I Identify With the Underdog and I Am Glad

I hear about a terrible childhood, a child abandoned, mistreated, raped, starved, tossed out into the street, to a life of begging and prostitution; or the opposite: I hear of a child endlessly pushed to be better than everyone else at something or at everything, the child’s inner person disregarded, the child pushed out of a sense of self, and I am sad for both of them.

Sometimes I am angry at the ignorance which keeps us digging a ditch in which to throw ourselves. The philosophy of that ditch is ignorance of the manufactured necessity of things the corporations want to sell us. I see the philosophy of ignorance as based on fear.

Like yesterday in the elevator. An elderly woman spoke against the winter rain and coming snow. I said  I hoped for rain and snow. “Oh no,” she exclaimed, especially against the cold of snow. I said we need the water. New York State is in a state of drought, hot on the heels of California which is returning to desert. Another woman spoke to me with an air of disapproval, “You think that?”

Having just written a short essay on needing to return to the Commons, nothing owned, all life taken care of, I had a fierce reaction. I loudly exclaimed: “Drought is not something I think. It is a scientific fact. ” The woman dropped her eyes and scurried away after the elevator door opened. I hurried to her side and said, “I hope you aren’t offended by what I said.” “I’m not,” she said meaning “I am” and walked away faster still.

But of course, she was offended not only by my tone but by my words. She did not want to know that my speaking of local drought had reality behind it. I criticized myself for being speaking with anger, since the way I spoke helped her closed the door of learning. Defensively, I said to myself, but what about my anger over those who disregard emergency? I said, does your anger help? I felt that what I did was wrong but my angry child held on to fighting. We all of us have to deal with the ambivalence of feeling versus knowing.

The part of me that identifies with the underdog was outraged. I was angry that she did not allow herself to see the painful death that is fast approaching. It is said that by mid-century, 50% of all wild creatures will be dead. Rather than having centuries to study our criminal neglect, we humans go with them. I was angry at her for needing not to know. I was angry at her for the weakness that we share.

Anger has to do with feeling helpless and ignored. It has to do with feeling the pain of life bumping against the ignorance of those without knowing, attack Mother Earth to have more of something trivial. Anger is a defense against feeling overwhelming pain.

I tell myself I need to learn to curb my temper in order to have a good effect. I tell myself that I have to learn how to gracefully fail.

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How Do You Know If You Are in a Repetition Compulsion?

You don’t know. You can’t know. Others may spot it but you don’t The internal bricks from an unloved childhood are lined up against the door of knowing. Other people who are not like you can easily see your repetition but you deny it. You call it “chance event,” an insignificant coincidence. Say that it is not a close a resemblance. Says you, as they remark in my native Brooklyn. The part of you that resonates with inexplicable fear, instead of finding out from whence it comes, makes you deny it harder.

Your friends say that they are trying to help you and probably they are but you do not think so. You react instead as if they are trying to hurt you. The issue as discussed in my book Unloved Again is that three of you reside inside your mind. One of you is the sensible adult, a not sufficiently developed sense of self that does not want to be with the unloving people you find yourself with. I use the word find because you have no idea of how this has happened. You think, “I certainly wouldn’t choose this.” You see yourself as passive.

Those behind the bricked-up mental door are the internalized parent and child of childhood. They work to  direct your adult mind away from them while sending messages which shape what you think and feel. You are easily seduced. You treat what enters your mind from behind the bricked door as coming from your true  self. Your adult mind has fallen into the past and does not know it. The internalized “freezing parent” and “frozen child” tell you how to think.

It is the “freezing parent” which demands fealty and submission. It is the “frozen child” which submits. These run who you love and how. The reason you do not see this is because the “freezing parent” needs you not to know. You are not to know that the “freezing parent” wants to turn you into a “frozen child.”

In order to end the repetition compulsion, your adult mind has to separate from r past identities, to see a difference between then and now. The adult has to stop paying attention to ancient feelings of loss and dread. It is the adult’s right to let the past be past.Sometimes ignoring the past involves an internal (or even verbal) statement of “shut up” and “get lost.” Sometimes it involves laughing as if told a good joke.

