On Being Crazy

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Today in the middle of class a student of mine told me that I was crazy. “Mr. R, your crazy,” he said. Just like that, in the middle of a lecture on Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” I felt a bit embarrassed about being accused of this in front of my class. I replied with surprise, “what do you mean I am crazy?” “You know what I mean, your crazy,” he said once again looking me straight in the eye. “Why do you say that?” “I don’t know, I just know that you are crazy,” he concluded. He was not one to talk. This particular student has a reputation for being one of the crazier men on campus. He is missing his two front teeth from trying to bite through rocks (while high) and he has a huge scar across his neck, which is a testament to a failed suicide attempt. I could not just stand there in front of a classroom filled with 52 students and take this assault on my reputation. “What do you mean I am crazy, you’re the crazy one,” I said with a strong defensive tone. He stood his ground and simply replied, “I know I am crazy but YOU are the craziest.” The class laughed and all I could do before continuing with my lesson was say “great, so we are both crazy.”

For the rest of the afternoon the idea that I may be crazy has not left my mind. I have been reviewing my past and present behavior to see if there is any validation in my students judgemental claim. I have even gone so far as to ask a few of my co-workers the uncomfortable question, “do you think I am crazy.” Of course all of them told me what I wanted to hear: “no you are not at all crazy,” “I would not use the adjective crazy to describe you,” “definitely not crazy, maybe a little eccentric, but not crazy,” and of course “what! you are one of the saner people that I know.” Ever since I became an adult I have grown less and less trusting of an adults ability to tell the truth, so of course- I hardly believe any of the above claims. I could see in all of my co-workers eyes the truth wanting to come out but their inability to tell me how they really felt, that yes they agree with my student, that “yes, you are crazy,” only restores my belief that if you want the real truth about yourself, ask a teenager.

I don’t understand why it is such a big surprise to me that I am crazy. If I examine my past- it makes perfect sense that I would end up a little mentally unstable. I am the offspring of two Jewish parents who were filled with guilt and high expectations for their less than ambitious son. I let them down on almost a daily basis. They raised me on a golf course (in a suburban country club) where my worst fear was a golf ball hitting me in the head while sitting out by the pool. I had a maid who made my bed and cleaned my room every afternoon and a cook who prepared my meals. My father, who was an angry and violent man, terrorized me with his unstable emotions and always walked around our house naked. I was forced to go to a college that was $60,000 dollars a year and I had know idea what I was doing there. I joined a fraternity that made me eat live goldfish, dog feces and half dead frogs and stick my penis into prostitutes and other things that to this day I am still uncertain about what they were. After college, I developed a panic disorder that kept me confined to my apartment for years and by the age of thirty I was penniless and living in a transient motel. Now close to forty I am just starting to get my footing back. I live in an area where bullets rain down from the sky and sirens have replaced my childhood sounds of blue jays, swaying oak trees and golf swings. Why would I not be a little crazy?

Now that I think about it more, I am crazy. Okay, my student called my bluff today. I have never questioned the brutal honesty of teenagers before today because I have never been subjected to their sharp accusations. My defensiveness was an admission of guilt. Yes, I am guilty of craziness. Some may even agree that I have lost my mind. Maybe it is the transition from the first part of my life being filled with so much wealth and the second half being filled with so much struggle (it ain’t easy to be twenty five years old, living alone in a run down apartment and dropped into a kitchen without a clue on how to cook for yourself). The transition between the two may have jolted my nervous system into imbalance. Add upon that a sensitive disposition that not only feels but wants to end all the sufferings of the world- then yes…..you could call me crazy. And if that was not enough now add the threat of swine flu (I teach at an inner city high school made up of over fifty percent Mexicans- most of whom just arrived back from Mexico after their spring break) and yes, I may be loosing my mind. However, into today’s world, who isn’t guilty of insanity? The lifestyles that we live, the news stories that we bare witness to on a daily basis, the life and death struggles that frame our own existences…..is this not enough to jolt any nervous system into imbalance? As I was leaving my classroom today my student approached me and said “Mr. R, I hope I did not offend you by calling you crazy… I was just messing around.” I stood there in silence for a moment and then I looked at him and said, “I think everyone is a little crazy, don’t you?….and beside who the hell would not want to be crazy. It’s just another way of saying….. your are alive.”

