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Glass Menagerie
In the Labyrinth — Continued

Friday October 18, 2002

It has been raining for the last three days. Thus, the humidity has been extremely high. Now that I am a monk again, I have nothing to discuss except the weather. That's not really true. I am in the Labyrinth. There's a lot to discuss. The Bull made quite a few good points (see yesterday). I began to doubt myself once again. Actually, the doubts have never ceased. I don't sleep well at nights. I sleep for about four hours. And then, I am up every hour after that. I have strange dreams, too. If I can't go back to sleep, I ponder many of my unresolved issues. Do I still think about Mary Ann, even though the case is closed? I'd be lying if I said no. Perhaps I should have gone for broke. Alas, there's no fool like an old fool. Time is really running out. I observe the behavior of my colleagues like Pseudo-professors John and Robert. They are no different from The Master. Cowards, each and every one of them. Drowning themselves in work to mask out the call that beckons them. Yet, I am returning to the fold after a brief dose of reality. Whassup wi' dat?

I only saw Mary Ann once today, and that was when I went to get a cup of coffee. She walked out of her office as I was heading back to my class. I said hello, but she did not say anything. She just ignored me. Whoa! What did I do to deserve this? Needless to say, she did not stop by my class. I wanted to distance myself from her, but I certainly did not want any kind of animosity. What exactly has changed since our lunch outing on Tuesday? Later, I talked with Milton. I asked him about Mary Ann. He felt that she was "probably one of the many eyes and ears of the administration." However, he did not feel that she was a shill for Roach. As we sat and talked, I saw Mary Ann way down the hall, walking into the student lounge. I also asked his opinion about why Roach has targeted him. After my chat with Milton, one of my former students, Jennifer, told me that she saw Mary Ann in the student lounge. She was eating lunch with Team Roach. I reported this to Kevin. He shook his head. As far as I can tell, Mary Ann has sold out and gone to the "dark side." This is the kind of treachery that occurs on a daily basis at the Asylum. Yet, why would she snub the ol' lavahead? What the hell is going on?

Kevin scanned a couple of pictures of the babe in Korea and put them on a floppy disk. He gave me the disk. The pictures were faded so they were obviously from a few years ago. Kevin is really excited about the prospect of setting me up. However, I am not sure that I want to follow in his footsteps. I can just imagine how difficult it must have been to communicate without a common language. In addition, Kevin has been going through hella problems with the paperwork for his wife. What makes Kevin's offer difficult is that it is a "package deal" marriage. I am just not comfortable with this arrangement. Kevin is now pressing me for a decision.

Sometimes I wish I had a lot of dough saved. Then, I'd be outta here already. I do not understand why I cannot be satisfied with being a monk. Anytime something that concerns babes comes up, all hell breaks loose. I should know this fact by now. Many of my colleagues have never had even one relationship with a babe. I can understand their naïveté. I don't have that excuse. Well, at least I won't have to worry about going berserk over Mary Ann. Out of sight, out of mind.

In the Labyrinth

I have kept this journal up and running now for six years, rarely missing an entry. I'm not sure whether to be proud of that or not. There are some psychotic overtones in such a ritual. From what I understand, many popular Web journals have been winding down. In my own search, I have not found any journal to my liking in recent times. When Anonder closed his journal, I was at a real loss. I check his journal archive occasionally to if he changed his mind. Tonight, I noticed that he had changed the layout slightly to more fully reflect an archive. I have no idea why but I often sense that he has written many things that are directly addressed to the ol' lavahead, although that was never explicitly stated. How do I know? Well, let's put it this way — I usually have an outburst of laughter when I read those passages. The last addition, "Vindication of the Life of the Mind," seemed so apropos in view of my current bout of stupidity.

In retrospect, I should have bust a move on Mary Ann because the result could not be any worse than it is now. I have given a whole new meaning to the cliché "no-win scenario." Why have I not learned a lesson from the past? The Master would be laughing his ass off right now. I'm not depressed, mind you. I just feel damned stupid. Maybe it is time for me to end this journal. I often feel that my life is dictated by the journal. Lately I have been wondering whether many of my decisions have been based upon whether I would have enough fodder for the journal. Is the journal about my life, or is it my life? The journal was supposed to lead me out of the Labyrinth. Look at me now. Sheesh!

Saturday October 19

Another sleepless night and more crazy dreams. My journey through the Labyrinth deepens with sleep deprivation. The mind slowly debilitates, unable to discern reality from fantasy. For the most part, life has returned to normal. My obsession with divesting my possessions has peaked again. I have been putting off my decision concerning Kevin's offer. I still have intrusive thoughts about Mary Ann, but the latter are diminishing. For a month, I actually looked forward to my days in the salt mines. Now, I dread each minute that I am there. I neglected to mention that I ran into Pseudo-professor Chad yesterday along Fort Street Mall. I learned that he, too, is single. From what I gather, he immerses himself in work to keep busy. I sensed that he often indulges in the fire water to sedate his mind. These stories are becoming so typical. I am not the only one wasting my life away.