The adult has to pay attention to his choice of  unloving partners until he stops attributing them to chance. The adult accepts that “It is I who choose” and “It is I who end it” if it turns out to be another repetition. The aduIt knows he has little experience with loving people but vows to search until he/she finds someone whose feelings warm me up. With that person, I will make a home.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomb@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.

How To Stop Loving Those Who Can Not Love

You Have to Molt

In arthropods, such as arachnids and crustaceans, molting is the shedding of the exoskeleton (which is often called a shell), to let the organism grow. The butterfly, for example, emerges from its  chrysalis, its wings kept close to its body until it recovers from the effort of its a transformation.  It then spreads its wings and begins to fly not very well at first. Flying is a learning process not unlike the metamorphosis of a human being into a new way of feeling and relating. I use a caterpillar changing into a butterfly as an example because of its  ultimate beauty. Also the caterpillar molts from the head down the same way we need to change our minds.

Those raised in an  emotional/psychological hell, develop a psychological shell which is felt to be protective. It incorporates all that the child learns to get along with or to seek forgiveness from  the powerful figures in his life. It incorporates a lot of guilt and whitewashing if not worship of the abuser. Molting exemplifies the necessity  of total change. Changing a little of this or that in your appearance or demeanor to get an unloving person to love you is no change at all. To change yourself from being attracted to those who can’t love or for you to be unloving, your childhood thinking has to be surrendered by it’s “not me.”

Children  whose parents are welcoming and loving develop a psychological persona, not a shell. Their way of relating is roomy and ready to be traded for some new kind of love interaction even on an experimental basis. They have no fear of falling into an emotional abyss. They know from relating to parents who do not claim perfection, that a wrong choice can be easily given up. No problem. There is a sense of freedom.

It is fear of giving up the childhood shell of imagined protection which keeps the adult who had a damaging childhood, seeking love from the same type of person as the parent. That adult feels frozen like a deer caught in the headlights because it exists in the terrified child brain which sees no other possibility. The child’s brain says if you try to change the one who attacks you, it can only get worse. The adult may scream and weep about his miserable love life but his childhood mind says stay here.

People suffering from the repetition compulsion endlessly fall in love with those who cannot love them. They replay a childhood wish that finally the parent will love them. The child also clings to repetition as a superstitious act which believes that doing the same thing wards off greater danger.

I got to the place where I molted out of my containing child’s view of love, by suffering.  I failed and failed again to get love from the same kind of unloving person. I suffered  to the point where I knew that I did not know who or how to  love.  I threw in the towel of repetition, was desperately lonely and unhappy. Being in that empty space was a huge step forward. I had  no shell. The childhood shell which rationalized life with attacking and rejecting parents kept me as an adult from feeling love when it was offered. A shell misshapes your view of reality. It turns present into the past you have always known.

So it was when I was in an exceedingly lonely state  I met the man who was to be my husband. Lacking my  screen to distort receptivity, I immediately felt him a kind, intelligent and caring man who did not lie. Coming from a rejecting childhood, he did not think I meant it when I gave him my phone number. Heartbroken, I waited for his call. We ran into each other on Main street a year later when he was driven to put aside his shy demeanor and try to pick me up. I slowly recognized him, had a brief careful talk, said goodbye and went into the supermarket. He called me up that night. Had my phone number written on his wall by the phone. We met for a date at a macrobiotic restaurant. Liked the food. Happily and instantly we became a couple He put no barrier between us. I felt so much love from and for him,  was constantly close to tears. I had molted out of the miserable “known” into wonderful emptiness. This made room for him to get close to me, which he did. And I did to him.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomb@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.

How Did I Come to Write Unloved Again

I Wanted to Study how I learned to love those who could not love. It was writing Unloved Again that taught me the origin is childhood pain denied.

You who love those who cannot love you or reject those who can, do not know why you do it. It is like you are in a state of amnesia. You do not know how you got here. Things simply happen to you. If you are unable to see that it is you who make the choices, in effect the same mistakes, ask the opinion of people who are objective. Repetition is a tell-tale sign of choice.

It is like you are perched on the roof of a dark and shuttered house. You do not know how you got there nor how to enter. You periodically receive messages from that house along with feelings. These messages tell you who to love and hate including to hate yourself. You think these messages come from the “real you.”

