Monday, December 31, 2007

Cool Way to End the Year

I just got the following message in my e-mail today. (I used the moniker "America's Visitor" in my newsletters when I walked the country.)
dear dennis,
i am looking for dennis r plummer, who i met almost 20 years ago, at the oregon coast. At the time i was living with my girlfriend in neskowin not far from lincoln city. one rainy day a guy named dennis plummer was passing through our town and took shelter at a bus stop. we started talking to each other and i offered him to stay with us over thanks giving, it must have been the year 1991.
My name is (schappo) and if you are the american visitor who walked through the u.s. it would be great if you would answer my mail.
yours schappo

As I remember it, it was one of my best Thanksgiving celebrations and I have often shared the memory with others. I hope to be in touch with Schappo.

Neskowin, Oregon.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One of My Favorite Places

Please watch this video. $1 will be donated to Health Care for the Homeless for each unique view.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Then Again

Someone once told me that they think sex is only penetration. What do you think?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Scripture...The Way You Like It

Read an Advent book over Christmas break. Found this scary twist in the translation of a famous passage:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to men with whom God is pleased.
I suppose those last five words make a whole lot of justification possible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Comment

This came from Eric in response to Bass Ackwards, and I didn't want it to get buried in the comments.

"When I was in ministry I was really supportive of a book called "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." It was a really good book in a lot of ways, though I think it's a bit totalitarian and redcuctionist in its thinking. But it had a lot of good points.

"But I have to say, I have had several friends from Africa and the Middle East who were in arranged marriages, and they all said the same thing: American's have it all wrong. Love is a decision, not a feeling, and the feeling always comes if you make the decision first to really love and honor the other person. I have to wonder how much of what we call "love" is really a product of our social indoctrination and filters."

That reminds me of the anonymous comment someone posted to this blog back in October. The person said that his/her marriage was arranged, that love and adoration came second.

Perhaps our dating services should evolve into marriage services.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It snowed this week on the Sandia mountains. Amazing how with just two inches of snow, the mountains look closer!

"They are closer," said my older brother.

(How the mts. look when two inches closer.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bass Ackwards

I was reared to believe that you first find out if you are compatible with someone emotionally and intellectually, then you advance to having sex together. A friend told me the other day that our culture has sex first and then figures out if they emotionally connect and need each other.

I suppose that it is more time efficient. Problem is that I find sex to be emotional.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I dreamed that I escaped life's responsibilities by having a stroke. (Not a pleasant way to do that, but escape nonetheless.)

Since dreams are a form of escape, does escaping from escape make it reality?

Monday, December 10, 2007

USD

I made a deposit today at the bank by using the drive-thru window. While waiting for the deposit slip to come back, I noticed this sign on the machine:
"Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.
The U.S.A. national debt (as of 9:44 PM GMT) was $9,170,647,233,269.71.

Is that the "credit" backing my deposit?

And exactly what is the "faith of the government"?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rest of Week and End

Friday was an uneventful day. Spent Saturday shopping. Had breakfast and a good conversation with a friend this morning. Hosting a holiday concert in the shelter this afternoon.

Otherwise, all is quiet on the southwestern front.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ahhhhhhh...

Took the day off from work yesterday and enjoyed a perfect day.

Haircut and cleaning my car in the AM. Then off to Santa Fe with a friend. Hung out all afternoon at the Tea House (awesome place) and went to a concert by Krishna Das in the evening. My mind and soul were completely soothed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I know some people who doubt the existence of God. But I never knew that there is also a wind controversy. Especially not to the point where folks are compelled to post their beliefs along the freeway!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Care to Join Me?

A friend gave me two $100 tickets for a fancy reception tonight. Since I don't have a date, I will only use one, but I am determined to have fun anyway.

(Image Source: Sam Brown.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

True to Form

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am focusing on filling my time with interesting activity. I attending a public lecture on George Orwell Thursday evening. Friday morning, I left the house at 7:30 AM and went hiking in the fog of Otero canyon. Friday evening I joined two friends for a tea tasting at a local tea shop. Saturday was filled with attending a federal grant workshop.

Today, Sunday, I shared an early morning breakfast and conversation with my landlord, went to church, met a friend for brunch, went to a crystal shop and am now typing at another local coffee shop.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today

I am focusing on being happy and content with my life. For too long, I have been focused on aloneness, thinking about how no one shares my life, or I theirs, daily noticing my going home alone and to bed alone.

I'm returning to experiencing my life as an adventure. It's my adventure. I am doing my own things. Others are welcome and (yes, this is somewhat arrogant) lucky if they get to be a part of that activity, but I'm not waiting for them. If they don't call or show up, I'm going to go ahead and enjoy my magical evenings of music and incense, of attending art receptions and poetry readings, of wine tasting, of hiking and creating art, etc.

Like back in Boston where I always filled my time with interesting activities and curious adventures, I can do this in ABQ. But, like in Boston, my phone is now often turned off because I spend too much time wondering if someone will call when it is on. They will get through if they really want to connect.

Besides, I've got things to do and experience. I'm focused on my own happiness and contentment. I choose to fill my own life and not wait for others to add meaning to my day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Think Again

Awoke this morning determined to focus on what I have, not what I don't have. The latter, for now, brings sadness and loneliness, so I will use each minute as it comes by to notice what I do have in that moment.

It's like Grandfather said in the Tom Brown "Tracker" books:
"You feel hot because you want it to be cold. You feel cold because you want it to be hot."
With all of this in mind, I thought it ironic that when I turned on the Pandora tunes on my computer (that are randomly generated), the first tune to blast out was "He's Gonna Step on You Again". That turned my thoughts briefly again to the poem I previously posted.