I am now firmly convinced that the babe situation is not going away anytime soon. This is an honest assessment. I am around too many babes on a daily basis. In addition, I interact much more with babes than guys. This is not intentional. I find that most guys do not care to talk, especially with other guys. The only benefit, of course, is that I have become comfortable talking with babes. However, the constant presence of babes is what normally precipitates the so-called "babe situation." I am convinced that the "out of sight, out of mind" approach is the only true solution. About three years ago, I decided that my goal of semi-retirement was to be a vehicle to the monastic existence. I wanted to move out into the boondocks and live like a hermit. Look at me now. If Mary Ann was willing, I'd be all over her like a cheap suit. This is an instinctual drive and cannot be superseded under normal conditions. This crap will continue until I can fully exit society.

Whatever I apparently did or did not do since Tuesday has put me back on track as a monk. I believe that I will no longer have to worry about any more visits from Mary Ann. Everything will be business as usual. As an aside, I was standing outside my class yesterday when Randy, the so-called "Director of Financial Aid," walked by. The pud looked at me in a peculiar fashion, just as a predator would when sizing up someone who has violated his territorial rights. I sensed that the issue was Mary Ann, since she indirectly indicated that she has been talking with him lately. Randy has inherited the largest office downstairs ever since the former second-in-command departed. Mary Ann appears to be spending much more time downstairs, according to one of my "agents." I sensed that I am (or was) his competitor. I can just imagine how he's made himself out to be a bigshot executive. He probably makes less dough than I do. Hilarious, isn't it? These are the games that guys play. Anonder wondered why other guys urged him to take action, technically inviting competition. Guys thrive on competition, especially when it comes to babes. Shutting down the competition is probably much more rewarding than winning the hand of the babe.

I have done nothing except to lapse in and out of a coma in my favorite chair. I walked to the gym and did my usual weekend routine. It's going to be a Bose Acoustic Wave and iBook evening again. I have had to listen to XME-FM (formerly Xtreme) since this is pledge week on public radio. So, I must listen to all of those crappy songs about hookin' up, which ultimately causes my mind to play tricks on me.

Sunday October 20

I am not anticipating my return tomorrow to the dreaded salt mines, specifically the Asylum. I have decided to tell Kevin that I'm not comfortable with the "arrangement." I appreciate what he's trying to do, but I just cannot see myself going through with it. Some people may argue that I am forsaking my last chance and insuring my demise as a monk. Others may think that I am foolishly wasting my time waiting for some young babe like Mary Ann to hook up with. Baha! Ha! Ha! Haaaa! Anonder accurately summed it all up in "Vindication":

Ambivalence leads to behavior that appears timid, lazy, uncompromising and irrational. Someone with an unequivocal desire for a mate will soon find a mate. If they can't get the perfect mate, they'll settle for less than perfect — they will compromise, in other words, just as they compromise in other areas of life (jobs, housing, food, travel, entertainment, etc.). When desire for a mate is weak, or is offset by a conflicting desire to remain single, then even a slight obstacle or a slight imperfection in a potential mate may tip the balance, from wanting to not wanting, and serve as an excuse to abandon all efforts and declare the situation hopeless.

I was finally able to listen to the psychotic classical pieces on public radio late last night. In the still and dark of the night, I find that classical music enhances my solitary experience. I feel an inner peace. No emotions or hormones raging. I pondered the above quote, noting how precisely it describes my "disassociation" proceedings. Like the quick slice of a machete, I mummify any situation not to my liking. In the case of Mary Ann, I looked for every possible nuance that signaled displeasure on her part. Then, I concluded that it was a lost cause, moving swiftly into the "disassociation" phase. Little wonder why I was snubbed less than three days later. Naturally, this is all water under the bridge.

Let's take a moment to discuss Roach. I discovered that he is 36 years old, so he's not a punk as I originally thought. He has a childless marriage to his toothpick wife. I suspect that the only reason they own a house is because they were assisted by the toothpick's parents. My guess is that Roach is not happy. Believing that he is now a power broker, he has lost interest in the wife of his youth. He notices other babes and he wants them. All of them. The real problem, I suppose, is that his wife would take him to the cleaners if he stepped out of line. The guilt that he harbors because of the lust in his heart is transformed into a reign of terror. What irks him most about the ol' lavahead is that the latter has the one thing he wants, that is, to be single. Little does this ignorant fool realize that babes won't be flocking to him. He imagines that I am cavorting around with different babes, totally oblivious to the fact that little is going on. The grass only looks greener in the other pasture. He wants to catch me in the act and "punish" me, hoping that the guilt will be expunged from his wretched soul. In the meantime, he is burning with envy and covetousness. Oh, just for that I wish I had hooked up with Mary Ann. To see Roach seethe in jealousy, stewing in his own juices, because he desires what he cannot have — now that's poetic justice.

