the certainty of your goodness

sleeves

snotted down blanket

chewed up counselor

bringing, wringing, bwrought. potatoes and stuff for samosas. a time machine. yourself. September nouns transition-word-ing into February nouns. if you count the poem in these syllables, something will happen

pause

clench

Stole two organ donor eyes to organize my disses. Now there’s no insight in-sight, diss-organized, Mrs.

me and I miss

two deep breaths (draft 4)

followed by the first real d e e  p   b     r        e             a                     t                                  h

pulling onto two pant-legs like the opposites of ripcords that will flexion the parachute you folded yourself,

but maybe not skillfully,

mostly through             browser tabs.

here’s to the creepy guys who square their hips towards the middle of rooms and bark about how the best defense is a good offense, for all the wrong reasons what they’re saying is true, and here’s to the trivial sounds that i hear in my head that bark about                                                                   , for all the wrong reasons what they’re saying is extremely fucking false. they say it’s:

ahh cake-trim astro-turf

emptyyah band-aid box

sort of knowing

dont worry – it will only last 250 milliseconds. you say that a fancy science book told you that. but ever since these apes started getting their kicks off of a screen – worse, off of reading ambling lines of provocative prose – fakery is the norm

The Optimist

While digging through a “Free Swap” area on campus I came upon a forcefully optimistic series of etchings laid out on some sort of a plaque situation

The Optimist Creed:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
  • To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet,
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them,
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievement of the future
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble

Neat. A swirl of reactions shared that space behind my eyes after I located and skimmed over this. One reaction tasted like Wow this is psycho this is brainwashing and another reaction had some sort of a Yeah but you need it, you sick fuck type of overtone. Grabbed the thing, brought it home and made a commitment to memorize it. Thought I’d elect one item on the list as a area to focus on (optimistically, of course) & choose another that seems to be going ok. On typing out the list one jumped out as urgently in need of work and it was less clear which item I’m doing best with. Following that I’m curious to find/post at least an article or two on the neural substrates of positive/negative thinking.

Urgently in need of work: To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize othersThis one screamed at me.

Doing best: Maybe To make all your friends feel that there is something in them, or To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future? The former case makes me smile because I think friends would have good things to say about that. The issue with the latter would be the hours spent daily ruminating about past/current failures. But the feedback I often get from adults is that in the long game I am overwhelmingly more resilient and future-focused than the other young folks they run into. The discrepancy between that externally-imposed feedback and the actual inner experience/introspective assessment is really jarring but hey, that’s psychology.


Materials & readings on optimism, pessimism, & associated neural bonanza:

Richie Unplugged: My #1 role model explains to you how and why to keep your mind right. Had to start with this

  • Bonus- no powerpoint or reading necessary

Richie, plugged back in: A lovely overview of ~current research taking place in the Davidson lab back home in Madison. You’ll note some brief descriptions of research under WELL-BEING & BEHAVIOR that seem to dig most closely towards this gem called optimism

  • This is a pile of summaries about what Richie is working on in Madison. If you’re not salivating upon reading those studies (just consider all the other thousands of studies being funded in the biomedical sciences) you might not be optimistic enough!

From the NYT: Turning negative thinkers into positive ones

  • Mentions some neat research by a researcher by the name of Barbara Fredrickson (creates new bookmark) who I haven’t heard of before.

Good summary (on Oprah’s website! Ayyye!) of the merits of choosing happiness, featuring a boatload of neuroscience references

  • The article mentions a David Lykken, PHD, here in Minnesota at the U. Haven’t heard of him until now – (adds new bookmark to Brainman folder) – eager to see what he’s about and if he’s around these days. Bad news – on looking the guy up turns out he passed 12 years ago. Oh well.
  • Make sure to scroll all the way down in this reading – it’s actually 5 full pages long but one can easily get the impression it stops when the first page stops.

The association between resting functional connectivity and dispositional optimism (Ran, J. Yang, W. Yang, Wei, J. Qiu, Zhang)

  • Haven’t read this one all the way through but not surprisingly the abstract mentions the vmPFC. Heck!!!

“What is Unrealistic Optimism?” (Jefferson, Bortolotti, Kuzmanovic)

  • Absolutely necessary adjunct reading for anyone getting too hyped, biased, or fundamentalist about optimism
  • Uses the term positive illusion as an umbrella term encompassing their defined notion of unrealistic optimism. Positive illusion would be/is my overall characterization of optimism but it seems these authors demarcate between optimism as being rational/a proper assessment of circumstances (no illusion here) and optimism sometimes being irrational/an improper assessment of circumstances (illusory).

 

Sleep phases

In reverse chronological order:

19) Feel a momentary crunch of the small bits of eggshells embedded in your scrambled eggs. Think about easter. Type about it

18) Watch that rubbery pile of protein wobble. Realize silently that you forgot that water.

17) Use your hand. Germ theory is overrated

16) Fuck forks

15) *awful metal sound of fork scraping off the rim of the plate, awful cold feeling of fork on the inside of my forefinger*

14) Sit-fall down into the couch. Think of how accomplished you already are

13) A moment of guilt as you walk past your cats with any type of food: you know they don’t really eat your eggs, but one of the cats at least wants to, even though he just ate his food, , , , , ,

12) Hope that your cats won’t burn themselves on the burner. Put another pot of water on it as it’s cooling off. Don’t forget to bring some water over to the couch in the living room.

11) Eggs done – you resisted dusting them with salt – in your mind a toilet flushes and carries with it dissolving bits of ‘i’m not hypertensive but hey I skipped the salt, good job me’

10) Heat a pan (hear Anthony Bourdain’s voice saying pre-heated. Look at the 2 eggs you removed from the fridge and (hear Anthony Bourdain’s voice saying intermediate, uh, vessel) decide not to use a separate vessel for the eggs. Wonder if Anthony Bourdain would be weirded out that his voice comes into your head as you’re cooking eggs. Cook the eggs.

9) Be a fucking man already

8) Stare at blueberries and strawberries. Stare at freezer. Stare at blueberries and strawberries. Stare at freezer. (they are in the freezer and so you are looking at the frozen blueberries and strawberries inside of the freezer) Let out your first big yawn of the morning. Gleek onto the rim of the freezer. Smile and feel your face stretch in a weird way and think about crow’s feet. Remember that you need to eat. Remember that strawberries and blueberries won’t get you too far.

7) Remember that you need to eat

6) Flush your old coffee grounds and filter down the toilet and make sure that you don’t feel guilty about it whatsoever. Your coffee machine gurgles

5) Get up now you are feeding your cats now you realize you’re fucked get into the kitchen

4)

3)

2) After you agree to sleep separately you take some Benadryl to pass out. You take two benadryl to pass out. Instead they jazz you up for a while until

1) Tell your girlfriend she can’t come over, even if you’d like to sleep next to her. You are already so tired

I knew not to stand up

but I stood up anyways.

I knew not to feed the cats

but I fed them anyways.

I knew not to take my meds

but I took them anyways.

I knew I should smoke (instead of resisting),

but I resisted anyways.

I knew not to stay awake

but I stayed awake anyways.

I knew not to eat breakfast

but I ate breakfast anyways.

I knew not to exercise

but I exercised anyways.

I knew not to shower

but I showered anyways.

I knew not to shower or shave

but I showered and shaved really well anyways.

I knew not to go to class

but I went to class anyways.

I knew not to stay in class

but I stayed in class anyways.

I know that after all of this I’m not supposed to feel shitty

but after all of this I feel shitty anyways.