± H13.com - Archives - December 2001
december 2001

On Past12:15am monday, 31st december
I think it may be a good thing that we cannot undo the past. If we were able, would we ever go forward in time? Or would we be forever attempting the moment perfect, going back again and again, changing this and that, unsatisfied with how the courses of our lives have gone? It's like all those time travel movies, I think: one moment undone in innocence alters all those others out of kilter. Who would not go back, if he could, and try to change our one big mistake? Our greatest embarassment? It would seem that human beings cannot be trusted with power like that. We see too little and think it is the whole picture.

It may be better to find a purpose for what has happened. This, though, is also fraught with the dangers of myopia. We snap up any reason which fit our particular wants and viewpoints. It is also of little comfort when your face has been dragged through the mud if someone tells you it was meant to be. Perhaps the healthiest — and hardest — thing to do is to move on, and not dwell. If there is a purpose, it has the habit of revealing itself at the oddest times, and we suddenly see how our small picture plays in the grand choreography of life — and forcing the picture to fit never works out quite so well.

Let go of the past — it won't go anywhere. What profit is there to count one's bruises? It is in us to persevere, and sometimes, we don't know why. All we can do is keep an eye ahead for the future rushing toward us, and to keep an eye to the sky should a sign ignite.

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Two12:04am sunday, 30th december
Dreams and madness. That sums up my whole life. Dreams and madness. Which will win, I wonder? Which will be the overarching theme my life will be remembered by? Hm.... Perhaps the saddest thing one could say of one gone from this world would be, "He had such potential." We regret what might have been. And what evokes pity like the words, "if only"? I have such dreams, and I don't know — I don't know what will become of them. Time passes strangely, as I have read it pass for others, too: the weeks pass quicker than the hours, the years pass quicker than the days. I make so the much littler progress on the dreams I have than I imagine I could... I must try, though. I can't give up — there is nothing else left in the world for me if I should not try. I can't abide the "if only".

The madness was easier; the madness took care of itself. Strange creations burst forth, bent and brooding beasts lived with me for years. Time seemed to stand still, all that while, and when I awoke from the pit, the world had mysteriously aged. I wonder if I grew older, really. I missed out on a decade of my life, it feels like. But no, let's not let the "if only" seep in — good things did happen, there in the dark places, deep in my hole. Perhaps I did mature, those years, even alone that I was: I looked deeper into myself than most people ever do, deeper than most people would care to look. I suffered. And perhaps it requires to comprehend another's pain only if he has felt such himself. I can say, genuinely, "I understand", and that as a prize makes me look back and wonder, would I do it differently?

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The Line12:01am saturday, 29th december
What is the dividing line between sanity and madness? When do you know you have crossed it? I think in the case of psychosis (perhaps other things, also), you don't know you're gone until you're really gone. I mean, before I was talking to the people in my head, the slide was so that I had thought I was Jesus Christ and then that Walt Disney was God (seriously). People didn't think I was insane then, however — they just thought I was a little odd. Perhaps certainty comes into play. I think normal people are uncertain about many of their facts; psychotic people are adamant about the "facts" that classify them as being totally out of touch with reality. I "knew" somehow things other people didn't.

I have read cases of other people, and it is interesting to me — madness sometimes just goes unnoticed. If there is no network of people who know you really well, there is no one to tell if you are acting in a bizarre fashion — if they don't know how you're supposed to be, maybe they just think you are a bizarre person. Of the people who have a network, even then are small changes unnoticed, and only a very strange pattern of behavior clues them in that somehow you've gone over to a bad place. What is the line? It's when a stranger replaces you. It's someone posing as your old self; even from your own vantage point, you look through strange eyes. But sometimes, that person comes back — and to welcome arms.

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Look1:37am friday, 28th december
Look: I wander where trees hug the sky with their bare branches.
Listen: winds speak many names, in tones to ancient to comprehend.
Speak: whatever words you may have, time will always have his say.

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Strength12:08am thursday, 27th december
I have moments of weakness, mentally. There are times, here and there, where I feel like I am one toothpick away from a snap — to break like a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver, with the sharp electric spark if I do. I suggest to myself it is yet another sign of the normalcy I crave, that stray thought, like when I am driving and have a small impulse to careen the car into the opposing lane and crash it — for no reason. I think I remember these things of daydream, from back when I was as sane as I could conceivably be. These are thoughts of fantasy, I think they are — fleeting things. Wanting to break and break down. But like all the charms of madness, they are amplified in me; these feelings I feel them more than I once did, those days ago.

