Paula’s flatmate, was distraught about the thought of the poor cat bobbing in the pond until Monday, so we went back with a long pole, hoping to get him. And we tried a longer pole. And we tried tying two poles together, which succeeded in reaching him, despite being incredibly heavy, but not in bringing him closer to the edge. It started to rain.
LilypadsSome of the neighbours came by and said their porter could get him out on Monday. Somebody else suggested that we just wade out and get him. I went and got my toe shoes and some latex gloves, rolled up my trouser legs and jumped down into the steep-walled pond.
It was choked with algae, which wrapped around my legs. The bottom was squishy and weird. I waded over to where poor indy was, and pulled him from the algae and walked back to the side with his stiff body. I could see his markings then, and it was definitely him. I put him into a sack and then noticed that my gloves had somehow gotten torn.
Jara pulled me up the very steep sides of the pond. I went home and took a long shower and then tried to reach my girlfriend, but couldn’t.
Instead, I went to check my email and found a conversation on an email list that had been annoying me. The thread had grown. One guy organises a lot of events around here and makes a serious and thoughtful effort to be open and inclusive and does a lot of good things for the community. However, he was going on about innate and immutable gender differences, which rubbed me the wrong way and seemed quite othering. It contained a slur, clearly used without recognising it as such. Instead of explaining why I found this troubling, I flounced from the list.
Then I went to sleep and dreamt of Indy and being hit in the head by fourbytwos (known to Americans as 2x4s).
Hal and PaulaThis morning, Sunday, I put on a shirt that my gf gave me, as I thought I would see her in the evening. But first, I went with Paula and Jara and Paula’s friend to the anti-EDL march. The EDL is a fascist organisation, which had been planning on holding an anti-muslim march in the same area, targeting the East London Mosque, which is very near where I live. The EDL had chickened out at the last second, so the rally and march were peaceful and fun. I met a lovely anarc named Hal, who works at the Freedom bookshop. We all went with Joey and another woman to get a fry up afterwards. Hal may come to Wotever next Tuesday. It was all really good, although there were signs that unrest might be brewing among some other people who had been involved with the demo.
Incidentally, while we are at the pre-march rally, my phone rang and it was a friend asking if I wanted to come along to something. This is significant, because it was the first time that anybody that I’ve met in London (but not dated) has called me with impromptu plans. I’ve lived here for two years. I couldn’t go, because I was already at the rally, but it was very nice to be invited.
I went home and checked my email again and found out that I had very deeply offended the guy to whom I had posted my flouncing and that he had said some unkind things in return. I was distressed to find burned bridges, as this guy has gotten me gigs and getting involved in a row on a public email list connected to my section of the local arts scene is really not wise, especially as I’ll be looking for a job soon. Somebody said the whole group may have imploded in the aftermath, but I really hope this is not the case.
[EDIT: Um, I seem to have gotten this guy confused with somebody else, which is also embarrassing. He hasn’t gotten me gigs, but he is active. (25 June)]
Indy Feeling dejected, I tried again to reach my girlfriend, who said that we neeeded to talk. Uhoh.
The last time I had seen her, she had come with me to my pre-op appointment, where nurses took my blood pressure (good), calculated my BMI (low) and asked me questions like am I a vegetarian (yes) and do I have a will? (I do now.) I found that last question to be rather alarming.
She came along to ask questions about aftercare and to encourage scheduling that would coincide with when she had time off and would be in the area. My operation will by 1 July.
Then she went to a conference in Bristol and I hadn’t seen her since and was starting to get the impression that she was avoiding me. ‘Needing to talk’ was not allying my fears and I didn’t think I had the stamina to bike across town for whatever serious conversation she wanted to have.
And that’s how I came to be dumped via chat.
There was no fight, she just decided she didn’t want to be my girlfriend anymore. Five months of that was enough, I guess. It seems rude to go into details, so I won’t, but she had been idly chatting about moving in together a couple of weeks earlier, so I don’t know.
I decided to check my email again and found out that my proposal to play at the SuperCollider symposium had been rejected.
So to summarise: thigh deep in nasty, urban pond water, holding the corpse of a beloved cat in my bare hands, followed by flouncing, followed by getting dumped over chat followed by yet another professional rejection, of which I’ve had a streak for years, now, I think.
HaircutAt least the march was good and I seem to have some social stability. Which I’ll need because I won’t be staying with my exgf after my operation, obviously, but it will be a couple of weeks before I can carry anything and I’m not sure how much I should be left alone in the day or two after. I’ll be staying with Paula, which is super, but I don’t feel like it’s fair to ask her for everything, even if I cut her hair in return.