Why do you assume that this inner voice represents your adult self?  It is like believing advice from someone who profits if you make the “right  choice.” Accepting the terrified thinking of your inner child and the terrifying directives of your inner parent denies that you can grow. You are to remain fixed in childhood. You may fool yourself into accepting  these opinions by calling them your “intuition.” There are so many ways we fool ourselves.

The internal structure of the darkened house is very fragile. Its parts connect one to the other like cripples leaning against one another for greater balance. If one of them steps out of the pack, all the rest fall down.  The source of this mad circumstance of lasting disorder is that it represents half fighting and half surrender. It is the power of surrender which brings the parts down together – I fall into you. It is the power of resistance which binds the two together – You can’t get up without me. This building is covered by a dark roof which protects its contents from the wind and rain of recognition. You are to hear what it tells you and feel what it sends you but not understand the source.

How the child survived with unloving, brutal and rejecting parents is what the house is about. Many of these aspects have to do with denying the reality of what happened. The child turns his abuse into something better or takes the blame for it. If it all was his fault, punishment was called for. Does he need more? The parent was a bully whose nails of hatred were hammered into the child’s wood of self-identity. How does the adult handle this? How does it color his view of love?

The adult perched on the roof hears the child’s distant cry and takes it as his own. He has not separated from his internal child. Some neurotically-driven people dedicate their lives  to saving the inner child. But you cannot rewrite the past. You can only understand it in order to leave the past behind. Those dedicated to saving their remembered inner child, sacrifice their present life. There are many forms of arrested development and this is one.

To accept the feelings and directives from that darkened house is to declare yourself invalid. You need to break into that mental building and examine its every piece. Study the child’s willingness to surrender. See the rationalizations and lies that make this possible. Study your parent’s emotional weakness which underlies their terrifying behavior. Remember them as hungry ghosts, throat too small to swallow and fill their endless need  (Dante’s Inferno) Get a calendar in your mind so that you can distinguish past from present.

You will be energized to follow this difficult path by pain. See that your pain was inflicted by a cruel parent who needed to injure their child. Reject accepting pain as the path to love. Do not identify punishment as love. Pain is pain and  nothing else. Pain is a terrible connection. Sever yourself from that kind of union. Pain is there to alert you to do something about its source not to surrender, not to quiet you down. Growing numb does not free you. Feeling my pain and understanding where it comes from and especially not accepting a guilty position helped me stop choosing people who could not love me You can do it too.

Unloved Again shows people struggling to understand their history. The internal child will always cry in terror. Is that terror relevant to your “now?” The internal parent will always threaten the child. Should you, the adult be afraid? An adult mind declares these experiences to be from the past. It is time for achieving great emptiness in order for something new to enter.  Loving someone who can love you now is living in the present.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomg@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.)

To Love Does Not Mean To Surrender

There is a lot of confusion these days about what constitutes a “good marriage.” The forces of servility  are asserting pressure on” woman” to fall back in time. She is to stand behind her man who makes the  important decisions. It is reminiscent of the Nazi rule for Aryan woman:  “kinder, kuche, kirche” (children, cooking, church.)  She is to follow her husband’s orders and reproduce. There are women today who accept this proposition as good and appropriate.  Humans are an amazingly and sometimes inappropriately adaptive species.

But even those not attempting to reinstate this power disequilibrium do not know how to keep their own opinion and still co-habit. They live in a one wins and one loses “world,” an above and below position in relating. But of course, that cannot be. Partnering like true friendship is between equals. Those who have not surrendered the competitive struggle, cannot imagine happily living together where they do not have to agree yet both are right.  The epitome of happiness is found in a place of anarchy and difference, a mighty coexistence. It is the most long-lived, healthiest kind of bonding, just like the strongest dog is a mixed species mutt.

I once read of an experiment in which people were given a container to sniff the odors of similar and distinctly different people. The odor of those most physically distant from their selves was most attractive. A feeling of pleasure is energized by what creates the strongest offspring. Survival of the species, a condition in our genes knows the difference.

Historically, those who chose to mate with almost identical types as in royalty attempting to retain ownership of their land, often suffer from  hemophilia, a state of uncontrollable bleeding. There are other signs of weakness due to inbreeding, not a good choice at all.