I grip the steering wheel a little harder. It's not so much that I let the feeling pass, anymore; I have to struggle somewhat so to ease my fear that I might succumb. I sense somewhere in me a strength that perhaps I had not, long ago, perhaps because I had no need of it. There was no reflex against imagined horror back then — I did not dwell upon the stray moments where I thought the wrong things. The feeling fades, is gone for now; the road has not changed, the car is still in its lane; I have kept the course and I am still in the here and now, aware of the moments around me. I dwell little in the ether in my head: at times I creep in just for a look, but I remember myself and the hundred miles I have already traveled.

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Madness?12:01am wednesday, 26th december
What is madness? Madness is staying up all night to talk to the visions in your head. It is hearing a piano in the air play a song that you've never heard played on piano before. It's hearing a voice come out of your television set telling you who's going to win the Oscar for best live action short film (yes, this really happened to me). It's trying to pee from 10 pm at night till 4 am in the morning (look here for more on that). It's laughing hysterically for no visible reason because inside jokes (pun intended) are the most hilarious. I'll tell you what madness is. It's everything around you and inside you felt to the fifth degree more than anyone should.

I think I have something of a grip on sanity, too. Sanity is catching yourself before you go over the brink — it's not following the path of least resistance, because things like paranoia are tricky like that. It's waking up in the morning and walking to work at a job you're pretty good at but still don't like that much, grabbing coffee and a cigarette along the way. All those things that come as routine: washing dishes, making your bed, taking out the trash, doing your laundry. That's sanity. It's a lightness of being that's (yes) sometimes unbearable (forgive me, Milan Kundera), but man, is it worth it. If nothing else, for a good night's sleep.

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Then/Now12:01am tuesday, 25th december
As the day we celebrate as the birthdate of the Lord Jesus Christ our savior is nigh, let me write a little about what that babe wrapped in swaddling clothing has done with this soul who once was so lost. Merry Christmas.

I used to wait for the end of the world. Back in high school, I thought that Nostradamus had predicted that a nuclear war would wipe out civilization in the year 1987. I half took it seriously, and I told my friends that if the radio would broadcast that the missiles were flying, I would go out into the middle of a street and lie down, wait for the blast. All it was, really, was an excuse not to want to do anything, not to look to the future, not to accomplish what I could. Back then I took everything only half seriously. I was waiting for something, I didn't know what. In college, after the drugs numbed everything, the madness then hit. I think that ended up being what I was waiting for — too huge to avoid, even with the best excuses.

God saved me. Jesus Christ saved me. I have no doubt that if I had not found God — if the Lord had not found me — I would still be babbling to the walls, so to speak. How do I know there's a God, and that Jesus Christ is my personal savior? That's an easy one, gentle reader. My life turned around when God found me. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord, I became a human being for the first time in my life — without excuses why I should not be living. My prayers got answered, as I have written previously here in my journal. When the chips were down — when I was at my lowest point — He came and dug me from the depths of madness, out into the clear air. I no longer wait: He gave me the dreams to keep on.

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Belief3:30am monday, 24th december
I remember when I was young I was hungry for knowledge. It was, as Einstein put it, to know the mind of God — and I wanted to be the one to complete what Einstein had started with Relativity. I dreamed of physics, I believed in no miracles, and I thought that faith was a waste of time. I was your basic twentieth century intellectual: I believed in only what my two hands could touch, what my ears could hear, and what my eyes could perceive. Materialist all the way, and I don't mean the kind who wants money; I mean one who thinks that there is nothing ever which is supernatural, that all could be described by the sciences of man.

I did not know it then, but I think now that to be a materialist takes just as much faith as one who puts trust in that which is unseen, he who believes in God. To believe either is to put one's faith in the realities of other people — in physics, those who have actually seen an atom split, and in religion, those who have seen the miraculous of God. We need evidence, evidence for both. To those who do not believe in God and Jesus Christ, I say to you not to put your soul into it until it makes sense for you. God calls whom He will, and as He has shown me that He exists, I say that He will show you. Don't be surprised, however, if you find yourself one day praying and discover that someone is listening.