Now, about the "life of the mind." I fully agree with Anonder's position. These days, my life is experienced in my mind. That is what I have been reduced to. Frankl discussed this concept in depth when he described the conditions in the Nazi camps. Stripped of everything, the prisoners were left with nothing but their wits. Frankl discovered that happiness was a state of mind. He learned that he could experience the joyous aspects of the past and the exciting prospects of a better future, all within his mind. It gave him purpose and meaning, which was tantamount to his survival. In a world devoid of meaning and happiness, the "life of the mind" becomes even more important for our survival. The "life of the mind" is often much more fulfilling than the material world because it exists in the realm of spirituality — the real connection in humanity. Sadly, too few people care.

Sometimes it's easy to see why I feel as though I am wasting my life away. Look at what I do. I took the recycling in and then I did my houseboy chores. I lapsed into a coma for a couple of hours, during which I had intrusive thoughts about Mary Ann. I walked to the gym later. I increased my workout in yet another fruitless attempt to sweat out my foolishness. My beloved iBook will keep me company this evening. Perhaps I should watch Falling Down again.

Monday October 21

I have not heard from Shirley since October 9th. This has all of the trappings of another public relations fiasco. She probably perused the "Meaning of Life" Listserv newsletters and read between the lines. Now, she really believes that I am a psycho. Here I was, telling her that I am a monk and all. Then, I lose it over some babe who is her age. Lord knows, she probably wonders if I was up to no good with her as well. Sheesh! As I said before, anytime something that concerns babes comes up, all hell breaks loose.

I saw Mary Ann once today wandering down the hall. "Haven't seen you in a while," I said. She smiled but didn't say much. She continued walking, which made it obvious that she did not want to chat. Kevin noticed the same thing. There's a one percent chance that she reads this journal and, subsequently, was sickened by my mental swooning over her. I admit that I fell from grace, Nothing can change that. I admit that I was weak. Kevin believes that she was called in and read the riot act about something. I am more inclined to believe this. "Either her job or her pay has been threatened," he said. We know that something happened on Wednesday last week. She had been extremely distant ever since. Also, as of today, she has been relocated to a cubicle. What concerns me is that Roach may have coerced information from her. Both Kevin and I expect something to happen.

I formatted and printed a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I also attached the file to e-mail and sent it to Kevin. I found a good unabridged version that was translated by Lionel Giles. I expect that Roach will go on a rampage soon. He's been secretly building up a case to do so. Kevin and I must launch our own offensive, but we must be careful. We have no power base, so we must utilize "psych-ops" tactics. Kevin has already engaged in subversive activity. He has been using every opportunity to increase student exposure to both Bug and Roach. He has made the students deeply aware of the Nazi tactics employed by Roach. Kevin and I are also attempting to identify the spies in our classes. They all have similar profiles — they are marginal students, on full financial aid, and they usually work on campus part-time.

I called Kevin after I returned home. I told him that I would be contacting both Phillip and Mike. I called Phillip right afterward. Phillip claims that he is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. The Asylum's insurance company was supposed to make a decision ten days ago about his workman's compensation claim, he said. So, he has had minimal treatment for the last three months. He also stated that he would be returning to the Asylum. Yeah, right. There were many contradictions in his testimony, but he remained loyal to the Asylum. This is a subterfuge to cover up some kind of scandal. I caught him off-guard with my questions concerning how he was surviving. He admitted that he was receiving unemployment. He also told me that he is waiting for the workman's compensation decision before he seeks real treatment. If he is turned down for the claim, he will go through his medical plan. If I was suffering for three months and I had a medical plan, I would not be waiting around like him.

Last night, I opened a fortune cookie that was lying around. The fortune read, "Be careful in whom you share your confidence." I expect to be in the fray again soon. That will depend on what Mary Ann has told Roach in order to keep her job. What really is sad is that she sold out to the "dark side." I will be reading The Art of War this evening.

Tuesday October 22

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is, oh, so weak. I saw Mary Ann sitting in her cubicle as I poured out a cup of coffee. So, I asked her if she was upset with the ol' lavahead. She said no. I asked if she was told to stay away from "certain" people. She also denied that. We talked for a couple of minutes. Then, I left for my class. Later, Mary Ann stopped by my class for a "token" visit. I presumed that she felt obligated. She seemed very nervous. We talked for about 15 minutes. Kevin came by and joined the conversation briefly. After he left, Mary Ann stated once again that she doesn't like her job. Once again, I encouraged her to resign (for the sake of my sanity). She also mentioned that she was really tired, obviously still not sleeping well. She is also becoming incoherent, replete with numerous contradictory testimony. Kevin had asked her the same question that I did concerning whether she had succumbed to the "dark side" or not. "I'm not on any side," she retorted. Later, Kevin told me, "She's in the middle because she wants to keep her job and she also wants to keep her friends." Kevin also noticed how nervous she was.

