.journal 2001.07.21
Nightmares, thoughts and balance.

Now listening to: Delerium, Syrophenikan
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Drawing Blood; Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Sonic Shuffle (Dreamcast)

My nightmares tend to be rather convoluted matters, as I'm guessing they are for most artistic types. Normally, though, I don't recall them that much; in the time it takes me to wake up, take my shower, have breakfast and get to the journal, most of the details are forgotten, although more often than not the message stays with me. I used to have a hard time interpreting those messages, but my sister has been a great asset in that regard, and I can get by on my own. While I'm probably not as tied to my unconscious dreaming as I should be, I still find it a great asset in figuring out facets of myself and what I'm thinking.

Normally only the message of a dream sticks with me by the time I've gotten around in the morning, but sometimes the details stick with me a lot longer. Such was the case Friday morning, when I had a particularly odd nightmare whose message was almost too basic, but still stuck with me. And after some other realizations in the following hours, I've really been taxing myself over what it is that this dream has made me realize about my current life.

I don't want to get into too many details about the dream simply because I've filtered out the periphery details, but the gist of it was that in the middle of a group situation that reminded me a bit of the class I'm taking at the University of Toledo, I was suddenly confronted with the realization that sitting just a few seats away from me was perhaps the sickest, most insipid antagonist from the situation I was in before starting this site, and before I knew it I was essentially being put on some sort of trial for my thoughts.

The debate that followed between myself and this antagonist was really a vocalization of a lot of what I was thinking in that situation, trying to explain the side of myself that developed through The Artist's Way and how it coloured my view of the situation and made me realize how much I reviled what was going on. As much as I tried to live an artistic life in that situation I really couldn't, and no matter what verbage I tried to use to describe the concept of art in what I did to them, they really weren't the kind of people who could understand what I was talking about, and I never was able to get into the finer points of my life with them.

But all of a sudden, here I am with this antagonist, who is mocking me, much as I suspect he would in real life, if we ever talked about the more intricate details about the choices I've made in my life and how I live it. Things seemed to be progressing in a fairly usual manner, with the people around me derisively sneering at me as I figured they would in such a "trial," when all of a sudden this antagonist produces someone who sits down directly in front of me: Chantelle Marshall. All of a sudden the debate begins revolving around her, and before I know it I'm awake and trying to come to terms with this nightmare.

Now, as I've said before my experiences with Chantelle Marshall deserve a site of their own. But for the sake of explaining this current situation, I should just say in summary that Chantelle has probably been the one person who has inspired the most conflicting emotions in my life. Had it not been for her, I probably never would have pursued music as much as I did when I was younger until I realized that music was what I was meant to do with my life. But at the same time, that pursuit came in frenzied competition with her, a haze that is probably the closest thing to bloodlust a pre-adolescent can experience. She brought a tremendous amount of pain into my life, but at the same time I owe a debt of gratitude to her I can never hope to repay.

In my dealings with Chantelle I obviously went through a number of internal feelings, ranging from the brightest of admiration to the deepest pathos. But it wasn't really my feelings towards her that were why she was in my nightmare, it was the fact that she and I went to the same private school together, and that school was the very reason I was having that nightmare in the first place, because what I went through at that school and what I was going through in that nightmare was one and the same.

I know I've said a lot of bad things about that school, and I could probably say enough bad things about them to fill another Website if I wanted. But when you strip the school down to its essence, its claims of being a liberal and open-minded place is one of the most grandiose lies I have ever had the displeasure of uncovering. The ideology there is very conservative, and overriding everything is this fundamental equation of money with pleasure. An upperclassman of mine once coined the phrase "robo-doctor factory" to describe the school, and it isn't that far off. The two highest tenured teachers while I was there were science teachers, both of whom I had several bad encounters with, and due to the school's ties with the nearby Medical College of Ohio the most fruitful tracks for students to follow were always in the science department.

Now, keep in mind that this is a private school, who during my four years of high school there got at least eight thousand dollars per year out of my parents. My father does pretty darn good with his business, but he wasn't doing so good that he could throw that money around like it was nothing. Most of the parents who send their kids to this school are doctors themselves, and they just love the heavy science mindset of the school. Students go in, they come out as doctors, they make lots of money because that's what they're taught to equate with happiness, and then they turn around and donate huge sums of money back to the school and send their kids back there to continue the chain. It's kind of like a pyramid scheme, except instead of just bankrupting people it sucks their souls out, brainwashes them into an empty form of living that ravages through generations like a genetic disorder, while the school lives high on the hog.

You can guess how well I fit in there. I would have had enough trouble getting through there keeping my mouth shut, but in my usual fashion I started my own political 'zine where I not only espoused my leftist doctrines, I also took the school to task for being such a morally bereft institution of vampirism of the student's true dreams and ideals. Hence my constant mistreatment over there, which managed to encompass more injustices than I could hope to recount here, although owing to my recent planning sessions at college I now have a copy of my high school transcript, and surprise surprise, none of the "disciplinary action" taken against me is listed there. The worst assholes are always the smart ones, and this school was smart enough to cover its own tracks, because they knew they were getting away with more than they should have with me.

But it was at that school that I first encountered this concept that people would believe my very path of thinking q as wrong. That somehow the very inner workings of my mind violated some parameters they had concocted, and that I needed to be shifted back into focus of those parameters. I wouldn't budge, so they gave me as much hell as they could, at one point barring me from stepping on campus for nearly three months for scribbling a joke in the margin of one of my exams. In the wake of that incident, all my family, all my friends, wanted to take me out of that school my senior year, have me finish my high school education taking equivalency courses at the University of Toledo. I stayed, simply because I had some issues with Chantelle I wanted to resolve, and as a result went through the most soul-sucking year I had over there, staying silent just to get that wretched diploma and move on with my life. But just because I stayed silent that year didn't mean the teachers and administrators over there that hated me didn't take advantage of my situation to heap even more abuse on me.

