Grandma-Love vs. Avoidant/Obsessive

Anthony Repetto
24 min readFeb 5, 2024

~ poems lost to the unspoken judgements of a workaholic neurotic ~

In 6 months of conversation, attempting to coordinate and waiting to meet with various folks in regards to my engineering and design work, the org-leadership *point-person* who I was referred to by ALL other memebers… began having deeper conversations with me! We talked about philosophy, poetry, purpose, love… and here are the POEM-segments I wrote, from among those moons of emails, along with the clusters of text which give some context about this strange person I knew:

I plant each letter like a bean
To watch words wend like vinery
Until the sunset droopens, ripe
In sanctity of wordless night!

Anthony

In nasal meep! Girbil-garbled
Picket-polevaults to the tree!
The words scuff free, darter-of-me.
I have no cake or nuts to lure
A charming quip to lips unsure!
Suffice-it, then: I quibble less -
Hole-halted speech, whole-hearted mess!
(I leave the rest to tenderness…)

Anthony

Heaped thoughter-mutterings
Hushed water-sputtering
A bath, aftermath, wrinkles
Trace topographic hollows -
Hours swallowed in a whorling
Pipe, dream forgot…
Serene curling spigot!

Anthony

Crumbs tasked with each tooth’s desire
(A morsel missed might feast-a-vole)
Are strength the world’s plot conspire
To win the least and make All Whole!
Libations, and offerings brought
To noble, small, forgotten lot…
Fearling fur-thing, eat till full
What waste is next a treat begot!

Anthony

Aris!

I hope I am not preempting your response to my earlier letter — I just wanted to mention that This is How You Lose the Time War arrived this afternoon, just finished! My short response, provisionally: it has thick sensuality, yet I am terrified by all the forms of love and connection portrayed! That the time-travelers would be weaving seemingly obscure threads, and their increasingly intricate circumstantial messages, were alluring — they build a mysticism around events. Ah, but enough for now!

with memories of my old tribe,
Anthony

Hello Anthony!

I am still unfortunately mainly occupied (my mother is visiting me right now), but I’m glad to respond to this! It was a very unique book, I think! I’d be intrigued to hear more about what terrifies you about the forms of love and connection portrayed! Are they terrifying because they’re so intense? Because they’re in a war? Because of the time travel? What other reasons?

I hope that the reading was enjoyable as well as interesting!

All the best,
Aris

Oh, hello to you and your mom!

I understand if you are trying to squeeze what can be in a week — I just hope there is a tea corner for you, if events pile high!

And, I definitely like the book, for exploring a different angle of time-travel, and leaving technology as a kind of magic, portraying the evolution of Red & Blue’s thinking… But the romance, ah! For them each to have such a bizarre base-line of human connection (Garden’s fragment of whole-ism-ish-ness, and the Commandant’s patriarchy of deviants, inferiority) I can understand why their first attempt at love hangs unevenly. It’s stark compared to my own sense of love — standing in love, wanting their better self to bloom, wanting to relate to their experience. Erich Fromm talked about that difference between “falling in love” and “standing in love” — the allure and attraction, compared to the appreciation for who they are and what they’ve felt. An old saying, “You don’t know a man until you’ve shared a bag of salt.” …because, when the Gauchos would be on the hoof for months, they carried a bag of salt — and only with months of struggle, bare to the weather, would they feel they’d met someone. The book motions to that process, yet it’s founded on a competitive, sneering attitude, becoming enticed (they talk about hunger… I’ll mention my response to Esther Perel, in a moment!), and then they wind-themselves-up with the poetics of that allure; that’s when you get a Romeo & Juliet. Erich Fromm was talking about “being loving” instead of “being attractive, to entice love”. It’s about grandma-kinda love. I didn’t hear a grandma in that book; she used to be the heart of the tribe.

