A Surrealistic Pillow

Tears are running
They’re all running down your dress
And your friends, baby
They treat you like a guest

Jefferson Airplane-Somebody to Love
Community Audio

First posted 2/01/2016

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The Bunker

The thirty survivors found the bunker at daylight.

Life became a hellish routine of nearly surviving,
yet Trina says she never wants to leave.

She speaks of jumping rope and barking dogs.

She speaks of torrid flames.

Trina sees patterns in everything; God is
here, she says, as a mist or ripples in a pond,

He is in this sunset, as pink as living coral.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

Afterimage

A snapshot of you

perched on a Pony

Mommy holds you up:

your curly blond hair

almost transparent

that bright November

day. The image

disintegrates;

nothing left

but the memory

of your sunlit

face

but it seems

I’ve

lost that too.

There is always

more to lose.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights reserved

Switching Stations: Wilma Wants an Abortion

Warning: This post discusses adult themes in an admittedly childish way.

(Lights up. An Empty stage; enter Fred Flintstone)

Fred: When Wilma got pregnant, I worried. I wondered if we were ready for a kid so soon after Wilma’s ECT. I wondered if it wouldn’t be better to go to Frost Bite Falls for an abortion.

(Laugh Track)

Wilma: (off stage) Fred? Fred? Is that you?

Fred: Here, honey!

(Enter Wilma)

Wilma: Oh Fred! Why are you so late! (Wilma bursts into tears.)

(Laugh Track)

Fred: Gee honey, the boss kept me late.

Wilma: (sobs) I sometimes think I should have an abortion!

Fred: Oh honey; don’t talk like that. What would Betty think?

Wilma: Oh, who cares what Betty thinks! (sobs) She’s not under a
contract to have to have a baby!

(Laugh Track)

(The doorbell rings. Enter Mr. Ed)

Mr. Ed: I was just at a meetin’ wit da Mattel’s an deys wanna know if the kid’ll be baked by Christmas!

(Laugh Track)

Wilma: Who the fuck are you?

(Laugh Track)

Mr. Ed: (To Fred) You gotta live wid this?

(Laugh Track)

(Enter Betty Rubble)

Betty:  Hi Wilma? Fred? Who’s the Horse? Hubba, hubba!

Wilma:  Hi Betty. This horsey works for the Mattel’s!

Mr. Ed: (to Betty) Mr. Ed is my name an makin’ pretty ladies is my game!

Betty: Pleased t’ meetcha! I sure hope you folks can cash in with Bam-Bam!

(Laugh Track)

(Lights Out. We hear the voices of Batman and Robin)

Robin: Holy stegosaurus, Batman! Ya really think you smell trouble?

Batman: Think young friend: does a horse shit in a meadow?

(Lights up: Betty and Wilma are locked in a kiss

Robin: Tsk. I am so OVER gratuitous lesbianism; I mean the way the writers slip it into everything these days!

Batman: Oh, SPLACK!

Mr. Ed: Cool yer chops Batty boy!

Robin: (To Mr. Ed.)  And MUFF!

Mr. Ed: And tell lover bird to stop chirpin!

Batman: (Hands on hips) He’s NOT my lover!

Wilma: Oh, pish-posh!

Betty: That’s telling him, Wilma!

(Laugh Track)

(Enter Eva Gabor; she spots Mr. Ed and points with recognition)

Eva Gabor: I know you!

Batman: I bet you do, lady!

Eva Gabor: That’s precisely what I mean!

(Enter Eddy Albert)

Eddy Albert: What is you mean precisely?

Batman:  Precisely?

Eddy Albert: Precisely!

Eva Gabor: Why precisely do you ask, Olivah?

Betty: (To Wilma) Oh Wilma! Aren’t Heterosexuals the most boring! Let’s get outta here!

Wilma: I’m with you Betty! Let’s have an abortion!

Betty and Wilma in unison: Da-da da da de da! Charrrge it! (They exit)

Batman: Our work here is done, Robin.