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Words12:07am sunday, 23rd december
I am a three-letter word spoken by God Most High, nowhere near the infinite Word He yet speaks as our Lord Jesus Christ. He has made me a little like His Son, I hope, that there is a little spark in me that reminds God our Father of the one in whom there is no fault. I think that is salvation, after all, and so I must hope for that. I know that only to seek Heaven is to lose it, so let me not do that. And if I stray from the path, at least let me have love in my heart when I do, that I never completely lose myself — not to the things of this world, not those. The apostle Paul said that the seen will pass away, and it is the unseen that is eternal.

God has granted me a little of my Lord Jesus Christ, and that means He has given me much. Let me become more than a panhandler to the Lord, let me so not always approach Him with the words I have meant those many times in prayer: "Alms for a beggar?" I must serve God, though how? It shouldn't matter but often it does.... Perhaps I am too much that I will serve God at my convenience, and that is no service at all. My Lord Jesus Christ, forgive the failure that I am. I dwell too much in the good intentions that never bear fruit. Anchor my heart in the port of God, and if I sail into far seas, may I always return to my true home in You.

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Imagination12:16am saturday, 22nd december
What is imagination? We imagine light and I wonder where it is that that light exists (I know it is a dance of neural circuits firing when we think, but that is like describing the Mona Lisa as a combination of chemicals: missing the point entirely, if being completely accurate in doing so). Somehow it is like the place we go where we dream, n'est-ce pas? Our imagination. Where is it? Perhaps the question is wrong. Perhaps there is no room for the truly abstract in any concrete explanation of reality.

Visions dance before our eyes — the eyes inside our head — and it is something different from what they are modeled from, the hard stone and the whispering wind out there. And our head is huge, if we think about it. Who has ever catalogued the contents of an average mind? All the memories, all the hopes and dreams, all the pain? So huge that some become lost in its corridors, imagination's realm of the abstract breeze. Think of all you have thought about, ever, and imagine that they become alive, independent of your hardwired control. That is something of what madness is like.

What is imagination? For the mad, it is a place — like this place, but with its own private rules. For the sane, imagination is the shadow of the world, the forms of which stretch and crumple to one's peculiar bent. For both, it is the paradox of that which is real but yet no material composes it. Think. What do you see?

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Quiet12:01am friday, 21st december
It is not always the noise that needs to be conquered — finding the order in the chaos — sometimes, it is the quiet that most disquiets us. How daunting it is at times to a writer the blank piece of paper; how inflexible is emptiness: nothing to draw upon, nothing to work with, nothing to nurture and make one's own. Sanity breaks when there is too much of it. The mind works furiously to fill in the blank that surrounds us in its vacuum hold — the mind needs something there or it will fake it. It sees a blank sheet of paper and scribbles meaningless diagrams, and then it tries to make sense of what it drew.

Quiet is a small thing, about as large as a moment. A moment, too, there cannot be too much of — that is also madness. If there is too much quiet, it is not it that grows but we that shrink. Quiet is a mysterious thing, but a mystery to be solved. There is reason behind the quiet, and most of the time the reason is not hidden too deeply. To try to hide from quiet is to bring it with you, and every untended moment it fills.... I take too much time now, talking of quiet. I talk about it to overcome it this time, to scrawl my solution to the problem of quiet. This time. Tomorrow I will wake and face it again. I win for now.

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Postcards12:09am thursday, 20th december
My life is a collection of postcards I never sent.
Not letters — I never committed to a moment that deeply.
They are all addressed to the me I wanted to be — nowhere.

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Dreamkeeper12:03am wednesday, 19th december
Dreams die slowly, if they do, quietly worn away by the thousand things of everyday living. They are forgotten through the course of normal life, until one morning face the day with a little less hope for what that day will bring (a dream has died). Dreams must be cared for — wild animals they are, caught in the gilded cages of our imaginations. Either you set them free to live — follow the dream — or one day they will escape, having gnawed through a weak spot in the place of our visions.

I have dreams. I would like them to become real, as true parts of my life, but life often gets in the way. Which would I rather lose, the greatest of them or the least of them? It is hard to choose in a decision like this, because the greater the dream, often the greater the sacrifice to achieve them. The greater the reward, the more heartache and sleepless nights to make them realized. But the less I am willing to let them go. Which one to lose, then, if I had a choice? Hm. I think that I would rather care for them — and this is the good thing about dreams — if I care for them I don't have to choose, and I can keep them all.