My religious path through life has been a varied one; I was an atheist in childhood, an agnostic in adolescence and then, as an adult, I found Wicca. But there are certain tenets, perhaps religious or perhaps even super-religious, that have stayed constant in my life, and one of those tenets is that I am only accountable to myself for my own thoughts. Just as everyone else is only accountable to their own self for their thoughts. It is not what goes on inside our minds that we can be judged for, it is the actions we take that are open for judgment, and even at that I have had my actions misanalyzed enough to believe that only some actions are open for any grand judgments.

If I had thoughts about taking a weapon of some sort to that school when I was there and causing harm to the students, teachers and administrators whom I felt wronged me, that is only my concern. If I actually did do something like that, then I'd expect the rest of the world to come down on me and condemn me for doing something wrong. But despite the fact that I have been a pacifist throughout most of my life, several teachers made it well known that they thought I would do something as drastic as attempt to physically harm mass numbers of people there, and that either for that or my general thinking I should have been expelled from the school. I didn't mind if people thought me a danger for my ideas and the words I said; in fact I found that cruelly flattering. But for people to have such incorrect ideas about me to construe me as a physical danger to the school and its community, that hurt.

Part of what is fueling this line of thinking is that presently at the University of Toledo I am studying Western concepts of pure good vs. pure evil with Eastern concepts of competing forces kept in balance. I have always tried to live my life as a good person, but any good person does have their dark side. This past year of artistic recovery has seen me found healthy ways to express my dark side; I used to express that part of myself in unhealthy ways like open malice, or temper tantrums where I said or did something to really embarass myself, or in some darker cases self-injury. But now most of my dark feelings provide fuel for some great writing, and whatever is left over tends to manifest itself in depression, and while some of those depression fits get plenty dark, they never become dangerous to myself or others.

But when people believe you to be such a danger that you would hurt or even kill others, it makes you wonder if perhaps your dark side is capable of such things. I've had some real problems these past couple of months dealing with all life has thrown my way, but so far I guess I'm doing okay on the whole. There are times when I want to scream at the contractors my father are dealing with to quit their bitching, send over a decent contract and let us sign it so we can get the house reconstructed, and there are times I wish I had a way of getting in contact with my absent friends just to hear from them on how they're doing. But for the most part I just keep to myself, lie on my bed here, turn on Delerium and just introspect on my sadness.

But in addition to the concepts of dark side that I am dealing with here, I am also dealing with the concept of balance. Quite honestly, I'm not in balance right now, and I haven't been since all this stuff happened to me these past couple of months. Part of that is only natural, but at the same time there are parts of my life where I just haven't been making the effort to get in balance that I should. Getting back in balance in some aspects will be painful, and I don't really want to deal with any more pain in my life than I already have, but looking at where I am right now I realize that I have to make some changes. I'll have to take those changes in baby steps, but I have to at least take them in some measure. If I let myself stay out of balance then I won't ever really heal.

And perhaps there is no area where I am more out of balance than my creative life. I've had fits and spurts of great creativity, but no real sustained flow, and I haven't been making the effort to get that flow going like I should. I can say that I've been trying to adjust my schedule to my new life of school and work, and that is true, but I need to work harder on making the time to be creative. Creativity is the essence within me (and I believe within others but I won't press the point), and when I'm not creative I'm not giving my dark side a healthy outlet, and that produces lots and lots of problems.

I guess I wonder sometimes how Chantelle is doing. What work of hers I was able to save from my days in school with her still inspired me years later and would probably still inspire me today; unfortunately most of it was lost with the rest of my school notes and such, which were kept in storage upstairs. I said that I saw myself in competition with her, but she probably didn't see it that way, in part because she always won. She was always the one to get the recognition and awards, and honestly she deserved it because she was a tremendous artist, as gifted a person I can remember meeting before meeting L. But since we graduated, I've maybe spent ten minutes at most in her presence, and that was because she took a summer job at Media Play her first couple of years home from college.

I never did resolve the things I wanted to resolve with her, but I won't push the point. Like the bad situation I was in before this site, private school is an experience of mine I'd rather keep in the past, only drawing upon its lessons and pain to help nurture my dark side and produce better art. But honestly, if there is one person I would ever talk to from those private school days, it would be Chantelle. Owing to the high profile I used to keep on the Internet, though, if she wanted to get in touch with me she would have had an easy opportunity. And as much as I hate leaving situations unresolved, I think it is best to leave the ball in her court, and if she has decided never to contact me again then I understand that wish and will honour it.

The funny thing, though, is that yesterday I was out shopping with Heather, and I finally found a book of Syliva Plath's poetry. I've heard other people compare my work to Plath's in terms of theme (not quality, nobody's that delusional), but I hadn't really read too much of her work, though. Reading Plath in the bookstore, though, I was very much reminded of Chantelle's poetry, and I see a lot more of Plath in Chantelle's work than I do in my own. Earlier today, I went back and bought the anthology, and after polishing off Lost Souls I started in on the Plath and have been enthralled ever since.

Oh, and guess what? Today's Chantelle's birthday. Between that, the Plath and the nightmare, there is something going on here and I'm not sure I want to know what it is. All I know is that I seem more inspired by the Plath, and if I'm going to be creative and get my life back in gear there's no time like the present to start. Hopefully this journal can be a good launching point for that.

Take care and be well, everyone. I'll see you all soon.

- Sean