Robin: Right, Batman! (They exit with a swish of their capes)

(Enter Fred Ziffel)

Fred Ziffel: Mr. Douglas! Arnold’s feelin’ mighty sick! I’d sure appreciate it if you’d come over and take a look at him!

Eddie Albert: I’m a lawyer, not a doctor.

Eva Gabor: You can help him make out his vill, dahling!

Eddie Albert: Oh, All Right! (Mr. Ziffel and Eva Gabor exit with Eddie Albert)

(Pause)

Fred Flintstone: (Looks at Mr. Ed and shrugs) I guess it’s time for me to take out the cat. (Fred Flintstone exits. Mr. Ed alone on the stage)

(Enter Wilber Post)

Wilber Post: There you are, Ed. I looked all over New York for you! I even called the police!

Mr. Ed: Well ya found me, Wilber. Ya got any of that hay left over from Thanksgiving?

Wilber Post: Sure Do!

(Wilbur post leads Mr. Ed off stage.  As the lights dim to black the laugh track builds to a roar)

An avatar that represents an alternate named the Narrator in front of street murals found on Valencia Street in San Francisco
Switching Stations

End

(c) Rob Goldstein 12/86 – 12/2017 All Graphics (c) Rob  Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

Christmas 2017 – Gathering the Light

The Story of Tikkun Olam – Gathering the Light

At the beginning of time, God’s presence filled the universe. When God decided to bring this world into being, to make room for creation, He first drew in His breath, contracting Himself. From that contraction darkness was created. And when God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), the light that came into being filled the darkness, and ten holy vessels came forth, each filled with primordial light.

In this way God sent forth those ten vessels, like a fleet of ships, each carrying its cargo of light. Had they all arrived intact, the world would have been perfect. But the vessels were too fragile to contain such a powerful, divine light. They broke open, split asunder, and all the holy sparks were scattered like sand, like seeds, like stars. Those sparks fell everywhere, but more fell on the Holy Land than anywhere else.

That is why we were created — to gather the sparks, no matter where they are hidden. God created the world so that the descendants of Jacob could raise up the holy sparks. That is why there have been so many exiles — to release the holy sparks from the servitude of captivity. In this way the Jewish people will sift all the holy sparks from the four corners of the earth.

And when enough holy sparks have been gathered, the broken vessels will be restored, and tikkun olam, the repair of the world, awaited so long, will finally be complete. Therefore it should be the aim of everyone to raise these sparks from wherever they are imprisoned and to elevate them to holiness by the power of their soul.

Tikkun

Switching Stations – Reruns

This was published a few days ago as La-De-Da etc; a title I despised.
I’m posting out of sync with myself which means I have to go back and
revise things after they’re live; my apologies for the confusion.

(Lights up; we are aboard the Starship Enterprise.)

Eddie Albert:  When I agreed to Green Acres, I said to the writers, no livestock; well they paid no attention and wouldn’t ya know the first thing they did-

Eva Gabor: Dahling, you promised not to trash Arnold.

Batman: Was it 1968–or 69 (Laugh track) when Playboy published that filthy article about the homoerotic implications of my relationship with Dick?  As if I would subject little Dick Grayson to a bat-grope!

Eddie Albert: In the very first script was a pig that was smarter than me! Not only was it smarter; that pig was loved!

Eva Gabor: I love you Oliver. (Laugh Track)

Eddie Albert: Lisa, it’s not the same!

Eva Gabor: How is it different Dahling?

Robin: At first I was clumsy on the bat pole (laugh track) but after a few lessons I was ready to jump that stick all day! (Laugh Track)

Batman: Now cut that out! (Laugh track)

Robin: Horny Norwegian wood, Batman! What’d I say? (Pause)  So, I arrive at Wayne Manor and Bruce gives me a cape!

Batman: Not any old cape, Robin!

