Archive for September, 2009

Dissociative Identity Disorder; Deviating From Expectations

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I was watching Tim put together his electronic drum kit.

“So how drunk do we have to get you so that you’ll stop playing Ashleigh?” Tim asked.

In my confusion, I responded to his question with a question.  “Playing Ashleigh?  What do you mean?”

“Like, for you to be real and talk about your feelings or something,” he replied.

“I am being real,” I assured him. “This is me right now. And later I will be what I am later. I’m just… being me.”

That night at the East River Bar we were a few Jamesons in when he asked me about the guy I was seeing before he left for Albany. “He’s seeing someone else now,” I said. “She’s very skinny.

“I don’t get it,” I continued. Rather, I let the whiskey continue. “She can’t possibly have as great of a rack as I do. And she can’t be as funny as I am.”

“And she definitely doesn’t have as many personalities as you do,” Tim told me.

Multiple personality disorder (MPD) is now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). I have always said that I have quite a few occupants in my head, though I don’t consider this a disorder; I consider it mediocre. Never would I exclude the possibility that I am insane, however, if I am crazy I consider myself at least sane enough to function in this corporation we call humanity.

One of my personalities sees the world only through comparisons. So, compared to Larissa Schuster, I am a perfectly reasonable person. Or think over the case of Otty Sanchez. This summer, Sanchez used a knife to kill and dismember her 3 1/2-week-old son. She then ate parts of the child’s body, including his brain, before stabbing herself in the throat. Unfortunately, she lived. Sanchez said that she was hearing voices telling her to kill her son.

Even though I may hear voices, they never tell me to kill anyone. The voices in my head say things like “You really made a fool of yourself last night” and “You suck. What did you do that for?” and “Buy those shoes even though you can’t afford them.” My mental derangement is at a typical to above-average level, while Schuster and Sanchez’s levels of psychosis are off the register.

But I digress from my intended subject – dissociative identity disorder. I am pleased that the name was changed from multiple personality disorder. Calling something a “personality disorder” is a faulty concept to me. The person in charge of this diagnosis may be a psychopath his/herself. Furthermore, personality disorders are defined as a character type that deviates from the contemporary expectations of the society of the individual who exhibits it.  I have yet to find a complete list of personality characteristics agreed upon by the majority of Americans with which we can use to determine if our neighbors’ deviation from our expectations truly qualifies them as having mental illness.

So, dissociative identity disorder is a little easier for me to ruminate. Below are some signs and symptoms of DID:

  • multiple mannerisms, attitudes and beliefs that are not similar to each other (I would need someone else to evaluate my mannerisms, however I have been known to embody political and spiritual beliefs that are at odds with each other.)
  • headaches and other body pains (Every day, but this might have something to do with my current lifestyle.)
  • distortion or loss of subjective time (I blame my alarm clock. See photo below.)
  • depersonalization (Often I feel like I have no control over the situations in which I exist.)
  • amnesia (I suppose it’s possible and I just don’t remember.)
  • depression (Tim says it’s a phase.)
  • derealization (Frequently I perceive the external world as strange.)
  • unexplainable phobias (Click here.)
  • sudden anger without a justified cause (Actually, I just hold things inside and take them out on the wrong people. So there is a justified cause, it just isn’t clear to the person who is subjected to my anger.)
  • lack of intimacy and personal connections (I am perpetually single. This does not overly concern me since I generally consider myself bad at relationships therefore better off alone. Maybe this relates to the first symptom on this list, because although I stand by my prior statement, I do hope to fall in love one day. From what I hear, it is an enjoyable state of being.)
  • frequent panic/anxiety attacks (Rona tells me that I need to practice my breathing.)
  • auditory hallucinations of the personalities inside their mind (They are equally as comforting as they are troubling.)

In conclusion, I don’t really care whether or not I have dissociative identity disorder. But I do aspire to deviate from expectations in the most stunning and staggering of ways.

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Feeling Stupid (and why you shouldn’t date boys in bands)

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I mentioned before that I hate feeling stupid. Two times in my life have left me feeling completely and utterly foolish.

