Last Night….my Mind Healed.

Woke up thinking, fuck it was a circus in this room last night. Nurses and patients attending each other the only thing missing was the fucking dancing bear.

Then I laughed and laughed. I knew I was going to be ok. I AM OK. Since this stroke I haven’t described events in terms of metaphor like that.

Essentially I use my mind to create images. With words. Since having a stroke I stopped that.

This is neat. I didn’t know that. I was too close to the process to see it.

The benefit of being ill, I was once told, the purpose of it, they said, was to do reflection and examine your life.

This is patently religious horseshit of course. And dangerous. What happens if you lose your purpose? You’re fucked. They (various clergy) want your purpose to be to feed them the blood and energy of your life. Leeches ain’t in it, as my favourite writer Patrick O’Brian used to say. Vampires or more likely, the walking dead in the robes of sanctimonious claptrap. I wonder what claptrap is?


noun noun: claptrap; noun: clap-trap 1. absurd or nonsensical ideas.)

The purpose of life is satisfaction. If you don’t want to think about stuff you don’t have to. You have free will and the power of choice. We all do. If one strategy for satisfaction is closed to me, I simply choose another rabbit hole.

After all, shltty things happen to nice people (like me 😁) and nice things happen to shltty people, and I had better accept the sheer randomness of that, simply because it’s in my best interests. I am able to cope with the unknown future post stroke because we all have skills, great skills, with dealing with the unknown. We. Can’t. Predict. The. Future. Yet here we all are, coping.

My fellow patient doesn’t know this. I long to tell him. He smokes constantly, therapists refuse treatment, they say he reeks of tobacco. He puts 5 packs of sugar in his coffee of comfort. All due to the mistaken belief that he can’t handle the unknown when he is handling it. Based on hard evidence.

Of course what we are talking about here, when we talk about the future, is death. That’s our future. So if there is something after we die, tbe evidence is, we will cope with it just fine. Imperfectly and that’s just fine. If there is nothing down that rabbit hole of potential satisfaction then worrying about nothing seems a tad irrational.

I spoke to a social worker who wanted to know how I coped. She was afraid that I was in ‘survival mode’ and there will be some kind of crash. REBT teaches when something shltty happens, do everything you can to deal with it, then ignore it. Seek something more satisfactory.

So, seeking worry seems like an odd choice. In fact, worry is always a choice and self defeating. I know, it took 10 years of therapy to unlearn it, learned at my seriously mentally ill mothers knee. Concern, on the other hand, is a choice and self helping. Motivating. I am VERY concerned about my life right now, And I am trusting professionals to give me professional advice. Everything from how to take a leak standing up (Thanks Richard) to where I am going to live and pay for it. Basically I am so busy being concerned and dealing with my concerns I don’t have time to worry. Actually none of us do.

But the bright spot in all this is the return of my sense of metaphorical sometimes caustic but always empathetic humour.

If it were the 18th century I would say I balanced the humours.


When Digital Arrived I Became An Artist….

It’s interesting that I’ve been struggling with guilt over these damn conte charcoals, that I should use them or I’m not an artist.


They may have been essential to learn with and those that like them do beautiful work…..but I don’t like them. I feel like Bush senior, I’m the president of the United States and I don’t have to eat brocolli if I don’t want to.

Basically I’m impatient. I think. Or, I love the immediacy of digital. I love the undo-ability. I love the low cost of changing my mind. I love the backlit loveliness of the images on the screen. I love the phucking with philters in Photoshop. What’s new what will it do..? I’m like a kid at Christmas.

Computers fascinate me. I look forward to the newest latest greatest. In 1990 I talked with a friend about wouldn’t it be great if the world was connected and we could make and show art on computers. Two years later I was back in art school learning to do just that. For 6 years. Loved every nerdy minute too.

Images were free on the net then, to learn on, but to copyright the work required a camera to capture my own images. Down that rabbit hole I went of megapxels, lenses and high tech cameras.

I was home at last.