To the book’s conception of “Love as Hunger”: Esther Perel said it best, in a Youtube segment somewhere, that people report feeling MOST in love, most attracted… when their partner is further away. Even just standing across the room, talking to others, people report an urge to be close, and an admiration for that person. Esther says this is the stuff of romance, the spark to relationships — to not be too close, to wander and feel separated. That separation fuels the longing to return. I disagree on the deepest level: When we sat around the embers and rocks, scooping the hot food, we each said “Oh, oh, try this! Wow, and this… try this…” We *shared in sensuality*, communally. Your civilization has completely forgotten the level of shared sensuality and compassion, commitment. It requires *no* distance — it walks hand-in-hand. And, because there is no separation, then any real distance becomes irrelevant. You are just as welcome and present once you return, as if you never left. A friend anew, however long it’s been. There isn’t a jealous yearning or skittish tingle to that kind of love. It’s oatmeal-love: fulfilling, not ravenous.

What were your thoughts? Whichever you have time to mention!

Grinding under icebergs until I am flecks tumbling downstream,
Anthony

[And, a tune to hum in some spare moment: “Surrealchemist” by Stereolab, which drones for three minutes at the end, that you’re totally normal for wanting to skip! here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJkDJ72OwO0 ]

Anthony

<no reply on that thread from Aris, despite her continuing to reply in emails elsewhere… huh? ongoing for months of attempts to connect with their circle of altruists follows: >

Aris,

I don’t need to chat with AI-safety people about AI-safety; I hope to meet EA people to meet more EA people, because that broader connectome will have climate folks in it. If the EA house-mates want to talk about AI safety, as well, I’ve written my views on a few aspects of the topic. I am likely to strike a raw nerve with my perspective, however, so I don’t see a reason to make Ai the focus of the talk. The focus is finding connections *towards* climate modelers; the principle of “Six Degrees of Separation” ensures that while *none* of your *AI-Safety* people are involved in climate, a few of them might know who to talk to, *next*. Are they connected to any other houses? If that is the case, my meeting them would open that other avenue. Do you see how, since Mahendra and Dylan were both explicit in their lack of time as well, I am forced to wait until you respond, just to connect with anyone? I would prefer to have more than one person to connect through, instead of being last in line at a single help desk.

[I’m also finding it hard to see why “I have a house full of EA people, but they’re all AI-safety” would be a reason to *not* connect me to any of them. Further, I’d mentioned my essay on AI-Safety at our meeting with Dylan at Strada, as well as taking the AIMS contest pamphlet from you, enthusiastically… did you really not think I’d like to talk to AI-safety people? Or that I can only talk to EA people if they are also, themselves, climate folks? Am I blacklisted?]

Anthony

Aris,

I am not sure if my previous question is being avoided, or if I’m back to low-priority status. It’s strange to me that, while you express your own anxiety and worry, and I recognize your emotion, I still haven’t seen any indication that you recognize mine. For example, you thought I was offended about the “framing as solutions” — I’m not the sort of person who worries about that sort of thing. I’m glad to walk through multiple mis-statements and corrections, without any grudge, so that we can reach a better place. I fear you have fixated on worry about an emotion I am NOT feeling, instead of recognizing or relating to the emotion that i AM feeling. Instead of being “upset with Aris for framing as a solution”, I *actually* feel *remorse* for my delays, and I gave one of my sternest regrets as an example: my delays regarding algal cultivation and aquaculture, decades ago, meant millions starved. Do you see how that impacts my feeling? Do you see my remorse for delays?

*That* emotion of mine, which has gone un-acknowledged, and which you replaced with “concern about framing as solution”, is the point I am making: *that* concern goes un-noticed. And, that is what I refer to when I explained that “I see from the response I get…” and “… how little you are concerned.” I have not seen you acknowledge my *actual* concern and emotion — my remorse for delay.

I wasn’t seeking repeated apologetics, nor is it any kind of solution for me to just “walk away if it’s not working for you”. The solution, when there’s a breakdown, is to fix it. That would happen when I sit down with the AI-Safety folks you have mentioned. Further, I don’t seek or appreciate flattery — telling me that “I’m liked,” or that you “think I’m smart,” or that you “suppose I’m wonderful” are attempts to change how I think or feel, either about myself or about you. In other cultures, flattery is considered a vice; I’m from one of those. I prefer when you recognize my emotions, and appreciate the stand that I make for others. If you’re worrying about “saying the wrong thing and offending me” or “not validating me enough to please me” then you haven’t realized who I am.

