Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One More Thing Before the Year Ends

I've been away from my blogging regimen as of late.  I was busy making plans for the apocalypse.  But evidently, the world goes on, for the moment anyway.  So how about another blog post before we change the calendar?

Paradox exists, except when it doesn't.  There are no absolutes, except that there are no absolutes.

My feet are currently too cold for me to be able to write.  This is an ill-fated endeavor unless I can get some warmth going here.  So-- golly, you sure are nice.  I do love you so.

What are you living for?  And is it really okay to die?  Not that one should take one's life, or "give up"... but is it not okay to succumb to death?  Or to surrender to God, however you define him/her?

The rain continues to fall here, as we are getting duly soaked.  Our house is cool, the furnace not operating because of a venting problem that just means we should replace it entirely because it is so old and inefficient.  But that takes time and money and trust and contractors and a lot of things that need to be coordinated.  So far, it's just been easier to use more blankets and get through the day.

So I continue to write with cold toes.  Something pushes me to write these words.  It isn't out of a thirst for fame or fortune.  It's out of an impulse to communicate.  At my comfort level.  On my terms.

I'm an okay conversationalist, I think.  I can tell a story when I've got a good one to tell.  But in groups lately, specifically with my wife's family, I am a background figure.  I'm a listener and not much of a participator.  I'm not sure why this is.  I think it has to do with my medication, and my illness, and the strong personalities to deal with, and my tendency to stop dead in my tracks to search for the perfect word that I'm looking for.  Much easier to do when you're writing, but not so good when you're talking.  I can find a way to write around these pitfalls, but I haven't developed the skill so much in my speech.  Defer is the word I was looking for-- I defer to allow others to speak instead of assert my own speech, unless I'm going for a joke, because I'm much more confident with my sense of humor than with my knowledge of any given subject.

We had a lot of laughs over Christmas, especially at my parents house, when I played the digital rendition of an old cassette tape that my sister and I had made back in the late 1970's.  We listened to our juvenile voices as they improvised their way through a makeshift broadcast of a radio station.  I was about ten at the time, and my sister maybe seven or so, and we mimicked the jingles and production practices of our local KLOK AM radio station, fueled by our imagination.

I'm teaching myself how to use Audacity shareware to manipulate audio digitally, and the KLOK radio show that we did was one of the first things I wanted to try and work with, so that we could pass it on to our descendents.  I think it's a precious thing, this relic from our childhood, that brings back memories of a fun time and a kind and loving relationship between siblings.  And it is funny to follow the imaginative musings of these children, who are now so distant from us; to be remembered is an effort because we have ceased to be familiar with these infants.

Anyway, there were other discussions, too.  One of them explored different living arrangements for my brother-in-law's parents and his grandfather, who is now one-hundred years old, and although in pretty good health, needs a lot of assistance with everyday living.  This is where the questions about life and death came from.  I wonder, if I should somehow make it to my eighties, how much independence I will still have, and who will be around to assist me.  I hope to grow old with my wonderful Suzy.  But I don't have the reins of this life securely in my vibrant fist.  Sometimes I think I know what I'm doing, but most of the time I feel I'm in control only because I'm ignorant to the greater reality.

I don't know why I do this.  I don't know why I try to place little symbols next to each other in ways that express concepts and emotions and thoughts.  But it feels right.  And right sustains me, whatever that means.  So I keep trying.

What do you live for?  I live for lunch dates with my wife, and stupid knock-knock jokes with my nephews.  I live for bringing forth hearty produce and beautiful flowers, for planting seeds and helping them realize their potential, and then relishing in the bounty of their harvest.

The world ends and begins again everyday.  The sun rises; the sun sets.  A child is born and a grandfather is laid to rest.

What does it all mean?  Is there a reason?  Sure, I think so.  And somewhere within us, we know the answers to these questions.  Somehow, outside of words and thoughts, there is understanding.  The thing that keeps you breathing, and your heart beating.  The whatever it is that helps you think your way through a problem you don't know the answer to.  The carrot that leads you to your solution.  There are many labels and concepts for it, but none describe it completely.

It's kinda like this: it's the one thing that is everything and all things, while still only being the one thing.

Happy New Year!  See you next year.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thinking For Yourself and Saving the World

You gotta think for yourself.

When you hear something that sounds crazy, unbelievable... why is that?  What are the questions that pop into your mind?  And do you seek answers for them? 

You go to work.  You start asking why.  Who?  What?  You believe or you don't.  But you question.  You go through the truth finding process.

So if it seems unbelievable, honor that.  Perhaps it is not to be believed until you can gather some more key information.

So much hinges on this very act.  The act of staying true to yourself, of staying true to truth itself.

Does truth exist monolithicly, static and unchangeable?  Or is it in constant motion?

It seems to me at this point in time that truth is a nebulous, but stationary quality that everything else cycles around.

A couple of things that came to light this week...  the first within the continuing presidential election campaign that voraciously ravages so much energy and so many of our resources.  And there are so many contradictions and so much confusion that cycles through this process that truth is often veiled and obstructed, tinkered with.  From one perspective, truth can be black or white, with no acceptance of gray in between.  From another, the colors just don't mix into a clear resounding picture.  But we try nonetheless to make sense of it all.

And we all do it in our own way, spending bits of time tuning in or ignoring, assessing truth when it feels right for us to do so.

If one makes up their mind too soon, it can cause stagnation and the greater truth that is presented over time, one that takes a longer time to be birthed into existence, is lost.  It is ignored, disbelieved, not truly observed or experienced.

There has been some volatile argument and discussion over the incident at the Libyan embassy that ended the lives of four Americans.  Some have been saying that there is a cover up of the truthful, actual events that took place that day in order that a more favorable political picture could be painted for the people in charge.  Some are saying that a general is being fired after being told to "stand down" on the day of the incident to cover up the culpability of the commander in chief.

I don't pretend to know what happened that day, but here's something else to consider.  I'm not in the military or the political popularity business.  But from the little research that I've done, it seems that this angle that is being trumpeted loudly by the "right" side of the political spectrum is founded on speculation that is specious at best.

But you've got to make up your own mind;  Don't take my word for it.  It's gotta make sense to you before you know how to respond.  So I won't recount the ins and outs of the supposed facts and details.  That part is for you to observe and procure at your leisure.  It's part of the fact checking process that has to happen.

My wife and I saw the movie "Argo" this past week.  I was alive when the events that the movie recounts occurred, but I was young and I didn't remember hearing about them.  So now, twenty years later, I discovered and experienced them for the first time.  And they were presented in a way such that the hindsight could now explain them more succinctly and thoroughly, and our extracted perspective could better judge the truth.  The movie recreated the events, but the truth still filtered through everything over time.  The truth is what stays the same, after all the falsifications and judgements and opinions are floated over and above and beyond.  The truth is what stays.  The truth is the granite exposed when the other transient muck of the mountain erodes away over time.

Even more than that is the way our perspective changes over time, if we are alive and changing like all living things.  Also this week, just yesterday in fact, I ran across the story of Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov and how he saved the world.  His story is something that is only now reaching it's way into my consciousness, and yet my consciousness is still in existence because he made the decisions that he did and allowed me and all of us to continue in our world.  If he hadn't been of such character and belief, there might not be a world today for humans to live and argue in.