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Beauty4:15am tuesday, 18th december
It is not wrong to seek beauty. The circuits of our brain are tuned to the frequency of beauty; it is a part of us to seek it out and to love beauty simply because it is. Beauty, though, is sometimes hard to see. It is the treasure that lies in a field, the grasses of which betray nothing unusual. You cannot tell a hero from a coward just from the lines on his face, and you cannot measure someone's heart even by looking into his eyes. We may get feelings, but nothing real firm, and the feeling itself is prone to error. We are suspicious of one another: things are not what they appear to be and we dislike being deceived. We want true beauty, not a cover-up cream.

Now, I'm not going to be the twelve thousandth person to tell you that true beauty lies within. You've probably heard it so many times you can't tell it apart from the wax in your ears. What I'm going to tell you is that true beauty is simple. For example, honesty is beautiful: simple truth. That would be the antithesis to the famous, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave / when first we practice to deceive." Lies are ugly; they complicate. Look for simplicity the next time you look for beauty — even in the most ornate of designs, how it is that the harmony of that composition makes it simple. And sometimes, things are exactly as they seem — and that's beautiful.

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30 Seconds12:31am monday, 17th december
What if we had no inhibitors? Just for thirty seconds, nothing of civilization ingrained in us, just our inner selves to pour out? What would we say? I'm not talking about just being drunk and stupid — I mean being of clear mind, but without inhibition? Who of us would be left, then, standing tall — that he would not be ashamed of whom he revealed himself to be? I think it would not bode well of us if all the good that is there, if it is thereby revealed, that all it be is inhibitions. That nothing else remained of it. Not an active good would that mean, but a thousand conditioned responses masquerading as virtue. I think that perhaps I would have very few friends left after my thirty seconds. What would be left after your thirty seconds?
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If God...12:02am sunday, 16th december
If God wanted to, He could spare me the pain. If He wanted to. If God wanted to, He could grant me true love with the girl of my dreams. If He wanted to. If God wanted to, He could make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, and more famous than Jesus Christ. If He wanted to. I want this thing, I want that thing — God could do it for me, why doesn't He? Why is it this way and not my way — God could make it like that, why doesn't He? — Have you ever wondered why? I think I know.

The million things He does for me daily, I do not notice them. I take them for granted simply because He has always been with me and doing these things — and He has always been with you, too, and you don't notice the things He does, either. Let me give you a thought:
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:44-45 [NKJV]
I remember reading this and thinking it was stupid (the second part of it, at least) — of course the sun shines on everyone. It's the sun. It always does anyhow. You see it through the eyes of faith, though, and it comes out different. If you believe that God made the universe, you see it like Jesus Christ meant. God made the sun, and He made it everything in the world. He played no favorites when He made it shine on everyone. You see — using the same logic as what I started with — He could have. He could have made sure that all the wicked got locked away in windowless rooms, for instance. Why not? It's about as absurd as some of our farmost fantasies. If we consider the big picture, perhaps we know why He doesn't do those things. We miss a lot of the big picture, just like we take many of the things in the big picture for granted (like the precious gift of life itself), so maybe we should cut God a break. When He stepped back from what He had created and saw that it was good, He meant it.

One last thing here: when you get in your next fender bender, and someone says to you, "You're lucky no one got hurt," don't get mad at him, thinking, "If I were lucky, this wouldn't have happened in the first place." Don't get mad, because he's right. Accidents happen, and people die or get injured all the time — that's one of the facts of life. You are lucky no one got hurt. It may be hard, especially if you're thinking of what it will do for your insurance bill, but try. You might feel better anyway.

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Yearsbook12:01am saturday, 15th december
I think I would not like to write my own epitaph. I think I would rather my tombstone be like a high school yearbook, and that I would have in my will that a large sheet of paper as large as my gravestone should be passed around after my death. I would have everyone I knew write their own message and sign it, and then I would have those little notes engraved in stone. It would make them think of me, all my friends, just for a moment, and my gravestone would be unique in the cemetery. Everyone else would have on their tombstone either what they thought of themselves, or what just one person close to them thought of them, or nothing at all but their names and life spans. Mine, instead, would be a collection of memories — all the hands that I have touched in my life, waving goodbye.
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Not alone5:54am friday, 14th december
I am not one who has ever traveled the straight course, always to the road. I am a wanderer. I am often carried by the wind to places I did not know were there. I think sometimes that I am very little responsible for much of my life's courses; it is like I am a crow feather blown by the breezes. I am thankful that I have come this far, blind as I am to where my foot will land the next step I take — I am fortune's meager pawn. And the sum of the good in myself, any of the good I have done, somehow I think it is an accident — that if I were to have tried to do the right thing, it would have turned afoul. Accidental virtue, I recognize, is perhaps very little credit to a soul.

