This Is What I’m Thinking When I’m Thinking About What I’m Thinking, I Think

Those that teach in hypothetical disciplines like modern physics for instance, take refuge in the oddly and lonely corridor of many colleges and universities. Our offices are rarely visited by students seeking help in areas like Electricity and Magnetism, Relativity, or Statistical Physics. No, they stay away like uncertain two years old, leaving the handful of tenured professors plenty of time to stroll the corridor, looking for an open office door which they enter and begin or continue abstract conversations.

I am Dr. Mass-tely Jeenis, the endmost tenured professor in the department of Modern Physics. My areas of concentration are Special Relativity and The Physics of Energy. The highest point in my short career as an academic was being assigned an office across the Tenure Corridor and two doors down from the seldom seen, rarely revealed, and perfunctory campus mail drop of one, Albert Einstein, PhD.

His notoriety brought Quantum Physics out of the closet and into the corridor, where the curious walked past like Hollywood’s “Parade of Homes.” However, they always departed the same way they arrived, lacking a peak at genuine genius. I however was saddened, even angry, that his perpetual disappearance caused my colleagues’s conversation to descend as swiftly as Satan with arms chock-full of caterwauling souls, into unimpeded, green-eyed-jealous rumor mongering and unabridged innuendo as to the whereabouts of our celebrated celebrity wunderkind; our own ambassador of absurdity; that carny side show oddball.

Late last Tuesday and well into the night I myself sat chained to my chair, pouring over consciously boring drafts of fourth year thesis’s. It started distantly, quietly with determination and purpose, sounds which leapt from books by Shelly; the out-of-step limping, the shuffling of heavy limbs. The conventional gait of a clandestine and disfigured horror! I slowly pushed my squeaky-wheeled desk chair away from my desk, stood quickly, and tip-toed to the threshold of my office and waited. The sounds abruptly stopped across the hall and two doors down. Standing there, it continued to struggle with a thirty-nine cent cellophane tape dispenser. Finally it managed to hang a public decree on the frosted glass.

“Good evening, Dr. Jeenis. I hope your hyperventilation hasn’t caused you any harm,” Einstein said genuinely and continued “Come here Dr. Jeenis, will you? I would like you to read my notice.”

I literally floated and stood next to him. Surprisingly, he seemed no different than any other person. He was simply dressed, his hair was gray, long, and definitely an after-thought. He was, in a word, normal.

I began to read, “To All of you. Do not knock on this door. It disturbs the other offices. Which they then use as reasons to initiate chit-chats. I agreed to accept this position and honorarium on one condition. To Think. Alone. By myself. In silence. Absent of knock-knocks and chit-chats. You Are Welcome(d),” where he crossed out the last letter “D” in an almost childish hand.

“Well?” he asked.

I replied, “It’s certainly to the point.”

And then, from a faraway place he began to speak, “I’m so tired, Jeenis; I’m so tired of lying awake in my pajamas, listening to that incessant crackling of an ill-tuned table-top radio. It’s turned on for hours and hours and as I’m just begin to trail off my anger rises to the surface. Then I’m thinking Again; again I’m thinking no one listens to the ill-tuned table-top radio like this; for hours and then days. Who’d do a thing like that with no regard for his neighbors, windows open and curtains rolling. And so I get up, heavier with each surrender, angrier that I don”t go out and find the bastard! When dressed I find my bicycle leaning against a railing and start pedaling east, leaving that god-damn ill-tuned table-top radio behind me, back west, its volume disappearing with each passing street lamp catching my attention when suddenly I’m aware of silence.”

He then stepped forward, searched his pockets for a key, put it in the lock of his office and turned the deadbolt. With a push of his hand the door swung open. Inside were hundreds and hundreds of paper taped from floor to ceiling, on all the walls, even covering the one window. All the papers had some kind of annotation.

While walking into his office he turned to me and said, “This is what I’m thinking when I’m thinking about what I’m thinking, I think.”


The Troubling Bumbling Bumblebee



Early last week a tip-toeing summer sun behaved like a shy new third grader taking his seat quietly in a room full of strangers. 

Suddenly a bumblebee tumbled past my nose and into the kitchen. Quite surprised, I stepped through the doorway only to hear the familiar thud-thud-thudding of an insect against a window, the bumblebee clearly confounded by a clear obstacle preventing its escape. 