But I digress and now return to appreciating what I do have in my life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Office Guest

I'm housesitting until the 27th at a house with a wonderful dog. This morning I brought Maddie to work with me. She's a Briard...remember Dennis the Menace's dog?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Dash of Honesty

“If you truly want honesty, don't ask questions you don't really want the answer to.”
“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”
“Sex is full of lies. The body tries to tell the truth. But, it's usually too battered with rules to be heard, and bound with pretenses so it can hardly move. We cripple ourselves with lies.”
“The man who cannot endure to have his errors and shortcomings brought to the surface and made known, but tries to hide them, is unfit to walk the highway of truth.”
“The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.”
“I just think it's important to be direct and honest with people about why...and what you're doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul.”
“It pays to be honest, but it's slow pay.”

(Sources: proverb, Socrates, Jim Morrison, James Allen, Robert E. Lee, Mary Ellen Mark, proverb. Image: Sam Brown.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts

I continue to be amazed at the power of the mind. Over the weekend, I ran one situation through my mind about 10 different ways and each way produced strong, clear emotions, some even diametrically opposed. Intellectually fascinating; emotionally exhausting. It would be fun only if I could turn it off and on at will.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

General Update


Four housesitting offers for this week. I'm taking just two, one just for a couple of days down the street from home. I'm there right now, enjoying wireless access and taking care of the cat while I do some laundry.

Yesterday I finished submitting a grant proposal to United Way. I'm asking for $160,500 and hope to get $80,000; last year we got $60,000 from them. I also completed the proposal that I mentioned on Tuesday for $50,000. I think we'll get that one.

Attended meetings all day yesterday. One was particularly engaging. It was about strategizing for a city-wide respite and recuperative care system for persons who are experiencing homelessness. Here's an interesting statistic we discussed: 40-50% of persons at UNM Hospital awaiting discharge are persons who are homeless (they can't be discharged unless they have some place to go). Even more interesting is that the number of persons who enter the hospital homelss is less than the number who leave...meaning that these people become homeless while in the hospital (eviction, high medical costs, etc.)!

I'll have dinner this evening with Brian (my landlord) and Bishop Gayle Harris from Massachusetts. I haven't seen her since I left MA. It would be even better if it were Barbara Harris from MA, with whom I was really close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cool Poem

A poem by Camillo Sbarbaro:


I WAKE ALONE

From sleep I wake alone in dead of night,
the house a soundless void. Out there,
a harbor glitters, silent, with its lamps.
But so far removed, so frigid are those lights,
and so immense the stillness of these rooms,
that I raise myself in bed to listen.
And am seized, then, with a fear that stops my breath
and makes my eyes enlarge:
divided from all else within the house,
divided from all else that is on earth,
my life and I are utterly alone.

The though, then, of the familiar streets
and of the daily names and faces
reasserts itself.
And, smiling for my own absurdity, I settle down.
Yet, even so, when fear dissolves in sleep,
at heart an icy residue persists,
because in trught I walk among my fellow-men
as an observer.
And have not one within whose hands to place
my own simple trust,
or with whom I can forget myself.
So much so, that were it not
for Nature, for the waters and the trees
and all the speechless world of things
that bears me company through this existence,
I think that I would die of solitude.
For this journey undertaken among strangers,
encompassed by a void,
arouses dread,
and the certainty that it will be forever.

Most cruelly of all,
my eyes are dry.


(Translated, from the Italian, by Shirley Hazzard; published in The New Yorker on November 19, 1990.
It is interesting to me that--almost exactly 17 years to the publishing date--I just this week uncovered a copy of the poem.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I’ve skipped work yesterday and today, too emotional and angry to work for fear that I might fire someone just to vent the emotions. ☺ Mostly it’s just that I feel too agitated to sit at my desk, answer calls and chat with visitors because there is so much on my mind. The new therapy must be kicking in.

I’m using the two days to walk, to read and to meet friends for coffee…anything to stay busy without having to think or feel. It’s odd that, for right now, staying with the moment seems more like trying not to think about others. That’s not the healthiest form of being present, I know. But when I think of others, it plunges me into feeling all that isn’t, of noticing too strongly my desires and that pulls me into a swirl of wanting a future that isn’t. And that hurts.

So I return to the precise moment of now, sitting alone in my back yard, turning the page of a thriller fiction. I notice the sunlight, the taste of a sip of tea, the chirping of birds and the prickle of goose flesh on my skin as the warmth of the morning sun sharply contrasts with the chilled air. And I try hard not to think or to feel.

This just in:
To keep me distracted today, I just got a call from the city that $50,000 is available for the shelter...if I can come up with a proposal by 4 PM. Back to work, at least via my laptop.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tentatively

Well, the site is secure. Given that I am working very deeply on some strong emotions, you'd think that this post would then be juicy and interesting.

Nope.

Instead, just this observation: a piece of mail came today from the offices of Sutin, Thayer and Browne. Under their names, it states "A Professional Corporation."

That strikes me as funny. Do they think recipients might infer an "Unprofessional Corporation?"

Maybe so, since the letter was addressed to my office (right street address) but identifies the homeless shelter as being the "African American Cultural Assocation"!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Money, Money, Money

The national debt has hit $9 trillion for the first time.

The Treasury Department, which issues a daily accounting of the debt, said Wednesday that the debt subject to limit was at $9 trillion on Tuesday. It was $8.996 trillion on Monday.

Last month, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law an increase in the government's borrowing ceiling to $9.815 trillion. It was the fifth debt limit increase since Bush took office in January 2001. Those increases have totaled $3.865 trillion.
(Source: Albuquerque Journal, November 8, 2007)

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the budget balanced before Bush took office? And remind me again how much money we spend daily on the war in Iraq?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why the Secrecy?