Has control always been an illusion? I would like to believe that, I think, seeing as I seem to have so little command of my life. We take whatever situation presented us and make do — we wander astray unaware that the road we travel is not the one we believe we're on. We are each of us only human; we are small and the world is large; the universe is little changed if we exist or are not. I find I must put my trust in a higher voice — that I must acknowledge my smallness and my frailty. I cannot be left to myself anymore; I have faltered and fallen before, and I will always find some way to fail if I go it alone.

I remember, now, what it was to face the hugeness of a sky midnight blue, myriad stars scattered throughout the canopy of night — to face it alone. However great I thought I was, those salad days when I was yet strong and unbroken, it was much the lesser treasure than what I have become: to know I am small, but that my hand may leave the mark of a greater name.

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Broken1:05am thursday, 13th december
There are places to go when you are broken by the world.
You can cower in a dream, or you crawl out and face the next day.
Some turn ghosts while still alive; some outlive despair's killing blow.

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Hope12:01am wednesday, 12th december
If I think back, I think there was one unanswered, unasked question all we mental patients had. Something which we didn't ask because perhaps we were afraid of what answer we would get, or because some just couldn't put it into words: "Is there hope for me?" If any of us ever had the courage and the insight to ask it, and if the answer we got was, "Yes, there is hope for you," what mountain could we not climb? What physical or psychic pain could we not endure if we only had that as the armor — hope?

Show me a poor man with hope and compare him to a rich man without it. Which would you rather be? And what greatness does any man have who does not give others that sense that somehow things will be alright — what greatness compares to one who gives another hope? The poor man, though what little he has is taken away, hope will let him still smile at the world. The rich man, though he gain the whole world, despair will never let him rest. All I may say is to keep your things, and give me the hope.

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Golden Rule12:11am tuesday, 11th december
What is required of us in this life? I find I can only see one hard and fast rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or, more succinctly, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Everything else, any law you care to apply, it seems that they are all context based — all relative to whatever situation you happen to be a part of. The Golden Rule, though, apply it to any happenstance. Like water, it fills whatever space is available — pour it in.

You know, our Golden Rule was around before Jesus Christ. A man once said to a rabbi, "I will convert if you teach me the Torah while standing on one leg." The rabbi said, "Love your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary." I love that story. It is the true compassion, the rule. If you love others as you love yourself, there is nothing ill anyone can ever say of you. It is the common thread, perhaps, throughout all the religions in the world. If you can do only one thing right as you travel through this life, look and see: this would be the thing.

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The deep12:02am monday, 10th december
If modern psychology is more or less correct (the stuff from Freud on), what a mess we would see if we could strip our minds so that just our unconscious would show. I think that even in the most well adjusted of souls we would see a huddled, deranged mass flinching from the sunlight. It may be that those of us who are labeled "insane" are just that mass — that the shielding of our normal conscious minds have evaporated, and that one can peer directly into our hearts of darkness. And maybe there's such a stigma attached to us just because normal people don't want to be reminded of what lies in them if you look deep enough.

I know that I have had to face them, these things which lurk in the deep of myself. I have seen the ugly things, some of which I cannot express because they are too personal or too grotesque or both. Maybe the hearts of darkness we all have to face — their depths are measured by the things of ourselves the world chooses to show us.

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Not easy12:52am sunday, 9th december
"It's not easy to be me." - Five for Fighting

They're talking about Superman, here, but doesn't this just apply to everybody? Doesn't everybody at least some point(s) in their life feel that this is so about them? Who if asked would say "it's easy to be me"? But there's a point here. When I was six years old or so, I wanted to be Superman for exactly the reason that I believed life would be easier if I were he. Haven't we thought that, that if we were somehow blessed with super strength, life would be so much easier? This song makes the point that that's just wishful thinking, and I will bring up Spiderman, now, the lesson the webslinger learned early on: "With great power comes great responsibility." Yes. When I was young, I read a lot of comic books.