Sometimes we don't hear it, but the truth is always there.  It gets to us eventually.  Finding the truth is the impetus for all of life.  Not because we need to find the ultimate truth in order to justify our very existence.  But because discovery feels good.  But it's a process, not a linear event with a beginning and an end that, once achieved, is static and unchanging.  The world keeps turning, just like it would have if nuclear war had destroyed us back in the sixties.  There would still be something, living, moving, and questing for the truth.

I leave you with Richard Feynman, because I care, and because I can. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mikey Likes It. Still.

This one's for the tallest kid in the class.

Whatever that means.

"I don't like Reggae.  I love it..."  So the song goes.  I thought about making a list of things that I like, regardless of how it may work against me.  And that song popped into my mind.  Yeah, I really like it.  It's catchy and a good refrain.  Don't know a lot about it, like who sings it, for instance.  But I like it.

I also like beer and pizza.  I like warm, dry socks in the winter.  I like beer.  I like repeating myself.  I like reproductive rights.  Equality.  Orange soda.  Cuddling.

I like not turning my blog into an E-Harmony ad.

I like storytellers.  I like narrative style, and the oral tradition.  I like sexual innuendo.  Most of the time.

I never really liked Andrew Dice Clay.  Didn't really "get" him.  But I like Lewis Black.

I really liked how I felt while tripping on magic mushrooms.  I like that sustained, "spiritually at peace" feeling.  I used to have it more often when I was younger and of fresher perspective.  But I still have it occasionally.  I haven't done illicit drugs in many years.  But I'm still on drugs, psychoactive ones at that, right now.  I don't really "like" them, but I tolerate them.  They do seem to help me some, in a way that brings me more success and less crisis.

I like friendships.  I like hanging out, joking around, laughing it up with friends.  I like sporting events.  I like family.  I like eating.  Almost anything, really.

But this isn't just about me.  What do you like?  Who are you, and what do you like, about yourself, about the world, about this blog?  What brings you pleasure?

I like dogs.  I like being clean-shaven, but I hate shaving.  I like getting mail from friends and family-- y'know, letters and stuff.  Like in the olden days, before all of this electronic stuff.  But I like getting email, too.  But not spam.

I like Life cereal.  It's true.  But I rarely eat it.  I like grits, and linguica, and eggs over easy.  And toast.

I like doing the work.  I like working for a few hours, then stepping back and regarding the progress.  Admiring it.  I like progress.

Tomorrow I'm driving up into the Santa Cruz mountains and attending a writer's workshop.  Three hours of intensive work towards writing my book and getting it published.

I like that.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do What You're Supposed To

I just dared myself to write something.  Anything.  Because it doesn't matter what I can think of if I don't write it down.

Writing sustains and endures.  Thinking fogs and scrambles, mangles great ideas.

You gotta do it.  You gotta get those hammers throwing.  In the old days, that's how it used to be, tossing manual typewriter keys up at the paper, one at a time.  Because if you tried to go too fast, the keys would get tangled and stick together, or stick to the paper or the typewriter ribbon.

Not that I had a lot of experience with that.  I'm not THAT old.  But I did attempt to type a report when I was in the fourth grade.  I thought that typing it would make it more impressive.  Well, I waited too long to get it done, and my mom had to bail me out.  She was a much better typist than I was, at least at the time.  So I struggled and got about half done, and mom finished up and even sent a note along with me and my report, disclosing that she had finished up the typing for me.  I felt somewhat a failure but it wasn't a total disaster.  And I got a perfect 100 out of 100 for a grade.

But the worst part was that my classmate got a score of 110.  How in the world?  I couldn't imagine even how that was possible.  The scale didn't even go up that high!  How could he have done more than perfect?

Somehow, my 100 didn't feel so perfect for very long.

But that was fourth grade, when life was still full of magic and wonder.  Today, I'd cherish a 100 out of 100, regardless of what others did.

Life doesn't seem to have those easy scores, slam dunks.  Things are so much more complicated.  And it's probably because I've done so much thinking.  I'm tangled up in my own string.

I didn't even really realize that your own thinking can hurt you.  But it's true.  You have to work at your thinking or it gets undisciplined and clouded.  Your emotions can blur rational thought.  So even though something seems logical, it actually, after further scrutiny, doesn't measure up.

There are lots of ways that we skew our thinking, though.  We exaggerate for greater effect.  We rationalize with facts and figures and paint elaborate dioramas to explain, when the simple truth goes ignored.  This is at the heart of many a mental illness.

Some of it doesn't occur of our own volition.  The medical model tries to explain that there are chemical reactions that take place that drive our thinking and perception and that operate on a level beyond the control of the individual mind.

I don't know if I believe that.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  Am I just an organism controlled by chemistry and biology?  I don't think so.  There's more to it than that.

I think that my habit of thinking and questioning and deciding for myself is a process that should be encouraged.  Figure it out for yourself and you'll feel better.  Get help if you need it, take in information,  but evaluate it, consider the source, put some weight to it, and keep going.

But keep going.  Don't dawdle around thinking you got it figured all out, because you don't.  No, you don't.  Because the answer is not a set target.  It moves.  We're all in motion.  Oh yeah.  You're going somewhere, even though you might think you're attached to your chair.  You've got swooshing blood and pulsing organs and you're thinking you're something you're not.  You're more than all those parts that you can list, alphabetically if you're inclined.

And so am I.  So are we.  You and me?  And all these other glorious idiots?  We're all made of the same stuff.  And we are One.  The collective diversity.  Both the source and the container.  The Holy Singularity.  All of us.  Uno.

The same crazy crackheads that design our freeway systems think at speeds and in diagrams that mimic the webs of spiders and mycelium networks in fungi.  There is brilliance everywhere the eye is turned.  We are doing what needs to be done.  There is this purpose towards which we all strive, and our hearts yearn to realize.

And that is it.  That is the purpose.  To live, and to love.  And even to die.  But to love-- that is the greatest.  Honor that purpose.  Love like you mean it.  And the accountants will figure out how to balance the spreadsheet.  Just love, people.  Love.

I love you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Books on My Theoretical Nightstand

So it's kinda like a power outage used to be.  Can't get onto facebook for whatever reason, so I'm suddenly flush with opportunity.  Why not write a blog entry?

I'm still getting the word out about my book, The Raging, Flaming Goat of Samos, and I'm still selling copies.  It's not jumping off the shelves, but it is moving.  Met a former coworker today who said she'd get 3 copies from Amazon.  So onward goes the flow of this business...  Gonna do a book signing at Mom's house in Escalon on Nov. 10th, and another one at our house in Santa Clara on Dec. 2nd.  Should be fun.  And we're sure to have food and drinks available.

I don't really feel much else driving me to write about it.  Is this was writer's block feels like?  I could go on about the daily mundane this and that, but then, I want to attract people to this blog, not repel them.  So maybe I need to do an exercise of some sort.  It's been a long time since I did a "Journal Jar" prompt-- because I did all of the ones that I had.  Please give me a moment to produce a writer's prompt...

Oh yeah, before I go off on a wild lemur chase, I was planning on talking about the book that I got recently at the recommendation of one of my colleagues from the writing group I've been attending at Stanford.  It's called "Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?" by Sean Blackwell, and I'm itching to get started.  Yet another book to start.  Maybe I should try and finish one sometime soon.  Here's my list of recently (sort of) started but as yet to finish books:

1.  "On Writing" by Steven King
2.  "The Man Behind the Microchip" by Leslie Berlin
3.  "Finding Our Way" by Barry W. Holtz
4.  "Finding Your Bipolar Muse" by Lana R. Castle
5.  "Henry Miller on Writing," edited by Thomas H. Moore
6.  "Food Not Lawns" by H.C. Flores
7.  "Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World" by Paul Stamets

I'm sure I have more starts among my shelves, but these are the most recent ones I've tried to embark upon but haven't had the follow-through tenacity to get any of them "done."  Although, really, I read most of the actual reading material in the Stamets book, and just didn't read the field/identification guide page by page.  So maybe that one shouldn't be on this list.