Anthony

<…more confusion, until…>

Hi Anthony,

I do recognize your remorse. I think that it’s also very difficult for me to process the totality of your feelings. Internalizing the idea that millions of people have starved as a lack of inaction is a large thing to do cognitively. This isn’t to say I’m pursuing inaction now, in fact I talked to akash and asked him to meet with you the night I first told you about him. But I think this remorse has been a difficult thing for me to fully grasp. I imagine I haven’t nearly fully grasped it even now, but I think I’m on a better track to.

I imagine, as you say, that I have probably fixed on things that are the incorrect framing throughout this conversation, as you say, since I don’t think the impact of what you meant by feelings of remorse hit me until now.

I also don’t intend to flatter you — anything I say I say because I believe it independent of this conversation. These maybe come off as flattery because they’re irrelevant to your actual point — feelings of remorse and a necessity to action that has been unanswered.

I have felt myself being uncomfortable in this particular interaction and I am not sure how much of that is because this is through messaging (instead of talking) and I’m misreading things in a way that I fear might be true instead of reading them in a way where I would normally understand what you’re saying. I think I’ve felt defensive from the start and felt I need to make up for something, rather than actually being able to recognize your feelings.

Do I seem to finally be recognizing how you feel? Or do I seem to be missing the target again?

Aris! Thank you!

I did get the feeling that you were responding to some supposed malice in me! :/ And thank you for recognizing that the wide-swath-in-me is remorse, *not* some castigation of your statements!

You walked in front of me at Berkeley on Thursday, seeming distracted, and I’d hoped to talk to you in person, then, but you didn’t come to class… I missed you! I don’t express myself with the intention of harm or suffering or blame — it’s *not* some tyrannical “you have wronged me because I feel bad; shame on you, prostrate yourself”! Instead, I reach inside myself, pulling organs covered in bile, to grab and haul-out what I feel, exposing it and placing it at your feet, to *observe*. I only ask for witness-to-them. My emotions are an offering; they are my dead mouse. They’re not to be “changed into something better” — they’ll change on their own, when they’re ready. As a result, you’re not *responsible* for making me happy or appealing to me. I don’t expect you to say what I want!

[Related: was there a time you could have done something to help, but didn’t, and felt remorse? You don’t have to drown in a flash-flood or starve with me; “affective empathy” is just recalling that experience of remorse, how it feels in your body, and *seeing* me as that, not some other emotion.]

I am with you in the ways I’ve added to your stress and discomfort, especially by expressing my initial discontent; I tangled my innards thinking about you… and! That “needing to make-up for something” is what I can dispell, once you mention it. I’d be glad to let you focus on your last months of school, your future plans, time with your family — I hope I’ve stressed in enough of our letters that I’m not asking *you* to place me higher than the low-priority I deserve! Rather, I would form broader connections in EA, to relieve you of this task! And, I understand that working with people, especially when something is new, can be delicate and take time — and, alongside that understanding, I hold my remorse. They co-exist.

Thank you for not ghosting in fear or hopelessness! We conjure sterner spirits, in-face of conversations’ phantoms
Anthony

[…and, though this might be a point of hesitancy…you mentioned “misreading things in a way that I fear might be true”. What were you afraid of being true? I hope that, like “needing to make-up for something”, I can address those fears, regardless of supposed importance, now. You didn’t respond when I’d asked about your “being used like empty clothes” poem; was your fear of me related to you-becoming-a-function, serving, instead of independent existence? If you’re ever less busy, I’d prefer to wander dialogues with you, instead of bludgeoning with bureaucratic luncheons… and! You happen to be the point-of-contact for your organization who responded, which is why I’ve been a bother to your schedule. Richard from the Burrow has invited me to a smaller-sized dinner next Thursday, which might work better… though, that is their *house* meeting, so I don’t expect to give any presentations! If anyone from your AI house is available, too, I see no downside talking to all of them. Then, I can scamper away if you like — I am not trying to take more of your time than that.]

