These articles were originally published in the 1990s in the Minneapolis DYI ‘zine, The Baby Split Bowling News. The publish dates reflect when the ‘zine appeared and was distributed at local book stores. The fictional author, named Moonflowers, is a pseudo-intellectual with loose morals and bad luck.
Moonflowers found herself trapped in the suspended animation that passes for a waiting room. Analyzing the interior design and experiencing its effect is part of the torture of waiting rooms. The prevalence of brown walnut finish and orange upholstery is annoying at least, and was never envisioned in florescent lighting. Muzak and receptionist conversations (probably pre-taped, as well) emitting from behind high counters accompany her perusal of large type magazines.
Q: Why is she here?
A. She has reached the point in life where the generations before and after squeeze her into a strange lifestyle sandwich. She is the meat in the middle, slowly going bad on the shelf.
Moonflower’s Mom is going on her third laser surgery for glaucoma, the asymmetry of mom’s pupils in those ice blue irises is disturbing. It’s not the exciting variety of glaucoma, there you think, “Wow, Mom is finally going to get high. And on that good government pot, too.” No, it’s just a pressure cooker in there and her right eye has been drilled like a bowling ball, the same number of holes, same configuration , and depth, too, relatively speaking.
On the other side of the generation gap, her young son has reached puberty, complete with mood swings and miniature Krakatoas erupting on his ever expanding forehead. She has been spending a lot of time in the waiting room of his dermatologist, too.
In the future, waiting rooms should be overhauled. Headphones and ultimately, eyephones should be provided by everyone. The scheduling system should change, so you only have to go once a year, for a day. You would call via a picture phone for quick fixes; tell the doc where it hurts or show him your rash. A large central room that connects to your dermatologist, dentist, shrink and gynecologist would be the innovation of the century. Wonder drugs should be dispensed via a vending machine, with refills available 24 hours-a-day, ad infinitum.
Reality check! Sharing limited space with a cross-section of the general populace, the covert unfairness of the order of proceeding into the next waiting room can put a crimp in Moonflower’s day. But these ordinary slices of timespace are perfect opportunities for self-improvement schemes.
You know these are tricks, but are you brave enough to give yourself a gift everyday?
– Hip Swings on Hold: You are trying to get that appointment in the first place and find yourself tethered to a phone. Stand with your feet apart, knees slightly bent. Keeping your abdominal muscles firm, shift hips first to one side, then to the other without swaying forward or backward, This slims and firms hips and waist. By improving hip flexibility, Hip Swings can also improve your walk, golf swing, skiing skill, bowling game and lovemaking.
– Kegel Exercise: This exercise consists of rhythmically contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor, as if to stop urinating. Hold this position tightly for a moment, then relax. Many gynecologists and sex therapists recommend at least 100 repetitions a day. It has been an important part of Taoist health practices for 6000 years. The Kegel Exercise (G. kegel,, bowling pin) maintains and restores elasticity and tome of the vagina muscles and is reputed to contribute significantly to a woman’s pleasure and skill in lovemaking.
– Yawning to the Rescue: With your mouth closed, sniff lightly through your nose several times. Then, with you mouth open, sniff again several more times. Very soon after this you will feel the urge to yawn. Cooperate with it and relax into it. Hold your head high (but not tilted back) and let your mouth open wide. Let the yawn complete itself naturally. This is an excellent way for the body to replenish its store of oxygen. It is also a valuable tension and stress release. The ability to yawn efficiently and at will is a useful tool for waiting moments.
– Changing Someone: Visualize the person vividly in your mind. Think of something good about the person. Try to evoke within yourself as much love for that person as you can. Breathe deeply into your solar plexus, and imagine it is opening, expanding like a camera shutter. Practice getting in touch with this center when you see a tiny baby or someone you love. Try to feel the contrast between this expanding feeling and the sensation of closing when you meet someone nasty, who means you harm. Whereas criticism can cause others to cling to and defend their undesirable qualities and behavior, loving acceptance gives them the freedom and confidence to change. As you practice the above techniques, your positive feelings and thoughts will seep into your encounters with the person that you are thinking of improving.