Well, it's not really secrecy and it's only temporary. But my being gay seems to have provoked some conservative emotions and I got tired of deleting numerous hate e-mail comments. It got so bad that yesterday I had to contact another Web site and ask that they delete hate comments posted on there site about me (they did).

Perhaps being a little less open for a bit will help calm the anti-gay hate rhetoric.

Thanks for understanding. I'm glad that you are visiting my site!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Community

Reading Jean Vanier's Community and Growth this morning, the following quotation jumped out at me:
"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. But the reverse is also true, let him who is not in community beware of being alone."
The quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together, published in 1976.

It jumped out at me because I remember writing something similar during my walk across the country. Then I said that walking alone for days teaches someone who is independent about his need for others, and that it teaches he who is overly needy of others something of his own independence.

Vanier prefaces a different quotation from someone named Therese by writing, "the availability of some single people could be a mysterious commitment."

Therese's writing was this prayer:
We who are not committed to you Jesus, in either a consecrated celibacy or marriage, we who are not committed to our brothers in a community, are coming to renew our covenant with you.

We are still on the road to which you have called us, but whose name you haven't given us; we are carrying the poverty of not knowing where you are leading us.

On this road, there is the pain of not being chosen, not being loved, not being waited for, not being touched. There is the pain of not choosing, not loving, not waiting, not touching. We don't belong. Our house is not a home; we have nowhere to lay our head.

Even though we have become impatient and depressed when faced with the choice of others, unhappy when faced with their efficiency, we still say "yes" to our road. We believe that it is the road of our fecundity, the road we must take to grow in you.

Because our hearts are poor and empty, they are available. We make them a place of welcome for our brothers. Because our hearts are poor and empty, they are wounded. We let the cry of our thirst rise to you.
That prayer feels right to me. I relate especially to the middle paragraph. Therese closes the prayer by thanking God for this road. That feels right, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Say What?

I bought a tea service tray yesterday. The English translation of "Company Profile" on the side of the box is hilarious and obviously computer-generated.

Among other facts, the profile states that "We own powerful technicians and designers to pursuit of higher objective of good taste." Nothing like being owned by your bosses!

The company also "would like to cooperate with the individuals and companies all over the would [typo is theirs] on the basis of honesty, verily, good for a promising tomorrow."

I think it's okay for them to own employees since it is for the objective of good taste and is on the basis of verily.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Seeing Red/Blue

“The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations, have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states, which vote Democrat and have kept the evangelicals at bay. The lowest divorce rates tend to be found in blue states such as in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The state with the lowest divorce rate is Massachusetts, a state singled out by televangelists because of its liberal politicians and legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2003, Massachusetts had a divorce rate of 5.7 divorces per 1,000 married people, compared with 10.8 in Kentucky, 11.1 in Mississippi and 12.7 in Arkansas.”

(Source: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges, p. 43)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Practicality

My car needs:
- two new tires (one has a small puncture; I just keep filling it up with emergency goo and air)
- shocks
- fluids of all kinds
- and rotated tires.

So for what am I saving this week's housesitting money? A 50-pound crystal, of course!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Paragenic Dreaming

That dreamlike state one experiences upon first awakening (someone correct me if I have the wrong term). I can lay for hours in this state. My body feels like a drop of water on a bed of sponge that soaks me up completely. As I drift in and out of wakefulness, down into even cozier realms of morning sleep, my mind, too, drifts openly and peacefully in waves of dreamy awareness.

The mantric walk and breathing make flitting about from thought to thought, whether it be Kant's universal law for ethics or the theme song from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," seemless.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And Then Again

"I don't want to be kown as just the friend."

"I fell in love with him, but he didn't fall in love with me."

...sentiments expressed by Ms. Bachelorette on "The Bachelor."

I have the benefit and challenge of housesitting and decided to watch TV tonight. "The Bachelor" was on.

What a mistake...or rather, actually, a blessing that reminded me of why I don't own a television.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The best thing about hiking is not hiking, but that is only true when you're hiking

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Crows Are Returning

It is a beautiful fall day and the annual migration of crows has begun. It is fun to hear their cackles as they settle back into winter haunts along my street.

This morning, a hawk landed in the tree above me as I drank my coffee. Lots of bird activity. I even heard some Sandhill Cranes in the distance.

I will speak at Intel twice today to encourage their employees to give to United Way, which helps to fund our shelter. Then we host a BBQ at the shelter to help raise funds. A good fall day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cleaning Out

I filled our trash barrel this week with old stuff that I'm tossing out. I'm not dumping everything, but I am getting closer to more simplicity in my life. It's part of the "Tea Life, Tea Mind" kind of thing and feels really good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Anonymi Are Right

(What is the plural for “anonymous” anyway?)

Once more, then I’ll shut up about it all and move on.

I think that my old patterns of falling silent and becoming reclusive, or at least keeping my deeper emotions to myself, are being summoned. I tried at first to stake out a different route this time. I confronted X with my perception of his convenient busyness that just so happened to coincide with my sharing uncomfortable truths. Was he simply avoiding me?

He admitted as much. I hoped to have reason to believe that ours would become an even deeper, stronger friendship. And I still do. But experience teaches me otherwise.

I can’t help but learn that relationships simply fade into history, deflecting awkwardness, when they are presented with uncomfortable truth. As the comments by anonymous(i?) projected, it does seem to be true—in my experience—that people like intimacy so long as it does not threaten the desired status quo.

Tell the truth and you get burned. Or at the least are avoided. It explains a lot of faded relationships in my life. They purport to welcome honest, frank openness, but when confronted with exactly that, there is suddenly a flurry of unavailability.