The first time was when he came back from tour. We had just reunited at a friend’s BBQ and naturally I was standing next to him. While he was out of town, Chris Benoit had died. (Chris Benoit was a professional wrestler I liked when I went through a phase in which I watched wrestling.)

“Did you hear what happened to Chris Benoit?” I asked him excitedly.

“Yeah, yeah that’s crazy,” he replied. He sounded uninterested. I figured that I misinterpreted his tone, so I continued.

“Man, I used to love him. The diving head butt into the crippler cross face was the best finishing move. And how his woman’s name was Woman-”

He cut me off. “Okay, you don’t have to prove it,” he said coldly.

I thought I was just having a conversation. “Oh,” I said. My voice sounded wounded. “No, I just really liked him.”

He turned and started talking to someone else. I walked away and smoked a cigarette.

The next time was a month before I stopped seeing him. We were at a bar, and he had started a conversation seemingly to remind me that we were not actually together, even though we had been together for seven months.

“But, I mean, you invited me to the beach with you and your mom,” I said. I was so confused; I thought everything was fine.

He laughed. “Awww,” he said. It sounded so patronizing, and he looked like he felt bad for me. “Oh, you thought that was like a meet-the-parents thing? I was just trying to get fun people to go.”

I bit my bottom lip to keep it from trembling. “Oh, yeah, okay.  Of course. I have to go to the bathroom,” was all I could say. I went to the restroom and stood in line for a few minutes, then I went back to the table. I ended up walking home alone crying that night.

They were both in bands. As much as I like their music, I can’t listen to it now. (Why you shouldn’t date boys in bands: the songs get stuck in your head.) Their music is still on my iPod. The masochist in me cannot delete them, and some part of me hopes that I can listen to them again one day.

Additionally, they both have new girlfriends with which to form fresh memories. It’s hard for me to shake the scenes I have noted above, and also difficult to dismiss the wonderful times we had together. I tend to speculate without distraction, and often I wonder if they feel the same.

Apple Fest 2009, Monmouth, Maine

Monday, September 28th, 2009

The white paint at the face painting table was a bit chunky.  Ten-year old Lily was in charge of decorating the faces of all Apple Fest attendees brave enough to endure her brush.

Paisley sat before Lily.  “White is the only one that’s messed up?” Paisley asked the child.

“Yes,” confirmed Lily.

“Alright,” said Paisley.  “I want to be a cat.  But don’t use any white.  And just make my whole face like a cat.”

“Okay,” replied Lily.

Lily dipped her brush into the white paint and immediately applied it to Paisley’s cheek.

“No no, I thought you weren’t going to use white!?” Paisley cried out, amused by the little girl’s defiance.

Lily continued by administering white paint to the other cheek.  “I’m just doing the cat’s antics,” she assured her human canvas.

Paisley arched her eyebrow.  “His antics?  You mean his antenna, like his whiskers?”

“Noooooo,” Lily answered as if Paisley’s question were the most nonsensical combination of words ever uttered by a human being.  “Cats don’t have antennas.  It’s his antics.”

Standing behind Lily the entire time, I was watching the highly entertaining scene.  Paisley looked at me.  I began to giggle.  “Don’t make me laugh,” she told me.  Paisley looked back at Lily.  “His antics?”

“Yeah, his antics,” Lily confirmed.  “You know, like his behavior.”

Now Paisley and I were both cracking up.  The young artist was not amused with our lack of sophistication apropos of her work.  Once we calmed down, Lily continued painting.  As I watched her apply black paint for the whiskers, I had a realization.

“No really Paisley, it’s the antics.  It totally looks like the cat’s antics,” I said.  Somehow  at that moment, it made sense to me.  I want to believe that if Lily painting a cat’s antics (which according to her is equivalent to its behavior) is an actual creative possibility, then anything is possible.  Also, I want to believe that all things will make sense to me one day.