The point was made in different form later in my life: "Where much is given, much is expected." So maybe jealousy is just stupid, if you think about it, wishing you were smarter than someone, or better looking. Sure, sure, maybe you might say, "I can handle the responsibility — give me the looks! (or brains!)" I dunno. I think it might be the onset of wisdom to do as much we can with what we have. What a tragedy if it were to be — and I hope this will never be said of you or me — that at the end of life, to be shown what we were given and that we had wasted it, not done anything with our blessings. We have what we have, right? Let us make the something of ourselves ourselves can be.

And a plug that I must do: the hardest life? By the criteria above, unarguably our Lord Jesus Christ. Son of God. Can't imagine what kind of pressure that must be.

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Dreamscape12:01am saturday, 8th december
A dream is less than a world, yet more than I can imagine.
Where is the place that we go to? And what is its reality?
It is no place to build a house — blink and the walls unravel.

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Pilot12:02am friday, 7th december
In a dream I am the pilot of a ship, responsible for course in the waters. Sometimes the seas are kind and sailing is easy; sometimes the waters are rough and we veer off course before we head back to the direction we set out for. The ship is my soul, I think. All that I am and all that I carry with me — the ship is all I have seen and all I have done, all the psychic baggage good and bad. There is a lesson in this dream of mine: that though we are the navigators of our souls, we are not responsible for how the wind blows. We are responsible only for what we do with whatever winds do churn.
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Denouement12:46am thursday, 6th december
After the climax of the first, long episode, there was cleanup. I went to summer school after that fateful spring, took a couple classes and got A's, then I went back for fall semester in '97 to finish my degree. My bachelor's degree took me more than ten years to complete, but I did it. And I finished it sane. I was no one but me when I received my diploma, though there wasn't a graduation ceremony for those who finished in the fall.

I was going to either live in New York or San Francisco after I graduated, but then I made the mistake of driving around in New York City. It was crazy, I mean people are insane on the streets of NY. I thought I would be happier in SF, so I moved there at the end of January 1998. I have been in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since, though I go spend Christmas in Philadelphia with my parents.

The apartment I got was a studio — one room — but I was fairly happy with it. I couldn't find a job for about 7 months after I moved to SF, so I got part time jobs selling clothing and then making sandwiches. I finally did land a real job in September of '98. I went and spent three good years working at that job. I think I was in a state of constant recovery. You always get better, but you're never back to where you were before it all hit. I was pretty okay for all those three years, whereupon the second episode hit. That's a tale, however, for another day.

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The whisper12:09am wednesday, 5th december
What keeps us moving on? What makes us face the day anew each morn, progress through our trials and lets us endure? A whisper. There is a whisper in these, our hearts, so low that no one can make out the words it says — and like the colors of a dream, it slips from our grasp the harder we listen for it. The message is meant for us alone, each to his or her own, in our own private language. I cannot tell you what yours says to you, just as I cannot really make out even what mine says to me. My gut, however, tells me that it's there: that whisper is there within each of the myriad moments of my life.

In our heart, its message is clear. And only our heart comprehends it; thus it is with many mysteries. It is like armor. It is a drink from the fountain of life. And I think many of us take it for granted that it's there (perhaps that is so because of the fact that it always is there). So, the next time you are in a moment of deep despair and something you cannot quite grasp seems to hold your hand, give you the strength just to keep on — to move through to the next day — listen to that feeling. It is the whisper of your heart to your heart, it is hope reaching through your soul to the inner you, it is the shield of a hero — and sometimes, you just gotta go for broke.

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Success?12:02am tuesday, 4th december
Some people fear success just as much as they fear failure. Sometimes more. I think I have been one of those people, though it was neck and neck between them both: fear of failure, fear of success.... What happens to someone if a dream comes true? I think we are less prepared for that than if something we long after escapes our grasp. I think perhaps we are familiar with wishes going unfulfilled, and perhaps it is a shock if something we imagined in a far-flung fantasy comes to life. Thus it may be the adage, "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it."

