Thursday, September 26, 2019

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #19

Let Ex = Ex:
Explaining Ignorance, Long Hand

by Anthony Servante

I saw this puzzle on YouTube, and it bothered me. "Solve for "X = 0 + 0". Show all your steps to reach your result(s)". Without doing any math, I see that the answer is zero based on what I see. I do not understand showing your "steps" for a conclusion that you can arrive at in the same way that I calculate my shopping bill based on an item by item estimation as I fill my shopping cart. Why show my "steps" to estimate my grocery bill? I know how much money I will need when I reach the cash register.

And that's what gets me. "Steps". Often, if you follow steps, you will find that there is more than one answer. How can I explain this to my grocer? I have three solutions to how much I owe you for this cart of groceries, and I choose the lowest amount to pay. Life doesn't work like this, but advanced math teaches us to think in terms of multiple approaches and multiple answers to a problem. This may work for NASA engineers in training, but for the simple shopper like me, it's not applicable. I don't need to know what X equals to figure my grocery account.

Sometimes "steps" take us outside our own reality. And I'm not talking quantum physics. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate what I mean.

There once was a little girl named Jill. She was helping her mother to cook some beans, which were in a great pot boiling and sending up an aromatic vapor. Her mother to the girl that she needed to run to the store for some garlic and to stir the beans every few minutes and to cover the pot with the lid when she was done stirring. As her mother grabbed her car keys and readied to exit the back door, she reminded her daughter to cover the beans or else the family would fall ill.

Although Jill understood that to leave the beans uncovered could result in tainting the food, she proceeded to text her friend after stirring the beans but forgetting to cover them. When she heard her mon's car pull into the driveway, the little girl quickly covered the beans and no one was the wiser. That evening, hours after eating the beans, Jill, her brother, mother and fatther, all fell ill. Their stomachs cramped, they vomited and evacuated their bowels into the night. When Jill's mother finally gathered herself enough to speak, she berated Jill for not covering the beans, for these symptoms of food poisoning betrayed the little girl's disastrous carelessness. The girl was punished severely. 

As Jill grew into adulthood, becoming a mother herself, she remembered both the lesson of the beans and the punishment that followed when the lesson was not obeyed. Jill thus taught her own little daughter to cover the beans while they boil on the stove-top. One day, Jill happened into the kitchen while her daughter texted on her phone, leaving the beans uncovered. In a rage, she slapped her daughter. Would you have us all ill? she screamed at the shocked girl. How? asked the girl in tears. How would we get sick? Jill quickly replied, The beans go bad when they are not covered. How? her daughter wanted to know as her tears fell. But Jill had no answer save for, We just will, so do as you're told. The girl went running to her bedroom as Jill contemplated the question, "How?"

Jill called her old mother on the phone and reminded her of the time when the family got sick from eating the bad beans that she did not cover. Oh, yes, said the mother, I remember that. Jill asked, How? Her mother answered, We lived in a very old house. We were not very fortunate with our wages back then. The paint in the kitchen was crack and peeling with age. If we didn't cover the beans, the vapor from the boiling water would rise, loosen the paint that would then drop into the beans, melt and add lead-poison to our food. We had to mind the paint chips over the stove. We were poisoned that night, but we were lucky that only a small piece of paint fell into the pot or else we could have died. 

And thus Jill learned the secret of the beans. It wasn't the cover. It was the poison paint chips. What she had taught her own daughter was that the cover prevented the illness, for in their new modern house, there was no paint problem. Then she wondered why she had slapped her daughter. And she further wondered what would have happened if her daughter grew up, had a daughter of her own, and spread the tradition of covering the beans into the next generation, and her daughter's daughter carrying it into the next, and how many generations would have gone by before someone asked, "How?" Then she wondered how many other worthless outdated groundless traditions she'd been passing along to the next generation because she herself never asked, "How?" 

This story of Jill is an example of the lies we believe and the false truths that run our lives. I still remember being told not to go outside after taking a shower or I would get sick. Or not to go swimming after eating. Or not to step on the cold floor with bare feet lest you catch a cold. And it doesn't matter the culture, for every one has these rituals and beliefs based on a single incident, and even though that incident no longer exists in its original form, we still behave as if the action causes the illness, not the circumstances. For Jill, the beans needed to be covered or the family risked being poisoned by lead paint chips. But only in that first instance. That instance no longer existed when Jill became a mother and moved into a new home. Yet she slapped her daughter as if the situation were the same as when she was a child herself. 