I’ve been making movements, with the idea that there will be some advantage in all of them, despite my lack of a plan or even a completely clear goal state. Then I looked again. The future state has advantage in every movement. And Change is slowly occuring. Right now, movements might bring disadvantage, for all I know. Or maybe it’s just important to keep busy. Or maybe the only direction to go is up.


Right now, we live in a very visual culture. People make biological explinations for this, which I’m not prepared to discuss, but it’s important ot note that Western Culture was not always visual. During the Medieval period, most information was translated verbally. Thus listening was more important than seeing. Even literate people were trained to read aloud, rather than silently, so in literacy there was still a sence of an auditory component through which information was relayed.
Many factors in our modern culture have changed that. Television. Movies. Widespread silent literacy. Visual images have become the dominant communication medium. Sight is now culturally more important than listening.
Thus, when you sit in a room and talk with someone, you are doing so in a visually-dominated milleu. You look at them, looking for information cues, such as facial expression, twitching, body language, etc. This makes up at least half of the communication. You also detect other stimuli, which we are less aware of, such as pheremones. The voice alone is telling less than half the story.
This means, that under ideal circumstances of perfect audio reproduction, let’s say 24 bit audio at 96 k sampling, with a perfect condenser microphone, you’re getting less than half of the cues, especially the emotional cues. And most voice reproduction is not so ideal. Take, for example, the telephone. Under a perfectly clear connection, the sample rate is not so high, the bit rate is lower and many high and low frequencies have been filtered out so as to require less bandwidth. Most phones have very cheap dynamic mics and equally poor speakers. Subtleties are lost. Voice inflections, rich in emotional content, are compressed away, filtered out, not reproducable by the speakers and not picked up by the mic in the first place. This is under ideal circumstances, making a phone call to somebody down the street on a perfectly clear line. What percentage of content is actually getting through?
Now, think of a very long distance line. If you’re calling Europe, for example, your signal is bouncing off a satalite or going through a very long trans-atlantic cable. Your phone is probably analog, with heavy filtering of highs and lows. The signal gets converted to digital part way through by the phone company, using A to D converters that are probably less than perfect, probably passing again through a filter to clear out analog line noise (and taking some of your signal with it), then it gets sent across the atlantic, then is re-converted to analog, again with not a studio-quality D to A converter, or recompressed and sent out to your cell phone, which does it’s own D ot A conversion using whatever circuts are included in the thing. your voice has been routed a long way, filtered, compressed, converted A to D to A and maybe to D and A another time again, and otherwise mangled. Some of your packets were probably lost. You’re lucky if there’s not static or echo or both.
On the one hand, it’s entirely astoundingly miraculous that you can be standing in Connecticut and hear the apartment noises of dinner being cooked in an apartment in France, while it’s actually happening. On the other hand, how much data is really getting through? It’s something like a cruel joke, in that it implies that communication is possible, but then drops so many pieces of it, making communication extremely difficult.
Having phone conversations with strangers works well because there’s often very little emotional content. Having phone conversation with someone you see frequently can also work well. We are creatures of habit. You are used to reading their cues, because you spend time around them and have the full picture of their cues fresh in your mind. But that gets lost if it’s not practiced. The cues that you can read over the phone, because you read them all the time in person, get less clear over times of seperation. Thus the phone, once a handy way of saying you’d be a few minutes late to dinner, subtly turns against you as the distance and time seperating you grows.
The parable of the frog not jumping out of a slowly heating pot and getting cooked, alas, is not based in fact. Nevertheless, it can take time to realize that the phone is not helping things. The seeming miraculousness of it disguises it’s evil intent. It’s like the devil appearing to the unsuspecting and performing false signs and miracles to lead would-be visionaries into heresy.
It is barely possible to have an emotional conversation in a long distance phone call. It is impossible to conduct a relationship over the phone. What is the answer to this dilemna?