Spotting the Spots

So Ellis says people and things from the past don’t have the power to create a depression.  Only what I think about them can do that.

OK. So my sister shows up. Behaves the way narcissists often do, i.e. looking and sounding reliable but isn’t, so she should be that way, because she is, and I’m disappointed and depressed.

Seems irrational to want a leopard to change its spots. I mean I accept that it is a leopard.

The problem with a narcissist is that they hide their spots. And their claws. They manipulate with fear, obligation and guilt, which at the very least feels icky and at the worst is abusive and usually devastating.

So the self downing, leading to depression, starts there. I should have known better.  Why should I? They are experts at hiding their spots. There is no reason why I should.

I must be liked and do well, spot the spots immediately, or else I am a shit. She must not be the way she is or she is a shit. Life must be convenient, like not living in a wheelchair in hospital or I can’t stand it.

OK those are current events and not ghosts from the past at all.

Well the evidence is, she should be that way because she is that way.

How soon do I have to spot the spots to ‘do well ? A day, a week, or a month? I spotted it when I spotted it. That is what counts not some arbitrary perfectionist notion of how I should be.

Is there any evidence that I can’t stand being in a wheelchair and recovering? I have been standing it, I am standing it, so I will stand it.

So no longer depressed or ashamed but sad and disappointed, I make plans to move and ask friends to help. Computer friends and audio friends to handle equipment. Strong friends to handle moving. Talking to strangers and asking for what I want, help without shame.


I ran a narcissist test by my re-connected sister.

Simply I asked for what I wanted, a relationship deepening exercise, and waited to see what happened.

I hadn’t seen her for 14 years since my wife died. At that time I asked for support, emotional and material, promises were made and nothing was forthcoming. I was devastated, loss compounding loss. I sought help at the hospital, saw a therapist and was taught REBT and learned that the anxiety, well terror really, I was experiencing was a consequence of the notion that things must go the way I expected and I couldn’t stand it if they didn’t.


I was professionally advised to avoid my sister for there was a very real danger of harm. So for 14 years I did just that. No family at Xmas birthdays etc. Often I spent them in tears missing a family.

Of course I never had one. My mother also being a narcissist and agoraphobic had not much to offer and my father was dead, coal miner with lung cancer when I was two. I remember being age 6 or so getting my tonsils out and the nurse bathed me and trimmed my toenails remarking on how they had never been cleaned, the nails black with dirt. I was so ashamed and embarrassed and scared, all alone in the hospital.

So here I am in the hospital asking to have my toenails cut because I’m half paralyzed and I can’t do it myself. We don’t do that, your family will have to. I don’t have one. Sorry but the rules……

So I recently reconnected with my sister cause I’m in real trouble with a stroke and I’m scared and she’s all I got. I’ve been trained by experts tho, ask for what you want, narcissists will leave blaming you for exposing their emptiness friends will stay and negotiate.

I want companionship as I’m lonely especially on the weekends. Maybe buy some art as I’m broke. Stuff like that. Oh ya and trim my toenails.

Uh no no and no. I’m much too busy, a lot going on. Money is out of the question for the wife of a rich oil man in Calgary. I dont do toenails. But I’ll come by with chocolate chip cookies (anxiety comfort food) sometime during the week maybe.

Funny thing happened since I fired my family this second time. Blood pressure came down, 120/70 now, depression lifted and I laughed all day, I walked without help for about a block with a walker, and my anterior deltoid came back so soon I will raise my arm again.

Oh ya I asked a nice nurse about toenails and she said sure what time?

So. A pain in the ass, but not a crisis, this stroke business. Sheesh


Spiritual Girl

So. She asked me if I was spiritual at all, as she was very spiritual.

So, I carefully explained that all creatures are predisposed to anxiety, genetically, in order to run away from danger. Monkeys who are born and raised in laboratories, masturbate constantly in order to distract and relieve their over-anxiety. Obsessive and compulsive repetitive behavior.