[A third response, my apologies for repeated addendums — I also didn’t know if you had looked at the email I forwarded you, of my last attempt to talk to marine biologists about algal cultivation and fish farming? I prefer when people check the evidence, because then they lose the vague hypothesis that “Anthony’s just exaggerating to sound smart or over-dramatic”. No. I did, as facts demonstrate, spend 2003 to 2007 trying to bring about fish farming, a decade before we actually started doing it. That difference in food-production is *literally* millions without food. I take responsibility for my delays — they are not a dramatization or exaggeration, and the email I forwarded you is proof of that. I appreciate when people check, to see that I am telling the truth.]

Anthony

Anthony,

I appreciate this string of messages and I feel like I can confidently say I much better understand the situation than I did a couple of days ago!

On my end, I’m sorry to have missed you the other day. I had no idea that I walked in front of you this Thursday! (I had ended up missing class because I found out that a suitemate of mine tested positive for covid and that my roommate might have covid as well — but I found out in the evening that my roommate was negative.) I also do almost everything without my glasses, which pretty consistently leads to me missing people who I know…

Thank you also for talking through everything with me until I understood you (at least better)!

Ah, as for the fear section, I think one fear was the idea that I’d failed you or made you angry. Making people feel angry or upset with me is something I’m pretty overwhelmed by and will do a lot to avoid. I think it also relates to the second fear you mention, that I’m too agreeable and along the way get picked up as easy to use and vapidly let myself be used. It can feel difficult for me to figure out when I feel like boundaries are being crossed, but more and more recently other people tell me about situations in which I’ve been wronged by being too agreeable. In these past few weeks, I’ve been trying to become more aware of when I’m potentially getting myself into one of those situations and, in my misinterpretations of your emails, I was wondering if I had done that again.

I also don’t mean for my role to be someone who is passing you off to another person and then doesn’t speak to you again. I enjoy talking with you! I enjoyed our walk back in January and I enjoy having you in the spaces I’m in. I think, as I was wondering if my purpose to you was to be used for a particular outcome, it seemed right for me to say that you shouldn’t feel bound to talking to me or spending your time with the group if I’m wasting that time. I still do mean this — if speaking with Akash and going to the EA dinners gets you the connections that you need, I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay at EA Berkeley. But I appreciate having you around and it’s never been my intention to pass you off and distance myself from you.

I also hope to add as a note that, although my responsiveness is late compared to your responses over email, I have been trying to prioritize these messages over the past few days. I expect that, since now again I feel like we understand each other and I’ve spoken to Akash about you, I’ll likely have longer delays in responding as I have to run around addressing things that do stress me out in the moment. I do read your messages as soon as I see them, so even if my responses take a couple of days, I’ll receive the information rather quickly and be thinking about it. I hope this isn’t stressful for you, but if it is I can send a short response to clarify I’ve received your message? Would something like that be useful?

I did check your email earlier! I can understand how the time spent then unable to save people weighs heavily on you, although I’m sure I still can’t understand the depths of that weight.

Aris

Oh, I melted! You never need to serve, no discontent can bind you!
I’m at ease most knowing that you see the messages, at least; I understand that you’re inside a tumult, and you gulped a lot of responsibilities — I can wait until you’re across that finish-line! When you’re ready, I offer you any day or hour, and I’m portable, too :) I like you!

And, against the social norms of such topics, it might help if I share how I met my friend Sarah: when we were in middle school, on opposite ends of the country, we both began volunteering on a philosophy message board… and we started arguing. A lot! Not any fallacies or name-calling, but detailed, excruciating nuance. She’d get home from school in upstate New York, write paragraphs, and I’d respond later, here… until we’d gotten to the uncertain foundations we *both* had. Neither of us felt sure, anymore. And, we could see where the other person was coming-from — the heart’s intention, reflected through another prism of perspectives. *that* was different from ‘tolerating difference’ or ‘accepting difference’… it was appreciation. We kept arguing for years, but it was never a cruelty, even when she liked to be ‘snarky’ (New Englander slang) — I see your heart! You have no blame to fear, even when I’m rumbling!

