Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pretty Lady Runs Screaming from the Room

Darlings, Pretty Lady has a confession to make. It has been a rough couple of years for her. You see, upon moving to New York City, Pretty Lady made a Stupid Mistake. She got involved with a paranoid, psychotic, abusive individual.

It has taken Pretty Lady a great deal of Quiet Time to mend the after-effects of her relationship with this person, on her sensitive psyche. She has tended toward an unwonted Reclusion. She has done a lot of yoga, and taken some road trips. She has, as you all know, blogged a lot. She is doing much better, now; thank you for asking.

One of the things that Pretty Lady has done, to distract her mind from horrors best left undescribed, is to Meet New People. She has gone seeking in Different Horizons; she figured that whatever was drawing her toward paranoia and psychosis, would be likely avoided in territories having nothing to do with Angry Atheists from New York City.

And now this.

9/11 was minor in comparison to biological/nuclear terrorism. If, instead of a couple of buildings collapsing, a tactical nuclear device were to be detonated in New York harbor, rendering all of Manhattan and depending upon wind direction, all of Long Island instantly uninhabitable for a period of up to 30-60 days and hazardous for decades afterward? If instead of a single city, this was multiplied by tactical nukes going off in multiple coastal cities, and add in an EMP burst, launched from a container ship in the Gulf which takes out most of the electric grid and all communications systems?
Desert Cat, you are channelling the Angry Atheist. This text is ripped verbatim from a typical Angry Atheist rant.

Crom, you too. And even Boysmom is in on it.

Pretty Lady is feeling faint. She is Reeling. She feels as though the world is collapsing down to one diseased, paranoid psyche, with her in it. There is no escape. None! Do you hear? Pretty Lady has gas in her Pathfinder! She has the zero degree down bag, she has bolt-holes both North and South, she's got a good pair of boots, a big box of safety matches, a tent and knowledge of basic woodscraft!

BUT THIS WILL NOT SAVE HER. She sees that now. Nothing can save her from the voices in her head. The voices of Doom, of Stasis, of Fatalism; the dirty bomb that is forever about to hit Manhattan, the reason all optimistic and healing endeavors are pointless, the reason Pretty Lady's affection and joy is never the center of anyone's heart, but merely a pleasant and temporary distraction.

Desert Cat, it is too late to save Pretty Lady's sanity. She is, and has always been, a Marked Woman.


Desert Cat said...

Not so. I am quite probably as batshit crazy as Chris accused, and so you may safely ignore me if you choose.

But I would like to mention that I'm neither an atheist, nor a particularly angry person, certainly not psychotic or abusive, though perhaps just a bit paranoid.

I have always been an optimist, though tempered by a bit of realistic assessment in recent years that has led me to make certain preparations. But then again, making preparations is itself an optimistic endeavor, is it not? I am presuming that, having assessed the risks and taking such steps as I deem necessary, I intend to weather whatever comes.

Or perhaps I've just found a convenient excuse, a pretext for running out to the peace of my country estate every other weekend.

But healing endeavors are *never* pointless, even in the face of certain doom, are they? Life is a fatal condition after all. That wouldn't stop you from making someone's life more pleasant in the meanwhile, would it? Do we always need measureable and definable progress toward goals, or is it enough to do what we know we must do?

I deeply apologize for raising this spectre, as it is clearly a sore point for you, and I am very much wishing I could summon your Prince from wherever he is hiding out in his lingering bachelorhood, kick his butt, command him to mount his steed and hie on down to yon Great City and take the hand of the fair maiden who has been waiting all her blessed *life* for you to get your act together and step up to the plate!

thimscool said...

Go ahead, Pretty Lady. Mock fate.

thimscool said...

"I deeply apologize for raising this spectre..."

Don't apologize, DC. She brought it on herself with the feminist strategy session.

Crom said...

PL -

Much of what DC said.

I have always been surprised at the people who think preparing for hard times is pessimistic. Hard times are guaranteed, so why not be ready and ease their sting?

