February 4, 1995

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

I’m reading The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. I’m completely floored by the way he draws conclusions, and I don’t like it as much as the autobiography, but I still like reading it.

I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to be orally, anally and genitally fixated at the same time. In honor of Freud I am going to start keeping track of Symptomatic and Chance Actions. Also Erroneously Carried-out Actions, which is pretty much my whole life.

Remember my confusion, dropping things and getting tangled up with my umbrella at the ATM machine? Well, I think this has a lot to do with fears about money, not so much that I don’t have any, but a sort of general nervousness about the fact that money is actually nothing but record keeping, and what if the records just go away. I mean I have this fantasy that every financial transaction I make results in a little wheelbarrow of gold being rolled from one coffer to another, but even that isn’t reassuring. I never, never open my bank statements, but I keep them all in their sealed envelopes. Why?

This one is a little different, but significant, I’m sure.  A few months ago I was walking on the Mills campus on a Saturday, and there was a high school cross country race.  Every time a runner ran by, I felt acutely embarrassed.  It was terrible.  Hot face, quickened heart, the verge of wild laughter.  I have absolutely no insight into this.  Maybe it has to do with being moved by all-out effort.  I mean these runners (I was near the finish line) were just trying so hard, concentrating so hard, and I felt a surge of admiration and also embarrassment.  Could you please explain all this?

Other impulses.  Hmm…Desire to confess.  Desire to be the center of attention. I want people to crowd around me whispering to each other, “Look how modest she is!” Desire to squeeze other people’s pimples, a throwback to primate grooming behavior.

I’m all out of neurotic impulses.  How sad!

Oh, but I wanted to write about forgetfulness, since Freud does too.  He says it has to do with associating the forgotten thing with something that you actually wanted to forget.

Now there’s something that happened when Teresa was here, and I can’t remember what it was but I know that when it happened I thought immediately–I have to put that in my diary.  And then a few minutes later I had no memory of the incident, though I remembered that I needed to write about it and racked my brain.  Then I remembered, but didn’t write it.  Then later I went to write and I’d forgotten again.  And at this moment I have no idea what it was that was so important to remember and write down. 

Oh, yes!  Breakthrough!  This is going to be so anticlimactic.

When Teresa arrived, she was very tired, and she put her head down on the pillow and said, “I think I’m asleep.”

“No you’re not.  You’re not drooling yet.”

“Well, I’m not a faucet, you know.”  And that was it. 

But I think my trouble with remembering has to do with guilt about putting people into my diary and how incomplete they are.  All accounts are partial.  Most of the time I ignore this.