Like a fool who keeps opening Pandora's box, I could not leave well enough alone. Mary Ann looked stunning today in her pinstripe suit. My mind immediately started playing tricks on me. I was mesmerized by her beauty. The effect that babes have on guys is truly amazing. I was so taken by her that I was losing control of my senses. I cannot even describe this overwhelming force, although I will say that it is terribly uncomfortable and almost painful. After I left the Asylum, I immediately restored my monk haircut. I was still unnerved several hours after talking with baby. Even seeing my favorite Asian babe at the gym had no effect on the spell that was cast earlier by Mary Ann. Finally, after sweating out my foolishness on the StairMaster, I returned to normal. I am really beginning to understand the admonition given to me by my buddy Bud concerning babes — "Stay away from them. They are all dangerous."

Wednesday October 23

I saw Mary Ann first thing this morning, as I boarded the elevator. Later, I had to talk to her about some archived teaching resources. I made one more visit to her cubicle, but this time I had something more serious to discuss. I had finally pieced together the mosaic of her personality. I had been noticing the troubling signs, but I was blinded by my foolishness. I had a few minutes before my class commenced, so I printed out a copy of the DSM-IV criteria for mood disorders. After I reviewed the document, I could clearly see that Mary Ann is either in the initial stages of major depression or dysthymia. I am not a clinician, but I have completed the graduate course work in psychology (for MFCCs). I have taken the psychopathology classes which concentrated on diagnosis. From what I can tell, the symptoms increased disproportionately about two weeks ago. What really clued me in to all of this was her "token" visit yesterday. She exhibited far greater psychomotor agitation than I had seen previously. At one point, she was writing her name backwards. When I told her that I found that skill interesting, she made a self-deprecating remark about how useless it was. I could sense the anger directed at herself. In addition, I have noticed that she has gained about five pounds within the month that I have known her. And, if I look carefully, I can see the dark blotches under her eyes due to sleep deprivation. Yesterday, she said that she almost called in sick because she was so tired. So, I approached her with a serious tone today. "I'm only going to bring this up once, whether you regard me as a friend or whether you even trust me," I began. I suggested to her that she find a good friend to confide in and begin some kind of dialog about whatever is burdening her. I said that I had some serious concerns. I didn't get to talk very long because several guys came by to flock around her cubicle. However, I said what needed to said,

Mary Ann has never told me what is bothering her. She's always said that "it's a bunch of little stuff," and that she has "always worried about everything." Today, I asked her if she could remember any happy points in her life. "I haven't had a happy life," she replied. She did say that she has a good friend whom she confides in. Later, she referred to the friend as "he." Concerning what's burdening her, she said, "He knows what it is." That's when it dawned upon me that she has probably just discovered that she is pregnant. Two weeks ago, she most likely noticed that her period was way beyond late. I suspect that the father is the ex-boyfriend (and current confidante). This explains everything including why she suddenly became distant. Therefore, I suspect that she broke up with her boyfriend a little over a month ago. She was back in the singles market until this came up. Now, he's back in the picture. It's not going to be too long before everyone knows the truth, unless she opts for an abortion. That's why she could not tell me what was wrong. I can see no other situation that would need to be kept such a guarded secret. For Mary Ann's sake, I sure hope this is not true. But, I've already heard too many stories like this one.

I left for the Diploma Mill (read: university) right after my classes. Kevin mentioned that Mary Ann stopped by his class to ask about the operating systems class again. That was odd. I had a short break before my classes commenced, so I walked to one of the little shops along Fort Street Mall to buy a muffin. On the way back, I ran into Pseudo-professor Cathrin. We talked for about 30 minutes. Toward the end of the conversation, I saw Bug out of the corner of my eye. Bug was wandering around in a suspicious manner. Pseudo-professor Cathrin and I were standing about 10 feet from the Morning Glory store. Bug walked behind me and stood facing the plate glass windows for a few minutes. I shifted slightly so I could observe Bug in my periphery. Then, Bug walked over to the jewelry store next door and did the same thing. Bug was obviously eavesdropping. That's how bad it's getting. Roach and Bug are running some kind of Gestapo, not realizing that the Diploma Mill is way out of their jurisdiction. The battle has begun. Just call me Sun Tzu.

Thursday October 24

I saw Mary Ann when I went to get a cup of coffee. She wanted me to review the documents for the updated operating systems class. She stopped by my class to discuss my suggestions, but I was busy copying files to all of the computers. She did not wait around. I could see that she appeared nervous, so I am certain that Roach had given her a directive to stay away from the ol' lavahead. I can just see the little [dung] intimidating Mary Ann in a meeting. "I've noticed that you've been spending a lot of time talking with Tralfaz," he probably said. "It's very important that we do not disrupt the normal proceedings of the classes. In addition, I should point out the policy in the employee handbook that strictly prohibits any fraternization with other Asylum staff or faculty, not that I'm saying you're doing this. I just wanted to share that with you." I can just imagine the pleasure that he must derive from this abuse of power. His little Vienna Sausage probably spurted like a geyser.

Kevin questioned James, one of the suspected double agents, about whether he has offered any information to Team Roach. Apparently, he is called in regularly and quizzed about his classes. James denied that he has told them anything. However, we know that he's lying. Most of the spies are in Kevin's classes, since my classes are more difficult. That's why Roach and Bug are becoming more brazen in their clandestine operations. They have been starved of information. From The Art of War:

Warfare is the Way of deception.
Therefore, if able, appear unable,
if active, appear not active,
if near, appear far,
if far, appear near.
If they have advantage, entice them;
if they are confused, take them,
if they are substantial, prepare for them,
if they are strong, avoid them,
if they are angry, disturb them,
if they are humble, make them haughty,
if they are relaxed, toil them,
if they are united, separate them.

