Post divorice years, Southern Calif: Humpty-Dumpty De-fragmenting

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Post divorice years, Southern Calif: Humpty-Dumpty slowly beginning to de-fragment himself, but without the instruction manual

by James Edward David Cline

This page is still under construction ...

Copyright © 1995 James Edward David Cline


Several months after my mate left me, I was still running in place every morning for 15 minutes to keep in shape, before leaving for work. I had been in great physical shape, after working to maintain and re-build our mountain home in Topanga Canyon. Alone, however, I did not cook food, I did not know how, and I had no hunger since I had shut off my awareness of my physical needs to avoid the awareness of the agony of matelessness. I ate a hamburger at lunchtime in the JPL cafeteria on weekdays, pretending I had a female companion at the table with me, so I could cope somehow. On weekends, no food at all, never noticed it. But one morning before work, running in place only a few minutes, I almost collapsed: checking out why my physical machine had stopped, I discovered that I was a skeleton with skin tight between the bones, a living mummy creature, I was starving to death without knowing it. No food was in the house; but I had to get strength so as to go to work at JPL to pay support payments to my ex. I noticed the sack of dry cat food by the door, which I fed to the stray cats and racoons who came by each night. I recalled that cat food was high protein, so I ate a few handfulls of it. It was tuna flavor. By the time I needed to leave for work, strength was returning to me. But throughout the day, the stench of rotted fish flavor turned ranker in my mouth, never leaving, so enroute back home I resolved to have food in the house so as to keep my physical machine running. I stopped at a grocery store and bought a bag of potato chips and loaf of bread, and from then on managed to keep food in my stomach, like gas in the car.

[-- The memory of the stench of dead tuna cat food flavor aroma was there whenever I became too despairing to want to go to the grocery store.]


Despite the physical and emotional agony I was experiencing over the months since Ch. left me, I only once lost time off work. One day my inner struggle while at the workbench changed from visions of an unfaithful mate, to what appeared to be a concrete mixer truck driving up Old Topanga Canyon Road to the curve where my hand-made wood-and-steel-cable bridge spanned the canyon to my house. It was turning around, using my bridge to back onto. It was going to destroy my bridge; my bridge was very strong but surely couldn't support the monstrous weight of a concrete mixer truck. The image repeated over and over again. Finally I asked permission to leave work, and punched the time clock out. Driving the 40 miles back to my house, I found my bridge just fine. Looking at the time, if I returned to JPL it would be almost time to quit, an hour or so of work, perhaps. So I chose to stay at home. Turning the radio on, it was playing away, then had a news bulletin: there had been a construction accident, a bridge under construction had collapsed while concrcete mixers were pouring wet concrete on it. Six men had died in the accident, caused by the falsework of the very high bridge collapsing. The bridge was to be part of the 210 freeway being constructed in Pasedena, not far from where I worked.

[--- What does it mean, another bridge collapsing when I thought my own bridge was collapsing? Even a concrete truck was "seen". My strange despairing starvation/toxin-induced mental fantasies seem to involve reality sometimes.]


The home which I had so proudly, so bravely, brought back from destruction, the home which had the 40 foot long bridge that was my great construction triumph, was now sold. The divorice settlement demanded the house be sold and proceeds be divided 50-50. The house was filled with despair, I had lost the zest for the unrelenting repairs that the 50 year old cabin required in the harsh environment of the canyon. Sold, split the $8,000 equity received 50-50 by check to my ex-mate, who I found elsewhere that evening in town, with her hastily-put-on fancy dress and crooked wig on her head. She did not thank me, just grouched that I had given her the extra penny, it was an uneven total amount.

[--Sometimes loyalty even to the end gets no thanks.]

I moved my belongings bit by bit from the canyon home by the stream, to a big apartment building in Tujunga, much nearer work at JPL. I moved the stuff myself in my aging Datsun light pickup truck. I told myself that perhaps a new home would enable new vision for life. But the despair, the physical and emotional anguish, remained as my only companion.

[--- I unwittingly brought my mental picture of a mateless despairing home, to decorate my new home.]


I was holding myself together mentally, my wife had gone long ago. Blocking my physical self-awareness to cope with matelessness, I unknowingly was chemically toxified and starving. Sitting at my bench at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, Space Science building, 3rd floor, doing electronics technician work on a spacecraft camera system development almost automatically, my mind kept having fantasy flashes of an unfaithful mate, sometimes several a day while I worked. It was very distracting, lacing my despair at matelessness that filled me. I worked on, intellect power was all that I acknowledged, it was what I could control.

A co-worker, Bob H., a permanent JPL employee technician who frequently expressed his disapproval of me (for no reason that I could find), was using a wrench on the liquid carbon dioxide tank strapped to the left side of my bench. The liquid CO2 went through a pipe to the environmental chamber on my bench, where its controlled evaporation simulated the extreme cold temperatures the electronic circuits would have to operate in when in space. Suddenly there was a roar, Bob had somehow broken off the valve to the tank, and it was gushing liquid carbon dioxide straight up to the ceiling, then floating down again as CO2 snowflakes, melting at the instant they touched anything solid. One more catastrophy in my world, nothing more, not worth further response, other than noting the interesting snow. And my inner despair resumed its mental dance with me. I notice that there were no people nearby, the tank had emptied, it was quieter. I kept soldering wires on the circuit. A face appeared peering around the doorway to my right, it was a friendly co-worker named L. He looked at me silently a moment, as I worked. Then he told me that the entire 5-story building had been evacuated because of the CO2, and that it would be better if I left the building too. So I got up and went outside the Space Sciences building, with the other people there, until it was declared safe to return.

[--- Mental inertia, born of catastrophe, brings me a preview of the Martian atmosphere.]


Sitting on a bench in the park area by the fountain at JPL during a breaktime, continuing the still-fresh agony of matelessness, contemplating the advise of the counsellor .. that whatever you imagine mentally, the inner mind believes is true: thus a way to sooth despair. The day was warm, and down a sidewalk on the other side of the park area about 50 feet away, peacefully walked a beautiful young woman. Struggling with my inner grief, attempting to cope, I pretended in my imagination that I was getting up, like a ghost, and flitted over to where the woman walked, now abreast of my view, her right shoulder toward me ... I had my "ghost" go over and give the attractive young woman a passionate kiss on the lips, checking to see if this imaginary image would help my inner grief. Oops! The woman stopped suddenly in her tracks, and reached up with her hand to touch her lips, still looking forward, not looking in my direction. I felt astonished, the simultaneity and significance was utterly improbable.

[-- My mental fantasy seemed to be doing something out there in the real world, as well as in myself.]


My mental tool to help control my inner desp[air at matelessness was getting used a lot, as the counsellor Charles S had suggested. When I had my lunchtime routine hamburger in the JPL cafeteria, I visualized an attractive young woman sitting across from me, pretending companionship. I had her walk beside me arond the area. And now I was going in the rarely-used elevator with a co-worker. Fighting my grief of aloneness, I visualized my imaginary ladyfriend to my right, feeling comforted by her presense among strangers here. I was careful not to look that direction, fearing being considered crazy. I looked up, there were two women in the elevator along the adjacent side, who were staring open mouthed in amazement... at the empty space beside me, exactly where I had been visualizing my fantasy girlfriend.

[--- Something about my visualizations was getting intense reactions from others sometimes, as if they could see them too.]