– Playing Well: An exceptional kegeler visualizes each bowl from start to finish while waiting. Mentally she pushes out, swings down with the first step, back on the second and third step, swooping into the release position and setting her hand in exactly the same perfect spot. All this action is balanced because she moves while continually watching those marks. The ball rolls through that curved path into that sweet spot and dispatches the pins to the void. A secret from ancient Egypt immortalized in “Take the Skinheads Bowling”.
Consider how isometrics, facial exercises behind menus, bad habit modification and self confidence building will change your appearance, posture and self-image; how it will give you peace of mind. Mastery over your life is the key to survival in this mad world.
A virgin gives herself to an admirer after a courtship of 1 year. He leaves her immediately afterward, feeling conquered and mortified.
She thinks “From this time forward, I feel as one that has died. I have lost my days and my travail of abstinence, and my tears and prayers and vigils are brought to nothing: I have angered my God, and have destroyed myself. Sorrow upon me, with every spring of tears!
Where shall I flee to hide? Where can I find a pit wherein to throw myself? I dare not look at heaven, I that am dead to God and man. Better to go away to some other country where there is no one who could know me, for I am nought but a dead woman now, and there is no hope left to me any more.
Even bowlers have their trials with tedium or perturbation of heart. Like a fever mounting at a regular time, it brings a high tide of inflammation to the sick soul. When this besieges the unhappy mind, it begets aversion from the alley, boredom with one’s ball, and scorn and contempt for the league members, as careless and unspiritually-minded persons.
Also, towards any bowling that may be done, we become listless and inert. It will not suffer us to stay in our shoes. We lament that in all this while, bowling in the same alley, we have not improved our average, we sigh and complain that bereft of sympathetic fellowship we have no spiritual fruit; and bewail ourselves as empty of all moonlight bowling profit, abiding vacant and useless in this place; and we have enriched no man with our example. We cannot even procure one’s snacks without enormous toil. Finally we conclude that there is no health for us so long as we stay in this alley, and go elsewhere as quickly as possible.
And so the wise suggest the bowlers would never, especially the younger, to be idle, measuring the state of their heart and their progress in patience and humility by their steadiness at bowling; and not only might they accept nothing from anyone towards their line charge, but out of their own toil they should support such bowlers as came from foreign parts, and send huge stores of Cheese Combos and videos of tournaments to those that pined in the squalor of the prisons.
Tips for Bowlers:
– Escapism and Solitude will not solve anything. You are forced to live.
– Pink rooms are psychologically sedative. A combination of recreation facility and endangered species habitat may bring you to your gentleness.
–Mind games are pass
é. Positive thinking helps you control your personal aggression.
– White lies combined with acceptance of common vises exhibits a respect for others.
–Stop drinking and smoke dope.
–If you are in love with the sound of your own voice,
shut up and try thinking for a change.
I am a big ugly girl. Many times boys approach me an tell me that they think I have bigger arms than they do. It may be an insult to me, but they seem embarrassed after the words have a chance to hang in the air.
I live in a project on the west side of town. On Saturday, 4:30 pm I go over to Bossen to bowl. It’s a five mile walk. One cold fall day I looked through the trees and saw the lake. I decided to try taking the shortcut across the ice. I use the water tower to aim where I wanna go. It only takes 20 minutes to get to the Bossen Bowling Experience.
I told everyone at the lane, and for the next week I talked it up at home. Soon I was leading my friends on the walk. All winter we enjoyed the Big Sky out on the lake. The booming sound the ice would make as it cracked on sunny days was scary.
One day in March, we all started across the ice. There were puddles on top of the ice, it had been raining that morning. We had our rubber boots and it was a bright day, so we were in mind for a little adventure. Jolene started telling one of her jokes and we were giggling and sloshing along at a good clip. The ice began to bend and ripple as we progressed. I smelled that something was wrong, just wanted to get off the lake as soon as possible. Looked all around to see where the closest shore was. Then it gave way and we were all in the drink.
There was a large hole above me, and the surface was cracked apart. I had released my bowling ball at the first shock of cold water and kicked hard to swim up. Everyone was going the same way. Everyone was trying to climb back up on the thin ledge of ice. Panic and survival instinct made them scream and claw toward that ledge simultaneously. It was breaking up more.