Some would argue that society teaches us such (in)action.

Society, hell. It isn’t society that teaches me to guard my emotions, to display only what is pleasantly accepted. Concretely, it is X and people like him—not society—who choose to become aloof, who teach me that I lose even what friendship I have and enjoy currently when I bare myself.

But then none of this is about X or anyone else but me. I am learning from this experience more about my own flaws. I don't negotiate the waters of emotions and friendships very well. But I'm learning and hopefully getting better at keeping to myself emotions that are inappropriate to share. I think that will lead to better overall health...for me, first of all, and subsequently in my relations with others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Talking

When I feel love and attraction for someone, it is in part because I sense (and the love itself engenders a sense) that I can share true emotions. Even when those emotions are difficult, I feel free to share because my love tells me it is safe to bare all.

When "all" includes the love itself for that person, I share it.

However, when the recipient does not feel the same love--a love to receive anything--the person might still kindly assent to listening like any good friend would do. But, not possessing a reciprocating love--a true desire to share all emotion--the person may listen while becoming uncomfortable in hearing what is difficult to hear.

I share because of a love he does not feel. Not feeling it, he listens out of duty of friendship, but lacks the capacity, the love, to truly bear it. Our time together becomes strained, restrained, and while wanting to be available, he does not know how and time spent together diminishes, first in quality, then in quantity.

(De?) Evolution of Language

When did something that is ironic become "ironical?" And why is something problematic now "problematical"? Origins show early years, so perhaps we are simply repeating what we once heard.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

One Step At a Time

I attended a meditation last evening and was instructed to visualize the relationship I want. Immediately, visions of a home arose, awakening beside someone in bed, a life together, perhaps kids, etc.

Then I realized that this is step 2, the outcome of a relationship. Step 1 is to envision the person with whom together I can mutually create a shared life. Someone who now wants to be in my life and I in his. I must first visualize the kind of person with whom I want to create shared outcomes later. All of the home stuff comes after I am in the relationship.

X has so much of Step 2--what I want in a person with whom I can feel safe to create a shared vision--so much so that it is easy to jump quickly to that vision and see X as a part of it.

But he lacks a huge element of Step 1, of what I desire in someone: namely, that that person has an equal attraction to me, that he loves and desires me, that we share an excited energy of wanting to be together.

The person I desire, my vision of the person with whom I want to be, has a desire for me. X does not have that. Thus he is not the person I want because he lacks a major trait I desire and seek in another person.

I'll return to envisioning the man I desire, Step 1. That includes someone who can reciprocate. The home vision and life together, Step 2, comes later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tea Break

Lots of reflecting requires lots of tea, so let's take time for tea.

(From "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV.)

Times of quiet and being alone gain significance in light of their relationship to noise and company. (That's me, not Sen.)

The negative space of the painting is a testament to the artist's restraint.

Know what you know and know what you don't know, for only then will the limits of your strength become evident.

Peace through sharing a bowl of tea.

Tempest II

The second box is bigger and contains all of the rest of why I enjoy spending time with someone: s/he makes me laugh, we share common ideals, I feel safe and that I can continue to grow and change with that person, when I want to share a joy or sadness it is that person that I think of, when I have some spare time it is that person with whom I most often want to spend it. You get the idea.

Maybe there is even a small third box of all of the rest of things, stuff like being able to accept the little idiosyncrasies of the person, that I enjoy being seen together in public, that our taste in decor is compatible.

I personally want all three boxes to be in place...and I seem really good at getting two boxes full only to at last discover that the third box is mostly empty or missing altogether. Sometimes, I admit, I know that one box is not compatible but I proceed anyway, telling myself that it is okay to just have a couple of boxes and to go after that.

Others tell me that my expectations of the second box are too idealistic anyway and that what I describe as friendship is only intended for a relationship like marriage. Maybe I am trying to squeeze the contents of box number one out of box number two.

Or perhaps I do expect too much out of friendship.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tempest

A previous anonymous comment to a posting said that “whatever it is, it’s sex.” Well, actually, no; I don’t think so. I do agree, though, that sex is perhaps the most highly charged component in relationships.

In general, I can imagine boxes that hold stuff about my relationships together, physical sex and attraction being one of them. There are undoubtedly scores of little compartments within that box.

To move from generalities to the specific, I am really talking about my own relationships. Yes, sex is important and highly engaging and consuming. It can generate the strongest of emotions (and most bodies respond to what feels good, regardless of the giver). The attraction for me, however, is not merely physical for I find that people in my life quickly become more or less attractive as I get to know their personalities.

I figure that most humans are probably not 100% straight or 100% gay, but that we likely fall somewhere along a moving continuum. That’s because relationships and attractions are only partly informed by physical sex.

There is another box of pertinent stuff that informs my desire to share life with another person.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tempest in a Teapot

At left: image I took during Saturday's mass launch of the ABQ Balloon Fiesta.

I have a lot of reflective writing to do (that's the tempest part--relationships). And there is obviously some writing to post discussing the previous postscript. And I have a little to post regarding daily activities.

But first, let's have another cupt of tea (from "Tea Life, Tea Mind," by Soshitsu Sen XV):

While loving their beauty, we must appreciate the effort that brings these same flowers to full bloom.

A tiny sprout has no choice; it must grow or perish.

Adhere to the state of being that is you.

To escape from the eternal round of passions, desires, and suffering, and realize contentment one must know one's limits.

Efforts must not diminish simply because of the absence of the 'proper' qualities in the place where he serves tea.

Tea seizes insufficiency and builds upon it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Have Another Cup

Furyu: fu=wind; ryu=flow.

