Prisoner of the Mind

I was the sole male in the presence of four females at last night’s dinner. Though it is impossible for me to accurately describe the dynamics of discussions in which I constitute a twenty-percent minority, suffice it to say they differ considerably from the dynamics of conversations in which genders are more evenly paired. I tend to be more relaxed among women than among men, but my experience in extreme minority situations can take on an almost surreal character…as if I am observing a frog being dissected. As I noted, I find impossible the challenge of accurately describing the situation.  That having been said, I greatly enjoyed last night’s food, company, and conversation. It was unfortunate that a fifth female and second male were unable to participate due in part to a phenomenon occasionally called “nurses sometimes make the worst patients.” By the way, I was the recipient of a lovely gift from a pair of friends at last night’s casual, comfortable, and delightful shindig; an octopus figure that has now joined my growing collection of eight-tentacled cephalopods. When I am “out” later than usual, it takes me a few hours to unwind. Consequently, it was past midnight before we got to bed, making this morning a bit difficult to welcome with open arms. Whether we/I/either of us get to church remains to be seen. Inasmuch as it’s close to a quarter past 8, the likelihood is looking quite slim.


Anne Boleyn, second wife of England’s King Henry VIII, was beheaded on May 19 after being convicted of adultery. Though questions of her date of birth remain, it is generally agreed she would have been either 517 or 523 years old today, had she survived following her beheading in 1536. Beheading seems somewhat harsh for adultery. In fact, beheading seems overly severe for all but the most inexcusable and unforgiveable crimes—those are defined differently for different people, of course.


Gazpacho. I love the flavor, the texture, and the way it brings joy to my tastebuds. But I have never had enough gazpacho; never enough volume at a single sitting and insufficiently frequent opportunities to enjoy it.  I am to blame for the dearth of gazpacho in my life. But it’s never too late to overcome what may seem to be insurmountable challenges! And making gazpacho is easy! I almost cannot believe it could have been so long ago, but I think I enjoyed my last bowl of gazpacho at a little neighborhood restaurant in New York City…years ago. That is inexcusable, of course. I promise to rectify that horrible oversight. I intend to start by following Alton Brown’s recipe. Then, I’ll branch out, trying different versions along the way. This may be the way I reacquaint myself with the joys of the kitchen. Too much time has passed since I lost myself in the delights of the stove-top and spice cabinet and spending time at greengrocers’ stands. This morning, I feel certain I could become vegetarian if I put my mind to it. And I just might.


Every. Damn. Day. I get up and—just a few hours later—I need a nap. On the one hand, I’ve come to appreciate the extra sleep or, if not sleep, quiet relaxation. On the other, my productivity has taken a sharp dive. I must need the rest. I keep telling myself that is the reason for feeling tired. I just wish the amount of rest I need would decline more—and more quickly—than it has to date. Mi novia needs rest more than I do, I think. She has taken on the role of caregiver and caregiver proxy and several other responsibilities that can drain one’s energy and sap one’s strength. Taking time for oneself can be far more important than giving time to others, especially when serving others grows increasingly wearying. It is time for me to come up with solutions. Solve the situation. Solvents?


When I begin to feel that I have not accomplished all I hope to accomplish in my life, I need only to remind myself how far I’ve come since I was in prison. I may not be rich and powerful, but at least I’m no longer in prison.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Prisoner of the Mind

  1. John says:

    Valerie, I worked in a prison while in grad school…my comments were an attempt at “cuteness.”

  2. Valerie says:

    It was very enjoyable to hear your thoughts. I’m pretty sure, not totally, that you referred to no longer being in prison In prison as being in the prison of your mind. Correct?

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