I kicked off by boots and tried the edge that was facing the point. My arms buoyed me up like water wings and I could hook my legs up first. The ice continued to crack as I snaked along on my belly. It was like swimming, worming along in puddles of slush. It took a long time to reach the point, I was crawling and crying in frustration and fear, my clothes were so heavy and stiff.
I lost my closest friends that day, but we are still walking on the thin ice of a failing economy. Only luck and a pair of fat arms saved me that day. I had to let go of my beloved bowling ball to survive. I started reading books and studying hard. I know that an education is going to be like my arms someday. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to hard times.
Moonflowers knows that these days a significant percentage of teenagers are engaging in sexual activity. There are moral, social, economic prohibitions on contraceptives. In fact, coerced pregnancy and childbearing is widespread. Everywhere, young women are faced with a mix of government policies, cultural traditions and economic pressures that conspire to make pregnancy and motherhood mandatory.
Teenage childbearing has enormous consequences. It limits educational opportunities, thereby reinforcing the low status of women, and the poor children that live with them.
Stock still, breathing lightly I face the shadows and reflections mirrored in the smooth wood. I choose a path, and body and mind combine changing stasis to action as I hurl the marble ball gracefully to the floor. A waiting perid is shortly followed by chaos and cacophony. Likewise the perfect balance of opposite elements offers a basis for a rewarding life.
The two great organizing principles in human life are Power and Intimacy. They are opposites: destructive vs. creative, agency vs. communion, “death aggressiveness” vs. erotic “life instincts.” Your life-story can focus on power, be highly intimate, or contain a balance of both.
The Powerful Ones are motivatied by the obvious rewards- success and money. They like to hang in clubs, throw lavish parties in their penthouses and applaud each others’ accomplishments. Their major fear is embarrassment and thus powermongers manipulate each other and avoid conflict at all costs. The advantages are obvious as well. they don’t have to beg for their space, are free to structure their lives independently and manage to have exciting affairs. The can always find a long-legged babe or handsome partner in crime to enjoy the glamorous life.
The Intimate Ones are concerned with just being. Ultimately they seek one-on-one encounters. Betrayal of trust is their biggest fear in relationships, but when it occurs they accept that they themselves are part of the problem. The Tibetans have a principle that emotions should be given free rein, “Ride out the wild horse.” the ride will take you out of the known realm and yet the horse will eventually tire and stop running. It’s fighting our feelings that wastes so much energy.
All this talk about riding is urging me to make a point. Sex is not intimacy. Touching, kissing, caressing, cuddling, undressing, sucking, humping, rocking and rolling; savoring each stage involved in intercourse for a reason. you transcend the bounds of your physical body and become one with another.
The electrostatic energy generated during lovemaking causes a magnetism between the lovers. You have created joy. Surrender to another is simultaneously an escape and a connection to the outside world. A sense of breaking the limitations of time and space gives it a cosmic sense of harmony, It is easy to see the positive effects a mate has on your whole existence. Trusting someone, sharing an ongoing daily dialog is important to your emotional and psychological growth.
Individuals who are motivated by BOTH power and intimacy want it all; they are generally miserable as youngsters, they refuse to conform to archetypical models, exhibit dual sexuality, struggle with immature emotional stages. These are the late bloomers, productive contributions are finally reached at 30-40 years of age. These best and brightest achieve a better life adjustment (as rated by income, happy marriages, promotions, vacations, job satisfaction, no shrinks, no drug or alcohol abuse and minimal sick leave). Their mortality rate is 50% lower. They attain a higher income and social standing, but also possess political outlook, intellectual tastes and superior lifestyle. They become counselors, teachers and peacemakers. Good luck to those of you struggling for the balance.
The Class Arthropoda is made up of 800,000 kinds of insects.
By far the largest group is ants. Six-legged creatures crawl all over our planet. As they scale the side of your house the gravity pulling against the sticky feet on this new surface is the only indication of up. The ants go marching in through the window and across the cupboard to the sugar bowl. The appliances grow larger, mutate each moment, twist and contort with foreshortening. Edges flare and recede nonsensical as they pass.
To ants the Earth is flat. A two-dimensional world; forward and to the side. Our third dimension is incomprehensible in minds devoid of concepts. According to P.D. Ouspensky in “Tertium Organum, A key to the Enigmas of the World”, time replaces our third dimension for these creatures of the 2d world.