Our spirit should flow through life like the wind that flows through all of nature.

We are not emotionally swept away by the marvels of nature; we appreciate them within the natural course of existence.

The feeling of nature is not easily or precisely evoked if one is lacking furyu. Furyu points out only what is absolutely essential for balance and proportion. It includes the imperfect.

With mountains, streams, flowers, and the passing of the seasons kept in mind, with the spirit of furyu, we make a bowl of tea.

The realization of non-duality applies to all the dualisms that plague man: vanity and envy, happiness and sorrow, life and death, wealth and poverty, love and hatred--these can all be integrated.

Appreciate that whatever season we are now experiencing, it is the best.

P.S. I got the job!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Time & Self-Hypnosis

Weathered through the weekend's sadness. Some self-hypnosis last evening seemed to do the trick. Awaiting word regarding employment. That's all for now.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yesterday was strange. I awoke early and ready to go to church, but decided against the crowd. Instead, I enjoyed the peaceful morning outdoors with a cup of coffee. But then, slowly, an anxious depression settled in. I went to Target to purchase some contentment, but they were out of stock. Spent the afternoon with a friend, but still couldn't shake the sinking feeling. Even tried lying down to think my way through to what was the source of my gloom...thoughts don't lend themselves well to discovering emotion, especially not in thinking one's way to happiness when one is starting from a depressed state. I went to bed early and watched "Brokeback Mountain" to really sink into the sadness. Fell asleep thinking that perhaps I would get up, cancel my second interview for the executive position and just wander off to some remote remoteness. But here I am at a cafe, drinking coffee and attempting to outwait the feelings. (Is outwaiteven a word?) It has worked in the past and I am sure that it will again this week.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Taste of Tea and Zen

(From "Tea Life, Tea Mind," by Soshitsu Sen XV.)

Shelter is enough if it protects from the rain.

Food is sufficient if it satisfies hunger.

With your own hands bring wood and water, heat the water and make tea. Arrange flowers and burn incense.

In the Way of Tea, if we do not have the attitude that daily life itself is the discipline of Zen, then the act of preparing a bowl of tea becomes only one of form, a mere posturing.

To realize enlightenment, in Tea we use training in the actual procedures of making tea.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chile

To understand New Mexico's craving for green chile, you may be interested in the conversation that I had last night with a local roaster.

He reported having roased 500 bags--gunny sacks--of chile that day alone! His three stores combined have roasted 3,000 bags so far this season (with about three weeks of roasting left).

Multiply that exponentially to account for all other roasters in the Duke City, then add roasters all over the state and you begin to imagine the scale.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday's Tea


External reality is but one aspect of subjective reality.

Be neither oppressed nor unsettled by the objective world, but set yourself free from it.

Vacillating between action and inaction until the next problem arises, we end up going along with the current of the times, muttering with the crowd, "After all, what can be done about it anyway?"

We should be centered so that wherever we are, whatever happens, we never lose the infantlike primal mind we are born with.

In order for us to reach this state we need a discipline or way along which to travel in search of our primal mind.

(Text is quoted from "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tea Time Again

The place of practice lies in the pure and honest spirit where there is no false vanity.

When you enter the Way of Tea, no matter how you think you may disgrace yourself, it will not be taken as disgrace or shame. Make mistakes, be rebuked, stand corrected, and learn.

The Way of Tea is not to be found in books. It is through direct experience with our own bodies and not only our intellects that we can attain this state.

Cleanse your heart, remove all the dust of the world.

Tea, like cleaning, is not a skill to memorize but one that is acquired slowly by the body and the spirit.

(Text is quoted from "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV, as were last week's posts.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hey, Wait a Minute

Do you know this expression:
    "I feel like I'm on top of the world!"
What does that mean?!

Isn't the world round? Isn't everyone on top of it?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tortilla Heaven


Took a break last evening from my regular routine and went to The Guild Cinema to see "Tortilla Heaven." If you want to see a funny slice of life in the southwest, don't miss this movie! Think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with green chile.

You're Going to Be Hearing More About This Guy

Mark Ronson, DJ, producer and musician, has made a name for himself.


He's just about to become even more popular.


Why? Bob Dylan gave him access to the orignal tracks of Dylan's "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)." Ronson's version will be in stores in the United Kingdom on Monday, Sept. 24th.

If you are in town, drop by: I have a pre-release of the single and it's a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Sip

The practice of Tea should serve to provide calm, rather than be the setting for display.

The difficulty lies rather in the path to the attainment of simplicity, and there is no way to arrive at this point quickly.

Spring has flowers, summer has cool breezes, fall has the moon, winter has snow.

Simple and unpretentios flowers of the season.

The appropriate combination of the various utensils reveals the heart or sincerity of the host. Only when the relationship of the host and guest is placed first do mute utensils come to life and show their worth.

Anticipate the needs of your guests.

Abandon any goal of achieving success.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday's Tea

The Way of Tea is not merely an art or accomplishment or amusement, but is rather a way of life possessing a strong ethical and moral character.

Rule One: Make a delicious bowl of tea.
Material sufficiency is inadequate. What is missing is the sincere heart of the host.

Rule Two: Lay the charcoal so that it heats the water.
This rule directs attention to the lightness of spirit that comes when one sincerely brings all of one's knowledge and technical skill to any task that is for the benefit of one's guest.

Rule Three: Arrange the flowers as they are in the field.
No principles of structure or composition. Try to bring to the guest the whole life that lies within each flower: that is, the individual beauty that all flowers possess naturally, the singularly transient life given by nature to the flowers. Know the precious life of all flowers represented in a single blossom.

Rule Four: In summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth.