Take heart in this fact, there are many people who are preparing for the dark days to come. And when they end, there will be those of us who throw open the hatches, look around and start society up again, hopefully having learned something in the process.

No one wants another Dark Ages. If things really go south in a hurry it will take a concerted effort to set things aright, and it will take the efforts of the prepared and trained to get things like shelters, field hospitals, and yes, guards to keep the bad folks away.

Sure, there is a risk that some Bad People also prepared and plan on ruling over the survivors, but the survivors are a hardy lot and most of us aren't real interested in kowtowing to Bad Guys.

Of course, none of this may happen. Things could go the other way, and we could build a beautiful world of chrome and glass cities and travel pollution free in airlock tubes. If this is the case, then I have a hardened warehouse full of supplies no one will ever need, and so what? It didn't hurt being ready. I hope I never have to use them, but they are there in case I do.

Desert Cat said...

"no one will ever need..." Or not. I plan to donate my preparedness supplies before they expire or become obsolete, and keep up to date as needed.

Pretty Lady said...

Thims, you are cruel. Plus, NO feminist strategy session deserves my ex, no matter how retroactively.

You may have even noticed that no women actually attended, so it was fairly useless anyway.

Whimper. It's just that Pretty Lady has discovered that she has a Type, which she cannot seem to get away from. A type which, seemingly, finds her. What is this about?

Desert Cat said...

I think you might have been badly burned by an extreme and broken version of said Type, maybe?

Thims, I will apologize when I am, in fact sorry and I deem it necessary.

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

PL- I don't pretend to know you as well as these others, but it doesn't take a genius to ask why you bought into the arguments, why you accepted the logic? Nihilism is an exercise. It cleanses the palate of the mind. To live it, however, is not to live. Mythical bombs exist everywhere. Scary monsters are around any given corner.
If you get to the natural end of life, and no bombs went off, how then will you look back at the paranoia? If a life ends unnaturally, either you accept there is something beyond it, or you don’t. You are sane, PL, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be having the conflict.
Seems the Type is (I'm guessing) a puzzle. Intelligent, complicated. If I have gleaned anything from reading, it is that PL does enjoy a good puzzle. The problem (if it is repeating) is that a high percentage of intelligent, complicated Types are also slightly twisted when it comes to the interpersonal. I could go on with arm-chair psychology, but might begin to speak on PL's bandwidth when it comes to Types, and am not at all comfortable doing so.
The only thing that matters is you are in pain, and that resonates with those who care to share the world of the pixel-word with you. The words feel feeble, but are heartfelt. If there is anything helpful to say, I wish I could say it, with both the heart of my persona, and with (dropping the mask) the concern of one human to another.
(If I've misunderstood the meaning of your post, I apologize)

thimscool said...

Just picking on the PL, DC.

Chris Rywalt said...

Hey, Pretty Lady, you met me. That's got to be good for something.

My thinking is this: We will all, most likely, die eventually. What difference does it make if we all go in a group or one at a time? Is there some waiting room on the other side which will get crowded?

k said...

Sometimes we replay the scene with a new actor, in order to try to come to a different resolution. One that works out right, this time.

Solving that puzzle JWYW was talking about.

It's just that the puzzle is very personal. If you've finally gotten to the point where you can avoid entanglement, make it not personal, just say *No?*

Sometimes, then, you're able to watch those particular types from a safe distance. And since you have acquired a certain emotional detachment, you can learn, understand, assess what they're about in a much more clear-sighted way.

Extraorinarily empowering.

When you feel them unerringly homing in on you? Instead of reacting with that combination of fear, curiousity, compassion, turn it around.

Sever the connection if that's what's needed, especially in the earlier part of the *recovery phase.* They pose a real danger to you.

Otherwise, when you can, just keep them at a safe arm's length...and observe. Practice and hone your skills at fending off their manipulations.

As you've probably already discovered, you'll find yourself watching them play it out, and filling in your own alternative reactions. How you'd respond today, as opposed to back in the depth of the codependent days.