Flocking behind the leader, who is the ant in front of you, struggling beneath enormous loads, they return to the nest. They have remarkable memories. Labyrinths of tunnels covering up to an acre are negotiated only by remembered sequences of turns and of smells.
“No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin, no wonder it’s dark.” This song, “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors, sums up the worker ants’ life. They build the new colony from nothing. They are the whole defense of the colony and nurturers of the young. Besides gathering food, they plant gardens of mushrooms in the depths, and herd and stroke the cow-like aphids for sweet milk. Mother Earth is God. Through floods, and winter they perservere. Death comes from attacks by giants and aardvarks.
For citizens of a society that provides survival for six or seven years, if not freedom and concepts, there are benefits and obligations: Ice cream socials, community action committees and service projects, PTAs, bowling leagues, giant square dances and an underground system to shame that of London.
Individualism cannot be tolerated in a society that only tries to survive, thrive and share equally. Are we wrong to proclaim INDIVIDUALISM as the ultimate social manifestation? Or are the complexity of language, nuance of manners and solid social customs just survival schemes in a land where people live on top of each other? Small differences within the same limitations?
If ants represent the 2D and our world is 3D, what is next? Is any man/woman able to take the next step, beyond concepts and become the future fourth dimensional being?
Jesus Jones enters a bowling alley. While bowling a couple of lines, he asks a woman there for a Coke, even though normally he refuses to acknowledge the members of her bowling league. Chatting later, he tells her that he knows she is living out of wedlock, and furthermore that she was previously married four times. Apparently the Liz Taylor of her alley. The harlot bolts out to tell her intimates, who are all on the same bowling team. She convinces them to come and see this extraordinary man.
Organized religion is dismissed as the “opiate of the masses” by modern atheists. Evangelists are selling peace of mind, like a drug to cure the fear of death.1 This drug induces only one chemical reaction in everybody. It homes into that deep recess of your mind that decides what is Truth. This center produces universal hallucinations which scientists like to probe in schizophrenics to get them to roll their eyes up and see visions of God’s face.
Blinded by science! We who cannot believe the Bible was inspired, that Christ is God manifest in flesh-like form, or that the death on the cross will save us all, we are doomed. We know our bad past cannot be dismissed without consideration, will not be corrected apart from contrition and will not be forsaken, save by repentance. The circumstance that one is a deviant does not seal the mind against reality. Obedience is a 7-10 split, we can still confess and convert on the death bed. You might be in good health, but ON YOUR WAY HOME TONIGHT YOU WILL BE KILLED in a car accident.
Sinners are aggressively sought out by evangelists because of a particular experience that Jesus had during his ministry, the modern version given earlier in this piece. They believe your soul dead, thus unable to see the Truth. Ask and your doubt will be removed forever. Think of the incredible benefit, everlasting life! The only requirement is belief in a superior being who wants us to love each other.
Almost 2000 years ago he was day-tripping about, performing miracles at weddings. He had the ability to read the minds of his enemies. They in turn would cry out remorsefully that ‘He is Son of God!’, even while nailing him to the cross. Amazing stories and simple parables illustrate how we can bring peace to earth.
Moonflowers imagines there are 3 levels of spiritual life in ordinary men and women. Personifying them as Dorothy’s companions in the Wizard of Oz:
The Tin Man represents a mechanical dualism that is common in most of church experience; clear distinctions between good and evil are given. Follow the Yellow Brick Road. The television evangelists and their fire and brimstone speeches spring to mind, concrete directions for your salvation from hell. Donations to the Wizards, very undemocratic.
The Lion represents a lifestyle that includes an emotional involvement. Charities and volunteerism are heavily encouraged. Spiritual ecstasy is exhibited by the brides of Christ. Militant public praying by the Lambs of Christ expands prayer from a passive, personal experience into a public, aggressive experience that seeks direct change in individual lives and society. Plans are being made for intercessory prayer meetings timed to coincide with the Super Bowl at the Metrodome, January 26th.
It would be a strange world if none of us were influenced by emotions. This influence steps over the boundary into the territory of logical fallacy, however, when it become the means of deciding what is Truth. The emotions which influence our behavior should not influence our judgement. David Hume put it succinctly, telling us that passion moves us to act, whereas reason directs the course of those actions.