Robin: That’s right, Batman! It was cute and yellow and stopped just short of my tight but straight little butt! (Laugh Track)

Eddie Albert: That pig was not only smarter than me! He made more money! Just thinking about it makes me–

Eva Gabor:  Let’s go to Rome, Dahling.

Eva Gabor: We don’t have that kind of money, Lisa.  For God’s sake, look at this ship!

Eva Gabor: Ve can go back to Manhattan, Dahling. You can practice law.

(Enter Arnold the Pig.)

Robin: (stunned by Arnold) Holy heart failure, Batman!

Arnold the Pig: GRUNT!

Eva Gabor: (To Arnold) He didn’t get his hotscakes this morning and he’s a perfect beast, no offense, dahling.

Arnold the Pig:  (leaps onto a chair and looks up at Eva.) GRUNT!

Eva Gabor: There Dahling.  (Eva switches on a television and we hear the five beat introduction to Green Acres. Eva suddenly notices Batman and Robin.) Who are you? (To Eddie Albert) Olivah? Who are zey?

Eddie Albert:  Say, are you fellows gay? These are the 60’s. You can’t wear tights until the 80’s.

Batman: Now hold on!

Robin: Holy harshin, Mr. Douglas!

Eva Gabor: They look like such nice boys! Do stay and have some hotscakes!

Batman: (With a slight Southern drawl) We’d like to Mrs. Douglas, but we got to get Arnold home and dressed in time for the weddin’.

Eddie Arnold: Weddin’? WHAT WEDDIN’?

Arnold the Pig: (Jumps up and saunters over to Batman) GRUNT?

Eva Gabor: Arnold’s getting married to Jethrine up in Oxford. (Eva flirts with Batman and Robin)  Those capes are darling, Olivah, why don’t you wear a cape?

Eddie Albert: I’m not gay, Lisa.

Eva Gabor: Are you sure, dahling?

Robin: Well, we’ll be seeinya Mrs. Douglas. C’mon Arnold.

Arnold the Pig. (To Eddie Albert) HA! – GRUNT!

(Lights out)

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

Next Week:

 

The Attack of the Hank Kimballs

A virtual reality shot depicting Lisa and Oliver Douglas from Green Acres under attack on the Starship Enterprise by the Hank Kimballs
Lisa and Oliver are thrown from their hay stacks after the Hank Kimballs launch a series of photon digressions.

The Hank Kimballs: Gee Mr. Douglas–resistance is futile. Well maybe not futile…more like frustrating…or at least difficult. I would say more than difficult but less than frustrating but not so frustrating as to be futile–say! Maybe resistance IS futile.

Life at the Bottom of the Sea

Mr. Toad, come to life, whisper
something dear; there’s a devil
on
the headboard, he

sways and strokes

his beard.

Digital abstract made by layering digital photographs made in virtual reality
There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

On a lump of the branch through the
bog of a brain in hole at the bottom

of the sea

Mr.Toad is lost

to

lost treasure.

The devil sez, “Do you recognize the World,
Mr. Toad?”

“No,” says Mr. Toad.

The devil sez, “Then you ain’t going nowhere.”

We sing the blues and get a bowl of oatmeal.

Life at the bottom of the sea means three hots
and a laxative.

Every so often a guard swims down to tease
us with air.

“Hey fag,” says the guard. “How’d you
like this bubbling up yer butt?”

We smile and speak of rock stars
and world politics.

Our lips shimmer with fear.

Rob Goldstein © 2017   

 

The Idea

The most important endeavor is the striving
for morality in our actions. Our inner balance
and even our very existence depend on it.

Only morality in our actions can give beauty
and dignity to life.

Albert Einstein

Four young men with gifts can make a genius
if they have time and resources.

Header image, The Idea: (c) Rob Goldstein 2017

December’s Featured Blogger: Danica of Living a Beautiful Life

This month my featured blogger is Danica of the Living a Beautiful Life Blog

Her writing has a wonderful sense of adventure.