Such fun!

Anonymous said...

DC said, "I plan to donate my preparedness supplies before they expire or become obsolete..."

Of course. I rotate things in and out as necessary, and I store things I like to eat so stock rotation is a constant. The only thing I don't rotate are the Mountain House foods in the #10 cans, as they have an expected shelf life of 25+ years and I will rotate those out every decade or so. Medical supplies pretty much last forever, bandages, gauze, forceps, scalpels etc. provided they are stored properly. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals are a bit more tricky for civilians to get a hold of, and rotate regularly but resourcefulness can sometimes work miracles in that department.

So, if TEOTWAWKI gets cancelled and we wind up in Unicornitopia instead, then I will dispose of my stocks, to whoever still needs them. However, I am not really holding out for a happy ending, at least one that won't require an enormous amount of work.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
However, I am not really holding out for a happy ending, at least one that won't require an enormous amount of work.

It occurs to me that you could be putting the work you're putting into your survivalist bunker with associated manifesto into moving towards that happy ending.

As Bucky Fuller wrote, it's Utopia or Oblivion. Everything you do is working towards one or the other.

Mike said...

*Tsk* *tsk*, DC, I see you've been behaving like a cad, making the lady swoon!

Pretty Lady said...

you'll find yourself watching them play it out, and filling in your own alternative reactions.

Indeed, k! Between you and me, there is a spot in the freeway which will forever be a hallmark of What Might Have Been; it is the spot where the A.A. screamed at her for taking the wrong exit. She had taken the wrong exit because she was stressed out by his screaming. Pretty Lady's eternal regret is that she did not pull over and throw him out, right there, letting him walk home in traffic, and only calling him again in order to pick up her personal possessions.

However, that spot in the freeway also constitutes a monument to the fact that Pretty Lady will Never Do That Again. Ever. Someone starts ranting irrationally, he gets ejected. Immediately and permanently.

JWYW, you did not misunderstand anything; you nailed it. Thank you.

Pretty Lady said...

Oh, and let it be known that after all the Devastation that Pretty Lady suffered, she did NOT turn the A.A. in, to either the building inspections department OR to the I.R.S., and she damn well could have.

Desert Cat said...

As Bucky Fuller wrote, it's Utopia or Oblivion. Everything you do is working towards one or the other.

And avoiding oblivion is not incompatible with working toward utopia.

In fact it would be darn silly to do nothing to hold off the forces of chaos while drawing up plans for a brighter tomorrow.

Let those with a penchant to do so, visualize their whirled peas. Let the sheepdogs do their work.

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

You're most welcome, PL.
Be well.

k said...

Yes. Clearly you'd had that Precipitating Event already take place; that's what you wrote about. And it's extremely fine to hear how far you've already come.

If it makes you feel any better, it was the incredibly horrible first husband who divorced me, rather than me divorcing him. I mean, over a period of several months, he asked me three times. Finally I said, Yes. That was the night before my twenty-second birthday, after almost four years of marriage. Brutal years. Truly brutal.

Walter still disremembers that and has to adjust his mind sometimes; out of respect for me and hatred for that man, he wants to think I started the divorce, not the first ex.

I remained relatively unentangled for a long time; I got better, slowly, not quite understanding how or why...therapy, grow, live...get serious again, break up, learn...

then it was the final guy, in 1991 in Shreveport, that did me in. The brilliant and apparently benign, but actually phony, secret alcoholic. This came in a summer of sudden and complete permanent disability for me, and of blood and death and murder.

Not of me, of course. I remained apparently unscathed, as always; splattered, but being the one to sit by the hospital bed rather than in it. Actually, they kindly let me sleep - for free - in a bed right next to ICU for almost two weeks, before that particular person shocked us all by unexpectedly surviving his third alcoholic bleedout and dead liver.

Still, it was long enough for me to discover certain Truths. And, as one of his careworkers put it a few weeks later, I dumped him.