Rule Five: Do everything ahead of time.
To value one's own time and keep a certain margin is nothing other than to respect the time of others.

Rule Six: Prepare for rain.
The ability to respond with composure to any occasion, whatever may happen, with an open heart and free and direct mind.

Rule Seven: Give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.
Neither host nor guest acts merely as he pleases, but both act with mutual consideration. One becomes truly human through interaction with another. The host puts his whole being into the preparation of a tea gathering. The guest enters the tearoom with the intent of giving his host all of his heart, spirit, and mind.

Each tea gathering is an opportunity for an experienc that will never occur again in one's life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bits o' Tea

The tokonoma, or decorative alcove, is where a scroll is hung and a simple flower arrangement placed.

What I tried to memorize would soon be forgotten, but whatever I learned with my own body would remain with me for a lifetime.

We must have the confidence to say to ourselves, "No, I was not dozing."

To see someone make a bowl of tea and listen to an explanation of it does not make the practice readily understandable.

It would have been wrong to think of propagating that spiritual practice as if it were export merchandise.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Updated At Last!

I said I was back and then promptly had no time to update my blog. I have lots to say about perceptual reality and the like as learned at my class, but it just seems to complex to detail here when I'm mostly typing on the fly right now. Will get back to it eventually.

In the meantime, I want to post some quotations from an excellent book "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV. The quotes are really great, I think, and seem to pertain to where I am headed in life right now. I'll not worry too much about punctuating to reflect my edits, but will just type what I've underlined in the book to make it easier to read.

Click on daily to check for updates, as I will be posting my way through the book!

===========
The Way is your daily life.

The spirit of the Way of Tea is harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

Harmony is the result of the interaction of the host and guest, the food served, and the utensils used with the flowing rhythms of nature.

Respect is the sincerity of heart that liberates us for an open relationship with the immediate environment, our fellow human beings, and nature, while recognizing the innate dignity of each.

Purity though the simple act of cleaning...clearing the 'dust of the world,' or the worldly attachments, from one's heart and mind.

Tranquility comes with the constant practice of the first three principles.

That we can find a lasting tranquility within our own selves in the company of others is the paradox.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back Again

I was away for a class in Santa Fe from Sept. 3-8. I am eager to post some about my learning there, but for now must focus on catching up at work, with clients and church commitments. Check in soon for updates!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

For Ken

...and everyone else who believes that some of the most interesting people in your life are people in their forties who have know idea what they are going to do with their lives....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mind Control

I used to think that mind control meant using my mind to control things, things like emotions and experience. Now I realize that mind control is really about controlling my mind.
--
I recently have had a couple of mornings without guilt, moments in which I regarded who I am, what I had done the night before and even what I might do that day as neither good nor bad, just me being me. In those moments, I felt happily compelled to keep doing things better and better.

Guilt, as a negative motivation, pales in comparison to love as one's source for desiring, doing and being.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why I Love Autumn

The real reason I moved to New Mexico...

Roasters are beginning to appear in parking lots and weekend farmer's markets.
I love to listen to the crackle of the roasting chile and to smell its amazing aroma.
Bag and let steam for three hours and then, finally...
If only this were a scratch-n-sniff blog!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Understanding & Time

Just an update today:
I finished two weeks of housesitting for Brian and Susanna last Monday and began housesitting for James and Craig on Thursday. Will housesit for Lyn and David beginning Tuesday. It helps to pay bills.

More than an update:
Work has been, on average, 10-12 hours a day, attempting to fill two positions at once. No, I'm not getting paid for two positions...I do it because I believe in the work. Contrary to what staff and even residents perhaps imagine, I'm not getting rich. If I was, I wouldn't be housesitting every week and still seeing clients in my hypnotherapy practice.

I do the work, for the most part, because I like it and I believe that I am making a difference.

I am also learning why persons in positions of leadership can sometimes appear harsh or non-responsive. I'm learning that everyone (quite naturally) thinks that his or her issue should be top priority. In deciding priorities, however, someone's issue is always going to be listed lower than some other issue. No matter what issue gets ranked lower, for someone that issue is the most important; they will never accept that it shouldn't be given immediate attention.

For example, one person was recently disgusted that I did not respond to his offer to help within three days of his sending me an e-mail offering to volunteer. Of course I was grateful to have another volunteer, but among the days' priorities of meeting deadlines for submitting a grant request of $8,000, of getting signed documents to city hall for a $115,000 weatherization project, of hiring two staff members so that the shelter could actually remain open with staff, of getting drivers so men can make their doctor's appointments, of paying 10 bills to vendors like those who do our laundry and the utilities company for basics like lights and water, his individual e-mail was not high on my to-do list.

For safety reasons and to respect the confidentiality of our residents, certain screening processes are in place. I'm sure the volunteer didn't know that bringing on a volunteer involves about 3 hours of time. Had I responded to him in a timely fashion, something else would have had to give. Perhaps the missed deadline would mean that 71 men a night had to continue with insufficient heating and cooling in the shelter because a contract deadline was misssed.

I'm not complaining, though it would be ideal if folks realized that we are on the same side working for the same cause. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue and accept that, were the tables turned, I'd probably have the same complaints as does the other person and that s/he would likely take the same action that I am taking. I tend, like most humans, to see things from my own perspective and to believe that that is the reality. I often forget to view things from another's point of view.

I don't know, for instance, what went into play for that person to volunteer his time. He may have been deliberating for days and finally decided that this was how he was going to contribute to society. He may have just finished a long night of depression, emerging with this offer of volunteering as his link back to meaning in his life. So of course, his request to hear back from me was of the highest value and importance in his mind.