And you don't have to be an adult to understand when you believe a traditional lie; children should and must ask, "How?" or "Why?" And the answer must be satisfactory, for often we are punished for a danger or belief that no longer has validity. We must even risk punishment for asking How? and Why? because many times the answer may be, Because I say so, that's why!

In my experience with trauma, I've carried such a belief for years. But, in my case, I didn't want to know why. It wasn't until I had the intervention at the Santa Monica Temple that I was confronted with the false belief. The danger of the original event no longer exists, not for me anyway. This is why it has become important for me to lend my help to these three girls for whom the danger is still perceived to be real. Their dreams are a real threat. There is only one option. Help.

"Let X = X". (Laurie Anderson).

Monday, September 23, 2019

Update 14

Trauma & Therapy

Pajama Therapy
First Flight of the Dream Drifter

 as Told to Anthony Servante

From left to right: Bridget, Norinko, & Suzie
Thanks to Jerry Langdon for the rendition of a selfie taken 
by Norinko a week before her abduction.

Note: Over the past few weeks, I've come to realize what caused my trauma. Because of my blog, my behavior, and my interference with a police investigation last August 2018, I caused two girls (Bridget and Suzie, see above) to be threatened by the abductors who kidnapped Norinko. Also during my interference, Norinko's father, Torinko, was declared missing by police. It is believed that he confronted the abductors and was attacked. The Santa Monica Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's division, continue to search for Mr. Hanasaki. These matters are available on public record and filling out a simple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) form can gain you access to these records. I sent for my copy to read the reports and help me fill in missing gaps in my memory. You see, even though I know what caused my memory loss, that doesn't mean I remember everything. I'm still working to find my lost memories in public records, personal accounts from my therapy group, and a good night's sleep.

Which brings us back to Pajama Therapy, a cross between Dream Therapy and Arts and Crafts Therapy. I've included a series of drawings that I've collected over the years that have been sent to me to help me remember the gaps in my memory. Even though I've avoided facing my trauma head on, I've always found these images haunting and familiar. And as we enter the second phase of PJ Therapy, I thought I'd share these images. These are not my property and use them once only with this update to illustrate the echoes of my nightmares and the models for Norie's Plumage Pvnk pajamas. 

Although I am tempted to research this dream procedure we are trying. I'd rather just do it for the sake of doing it. No therapy goals. The goal is simply going through the routine. Come what may. Like a game of hide and seek. But looking for things that we know are hiding but we won't know what things. Only by playing the game do we stand a chance of finding them. Oddly, I have the feeling that they know we are looking for them. But they welcome it, for it's a chance to meet up with old friends. If that's what you can call them.

So I leave the narrative of Pajama Therapy to it'd participants. I'll serve as the narrator. I, myself, have not worn my glove to sleep. Too warm. Well, let's be honrst. Too scared. But just like working up the courage to get that flu shot I fear, I'll let my courage build while Norie and Suzie try out their dream trips.

Damn. I know they're only dreams, but the damn content brings back long dormant memories. Remember, for me, these memories were buried in a fog. Now they stare me in the face. Just like one of Suzie's bird faced men. Only mine appear in waking hours. Who knows what will appear in dream now that I know what I caused. Maybe I'll start wearing the glove this weekend.

The reading for Bridget went well, I hear. Horaguvhi read my words. Now we have a plot to work into her thoughts, if indeed comatose patients think and dream. I thing Norinko and Suzie are doing it more for themselves to keep their friend in the loop. That's fine by me. I can live with this. It's not as if we were living such great lives. So we live through the imagination of a sleeping girl and pretend that she's in on the plot with us. We're keeping this plot to me, SaraH, and Bridget's immediate family. I don't even think Bridget's doctor knows. I can live with that too.

The reading for Bridget went well, I hear. Horaguchi read my words. Now we have a plot to work into her thoughts, if indeed comatose patients think and dream. I think Norie and Suzie believe that Bridget does hear on some level, though doctors don't encourage this thinking. But considering what kind of trauma they've experienced (nay, we've experienced), we don't understand this kind of trauma. For all we know, she does dream in much the same way Norie, Suzie, and I dream--halfway between the cavern and halfway between the normal world. That thinking is fine by me. I can live with this.