Lily painted an apple on my face.  I instructed her to make it the most beautiful, amazing apple she had ever painted.  Lily did just that.

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Paisley’s cat antics (above), my apple (below)

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Lily’s sign (below)

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A Viking Funeral

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Dave and I decided that we want to have a Viking Funeral for the majority of our possessions.  Obviously this would be done on a much smaller scale than traditional Norsemen rituals, specifically without human sacrifice or grave offerings.  To be sure we would do justice to the Norsemen’s grandiose burials while lessening the dangerous and costly requirements, I did some research.

The most detailed account of a Viking funeral came from an Arab Muslim writer named Ahmad ibn Fadlan.  Around the year 920, ibn Fadlan was employed by the Islamic government when he was accused of an unlawful love affair that would ruin his reputation and career.  To escape the situation, he agreed to leave town on a mission to open diplomacy with another group of people called the Bulgars.  On the way to meet with the Bulgars, he fell in with a group of Viking outlaws.

During his time with the Northmen, he heard that one of their leaders had died.  Ibn Fadlan had been told that when chiefs die, the Vikings “consume them with fire”.  Per his request he was allowed to witness this ceremony.

First, the dead man was put in a temporary grave while new clothes were made for him.  Using some of his belongings, a strong, intoxicating drink was purchased for one of the slave girls who had volunteered herself to be burned with her master.  The girl was then guarded day and night as she cheerfully drank and sang songs.  Meanwhile, a bed on a ship was prepared for the dead man.

The body was exhumed ten days later and dressed in the new clothes.  On the commander’s death bed he received grave offerings, including animal sacrifices.  At the same time, the drunken slave girl went to each tent and had sexual intercourse with all of the men.  Every man told her to tell her dead master that they did this out of love.

Afterwards, they took the girl to a sort of door frame and lifted her three times above it.  The Vikings thought that the intoxicating drinks made the girl psychic, and when lifting her above the door frame she was expected to see into the realm of the dead.  Each time she was lifted, she told them what she saw.  She claimed to see her master in the afterworld beckoning her; she said it was so very beautiful there.

Next, the girl was taken to the ship and given more drinks.  She sang songs again and said goodbye to her friends, and then she was taken into a tent.  Inside the tent, men beat on shields to muffle her screaming.  Ibn Fadlan noted that this was because if the other girls heard the cries, it might “deter them from seeking death with their masters in the future”.  Six men entered the tent and had sex with the girl, after which she was laid on her master’s bed.  Men held her by her wrists and feet as an old woman in charge of the ritual tied a rope around the slave girl’s neck.  Two men pulled on the ends of the rope while the old woman stabbed the girl between her ribs with a knife until she died.

Finally, the relatives of the chief arrived with torches and set the ship on fire.

Sometimes I feel like a slave to my possessions, though if Dave and I have our Viking funeral I do not wish to volunteer myself for death with these objects.  My personal belongings have no real purpose in my life.  My vitality is independent of them, and my duration does not rely on them.

So, maybe Dave and I will get a kiddie pool and some matches.  Although much like the Viking slave girl, I do plan to drink heavily for the occasion.

Ashleigh-isms, Electronic Music Composition 1, & My First Painting

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I’ve been feeling the need to become more self-destructive and less productive.  On numerous occasions over the past two weeks I have told Drew at the duck, “I’m ready to mix my liquors”. (Jameson for a while followed by a margarita or two.)  Until recently, I would say that mixing my liquors gets me into trouble.  Maybe I want to make a mistake.  However, with the exception of some drunk texting to good friends, I think I have been very well behaved.

Unrelated, with the help of my dear roommate Jayme, I have put together a list of Ashleigh-isms.  Those who spend time with me regularly are aware that I use the terminology below quite often.

“Super-serious.”
“Agree to disagree.”
“As well as can be expected.”
“It’s my favorite thing.”
“I hate my life.”
“…because god hates me…” (placed before or after something bad that happened to me)
And I make short-term plans out loud. For example, “I’m going to go to the bathroom, then get some water, then smoke a cigarette, then check my email…”

Some more extraneous information that I would like to share concerns the puppy that I walk four days a week.  As of yesterday, he poops outside.  “I just can’t believe that the only thing that made me happy recently was a dog shitting,” I told Quinn.