Meanwhile, from my perspective, other issues were higher priorities. And if I were to not even take any action on any issue, but were simply to take time responding to everyone who presented an issue, I could easily spend over half of my day accomplishing nothing! I think that is part of why leaders have to accept that they will never meet all of the needs and expectations of everyone and why they sometimes just ignore requests to effectively move on with the bigger picture.

Anyway, the dynamics are interesting. I haven't presented them very well here, but perhaps enough to illustrate what I've offhandedly been thinking about. It is something that fascinated me back when I worked with the bishop in Massachussetts as he dealt with 90,000 people and their requests. My level of playing field is only about 90 people and their related issues.

I'm sure that someone out there in the world of academia has a word for studying what I'm talking about.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Well Said

I was waiting in the lobby for Health Care for the Homeless when a lady passed by with Les Miserables printed on the back of her shirt.

The guy I was waiting with chuckled to himself, "Ha. Less Miserable!"

It's nice that he could have a sense of humor while he awaits an open heart surgery. But it is equally sad and immoral that our society continues to offer the best health care to those with the most money, while offering little to none for those without money. Like Michael Moore said, can you imagine if our fire department would only respond first to those who had fire insurance, or if they would force choices about what part of a house you want saved since your insurance plan only covers certain procedures? Why do we stand for it in health care?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Final Touches

Remember my post about city workers cutting back all of the trees along the fence because they "needed a 3-foot clearance for the new sidewalk"?

Guess what? The workers are back: planting trees along the sidewalk!
Here they are:

The three finalists for the '2007 Greatest Ass in the World Contest'



THIRD PLACE




2ND PLACE





THE WINNER


I'm going for number two. Middle of the road, that sort of thing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

On Sex, Part Two

Once more from Ayn Rand, then we move on:

...observe that most people are creatures cut in half who keep swinging desperately to one side or the other.

One kind of half is the man who despises money, factories, skyscrapers and his own body. He holds undefined emotions about non-conceivable subjects as the meaning of life and as his claim to virtue. ...he can feel nothing for the [people] he respects, but finds himself in bondage to an irresistible passion for a slut from the gutter. He is the man whom people call an idealist.

The other kind of half is the man whom people call practical, the man who despises principles, abstractions, art, philosophy and his own mind. He regards the acquisition of material objects as the only goal of existence. ...He will not acknowledge, but he knows that sex is the physical expression of a tribute to personal values. So he tries, by going through the motions of the effect, to acquire that which should have been the cause.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Sex

More from our guest blogger, Ayn Rand:

…sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value….

They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you…. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the [person] he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selfishness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment—just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!—an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the [person] who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the [person] whose surrender permits him to experience—or to fake—a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of [person] he can find, the [person] he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer—because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.

He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it…. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a [person] he despises—because [that person] will reflect his own secret self, will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him…. He will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer…. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex—nothing but shame.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

On Guilt

"An issue of guilt, he thought, had to rest on his own acceptance of the code of justice that pronounced him guilty…. What sort of code permitted the concept of a punishment that required the victim’s own virtue as fuel to make it work? A code—he thought—which would destroy only those who tried to observe it; a punishment, from which only the honest would suffer, while the dishonest would escape unhurt."
-from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

(More of what I'm currently reading in sidebar to the right.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Social Services

Today I received an interesting e-mail from a friend who had been sent the following perspective regarding social services:

Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government?distributes my taxes as they see fit.

In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test, and I have no problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sit on their ass all day doing drugs, while I pay for it.

Could you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?

My friend asked for my thoughts about this. Here is my response:

I think that a larger consideration may be hidden in the question, that is: whether or not social services should be used as a reward to performance that society deems appropriate. In the message [above] that example is: if you don't drink alcohol or use drugs, then you earn social assistance.

Many who work in social services believe that some of the reasons people need assistance in the first place are the problems/challenges/addictions/etc. present in their lives, and that it is illogical to ask of them that they first have their problems resolved before they qualify to receive assistance. In short, this belief is that assistance should be given first so that change may occur, rather than expecting change first and then rewarding with assistance. An example would be when sobering services require persons to be sober before they qualify to enter the program.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sean & Rufus

Monday night was an excellent experience of music and weather (lots of lightning and some rain)! I went with a friend to the Paolo Soleri amphitheatre in Santa Fe
and sat in the 8th row to see and listen to Sean Lennon (yes, John's son)

and Rufus Wainwright (Loudon Wainwright III''s son).
It was great to hear this generation's creativity. Check out their Web sites by clicking on their names above. Can you guess by the sites which guy has the biggest ego?
Post comments to vote.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Very busy right now.

Also attending class in Santa Few tomorrow through next Tuesday. Will add "NLP Practitioner" to my hypnotherapy skills and will qualify me for renewed certification as a clinical hypnotherapist.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Atticus, my godson, enjoys the release of the Harry Potter book in Harvard Square:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shh....

It's so quiet in this blog that you don't want to interrupt the peace.

Just kidding! But based on the (severe lack of) comments, I do realize that I am writing for myself. That's okay; that way I always win the debate and heap on praise about well-written posts.

Dylan was great! He can be mediocre in concert or really hot, so I was pleased that this concert veered toward the musically-very-tight-and-creative end of the spectrum. On three different flights during the concert, two wild owls soared majestically over the crowd. That was not part of the staged concert and was magicical!

That's it for now; I'm still very swamped covering two positions at the shelter: Program Director and Executive Director. Which means that I supervise myself.

Kind of like this blog, come to think of it. :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Time Out

I'm going to see (hear?) Bob Dylan in concert this evening with seven friends. YAY!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It pisses me off not to have been able to date the people to whom I was attracted in my youth, in my teens and early twenties, when I was still formulating endless future possibilities, when time was spent mostly in spontaneous bursts of carefree fun and youthful physicality, the time when couples in love throw on backpacks without second thoughts and trek Europe together.