 I read about two fifths of the bipolar book before I had to return it to the library.  I like it and have since purchased my own copy, but I haven't been reading much and it is just sitting there.  My mom read it, however, and really liked it-- filled it with sticky notes and bought me a new copy so she could keep it for herself, along with her notes.  My copy was used, but she bought me a new spanking one.  Brand spanking new, that is, just so there's no confusion.  It's been years since she spanked me.  At least a couple.

I've also put in some time with "Food Not Lawns," and it's been inspiring, if not daunting and overwhelming.  I would love to enlist the principles it cites and get my yards producing food for me and my family and community, instead of just sucking money from my bank account, watering a lawn that is primarily for looks only.  But, I'm handcuffed by my idealism, and my wife is not real patient with me and my half- to less-than-half- started projects.  And who can blame her?  Everything I do seems to come about out of process, and that process is ongoing.  I only try to approach mastery, I never seem to attain it.

"The Man Behind the Microchip" is a book I gave to my dad for Christmas in 2005.  It's about Robert Noyce, a man that connects my dad and I through Noyce's life and accomplishments.  My dad met Noyce as an employee at Intel in the early days of its inception.  I'm connected to Noyce because he was from Grinnell and is quite a presence at the college that I attended there.  Noyce and I are alumni.  But my dad met him, and worked for him.  Dad read the book and recommended that I read it, and even though I have wanted to, I just haven't made the time and effort to get it done.  Such is life.  Maybe as the weather changes to cooler and/or rainy I'll find myself with more time to just read.  But then again...  I guess we'll just have to see.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Catching Up With Self

Haven't been writing here lately.  By "here" I mean this blog.  I've still been writing-- I'm back at the Stanford writing group that meets on Mondays, where we write on different subjects for a couple hours, almost.  We also discuss and read what we write.  I really like the group, there are some very interesting people there.  So I think it does me well to keep going to the group.

I have also started rehashing my book-- the one that deals with my Greece experiences, and perhaps my recovery journey.  I haven't decided on the scope just yet, still trying to get down the basics and organize things.  I've probably got about 50 pages so far of raw ideas and basic chronology.  It will come along as I work on it, taking time to get it "right" to my standards, or maybe a bit below, depending on when I want it done by...  I don't really have a deadline set for it, so it's still easy to blow it off for another day.  I did walk down to my neighborhood Starbucks twice this last week and wrote/edited/organized.  So I feel a sense of accomplishment there.

I also started considering going back to school.  To taking a language course to finish up my degree requirement.  I think I will start with an email to the professor that I have worked with in the past to see what she suggests.  She's at Mission College so that's pretty convenient. 

I'm also considering talking to my former employer about working on a temporary basis, doing what I used to be doing.  I'd probably only work 2-3 days a week at the most, but it would be some income and some needed exercise.  Don't know if they'll go for it, but I won't know unless I ask.  So I think I'll go and ask, probably tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, we're full-on into our forbearance plan with our bank for our mortgage.  The new payment amount will be coming out on the 7th of September, if all goes well.  I hope that Wells Fargo works with us fairly.  I'm a little wary about them, but I have hope.  I think we'll end up working something out that lets us keep the house, but I still worry that they'll just set us up and then foreclose on us.  I don't think that foreclosure is good for either party, and as long as we're working to pay them something, even if it isn't the whole payment, that should be enough to stay the tide.  That's my hope.

So yeah, got a lot going on as usual.  Suzy has started a Pampered Chef business and is off doing a presentation right now.  Send her good vibes... She was a little nervous beforehand, as she is doing something new and stretching herself outside of her comfort zone.  So good for her.  She's awesome.  May she stay healthy and happy.  And may I stay in her favor.

Speaking of which, I think I oughta get out from underneath this here laptop and get outside.  It's a bee-you-tea-full day and there's yard work to be done.  So on with the show!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Endure To Cure, End The Cancer

Pretty successful year for the Relay For Life of Cupertino, wouldn't cha say?

If only because I made the newspaper...

Our team, "ETC, ETC" is currently in 3rd place for fundraising.  I developed the name, and continue to tout it and work on making improvements... it's the perfectionist in me.  But anyway... the letters currently stand for "Embracing the Challenge, Enabling the Cure," but I'm thinking of something new for next year.  And you already read it in the title of this here blog!  Surprise!

Endure to Cure.  That's what we're doing.  We are pushing through the boundaries, through the tough crap that isn't acceptable.  We want better for our loved ones.  For our friends and family.  We want to kick this stinking disease, and we're not stopping until we do.  We come together and unify as one under this cause, and we endure to cure.  Through the heat and the rain, through the sickness and health, through the dusty winds and the apathy and hopelessness, we endure.  Through it all.  More examples?  Etc., etc...

So I was thinking that ETC ETC stands for a lot of things, and even for some that we haven't realized yet.  So maybe we can have a contest, or at least play the game of coming up with combinations of what ETC stands for.  End The Cancer.  Endure To Cure.  Embrace The Challenge.  Enable The Cure.  Those we know; what else is out there?  Maybe figuring out more things that ETC stands for is part of our battle?  Can we come together on this?

I think it could be fun.  Exit The Colon, for example.

Eject Tape Concept.  Do kids know about that?

Ergo Titular Creatus.  Whatever that means...

So have some fun with it.  (First person to use the word "crap" gets some cheap "Made in China" stuff)

Monday, August 6, 2012

What's That Around the Corner?

So I'm getting the word out slowly that I'm a published author.  I have my name in print.

You haven't heard?  Please, tell everyone you know.  And buy my book.  It's only ten bucks.

But I'm already thinking... what's next?

I had one person tell me that after reading my book, he was left wanting more.  I didn't get to press him about this observation.  But maybe he just wants another book?

I think it would be fun to develop the story of the Wild Cat of Samos more, to entail more of the legend that it became while we told the story over and over during our trip to Samos.  The initial story is phenomenal enough, with it's caped avenger, cyclops of a brother, and menacing cat.

But maybe there's another story out there.

I do have choices.  For example, I've done a fair amount of work on my memoir of the Greece experience.  That's a project that would provide good therapy to see through to culmination, perhaps tracing my self-development (or rehabilitation) through the recovery process, with all it's turns and tosses.  I could bring the story to the present day, where I am finding my voice and advocating for mental wellness and acceptance.  That's a distinct possibility that offers some juicy, salivating grub for these writing chops.

And I still have my fiction, that's more than twenty years old.  Thistle Penn and his fabled existence.  Where is he, exactly?  And what is he?  Will he be knocking on my door in the near future, trying to find some sustenance?  And who is he traveling with these days?  It's been a long time since I kept track of his pursuits.  Does he even own a suit?

As for the right now, I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop, drinking a beer, and wondering what in tarnation I'm going to eat for dinner this evening.  My wife has left to go see a movie with her family.  I was not invited.  Not that I would have gone... I've never heard of the movie.  I might just settle in with some comfort food-- like a box of mac and cheese-- and watch some Netflix...  Or I could get outside and do more gardening/landscaping, nature-loving and dirt-worshiping...  I've got more seeds to plant and pray over, because I don't know if it will take a miracle to get some of them to grow...  Or there's plenty of books to read.  I've dipped my toes in several books and haven't gotten back to them over the past several months.  The one on top of my stack is Steven King's "On Writing," which is a great title.  In fact, I believe I used it as one of my blog titles.  Great minds think alike.

