Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

All of the cool drawings in this blog are the work of Sam Brown. You can visit his site: Exploding Dog to see more.

Black Friday


Did you know that today is called "Black Friday"? It is the beginning of the season that retailers hope will help close the year with their books in the black. Most make 40% of their yearly sales in Nov. and Dec. with 50% of their profit also occuring during this time.

Meanwhile, holiday's are always a bit strange when you are homeless. The streets are empty; you know that the day is supposed to be special, but it is like any other except tha there are fewer things to do. You are keenly aware that everyone's focus is on home and family. You make do with what you have and try your best to face the world squarely with a smile. Sometimes that feels more like a grimace.

One of my shelter residents, who is about my age and very clearheaded, twice gave me a big hug last evening and told me that he had tried to call his family but that they wouldn't speak to him. He gestured around the room to the 70 other guys in from off of the streets and said, "I guess this is my family."

The guys are pretty amazing when it comes to coping with all that is in their lives. I feel petty when I struggle with my own.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving

Went this morning to a ranch west of Albuquerque with Odette. Incredibly beautiful day to walk in the sun and explore old Native American ruins. The ranch has an archaeological site with loads of pottery shards, some arrowheads and some remaining wall outlines of buildings peaking through the soil. It reminded me of being a kid and looking for rocks, exploring the fields and woods. I hope to go back and spend a lot more time.

(Odette is the same friend who gave me a copy of "Scrooge" and said that she thought of me when she saw it. Hmm...)

Now I'm at work procrastinating. Most of the staff had family and friends to be with for Thanksgiving, so it made sense for me to come and cover for their absences. I'm working from 1-9. Not very motivated to be honest. It's extremely quiet right now and will be until 5. Then from 5-9, the guys will be here and that should hold my attention and keep me busy.

Busy is good because it helps me to take focus off of what lately feel like the beginnings of an acute anxiety attack. Mostly they pass, but there remains a little gnawing feeling in my gut that serves to keep me nauseous. I'm doing work to alleviate the inner stress, and it is work on spiritual, physical, mental and emotional levels. Makes it hard to be present at work or anywhere else for that matter, but being responsible for a schedule keeps me doing the one day at a time thing.

Happy Thanksgiving for you Americans reading this and Happy Whatever-Fall-Festival when you have it to readersin other countries!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nice.

Came to work to enjoy the new paint job done over the weekend by the volunteers I mentioned. My office looks great! It's kind of a sea foam green with an accent wall of this deep hunter green. (I left the color cards at home and can't remember their actual names.) Anyway, I wore a green shirt today so that I could blend in.

I had some good conversation with friends over the weekend. One was with the saxophonist whose album I have featured on this blog in the past. We drank lots of wine and decided it was time for me to have another bonfire (smaller this time: a rug, more books and old papers, the pair of jeans I was wearing at the time). And I had a really meaningul talk with my landlords who are great at being supportive of me. Also, I went over to the home of a couple from church to have dinner with them and watch "Waiting for Guffman." The movie is so funny.

Oh, yeah. And I shaved my head completely bald.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday

Awoke early and watched numerous flocks of Sandhill Cranes rushing south. They are late for the Festival of the Cranes (Bosque Del Apache...Nov. 14-19) and seemed intent on making up for lost time, their usual lazy, ill-ordered flight patterned abandoned for a more formal "V" to maximize airstream velocity.

I went on to the shelter to meet my volunteers. Picked up some coffee and Dunkin' Donuts and the 10 warm bodies went to work. They cleaned the van, began construction on additional bike storage, painted my office (sea foam with an accented deep forest green), re-organized the back room storage and dismantled forgotten belongings that we will give to Goodwill, redistributed bunk beds to alleviate overcrowding, and re-installed a partition of walls. Wow. It is so good to have a crew of such dedicated persons who are willing to work so hard.

My own work time has been, as I mentioned yesterday, mostly consumed by the homeless shelter. Thirteen hours yesterday and an extra work day today for 5 hours, utilizing the volunteer help.

That's the joy. The sadness (both are present in life as I posted earlier) lies in the ineptness of the guy that I previously had interest in to be able to support even a normal friendship. I make up that he only allows himself to be capable of superficial connections. When I shared that I am struggling in life right now, he replied that he has things to do this weekend and might be able to connect sometime before he leaves next week for vacation.

Yeah, right. "How 'bout them Bears?" (For my foreign readers: that's a reference to a movie quotation when actor Steve Martin jumps from his bed and offers this line to the guy he was sleeping with as a way to imply that nothing was meant by their being together.)

Sheesh. Why do I endlessly attach myself to unavailable and/or shallow people? Bad trait, that. I'm working to improve my record and for the time being am ridding myself of superficial connections. Down with the infidels of "How are you?"/"I'm fine. You?"!

As that translates into practicality, at least I'm freeing a lot of digital memory in my cell phone as unnecessary numbers are deleted.

Friday, November 17, 2006

End o' the Week

Although it is the end of the work week, I do plan to work at the shelter tomorrow morning with a group of volunteers. One task will be painting my office. I picked out and bought the paint last evening and am looking forward to refreshing my work space. I have a pretty cool view west of the volcanoes. Now I'll have a good interior view as well.

I'm reading a couple of good books (see column on right) and plan to spend time immersed in them.

Had breakfast yesterday with Melissa and her son at Melissa's house. It is so nice to wake up and have a morning meal with someone.

Today I got a card from a lady in PA thanking me for helping her son during his stay at our shelter. It's cool when someone that far away takes notice and gives thanks for the work of our homeless shelter.