Separate spheres they may inhabit, but Sophists and tricksters have long known ways of making emotions invade the territory of reason. Once whipped up, the emotions can be set at such a gallop that they easily clear the gulf between their domain and that of reason.
The secret of using these fallacies is a simple one. Take the trouble to discover the emotional disposition of your audience, and use language calculated to arouse that emotion. When you have built it up assiduously by means of graphic descriptions, you turn to bear on the question of fact. Very few audiences are able to turn off abruptly. Whether your appeal is to fear, envy, hatred, pride or superstition makes no difference. Indeed, you can use them alternately. Pride in one’s own race, class or nation can be appealed to, even as envy of others is built up.
Intelligent people are often afraid of being thought rather cold because they use reason so much. They do not want to appear to be emotionally deficient, and are easy prey to a minister who assures them that they are just as sensitive, loving and compassionate as the next person. This permits them the delusion that they are welcome into the common fold. Some abandon reason as the price of their admission ticket to the human race. This is not necessary, since there is another level of spiritual life available to them.
The Scarecrow represents those who are longing for ultimate spirituality. Atheism is absolutely contrary to the teachings of science, the truly intellectual are the sincerely inquiring minds. Scholarship into the meaning of life; philosophy is the oldest science. Connected with religion, the forms of art, poetry, drama, sculpture, dancing and architecture were the means of communicating its psychology. For example, the extreme height of Notre Dame expresses the vaulting of the soul into heaven.
Beyond desire and emotional involvement, you compel yourself with control into the intellectual part of your soul. That is where man can create and invent and construct. All religions of the world offer the opportunity to grow spiritually into the best person you will become. Demand a thinking religion from your church, edging toward the consciousness enjoyed by priests and members of the inner circle.
Next time you are approached by an evangelist, try realizing that some souls are moved to help others, give up creature comforts and follow the call to service. Why not invite him to go bowling?
It is the role of fungi to break things down, to give things back. Fungi is the bowling ball of nature, basic elements are thrown like flying pins into the cosmos. One of the more obvious laws of nature is that existing life must die if new life is to flourish. If there were no vehicle for the disposal of dead matter, we would soon be buried under a blanket of inert matter.
Fungi, along with bacteria, are precisely that vehicle. They are nature’s recyclers. Plants deplete the soil by extracting minerals to manufacture their food. Animals, in turn, devour plants. In feeding on dead (or occasionally living) matter, fungi reduce complex organic compounds to simpler building blocks, thereby enabling plants to re-use then. To associate fungi only with death and decay is to do them an injustice.
In the back of my mother’s copy of Better Homes and Garden’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening, forty pages are dedicated to fungi and their effect on plants. A two page table of fungicides follows. For one called honey fungus, which affects all kinds of woody plants the treatment is to dig up and destroy the diseased plants, and then sterilize the soil using 1 pint of formaldehyde in 6 gallons of water per square yard of soil. This irrational fear of fungi is by no means a universal trait. The media and medical profession have done their part to perpetuate it, but they are certainly not responsible for its origin.
To a large extent, we inherited our fungophobia from the British. It is so deep and intense a prejudice that it amounts to a national superstition. All mushrooms are lumped together in one sweeping condemnation. They are considered vegetable vermin only make to be destroyed. Children are taught from earliest infancy to despise, loathe and avoid all kinds of “toadstools.” Tolken’s whimsical hobbits and their passion for mushrooms was completely counter to the national more.
Mushrooms are the fleshy fruiting body of a fungus, the reproductive structure of a fungus. They perpetuate their species by disseminating spores from the gills on the underside of the mushroom cap. Millions of spores are produced in the lining of the gills and when released, carried on air current to new localities. Though they lack the sexual organs of plants and animals, mushrooms reproduce sexually. That is, genes are combined so that offspring are not genetically identical to parents.
Mushroom hunting became all the rage in the mid-sixties as Hippies explored alternative earthly pleasures. Magic mushrooms exploded into the underground and were cultivated in dung filled aquariums in basements nationwide. A informative book on this subject is “Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home” by Paul Stamets.