There is much unrest at the Asylum. No one trusts anyone else outside of the numerous small cliques. Backstabbing is common amongst the faculty, staff, and student help, most of which has been instigated by Team Roach. The reign of terror thrives mainly on fear. Productivity is the result of coercion. Roach will become more brazen. Then, booyah! Baha! Ha! Ha! Haaa! I have cleared Mary Ann of any suspicion of treachery. I am obviously still very partial to her. In some respects, this reminds me of the time The Bull had that outrageous crush on Tam. Of course, he was in his twenties then. I am almost fifty years old. Sheesh!

Friday October 25

I forgot to mention that I had seen Eric while I waiting for the express bus yesterday. He used to ride the express bus with Mark and I over a year ago. Eric has gone through all of the preliminaries to become a cop. He is expecting an acceptance letter to the police academy any day now. At the Asylum, Raelynn and Tiara came by to visit my class and talk story. Tiara had mentioned something about how she sees Mary Ann in my class "90 percent of the time." I clarified that she rarely comes by anymore. That's when Mary Ann walked in. Actually, Mary Ann stopped by my class a couple of times today. She makes absolutely sure that she limits her time to a few minutes. She also does not discuss anything other than curriculum. So, she has invoked the disassociation process for me. I am comfortable with that. At the Diploma Mill, I saw Joyce several times walking along Fort Street Mall. Joyce is also an Asian (Filipina) babe. I noticed that she has grown her hair a little longer. She is a real hottie. Remember that conversation I had with her friend Geraldine over a year ago?

I spotted Daniel, one of my former Diploma Mill students, sitting at one of the eating places along Fort Street Mall. We talked for a few minutes. I am not sure why, but during the course of the conversation I digressed. "You know," I said. "I came to the odd realization that I will be single for the rest of my life." I believe that this matter has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late. That's probably what caused all of the stupidity in the last month. Moms will be 81 years of age next year. After moms is gone, what will I do? I am single. I have no friends here. I essentially have no family. I have burned all of my bridges a long time ago. What will be the purpose of my existence?

Perhaps Shirley was right all along. "You're very strange," she has told me on many occasions. I really am. When I became a monk, I pretty much severed my ties with society. I only sought to function in it for practical purposes (e.g., work). However, I disconnected spiritually from people. I was stoic to begin with, but now I am even more of an automaton than I was prior. I am devoid of feelings. I don't know sadness from happiness. I'm not even sure that I know pain anymore. I have become so hardened that I know nothing of compassion or empathy except the dictionary definitions. I have lost my sense of humanity. Why? I momentarily gained back a few human traits when I read Frankl's book. I felt weak and, dare I say, so human. Then, I took a look at the sick, selfish, materialistic society around me and I become even more hardened.

I am not exactly sure why I suddenly yearned to break away from the monk lifestyle. I have only had a series of failed relationships, of which I have no fond memories. I felt more alone and more trapped than I ever did as a monk. I can only say that I slept better during those times. A guy who has no friends is incapable of being in any other kind of relationship. I have never brought any value into any of my friendships as well. I have nothing to offer people, not even an interesting conversation. My ways are combative and confrontational. Throw in a good dose of cynicism and psychosis, and here I am. I share my anecdotes with people, but no one cares to hear them. Why should they? They cannot connect with me, nor do they want to. I am no one's best friend, and I have no best friend. I am an urban monk. A hermit in the city of lost souls.

Saturday October 26

I am back to where I was a little over a month ago. I have a little over a year left to complete my financial plan, and I am not going to jeopardize the situation by doing anything foolish. My battle with the Roach regime will be purely on a "psych-ops" level. I really have no time for these idiots anyway. I have to begin planning for contingencies for the time when the planet is depleted of oil. We have done nothing to curb the usage of this non-renewable resource. Instead, we have increased consumption. We want to go to war to control the last of the non-peaked sources of petroleum. Even then, most geological experts predict that we will be in dire straits in about 20 years. The stoneheads on Easter Island serve as a timeless reminder and omen of the future. The Mo'ai caused their own demise by their curious obsession with those stoneheads. We have chosen to ignore this warning and continue to erect figurative and transformed stoneheads with reckless abandon. There is evidence that chaos ensued in the last days of the Mo'ai. We can probably predict the same for our time, only on a grandiose scale.

I have updated the ol' lavahead's net worth. I am pretty sure that I will meet my financial goal for the year within a week. Well, at least I have one accomplishment in life, although it is somewhat meager. I did absolutely nothing today, unless emulating the infamous water torture can be considered productive. I walked to the gym and did my usual routine. Tonight, I will be doing the same old thing with my beloved iBook and my Bose Acoustic Wave.