P.s……..I apologize for any grammatical errors or poor sentence structures. Today…I am writing with tooth picks in my eyes (to keep them open) and a strong need to rest my crazy head.

On Being Crazy

Teaching Naked.

For those of you who know who David Sedaris is, I thought you might want to know that I have been reading his short stories to my ninth and tenth grade English classes. The response that I have recieved from the students is one that I could have never for seen. Not in my most wide-eyed imagination could I have imagined the effects that David Sedaris’s various short stories could have upon a very simple and conservative high school in Richmond, California. I am inclined to think that the worst is yet to come.


After I read my students the first short story from David Sedaris’s collection of short stories that is entitled “Naked,” the response was one of disbelief. The students thought that David was a “weirdo,” but for some reason they wanted to hear more. We discussed the nature of repression and the daily prohibitions that are set up to restrict their youthful minds from traveling into certain “inappropriate” terrains. After I read them a second short story the feelings shared by all the students were mutual- David Sedaris was writing about things that they thought about but were not allowed to talk about- or else they would get grounded or kicked out of school. After I read my students the short story entitled “Cyclops”- the students were hooked. The forces of liberation were spun into action and there was money being placed into my hands by students who begged me to buy them a copy of this book.


I was apprehensive. I did not mind reading these stories out loud in class, but I felt that buying them copies which they would own, might be taking to great of a risk. Not only could this action set in motion the early corruption of young conditioned minds but also if the administration found out that I was buying students David Sedaris books I may loose my job. So I photo copied various stories for students and soon these photo copies were selling for ten dollars a piece on the underground high school black market. Students tried every which way to steal the copy of the original book from my bag and a couple of times they were successful and I had to chase them down. A fever had become full blown and the cause of it was David Sedaris.


I have had to stop reading these stories to students. I feel my job may be in jeopardy. Since I started reading the stories more students have been expelled from school than in the entire history of the school. Students have started smoking and drinking booze while at school. They have also been running around the school with various articles of clothing taken off while screaming ridiculous things at the top of their young lungs. Students have started swearing at Teachers more and one Teacher quit because students would not stop asking her what her vagina smelled and looked like. I am afraid that every thing that these young minds have had to repress in order to stay in school and not get into trouble at home has come out with such passionate force because of David Sedaris’s short stories. These stories have unlocked something primordial in these students that has even caused one of my best students to rip off her shirt in the middle of class and scream, “Teacher, lets get naked!”


Like my students, I am also subjected to a good dose of unhealthy repression. In order to maintain a legitimate position in society one has little choice unless they are wealthy and or famous. So I keep my sins mostly to myself and hope that my lusts and desires will simply drown under the mass of cerebral tissue that keep them hidden beneath. But when my student ripped off her shirt and yelled out “lets get naked,” something primordial within me exploded and I to experienced a coming out that had a force and volition that not even I could apprehend. “What the hell, why not!!” I screamed out with a feeling of freedom that I had not felt since I was young. I then proceeded to rip off my clothes as my entire tenth grade English class joined me and got naked.

Teaching Naked.

Blogging Burnout

me The desire to write has been burned out of me like a cigarette turning to ash. I have lost all whimsical motivation to explore my unconscious motivations, in the blink of an eye. When I think about writing my head becomes heavy and my thoughts stagnant. Blogging has become as interesting to me as horse back riding, and this is not saying much. How did it happen so fast? Not more than a week ago my fingers were on fire exploring the very themes that travel through my psyche day upon day. There has been little room in my head for thought the past few days, considering the sun has been out and the last place I have wanted to be is with my id (The term id (inner desire) is a Latinised derivation from Groddeck‘s das Es,[2] and translates into English as strictly “it”. It stands in direct opposition to the super-ego. It is dominated by the pleasure principle). To turn the heat up even higher I have decried the use of technology by spending the past few days working on a farm and refusing to use my cellular technology(Neolithic Revolution). How is one to blog if they have decided to wage a revolution by denouncing all technology?