Over the years I have collected various examples of Plumage Pvnks Pajamas as envisioned by readers. These are not my drawings, and I use them one time only under the Fair Use Doctrine. Since the real pajamas that Norie, Suzie, and their family have designed cannot be shared on this post, I will only use these examples to approximate what could have been had these samplings had been used. 

The Plumage Pvnk pajamas have been made, one pair for Norie, a Raven, one for Suzie, a Swan, and one for Bridget, a Peacock. I have been given a glove made from the leftover material (It has cloth feathers, each dyed a different color). Thanks for not expecting me to wear a pair of bird pajamas to bed. To try out the PJs, Suzie volunteered to go first. She wore the PJs to bed on September 25th, a Wednesday. It reminded me that Wednesday's Child is full of woe. She really believes that the PJs will be part of her dress in the dream. The day after her test run, she emailed me this account.

Dear Professor Servante,
I went to bed at 9:00 P.M. I kept looking for at the clock. It was just past ten the last time I checked the time. So I must have fallen asleep between ten and eleven. In my dream, I was asleep on my bed checking the clock. It read 9:00 P.M. But I knew that couldn't be right. I wasn't sure, but I was confident that I was asleep. But I couldn't tell if this was a dream. I sat up in bed. My mom was asleep in a seat next to me. She must have come in after I'd fallen asleep. I checked my pajamas. They were the bird PJs. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. Then the scenery changed.

I was in the cavern. Quickly, I closed my eyes and covered them with my hands. This is how I survived in the cavern. I never looked around. I prayed in darkness. But then I could see my surroundings. My hands were down by my sides, inside the sleeves where our moms had sewn the wings. Several strange looking men with bird faces were looking at me. I wondered if they'd been looking at me all the time while I had my eyes closed. The thought scared me. It made me feel that they've been looking at me all this time since we left the cavern, looking at me in dream. When they talked to each other, they cooed like pigeons with bad colds. They approached me. I spread my wings. They laughed.

Then the light from the fires reflected off the shiny material. I glowed. The bird faced men backed up a step. I put my hoodie with the bird head on. They stopped laughing. They seemed puzzled. They looked at each other, and then they rushed at me all at once.

I awoke. My mother was calming me. She stroked my face softly and told me it was only a dream. For no reason, I started to cry. My mom held me till I fell asleep. I only had normal dreams the rest of the night.

After Norinko heard Suzie's account on September 26th, it was her turn to try her sleep costume. Norie instructed Suzie to go to sleep at 9:00 P.M. again and that she'd do the same. Norie called me to tell me her account. I am paraphrasing her words as best I can. And for the record, I did edit Suzie's account for grammatical clarity; I did not change the events, only the language to help keep it clear. Old habit from an old teacher. Suzie was fine with my edits.

Norinko's account will be published in Update 15 as soon as I receive the email with her report.

Thank you for visiting the blog and following the Trauma & Therapy series.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #18

The Cost of Remembering:
A Noble Failure

by Anthony Servante

My earliest memory of Yuan Gui
Thanks to Jerry Langdon for the rendition

My memory returned so casually that I'm embarrassed to have made such a big deal about it for over a year. I was tempted to call my ex-Shrink to thank her for the drugs; I was tempted to thank the Painting Therapy group for their intervention. But, ironically, it was the Pajama Therapy that snapped the past back to the present. I remembered all the Buddhist teachings of Priest Horaguchi; I remember being one of the volunteers who helped search for the missing girls, Norinko, Suzie, and Bridget. I remember blaming myself for Bridget slipping into a coma. I blamed myself for arriving too late to shield the girls from victimization from their captors, who were never caught. Somehow, I retreated from the memories that reminded me of that night. I deleted the newspaper articles that I was sent about how the girls had made it home safely. Except for Bridget. I can only imagine what happened to that young girl in that cavern in the tunnel.

The Shrink was the right person to help me justify the vague recollections of that night. She convinced me that it was all part of my imagination, that the reality was best locked away in a deep place. The drugs only helped me to bury the denial deeper. But what of this "reality"? How much is my denial and how much is pure fantasy? I may never know. However, I do remember. Something. All the dots connected all at once. And I realized that I was not the victim. These girls were. I was the one who just wanted to forget, so I buried the memory by ignoring these people for over a year, by justifying the burial with visits to a Shrink, a blog series about Trauma, and a fantasy about Buddhist lore--a fantasy that was easy to accept because it emerged in dreams, when I could not keep it buried, but where I could keep it vague and diluted with drugs.

