JUST MUSING: “Yin – yang…”

Last night (July 19, 2017), I went to bed cataloging the things I wanted to accomplish the next day.  Taking to bed with me a newspaper to finish reading an article, completing the task, then sorting through news on the phone, seeing the report of an interview to be published in the next day in the Times.  Shaking my head, mumbling incoherent thoughts, seeing the accomplishments to be achieved the next day, wondering whether the task list was too long, falling off to sleep, believing, convinced all things are possible.

I complained in the last musing [Just Musing:  “I think he died in the zombie apocalypse…”], that my mind had taken an unexpected hiatus.  I sadly must report, after awakening at 3:00 a.m. such is not the case anymore.  An internal awakening, first, a gentle jab, followed by an alarm which refused to stop – ringing, ringing, ringing – malfunctioning in the worse way.  Compelling the body upward, announcing in bold, unmistakable terms – “you didn’t honestly think I was gone forever.”  Causing confusion, fully awaken, finding myself at a computer at 3:30 a.m., typing confessions.

Confession – I didn’t start shaving regularly until nearing the age of thirty – turning left, looking deep into the mirror – turning right.  Feeling for stubble – finding none – moving closer to the mirror, promising to dare not confess to others; as if shaving was part of the rites of passage; a determination of manhood.  Silly, silly man I was.

Confession two – the one time I used a deodorant I burned my underarms.  No older than 13/14 standing in front of Mamma showing, complaining; inflamed, reddened, painful unarms – watching her touch, smile, smell – “as only a mother can” – before speaking, “you’re lucky”.  Telling me not to bother, using logic, inquiring, awaiting an answer, walking away requiring me to figure out the rest.  Never imposing a male standard, what boys should do, what boys need to do, preaching against stereotypes.  No, that wasn’t Georgia way.

“Do you smell anything?”

“No.”

“Did you smell anything?”

“No.”

“You’re lucky, you don’t need a deodorant.  Also your skin is too sensitive.”

In an abstract written by Yutaka Nishiyama, the author postures Asian cultures prefer odd numbers, Westerner cultures prefer even numbers.  Quoting from the abstract seems appropriate:

Abstract: Japanese prefer odd numbers, while Westerners prefer even numbers. This is clear from the distribution of number-related words in Japanese and English dictionaries. This paper explains the reason for this cultural difference by surveying the history of numbers, Yin-Yang thought from ancient China, ancient Greek philosophy, and modern European mathematics.

The concept of numbers is seen in other aspects of our lives; in design, in the art of placement (feng shui), and even in storytelling.  Whether two examples are sufficient, or whether three examples have a different meaning in other cultures, I am going to play it safe and side with the rule of three and provide one more confession.   Confession three:  I didn’t start drinking coffee until the age of sixty (if you can call my habit “as drinking coffee” – a (as in one) cup in the morning).

The repairman was making a second – third – visit, in only a month.  Wondering out-loud why the coffee machine (a fancy relic of the law practice) was now deciding not to malfunction.

“The counter says you barely use the machine.”

“The counter is right.”

He fixed the machine, at a considerable price. Before leaving he gave me some advice, “If you don’t use it, it will continue to break down.”  To comply, I decided to make a cup a week, discarding the contents in the sink.  Something in the back of my head realized how wasteful this practice was, seeing my grandmother chastising me, standing over my shoulder, instructing me “not to waste food.”  Seeing images of years past, peeling potatoes, remembering her instructions, “it is not properly done until you can see through the potato hull.”  Watching her take the potato away and show me, wondering whether I could ever move as fast as she.

Telling the story of the machine to a friend, who came over to talk food, and continue the lesson on making Korean Seaweed and Rice rolls.  After making her a cup of coffee, Sue smiled, went over the coffee machine and retrieved a bean and bit, consuming the entire bean.

“Good for you.  Good for you.”

Extending a hand, handing the other bean she held to me (“bite it”); smiling, letting me figure out for myself, laughing at my silliness, discussing the origins of coffee, suggesting I drink a cup a day, or get rid of the machine.  Moderating behavior thereafter, consuming one cup a day when in place, seldom consuming coffee when on the road; don’t ask me why not on the road – I have not earthly idea.  But I digress; this musing has little or nothing to do with coffee, but more to do with the confusion which remains from reading what I read prior to going to sleep the night before.

My mother was a master of watching, listening and injecting at the right time.  When I was deciding on a major in college, she asked, “What is your decision?”  Never demanding; always stated in the question form; watching, waiting for an answer.

“Political science or religion…,” was my response.

“Why religion?” … “Do you have plans to teach?” … “Do you intend to open a church”, said with a smile.  I answered “no” to each question.  Mamma knew the answer was no.  I probably went through some long explanation of religious conflicts, wars, doctrines of various faiths around the world, world peace.  Mamma listened from afar, extended a spoon in the pot, tasting, turning, smile askance, before advising, “You needed to consider whether the School of Religion is a debating society, willing to debate faith.”  So political science it was, the study of culture and politics. I say the above to say, everything I has learned over the years has been turned on its head.   Perhaps I made the wrong choice.  Perhaps I need faith.  Confused … lost … bewildered … what is occurring?

It is now 4:41 a.m. in the morning.  I have not read today’s (July 20, 2017), New York Times’ story wherein our President admits he would not have appointed Attorney General Sessions if he knew Session was going to recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

No, I am not fan of Attorney General Sessions.  I didn’t think he was qualified to be a United States District Judge and was happy the Senate denied the attempt to promote him years ago; finding explicitly he wasn’t qualified to make decisions on others rights.  When the President-elect identified Sessions as a possible choice for Attorney General, the shudder returned.  This time no matter how reasoned the argument Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions was appointed to the highest law enforcement office in the land.  The plans of mice and men … maybe the mice will survive … I digressed again.  I’m sorry.