Then the bumblebee bumbled upward towards the warmth of the sun shining into the kitchen through the skylight. And again came the now all too familiar thud-thud-thudding of an insect against a window and towards the warmth of the sun and imminent freedom.

By now the tumbling bumblebee was tiring, losing its grip on the skylights smooth surface, tumbling down towards the floor, and laboriously flapping its wings, sending it skyward. But with each consecutive attempt at freedom, the bumblebee tumbled farther and farther and farther still down towards the kitchen floor. I knew then that there was very little bumble remaining in this bumblebee.

In panic I said aloud, “Now how can I save this bumblebee?” 

Immediately I heard a voice say, “Open the screen less window. Focus on it. Send your energy back and into the room. Be the bee’s freedom and not another trap.”

I did as I was told; opened the window, focused on the opening, and sent my energy backwards.

And in two seconds the tumbling, bumbling, bumblebee shot past my ear like a Maserati on steroids, through the open window skyward, with a small plume of soft gray condensation trailing behind.

Okay, so I embellished a bit on the “small plume” part.

Shame and Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma

First posted in August 2012 Shame And Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma has more of a wallop five years later than four years earlier. We as a race must get something out of persecuting the disenfranchised and marginalized friends, family’s, lovers, idols, and heroes. Maybe we ought to look inside ourselves and find that kernel of fear. Then erase it. And then get back to being compassionate brothers and sisters.



Why are we ashamed by what we do?  We do what we choose to do because we stand to gain something.  Yes, some people are forced, say at gun point, to compromise; some are coerced through drugs and alcohol; and yes, some actions are purely altruistic (ashamed of philanthropy?).  It’s my opinion that consciously withholding or denying or lying about our actions is caused by fear.  Not a generic fear, but a two-tier fear.  The first tier-fear: judgement by others is beyond your control; but the second tier-fear: consequence sits squarely in your lap, and which, by the way, you’d already equated as a potential cost of your unprecedented action.  We all know this simple truth: We have absolutely no control over the actions of others.  That said, we can remove the first tier-fear: judgement by others; we now find ourselves staring down the steely barrel of culpability: we encountered a situation, measured consequence against benefit, and toed the line or stepped across it.  So shame and regret were considered well before we pandered to our hunger, thirst, or warm body (emphasis on warm).

The best possible precursor to a mental illness diagnosis was, until 1973 its own mental illness: homosexuality.  Coming out as a gay man taught me the valuable lesson that there will be people who can’t distinguish between my sexual orientation (which places me in a specific group) and who I am (in general terms) as a fellow human being.  Having learned that lesson years ago I was well prepared to face similar discrimination based upon my mental orientation, i.e. mental illness, e.g. bipolar disorder.  And yet, what is there to be ashamed and regretful about?  Don’t carry the burden of Shame or wear the shackles of Regret; never apologize to anyone irritated by what you have, especially if what you have is a medically recognized disease.

Recently I conducted a thoroughly non-scientific giddy-up poll which asked: What diseases do you think you’d be ashamed to admit having?

Answers?  Anal warts, vaginal herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea. . .what?  Anal warts? Venereal diseases? According to our non-scientific poll of middle-aged men and women, they said that carrying a sexually transmitted disease is the only other human affliction besides mental illness that they would be ashamed of having and which also carries with it a damning social stigma.  STD’s are the result of risky and unsafe sexual activities engaged in by choice. Does mental illness really belong in their company? Really?

Shame and Regret are burdens that those who choose to remain ignorant and judgmental should shoulder.

Not me.  Not you.  And certainly not the neighbor, best friend, Richard Dreyfuss rdreyfuss2
parishioner, bowling buddy, Ryan Phillippe, phillippeprom date, recipient of the first kiss, Girl Scout, Teddy Roosevelt (yes, really), Girl Scout Leader, Sinéad O’Conner, full back,  Metta World Peace ,
mettapeace offensive line coach, movie star, Burgess Meredith, Opera Star, Ronald Braunstein, famous orchestra conductor, infamous commuter train conductor or any one of the other 25% of our world’s population. How about the other 75% of the world’s population loosen the reins of their prejudice.