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.  I created Living a Beautiful Life when I left the hospital emergency and was waiting to learn whether I’d need eye surgery or would simply lose my eyesight.  Living a Beautiful Life is my first blog and I hope to continue for a long time.

  1. I’m glad you didn’t lose your eyesight: What caused the doctors so much concern?

I’m not sure I want to go into more detail…the medical stuff kind of creeps me out.  It was the result of injury though, not a condition or degenerative issue.

Would it be fair to say that the crisis over the potential loss of your eyesight precipitated a crisis of identity?

Interesting question.  I love reading – and have since I learned how to read.  When I was a kid a big treat for me meant going to the bookstore and picking a book to bring home.  I’ve always felt that one of the best gifts I’ve ever received is exposure to books, and how fortunate I am to be literate.  When I was at risk of losing my eyesight, I thought, “Oh no!  Why can’t it be a limb or something else?”  It would be fair to say my identity is wrapped up in reading, ideas and learning.  Writing was always on the horizon for me and the possibility of leaving that unexpressed was devastating.

 

 

“No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.”

~ Gabriel García Márquez

 

  1. When was the first time you felt an urge to write?

I’ve wanted to write for most of my life.  I only started taking that vague notion off the back burner and putting it into action with my blog.

 

  1. How did you decide on the name, ‘Living a Beautiful Life?

When I started my blog I didn’t know what I’d write about or even what my general theme would be.  I thought about having a tiny speck of a space on the internet – what that would mean and what I wanted to contribute.  On a fundamental level, I believe there is always room for more beauty in the world and it wouldn’t hurt to focus on that.

 

Digital photograph of a Hedgehog
For more about Hank the Hedgehog click here
  1. You say you knew nothing the day you started your blog, what have you learned about blogging and bloggers since that day.

    I’ve learned the importance of what I call “blogging your love”.  The closer to my heart a blog post is, the more rewarding it is for me to write and publish.  It’s also more risky too; it just matters more.  I still expect to hear crickets when I post something.  Reader response is amazing.  The fact that one other human reads something I wrote and takes time to comment just tickles me.  I also enjoy reading other blogs and getting to know other bloggers.  The blogging community is amazing and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.~ Danica – (Living a Beautiful Life blog)

 

 

 

A White Rose for Erika and Her Sisters

A few months ago Erika Kind mentioned
a picture I’d posted of a White Rose.

I posted the photo in honor of an anti-fascist
group that called itself the White Rose in 1942.

Erika told me she liked the rose so I said
I’d make another.

When I think of Erika Kind I also think of the
women who
follow her and call her sis.

I read their blogs and their comments to each
other and I see love, and light, and respect.

They are professionals and mothers; they are
women with talent and skill.

They work to enrich our lives with art and
wisdom.

So, to Erika Kind and her Sisters,

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Chit-Chat with a Narcissist

Narcissist on the phone, frantic: I left for a month without giving you the
money I owe you; why didn’t you remind me?

Me: Because you lie to me, then verbally abuse me when I confront you about it. I’ve already said I won’t contact you until you apologize for both in writing. 

Narcissist on the phone, a tone of concern: But you said you needed the money!

Me: Add gaslighting to the list of abuses for which I want an apology. Bye.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

Dear Pathological Narcissist

Dear Pathological Narcissist,

It is not my job to make you feel good
about abusing me.

Therefore:

I will not pretend you don’t lie.

I will not pretend you’re moral.

I will not pretend you’re just joking.

I will not pretend you love me.

I will not pretend it’s OK for you
to destroy me.

Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Week in the Valley of Shadows

Repulsion and Trauma

First posted 2/24/2016

Decompensation: Psychology, a loss of ability to keep up normal psychological defenses, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, or delusions. Dictionary.com

One of my favorite literary descriptions of decompensation is from the 1933 short story, Miss Lonely Hearts by Nathanael West.