So who knows where this evening goes?  Certainly not me.  I be ridin' the current, floatin' on down the river.  Gots my cooler packed and ready.  Gonna be a good ride.

Thanks for taggin' along.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Come, Find Me

I've been wondering about my blog interface.  How I connect with people out there who might be looking to read and/or discuss the things that I want to write and/or discuss.  How can I best accommodate my readers?

I guess I'd like to just issue an invitation to start reading at whatever point you feel comfortable.  I write about what is capturing my attention at the moment, and so that can be defined broadly over time.  You might want to try picking a year and going through the old blog titles and starting with one that seems interesting to you.  I've made some effort to link some of the blog entries that are connected in subject matter, so you can get some suggested reading that way.

The other thing you can try is to use the search box at the top of the blog.  Type in something and see if something comes up.  (I think I have written something about something...) 

The thing is, even if you're a slow reader like I am, there are only about 200 blog posts, so you could conceivably read one post a day, maybe more if you're enticed, and catch up relatively quickly.  Or maybe you just save the older stuff for when you have more time and just try to keep up with what I'm doing right now.  I'll continue to try and put things together so that the projects I'm working on will take shape and make more sense and gain ease of access and the like.  Your suggestions and comments are welcome.  Please help me to be a better person-- it is my aim in life to improve myself and the world that we live in.

So if there's something you'd like to discuss, mention it to me and I'll see what I can find out.  I'll even do some research every now and then.  Just remember, this is a conversation.  It's an organic process, dynamic in nature.  There is ebb and flow.  We are both riding this energy, traversing the cosmos.  We improve exponentially, like a web of intricate consciousness.  So if you wonder about something... put it out there.  And see what happens.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Take Root or Water Elsewhere

So I missed most of July.  At least, I missed chronicling it here.  So I have a little catching up to do.

In July, I finished quitting my job.  I had started quitting it several times already, talking myself into scenarios about how it didn't matter enough, didn't pay enough, took too much of my time without enough payback.  All in all, it wasn't so bad a job.  But it wasn't enough.  I need something bigger, something that means something bigger.  And that hopefully pays a lot better.  So.  Back to looking.

We had our Relay For Life event at Cupertino High School.  It went well, although it was different with the setup that we had.  Or should I say layout.  We couldn't camp like we usually do on the track so instead had a satellite camp ground on the practice field, away from the track.  The facility is brand spanking new and has the artificial turf that the administrators are very careful about protecting.  No food on the track, or drinks, except water.  So all the day-of fundraising was off, and the interaction was fragmented.  But we made it work.  Got to be nice and hot for the afternoon, and there was no natural shade.  Just easy-ups and some umbrellas.  A nice breeze kicked up in the late afternoon and helped make things much more comfortable.

I've been living through two-week cycles of mood swinging.  Feel great with lots of energy and hope and get-to-workedness, then crashing to sleep, sleep, and more sleep.  I have a hearing on Friday about my disability claim with Social Security.  Wonder how I'll feel for that.

My book is available on and (Barnes and Noble) and I think I've even sold a copy or two.  Now to finish the book about my bipolar life...

We're talking about our financial situation, and things are not very pretty.  We're looking into bankruptcy.  We've considered selling our house and finding somewhere cheaper to live.  Something inside me is yelling to me that I should keep this house.  I don't know why.  I can't justify it to anyone.  I just feel like I need to make a move to grow some roots here, right here, right now.  To work out in the yards and make a difference== not for curb appeal, but for me, spiritually.  To make this a home, where I grow and harvest food that we eat and make use of our land that we own and share the abundance.  We have oranges, tangelos, lemons, and an artichoke plant that has yet to bear fruit.  But we have so much more soil and resources...  I want to plant vines.  Grapes and blueberries and blackberries.  I want an herb and spice garden.  I want to bring back native plants to my yard, and let them flourish.  And I want to be free to do these things on my own property, without the meddling of a landlord.

Now I realize I might have to contend with city ordinances and neighbors who disagree with my choices.  But it's the revolutionary act that is most important to me-- to take back ownership and responsibility for my food and my nutrition.  To unplug from the restaurant circuit.  And to feel better about myself and how I'm eating.

I don't know that I'll be raising chickens anytime soon, but I want to explore the homesteading direction.  So maybe we should look into property in the country.  Maybe the answer is not to bear down and live here at all cost, but to let go and move to another area.

Maybe the homestead is calling me from afar.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tune to Your Own Channel

Happy July 1st, y'all.  End of fiscal year for many... or should I say, beginning...

So I guess I'm not well informed.  I don't sift through the news trackers with a fine tooth comb.  Never did, really.  But now, I don't watch television, I don't check out the headlines on Yahoo more than a couple times a month...  The only way that I gather "news" is through social interaction, either talking with other people or "sharing" on "facebook" with "friends."  So I guess I kind of have my head stuffed in the sand, by today's standards.

The media as we know it in the United States is a machine that produces thought control, perspective control.  It shrinks the world into little chewable bits for the easy consumption of its viewers.  The process of "making the news" is one of filtration and processing.  Gone are the days of the unadulterated content, everything is washed and sanitized and edited and enhanced and embellished.  Even when nothing happens, there are countless channels producing shows about everything that didn't happen... yet.  Or what might happen next... Or what will surely happen if something isn't done, soon...

We're a bunch of drama junkies.  Right now I'm sitting on the couch, laptop in position, listening to our neighborhood traffic whisper and the neighborhood mockingbird review its repertoire.  There's a pleasant breeze now and then that adjusts the scents in the air and tickles the hair on my arms.  This is not a film to be broadcast at eleven.  And yet, I am enjoying it immensely, more than any newscast I have ever experienced.

I used to listen to talk radio a few years ago.  And I would get all worked up about perceived wrong doing in the world.  Now that I don't tune in, I'm more well-balanced.  I still have opinions, and hear about news stories through different means (I am still on a fair amount of email lists that I can't seem to get rid of...), but I'm acting more locally and assessing my environment locally.  I hear the cries from Washington, and it seems that the discord will always be there, no matter who is president or speaker of the house or on the supreme court.  There is no end-all fix for this system.  It's a system that has to be moving, in flux, in order for change to happen.  It is a process, not a destination.  If we could all think a little more along those lines, we might get more work, positive work, done.

So I've developed my own critical thinking abilities, thank you very much.  No thanks to the mass media.  In spite of it.  Through relationships and conversations and writing and questioning myself.  I can do this without the aid of someone who is getting paid to tell me what I "need".  How would they know the answer to that, when we've never even met? 

But what do I know?  I'm just a blogger out here, with no advertisers, and about twelve regular followers.  I don't even "count" in today's society.  My voice is not being solicited by the masses.

Well.  Not yet, anyway.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Loving Through Depression

It creeps in like flood water.  You can sense it coming, but you aren't sure from where.  Soon it's a part of you, surrounds you.  You don't know where it stops and where you begin.

I begin here, right now.  With this.

I'm crashing, moodwise.  I can feel myself starting to hurt, starting to doubt.  I am covered in a sheet of warm malaise.  It's like heated wax paper.  I can sense it wrapping me up, turning my consciousness.