That's about it for now. Figured I should balance out the gloomy picture that I've painted the past couple of weeks. Both images, of course, are true: sadness and joy. Sometimes sadness is just more cathartic to write about. Most times joy is more fun to read, unless the author is JD Salinger or Stephen King.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Had another little backyard fire. This time burned some books, tablecloth, old ristra, birdfeeder, painting, chair and lots of paper. I feel lighter.

Visited a philosophy class last evening that a group of my volunteers are enrolled in. Interesting discussion on shame vs. guilt, PTSD and killing during times of war.

Have exceeded my capacity for small talk and am in search of substantive friends--ones who actually live near enough to visit.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How to Pass Time

My substitute Team Lead called in sick for tonight. Since the other substitute is already working the overnight shift, I am spending my Friday night at the shelter until midnight.

The only social interaction I've had in 2 1/2 weeks has been one Sunday brunch, a drink with one friend and one dinner with another friend. The rest of my time has been spent alone, so I figure work is a good way to kill another evening.
I kind of wish that the Democrats had not won the Senate.

With control of all Congress lying with one party, now we will be able to easily blame Democrats for things we don't like, just as Republicans could be easily blamed in the past. I would rather have seen the Senate tied so that VP Cheney would have to step up and vote to break ties. That would have helped to make a clear distinction about which direction on issues each party was headed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Healing the Past


Only now have I begun to understand a little about what I learned from an event that happened 12 years ago.

When I came out to my parents at age 28, my mother asked my younger brother if I had ever molested him. She was so certain in her beliefs about what gay people were like that she didn’t pause to think, “Well, if Dennis is gay, then I must not understand what it means to be gay.” Instead, she held to her beliefs concerning homosexuality and questioned whether or not she knew me, her son.

I’ve had no conversation with my parents in the 12 years since that incident that suggests they’ve ever been willing to question the validity of their beliefs about what it means to be gay: emotionally, physically, logically or spiritually. They hold to the belief that I am wrong, that I am created straight and must be choosing to be, or at least am deceived into thinking that I am, gay. They say that they love me, but it feels like they love their belief system even more.

That’s what it is like to come out to friends and family when they hold to their beliefs about what it means to be gay and question their beliefs about you. It makes it difficult to accept their statements that you are still loved. If they really did love you, would they not perhaps examine their beliefs about homosexuality against what they know to be true about you, rather than the other way around?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Paper Ballots

Here in NM, we used paper ballots, they didn't require voter ID cards, and I walked to my polling place, an elementary school around the corner. I liked the small hometown feel of it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Eve Bonfire

Had myself a little backyard bonfire last night. Burned up a bunch of old cards, brochures, mystery shopper info, some decorations from my birthday party and old credit payment history.

It was an extremely hot fire. I think the old credit stuff made it burn brightest.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Memory of Running

Some quotations from the book that I just finished reading (click link in the column at the right for info):

    Sometimes there are moments when a person has to make a decision, opposed to letting things just happen. A person then has to happen himself. (p. 77)

    The longer you wait and put off the nice things you should do on a regular basis, the harder it is to do them, until finally you have to force yourself to be nice, to be thoughtful, and it isn’t easy, because you’re embarrassed about not having done those easy, nice things in a natural kind of way. Also, the people who you’re nice to come to expect your regular niceness. That’s it in a nutshell. (p.222)

    I put people off. I must…. I knew some people, sure, to nod to if I saw them in Stop & Shop or the drugstore, but as people I could, say, call up at night or go to a movie with…well, I wasn’t connected in that way. It’s a very New Englandy thing, this being alone even though you don’t want to be. It proves, I guess, that you’re above being lonely and can take or leave friendship. So, then, I was a loner who wished not to be alone. It’s something I have thought about and thought about, and I now feel that at any given time there are a lot of lonely loners out there. We just don’t understand the process of making some friends. The complicated format of friendship. It’s not easy. (p. 227)

    If I were a person who felt sorry for myself, I’d say that all the time. ‘Poor me. Poor cripple.’ It’s ugly, isn’t it? It’s hateful. That’s why I don’t say it, and that’s why I don’t feel it. Okay, I’m tired. Okay, Bea’s sick. That’s life, Smithy, we can’t get away from that. We have to go on and be strong, and the best way to be strong is to rely on people and be brave enough to trust them. (p. 296)

Friday, November 03, 2006

As Promised

Happier, lighter times....

Check out my new recommendation of music on the right. Richard Shindell is like a very country-fied version of Michael Stipe. Well, sort of. Pretty good CD.

Saw my first flock of crows this morning. Their migration to Los Arboles seems very late this year. Now, with them arriving, Fall feels more complete.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

As I said before, I realize that I risk turning this blog into a depressive whine. So I’ll write once more on the subject and then return to the surface happiness that is more fun to read.

The moral of this post is:
    People give you what you want
    Until they get what they need.
If you don’t like that sentiment, I suggest you don’t read the rest of this post. Just return in a couple of days when things are happier.

This is from my personal journal; beware, it's sappy:

"I write this on the back of a card you sent. Some words about friends lifting up and supporting.

I believed those words at the time, foolishly took them to mean more than they did. Thought that after nearly 15,000 tomorrows of hope that I’d found in you a chisel to compliment my hammer, that together we could dismantle my wall.

So I leaned into you.

You weren’t there.

I tumbled and, on my way down, chanced to see that you were not a chisel, but instead the last brick in my wall."

Or, more poetically, kind of like a weepy country song:

Thought you were a deep friend
Thought maybe we had more
Learned I was convenient
As you walked out the door

Thought you were a deep friend
Thought you’d keep me from the fall
So it’s sad to realize
You’re just the last brick in my wall