Random Thoughts

Saturday night. I'm here with my iBook. I'm listening to XME on my Bose Acoustic Wave. All of the songs have to do with you-know-what. The lyrics to the song currently playing (by Isyss) — "If I can't have you, I'll stay single for the rest of my life." What a riot! For some of us, this is not an option. It's inevitable. Sheesh! The legacy pages on LoserNet really need some work. I just don't seem to have the motivation to do so. Who reads that crap anyway? I have really been contemplating the end of the journal. My target date is currently the last day of next year, coincident with the end of my five-year financial plan. I doubt that I could end it earlier because my sanity is dependent on the journal. I sent a brief e-mail to Shirley yesterday, but I still have not heard from her. It's a sure bet that she believes I've gone off the deep end. Can you blame her?

I don't know why I just can't seem to put all of my useless junk into a few plastic bags and just dump them in the Goodwill bin near the gym. It's almost a total waste of time to list that crap on eBay. At least I can be comforted in knowing that life has returned to normal. A sure sign is my renewed preoccupation with divesting my possessions. So, am I a true monk again, or what?  I am going to explicitly state that my vows as a true monk are intact. You will not see the ol' lavahead fall from grace ever again. The whole sordid situation precipitated when I became distracted by Asian babes. How could I have been so stupid? My time has come and gone. It's time for me accept the fact that I will soon be an old eunuch like Pseudo-professor Jim. He does not even notice babes. He's only interested in economics and, in his spare time, he paints, reads, or watches the tube. He rents a small one-room cottage in Aina Haina. He has no car. And, he spends all of his time by himself. He's extremely happy. Why can't I be like him? Instead, I invited myself into the sinister kahuna's lair. I became tempted by hotties like Mary Ann. It's time for me to return to the fold permanently.

Sunday October 27

I managed to peruse the archives of three years ago and noticed that my current lamentations are no different from then. My guess is that I have been repeating myself ad nauseum for several years. I've been in stasis. Actually, I have been in static equilibrium, but only because I have been battling with myself internally. The only logical conclusion is that I have made no progress. The second most logical conclusion is that I do not have to delineate upon my lamentations any further because I have probably already done so.

Shirley responded to my e-mail. She has been busy preparing for Erin's wedding. She may drop by the Asylum tomorrow. I walked to the gym and did my usual workout. I pondered the fate of the journal for most of the day. I have decided that I must emulate Pseudo-professor Jim. In other words, I am accepting the fact that I am now an old eunuch. The babe situation is a done deal. There is no sense in discussing this matter unless I plan to take a more proactive position. Since I am not planning to do so, the subject is moot. But, what else would make the journal "readable"?

Part of the problem has been my fixation with returning to a state of "innocence." That's been the case even before the debut of The Life and Times of a 41-Year-Old Virgin. You can probably guess that some of my associates are, in fact, real virgins. You could, no doubt, name them as well. Sad to say, they do not have well-adjusted personalities. I am certain that they compare themselves to an arbitrary "norm" and feel totally inadequate. I relate to them in typical "misery loves company" fashion, but I am not one of them. The real issue, then, is that my return to "innocence" is not only moot, it is impossible. Thus, there is no babe situation, as applied to myself. The real situation is whether I am going to recognize existing opportunities or seek new ones, and whether I will subsequently accept the challenge. Or, will I become like Pseudo-professor Jim? The babe situation is of my own making. I am not a player (pronounced "play-ah"). I haven't been with thousands of babes. However, I know that I did not have to spend extended periods of time as a monk. I passed up several opportunities as I grappled with the nonsensical issue of returning to innocence. I suppose that the root problem is a kind of guilt which presupposes the sanctity of da wild thing. Here is another case of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." There is more to a relationship than da wild thing but, for some reason, it moves to the forefront for the ol' lavahead. I am driven by it like a dog (Pavlov's?) inflicted by satyriasis, I had last met my nemesis in the form of the handmaiden. Wild thing, four or five times a day, every day. Sheesh! Perhaps I am better off as a monk. Well, I am going to spend the evening with my Bose Acoustic Wave. I have got to chill.

Monday October 28

I saw Mary Ann downstairs at 8:30am when I arrived at the Asylum. She was taking a smoke break. I said hello and went about my business. At about 10:30am, she stopped by my class. "Is Office 2002 the same as Office XP?" she asked. This, of course, is a nonsensical question. Then, she sat down, although I remained standing. We ended up chatting for 30 minutes. I saw Grecy, one of my students, look over at us with a grin on her face, plainly indicating what she was thinking. However, my conversation with Mary Ann had to do with my confusion about why she continues to act like she is totally incompetent. I had to reiterate that I know she's intelligent and capable. "You got it goin' on," I said. "You're going to have to save the other story for the new guys." By the way, baby was looking real fine today. I will be honest — my mind was starting to play tricks on me. I really do have a thing for her. I have no idea why Mary Ann is the way she is. Most likely she has been put down for most of her life. Later, I stopped by her cubicle to chat with her. I'm not sure why. This time we discussed mostly curriculum matters. I am worried that I will get caught up in that stupid "crush" again. That's going to be my undoing.