It's nothing new.  But it still manages to cut me down the center of my being, and I am left gaping, gasping.  With every return, depression brings the thoughts that rattle their hollow truths.  Oh Dear God, not again.  I can't bear the pain.  Please don't let me hurt like this again.

Next comes the bargaining.  You want to make peace with it.  You want to feel there again.  You try and hope your way through it.  But it shackles your optimism and whips it with its dirty reeds.  You see that the struggle is once again futile.  You submit, knowing that you are not in control.  But the submission leads to those thoughts, again, of ending.  The only way to end the pain, to get outside of it, is to leave it.  You let it lie and hope for remission, but it dawdles, dwells.

You want to give up.  Not again, can I go through this. Not again.  The pain too much to endure.  There must be a way to make it end.

The suicidal thoughts present themselves.  Will you be creative?  Will you find a different way to navigate this transition?

I thought about driving to the beach, stripping down and walking out into the water and letting the ocean decide what to do with me.  Were I to be swept up in a riptide or thrust into the rocks, or even just overcome by the water and sunk to the bottom like a stone, I would be relenting the pain.  I would be finding peace.  Somehow.  So it seems.

I do not wish to bring grief to those that I love.  And there are many of you, I know this.  But when the depressed paradigm arrives, it inhabits all four corners of my mind.  There is no escaping it, except to know that all things must pass, and eventually it will.  It must cycle its way away from my life, just as the joyous times are fleeting and don't last either.

Giving up and checking out of life would be a cowardly act.  A selfish act.  I would be acting only on my own needs and not considering the needs of others.  To set out to end my life would be a grand risk as well-- what if the pain continues, or even worsens, when one takes one's own life?  Perhaps there is nothing; but perhaps one locks in to a special kind of hell.

I don't have answers.  I don't know the future, I don't know what is my fate.  All I know is what I have right now, in this very moment.  And that is a desire to live, a desire to love.  A desire to be loved.  And that, I think, is enough.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Too Cool Video of a Skier in a Small Town

Check it out:  Suburban freestyle skiing.  Too awesome!

I wanna try it...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breaking Into Prison

Attitude isn't everything, as you may have heard.  It's an awful lot of things, but there are still a few things, after you do the accounting.

Exceptions to every rule...

Indeed.  But a change in perspective can seem like it changes everything.  Maybe that's because everything is not a static idea.  Remember, everything changes.

Everything is something that is organic, is constantly being redefined in our minds.  From moment to moment, we learn new things that become part of our ever expanding universe.

Is everything a fact?  No, it is not static and unchanging.  Although sometimes everything seems to be figured out and set in stone.  Everything can feel like a fact sometimes.

Should we talk about anything and everything?  I could converse about the universe and theories that contain it, try to explain it in non-changing rigid labels.  But the universe is organic, too.  It's dynamic.  It's moving, evolving.  Infinite.

So.  To infinity and beyond, to borrow another line.  As long as I live, I change.  The paradigm shifts.  It is and yet it isn't.  Paradox exists now and again.

Feel free to share what you think of anything and everything.

I like pickles.  Dill more than bread and butter ones.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 200 Club

Not to be confused with the 700 club.

This here blog entry is number 201 of all-time here at Tripolarity: Living Bipolar.  The milestone was at the previous blog, but you know how sometimes you miss the odometer turning over to that milestone sort of a number?  No?  Oh yeah, that's right.  Those are digital now.

Some of the fun has gone out of driving, not because I'm older-- no, no... none of that-- but because we've "advanced" or "progressed" such that cars are different now.  I once rebuilt the carburetor on my Chevy pickup.  Now cars don't even have carburetors.  So I'm told.  Maybe I am old...

Used to be that you'd glance down at the odometer while driving a stretch of highway and notice that an event was coming.  With a glance, you could see things shaping up.  All those 9's lined up in a row, all turning to 0's in a matter of seconds.  It was something that you could witness visually.  It was more than just a "blip" and done.  The dials would start to crank, turning slowly until all of the 9's had become 0's, over the course of a few seconds (depending on how fast you were driving).  Nowadays?  Blip.  You're not even sure if you witnessed it happening.  One moment it's all nines, the next it's all zeros. 

There are a lot of things that used to be that aren't anymore.  Used to be that people sent each other pieces of paper with scribbled penmanship on them.  They were called "letters" and were sent all over the world for the price of a stamp.  How much did it cost to mail a letter when you were young?  I remember stamps being 23 cents.  Or was it 22?  It was less than a quarter to mail a letter.  And you had to take your time writing it out in your best penmanship so that the person you were sending it to could actually read it when it got there.

Now I think it costs twelve dollars to send a letter to someone.  And there's no guarantee that the person you send one to will even know what to do with it.  Mail?  Oh that's the crap that the businesses send trying to get you to spend money on their products.  Coupons.  Junk mail.

Who killed the personal letter?  I don't think it was me.  I remember writing letters to girls that I liked a lot back in high school, and even into college.  I was shy, so writing things down allowed me to get my words "just right" and I felt that I was more effective through written word than spoken word.  My rhythm was all wrong when I tried to speak, there was so much going on in my head that my mouth couldn't keep up.  At least with writing, I had time to chew on the ideas and words a bit before I cast them to the page.  And even then, after I'd blurted something in my scribing I could scribble it out and start over if it didn't sound right.  So even in the beginning I did my own editing.

I don't have a smart phone.  My phone didn't go to college.  It didn't even get its GED.  So I'm outside the speed bubble that our consumer society has created with gadgets replacing gadgets, and things becoming obsolete-- the treasure to trash acceleration-- going faster and faster, like the merry-go-round... and I'm feeling like I'm losing my grip.  I'm about to be flung from the planet and catapulted into the out-dated teeter-totter for a mouth full of slivers.

Why are we in such a hurry?  For what?  Who am I working this hard for?  And for what?

My wife is an amazingly productive multitasking juggernaut.  Sometimes she thinks that if she lets herself rest, she'll get sick.  Better to just push through and keep moving.  I don't think this is healthy.  (She's home sick today, and did a good job resting and eating soup.  Good old fashioned home-made soup-- thanks Aunt Laura).  She does her job, she does volunteer work, she organizes fund-raisers, she goes to meetings, she does conference calls, she helps her family out, she cleans the house, she makes dinner... What the fuck do I do anyway?

I'm too slow.  I live at a different speed.  Had a car dealer tell me that I needed an upgrade to a faster processor-- in my head.  Yeah, way to close the deal, asshole.  Give me my license back, I'm taking my stupid money elsewhere.

So I'm trying to live in this world I've inherited.  And I'm still trying to change along with it.  I want to do right by it, by the people I love.  I want to leave it more beautiful for the next.  I want to keep what is good, what works, but be open to innovation and possibility.  I want to share what I know and what I love in hopes of giving gifts to anyone and everyone that wishes to receive them.  I want to heal the world, and heal myself.  I want to know what there is to know, and be genuine.  Honest, I do.

I hope to enjoy the ride.  It's not the rest stop, or even the destination, but the journey that is most memorable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Basic Title No. 1

Looking back over the past couple months, things have been kind of tumultuous.  I started a new job, working swing shift hours, disrupting my schedule of sleep and non-working activities.  But I still managed to blog a decent amount of time, and got some quality writing done.