Like all revolutions, mine was short lived- I am back on line. I find myself with little to say, burned out by the sound of my repetitive thoughts. Not wanting to face my self and all my demons- I have turned off the computer and refused to write. It is only when I write that truth slips out, causing me to face the things I can normally hide so well in my normal life. I am almost a victim of my own hands which type out truths I am unwilling to confront. I almost give thanks for these days where I feel as if I have nothing to say, no truth to face, no will to write. Instead I work with the soil, plant flowers and reconnect with the earth, entertaining the novel idea that I shall abstain from ever writing again. But then the stories, the novels, the plays and the blog entries that want to be written start knocking against my brain so that they can be let in and eventually brought to life. So my burnout may be temporary, but real and painful none the less. I will eventually open the door and return with more investigations of my id sooner than I would probably care to admit, but for the time present my wife is laughing in the next room and I should seize this opportunity to experience some joy in our rugid relationship.

Blogging Burnout

The Resurgence Of Absurdistry

I thought about dumping this site, but once again it was saved by a reader. At times I feel as if the words that come out my fingertips go against my deepest principles. I feel ashamed of the things I write and wonder if I should really share this with the world. Then there is this tempestual voice in my head that says, “to hell with principle- this is literature you are creating and in literature there are no limitations you self righteous son of……..” So I will carry onwards, offending myself at every turn. I will continue to learn things about the demented mind that sits on top of my neck and seek out new ways to turn Absurdistry into a immorality play that may serve human kind in some incomprehensible way. The world is not rid of me yet!

“pee, pee.”

The Resurgence Of Absurdistry

Sex Life Of A Man Without One #16 (Dark Night of The Soul)

      Last night I found my self alone on a dark city street. The rain was pouring down in bucket loads and the cold ravaged my bones. I walked through the Tenderloin like a man victimized by a heavy guilt with both hands tucked deeps inside my jacket pockets. What brought me out upon these dark city streets was a longing for relief, a momentary sensation of pleasure. My life has been pressured by all the many ways a man can fail. Without a job and the motivation to find one, a man is left for dead in this wild wild west. So I came out of my home past the hour of midnight and searched for a way out from the dark thoughts that projected my bleak future upon the lense of my mind. I would just walk, I told myself. Despite the demons and goblins dressed in black, searching for blood- I would walk like a man who appears to be free from the ravages of fear. I would stand tall and make my way through the desolate city streets.

I walked up and down rain covered streets. I followed my feet over cracks and used condoms. Between the sounds of alarms and sirens was a space filled with screams and shouts that emanated from deep within the cities belly. I heard the wind wrap it self around brick buildings and run head on into various street signs. The rapid pulsations in my chest spoke of a deep suffering and my feet walked at a fast pace with hope of leaving some of my suffering far behind. Mucos fell from my enlarged nose that felt infected by the damp wind. Rain fell upon my long body and heavy mind like a Baptism from the dark sky above. How had I come so far into my isolation? How had I ended up here?

After miles and miles of endless walking my legs grew weak. I stopped in at one of the only bars that I could find which was still decorated with a neon open sign. Inside sat desolate souls seeking shelter from the cold rain through the medicinal promises of booze. I sat next to a lonely soul who smelled like sadness and worried away his thoughts into a cup filled with brown wine. An older Asian lady who spoke little English served me a warm whiskey and I listened to the sounds of suffering souls like a wayward cultural anthropologist. Everything that was spoken in this bar made little sense to me. The language was incoherent and somehow seemed to be eluding to ruined dreams and better days. All the voices were raspy and filled with a guilt that was disguised by laughter so contrived that not even I was fooled. The man next to me asked me a question that I could not hear and I just sat back in my chair and looked up at God.