Miss Lonelyhearts is an advice columnist who slowly loses his mind from the suffering that he reads and responds to. This is toward the close of the story:

“After a long night and morning, towards noon, Miss Lonelyhearts welcomed the arrival of fever. It promised heat and mentally unmotivated violence. The promise was soon fulfilled; the rock became a furnace.

He fastened his eyes on the Christ that hung on the wall opposite his bed.

As he stared at it, it became a bright fly, spinning with quick grace on a background of blood velvet sprinkled with tiny nerve stars.

Everything else in the room was dead–chairs, table, pencils, clothes, books. He thought of this black world of things as a fish. And he was right, for it suddenly rose to the bright bait on the wall. It rose with a splash of music and he saw its shining silver belly.

Christ is life and light.

“Christ! Christ!” This shout echoed through the innermost cells of his body.

He moved his head to a cooler spot on the pillow and the vein in his forehead became less swollen. He felt clean and fresh. His heart was a rose and in his skull another rose bloomed.

The room was full of grace. A sweet, clean grace, not washed clean, but clean as the inner sides of the inner petals of a newly forced rosebud.

Delight was also in the room. It was like a gentle wind, and his nerves rippled under it like small blue flowers in a pasture.

He was conscious of two rhythms that were slowly becoming one. When they became one, his identification with God was complete. His heart was the one heart, the heart of God. And his brain was likewise God’s.

God said, “Will you accept it, now?

And he replied, “I accept, I accept.”

He immediately began to plan a new life and his future conduct as Miss Lonelyhearts.

He submitted drafts of his column to God and God approved them. God approved his every thought.”

Miss Lonleyhearts by Nathanael West

My episodes of decomposition are less dramatic, but no less frightening.

It’s frightening to lose the ability to sleep and concentrate.

It’s frightening to lose the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

It’s frightening to wake-up tired and hopeless and thinking that it never gets better.

Decompensation is not necessarily a bad thing if it is part of the therapeutic process.

“…anxiety and panic symptoms are almost invariably “feeling flashbacks” triggered by a relatively benign event in the here-and-now, such as being alone in a room at twilight.” The Work of Stabilization In Trauma Treatment

The basic skills a trauma patient needs are these:

  • grounding and centering techniques
  • coping strategies for dealing with suicidal and self-abusive impulses
  • contracting for safety with themselves and others
  • anticipate stressful or triggering events
  • learn how to calm the body and mind
  • distinguish past from present reality and how to stay “in the present”

The Work of Stabilization In Trauma Treatment

If the trauma symptoms include dissociative alters the alters must know about and communicate with each other.

This is not easy and my recent attempts to communicate broke through memory barriers and lead to this most recent period of decomposition and regression.

Regression is an unconscious defensive process by which the patient reverts to a previous level of functioning, usually to a certain infantile or juvenile stage.”

One of the best portrayals of regressive decomposition is in the film Repulsion by Roman Polanski.

Catherine Deneuve portrays Carol, a sexually conflicted young Belgian woman.

Carol lives in London with her older sister. .

The film suggests that either Carol’s father or some other man sexually abused her as a child.

I first saw Repulsion when I was in my 20’s.

Watching it again this week during an episode of decompesation was a revelation.

Polanski shows us Carol’s anguish and her rapid decline with brilliant accuracy; when the Sister leaves for a week-long holiday we enter the dangerous territory of Carol’s mind.

“…the most common effect of sexual abuse is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms can extend far into adulthood and can include withdrawn behavior, reenactment of the traumatic event, avoidance of circumstances that remind one of the event, and physiological hyper-reactivity.” Psychology Today

We see these symptoms when Carol’s boyfriend tries to kiss her. She reacts with disgust, runs into her apartment in a panic and obsessively brushes her teeth.

According to American Nurse Today,Those with a history of childhood sexual abuse have increased reports of fear, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, aggression, anger, hostility, poor self-esteem, and suicide attempts. Higher rates of depression are reported. Depression has also been shown to be associated with impaired immune functioning. Increased cytokines (inflammation) and cortisol (stress) have been identified as mechanisms by which immune system function is impaired and related to depression.”