I was also disrupted by a trip to Grinnell.  It was fun to see friends again, but I partied a bit too hard one of the nights.  I hadn't been drinking for about three weeks prior to falling off the wagon at the reunion.  I think that has had a lasting psychological effect (negatively) on me.  I was feeling very good about myself prior to the trip, ramping up to the scheduled time off.  My attendance at work was good, I was in a bit of a rhythm in going and getting through the days/nights whatever they are.

Now I'm in a bit of a rut.  Once we got back from Grinnell, I went back to work the first night, and haven't been back since.  I've been doing other things-- making arrangements, phone calls, emails, budgeting, work on my book project-- but I'm struggling with continuing with the job.  I need to do something different.

I'm sitting here right now, in need of a shower, in need of a haircut, in need of a shave.  I'm in a low mood, but I still have energy, so I'm not really depressed.  I want to do things like write, garden, fix my house, arrange outside furniture, weed control, landscaping projects, sprinkler installations and adjustments.  I want to draw, learn Audacity software, transfer cassette tapes to digital audio.  I want to organize my garage, fix my desktop computer, organize my office space.  I want to plant a garden, organize my tool shed.  I want to live an inspired life.

I made an appointment to speak with an old friend at my former employer.  He's in HR there, and can tell me about the possibilities of getting back with the City.  I don't know that I can swing it, but I have to try and find out if it's an option for me.  I feel like at least the income potential is better than what I've got going currently.

I want to read.

I want to entertain.

I want to have a big party.

Maybe we can have a big ol moving party, sell all our stuff, including the house.  Do like an artist would, where he/she gets rid of everything he/she "owns" and release, starting fresh.  There was a guy who put all his possessions into a huge shredder a few years back... was it early 2000's?  I remember seeing it in the newspaper...  Another guy destroyed all the art that he had created up to that point in his life-- burned it.  What's his name... the guy who puts the dots over people's faces in pictures...

There's something liberating about that.  Letting go of everything, little things that you've carried with you for so long that you don't remember where you got it-- or things that you hold so dear for whatever reason, something from your childhood that you take great comfort in retaining.  Say goodbye to it all, release the energy, the built up potential of your longing ego.  Let it go.  Shed your skin.  And you are born anew.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thanksgiving in June

Well well well.  If it isn't June.  Welcome to mid-year.  A month of many celebrations.

For example, I am now 43 years of age.  My wife has a birthday coming up.  There have been graduations, there are sure to be weddings-- and there was the Grinnell College Alumni Reunion.

It was an extended weekend of conversations and imbibing libation.  We danced 'til we ached and the house lights came back on.  It was past midnight, and somebody realized that it was June 3rd.  So they sang me "Happy Birthday" and I beamed a sweaty beam.

To all who survived the many frozen winters with me in Iowa; to all who ate fried potatoes with almost every meal;  to all that sported hangovers for many a consecutive string of weekends...  Thank you.

I'm trying to give birth to something here.  I'm trying to find the words to do the feelings justice.  I want to relay the sentiment I have felt in the presence of my Grinnellian family over the years, and particularly during reunions, whether they are sanctioned by the college or impromptu gatherings at satellite locations around the country.

But words are hard to find that do the experience justice.  There's always just a little bit more than what I'm able to come up with.  The superlatives don't flesh things out enough, and are hollow and cliche.  So maybe we just need to go with what is spoken from  the heart.

Thanks to Justine for the kind words of encouragement and complimentary edification.  You help me to build whatever it is that this here blog is constructing.  I am inspired to work and toil to entertain you and rattle your cage.  So to speak.

Thanks to Mark, Danja, and Steve for their comments and honesty.  My mission is bolstered by your efforts to communicate and assist me with all things on my plate.

I want to thank everybody out there who took the time to read my little book that could, The Raging, Flaming Goat of Samos over the weekend.  The feedback has been very kind and inspiring.

Thanks to Irene for all your work in the organization of the reunion.  And thanks to Paul for keeping us laughing throughout the night.

There are so many more.  Thank you to Suzy, for being such a wonderful being and thriving socially.  You do some amazing work, and you do it effortlessly.  At least, you make it look that way.

Thank you to Melanie for wrangling me aside and making sure that I know the depth of the love that she and so many others have for me.  You stoke the fire in my soul, and bring me fresh fuel.

I know I'm leaving people out, but not intentionally.  And the band is starting to play louder, as it's time to go to commercial... So.  You keep reading; I'll keep writing.

Regular writing produces better writing.  So it goes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Part of the Grinnell Experience

Wanted to get a word in before the end of the month and our trip away...  Going to Grinnell, Iowa for a few days to reconnect with friends and colleagues at my alumni reunion.  20 years since I "graduated" there.  It's in quotes because I didn't want to use an asterisk.

The story of my graduation is a culmination of my childhood or teenhood.  I grew up that day.  In a hurry.

I wore the gown, after having traversed the multitudinous syllabi and reaching the apex of requirements.  At least, I thought I had paid the right people for the desired results...

I had plans to pull out my wallet once I walked across the stage to face then president of the college, Pamela Ferguson (did I spell that correctly?) and settle my tab.  "What do I owe you?" I would ask her in my best theatrical voice.

But I stammered, mentally.  I got worked up and worried.  Nervous.  So I stepped in front of her, holding my wallet, and stood there.  She smiled and handed me my diploma folder.  I fumbled with my wallet, then took the folder, juggling.  I think I even shook her hand (details are not very clear).

It was now time for me to exit the stage.  My moment had passed, and I had not taken full advantage of it.  This was to be a bit of a metaphor for my academic experience while at Grinnell.  I was confused-- I couldn't see where my classmates had gone to get off the stage.  Which way was I supposed to walk?  I didn't see stairs or a ramp or anything.

So I finally acted and zigged instead of zagging.  I walked over to the back of the platform, behind the backs of the faculty and other dignitaries sitting in their folding chairs on the stage, and jumped off. 

It was totally unrehearsed, just me getting through it, muddled mind and all.  I don't recall the reaction of the crowd.  I just remember what happened next.

I stepped into the shade of one of the great trees there on central campus and opened the diploma folder.  But there was no diploma in it.  Instead, there was a note explaining that I had not satisfied the requirements for my successful graduation.

A friend walked up to me, laughing and joking with me for jumping off the back of the stage.  He saw me open the folder and experience the let down.  He commiserated with me as my thoughts swirled.  I knew that I had come up short in my French class.  That had to be it.

Soon I was surrounded by family.  I was totally defeated.  I had failed!  All that work, all that money.  What a waste of time!  I was humiliated and despondent.  I was inconsolable.

In the next couple days I learned that I had actually flunked my French final and earned a "D" in the class.  I had been so distracted by the fact that I broke up with my girlfriend the night before the final that I had failed to study well.  But the work hadn't been done for the whole semester, really.  I hated that I had to take a language class as part of my major.  Wasn't studying English enough?  And I was so nervous and anxious in those classes, so much going on and me not able to figure out what it was.  I couldn't get over the hump and relax enough to learn.  So I avoided the classes.

I was also erroneously enlivened by the fact that I had worked on and given a good oral report.  I had figured that this was my ultimate weakness-- speaking-- as I had trouble speaking up in class in a language that I had been speaking all of my life.  It was shyness, yes, but also perhaps social anxiety.  I couldn't think straight when I didn't know for sure what was going on.  I'd get self-conscious and figure that I was too dumb to learn-- or I feared that such a truth would be exposed if I tried to talk in class.  My fears were too great to allow me to learn in a relaxed, natural fashion.  So I found ways to get by, and I found my own way off the stage.