Psilocybin, the hallucinative element in mushrooms is present in many species of Psilocybe, commonly called “Dung Smooth Cap”. Many people consider these species to be edible and seek them out for recreational use as hallucinogens. The symptoms of psilocin poisoning appear one hour after ingestion and consist of alterations in mood and hallucinations followed by sleep.
Pananelous Subbalteatus is considered poisonous because it was responsible for a case of poisoning in which five people nearly died. It contains psilocybin and is hallucinogenic. The cap is 2-5 cm broad, obtusely conic, dark reddish brown when moist and has a mild taste and odor. The gills are broad , close and mottled at maturity. It is especially abundant in well-manured gardens, on spent mushroom compost and on manure piles. It is common and widely distributed, and fruits during the spring and early summer as a rule. Unlike many of the fungi containing psilocybin this species has fruiting bodies that do not stain blue.
Psathyrella foenisecii, “Haymaker’s Mushroom” contains the right stuff as well. This is the lawn species that toddlers find and eat. The danger lies in the fact that we have 400-plus species of this genus in North America and we know little of their chemistry. At least one case of serious poisoning in a child has been linked to this species. It is cosmopolitan and abundant on gold courses across the continent. The stalk is very slender and fragile, the cap is 1-3 cm broad, the gills are dark cocoa brown to grayish brown when mature. There is no veil.
Possession of any material containing psilocybin or psilocin is illegal; permits for possession must be obtained from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Friday night I blew into El Paso on the tail of a Blue Norther, a rare phenomena where the sky suddenly becomes dark blue and the temperature can fall below freezing in just half an hour. It had been a harrowing journey in time and space. I was plum wore out. Several men were holding a Necktie Social near Boot Hill, the cemetery for bad men. Three possums were hanging, from a single branch, but they were huge, like five feet long. I’ve been to three state fairs and a goat ropin’ and I ain’t never seen nothing like that! Welcoming committee it weren’t.
Meanwhile back in town, it was time for a drink. Down at El Rancho, the only saloon in 200 miles, lazy cowpokes and slim ole boys of 20 were getting tight as Dick’s hatband. Because women were scarce they were dancing with each other at the hurdy-gurdy dance hall. Fortunately I am ugly as mud and can pass for a man, it offers a degree of safety. Raucous noise and rambunctious activity in the saloon sucked me into the door. It was then that I witnessed a quaint drinking ritual being practiced on that 63 foot maple bar. A slick man with a mustache was behind the bar sliding beers to customers spaced like fence posts along the bar. Lined with gutters, it was, to collect the spills.
I caused the accident and I’m not sorry.
The incident that follows has made up for all the pain suffered from my sorry face. There was an abdication of vigilance as I entered the room. A lapse of attention on the part of one of the homesteaders who was supposed to reach out and grab a hold of the hurdling glassful of golden liquid. The glass continued off the end of the bar and smashed the entire inventory of whiskey bottles stacked there.
Slick got all het up. Guns were drawn and knives were brandished. Redfaced, Slick took a shot at one of the patrons. My yell was identified as a woman’s voice. I was solemn., absolutely edified and anticipated being run out of town. Then, somebody whooped a little whoop. Another woman’s voice. A mink-eyed hussy sidled up to me and exclaimed, “What a Calamity!”
Well, I can tell you the whole thing caught on like a bush fire. But since glassware was only obtained from New Orleans, after a period of 3 to 4 months, those whiskey bottles and beer mugs were replaced with more durable wooden carvings. Directly, it became the raison d’
étre (the main thing) and a new bar was built in the corner.
That’s why there’s a bar in nary every bowling alley in this proud nation. You can take the bar out of the alley, but you can’t take the alley out of the bar.
Thus ends the story of how I became involved in the legacy of Wild West Bowling and was elevated to my present status. Thank ya kindly for listening.
After the drama and arrest and trial, my life has settled into an unbearably mundane level. My arrest was a complete fluke. Our passion for sex on balconies erupted into a media conspiracy. My boyfriend was released on his on recognizance shortly after the incident at the Women’s Club.
Ah, politics! I especially balk at the term “indecent exposure” being used in my case, and “repeat offender” offers the same tainted vision of this state’s moral myopic misogyny. My lawyer said, “It’s a nasty twist in the new crack-down on sex offenders”. The blue-haired, be-necklaced ladies of that Loring Park establishment weren’t the only victims.