Forgive me, those Trauma sufferers who have come to my blog to learn from this coward. I will try to make up for my denial of my old friends by going along with the girls and their plan help snap Bridget from her long sleep just as they helped snap me out of my long denial.

I have written the following just as the girls asked me to. But let me be clear: I do remember that night, and I do remember why I forgot the people and events of that night. I just need to go along with the plan. These words that follow will be read to Bridget at her bedside, just as Norie has read her the updates of my blog as they've gone live. For the sake of keeping the quality of dream alive for their friend stuck in a world of dream, I have written this portion of the Pajama Therapy in the Views from a Troubled Mind column, in order to distinguish it from the clinical aspects of the Trauma & Therapy series. This way I can bend my memories a bit to fit the plan.

As usual, fact and fantasy are mixed here. May these words serve their purpose and reach this troubled girl trapped in sleep. Only the following words from here one will be read for Bridget. This introduction is for my readers only. Although I do remember these people and the words of Priest Horaguchi, the events of that night last August 2018 have been relayed to me by accounts from Horaguchi, Norie, and Suzie. I have fictionalized the rest for the sake of the plan. Again, forgive me for using my trauma to bring attention to myself. From here on in, I'm concentrating my attention of Norie, Suzie, and Bridget.

Thank you for understanding.
Anthony Servante

The Account of August 2018
SaraH came to my home and woke me up. She knew that I may not attend the Sunday Temple therapy after reading my Facebook post about football (even though I did plan to attend the therapy tomorrow, September 15th). She asked that I go with her to the Temple to meet with Horaguchi, Norie, Suz, and the girls' parents. It wouldn't take but a few hours. No problem. 

When we arrived at the temple, the priest, Norinko, her mom, Suzie and her mom and dad, were waiting. 

Simply put, they wanted me to know that the pajamas were ready. You could have emailed me that info, I told them. We wanted your in-person opinion, said Horaguchi. Look, I said, I grew up Catholic. We believe in angels and demons, heaven and hell, good and bad. Like in The Exorcist. So you'll forgive me if your beliefs fall short of my faith. What little I know about Buddhism I learned here, from you, I said, pointing to Horaguchi, Norie, and Suz. Let's see, there is this big place called Diyu, where spirits are held till a body becomes available to be reincarnated in. There are levels to Diyu, each level housing people based on their sins, with one level for the sin-free. Very Dante-esque. If I also remember correctly, according to Bridget, Yuan Gui is the Demon who places the spirits into their prospective levels (aka Narakas):

  1. Hahava—where the spirits suffer in lamentation and weeping from the cold.
  2. Raurava—where spirits writhe while screaming to escape the fiery floor
  3. Maharaurava—like Raurava, but where animals and birds devour your flesh, which grows back only to be devoured again and again
  4. Avici—This is eternal hell (not like Purgatory) where spirits remain forever, never to be reincarnated; spirits of murderers who killed their parents, priests, or any holy person, are sent to Avici: 
I remember this. Just like I remember the Bible's version of hell. Every religion has a version of hell. Only with Buddhists, you add reincarnation to the life-death equation. You get to try again and again to get life right. Then you work your way up the levels of Diyu till you spend less time there and more time in your new bodies. 

I noticed they were all smiling as I wrapped up my summary. Horaguchi asked, Who told you this? Bridget, I said. You remember Beniko? asked Norie. Of course, sassy little Bridget, your friend, yours and Susue's friend. And you remember our real names? Suz said. Why shouldn't I? Because you have amnesia. Or did you forget? 

Norie spoke to SaraH, who nodded in agreement. Come on, SaraH told me, and we walked out into the parking lot with the others. SaraH and I got into her little car. The rest of the group climbed into Horaguchi's van. Isn't that the van we used to fan Norie? I asked. Yes. The van. Now listen, she said. We're going to Bridget's home. This will be the first time since she went into a coma that you've been in her presence. Don't flip out when you see her. She's lost a lot of weight. She's a shell of that sassy girl you're starting to remember. Her parents will be there. Follow their lead. They're expecting us, but mainly they're expecting you. God, I hope this works. 