Had I become so helpless that my search for pleasure has lead me to this forsaken bar? Had I lost my own sense of virtue and integrity because of an irrational need to feel relief through various forms of sexual debauchery? Was the suffering that I was feeling worth the moments of pleasure that I so secretly searched for? The answer was obvious to me as I thought about my sweet wife who was sound asleep in our warm bed at home. The rose bush that grew outside our bedroom window came into my mind and all I could think was why was this not enough? What was it that my soul seemed to be so restless for? So restless that it was willing to sacrifice the only things that mattered to me my rose bush and wife)? So this is where addiction ends up. In an incoherent bar with lonely souls who are trying to laugh away their forsaken dreams. I finished my whiskey and walked back out into the cold.

As I walked through the wind and the rain I remembered something that William Shakespeare had once said. “Strong reasons make strong actions.” As I looked into the eyes of beggars who asked me for change I wondered about my own reasoning process. Did I have one, or was I merely lead by the animal instincts of my cock. Was I set on fire by an idea without any reasoning agency that could come in between the idea and the following action? This seemed to be the case. I am a man out of control and this may be the cause of every pang and curdle of anxiety and feeling of impending doom that I carry around with me through out the day. A man who lives without a feeling of control is a man who lives in fear.

I found may way back to my one legged and age-ing car which was hesitant about starting up. It was as if it was saying to me for the last time, “are you sure you want to leave behind this nightmare?” I was only to certain of the degree to which I wanted to solve my affliction and return home to the rosey comforts of domesticity. As I struggled to get my car to start I heard the cold angry rain pounding down upon my windshield as if it was trying to wash away all my sins. The rain offered itself to me at that moment, and just as I considered getting out of my car and surrendering, the car started- allowing me away away out from this dark night of my soul.

Sex Life Of A Man Without One #16 (Dark Night of The Soul)

A Writing Disorder.

photo.jpg I once wanted to be a Writer. I thought about writing every minute of every day. I exhausted my thoughts with words and dreamed of epic stories that I would one day tell. In my sleep I could smell stories and while awake I carried a pen with me every place I went. I purchased empty notebooks which stacked up on my bookshelves. I read all the classics, fell in love with the beats and drove myself crazy trying to live like a bohemian. I dressed as I thought a writer should dress and shaped my words with the pretension of a man with something to say. I had epic vision of numerous novels that I would one day write. I drank in bars and argued about Joyce’s prose style and the validity of Borges. After the sun set I rummaged my way through book stores and strip clubs searching for inspiration. I smoked cigarettes and talked with a drawl while watching ordinary mortals waste their lives away at day jobs. I never wrote a single word.

Now in my middle years I could give two shits about being a writer. I drink less than I did years ago and am never awake to see the sun rise. Meditation is my daily practice and I seldom set foot in a bookstore or strip club. The prose style of Joyce is as uninteresting to me as the sex life of a squirell and I have a tendency to wear the same jeans and t-shirt for a few days in a row with no concern for how I look. Smoking is a habit I no longer abide by and hanging out in bars is as exciting to me as playing golf. I read some fiction but most of my time is spent thinking about anything but books. I am completely unconcerned with the act of writing or becoming a writer- yet I am unable to stop writing. I write almost every day and there is no sign of a word or story shortage in sight. Strange how things resolve themselves with time?

A Writing Disorder.

The Sex Life Of A Man Without One #15

Human beings are remarkably resilient to stress. One way or another we manage to persevere, to survive, and to have our moments of pleasure, peace and fulfillment. We are expert copers of internal and external problems. We cope through prayer and religious beliefs, through involvements, denial and diversions that feed our need for joy and belonging. We cope and are buoyed up by sharing love and receiving encouragement from others. Writing has been one way that I have been able to cope with my compulsions and diversions and receive support and encouragement from those who understand the predicament in which I find myself. Maybe my way of coping with the stressors in my life could be referred to as maladaptive, but at this point in my life I will do almost anything for those rare moments of peace, fulfillment and pleasure.