I traversed an unbeaten path to get through my Grinnell Experience.  It was my path alone.  It led to me receiving the "Closest to Earning a Degree, but No Cigar" Award. 

I've since tried going back to school and taking a language class to satisfy the requirement.  But I haven't been successful.  I've started over with Spanish but flamed out when employment challenges got in the way.  I've tried auditing a Latin course at our local university, but you have to be an alum to register or audit a class, unless you go to summer school, where language classes aren't often offered there. 

So I haven't found my path to my degree.  At least, not yet.  I had enough credits to graduate;  I just needed a "C" where I received a "D" because the language requirement was considered to be part of my English major requirements.  So I missed my degree by a few percentage points.

If I had come from a family of litigators, I might have found a way to financially motivate Grinnell to working with me.  But as it stands, I don't have the piece of paper.  What I do have, though, is a great education and access to the network of friends and colleagues through the college.  There is a fellowship that exists between any- and everyone that has gone through Grinnell, and I'm proud to be a part of that.  I'm still walking the path for my steps alone, finding my way through my Grinnell Experience.

An education is not a piece of paper, anyway.  It's the journey and the mind set.  The Grinnell Experience.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Forms of Communication (with God)

So I'm working with books these days.  Right now I'm editing electronic copies of Italian books.  The one I worked on the last couple days had a lot of Italian, some Latin, some Greek, and a few passages of English.  Just enough to get me interested.

So here's the mystery.  The quote that I was able to read, pronounce, and understand was of great interest to me.  But all of the particulars that I'm usually able to use to facilitate further understanding were in different languages, not of my comprehension.  Anyway.  So I have this puzzle that I want to try and put together.

First item.  One of the footnotes listed Alfred North Whitehead, who turns out to be a very interesting bloke.  He did a series of lectures that were compiled into a book under the title "Religion in the Making," at least I think that's what happened.  This work was noted in the Italian book that I was reading-- er, editing.  Well, you gotta read when you edit, right?

Next item.  Another footnote listed John Dewey's "Art as Experience."  The quote included from Mr. Dewey was "Communicability has nothing to do with popularity."  Hmm.  Yes.

Last item is W.E. Hocking and his "Science and the Idea of God." Oooo.  I find very interesting.  Like.

And finally, (part of) the quote that I jotted down:  " if Plato's eternal ideas abandoned their impassivity and at the touch of divine persuasion entered the world of change and addressed themselves to our suffrages..."

Okay.  Connect the dots.

I'll wait.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Perfect Machine

There are lots of things swimming around in my head today, so let's get started.  Fresh.

I pause.  Where to start?  Uh-oh.  I freeze.  Could it be?

Writer's block?  No!

Maybe.  I'll just have to try and write through it.

Got something in the mail yesterday advertising this year's Bioneers Conference in October.  Really do love that organization.  They're inspiring and informative.  They provide vision and tutelage in these days of dire conditions and underwhelming mainstream information.  They complement the movements that they feature and endorse.  It's a wonderful thing.

I'm sensing that I am going to be working on my books a lot in the coming months.  Both my picture book, that I'm  now considering as less of a children's book and more of an adult story perhaps.  I don't know.  But it is still enticing me to look at it and work on it.  I want to do more work with the illustrations, make them "pop" more.  And I'll take the copy that I made to my college reunion to get some more feedback from friends and colleagues. 

I'm also feeling myself ramp up towards writing about Greece more.  I've started a compilation file of many of the blog posts that I've done and am looking to go through and expand on things.  Writing about doing this is part of the project, too.  Making myself accountable for my brainstorms.

I'm seeing things come together for me.  I am settling into a rhythm.  I can sense a new dawning of production and creativity.  I can feel myself sprouting new limbs, fresh wings.  I am transforming into the being that I want to be, the angelic temple with fortitude and moxie.  I am coming of age, awakening from my slumber.  I am bringing forth the tools to build the temple.  I have bricks and mortar and sweat.  I have mud and guts and strength.  I bring a fountain that sustains, flowing as a river.  I am finding my way.  I am creating with the creator.  I am lifting me up and stretching my lengths.

I will be heard.  I will be read.  I will write and draw and create.  I will find the answers to my questions.  I will find the path that leads me home.  I will make the perfect breakfast.  I will drink my fill.  I will turn water into fuel.  I will my way into my future.  I make my world, my reality.  I bring it up out of the ashes and blow off the dust, and thrust it into the water to the sizzling sounds of its baptism.  It emerges still warm, fresh.  Anew with purpose.  The perfect tool.  The perfect machine.

That's me.  The Perfect Machine.  Making it perfect, one step at a time.  I will walk this perfect journey to the house that holds my ideal.  I will make the trip through the rain and the heat.  I can endure, and I will.

This too shall pass.  It will lead me to the promised land.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Price Your Train of Thought?

I don't know how to say this.

I want to work again, but I'm having trouble with the existing system.

It sucks that I only get paid ten bucks an hour to do editing and stuff.  That I can't just wake up in the morning and go to my desk and do something and make ten bucks an hour.  But no, I've gotta go sit in their office for eight hours, while they time me and rent me and make me "productive" as they want it defined.

I don't like the rules.  I don't like the system.  I should get more for doing what it is that I want to do.

I'm not asking for a million dollars.  I'm asking for enough to get by.  And that's more than ten bucks an hour, doing something I would rather not do.

If I made twice that amount, it would be better.  Maybe even okay.  Then we could breathe, economically.  Financially.  If I could collect the money from my retirement fund, the ten bucks an hour would be okay, because we'd be covering our debts.  But it's not adding up right now.

We're sinking into greater debt, there's more going out than coming in, and there's no end in sight.  No turnaround foreseen.  How do we turn this thing around?  How can I take my many talents and make a living again?

I feel like I've got to put myself out there, right out in front.  Go live, so to speak, and just have everyone stare at my big ass hairy problems as they are.  A big ol' plate of honesty.  How much is that worth?

I hate that I feel guilty for feeling sick like I am.  As if feeling sick isn't enough, I need a "real" problem as well.  If I could just snap out of it I would have done it years ago.  But that's not happening.  If you can actually develop a methodology and practice for the "snap out of it" therapy that works, you'd have yourself a winning product in the marketplace.  I don't think it's been invented as of yet.

But mental illness exists, and it exists with a grand stigma.  People don't talk about having mental illness, even if they do, because they don't want to be judged as "crazy" or "weak" or whatever.  You can't be president of the United States if you're mentally ill.  Well, evidently, anyway.  That's what our insane "vetting" process says, and yet we have a whole congress full of nutcases.

I don't know what else I want to say, except that we have real problems that need real solutions, and to get at those real solutions we need to be real honest with ourselves. 

If I'm going to do anything for forty hours a week, I need to benefit from it.  I need more than 400 bucks and a "thank you."  Especially when it costs me a hundred bucks for gas and wear and tear on my vehicle. 

This is not a plea for winning the lottery, or handouts, or even sympathy.  I'm entitled to peace of mind, and for that I'm willing to work.  But I don't want to paint myself into a corner.  And especially not at ten bucks an hour.

I want to get fair value for the work I've been doing.  I'm making progress, I do believe.  I'm writing much more frequently these days, and I'm approaching a consensus, or a vision.  A clarity, perhaps?  I don't know, but I'm moving along the path toward greater understanding and wisdom, I do feel that.  And I'm creating something here with this blog.  I will continue to work at it, and allow it to define itself.  It will evolve as I evolve.