Actually, he dumped me for a bottle. And the man I thought was my fiance never existed; he was a fiction. She didn't see that, though. She considerately altered her venom at my coldheartedness to allow for something she called Tough Love. Bull. The love evaporated; it never was, because the object of my affections was a phantom.

I was 33 years old.

I went a bit nuts for a month or two. Had bad dreams. I got stalked by him, had to call the cops (and they were wonderful); and I almost killed another man who'd intruded into my home with evil intent.

Then I moved back to Florida.

I swore off relationships and became a Born Again Virgin for precisely two and one third years. It was the first time I'd gone without sex for more than three weeks since I was sixteen years old. Except for once when I was sick.

Peace. Such peace and quiet. Just me and my cats and my orchids, and what work I could do, and adjusting to my new and unproductive (but alive) life.

Then I met Walter, and all bets were off. He's the one for me, and I for him. I was 35 then.

And we certainly had our share of working out to do. That's why we're divorced, see? My ex-husband is my common-law husband now, not my legal husband, except if we were in Texas or Louisiana where our Common-Law would become Legal, which we aren't.

That is one fine man. And he loves me with all his heart, and told me so again just the other day. And do I love him back? With every fibre of my being.

So basically, now that I'm 49 and have entered my Old Crone stage of life, and exited my Pretty Lady stage, I can say --

You know how many times I got screamed at for taking the wrong exit because the screamer had stressed me out by screaming at me?



I can trump LOTS of women on the Wrong Exit By Screaming Stress thing. LOTS.

And foolish me, I never once pulled over and kicked the jerk out. At least now, I'll explain that I will if they don't stop this instant, and I certainly would if the screams ever started again. In a heartbeat. Done similar things too, to my great satisfaction.

And! You know, deep down inside, that you can still call the IRS or Code Enforcement. Any time the spirit moves you. You were very sweet and kind and good, and did not do so yet.

But...if you really want to, you still can. Aaaaany time.


Pretty Lady said...

If it makes you feel any better, it was the incredibly horrible first husband who divorced me, rather than me divorcing him.

Well, in fact, it does.

Actual transcript of bar conversation between Pretty Lady's friend and Local Hipster:

LH (shaking head fatalistically): Well, it looks like Pretty Lady finally dumped the A.A.

PLF: No, I'm afraid that the A.A. dumped Pretty Lady.

LH: WHAT???!!! I don't believe that. Why would he do a stupid thing like that?

PLF: I'm afraid it's true.

LH (hours later, shaking head incredulously): I still can't believe that A.A. broke up with P.L. It just doesn't make any sense.

This LH, in Pretty Lady's experience, was a bit of an uncommunicatively witty cool guy; she never suspected he had a modicum of human feeling in him. And Yet.

It warms the cockles of my heart, k, to know that Pretty Lady is not a Psychotic Anomaly in the world of Dysfunctional Relationship Choices, but is following a time-honored tradition of learning lessons the hard way. Thank you so much for the stories.

Chris Rywalt said...

DC sez:
Let the sheepdogs do their work.

I'd comment over at your blog but the layout confused me and I'm already bruised and battered from the beating I'm taking over at Edna's.

So: I like sheepdogs. I think they're fine and necessary. I also think sheepdogs very much need a human to train them and keep them in line lest they become wolves, because, really, too many sheepdogs would like to do so.

The thing about firefighters is they're basically selfless. You don't get a lot of perks as a firefighter: If you're a pro, you get okay pay, good benefits. You get bragging rights. You get membership in a fraternity of like-minded people. But, ultimately, you become a firefighter to help other people. That's all there is to it: You put your life and limb on the line just to help other people. Often you help stupid people, and offensive people, and evil people. But you help them anyway, because that's why you became a firefighter.

The thing about soldiers and policemen is some of them are basically selfless. But some of them are in it for the power. Carry a gun and boss people around? Sign me up!

They may never truly abuse their power. They may always be the good sheepdog. But that impulse is never good.

k said...

PL, you're more than welcome.

Desert Cat said...