More importantly: yes, keep firm boundaries! I’m familiar with the people-pleasing, and the harm that gets hidden alongside it. I don’t know if you remember one of my earliest song-suggestions (songgestion? hmm…) “The Leanover” by Life Without Buildings? She’s speaking to her friend, who is easily swayed by the pushy-charm and pity-pleas: she tells her friend “Don’t give-in to it!” And, The Clean’s “Slug Song” — “don’t ever bend… don’t change your mind!” It helps to have a bit of time to collect your thoughts, to *become* sure of yourself, so a constant rush to please can leave you not knowing enough *about* your own feelings. Then, it’s hard to tell when those feelings aren’t being heard or respected… [I should mention, though I rarely follow people in their judgements, I’ll always walk where your feelings lead! Especially when they’re ‘not worth mentioning/not important/not real’ while *still* re-appearing… those dismissed-and-discounted-emotions are like ghosts, drifting through walls back at us!]

Allay Delay!
Away today, I stay
Awaiting you!
In Garden-View,
When want is not a name
And all our shames undo
Each-others’ retinue -
At your feet I sleep
In scorpion-husk,
Defeated by the hush
And dear in dusk:
Let this iridescent-hull
Never pierce at all,
Though fleck may glare
In full-froth’s hue;
I chrysalis, I remnant — both!
My offering to you…

Anthony

[And, in the coil of beauty and regrets — a song filmed two years ago in a far-off city, written a while before that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKLQiWlXaRo ]

In case you ever worry about me being mad at you or disappointed, I’m actually awake writing these anagrams of you :p (I hope you don’t mind that I included your *first* name, for extra vowels…)

“Rain, Roar Us As Children”
“Assured Non-Arc Hair, I.R.L.”
“Dour Relic In Saran Rash”
“Raise Snail-Ardor Churn!”
“Hands Care Or I Run Rails”
“Hold Us Near Cairn Airs!”
“Hon Curls Inside: Ra-Ra-Ra”
“Cloud-Shrine Aria As R’n’R”
“I Caress Hard Lunar Noir”

with small footprints appearing nearby,
Anthony

Aris!

I was unsure what form your facebook chat would take — but I’d rather face-to-face or just text message, not sure if facebook is Akash’s preferred mode? And, if he can connect me to face-to-face, that’s what actually makes the difference…

Also, with your events culminating, now — would you like to spend any time together soon? If I am only a tangent to your attention, I relate! I merely linger on the vague hope of getting to know you, befriending you to what extent you see fit…

A pond
In early winter
Where I stood away from them -
Another new friend,
In picnic-pie
Discussions
That I never understand.
“Remember when?”
No, I had not yet begun
To know you, then.
Will my life, described
As some fable-dream
Be seen with that same bowl
Of honeydew memories
In you?
I step aside to smoke,
I step into a cloud.

folded in blankets,
Anthony

And thank you for receiving my poems! If I should be a falling ice cream cone, I hope to fall into awaiting mouth!
Another scoop:

Five years
Asleep on packing foam
In this truck,
That street,
Then the corner of
The second home
Of another family.
Rain-sputtered pigments
From the figures on the pavement
Chalk I walk by waiting
As we’re stranded
By the tow-yard,
By the grocery
Open late for bathroom breaks
From boiled-water-bottle blankets
And a wire latch within.
I fell asleep to the drone of the highway overhead,
And dreamed I lived
On an ice-moon.

Anthony

Thank you again, for orchestrating tomorrow’s gathering!

Upon my lap, molten,
Cadence-coiled, broken:
I hold the Holy Relic of our Age!
Dead rock, speak to me,
With lightning bulbs in every eye,
A thousand times across the face
Of this tapestry.
Your mouth is mine, in distant lands,
To each wanderer-afar;
My name is etched in frozen sand
Beneath the benthic bore…
Dread Terminus!
Your portrait is an Iron Wall -
Shadowless in mumbled halls,
With fibers dripping, wax and glass,
To hold our names when all is past.