I think there are two ways to act if a dear dream comes to be. One would be to act like it was just a normal day. Casual, like. The other way would be to walk through life stunned at every single thing that happens. Either way, though, would require one rare and priceless thing — that would be courage. Most people are more prepared for failure than success, and I mean real success, not having spaghetti come out al dente like you planned it. I mean like curing cancer or something. This is what I am saying: "Beware. Reality is better than a dream can possibly prepare you for." Courage, however. You can handle more than you think.

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The ordinary12:07am monday, 3rd december
Strange how I craved for the ordinary. Still do, though much of normalcy has been granted me. The grass is always greener, n'est-ce pas? Who, who lives an ordinary life, does not wish for the unusual? In high school, I played like I was mad. It was just play. There was a certain romance to it. I remember I read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden greedily, hanging on every word, memorizing the names of the gods this young woman imagined in her own madness. I thought it would be "cool" to be a schizophrenic. The reality, I found, was nothing like I imagined. It was ugly. And bright. I think I imagined madness to be a dark place, but I experienced it as things being supernaturally bright. That logo, H13, in the upper left corner — that's what I was doing there.

There are times, believe it or not, when I miss the madness. It passes quickly, though. I think I still want to be extraordinary, but in a normal way. To achieve something. I always felt I was meant for something; do you ever feel that? I feel like I'm starting very late, being in my thirties and just getting a handle on life for the first time, really. Is a misspent youth a normal thing? What I could have been doing, had I not done the things I did. I feel a lot that the madness was my fault, because of the drugs. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it would have hit me anyway. Let me not dwell. It is morning and the sun is out. Breathe in the dawn air and prepare to live the day.

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Pain12:01am sunday, 2nd december
We all feel pain. I made a funny quote back when I was suffering: "When you're on the wrong side of zero, nothing is something." It is interesting how, when I say "pain", everyone immediately comprehends, but each person in a very personal way. Pain may be shared, but it is understood differently even when it is. Your pain is your own, and it always will be. My pain, for instance? I dunno. Maybe I deserved it. Maybe I didn't. There is that little bird, though, which comes at the unlikeliest of times and lands on your shoulder. It tells you that sometimes, it's worth it.... I believe that little bird.
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Climax12:04am saturday, 1st december
As I was saying last, I went back to college. The semester first, I realized a very simple thing that I never did before then: go to class, do the homework, and you will do well. I ended up that semester on the Dean's List, with a grade point average of 3.75. I was still talking to Rosanna Arquette and Jesus in my head. And I was still the Archangel Michael, first angel after Lucifer I cast out of Heaven. You know, I think that helped. It gave me a sense of belonging, a sense of nobility. I found pot, though, wherever I could, mostly smoking it on the weekend with the few friends I hung out with. It was a pretty good time, that fall of '96.

The next semester is where I got into trouble. You see, one reason I had to behave was that my aunt (the one I had been living with in Korea) was with me all that semester. The spring semester, I was alone. I smoked more pot, masturbated more to pornography while high. Bad move. I started losing it again, losing my sense of place in the here and now. In the semester before, despite the feeling I was an angel, I was pretty sane in most other respects. You couldn't really tell there was anything wrong with me. But now, I started skipping classes. Then I just stopped going, and I was living in my head again. I did have the presence of mind to drop all my classes, though, and declare I was having a nervous breakdown. True enough. The forces of good in my head were not amused.

Again and again, they would convince me I was the Antichrist — wherein terror would ensue — then they let me off the hook. Several times, they made me wander through the streets of Pittsburgh, PA, me not ever knowing where I was going in those walks, but eventually returning safely back to my apartment each time. I should be thankful, I guess, that nothing bad really happened to me besides the fear. Anyway, my aunt had to come back to Pittsburgh, and I checked myself into a mental institution for the last time in this, the long first episode. I told them I was having visions of angels and devils, and they admitted me with paranoid schizophrenia.

It was there that I had the critical meeting with a denizen. This guy told me he was having visions of the Virgin Mary, that she looked like his girlfriend but he knew it was her, and that she was standing on a vagina. Man. I thought to myself, "You're nuts." And then, somewhat later, it struck me: "That's how I look to other people." And when my parents took me back to their house that spring, that fateful spring, I snapped out of it. All that I had seen, heard, and imagined, I knew it now: it had just been a psychosis. None of it had been real. I was then no one but myself — not God or Archangel — just a human being again, plopped back down on Earth. I was sane for the first time in 6 years, that spring of 1997. Hardfought. But won.

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