My body is constantly pumping out stress hormones which lead me to suspect that the decompensation is as much physical as it is psychological.

I become so physically exhausted that I can’t function.

This is especially true when I’m alone.

I can organize around the needs of the people I love when they are present.

According to the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in South London,

“The symptoms of psychosis and the symptoms of PTSD are alike. The vivid flashbacks of PTSD can be similar to, or the same as, hallucinations. The intense fear and ‘re-experiencing’ symptoms of PTSD can be akin to delusions that people who have psychosis experience.”

Both PTSD and psychosis can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, personal neglect and withdrawal from other people. The paranoia (see Paranoia page) often associated with psychosis can mirror the hyper-vigilance that people with PTSD may experience.

If someone is hearing voices or other sounds, or seeing and smelling things that others cannot see or smell, they may be re-experiencing a trauma and not experiencing the symptoms of psychosis.

However, GPs and mental health professionals may attribute the voices and other symptoms to psychosis and not consider PTSD as a possible diagnosis.

Researchers think people may sometimes be misdiagnosed, particularly if GPs and mental health professionals don’t ask about past traumatic events.

Misdiagnosis can lead to mistreatment: patients are often given high doses of anti-psychotic medication, which is not the recommended treatment for PTSD.

Among the trauma symptoms depicted in Repulsion are the loss of time
which begins almost as soon as Carol is alone.

We see her increased sense of disconnection from her environemnt.

Later, as her paranoia and hypervigilance escalates Carol re-lives her assault.

By the end of the week Carol is lost to herself and the film closes with a snapshot of Carol as a child, gazing angrily at her Father.

Kim Morgan of the Huffington Post calls Repulsion one of the most frightening studies of madness ever filmed.


A colorful work of Abstract Art designed to represent a confusion of thought
A Flight of Ideas

The most lethal myth imposed on us by behaviorism  is that we are in complete control of everything we think and do.

This denial of unconscious memories and motivations is at odds with the real world symptomatology of someone with severe PTSD.

Everyone can benefit from using DBT, but recovery from a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder takes longer than 90 days and requires more intensive treatment strategies.

A psychotherapist is crucial for gaining control over the most severe and debilitating symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD.

Decompensation is an expected feature of any chronic and severe mental illness.

You have a complex and serious illness and can’t control every last aspect of it.

Recovery happens in steps. It is normal to have setbacks.

If you have a counselor or psychotherapist let that person know what is happening when you feel yourself entering a crisis.

Remind yourself that memories are just memories. It is more normal to remember a trauma than to forget it.

Remind yourself that panic attacks are not dangerous; if you find yourself
in the middle of one stop and pace your breathing.

Therapy is sometimes painful, especially when it is working.

You may notice more symptoms as you begin to have memories.

If you start to relive the past remind yourself of the present.

The trauma happened in the past, and you are in the present.

When you can’t sleep don’t lie in bed thinking or worrying; get up
and enjoy something soothing or pleasant.

If you have difficulty concentrating give yourself time to focus on what you need to do. You may also have symptoms of depression. It is not uncommon for people with PTSD and CPTSD to have depressive episodes.

If the acuity lasts for more than a few days or if you have serious suicidal thoughts and impulses call your therapist or counselor.

If you feel as if you are an immediate danger to yourself or to someone else call 911 or go to an emergency room.

My emotions were everywhere this week.

My decompensation is not as dramatic as Carol’s; it certainly doesn’t
have the narrative edge.

It involved lost time and laying in bed watching non-stop MST3K.

Thank God for that show and for the part of me that comes out to watch it.

The most difficult thing about surviving is surviving.

Rob Goldstein 2016

Video clips and still shots are from the film Repulsion and used
here for educational purposes.

‘A Flight of Ideas’ (c) Rob Goldstein 2016

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I write about my personal experience. What works for me may not work for you. If you think you are having a psychiatric episode please see a professional.

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