Lugging two computers, a very large CRT monitor, a drum machine, a 150W amp, two guitars and my entire wardrobe downstairs, not to mention half a forest in pads, every single book, DVD and CD I ever owned and enough posters to cover the entire dorm in glorious metal fashion down three flights of stairs was, at first, the most gruelling experience of leaving for university. I'd been looking forward to leaving home for years (just to be typical), and at that point wasn't giving much thought to how my parents were feeling.

With me was the most touching card I'd ever received - all my coworkers signed with a special message, which made me feel the most at home when I was about to leave. Talk about mixed feelings. Still, I was embarking on the voyage into a brave new world, and doing it bleary-eyed, memories of the leaving party fresh in my throat and pounding head.

And yet, when all the admin had been sorted out, the sheets were on my bed and the posters were jostling for space on my new pristine, white walls, I suddenly became four again and wanted my parents. Something tells me I'm not quite cut out for independence right now.

Lack of sleep invariably leads to odd thoughts and actions.

I'd like to blame me not sleeping on the thin-paned, drafty windows in my bedroom.

These days I live in a renovated palace near Santo Spirito in Florence; it would be elementary to blame it on the noisy, dog-fighting, beer-bottle-breaking, guitar-playing drunks in the piazza, or the restaurant burglar alarm that went off all Sunday night and Monday morning. Really, these are just excuses to talk to friends living six time zones away during the wee hours of my morning. Friends that I'll likely never see again, ties to an undergraduate misadventure I'd rather otherwise forget, this is why I stay awake.

I had to make a presentation in class today on a chapter from a text. It was on the development of Interest Groups in the European Union and a comparison with their American cousins. Usually I am extremely displeased by presentations that consist of classmates reading the entire spiel word-for-word from their notes-cum-teleprompter. Therefore, this morning I took my brief outline that I prepared previously and rewrote my entire presentation out, longhand, on one of the public computers. I wouldn't have been able to get through it otherwise, coffee mug full of espresso or not. I set the copy in Futura, because I felt that a favorite typeface would keep me interested in reading it. (Really, though, it was Twentieth Century, since, outside of Times New Roman, Microsoft is categorically too cheap to license anything but knockoffs of standard typefaces).

I did this since I've found myself incapable of pronouncing a cogent sentence, from a combination of this self-induced insomnia and learning Italian the hard way. I get about halfway though, pause, struggle to form a predicate, fail, and blurt out something else that generally conveys the same meaning five seconds later. It's like Porky Pig without the stutter, the mouth in gentle mockery of itself. It's good then that E2, at least for now, is a written medium.

Another thing besides typing I'm still fairly capable of doing is cooking, so I made myself some lunch. As I was de-seeding and chopping vegetables, I lost myself skirting the edge of thoughts in that way that always seems to be part and parcel of sleep deprivation. I felt as if I nearly understood why I was really here in Florence, what it really is about those friends that keeps me up at night talking to them, and how I really ought to live my life – a hemiëpiphany, if you will. And then, right when I felt I'd almost grasped the thought, like a brass ring on a precognative carousel, it was snatched away as I felt the knife pierce through the other side of the bell pepper I was holding, its tip slamming into my wrist.

Shocked, I looked down. The end of the knife was fortunately blunt, thus it was merely deflected by the arm in its path. As close as I'd come to personal enlightenment, I'd come even closer to accidentally making myself one of those wrist-slashing teen-agnst emo kids.

In that spirit, I thought I'd write a daylog about it. Oh, and also, I'm going to start a Indie Indy Cripplecore band called "On the Verge of Tears Again." Or maybe Indy Indie Cripplecore. I never understood how those underground music adjectives work.

On focusing on the positives...

Those of you who met me at this year's Hot Damn festival met a very incomplete version of who I am. One of the reasons I was reluctant to attend, despite a number of highly insistent invitations, was the same reason I left New England without seeing any of my old friends there and saying goodbye. With my current level of functionality, which is actually higher now than it was then, I haven't been very comfortable around people. The reason for this is that I'm not comfortable with myself right now.  I'm not comfortable with how I present myself and how I handle normal interactions. It makes some kind of weird sense if I explain it with a ridiculous story. The person I was before I left Florida for New Hampshire in 2005 tended to attract a great deal of attention to himself in a crowd of people and often found himself overwhelmed by the number of strangers who would walk up to him and just start talking. And he had this sickening ability to enchant women, something I still really can't explain, but anyway... these things do not happen in the present tense. And I'm not saying the ability to enchant and seduce people is the meaning of life, but as a sign of the differences within myself it becomes obvious to me now just by walking into a bar. I sit down and no one notices I am there unless I somehow make a spectacle of myself.