Alas, I am filled with woe and at a loss as to what to do with myself. Why did I break up with christi if I didn’t want to breakup with Christi? after she told me not to come to paris, my feelings got hurt with a high percentage of the phone conversations we had. then she announced she was showing up suddenly. i wanted space from all of it. i wanted it to stop. i didn’t know what to do. i was worried about things that we hadn’t dealt with from the past. i needed time to think. i told her we were breaking up and then didn’t speak to her for three weeks. and thought about it. and thought about what i wanted from a relationship. and realized that christi and pretty much wanted the same things and that i love her and she sent email saying she loved me.

but, of course, love conquers nothing.
I was picking up cues. i thought she’d want to work it out. who wouldn’t want a low stress, low-drama relationship with me, where reliability was stressed and there were good boundaries and space and stuff?

of course, getting there would be a bit of work. it seemed possible. we had similar goals in mind. after thinking for three weeks, i understood more of what was going on. i felt guilt. i had told christi i would always be there for her and she was in distress, which i had caused, and i wasn’t there for her. i always wanted to be more of an ameloriating factor, rather than a stressing factor. I thought about family. family is very important to me. i felt like a member of her family. she was accepted as a member of mine. a couple weeks before she died, my grandma told christi that she thought of her as granddaughter. how could I just walk away from that? what about responsibilities? what about marriage vows? what about nine years together? what about love?
not that it matters anymore, but i think it might have been better to tell her that i was distressed by our phone onversations rather than not speaking to her for three weeks. hindsight. alas alac woe
although i didn’t act it, i did have a lot invested in this. my heart for example.
there’s so much i wish i could take back or that i’d done differently. all is for naught. the past can’t be changed. the future can’t be fixed. if you make bad decisions, you have to live with them forever. it’s very cold here. there’s piles of snow on the ground. it can be below freezing and snowy for ten days in a row and then four degrees above freezing for one day and then ten degrees below freezing for the next month, but in that one warm day, all the snow disappears. what happens afterwards doesn’t change the damage that’s already been done.
everything is essentially hopeless


As I see it, there are two kinds of problems. One is right-now problems and the other is past problems. Right-now problems are ones that areoccuring right-now. Example:

A: does this make my butt look big?
B: no, your butt is already the size of Romania
A: that hurt my feelings
B: I’m very sorry.

I think those should be addressed as they come up, like person A does in the example.

Past prolems are things lurking from the past. Example:

A: It hurt my feelings last year when you shot my dog.
B: It was rabid!
A: You don’t know that for sure. We should have brought it to the vet.
B: It was chewing on a human baby!
A: That dog was very important to me!
B: You’re a lunatic!
A: you’re an insensitive jerk!

Past problems are lurking around and they must be addressed or they will erupt in bad ways, but as we can see from this example, bringing them up can also be dangerous. I think that in some cases, past problems require a professional referee to help people sort them out.
there are my thoughts about problems. thank you


My relatsionship with Christi had many problems. We had different methods of dealing with them and different ideas about what they were. What we were agreed upon was that June 2002 – the end of 2003 was a messy, bad time. My way of dealing with this was simply not to deal with it. I wanted to focus on loving each other and hope of the future. Christi wanted to directly address these lingering issues. Neither of us has especially good communication skills, so when she would try to address these problems, I would not get what she was talking about and be upset and not want to think about the bad past.