(An ode to the Data Center, and my laptop…)

beneath wings, all around us,
Anthony

Another tied to the tree, for you…

I am not a leering shade
Across your cup
Demanding sips amidst
Scowling stern lips! This:
I came from desert-home,
And lost the feel of thirst
With all I am now paper
Blotted dry, bloodless.
I am glad that you exist!
That here, held for you,
Full-brim and dew around
The rim, your own chalice!
I do not reach for it — I sit,
Observing how your eyes lift
As you take each sip!
Aris, I admire Your Spirit!
So, please let my request
To hear your hearty-heart
Not be made a “yes”
For sake of seeming hard
By rejecting openness!
My pinch-in-ribs at each vagueness
Reminds me that I might imbue
Obligation when I had hoped
To offer my ear, hand to you.

Anthony

[I looked-over it again, and said “stern scowling” to myself, accidentally, so that’s probably the better word-order! I’ll leave a few more poems fluttering beneath the boughs until you feel the urge to rake them all up!]

And! In my pedantic defense of pondering and introspection, as a valuable and meaningful ACTIVITY that prevents future heartache, a stray councilor’s words:
“Building your capacity to be in touch with how you’re feeling on a deeper level permits you to think clearly and see solutions because you’re no longer protecting yourself from your pain. You are no longer designing your life around keeping a lid on discomfort. Options can now occur to you.”

Cautionary case-studies from my own social circles! Out of the five women I knew from years-when-young who have married, four of them had children… and all four of those women divorced when their kids were between 6 and 12 years old, which is basically the worst. Marrying for “financial security, shared interests, humor and charm” turned-out to be the wrong set of *criteria* for them to be satisficing-upon :/ Better to have the deep-ponder before you’re too far down the road, because others are impacted (kids, partners along the way), not just you! It also builds solid boundaries, and helps you to make clear priorities… to prevent you from giving all your time to the squeakiest wheel (i.e. me :O ) or being so over-loaded and understaffed that you don’t have time to reflect or respond to the unexpected! With your chance to focus your time on skilling-up and pursuit of your career, soon, I deeply hope that you include some mental journal of feelings — I have pangs, being-as those future selves in schism!

[the article quoted above was applying that concept to a narrower context, but it still applies well! here: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-relationships-require-us-to-face-discomfort ]

a wobbly jam jar,
Anthony

Hi Anthony!

Thank you for the poem. And for the care in general.

Yesterday I had a productive conversation with someone about the idea that I should write down a list of all of the things I might be doing that are not things that I actually want to be doing, but happen because I’m reflexively putting others first. I do plan to do this soon and think it’ll be helpful! I also think your suggestion to keep a journal does seem good! I used to have one, but that ended at the start of this year. Do you keep a journal?

In the spirit of communicating well, one thing I think I should bring up is that having messages waiting for me on multiple platforms usually makes me more stressed out about replying to any one of them. I think, for me, the best way to communicate with you is still over email, where I can read messages and then mark them as unread until I reply (as I still have yours marked!). Unfortunately, as messages become longer I’m more intimidated to respond to them (in general), so that happens to be the downside of email for me. But many times with other apps I lose messages altogether because they get swamped by others.

I hope that you were able to have some useful conversations at the ACX meetup! I was also meeting many people for the first time, but some of the people we spoke to were working at local AI groups! I imagine it was overwhelming to do more rapid fire conversations, but I think I heard you talk about the AI judges algorithm and hopefully you were able to have other useful conversations too!

All the best,
Aris

Aris :O

That little pit of nervous I’d been cupping has fizzled — I’m glad you’re planning to spend time in self-reflection! (I had wanted to mention, in a way that wouldn’t trigger neurotic self-depreciation or fearful defensiveness… that “being busy all the time” is a sign of something mis-aligned, either taking-on too many responsibilities, or ones that aren’t appropriate to you, or not having delegated them. When the wheels are running smoothly, we know because we have time to take a breath!) I am in a constant journal — I have a paper mind! There are more than half a dozen feet of it, sitting in Theo’s basement, and that was what was trimmed-to a decade ago, from a larger pile. The number of times that those gentle moments budded vital thoughts reminds me to keep them alive! “Life-hacking-for-productivity” shushes the soul’s musing! The perspective I developed, and grounding-of-my-own-feeling has protected me from hazards and cunning distractions.

