now for my next trick: watch my rent check disappear!

That's right, folks. Somehow or other, between Friday when I bought it and yesterday morning when I first went to look for it in the back of my legal pad, the cashier's check made out to my landlord vanished out of my bag.

It is not in my bag, on the kitchen table, anywhere else in the apartment, wedged into some other book or bundle of papers that sometimes gets put in my bag, in my room, in the garbage can where I threw shit out when I was cleaning my room, at the office, or at Dave's house. Which means it either fell out on the train or the bus or while I was digging in my bag on the way to or from the train or the bus, or someone stole it out of the back of the unassuming yellow legal pad in my bag. Despite its not being cash money and considering the fact that no one but me knew it was there.

The nice folks over at my local bank branch were genuinely sad to inform me that a cashier's check, unlike a regular check, is equivalent to cash and hence cannot be canceled. If it goes unclaimed for ninety days, the money can be returned to my account. But before then there is nothing they can do for me.

Now that I think of the folks at my bank, though, I wonder if it would be possible to get a credit card, get a cash advance on the credit card, and buy a cashier's check with that money. It does contravene a stubborn insistence of mine to never have a credit card. But I never bothered to make that determination into a personal vow, so I wouldn't be messing myself up morally by doing it. Have no idea whether it's possible and it does sound a bit farfetched; I'll ask Bob the banker in the morning.

It's better than Dad's idea, which was to ask main boss to front me the money. Dad points out that it's a reasonable request since it might have been stolen while I was at work, and besides, having one's office manager get kicked out of her apartment is bad for business. I really, really, really don't want to do that though, because of that shit with Elmer and Lisa the psychic and Elmer's "missing" five grand that he still believes in his heart I stole. Wish I had fuckin stolen it, I'd've had five grand and would have paid off my parking tickets and have a legal driver's license now. City don't ask where it came from if you pay in cash money.

I have always hated asking authority figures for favors. Because in my heart I believe that deep down everyone is Brick Top. (From this movie.) In the sense that once you're in his debt, you're in his pocket--and once you're in that, you ain't never comin' out.

This morning Mohammad called me on it when he saw I had a blogger window open. He was very nice and seemingly off-handed about it, telling little anecdotes and things, but I know that's just his style of delivering a first warning. Doesn't make it any the less deadly than a more forcefully delivered warning. Which means I have to seriously consider a "no blogger at work" vow, which would fuck with my head right about now.

But the incident got me thinking. Not the kind of thinking where you sit and have a thought, scribble it down and move on. This is the sort of thought that comes on like a suspicion. The little acts and facts that pass across your hands and brain over the course of a day seem to weigh it down, until it's heavy enough to break through into conviction, belief.

When this thought came to me I had couched it in the terms taig, group mind and mana link, but I'll render it here in more usual words because I think it's an important point to be clear about.

When your average conscientious person (whom we won't define more vigorously for now, beggin' your pardon) takes on a job, he requires certain things of himself. There is a powerful trust relationship there: "This group accepts me because it expects me to fill a role; I mold myself to fit that role. While I am here, I will accept and believe that X things are important, and I will make it my personal mission to ensure those things are accomplished." The requirements of the job thus become part of the conscientious man's personality.

I think I have a weird relationship with my personality. Very little goes in or comes out of it without my knowledge and acquiescence. I may make impulsive decisions or use bad judgment, but the judgments and decisions are mine. Entered into with malice aforethought--well, usually not malice, but most definitely calculation.

An analogy here will help us avoid having to carefully define a number of words and then be careful how we say things with them. It ain't science, but it's much faster. Now I seem to remember learning in some biology class that while plant cells and animal cells have many similarities, two important ways in which they differ are permeability and thickness. Animal cells are thinner and more permeable, in order to sustain the animal's body during its more vigorous life. Animal cells have more varied types of materials to absorb, and must be able to do it with ridiculous haste in need. Plant cells' thickness and rigidity make the whole plant tough, able to withstand punishing winds and grow to gargantuan sizes. Given enough dirt and light and water and time.

But trees do not join herds, or armies. Or management teams. Unlike cells, personalities can be reconfigured. They can alternate functions, or integrate them, when properly managed. Provided, of course, that the consciousness driving the personality can be convinced there is a reason to do so.

(Ah, now. There's a pretty definition. Wonder if it's from anything:
Magic is the art of changing one's mind.
Which one, is an exercise for the magician.)

These kinds of experiences, as a category, are the seat of the whole Anatomy of Trust. I've been calling them the transformations. The transformations are categories of situations in which a person must change his mind about the sort of personality he is going to have. Consciousness provides the personality with three limited resources: the ability to pay attention, the ability to choose, and the ability to exert control over the body. Which transformations occur at what time is determined by how much of these resources must be expended to sustain the interactions made necessary by the sum of the individual's trust relationships.

And because I much prefer to have my personality resemble the cell walls of a maple or ebony tree, I tend to experience great difficulty with some categories of transformations. We can all rest assured that the job role transformation described above is in one of them--though at this point I have not yet developed a working model of what the transformation categories are. There are two reasons for this. One, I just figured out this afternoon what a transformation is in the first place! Cut me some slack, me and possibly other people! Two, the transformation categories will have to be based upon the different types of relationships. Which is a problem I've hardly even begun to tackle.

I have decided, had decided long ago, that going through this transformation at this physical location was the right thing for me to do. It was, in my own terminology, the next item on my invisible curriculum. The next flaw in myself I wanted to remedy by acquiring a new system of belief or skill set.

But it requires a degree of permeability with which I have never, ever really been comfortable. The causes of this, even if you don't happen to know them, can be easily deduced from the fact. It runs sharply against the grain of a group of beliefs amply supported by the preponderance of my will for all two and a half decades of my lifetime. Everyone, in short, is Brick Top. (Another analogy, but I hope one that gets my point across. The alternative would be a longwinded discussion of the strain placed on consciousness by unequal trust interactions.) Even at the best of times the only difference between a friend and an enemy is whether or not he has changed his mind. That is an inescapable fact--and those who try most desperately to escape it are pitiful creatures indeed.

Thus it is not necessary for me to change my opinion about the existence of that risk. I must only change my mind about whether the benefits of a particular trust relationship outweigh it. A decision I have made before, yes. But in entirely different contexts.

More clearly delimited ones. Less public ones. Ones where practical matters like housing and food are only secondarily affected by the outcome. Personal, not professional relationships. Where if you fuck it all up, your heart and soul are in peril. Instead of your survival.

You see how I talk myself into things?

The difference between spending every spare desk minute on the internet and spending nearly all your time at work working is a transformation. Difference between going to work because you get paid and going to work because you actually want to do your job is a transformation. An alteration in self occasioned by an alteration in trust status. You have to decide that in this instance, for this entity, at this time, trust is worth the risk.


Amber E said...

Oh my goodness, I do not know what to say, that totally completely sucks.