How then is it that despite this we are drawn to similarity? Is it the greed of the land-holding royalty which was passed down to us by identification even though we were their serfs?  Our current US snobbery tells us that white is better than black,  tall better than short,  Straight better than curly, that size breast and nose and mouth….and so on.  In so many ways, the ever-changing but currently favored appearance is dictated by fashion- makers who want to sell you something or by those who use it to establish their superiority, has all kinds of negative consequences. Blind to the consequences of our snobbery, of our greedy consumption, pollution, extraction, we seem to be moving towards non-existence.



Recognize A Lie

You cannot tell another’s lie if you are a liar. If you lie, you assume that everyone does it. The clarity of the  litmus paper of truth is stained by your falsehood so that you cannot see through. Blindness is caused by avoiding the rules of morality which bring us all together. If we lie, we believe that everyone is a liar and do not feel guilty for doing it. We come to have no belief except in the power of us versus them, our lying enemies.

Where do we need to feel the location of truth when testing our own reaction?  Is knowing the truth, a head operation? According to the American Indian (I forget which tribe,) we find truth in our heart. If what we think and do heals and feeds the “other” as well as self, it is truth. If decisions come exclusively from your mind, .. you are crazy which means out of touch with reality.

In knowing whether someone speaks the truth, ask who “who benefits?” If you or the party or organization is the sole winner, you/they/it lie. If your seeing and knowing are limited, if what you think, do and say is blinded by fear, is it a lie? Yes but not your fault. Your thinking has been corralled and distorted by the family, group distortions, by propaganda rained down on you thinking from childhood on.

Do the heart-designated lying words engender fear of the designated enemy so that you will use weapons to kill in order to protect self/family/nation, who/what benefits from this war? Never stop asking where goes the flow of money and power from your violence.

If you are pushed into feeling the false power of group excitement, you are lying to yourself. If you can stand on your own two feet and feel your connection with life around you, you are more in touch with truth.

With heart over head, see what moves you. Be willing to learn more and change in that direction. A heart response takes you out of the loneliness of egomania and false connection to ideas and movements which engender disaster.

Do not be taken in. Remember to always ask if it is a lie.

Come Out of Your Cave and See

Talking about the current ecological/political situation between swimming at the beach, my friend suddenly told me to say no more in a loud,  cranky voice. I felt personally rejected but later recognized that it was not me she was rejecting but the information I proposed. I was telling her something she wasn’t ready to consider. She lives in a world of certain ideas like in a cave with opaque walls.  Her need to sustain a detached comfort, to dismiss her anxious feelings due to her  presumed inability to do anything about it, puts limits on her ability to consider.

Her main newspaper’s masthead says: “All the news that’s fit to print.” This motto implies a greased surface on which facts slide away from coverage. What if it’s Victorian principles say that certain news isn’t fit? Fit for whom? What if its corporate funding determines what to call improper?

If the stated choice is only between A and B, both of them destructive, we need a third way; and a fourth and more. How did we ever get into having two parties instead of individuals running for office, into a winner take all system which is totally undemocratic? Most party members get their running again for office expenses met by corporations whose needs they will represent. It is a choose the lesser of the evils way of life for voters. This A or B choice is all about giving up a clearly good choice, a strange kind of comfort for a voter derived from limitation.

It takes ego strength to recognize the coming downfall of civilization and the end of life itself due to the extractive behavior which A and B propose. Obama is looking for new places in the ocean to dig for oil. He heralds fracking natural gas to makes us less dependent on Arab oil. But fracking poisons the water table and causes earthquakes. Oil and gas and coal and nuclear set the world on fire. What binds him to these choices?  Does he not know the mounting research which screams disaster? Do we let our elected official’s smiling face and reassuring words put our minds to sleep?

Our congress votes where corporate bribes lead it. Corporations say they are making  changes to avoid climate catastrophe. Behind this hardly significant enactment, they do the same destructive acts. We need to become strong enough to know what is happening in order to make good choices. We need to leave the mental cave of unknowing. Fracked gas and oil and coal and nuclear can be replaced by windmills and solar collectors including solar windows and environmental design and more are coming. We, the voters need to insist upon it.