And for the final part of this irrelevant post, I am attaching my first composition for electronic music class and my first painting.

Concerning the electronic music piece – it’s only a minute long.  My classmates listened to it already.  Red-head guy that could be cute but dresses badly said, “It’s like watching the Twilight Zone in the Twilight Zone, but my t.v. keeps messing up.”  Awkward young short girl said, “It’s like an acid trip at the circus.”

Electronic Music Composition 1

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Cynicism & Wishing On Stars

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

“Hey remember the other day when you said Rona was the dreamer and you were the pragmatist? What am I?” I asked Paisley.

“You’re the cynic,” she answered.

Cynics doubt because they question motives. I do this the majority of the time, often questioning my own intentions along with the intentions of others. There are people that I trust (for the most part), people that I doubt, and people that I keep at arm’s length.

Learning to trust is feasible; having that trust betrayed is possible.

It reminds me of wishing on stars. Maybe it’s juvenile, but I still do this, complete with the rhyme to preface the wish: Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight. I wish… (I do feel like I am cheating on my cynicism when I perform this act.)

From what I understand after years of wishing on stars, this rhyme does not need to be spoken aloud, especially if there are other people present. Not for sake of embarrassment, but because if anyone hears the actual wish, it won’t come true. Additionally, as per the rhyme, one must make sure that he/she is wishing on the very first star that he/she sees.

The problem is not knowing if one is wishing on a real star. It could very well be a planet. Or maybe the wisher looked in the sky earlier and passively saw a star but didn’t make a wish. Then later he/she looked to the sky again and saw a second star. The person goes ahead and makes a wish that could never come true because he/she missed the “first star” he/she saw that night.

I have made many wishes on stars in my lifetime, so I couldn’t possibly list them all. I do know that I have made both simple wishes and convoluted wishes. I keep taking the chance because I know that at best something wonderful will happen (like my wish coming true), and at worst I will be disappointed. And although I wanted the wish very badly at the time, it could turn out that I forget ever desiring it. It loses significance. I may never know that I am actually better off without it.

It’s like my cynicism with people. Similar to my wishes on stars, I take a chance by trusting people. Often I am disappointed, but one day maybe something wonderful will happen. I find the amount of latent wishes and unrealized people fascinating.

Voodoo Hoodoo Cure-All Recipe

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Voodoo Hoodoo superstitions and spells:

If you lay a broom across the doorway at night, a witch can’t come in and hurt you.
Having a woman visit you the first thing on Monday mornings is bad luck for the rest of the week.
Don’t borrow or lend salt because that is bad luck.
If you sweep trash out of the house after dark you will sweep away your luck.
Don’t shake a tablecloth outside after dark or someone in your family will die.
To stop a Voodoo spell being placed upon you, acquire some bristles from a pig cooked at a Voodoo ritual, tie the bristles into a bundle and carry them on you at all times.
If a woman sprinkles some salt from her house to yours, it will give you bad luck until you clean the salt away and put pepper over your door sill.
If a woman wants her husband to stay away from other woman, she can do so by putting a little of her blood in his coffee, and he will never quit her.
If a woman’s husband dies and you don’t want her to marry again, cut all of her husband’s shoes all in little pieces, just as soon as he is dead, and she will never marry again.
You can give someone a headache by taking and turning their picture upside down.
You can harm a person in whatever way you want to by getting a lock of his hair and burning some and throwing the rest away.
You can make a farmer’s well go dry by putting some soda in the well for one week, each day; then drawing a bucket of water out and throwing it in the river to make the well go dry.

A very popular Voodoo spell is a cure-all that can solve all problems.  There are a variety of cure-all recipes.  For example, mix jimson weed with sulphur and honey in a glass.  Rub the mixture against a black cat, and then slowly sip it.