The point of that is just to draw a simple example. I am on a long road right now to reclaim myself, and in doing so I have called upon my own examples and "teachings" in order to reconnect with the self that I lost. Returning to Orlando from New Hampshire was one of those steps. This was important because I was brought back to New England under what turned out to be false pretenses. There was a very convincing act put on by someone I loved and cared very deeply about that brought me back there, and it played upon my pride and vanity to make the act work. Suddenly, after twenty years of swearing upon every rock and stone that a romantic relationship between us was impossible, it was now the perfect solution to everything. What it really was turned out to be was her playing the last cards she had in her deck in a desperate effort to hold onto what little she had.

In more simple terms, she needed a roommate and a regular lover because she had burned her bridges elsewhere and if she could convince me to move back to New Hampshire with a fairy tale story about our now suddenly shared dreams of being a couple, she could plug both holes.  And that is all it really was, perpetuated by well orchestrated emotional manipulation and abuse that kept me where she wanted me to be, completely wrapped around her, wrapped into her troubles and immersed in her mental illness.

Here are some key phrases that serve as warning signs of emotional manipulation and abuse:  "If you really love me you have to accept this about me," "If you really love me you'll help me to feel better about myself," and "If you really love me you'll stay with me until I get through this."  All these phrases set up circumstances in which you are made to feel guilty for being critical of certain behaviors, that make you feel in some way responsible for another person's actions and behaviors, and make you feel obligated to stand by for a dog and pony show.  Sometimes a person truly is trying to get "better" and heal themselves and need someone to stand by them.  That is something I have done and been reasonably successful at doing in the past... which makes the dog and pony show, in this case, more effective.  When I was finally willing and able to walk out the door because the behavior and actions of this woman I loved had reached the point where they pushed me into my own personal hell, suddenly she was embracing the need to change.  There was a stay in the locked ward of the psychiatric hospital, followed by prescriptions for medication, several kinds of therapy, regular visits to the doctor and the therapist, an end to her alcohol and drug abuse... and since she was now "on the path to wellness" she insisted I could not leave because I had "inspired" this and if I left her she would be unable to stay on the path.

It was a dog and pony show because it was all complete bullshit.  The best part of the dog and pony show was after she was taken away by her mother and sister and I remained in New Hampshire for several months.  The snow around the house we rented melted during those months and the landlord and I found several dozen empty wine and liquor bottles appearing all around the perimeter of the house as the snow melted and gave up their hiding places.  And then in cleaning out the house we had rented, the landlord and I came across empty pill bottles that weren't from her hospital prescriptions, secret stashes of razor blades she was still using to carve herself up, and I acquired her former computer where I found her journal entries made during the dog and pony show.  Some of the entries revealed very clearly that she intended to convince me of her successful healing process until she could convince me to marry her so it would be more difficult for me to get out once she had "her toys" back.  She liked to refer to razor blades as her toys.

All of what went on had a deep and damaging impact on me, especially where it comes to dealing with people.  The emotional abuse over two years time was peppered with repetition of the concept that I was inadequate on any number of levels and peppered in such a way that it held water in my consciousness.  She drank and abused pills all night because I worked third shift.  She cheated on me because I was inadequate as a lover (and I can never really explain this, but for a while she actually convinced me I was gay).  She cut herself up because I was inadequate at relieving her inner pain and failed in my "promises" to love her no matter what.  And this worked, regardless of my normally high self-confidence and self-awareness, because my strengths were purposely utilized in the process.  This woman I once called The Muse is extremely intelligent and has learned to feed off of and use people for a very long time and she is quite good at it.  I used to tell people, years ago, that she was the ultimate black widow, but I had no idea how right I really was.

And no matter what I continue to feel ongoing pangs of inadequacy.  I turn to people I know and ask them questions about who I am and what my impact has been on their life, which explains the contents of yesterday's daylogs.  Hell, I've ever called former girlfriends to ask them if I'm any good in bed.  My favorite answer was, "Inadequate?  Baby, 'adequate' would be an insult."  And I feel like an idiot calling people and asking them these questions because I'm just so broken and unsure of myself these days that I can no longer trust myself to know the answers I know I already know. 

There are users here and readers of what I write here I know have come to sort of expect certain things from me.  For some it is an appreciation of my insane sense of humor and the writeups that are produced from that.  For others it is some kind of insight and inspiration from other kinds of writeups I've produced.  Lately I don't trust myself to produce much on either level, although I am working rather steadfastly on what will be a kind of comedy album that I have written and my friend, who is a voice actor and puppeteer, performs.  And finalizing that is my primary creative focus right now and the best part about it is that I'm not working on it alone, I'm working on it with someone who these days seems to spend an awful lot of time telling me that I'm the best writer he's ever worked with.

 And in the end perhaps it is all good.  My angel tells me it is my calling to be "the living parable" and from it all, those of you who tell me you count on me for inspiration and positive vibrations... when I rise again, when I gain full control of who I am once more, which I will do, it will mean something.

I am coming back. I am still the Jack of Hearts. I am still Magick. I am still The Dead Guy. I am still Keith. I am still all this and more. I know who I am. I just have a lot of trouble finding myself these days.

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