Now it’s more about a mere week’s vacation away from work obligations, returning to an entrenched lifestyle.

Very few people my age are free enough to follow a whim to spend summers together working to help the needy in developing countries, exploring unknown cul-de-sacs of other cultures in the off hours. They don’t lie out in the grass of a darkened park gazing up at the stars before a night class followed by an all-night study session or music jam.

Instead, my dates are more about seeing if my mostly-formed life fits with someone else’s mostly-formed life.

It lacks a sense of the two of us together bounding endless horizons of potential. It doesn’t feel like two mounds of clay massing together to create a new life molded together. Instead, it’s more like two cast sculptures seeing if they can fit into the same d├ęcor of a room that already has a developed theme. Less creative, more methodical and calculated.

The men whom I now meet and with whom I share any hint of such free-flowing pleasures are typically young, single, straight men. They are carefree and have time to spare and share. They might even have a curious sense of sexual exploration. But we are like two parallel lines, that, at best, will enjoy some time together, moving along in the same direction until he finds a mate, marries, has children and the shared time diminishes. There isn’t any sense of the two lines moving closer to each other.

So I’m faced with a dilemma: do I allow myself to enjoy the time that we do have while protecting my heart from desiring anything more? Do I withdraw just enough to have moments of fun while keeping my desires below the radar screen of actually feeling them?

It’s not a great formula for freely jumping in and fully enjoying the moment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

This Just In

My boss was put on paid administrative leave two weeks ago. Today the board asked me to continue as acting interim executive director. So, after holding down 8 jobs at once last year, I find myself again inching up in the number of work-related things that I am doing.

Current count:
  • Hypnotherapist
  • Executive Director
  • Program Director
  • Housesitter

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Light Is On, But...


So I met this guy who has many traits that I value. It got me to thinking about what is love. And the more that I think about it, the less I am certain.

Although I can think too much and since love is, as they say, a matter of the heart, you might be tempted to say to yourself, "Well, of course, Dennis. You can't think your way through love!" But if you have been reading this blog for some time now, you know that I have approached love without thinking, too. You know where that got me and even if you haven't read this blog for long, you can guess where unthinking love winds up. So this time I have been thinking.

I've thought about what it is that I desire in the relationship in which I choose to grow old, about character traits that are important to me. I even made a list of 20 or so of the top 25.

So what is the magic number at which one shares with another enough traits or commonality to call it love? There are many guys in my life with whom I share a great many important values, but the emotion that we share is a brotherly love. I have even shared as many or more of these desires with women, but felt, well, that they were women and I don't feel attracted to women in a way that compels me to commit my life to them.

Is it then a certain number of shared goals, dreams, values and traits plus a special indescribable something? But I have also felt an indescribable something for guys that, in itself, wasn't sustaining, or that, in itself, plus some but not enough of the traits, wasn't "love." So is it having a certain something plus a substantial enough number of shared goals and characteristics before it is a life-partnering love?

It is kind of like I either find myself standing at the gates of Disney World without a ticket to get in, or that I have a ticket and the park is not open.

I am less certain than ever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Made Some Mistakes

Recently, I posted about my consultation with debt management planners. I panicked after that post to discover, after arriving home, that I had left a printout of my debt details on the printer at work. My staff had every detail of my personal finances!

I was so ashamed. My staff knew what I spend my money on, my income, my debt! They knew that I was spending $160 in therapy each month. They knew that I owe my parents $7,000. They knew that I owe $38,000 and that I don’t have savings. Gulp! Blush.

Then I thought about how many times I have said how freeing it is to be known. What do I have to hide if I really believe that I am so alike the people I know? Isn’t honest connection what we all crave and need? Can I be okay with people knowing me exactly as I am?

Giving up who knows what about me (at least in this area), I am going ahead with posting this today.

I have $38,000 in debt. I can logically justify it with details that I would repeat in the same circumstances.

But in December, a friend asked me if I would be living differently now and feel differently now were I not in debt. I answered that money doesn’t bother my either with or without. I thought it was true. Upon closer examination, I was wrong.

If I were debt free at this time, I would be helping others more freely and have a lifestyle more closely integrated with what I believe. I would not be necessarily tied to place and job. Money is a problem, a distraction from my values of living an alive life.

So I decided to take an approach from my faith that God will provide. In a very primitive, even fundamental way, I told God that if I received an unexpected $1,000 that I would give it away to a good cause as an action of faith that my own debt would be gone by November 30th, 2007. Crazy? Maybe. But it felt good to be proactive.

Then I cashed in my life insurance (to pay off one of my credit cards--which I did) and it came in at a $1,000 more than I had expected. Tax free!

I am giving that money to a person who was homeless but has now been employed full-time for over a year. He has been scraping by bit by bit for so long and I had been coaching him in maintaining a personal budget. That $1,000 will go much further with him than with me.

Will it also mean that I will unexpectedly be able to pay off my own debt by November? I think so, though I can't imagine how.

Check back in on November 30, 2007 to learn of the results.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Movie Time

You may have thought recently that my taste in movies has changed (see righthand sidebar). Not exactly. I'm housesitting for a family with three kids. The selection of DVDs is limited, but fun!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I Don't Mind Straight People...










...as long as they act gay in public.

Did you read about what happened in New Jersey? Click here to read about it.

I can't wait until wearing straight wedding rings in public, straights holding hands, heterosexual wedding announcements, straight people serving in the military, parents with kids and oh-so-many-other things are banned from public view.