36 percent of the population doesn’t vote in national elections. The non-voter is giving it all away. Local elections  where the voter has the greatest power are ignored. The non-voter believes “I don’t count.” Acting as if you don’t count makes it so. Local officials hear your complaints and demands. If they don’t listen, they will not be reelected. Ralph Nader said that we need to elect those who serve our needs,

Let us say, “Tell me” and then vote accordingly. Let us start locally with whom we elect as mayor and school board, and fire chief, and environmentalists who demand that toxic sites be removed … and us. Do not hesitate to run. Elect those who represent us. Survival needs a foundation of trust. Do not settle for less.

Turtle in My Hair

Me dear friend Ian is visiting. Having him to talk to and then sleeping in my living room, in some way put me in touch with my essential self, what is meaningful to me when not overwhelmed by what I need to do next – I am on vacation.

We dream all the time, perhaps an average of 7 times a night but leap out of bed in the morning so that memory is lost. This time, I lingered with what I consider a psychological joke but now consider a message presented as a joke since little overwhelms the defenses more than humor.

A joke leaps over our fences of non-knowing. It says “look at me (or you or it) and laugh.”  That’s how the truth creeps in. It’s like Alan Cohen’s song that says light enters through cracks in the wall. In my dream, I was at the beauty parlor whose worker engaged in a mighty fight to establish order in the wilderness of my hair. I should add that my family always hated my hair. It did not hang down straight as they thought it should but emerged into the light as if growing towards the sun. I now regard it as a kind of halo. But they turned my hair into an “enemy.” They brushed out the curls which only made the hair stand up straighter. They and then I spent a fortune having it straightened The workers would take a lunch or coffee break when they saw me coming. They saw my hair as a work for two clients but only getting paid for one.

So there in my dream, I am in a beauty parlor and the worker finds a turtle in my hair which seems as wild as ever. I am surprised but not displeased to see it. The turtle reminds me of hiding in a shell away from the forces that want to disrupt my ability to learn what really is going on including in people’s thought and hearts. I tell ask the worker to bring me something to put the turtle in so she finds a white plastic container which is far too small. I want to turtle to come out of its shell, extend its head and look around.

That is when I awaken.

Know and love your dreams. They are telling you something important that you have put aside, that you are ignoring or have managed to toss out of consciousness. My turtle was a symbol of what I need to deal with. My book Unloved Again is my contribution to all of us locked in childhood with unloving parents, an experience we unconsciously seek and repeat without knowing. That is because our adult is insufficiently developed to tell the difference between then and now, and to establish rules which cut the tie.

The turtle reminds me of my love for Mother Earth, of my need to help save her and all her denizens including human from the  corporate agenda  which condemns us to death. Have we gone mad so as not to see what is happening? Do we hide our heads in the corporate paradise of  getting more things…. like a frightened child hiding its head in its mother’s skirt?

A dream tells us to live in the now. It tells us what we value. A dream comes from where our self is. We need to take it seriously in order to grow and celebrate life.

How to Develop Courage

Many of us have not developed enough courage. By enough, I mean courage that carries us through when we meet a frightening obstacle. We weren’t taught how to develop courage by parents who lacked it or were bullies who needed our submission. We shake in our booties when courage is required to face something or someone who disagrees. We run from the scene and take drugs to suppress our feelings.

After a lifetime of doing what we are supposed to do as was dictated by parents who were cowards or bullies, we are well acquainted with helplessness and fear. In my book Unloved Again, many people are overwhelmed by the fear of taking a new position with their lover. They are afraid to be known. Expecting doom for not going along with the other’s program leaves them no place to be themselves. They feel like failures but are relieved at having survived the latest encounter. Their reaction to the bully is thought to be life-threatening because the internal child which I call the frozen child fears being extinguished by the internalized parent the freezing parent. The frozen child shapes the adult’s lack of courage and even causes them to choose partners who are dangerous. The negative life of childhood lives on.