My wife and I have not spoken for over a week. We have not had any sexual encounters with one another for over a year. Our lips have not met for months and my hand occasionally sympathizes with her by rubbing her back. My love for her in ingrained all the way into the root of my soul but a wall has been slowly erected between us that is forcing each of us to cope with a good amount of stress in relation to the other. We both have our means of coping. She works, makes video art on her computer, dances, does grief rituals and smokes and drinks red wine. I on the other hand spend hours looking at Craig’s List Erotic Adds and seek out the company of prostitutes and psychologists. I have been going to therapy at least once a week and I joined a meditation group that is based in teaching the methods of mindfulness. I spend casual time in the company of prostitutes for at least fifteen minutes a week and hours upon hours driving around in my automobile seeking them out. Lately I have taken to purchasing a bottle of red wine and driving around while drinking and listening to jazz. I search for prostitutes in the darkest corners of the Oakland ghetto but nine out of ten time I return home hours later drunk and without having seen a single attractive hooker. My therapist thinks that my way of coping with my stress is not only destructive but maladaptive.

What psychologists mean when they use the term maladaptive to label a person such as myself is that the individual has found ways of coping with stress in ways that are actually self destructive. These attempts at control are labeled “maladaptive coping” because although they do help us tolerate stress and give us some sense of control, in the long run they wind up compounding the stress that we experience. “You can think of maladaptive as meaning unhealthy, causing more stress,” my therapist told me.

One favorite maladaptive coping strategy is to deny that there is any problem at all. When I am high on red wine driving around in my automobile searching out the handy company of prostitutes, spending my days on Craig’s List looking at erotic adds such as Cumm 2 Me Daddy or Two HOLES For The $ Of One, with my hand down my pants, or hanging out in derelict strip clubs or massage parlors- I am not worried about any of the problems facing me in my life. My unemployment, pysiological maladies, marital torments and financial crisis are as far away from me as the moon. My unpaid bills, lack of motivation or aspiration, and anxiety problems are all but gone. It is as if pornography, prostitution and red wine are a kind of medicine for all the stressors that haunt me during the majority of my waking hours.

The other day I went to visit the hooker in the tree and we had a conversation about human beings and our amazing capacity to deal with stress. I paid her forty dollars to undress and provide me with a hand job as we spoke. I told her about how I felt as if I was existing in a state of chronic hyperarousal. She giggled when I told her this but I quickly reminded her that it was not the kind of arousal that she was thinking. “It is my sympathetic nervous system,” I began to explain. “I feel like I am suffering from all the symptoms of long term physiological disregulation.” The hooker in the tree continued to gently rub my penis with some kind of soothing lotion and asked me what I meant. I looked around at the branches, and squirrels that ate what looked like pine nuts while curiously trying to figure out what these two strange humans were doing. It was mid afternoon and in the distance I had a beautiful view of San Fransisco and The Golden Gate Bridge. “I feel like I am suffering from problems like increased blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, digestive problems, chronic headaches and chronic anxiety,” I told her as I watched her hand which seemed to be hypnotizing me with its slow and graceful movements. I don’t think that she understood what I was talking about but I know she sympathized with me because after I had an orgasm she gave me back the forty dollars I gave her and told me that “this visit is a gift.”

At my meditation class last week the teacher talked about how a healthy alternative to being caught up in self destructive patterns is to stop reacting to stress and to start responding to it. “This is the path of mindfulness in daily life,” the teacher said. I am not ready to give up my rare moments of sex induced pleasure and peace but I am beginning to see ways that I can cope with my stressors that may be more productive than a hand job or drinking a bottle of red wine (on a daily basis). I am learning to simply acknowledge how I am feeling (without judgement), feel what the sensations are in my body and sit with them without reacting. I inhale and exhale many times in a row and before I know it I have found my moments of peace, fulfillment and pleasure without needing the comforts of Craig’s List Erotic Adds, pornography or hand jobs from prostitutes. We will see how long this lasts.

The Sex Life Of A Man Without One #15