In fact, knowing that, one can go to the zoo and observe which monkeys came from the wild and which came from labs, simply by spending an hour watching creatures masturbate. I mean it doesn’t cure the problem, but it distracts enough to offer some relief, as over anxiety is very real discomfort.

OK then, so somewhere along the line some bright person starting a church to enslave people into giving up their time and money, offered relief from over-anxiety through the distraction of repetitive obsessive compulsive behavior, chanting, prayer ritual, etc. and of course said masturbation was bad, for various made up reasons, but mostly to kill the competition, and keep the cash flow going. Promises of no more anxiety in the afterlife as well, if you buy their product, also helped to seal the deal.

Social acceptance is a powerful tool, especially in small communities, as anxiety always goes with hostility, in these gentle religious spiritual folks, shunning being the passive aggressive tool of choice, which can be devastating in small communities with not a lot of mobility and choices. Even on Facebook with millions of choices, getting defriended after comparing the pope and the dali lama to masturbating monkeys is a bit of a sting.

So. As our communities grew and evidence based psychology grew from the Greek philosophies of a couple of thousand years ago, (Epicurus for example), we learned to question the beliefs, often fostered by church groups and spiritual folks, that caused over anxiety. Beliefs that always included the words must or should, I mean these are authoritarian in the extreme, which become fanaticism and fascism, when very extreme.

Beliefs such as I must be liked and accepted and do well or else I am a piece of garbage, others must do what I say is the right thing or they deserve punishment, and finally, the world must be convenient or I can’t stand it. There is no evidence for any of that, and upon seeing this, over-anxiety ceases to exist, as well as other consequences, and people are now free to masturbate for pleasure with themselves or a helpful friend instead of dire need like a monkey in a zoo.

I mean that’s the problem with having sex with new age spiritual people, they zone out, like on a drug, and are no longer part of the proceedings, I mean they certainly aren’t a giving/recieving, loving, attentive partner, they are more in feeding mode than anything, soaking up anxiety relief.

Prayer chanting meditation and other rituals go out the window as well, because we no longer need the ‘medicine’ after the pain is gone, do we? For an artist, the work changes as we are now free to explore, rather than do repetitive rubber stamp art over and over. This is the mother of invention.

So, I don’t imagine I will get to find out what happens with spiritual girl, as I’m not looking to get used like medicine or have a bunch of shoulds and musts laid on me instead of frank conversation and willingness to compromise. I imagine that as soon as the nice lady reads this the shunning and possibly hostility on the way out the door will ensue.

Too bad, OK what can I do to bring satisfaction to my day today?


Andrha Simonis suggested I use a ‘power phrase’ to focus on while I recover. When my wife died and my brother and best friend as well, I went driving courier, and sang this song. “As long as these wheels keep Rollin, I’ll be satisfied. Gonna ride ride ride” In other words I stubbornly refused to upset myself. If it is to be it’s up to me. My satisfaction is up to me whether I ride a wheelchair or a bike or a car. Sure it’s a pain, but it ain’t horrible.
The song is called ‘Ride’ by Robert Earl Keen. It was written by Woody Guthie who had the same disease as my wife, Huntingtons, a disease which damages and destroys the brain.

Mark and Menha

Sitting in the coffee shop at the hospital. Mark walks up full of false cheer.  He has sold me art supplies for 40 years, and his father before him, and now his daughter.  His wife has been here for 167 days. So he sat down exhausted and told me about it, her stroke journey, as they  say.

Mark,  get to see the psychologist on her team, I said, you are burning  out. No. I’ve got family.  How do you know what you don’t know? Huh? I was a burnt out primary caregiver for 10 years.  You’ve been for 6 months. I recognize the signs. For instance you’re talking to a guy in a wheelchair and you haven’t asked me how I’m doing.

Do you want a cookie? he asked. No thanks.

So he left and my friend from the coffee shop arrived, Menha. Now a unit clerk a couple of floors down I haven’t seen her in years. A chance encounter. Well drop by sometime I said. No I’m too tired after work to visit.

I just looked at her. Not speaking. Eventually she went away. Hopefully forever.

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