Street Art + Dissociation (05 Apr 2016)


Sunday was a very strange day. I was not able to do my usual routine things because there was a city marathon and the crowds kept me from going to my favorite Starbucks for early afternoon coffee and sticker-making. So I ended up spending much of the day in bed. Too much of the day. Considering the mood that I was in, getting outside would have been the best choice, but with anchoring routines in disarray, I could not conceive of a good Plan B on the fly.

Eventually, I could not handle it anymore and I HAD to go out. There was no choice or debate. So I set up a good “defensive” music playlist, grabbed my things and headed into the city. Unfortunately, I forgot to consider that Starbucks closes early on Sunday. So I was downtown with no place to go. I sat on a bench to consider my options when a police car rolled by (probably just post-marathon security). But, I stupidly made eye contact with the policeman in the passenger seat.

Rules #1 – 500: Don’t make eye contact with police.

I know that I’m in Germany and the police here are  different, but my body and instincts still respond whenever I see their cars or uniforms. Making eye contact triggered ultimate fear and stress. Then… “Activate dissociation procedures…”

I am not sure how long I was skipping in and out of reality, but I know that I did things that I was not aware of until the next morning. I went to a gas station and ate two packs of gummi candies (the empty bags on the floor of my room in the morning were the only clue). And I put up some stickers (I vaguely remember one set and only the photos are evidence of two others). Thank goodness my actions were all only Rated G.

This is the scariest type of dissociation for me. Being active and unaware. I am, however, fortunate that I do not have personality changes to further complicate things. But this is plenty enough. The uncertainty, the insecurity, the guilt and the fear is plenty enough to handle already. Thank goodness, I have not had any serious or dangerous problems in a long time, but I am always worried since I don’t have control.

When the dissociation starts I try to use my skills to break the cycle and re-stabilize, while also getting to a safe place as quickly as possible. But sometimes, the warning signs come too quickly, or they are masked by another feeling and I can’t detect their approach. This is why being sleepy/tired is tricky (I can’t tell when my body is shutting down), or being too happy/excited is tricky (the nervous stimulation is fun but also triggering).

Today in a group session session, I learned that I probably zone out sporadically for short times during the day. Almost everyone in my group had examples of when they tried to greet me and I just completely ignored them. I was shocked. I had no idea. I told them that I would never ignore them if they greeted me. The only explanations are that my concentration had locked onto something incredibly deep and I was checked out, or that I was dissociating and “I” was not there. My body was present and moving but “I” was probably gone. They said that, if they didn’t know me otherwise, they wouldn’t like me. This made me sad. I always thought that I was friendly, but in the face of such evidence… Ugh. I asked for their help in such situations. “Please speak louder or do anything to help me come back. Where ever I am, I can assure you I don’t like being there.” I’m trying to learn how to be more open, but this really doesn’t help. I’d rather stay a stranger than handle the guilt of being an unpredictable friend.

These are the stickers I put up. I kind of remember the “End War. End Hate” stickers, but I don’t know where they are. This is not a part of the city that I know. I don’t remember the two purple stickers at all.


Street Art – Freiburg, Johanneskirche (02Mar2016)

I was on a street car Friday evening, returning home from a visit with a friend, when I noticed these colorful paintings passing by. These are a bit unusual because it is not common to find such large and colorful paintings inside of the city. AND they were in perfect condition (not marred by taggers). So I made a mental note of the nearest street car stop so that I could return for photos on Saturday.

My mental note was not as good as it should have been. Just writing down that it was “near the church by the busy transit intersection” did not help at all. I visited three churches before I found the correct one. After making a huge circle around the church because I did not know where the paintings were in relation to the church I finally found the painting (and was fighting back tears of frustration, anxiety and failure).

I love the surprises in street art. I was very relieved to find these pictures. I was packing away my ipad to leave, when something told me to turn around and look behind the trailer that was parked behind me…

I was floored by what I saw. Unfortunately I cannot read the German text, but the artwork alone is enough to take one’s breath away. So often I am amazed by what these street artists can do with a can of spray paint.

I suppose Life decided that I had enough seriousness for one day, and the next part of my Saturday street art adventure had a much lighter tone. In the beginning of my search for the paintings, my street car passed a trash can that caught my attention. It had two stickers: an eye and a heart. I didn’t think anything of this. I see tons of trashcans with stickers (some with my own stickers). But my sub-conscious was not going to let this one go. Then randomly, my brain proclaimed that I need to make a “U” sticker to add to the others. Complete the sentence, “Eye Love U”. Being a good Boy Scout, I always carry supplies in my backpack. So, after taking the photos above, I took a moment and sat on a low wall to color, write and cut out a large “U” sticker. As always, I was not sure exactly where the trashcan was. I took a streetcar to the area, then proceeded to look suspicious as hell, as I checked every trashcan. Eventually I found it, and I made my contribution. This was kind of cool.