The reason I am confused:  I have never seen in my life someone, anyone, a President, continue to insist other constitutional office holders owe him a duty.  That shouldn’t be the role of the Attorney General.  He/she is not the personal lawyer for the President, if so the rule of law will always be subverted, no matter who the President.  Hoping against hope, not seeing the sun, wishing I knew an appropriate prayer, chewing on coffee beans, seeing the time (5:01 a.m.), having rushes of anxiety come in odd numbers, then even, flowing over and out, feeling for stubble, smelling, smelling, smelling the foulness of the his statement, wishing to see a day someone pulls the Constitution in one of his interviews with the alleged fake press, and use the document when questioning him about his continual assaults, which are nothing than fundamental attacks on the rule of law.

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JUST MUSING: “I think he died during the zombie apocalypse…”

The well-known term, writer’s block, needs little explanation; the inability to think about what to write, or how to proceed with writing.  Merriam-Webster defines the condition as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.”  Others have mused and written on the condition, telling of their frustrations, seeking others’ counsel, admitting inadequacies, shooting blanks (spoken in a literary sense).   I muse to say the purported writer’s block is a writer’s admission of being human, without conceding they are no different than anyone else.

Tossing, turning, awakening, attempting to comprehend, words, images, failing woefully; watching text float, disappearing into the unknown, seemingly propelling me into the same unknown space.  Describing such a condition as writer’s block is too kind, almost dismissive.  A more telling description – The sprinkling of invisible dust – by someone, something – in the cranial cavity, while placing locks on all windows to the world, rendering one a proverbial idiot.  No dictionary definition, my definition.  How about this as an alternative definition? – Gathering collective thoughts, ideas, images (collected over time, stored for prosperity sake, and later use) in a dust-pan, then a wheel-barrow, moving to the edge, dumping all contents into the abyss, rendering the subject, plain, simple, stupid.  With that, my admission – such has been my wont.

The human brain weighs 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) – approximately – making up around 2 percent of our body weight.  The brain operates as the command center for the human nervous system, “receiving input from the sensory organs”, sending “output to the muscles.”  This rudimentary explanation of brain function is to make clear the later part worked, sending output to muscles, compelling functions; the former did not.  World and local events have meant nothing.  Seeing, reading about matters which normally serve as an insult to my understanding of history of the world, politics, religion have had no effect; frozen, seized in time and place, caring little of events, war, famine, crime, deceit – so be it.

The bane of the medical profession is not single-payer health insurance.  The health care industry represents 17.8 percent of the American economy.  Even in my current condition (feeling as if I have been handed a dumb-down membership card from the Zombie Apocalypse Club), I have figured out the profession/industry’s greatest threat – internet research.    Giving us too little information, and even that information over our heads because our lack of knowledge base, assuming we can become competent by reading an incomplete explanation of terms, concepts and conditions someone has spent years studying, causing us to become dangers to ourselves.  I muse to say, I am no different.  In searching for answers, I read, “Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia.  Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.  There are 10 warning signs and symptoms.  Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees.”  Moving back, away from the computer, grasping the chair, holding my breath, thinking, not thinking, counting signs, diagnosing, self-diagnosing, dismissing the notion of a temporary condition, jumping logical chains, assessing my condition.   My, my, my, I knew I should have eaten more spinach!

Years ago, I was requested to take on a death penalty case in which the condemned man’s lawyer had just died.  The State of Texas in its good wisdom thought it wouldn’t look good to execute a man just after his lawyer died.   In this void I received a call from a local district judge (I. A. Lerner).  Judge Lerner informed me that an execution date was pending (“you can probably get the date moved”, as if this information was comforting), that the Court of Criminal Appeals had just recently affirmed the sentence of death (something I had read about in the newspaper), and that the condemned man needed a new lawyer (I remember His Honor inserting the word, “immediately”).  My mental synapses were sharp enough to know there was no mystery as to whom he (the good judge) thought the new lawyer should was going to be.  Before terminating the conversation, “His Honor” informed me the county had no money to pay for my anticipated good favor.  Tendering the man’s name, providing a case number and his location in the prison system, thanking me, terminating the conversation; I thanked him (for what I don’t know) (maybe this was the first sign of early Alzheimer’s).

Working under an impossible timeline, rifling through thousands of pages, grading another lawyer’s trial and appeal work, looking for any error which would stop the execution – was my task.  Day and night, day and night, day and night – three weeks with little or no sleep; travelling from court to court, preparing hundreds of pages of briefing, counting the time – the days, hours – before the execution.  Ignoring all signs of trouble, speech, balance, the loss of fine motor skills; incessantly talking, taking a seat on the floor, recounting what had to be done next, never seeing the Gods reach and turn off the lights, falling fast asleep in mid-sentence, never completing the thought, being stripped of every sign of life, save a deep sleep – out cold.  Told later, not remembering any of events leading to the mind shutting all impulses, shutting down, refusing to further participate in the body’s demise.

So maybe my current condition is a temporary one, which has lingered for two/three weeks; maybe it is not.  Life has a funny way of letting us know – when the internal insult returns, becoming too much; words, images, events causing one to protest internally, then verbally, or even by the use of the written word; telling the good story, the colorful tale, or to participating in resisting when the synapses can take no more.  We’ll see.