Shirley came by right before my last class ended. We walked over to Jamba Juice, just like old times. Shirley seemed much more at ease. We talked for over an hour, but it was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course, she still believes that I am a psycho. "Don't worry, I'll still be your friend," she said, laughing. It's too bad I don't have conversations like that with Mary Ann. Well, if that were the case, things could really get out of hand. Not that I would mind. When I returned home, I discovered that I had a message from the Jeep dealer. The part that I ordered may have come in, which means I'll be able to complete the repairs on my six-four.

Tuesday October 29

Mary Ann stopped by my class at about 9:15am. She told me that she's been "tardy" almost every day. She has been waking up late because she can't sleep well. "You really are trying to get fired, aren't you?" I asked. We talked for just a few minutes, and then she left. Within 15 minutes, Mary Ann was back again. This time, she sat down. I remained standing. We ended up talking for well over an hour. She actually talked a lot more than usual, primarily because I was asking about her family situation. I was curious since the latter could be the reason for her sleep dysfunction. Apparently, there are eight people living in the one house that Mary Ann is in, including her grandparents, mom, and mom's sister's family. They live upstairs, and rent out the bottom floor to another family. In the second house, there are five people residing, including her step-brother and his wife, her sister and the BoyToy, and one of her cousins. As Mary Ann delineated upon the situation, she was getting a little upset. As you can probably guess, her situation is hella worse than what I went through when I was living in the "warehouse." However, I don't think that getting fired is the answer to Mary Ann's problems. Most of the family is living there because they are paying token rent. Few are contributing to the main household. Mary Ann was also upset because everyone wants to use her computer. It's the only one in the house. Her sister put a virus on the computer. "I wanted to slap her," she said. "Why didn't you?" I asked. "Her boyfriend already does enough of that," she replied. It turns out that he's a loser with no real job. It dawned upon me right then that Mary Ann has a real uphill battle. She could easily succumb to the old local ways, and that's where she's heading. Lord, I just can see her hooking up with some loser and ending up like her sister. What's her degree from USC going to be worth then?

I am surprised to see much more of Mary Ann lately. She mentioned that she is happiest when she is by herself. "If I am real tired, I don't want to talk to anybody," she said, which explains the days that we never see her. I suppose that I have become her work buddy. I'm comfortable with that. After all, she is only 22 years old, the same age as Shirley. Kevin walked in, signaling the end of the period. He told us that Bug had sat in his class again. Kevin is being hammered hard by Team Roach. Ironically, while Bug was harassing Kevin, I was spending all my time talking with Mary Ann. Something is really wrong with this picture. Kevin made a few comments about putting out the Roach Motel for Team Roach. As we walked out, I had to explain to Mary Ann that we are trying to draw out all of the roaches. "Sometimes the roach trap doesn't work," she said. "That's when you take the fly swatter and whack 'em like this," I said, making the motion with my arm. She laughed. Later, I stopped by her cubicle to tell her that I got the image files of her and the new computer faculty. I am going to revise my PowerPoint presentation for the new student orientation next month. Mary Ann does not want me to use her picture. "Put a black box with a question mark instead," she said. I told her that she could peruse the presentation before I use it, and I would comply with her wishes after that.

Wednesday October 30

I said hello to Mary Ann when I went to get a cup of coffee. We chatted for a just a couple of minutes. She did not drop by my class today. Once again, I felt like a chimp without a banana. However, I came to my senses fairly quickly. Mary Ann has no interest in the ol' lavahead. I've known that since the time we went to lunch. I plan to maintain the status quo from this point on. There is something going down at the Asylum, and I know that I'm involved. Chip and Mr. Quixtar are now completely ignoring me. I don't really care, but I sense that I have been set up again. Even the students can see the crap going on. Bug and Roach are on a witch hunt, and they have primarily targeted Kevin and I. The last year of my five-year financial plan is coming up. All I want to do is to make my goal at the end. This final year will be a complete uphill battle. I already know that the sinister kahuna is involved. The tribulation will increase with each passing month. I will be pushed to the limit of sanity. I will be tempted with what I cannot have. I will be denied my dignity. This will be my personal battle. I don't plan to lose.

Kevin and I had lunch at Taco Bell. We discussed the various problems at the Asylum. He has been frantically trying to find another job. In fact, he had an interview with Manpower Technical this afternoon. I hope that he finds a way out. "You need to find someone to be with," he said at one point, catching me off guard. I explained to him why I must remain a monk. It's the same rationale that I present in the journal. I did begin to see that my reasoning is not pure rhetoric. I am not even sure why I thought that I needed a babe. I know that I cannot survive in a long-term relationship or even a short-term one, for that matter. I suspect that the impetus for even entertaining such a foolish thought has to do with biology, societal acceptance, and fear. Fear of being totally alone and unloved is probably the primary driving force. I was, in general, progressing well in accepting a life similar to that of Pseudo-professor Jim. However, I was totally derailed by my infatuation with Mary Ann, the repercussions of which I am still feeling at this moment. Kevin and I chatted for a while longer. Then, we parted company. I walked to the Diploma Mill in an even more confused state. Just one more year, I keep saying to myself.