The definition of a problem is (1) any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty, (2) a question proposed for solution or discussion.

Per that definition, I have a problem.  After presenting this inquiry for analysis to others, I have found that it is a conundrum for many.  My puzzle is this: when someone says “I do not want to be in a relationship”, does it actually mean “I do not want to be in a relationship with you”?  One may truly mean that he/she does not want to be romantically committed to anyone, but the enigma exists when he/she is consistently dating one person for extended periods of time.  It’s as if he/she perpetually has someone in the role as his/her significant other, and when this other goes away for whatever reason there is a replacement lined up.

To clarify my bafflement, the addition of “with you” to the original statement would make sense except for cases in which the person making the declaration remains dating a certain other for a prolonged period of time before replacing this other with another.  Once he/she is done with another, he/she finds someone else.  Is the role of girlfriend/boyfriend a circle of substitutions made with no regard to other/another/someone else’s feelings?  Possible douchebaggery?  Or is the person remaining constant in these circles just as confused as the people that he/she leaves behind?

I want to know what this means for all parties involved, but I have yet to find some jimson weed or a person to offer explanation for this dilemma.

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…”

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

It’s my birthday.

I don’t think the sun showed her face at all today.  No worries though – according to WeatherBug she has RSVPed to BBQ Badunkadunk Big Booty Bass In Your Face: The Party, a.k.a. me and Braden’s joint birthday celebration this Saturday.

Paisley started my birthday festivities last night.  I was about to leave Trophy Bar when she ordered me a margarita.  I think her exact words to the bartender were “It’s my friend’s birthday, so make her the best margarita you can make.  Make it like it’s for you on your birthday.”

As she was walking me home, we were talking about the events of Saturday night.  She said that I empowered him by showing him that he hurt me.

“Well Rona says it took courage,” I told her.

“Yeah, Rona’s the dreamer and I’m the pragmatist,” she replied.

I think I’m a little of both.  One thing I am certain of is that I love my friends, and I love that they love me even when I am an asshole.  When Paisley got home that night, she read my blog.

“Your blogs are getting more and more brilliant,” she said.  “I feel I am learning from a sensitive young yogi who still has a lot of issues to work out but majored in biology and physics at university.”

This summer was rough, and I can’t imagine going through it without Allison, Devin, Jayme, Des, Dora, Jennifer, Mitchell, Paisley, Quinn, Rona, and Tova.  I am one of the luckiest ladies in the world to have such wonderful people in my life, and I never take it for granted.

Now, I must get ready to celebrate my birthday, and to celebrate how goddamn fortunate I am to have my friends.

Oh, and I mentioned to Mike on Sunday that I needed to see a dead bird soon.  I saw one today on Avenue A and 6th Street.  It was different than the others: black with white-tipped wings, a white face, and bands on its legs.  I feel like this must hold some significance, but time doesn’t permit me to search for symbolism right now.  Though for whatever reason, I liked that it was different.  It was special.

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Oh Well

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

It amazes me that a person’s presence can have such a physical affect on someone else.  This corporeal influence is intensified when (a) the company of the unaffected is a surprise, and (b) the one affected has consumed two Jamesons, one sake cocktail, one glass of sangria, and two vodka drinks in the hours leading up to the other’s appearance.

Let me backtrack: I have been avoiding someone.  The extra steps that I am taking to accomplish this have been put into place as a means of saving myself from additional pain.  This potential increase in suffering would be caused by witnessing things that I do not want to see.  Previously I had attempted this course of action and I failed.  This time around, I was determined to succeed.  I knew that I would see him eventually, and I knew that in time the pain would cease.  My hope was for the latter to occur first.

That was not the case.

It is possible that the actuality of the situation and not specifically the person himself caused my body to react.  It was like fate dehumanized me.  I couldn’t hear; I couldn’t speak.  The universe was a wrecking ball swung right into my chest.  Devin said I was staring at the ground.  When my hand reached out to light his cigarette, I noticed that I was shaking.