Saturday was a very stressful day, but I think I have some cool things to show for my efforts.

Street Art in Freiburg (self “interview” and slides)

Street art has become my new hobby. Over the weeks, it has evolved from just photographing the work of others to actually making my own contributions.

I created these YouTube videos to share with my family, but I decided that I can also share with my WordPress friends.

Please be gentle. This is my first time doing such a project. I don’t have have a “media voice” and I keep forgetting to look at the camera and not the people staring at me. But it was fun to share in a new kind of way.

I created these with photos with my iPad, Apple’s iMovie and GarageBand apps. The music is my interpretation and arrangement of “Heart and Soul” by Hoagie Carmichael (GO HOOSIERS!!).

Self “interview” (14 min):

Slide show (3 min):



Street Art – Freiburg, Part V

This slide show took a while to put together. Not only was this site unusually exhausting, but a series of other challenges arose that seemed to keep getting in the way of wrapping this up. It was not long before these photos began to take on a life of their own and then even the thought of looking at them was too much to bear. I was always able to complete the previous slide shows in a matter of minutes, but this one was a beast. I could only do a few pictures each day. I did not include notations for every photo (or group of photos) because this would have been absolutely too much. I trust that the artwork can speak for itself. I hope that my relation to the next series is better so that I can return to making a presentation that is more informative.

Street Art - Freiburg Part V

Street Art – Freiburg, Germany Part IV

Here is a new slide show from my latest wandering so through Freiburg. The city of Freiburg is unique for street art. There are “legal walls” where artists can showcase their talents. I believe that there are about a dozen such locations. I have only scratched the surface of all that this city has to offer. After an intense day of therapy I am grateful to be able to go outside and find a way through my anxiety and oppressively heavy negative thoughts.

I have additional photos on Instagram: @not_so_cold

Simply click on the image to open the Adobe photo viewer.
Street Art - Freiburg Part IV

Street Art – Freiburg (05 Dec 2015)

I had a very difficult week of therapy. I was stuck in bed for the entirety of Friday and barely dragged myself out of bed on Saturday. On Saturday, my energy was good, but my self-confidence and will-power were in the dumps. My self hate was sky-high. The day was gorgeous, so I spent the morning begging for myself to let me go outside. I hate when I must beg myself to let me do something that is so simple. “Normal” people just stand up. For me sometimes I require a fucking hearing before my internal Supreme Court to do anything. Often I need to present a case to even just go to the damn bathroom. (Waiting for myself to give myself “permission” to use the bathroom is such a demoralizing feeling. I am not allowed to go until I somehow deserve it). I hate myself. And my Self hates me. Around mid-afternoon, there was I tiny bit of hesitation in my resistance. I seized the moment and bolted for the door. I was finally outside. Fortunately, somehow, my backpack was already ready from the night before. I wouldn’t have much time before the sun went down and I had did not have much of a plan, but I decided to just work with what I had. I picked a song, pointed my feet in a new direction and just started walking.

Here is a sample of what I found. The full slide show is on the Street Art – Freiburg page. 

You can also see more photos on my Instagram page (@notsocoldblog)

Street Art – Freiburg, Germany (02-04Dec)

This has been a really tough week of therapy. I am very thankful to have found a hobby that gets me out in the fresh air (sometimes not so fresh air) and that lets the noise in my brain focus on something other than myself. I have been exploring Increasingly larger areas of Freiburg. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that I would be able to find way back to any of the places, but it has been nice to see them at least once.

Below is the latest collection of street art photos from this past week. Simply click the image to open the photo viewer.

Street Art - Freiburg Part II

Street Art – Freiburg (21 Nov 2015)

On Thursday I transferred to my new psych clinic. It is located in a beautiful university city in the Black Forest of Germany. As expected, I am a nervous wreck. I am totally lost, as all of my routines have been shattered. I spend a lot of time simply trying to calm down my thoughts so that I can figure out what to do next. I’m in constant confusion and therefore panic. Even bathing and eating meals is difficult. I was about to explode yesterday, so I managed to get enough clarity to go outside for a walk. The city was ridiculously busy with shoppers and tourists, so I ventured into the back streets. Immediately, I got lost, but it was ok. I turned on my “trouble radar” then just followed my curiosity and started taking pictures.

 (Click image below to open slide show)
Street Art - Freiburg