It took us about twenty minutes to reach Bridget's home. Her parents were waiting for us on the porch. I remembered them. They bowed and led me into their daughter's bedroom. Poor little Bridget was skeletal. She had tubes feeding her. She looked asleep. Horaguchi and the others waited in the front room. Only I, along with her parents, sat by Bridget's bed. I remembered her as she once was. I didn't recognize this girl on the bed. Talk to her, her mother told me. Her father nodded agreeably, tears in his eyes. I wanted to ask, What should I say? But I knew what to say.

I know what you've been through. You were in Raurava. You were punished. The cops were punished. Norie and Suzie were on the punishment-free level. It's time for you to wake up. To come home. You're still there, aren't you? You're home. And not home. Do you dream? Of course you do. I do, too. We all do. Diyu is still in us. It followed us out. Death followed us out. Yuan Gui. E Gui, Gui Po, Zhi Ren,--and more. One for each of us who exited the cavern. In sleep, they awaken in dream, and while we sleep, they fly the cities and claim new spirits for Diyu, and when we wake, they return to sleep in their cocoon, our real memories spun into lies and false memories. I understand now. The powerful bird-like demons led by Yuan Gui are loose. We set them free when we escaped. 

And only we can send them back. But for that we need you, Beniko. I touched her hand. It was cold. I waited a moment. Nothing. I returned to the front room while Bridget's parents saw to their daughter. 

Do you remember? asked Horaguchi. I said what I hoped would wake her. It didn't work. Still, when you try your Pajama Therapy, Bridget should also be given a pair. Make hers a Phoenix. Norie's mom nodded yes. When will you try to confront you dream demons? Next Saturday, said Norie. We'll do it here. Will you be here? I said yes without hesitation. Whatever beliefs little Bridget had, we'd go along with them. That's another thing I remembered. When Suzie and Bridget first found me, I gave them hope. Somehow, they were looking to me again for direction. 

You know, I said, I don't believe any of this, right? That's okay, said Horaguchi. As long as you remember, that's all that matters. 

When SaraH dropped me off at home, I entered the house, turned on the UCLA-Oklahoma football game, and all thoughts of Catholic and Buddhist beliefs left my thoughts. Only Yuan Gui remained. The half-man, half-bird creature that takes person and animal alike from this Earthly plane. And I wasn't one bit scared. After one year of being scared, I remembered why. Flight or fight? It was time to choose. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Update 13

Trauma & Therapy

Pajama Therapy
The Reality of Nightmares

Old drawing of the Santa Monica freeway tunnel. Note the birds and ocean.

Another drawing of the tunnel. Note the lights in the tunnel. I forgot about that detail.

Today was the last Sunday for drawing. Apparently, the therapy was never meant to focus solely of painting. It was but one mean of delving into our dreams. And nightmares. Since I covered "dreams" in a previous update, I felt that I was reverting to old topics, but it was pointed out to me that all therapy is recycled, and its ultimate goal is to peel back the layers of denial that wall up our trauma.

Yeah, but Pajama Therapy??

Well, it was explained to me, it's not that cut and dried. This should really be called Design Therapy. It includes drawing and creative thinking. Since we all here in the group suffer from nightmares by night and paranoia by day, we are supposed to concentrate our sketches and ideas to "comfort clothing", that is, clothes that make up feel secure at night and during the day.

We brain-stormed several ideas and shared them with the group. For instance, I thought that a safari hat, you know, those hats that shield your face from the sun with a visor and protects the back of your neck with a drop-veil that shades the back of your head. I also mentioned that the drop-veil might roll out from a compartment where one could place an chemical ice-pack that fits around the back of the neck. Priest Horaguchi said, Good, and just what would this hat shield you from? I answered, It'll keep you cool in the heat. He continued, How would it reduce your paranoid thinking? I thought about it and said, It wouldn't. It'll keep you cool. He looked at me like I was trying to explain algebra with arithmetic.

So he went elsewhere. And that's when Norie brought up the pajamas. Good, and what would they shield you from? Horaguchi asked. From my nightmares. And they would just protect me; they'd protect everyone, because my nightmares affect all of us. Horaguchi nodded and said, Go on.