“What’s that on your cigarette case?” I heard a girl ask.  I’m not sure how long we were sitting by her.  She sounded muffled to me.  It was like I was underwater.

I looked at her.  Devin looked concerned.  I heard my own voice.  “I have to go to the restroom.”  I thought it best to obey these words, so I went.  Once alone in the lavatory, I locked the door and looked in the mirror.  I put my hands over my face to assure myself that I was real; this was all very real.

When I got back outside, I told Devin we had to leave, but that I needed to say hello to the person I had been avoiding.  After all, he was not going to acknowledge me, although he knew I was there.  I wanted to deem him rude or uncaring and be done with it.  However, maybe he didn’t know if he should say hello.  In any case, I don’t hate him and I’m not angry.  I care about him and want him to be happy, I just don’t want to see it.  I suppose it’s normal to feel this way but still hurt so much.

So, as he walked outside to his table of friends, I approached him.  I hugged him and said hello, along with other awkward words that I can’t recall.  It was hard to tell if his reaction was one of insincerity or shock.  Perhaps he felt just as uneasy as I did.

He said I could stay; I said that I couldn’t.  I don’t know how his hand ended up in mine, but I squeezed it.  And I left.

Douchebags; Learned Helplessness

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

“Nothing makes me as sad as men,” Rona said last night. “I’m not angry. I just miss when it was fun.”

Lately I have been trying to define the term “douchebag”. (It is not on Dictionary.com.) In my attempt, I have not considered the word to be gender specific – men and women both commit douchebaggery. Someone told me that a douchebag knows he/she is hurting someone, but doesn’t stop it. However, after discussing this with friends I learned that the majority disagree. That statement implies the intent to hurt, which people prefer to label as an asshole. Supposedly, a douchebag does not know that he/she is a douchebag.

After further contemplation, the accepted definition stating the unawareness of douchebaggery by the douchebag causes me to believe that I have not only been a victim of this characteristic, but I have also been guilty of it. Taking that into account, I do not believe that being a douchebag is a constant state. It may be a phase, or simply dependent on the situation and how the douchebag perceives the person he/she is hurting. Although, it is likely that if someone has acted as a douchebag in the past, he/she will do it again.

It’s not that douchebags don’t have the ability to change. They are just so oblivious to their douchey tendencies that they succumb to patterns of douchebaggery. Maybe it’s like learned helplessness. For example, an elephant is tethered to a stake to limit the distance it can walk. After time, the rope is untied from the stake but left around the elephant’s ankle. Still the elephant will not walk farther than it had learned it could go when restricted. Or when a flea is placed in a closed jar. It can only jump as high as the lid. When the lid is eventually removed, the flea will never jump out of the jar because it learned this limitation.

The most famous experiments on learned helplessness were done by Martin Seligman using dogs in the 1960’s as part of his research on depression. One dog, let’s call him Fluffy, was purposely subjected to pain using electrical shocks. Fluffy could stop the shocks by pressing a lever. Another dog, Spot, was wired to Fluffy. Spot would receive the same exact electrical shocks as Fluffy, but Spot’s lever did not stop the pain. For Spot, the torment seemed to end at random; he could not escape it.

Next, Fluffy and Spot were placed in a similar experiment but not wired together.  Both dogs were able to stop their own electrical shocks by jumping over a low partition. When Spot felt the sting of the electricity, he laid down and whined. Even though Spot could have easily escaped the agony by jumping over the partition, he did not try. He had learned to be helpless.

Many people have learned to be helpless in their everyday lives. Some hate their jobs, some despise their lovers, and some have an extreme dislike for themselves. They believe they cannot change, when really they are the only ones with the power to alter any of it. Previously when I said that I wanted someone to save me, I was being foolish. Only I can save myself, and I am more than capable of restoring my own faith in humanity.

About one-third of the dogs in Seligman’s experiments did not become helpless. They managed to find a way out of the unpleasant situation despite their past experience. These animals knew that the painful situation was not ubiquitous; they knew that the ache was not permanent.