The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about "Tommy" the British soldier:

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that,
an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir,"
when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys,
there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir,"
when there's trouble in the wind.

Yes, yes. Of course. Never good, it is, says the sheep when all seems well.

Dear Gamma Toad:
In the above-referenced analogy, there are no "humans". There are sheep. There are wolves. And there are sheepdogs.

Desert Cat said...

Oh, and re the layout, the litterbox is where you leave your droppings. So sue me. ;)

Chris Rywalt said...

DC sez:
In the above-referenced analogy, there are no "humans". There are sheep. There are wolves. And there are sheepdogs.

I never like to push a metaphor too far because otherwise it usually falls apart.

The trouble with your metaphor is there must be humans. Sheepdogs don't exist without humans. Sheep can't train sheepdogs. Wolves can't train sheepdogs. And sheepdogs don't do what they do naturally, spontaneously, out of the goodness inherent in their souls.

Sheepdogs were once wolves, and without humans -- as we've already discussed outside of the metaphor -- become wolves again. Humans took the wolf and over thousands of years made it into a sheepdog. And even so, it still takes training and discipline to make a shepherd breed into a working dog capable of guarding and herding sheep.

That's the thing. The humans you call sheep -- apparently and hilariously without condescension -- cannot simply be sheep, because if they were, there would be no sheepdogs (policemen and soldiers). There would be only wolves (criminals). It takes the people to harness and train the wolves and make them productive, protective members of society.

Which is why the Commander-in-Chief of the United States is a civilian. (And, sadly, currently a bozo, but there you go.)

Judge Well Ye Wolves said...

k- I admire that you and Walter worked it out, even after all, and made it better. It gives hope. Kiss him once for me. Well, a fraternal kiss, anyway.
Screaming is just too much damn work. I'm just too lazy for that nonsense.
(on the other hand, occaisional passive-aggressive peevishness hardly takes any effort at all!)

k said...

JWYW, I most certainly will. Just as soon as I get my hands on him again. Maybe 6 weeks or so.

It was way, way worth it.

Desert Cat said...

Mister Toad, you are hopeless.


Pretty Lady said...

Chris is NOT a toad, he is NOT hopeless, he merely likes to pick silly fights as a means of procrastination. Ahem.

DC, if you stop to think about it, both of you are correct, and your perspectives are not inherently contradictory. Chris has no sheepdog in his nature, and you do; be content.

Desert Cat said...

Yes, I was certain of chastisement as soon as I posted that.

However, in my defense, it appears that Mr. Rywalt did choose his totem here:
"I am not a dog person or a cat person. I'm more of a toad person."

Chris Rywalt said...

Right after you called me Mr. Toad I flipped through my copy of The Wind in the Willows looking for some passage about Mr. Toad I could quote, but I couldn't find anything that fit the moment.

However, if it means anything, I do think like Mr. Toad. I know he's sort of supposed to be a negative character, but I can't think of him that way.

Chris Rywalt said...

Although my real totem -- in the sense that I actually carved myself one out of a piece of American chestnut -- is Tanuki. Big belly, intoxicated, in debt, with enormous testicles. That's me.

Pretty Lady said...

Chris, Mr. Toad is an absolutely classic manic-depressive personality type. You are, as far as I know, merely depressive.

Unless you've been on some car-theft binges that I don't know about.

Chris Rywalt said...

Ah, but I wish I was manic.

BoysMom said...

I must say I am not entirely sure what the problem is.
I plant a garden, have a few moderately useless skills, (who really needs to know how to spin, can, sew, or crochet in these days of Walmart), so forth and so on.
Now if I lived in a city or near a chem factory, I would probably keep a protective mask around. I think it is just plain silly not to look at what sort of things are likely to happen in your area (blizzard and prolonged power outage in mine) and not plan accordingly. (Down sleeping bags and flashlights at the very least.)
This is paranoid? Here I thought it was being a grownup.
Well, when the power went out last Saturday night, we had flashlights to hand, so there's that to say for being 'paranoid'.