Norie nodded back and began: I have bad dreams. And when I wake up, I hear in the news echoes of my dreams. I dream of the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel, and the next day, the news reports that someone was attacked nearby the wheel or that something dead was pulled from the water underneath the pier, usually dead seagulls or cats. And I don't know why cats would be near water--they hate water. I'm sure they are dragged there. Or carried there. The aren't eaten. They're just dead. And all my dreams happen by the beach. Except for the first dream I had over and over when I returned home from the hospital. When the police were asking me questions about my disappearance, I thought it was important to tell them the dream. But they never wanted to note it down. They'd close their notebook when I started talking dreams.

That's when I started to share my dreams with Priest Horaguchi. It seemed I wasn't the only one who came to see our priest. Others came too with their own bad dreams. And that's when we started our therapy classes. It started with the dreams, then switched to various ways to understand why we were dreaming these things. Then the therapy changed, and changed again, as we tried to find a way to make the dreams mean something. But we just grew more and more frustrated. We lost some members. But then Professor Servante started his series on trauma, and we finally got him here. And it's been a group effort to try to keep him here. We see in him the frustrations we had early in our therapy. We started the Painting Therapy for him. But it's time to get back to dreams. I mean, no disrespect to the Professor, but that's why we're here. We're all being affected by bad dreams, and I don't think it's a coincidence that our communities are being affected too. Even the Professor saw the damage to the Petting Zoo after the storm. And he dreamed about it first.

So, let's get back to dreams. This is the first dream I had when I was returned to my home. I don't dream it anymore. They're worse now. But I want to start at the beginning. And then I'll talk about what I intend to do about it.

The Problem:
The Dream
We're in a big cave with fires everywhere. There are lots of people moving around, their shadows stretching across the walls. There are groups of people moving in herds. There are shepherds guiding their groups around the fires. These shepherds are tall and faceless, more shadow than face. They have claws, long uncut nails, more knuckles than fingers. They have dirty cloaks that look like wings. They are wings. They float above their groups. They emerge from the black walls like bees from a honeycomb. They are all different. They pluck people from the groups. They fight with the shepherds. They are the shepherds. Their fighting is fierce but short, like two birds fighting over a scrap of food. I stand on a wide ledge. I can see the same scenes playing out on the ledge below, on the ledge above. Not so much on my ledge. There are many ledges. It is the same all the time. There is no day or night to measure weeks and months. This sameness is comforting. I don't get hungry. I am not scared. I stopped watching the fights. The moans and screams of the groups become background noise. It becomes normal. It is the moments of silence that are scary. In the last moment of silence, I saw Professor Servante emerge from the wall on my ledge. The walking and flying shepherds hide in the shadows. Then I see my father and Priest Horaguchi. I am confused. Familiar faces surround me. I am not alone on my ledge. We group together and follow the Professor. I fall asleep. I wake up.

The Solution?
If we had protection in the dream, we might be able to control it, or at least stop being afraid of it. What if we went to sleep wearing protective pajamas. In the Cactus Friends, they wear protective prickly suits to keep death, evil, and all bad things away, because whatever tries to touch them gets their finger picked by one of the needles on the cactus suit. My Manga characters, the Plumage Pvnks, wear bird suits so they can fly away from death, evil, and all bad things. I've been drawing bird pajama designs for my mom to sew together. I've got three suits so far. One for me, one for Suzie, and one for Bridget, my friend who is still in a coma. Suz and Bridge's parents already agreed to let the girls wear the pajamas.

The first pair of pajamas is ready. I put them on and went to sleep. They were a bit too soft and smooth and I kind of slid around in them when I tossed in bed. It felt like the pjs could slide around when I moved in my sleep, so I had my mom use a tougher material for the insides. On the second try, the pjs stayed fixed to my skin. A bit itchy, but that's okay. That'll wash out, my mom tells me.

Let me now tell you about my other dreams. I saw a man get killed by a big man in a trench coat who was floating above him. The dead man's body washed up in the Montebello riverbed. The Professor covered this news article in his blog. The man apparently got caught in a flash flood up by Arcadia and was carried by the San Gabriel River down to Montebello. The news said he was already dead when the flash flood hit. He was covered with scratches. Probably from branches and rocks in the river, the police told reporters.

That's not the way it happened in my dream. He tried to run away from the thing flying over his homeless shelter in the river basin where the water usually doesn't reach, except for flash floods. But the flash flood came later. The thing knocked over his shanty, his cardboard house. He was calling for help, but most of the other shanty people had gone when the police ordered them out before the storm hit.