It’s my second time in the slam for indecent exposure. The culture of troublemakers, a twisted group support system, cracking my new strongarm and buying ketchup, Zu-Zu’s and Wham-wham’s again are precious and quaint for a little while. A short bit indeed.
Deprived. The top three problems of incarceration are caused by deprivation. Being institutionalized separates me from:
I dream of swimming and flying often.
–Family and loved ones.
I miss my boy, my dancing partners, roomies, colleagues and lovers. I’m so out of touch that I worry That some emergency will not be reported to me until it reaches a horribly late point of no-return.
–My favorite special activity.
Pleasure. I’m sexually frustrated, it’s a difficult thing for me to abandon. At a specified hour I lie on my bunk and concentrate on him. If I know that he is doing the same simultaneously, I can imagine I feel him inside me and transcend to oneness again. Thank god there’s a bowling alley here. Substitute kegeling.
I feel sorry for myself, angry at the system. The next moment I’m overwhelmed with apathy, boredom, hopelessness. I’m increasingly insecure about my safety and development. Most of the dangerous power trips of alcoholism, drugs and guns are precluded. But incidents of shanking are common enough to scare me.
After just a few weeks I began to take many of the restrictions for granted and settled into the ROUTINE. The rhythm of life is locked into institutional routines, narrowing my attention to the present moment. The count is steadily chipping away at my peace of mine. I avoid thoughts of the future, except as a source of fantasies; and thoughts of the past are limited to some of its happier moments. Many of the rules have changed since I was here last time. I feel like such a fool sometimes, not knowing where I stand. Stripped of my usual mates, I try to cultivate new ones here, but they are twisted souls for the most part. The good ones are suddenly transferred and moved, it’s out of my control.
How can I avoid the entanglements, obligations and conflicts, adopting a solitary lifestyle, after being such a social animal on the outside? The old inmates are socially self-contained, hardened for psychological survival, they manage to cope, but the cost is considerable.
I rebel with a sinking sensation in my stomach when I’m told what to do, so staying out of trouble is a constant struggle with these motherfuckers. The screws are mean and uncaring, my grievances are genuine, but ignored by my Team. The self-improvement programs are ineffective given the negative environment, negative emotions, negative vibrations trapped and swirling inside this drainpipe. Chronic problems remain chronic. If anything, there is a decrease in pressure to change, a reinforcements of bad habits and attitudes. The peer pressure resembles that of a suburban junior high.
If anything, coping and adaptation is more difficult the second time. Jumpstreet. Is jail my alternative lifestyle? I hate conforming with these lowlifes. Most importantly, confidentially I believe that I am going mad. My altered state come without the use of drugs. My imagination is running wild, it’s the only thing that can. Paradoxically, one does not thing of prison as a place where problems can be escaped. I wake up in a good mood in the morning and imagine that I am in a cheap hotel while on a foreign holiday. But when I see the missing toilet seat and realize it’s not a bidet, I come down for the rest of the day.
Remember driving through a twisting winding road at high speed and how fast your synapses popped and made your muscles react so you didn’t even have to think of how to drive? There is a cosmic number- 30,000. Your mechanical being is that much faster than your mind. But furthermore your emotions are 30,000 times faster than that fast driving thing. The shiver up your spine is a clue. The emotions drive our imaginations like rocket fuel and it can be truly ugly when it careens out of control.
Most of the inmates are using reactive solutions to cope with problems. Or with a teensy bit of forethought, they can anticipate trouble using avoidance techniques. Or in the put-a-patch-on-it worldview, palliative schemes, like excuses or apologies that offer no cure to the real problem. These are low-level coping, common inside and out.
Inner dialogue is only a start toward self-knowledge. Re-evaluation of myself has filled the endless winters. I am gaining the skill to control my thoughts. It’s having just a small beneficial effect on my emotional life. But the mind can play tricks on you.
A new scheme involves persistent, though largely ineffectual runs at consciousness. Still I have been sleepwalking for 99% of my waking hours. It takes considerable energy to phase in. Daydreaming and self-analysis does nothing to help my future. It’s time to wake up, wake up, wake up. Say it over and over, pay attention to Square business.
So, I go downstairs and bowl until I’m so tired my mind turns off. That is when I feel closest to the something that is glorious and infinite.