28 March 2008


Today is the second anniversary of my final chemotherapy treatment!

26 March 2008

Pastor Dave and "Dexter"

When I have some spare minutes, one of the places I like to check in on is Pastor Dave's blog. Last week, he spent some time contemplating the television program, "Dexter." Being a member of the clergy, something like "Dexter" is bound to make Pastor Dave ask questions. It's made me ask questions, too, but not necessarily the same ones.

Pastor Dave points out that Dexter is an anti-hero who wreaks vengeance on some very deserving scary people, thereby blurring a bit the line between good and bad. (Pastor, please forgive me if I accidentally misstate your position. And, of course, feel free to correct me.) I've puzzled myself for about a decade now what it is about our society that makes us so fascinated with serial killers. What is the deal, exactly, with Hannibal Lecter's hold on the movie-going public? I have no idea.

Pastor poses the question as to whether sociopaths are victims of terrible events or whether they make choices. I think it used to be a truism that sociopaths are made, not born. My therapist tells me that Jeffrey Daumer had a normal childhood, her proof that sociopaths may be born, not made. I don't know. It seems awfully convenient for everyone involved with him to embrace the idea that he had your basic, everyday childhood. Maybe it's both: They're born sometimes and created sometimes. Maybe it's that unpredictable convergence of nature and nurture.

I do know that we do not want sociopaths wandering around loose in society. Pastor Dave is wrong in his assessment that sociopaths are generally just "troublesome people." When you have no empathy, there's nothing to stop you from doing bad things, like hurting people. Sociopaths, by their very nature, are dangerous. He is correct in thinking that conventional teaching (or preaching) won't help. If there's no empathy, there's no guilt. If I were a serial killer and if, by killing you, I get something I want, then logically speaking, there's no reason why I wouldn't kill you. Other than the fear of getting caught, of course. Sociopaths are generally cunning and manipulative, so getting caught probably seems a little unlikely to them.

Those are Pastor Dave's questions and conclusions, though. I think Dexter is an engaging character because in our deepest hearts, virtually all of us want vengeance against people who have hurt us or someone else. We're really drawn to that "eye for an eye" rule. Dexter eliminates the middle man (the justice system) and delivers swift punishment.

Americans love anti-heroes. From the outset, this country embraced rebellion. In order to form this separate country, our forebears did a lot of killing. That doesn't make them very nice, but it does make them our liberators. In our heart of hearts, we intuit that creativity lives outside the mainstream. I can't create anything new or think of anything in a new way if I'm content to be like everyone else, if I'm unable to break a few rules. We're drawn to fun-loving rakes. We all like to get away with something, at one time or another.

Dexter doesn't understand feeling, but he's very good at mimicking it. He hides who he truly is behind a mask of normalcy. He's constantly studying others so he can make himself seem to fit in. He studies himself with some objectivity, too, so he can search out all of the places where the mask may be a little thin. Now this is where Dexter becomes very interesting to me.

My childhood was not normal, the rules I learned were that punishment can come for no reason or any reason. Life is capricious and very, very cruel. The people who lived in my house didn't behave like people I met anywhere else. (As to whether I ever wondered about what went on in other people's houses, the answer is yes.)

My own father lacked the ability to empathize. He was impulsive and self indulgent. He could don a mask of normalcy sometimes, but his narcissism prevented him from hiding himself fully over the long haul. Naturally, at home there was absolutely no reason to pretend that he wasn't dangerous. My father was cruel and violent. I had to pay careful attention when I was at home so that I wouldn't be seriously injured or killed. Away from home, I had to study other people to find a way to fit in. I had to hide who I truly was--an abused, neglected, terrified, enraged kid--so I could try to fit in with my peers.

I think everyone hides something. None of us walks around in the world, being completely open-hearted. That would be dangerous, wouldn't it? We wear different masks in different situations. At work, we wear the "at work" mask. If your hobby is porn, you don't go around talking about it at work. You've got your "at work" mask on. If you're a racist, unless you live in a very specific milieu, you don't talk loudly about it in places where the objects of your racism might hear you. That's your "don't kill me" mask. If you hate the woman who lives next door because she puts her trash can too close to your driveway and you can't get out in the morning to go to work, you don't go over and scream at her. You ask nicely. That's your "good neighbor" mask. There are a million of them and I'll bet any one of us could, in mere seconds, come up with four or five masks we regularly wear.

We all have a "face to meet the faces that (we) meet." Dexter is fully aware of which face he's wearing. He creates a persona that leads other people to believe he's just like them. To do otherwise would lead to getting caught. And what fun is there in that?

"Dexter" has been tremendously popular because we see a bit of ourselves in him, I think. He is the worst parts of us contained in a dry, attractive, palatable exterior. I look forward to seeing the show every week so I can think about what I see in myself that's reflected in that character.

Of course, maybe that's just me. I'm not whom I appear to be, either. On almost as grand a scale as that character. The only place I never, ever wear a mask is here. And, of course, I'm never dangerous anywhere, not even to myself anymore.

25 March 2008


Yesterday morning, one of my colleagues marveled at length about my "sunny disposition." Hah!

Repo Man, Etc.

There are so many things to catch up on, but first things first: Loathsome is back. His project is finished and he's moved back into his office on the other side of Crazy Employee. Can't you just feel the estrogen surge? You know you want him.

Speaking of wanting people, I had this very odd dream last night. It went on and on and on, then finally culminated in me sitting in an office, feeling very very sad. Guess who walked in? Charles Barkley. Right. The Round Mound of Rebound, the Chuckster, the Chuck Wagon, the NBA great. He noted my unhappiness and said, "I know what you need. You need to have sex with Charles Barkley." I didn't find it the least bit surprising that he referred to himself by name. I looked at him forlornly and shook my head. No. Meanwhile, Charles is taking off all his clothes and he smells likes he's played a couple of overtime periods. All I could think of as he got undressed was that it wasn't going to even be logistically possible. I'm 5'5". The Chuckster is enormous. It frightened me a little. The dream ended as he lay down on me. No wonder I feel so tired today.

As I mentioned last week, I spent several hours one day working on the Information Superhighway's husband's resume. It looks like he's going to need an alias, because I see him taking up a lot of blog space for a while. I think his name should be Repo Man. That's one of the many fine career change options he's weighing these days. Seriously. Repo man. He mentioned that career possibility to the Superhighway before I got his resume in order. After I finished on Wednesday, Repo Man called her to tell her what a nice email I sent him (with interview tips) and how helpful he thought the resume would be as he began his new (new) job search. As a pig farmer. Or a turkey farmer. Either one. Same difference, really. He has absolutely no experience in any kind of farming. For that matter, he doesn't have any repo experience, either.

Repo Man actually possesses some highly marketable skills. He's an electronic tech and has a journeyman electrician license. When the Superhighway told him she didn't think being a pig or turkey farmer was a good career move, the told her that her problem is she doesn't want him to have a dream. She was sick yesterday and stayed home today. I fear that by the time she finally makes it back to work, he'll have decided his dream is to be a traveling carnival worker.

There's big news on the home front, too, but my eyeballs feel like someone poured gasoline in them and set them on fire. Oh the oak. The mold. The pollen of all kinds. I'll be back tomorrow with some Hubby news. Who knows, I might even run into Loathsome in the hallway.