In my dream, I was there. As the thing flew over the shanty, I tried to see its face in the hoodie. It was wearing a hoodie with the trench coat. It made sense in the dream. It didn't seem to have feet, except for when it knocked over the shanty and the man ran. As he screamed for help, the thing turned its head at me for a full second, a long second. Then it swooped down on the running man.

I thought in that moment if I had a Plumage Pvnk outfit on in the dream that I could have flown like we do in dreams and saved the man. The thing wouldn't or couldn't have hurt me because my outfit protected me. That's what I thought. Then I woke up with the pajamas idea. What if we went to sleep with the outfits? We'd be ready for the them, those things. Oh, yes, there's more than one. That's what my other dreams are about. The other ones. The hooded thing seems to be their leader. He's the one I remember most when I'm awake. He's the faceless man in the cavern. He's the flying thing in the dream.

That's what we need protection from. First in dream, then in waking time. I don't know how I can protect myself with pajamas when I awake, but protecting myself in dream is a start. Suzie and I need to plan how we can meet in dream in full costume. We need to use dream power to use the suits. It makes sense. I read a lot of Manga. I know it'll work.

Norie sat down.

Deputy Evelyn stood and added that other bodies were washing up along the southernmost coastline where the tangle of rivers drained into the Pacific. Most of the victims were homeless men and women. Thanks to law enforcement from the City of Duarte, the City of Arcadia, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Santa Monica, whose Homeless Project is tracked by Priest Horaguchi, and Long Beach PD, all the dead have been identified. Half of the victims were reported in the local newspapers of the above cities. The other victims, although identified, were not reported based on requests from immediate family. A handful of the victims could not be identified. Remember, these bodies washed up after the storms that tore up the Southland last winter. But it wasn't just the flash floods and the freezing temperatures that took the lives of these poor souls. There's the matter of this large man in the trench coat. Luckily just about everyone has a camera on their cell phone so we got plenty of pictures of this man. But these pictures are usually blurred by the rain or fog. Still, we do have something to work with. The local newspapers and the city law enforcement are working on finding this person of interest. He may just be a spectator who saw these victims get washed away by the rain. We just want to find him and ask him a few questions.

Norie resumed talking after Evelyn sat down. Let's not forget that it's not just people who are dying. Remember that in the Professor's neighborhood, the animals in the petting zoo were all killed.

I said loudly, A wind storm did that.

Norie said coldly, Not according to my dreams. I saw the drawings of the group. The "owl man" looks like the "trenchcoat man" from my dreams. How many people here dream of this man?

Everyone raised their hand. I was surprised to see SaraH and Horaguchi raise their hands. I didn't raise my hand. I folded my arms across my chest.

Norie continued, I will be wearing the swan pajamas to bed next week. Then if and when I meet the Owl Man in my dream, I'll be protected by the pajamas.

I forced a laugh. Will we all be given pajamas to wear to bed?

No. Just Suz, me, and Bridget.

Damn. This isn't exactly therapy anymore, is it? When do we get back to painting?

Evelyn stood again. I got nervous chills. Cops!

She said, As long as I've been reading your blog and your Facebook page, you've been hopping in and out of therapy, doctor offices, and social media shoulders to cry on. Now you can do something concrete. Even if we're just spinning our wheels, this group will be helping three young girls, and in so doing, we'll be helping ourselves. We won't be taking on the Owl Man. That's a matter for the police. We'll be facing the Owl Man of our dreams. It just seems like a big coincidence that this Owl Man or Trench Coat man is the one thing we all have in common. If he's in our dreams, that means there's a real memory of a real person behind such dreams. If we can help the girls defeat him in their dreams, then we can awaken the real memory of this man. Isn't that why you're here? To remember what you've been blocking since last August 2018? What are you afraid of? Remembering? All the doctors, drugs, and therapy have led you here. It's time to try the latest therapy. Pajama Therapy. We going to chase the Owl Man out of our dreams and bring him into our waking world where the Law can take care of him. I firmly believe this man is responsible for the abductions of these girls. We've all been traumatized by the abduction of these girls. If we want closure, we need to help the girls, and the girls need to wear the pajamas. It's a tool, a security blanket. When we run into this beast in our dreams, we run away, we wake up, we avoid confronting him. Now's our chance to confront the bastard. I think I speak for everyone here.