I apologize for my numerous modalities — I will stay emailing! And, I understand how the text-barf overwhelms… I’ll try to be brief! ACX was definitely a challenge, with the clusters of folks going silent when I arrived, a few times… and then waiting until I walked away. That MIRI fellow and Ryan, Michael, were my successful conversations. Kurt was advocating that everyone try “not using their devices, except for emergencies and basic functions, for 30 days”, and when I said “I use my phone so little, it dies and I don’t notice,” they all paused, then Kurt went back to what he was saying — that was indicative of most of the conversations.

Especially now, I understand if you have even less time — i’ll just leave you little poems, and hush!
Anthony

Aris, for traveling!

Jet-Stream Rider!
Peer further, by an inch
To that subtle layer underfoot!
Your heart is thunder, fire,
Yet you cling to rising soot!
Lay a root in the wedge
At the edge of my lobe -
A rock is listening beside you
In your tinder-home.
You!
Encamp on the rim of the sky,
Soon enough! I know!
From a nest
At the breast
Of the green and gentle stuff
Between your toes.

Anthony

[And, if ever you felt, I would be glad to know what sort of journal you kept — what thoughts and feelings flowed? Or, were you keeping a record, or working-through troubles on paper?]

And, a melody adrift! “That Never Dies” by Norma Rockwell… here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAmERWsTu-8

in gasps of ink,
Anthony

<5 days later, in an email that was copied and pasted in a different font?…>

Hi Anthony,

I’ve realized I’ve become uncomfortable with the way our one-on-one communication has developed. I feel like little things I say or do have become very important to you in a way that makes me feel like I’m being obsessed over. Comments that relate to my perceived love life and my decisions with dating or marriage have especially made me uncomfortable. Receiving a lot of non-EA one-on-one attention from you over email or other messages feels unhealthy to me.

To clarify, I’m not uncomfortable with having conversations with you in groups at events. And I don’t mean for this to affect my recommendations of you to others in EA; I very much want you and your ideas to succeed. I’m still badgering Akash about meeting with you. But, I don’t any longer feel comfortable with the idea of having a non-professional relationship with you where I talk to you about my personal life.

I would like to ask that, especially given the club’s change in power, you direct EA related questions to Sofya and that you and I limit our interactions to be inside EA group spaces (in-person group meetings, slack channels).

All the best,

Aris

Aris,

I apologize for overstepping! Yes, I will keep myself out of your hair, and I can avoid you at events if you prefer that I not engage your friend-circle, too. I admire your spirit, and yes, you have been the focus of my thoughts — and, I am sorry that my interest in your life made you uncomfortable. I wasn’t expecting you to have romantic interest in me — I recognize how my own life isn’t what people are looking for! I do feel the sting, in the stray parts you have mentioned of your life, and I only hoped to know you better.

Thank you for thinking-through how you felt about talking to me! And, for letting me know, instead of going-along with my level of interest! (If you ever feel like becoming friends, I can cease poems and anything else you find uncomfortable, then, as well.)

glad to hear your feeling,
Anthony

…………………………

Whew! Those were the poetical moments, spread across 5 1/2 months of discussions about “who can I talk to about this design I invented, because I want to simulate it, and see if it would be viable for helping to fight climate disasters, because everyone I speak to recommends that I talk to *you*, Aris, and you say you are always busy working with all these people…?”

Moral of the Story? “If a man loves you the way that Grandma loves, by hoping to listen, feeling your turmoils in his own chest, and sharing the troubles he’s seen in life, as an offering to your own growth and fulfillment… then he is obsessive. Even after he expresses horror and disgust at the obsessiveness(!) in the romance sci-fi novel you enjoy! ESPECIALLY if he makes art for his friends, to show his emotions in vivid context and share what he can create.” Remember, it was months earlier that she specifically said: “I have felt myself being uncomfortable in this particular interaction and I am not sure how much of that is because this is through messaging (instead of talking) and I’m misreading things in a way that I fear might be true instead of reading them in a way where I would normally understand what you’re saying. I think I’ve felt defensive from the start and felt I need to make up for something, rather than actually being able to recognize your feelings.”

Something died, when you decided to judge without wanting to understand; you felt content to assume and walk-away, keeping your assumptions. I hope you find a better you, one day, Aris.

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