Thursday October 31 — Another Sinister Kahuna Day

I saw Mary Ann skulking around the Job Placement Office directly across my class but she did not stop by. Grecy, one of my students, did happen to drop in. She was acting kind of silly, and kept smiling for no apparent reason. Somehow she brought up Mary Ann. "Is she an 'agent'?" I asked. Grecy laughed. "No, I think she just likes to make friends," she said. I have been joking around with Grecy lately, calling her an "agent," because I once suspected that she was. That is, an agent for Team Roach. Mary Ann came by shortly before my class was over. I showed her the PowerPoint presentation for the new student orientation. We chatted briefly. Then, she left. A few minutes later, Mary came back to discuss some other curriculum issues. My class was ending, so we walked to the other classroom. We ended up talking for over an hour. In fact, we were ten minutes late to the faculty meeting because we were still chatting. This is the first day that we had what I would consider a good rapport. Aside from the fifteen minutes that we actually discussed the curriculum, we talked about the similarities of both our families' dynamics. She also mentioned that her half-brother's wife (who is actually Mary Ann's cousin) is going to have a baby. Before departing for the faculty meeting, she said that she felt as though she disappointed her mom. "You didn't disappoint your mom," I said. "If you decide to quit and sit at home doing nothing, then she'll be disappointed. If you end up like your sister, she will be disappointed."

When we entered the room, Mr. Quixtar was giving some stupid presentation about space technology. He had all of his students from one of his classes standing in the front. The presentation was actually prepared by the students. This was some kind of exploitive Dog & Pony Show. Kevin was already seated. He had a pained look on his face. Fortunately, there was food. So, Mary Ann and I got in line. We sat in the back row with Kevin. Coincidentally, Mary Ann ended up sitting next to me again. Roach noticed this right away, because he had walked by to get more food. Oddly, Bug and Roach were both sitting in the first row. Yet, during the course of the meeting, Roach walked to the back row and sat next to Mary Ann (opposite the ol' lavahead) for a few minutes. Then, Bug did the same thing. Can you believe this [dung]? Mary Ann mentioned later that Roach was observing me when I was using my Palm PDA. "It was pretty obvious. Roach kept looking over like this," she said, emulating Roach. It really is too bad that nothing is going on between she and I. Just think of all the fun that I would have with Roach.

By the way, Mary Ann now uses the code names "Bug" and "Roach." Shirley also uses these code names. My new code name is "The Iguana." Kevin came by while Mary Ann and I were chatting in class to tell us that his chosen code name is "Yoda." We, of course, refer to Mary Ann as "Boss." I don't think she really likes that. "Even your students call me that. They yell that out in the hall when they see me," she said. Just then, Raelynn popped in to say hello. "What up, Boss," she said, when she saw Mary Ann. "See what I mean?" I just laughed.

We stayed for the whole faculty meeting. Kevin and I took the elevator to the first floor after it was over. I usually stand and talk to Kevin while he waits for the bus. Mary Ann appeared while we were talking. She had come downstairs to take a smoke break. We were all chatting until Kevin's bus arrived. After Kevin left, Mary Ann and I stood there talking for another 15 minutes. I observed a few of the Asylum staff at the front desk watching us through the plate glass window. I also definitely noticed that our discussions were much different today. I really cannot pinpoint why, but something was different. Don't worry, my mind isn't playing tricks on me. Mary Ann just likes to talk story with people, mostly the staff. I just happen to be the only faculty whom she chats with. Oh, yes, it's going to be difficult to keep things in check, although I know what the sinister kahuna is up to. Actually, I am not even sure if I can keep anything in check. Moreover, I don't think that Mary Ann has any idea of the effect she has on the oversized cranium. Lord knows that I want to go for broke, but I must use every ounce of available energy to resist such a foolish move. This is an unbelievable situation. I cannot remember when or if I have ever been infatuated like this with a babe. I have reviewed the journal over the past month and I can see that I am all over the place. I cannot even ascertain what my real position on this matter is. I am contradicting and superseding everything almost daily, if not hourly. I am also experiencing some level of an emotional rollercoaster ride. This whole sensation is so alien and so unnerving to me. I am not sure what to do about it.

When I returned home, moms told me that she has not been happy with the medical treatment she's been receiving. Sounds like more quackery, but I cannot be certain. I told moms to file a complaint with her health care provider. Moms also has been trying to get the fly-by-night roofing contractor to fix a few problems with the roof. I told moms that there isn't much that can be done since she did not follow the protocol I had given her. This is the typical local way of doing things, and it torques my jaw. This is a continuing problem. I had given my opinions after doing considerable research. Usually all hell breaks loose, and then we must try to rectify the situation after the damage is done. In the end, it only creates more problems and causes me quite a bit of grief. But, I must do what I can for moms. That's why I am here.

To be continued ... Go to M.17

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