Everyone looked at me. I unfolded my arms and shrugged my shoulders. I spoke my piece:

When I was about ten years old, a child molester tricked me into his car. It was late evening, dark. I was walking home from the movies. I was about a block away from my front door. It was a Saturday. I remember because I knew everyone, my dad, my older brother, my younger brother, would be listening to the Dodgers game on the radio in the kitchen while eating dinner or drinking sodas. The man told me that he was lost and was looking for a street. I told him where it was. He acted confused and asked me to show him. He opened the door and beckoned me in. Don't worry, he said, I'm a cop. He showed me a badge, but his thumb was covering the photo and name side of the holder. I can't see your picture I said. He lowered his thumb till his picture showed, but he kept his thumb over his name. It looked like a real Sheriff's Deputy badge. I grew up in East LA. I knew what a police badge looked like. So I got in. The street he wanted was only two blocks away.

He did a U-turn, away from my front door, and drove toward the street I directed him to. He told me that he got a new magazine, that it's on the floor in front of me, that I can look at it. It was a Porno mag. First time I ever saw such graphic sex. At that very moment I knew I made a big mistake. He told me that I should come to his house something, that there are boys my age there that I could play with. I said yes, hoping he'd set and date and let me out, but he grew more brazened. Let's go now, he said. Can't, I said. Unless one of my brothers goes with me. We can go pick him up. Do you have a swimming pool? Sure do, he said, eagerness in his voice. Where do you live? Right where you picked me up.

He did another U-turn and took me right back to the exact location. I live right behind that house, I lied. Then I stepped out of the car with the magazine in hand. That's when I made my second mistake. I said, I have to show the magazine to my brother so he'll want to come with us. I saw on his face that he knew I was lying. In a stern voice, he told me to put the magazine back on the seat. I did. He told me to close the door. I did. He drove off with the headlights off so I couldn't see the license number. He didn't stop at the stop sign and made a right turn at the next corner. That's when I saw his headlights go on.

As I expected, I found my dad and brothers listening to the game. I didn't tell them anything. What was to tell? I walked into the living room and turned on the TV.

Although nothing happened to me that night, my dreams tell me otherwise. In dream, I am at his house. And it's a house right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's the house from Night of the Living Dead. I never get hurt in the dreams, but there's always the apprehension that something bad is about to happen. Many times it happens to the unseen boys who are usually there. One Asian. One Black. One Latino. One White. Always four different races. Always four boys. I never count myself as one of them, but I'm there too. The cop from the car is never there, not in the room with us anyway; he's always in another room. And I know he's probably molesting some child. Sometimes there's screams that we all ignore. Sometimes there's crying, and that worries us. We seem to understand the screams but the tears are terrifying. Pain causes screams. What causes tears?

When the door knob turns, the boys turn to the door. I look at the boys. They sometimes scream. They sometimes weep. And I always wake up before the door opens because I know he's coming for one of us, and I know we'll see what just happened to the child in that room. And I don't want to know.

That's how dreams work, I tell the group. They protect us. They hide the source of the screams; they buffer the source of the tears. We're adults here, most of us. We know what happens in that room. How is a bird costume going to protect us from our own fears? The dreams are us. They're not out there, over there, in a place where we go. They're inside us.

Norie stood and said, But we're not alone inside anymore. The child molester is your Owl Man. Get rid of him and the dream becomes some boys in a room without danger. It's not about pajamas, Professor. It's about facing the thing behind the door. Let the door open. See what comes out. Deal with it. Safely. With confidence that it cannot harm you.

She sat. I sat.

Priest Horaguchi said that that will be all for today. At the next meeting, we'd hear how the trial flight of the Plumage Pvnk fared. And the meeting was adjourned.

Note: I didn't go to the next meeting as I stood home and watched football. But after talking with SaraH at the Starbucks the other day, I decided to attend the next meeting, if only to hear about the Plumage Pvnk trial. I will begin to wrap up the Trauma & Therapy series with these Plumage Pvnk tests. I long to move on with the blog. Maybe I'm feeling better; maybe it's just more evasion and denial. But good therapy is always about "fight or flight", face your fears OR avoid them and move on. It's time for me to decide. Either way, I'll definitely move on.