But what are we to do who were raised by bullies, or cowards, or people who had no time or interest to introduce us to the path of courage? It is interesting to think of American Indians before being destroyed by ravaging and land-hungry conquerors. They had  ceremonial rites to develop the child’s courage and to induce spiritual visions. The child  remained alone on a remote spot for days, with fantasies of being hurt or killed by roaming beasts until these passed away as mere thoughts and wilderness in all its manifestations was seen as a  relative and friend.

We adults need to create time to witness our fears, to live through what we fear the most ’til we get to the other side. If our fearful vision is not easily erased we need to do the feared thing over and over again until objectivity is accomplished. We “moderns” are overly trained to heed our feelings as representing a true reality rather than resurrecting an ancient fear or need.

I was raised by a linguist who was a critic. Nothing I ever said was said  was well pronounced or ideationally correct. I was subjected to  one loud and angry attack after another. I became a very soft speaker if I spoke at all. Better to not be heard. Years later, I wrote for a local paper. Writing a column felt to be distant from me.  However, even here there were reactions. Readers sent me letters of hate when I spoke about seriously misguided parents who had sex with their children as acts of love. My editor called my highly disputed column a success.

At one point, my cabin was full of visiting family which left me no place to think and write. I heard that Connie had a place to rent from a friend. I met Connie, now my deepest friend, in the garden to Pacem in Terris and asked if I could rent a room. She said please come back at 6 to discuss it. I had no idea that she had a secret plan when I entered The Dove Cottage. Saw a bunch of people sitting in a circle looking at a script. One handed me a copy. I was going to give it back and flee. My adult mind said nothing doing and made me stay. There weren’t enough actors so everyone got a part. Mine was the tiny part of “aunt.” I rehearsed every single day fearing I would forget the lines or say them at the wrong time. My father teased me cruelly about my venture into acting. His tone and speech indicated that I would be a flop.

But I wasn’t a flop. I remembered my lines and said them on cue. I emerged after the play was over to see my mother learning on the creek wall next to the playhouse, I thought she laughing at me but it turned out she wept with pleasure. Slowly, slowly the idea was emerging that I could speak and be heard. I was bullied into further developing this notion when a friend said, “Get a radio program.” I went to the local station, WTBQ and said I want to do a program called “Mind’s Eye” To my horror they agreed.

Well, this went on for a few years, me puzzling aloud about human behavior, even interviewing guests.  Now I am almost totally devoid of  the fear of speaking out. Developing courage takes practice, a lot of it.

Why Do We Hurt the One We Love?

This goes for lover, parent, friend or child. Most of us think that our mind is like a single continent and can’t explain our sudden or slow transformations of mood  and thought from love to hate and back to love. Since all thinking is analogous, words substituting for the essence of things, I say that the mind has many islands. One of the islands is love. One of them is hate and fear. This is an island of constant struggle and surrender. It has a tremendous impact on our conscious mind. Other islands represent different aspects of the self, many of experiences secretly desired.

The island of hate and fear represents early childhood with parents who were hateful to the child. By  introjection the child absorbs that harmful parent as a feeling/acting person that acts within its mind; or by identification with the parent’s behavior as actor or receiver of mistreatment. Once grown, the introject which I call the freezing parent continues to order the adult you around. The introject which I call the freezing child hides, fights back a little and then obeys. The adult, when subjected to abuse or abusing is acting  like a puppet on the strings of its childhood accommodation to mistreatment

The adult part of the mind which is a latecomer in the person’s cognitive development and therefore weaker tends to follow  the freezing parent’s  orders and to feel the frozen child’s emotions. He considers what comes from both of them to be his true self. The freezing parent says “hate” the one you love for this or that fault so the adult hates. Due to the freezing parent’s  directives, this relationship is extremely unhappy. Often there is a return to the adult consciousness, the person feels pained and guilty for what was  done to the loved one. Apologies are made along with pleading for forgiveness.

The swing from past to present does not end. Messages from the freezing parent and the frozen child keep the adult in a see-saw of confusion. The adult needs to separate his current thinking and feeling from childhood experience. How the child was mistreated then is not acceptable to do to enact as perpetrator or victim now. Our adult mind has to grow strong enough to insist upon growing up. You can learn from the past but not reenact it. Strength comes from doing what the frozen child is afraid of, to defy the freezing parent and then get on with loving.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomb@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 including shipping) versions available. Payment collected via Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.