She, however, wouldn’t let go of the past and so the past rose up and bit me at the start of winter break. I spent the winter break contemplating the past and patterns in our relationship that had not changed since we were 19 even though we had changed and the patterns weren’t good then and had gotten less good over time. The past was a huge ocean, rising up and threatening to drown me. It was too big. I didn’t understand what Christi was talking about and it hurt me. The way she said it hurt me, but I didn’t tell her that. If only we would just focus on the bright and hopeful future, it would all go away and everything would be ok.
The magnitude of past hurts, when I couldn’t ignore it anymore, was overwhelming. How christi tried to talk about it (and I resisted) hurt in a correspondingly overwhelming way. Not only was it huge and horrible, but she wouldn’t let go of it. I couldn’t see a way to let go of it without letting go of her. It was the only thing I could think of to do. Trying to talk about it would just hurt me further. It would hurt her. There was no point in drowning ourselves in an ocean of woe. I stopped talking to her to avoid having to talk about this. I was frustrated by her unwillingness to simply embrace my vision of a future disconnected from the last 2 years.
Today, Alvin told a story about a guy explaining his compositional style by writing the word Beethoven on a piece of paper. then he wrote “19th century.” then he wrote “minimalism.” He drew an arc from “Beethoven” to “minimalism,” bypassing the 19th century and then wrote his own name next to “minimalism.” It’s a nice notion to think we can ignore the 19th century, and indeed we try, but it’s foolish to assert that it hasn’t changed and affected us as composers. Lou Harrison editted Ives, who took all of his ideas from the 19th century. I listen to Lou and get ideas from him. I come from a 19th century musical heritage which I cannot escape from.
But I wanted to escape from the last 2 years. I wanted to draw a line from returning from Europe in 2001 (full of ideas and enthusiasm) to the present. And maybe this composer in Alvin’s anecdote could make a reasonable claim to being unscathed by the 19th century, but I couldn’t make a similar claim about 2002. I didn’t want to talk about the last couple years. I didn’t want to think about them. But with Christi arriving and the sort of introspection one engages in around the New Year, I did think about them. It was a deep chasm from which there seemed to be no way to get out. I told Amy later, “how much can two people hurt each other before it’s enough?”
So I stopped talking to Christi, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I got back to school and thought, “I want to run away from home.” but I already had. running away from home doesn’t help. Problems have an uncanny way of following you. Trying to ignore things doesn’t make them go away. focussing soley on the future is not a way to fix problems of any kind. My denial of the past was as useful to our relationship as Dubya trying to fix the deficit by setting up a lunar base. Both ideas are fueled by a sort of optomism, but a ludicrous way to deal with any sort of present problem. Both require a solid foundation that needs/needed repairs before it support such a project. My refusing to talk about the past or deal with it was like Dubya ignoring WMD stuff in the State of the Union. It must be addressed. (I must stop comparing myself to Bush!!)
I never told any of this to christi. It didn’t fit in my world view of “if we just ignore this it will go away.” It certainly didn’t fit with fleeing tidal waves from the past. and it was a tidal wave. The past had been steadily collecting behind me, waiting for me to examine it. It’s like the reading backlog I’m already generating in my Mystic Voices class. (alas) I cannot explain how overwhelmingly huge the unexamined past was or be less metaphorical in my description. What is true is that I needed/need space to deal with huge personal demons. I could not discuss them with Christi then. It looked like I would never be able to. Breaking up with Christi seemed like the most sensible option and the least painful for me and for her.
Obviously, breaking up with Christi and fleeing to Connecticut did not make these demons disappear. I took with me two carry on bags, one checked bag, and the maximum limmit of emotional baggage (one day in therapy and I’m already in cheesy metaphor land). And I’ve been examining the recent past. And suddenly many of the seemingly hurtful things that Christi said seem to make sense. Suddenly, it’s clear that she was trying to slay some demons instead of having them creep up on us forever. That our 19 year old patterns didn’t fit anymore. That we had to talk about the future not in vague, hopeful terms, but in the concrete and rooted in our experience. She also hurt my feelings. Neither of us is good at this communication thing. It’s hard to do over the phone. She may not have hurt me on purpose.
I love her
So now what?

couples therapy is a lot like that Simpsons episode where they go in for family cousilling and the shrink gives them foam covered bats to hit each other with. then bart realized that you can take the foam off and promptly breaks Homer’s leg. If you didn’t need help before, boy, you sure will afterwards. How this is suppossed to do anybody any good, is beyond me. In times of stress, the guru to turn to is not any shrink you can think of or anyone that advocated airing all of your dirty laundry all at once in an attack-like barrage. no the voice to listen to, the voice of reason is Miss Manners. Clearly what is required in times of stress that people make an extra effort to be polite, not let everything negative out in a vian quest for catharthis.I would rather grow back my wisdom teeth every week and have them removed every week over and over again like that mythical guy whose spleen grew back every night, than go to couples therapy. The wisdom teeth thing is much nicer. Everyone had your best interest in mind and people are nice to you afterwards. Your spouse doesn’t start crying and avoid you. she brings you ice cream instead. Isn’t it better to get ice cream?When I was a kid, my mom dragged me off to family cousilling along with the rest of my family (but i was the primary target). that was pretty miserable. it gave me a terrible opion of shrinks. i decided they were all bad people who tried to sow discord in order to keep themselves employed longer or maybe because they really hate people. I could never tell which. Everyone assured me that going as an adult (even if pretty much against my will) would be very different. Nope. It’s exactly the same. No, it’s worse, becuase I end up paying cash for it at the end. Before it was miserable, but at least it was my parents money.And then I went out to the car afterwards, and there was a parking ticket. Yes, it just gets better and better. No-one will ever get me into a shrink’s office again. I’m going with the they-all-hate-people theory.