And the acorn does bloom into a grand canopy of tree greatness.  In time, and at its own pace.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Through the Balcony Portal

I know I’ve written about this before, I just don’t know where to find it exactly.  When we stayed at the hotel on Samos, the main level had a bar with a large walk-through opening that led to a balcony that overlooked the ocean.  I sat and looked out through that passage and thought it to be magical; transformative.  Almost like the Looking Glass portal or some such thing.  I imagined taking a run at it and launching myself up and over the balcony and into the air, never to return to the ground.  I would take flight and find my way over and through the various realms until I was reunited with my ultimate love.

The seeds of this vision were planted by my reading of Jitterbug Perfume, where Alobar exists in a parallel universe for hundreds of years, waiting to be reunited with his long lost love.  I had visions of another character coming into existence after my taking flight.  I would separate from my body and give birth to another man’s psychosis.  This wild man of Samos would be a community vagrant, shifting around the town, surviving off the fat of the land.  The wild man of Samos would be a legend, just like the wild cat.

I would be somehow connected to both of these characters—the wild man and the soul that took flight.  I existed in metaphors with this thinking, having left my body behind at the balcony and becoming an ideal that would eventually make its way back home.  And the wild man would appear about town, not making a ruckus but being a presence enough that people would notice and wonder who he was and what his story was.

The wild man would be a lost soul, in search of the true love he had lost at the resort.  This vision tied into the vision at the water’s edge, where a royal beauty decided to walk into the water and just keep going, along the floor of the ocean, under the sea.  Did the wild man lose his one and only true love while on vacation?  Did he lose her to the ocean?

There was a vision of a hotel room, where there was a stained bedspread.  The stain looked as though it could have been blood;  it was unclear what had happened there.  But the wild man knows, and he is haunted by it.  He had been given a rose by his love, and the rose had been smashed into the bedspread by the suitcase that was hurriedly thrown onto the bed and packed with the belongings of both him and her.  He had paused to notice the stain, and fretted the demise of the gifted rose, rubbed painfully into the bedspread like a melting crayon.

The wild man would wander the town in the coming years, searching for his lost love, saying light poems to her, drinking and bathing in the fountains at the town square.  He felt that he would always love her.  He would return to the room at the hotel once a year, on the anniversary of her loss, and revisit the moments in his mind, staring into a red stain on the bed.

The wild man, it turns out, was who I might become if I were to stay and live out my life in the small resort town in Samos.  The woman that I would have lost would have been my wife, as she was adamant on returning to our life back in the United States.  There were no other options.  Either I said goodbye to her and stayed to live my lonely life as a wandering vagrant in this exotic locale, or I had to go back and face my suspended reality back home.  Or I could take flight and leave my body behind, separate my soul and entity energy from the physical being by running out the opening and jumping off the balcony.  While floating over the ground below, my soul and body would separate, and though my body would eventually have to deal with the reality of the harsh concrete below, my soul would be released, featherlike, to the wind.

My body would fall to the earth and crumple, but I would be floating, soaring.  And I would and could go anywhere that I wished to go.

So the vision wasn’t explicitly a suicidal one; it felt like I would be choosing life, eternity, happiness, magic.  There wasn’t a place in the thinking for things such as death.

The Process of Loving

It's nearly 3am and I can't sleep.  I'm kinda tired but my mind is alert and kind of racing.  Maybe I had too much caffeine today.  Or maybe I slept too late or too much.  Or maybe my bipolar mind has its own agenda and sleep just will have to come later.

Last night, before I went to bed, I had a lengthy conversation with a friend who is struggling with her own issues.  I think she's looking for answers and might be asking too much of herself in some ways.  I don't know; I'm not a professional.  But the professionals don't always know the right thing either.  I gave her the advice that I could come up with, drawing from my experiences in group therapy and the intensive outpatient program that I've been through several times with my episodes and after my hospitalizations.  But I still felt worried about giving a lot of advice, and about her once our conversation ended.

She's a fan of my blog.  This blog.  This practice that I've been developing and using as a ritual to work out some of my issues and try and achieve something bigger, so to speak.  I'm trying to write my memoir of my experiences, centered around my struggles with bipolar disorder and the diagnosing process, or all the processes I've been through to this point.  I've had trials and tribulations with medication combinations.  I've tried taking time off away from work.  I've tried monitoring my sleeping and my eating rituals with the "Social Rhythm Metric" that we use as part of our group therapy.  And all of these things work in concert to bring me forth in this world.  To help me manage my moods instead of having them manage or manipulate me.

I sense that my friend is feeling grief because she doesn't have the support of her family in the way that she desires.  I know what this is like.  It still bothers me that my dad doesn't have a functional relationship with my mom's sister, for example.  And it bothers me that my dad doesn't make more of an effort to contact me or spend time with me.  But I haven't expressed these things to him because I haven't found the time and the right words.  I can make a difference and take charge of this situation by taking the initiative to talk to him about it, and ask him for more support.  Then again, he might read this before I am able to talk to him.  I hope that he doesn't take it wrong, or end up being too hard on himself.  I understand that he is trying as hard as he can, doing the best that he knows how.  And I know that he loves me.  He does a lot to make that evident.

So this is turning into an outing of my dad, and that wasn't my intention.  But you have to go where the writing takes you most of the time.  I love you, Dad.  Know that is true.  You have done so much for me, instilled a great love in me that I share with the world when I can, when I feel my best.  You have made me the best that I can be.  You can be proud of yourself, because you were there for me, during my childhood.  You got me to go to college, and that may be the single most important and enriching thing that I have done in my life to date.  You had a vision, and you made it happen.  Thank you for that.  You rock.

I miss our weekly rendezvous, when we used to meet for breakfast.  That was a great ritual for our relationship.  We just spent time together, once a week, more or less, sharing thoughts and observations about the world and how to fix it.  That was another thing that you have done for me-- you've made efforts to spend time with me, just to sit across the table from me, and make me feel safe.  Safe to utter my thoughts and get them out from swimming in my head.

I feel a loss that we haven't done that in a while.  Things happen; life happens, and we get into other routines.  I was just noticing the other day that we don't speak on the phone nearly as much as we used to.  So I felt a lack, and that's where the support request is coming from.  I'd like to meet with you more than we have been these last couple of years.  Not your fault, or mine-- I don't wish to assign blame.  I just am asserting my needs to have more time with you.  So let's see what we can make happen.

There.  That feels better.  Makes me think of my colon, and what amazing work it does on a daily basis.  Don't always know what it's doing, but it is productive, and something makes itself evident eventually...

Something pulls you along, while the thoughts are dancing and the ideas are formulating.  One of my favorite quotes I learned from Anne Lamott.  It's a quote by E.L. Doctorow that goes something like "Writing is like driving at night.  You can't see beyond the light of your headlights, and yet you can make the whole journey that way."  Hmm.  I think I will look up the actual quote and list it here.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” --E.L. Doctorow

There you go.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Taste of Sanity

So I'm wondering today if everything I do is viewed through the bipolar lens, or if I'm just a regular guy that has bipolar moments in his life.


*cricket sounds*

Okay.  How about we talk about Jersey Shore?

*insert din here*

I've looked back, not today, but before, at some of my posts and re-read them, with the thought of "I wrote this while I was manic," or "I wrote this while I was really depressed."  And I'm actually surprised by the writing.  It seems that through all the disabling feelings of depression and mania, I'm able to have a voice.  And it comes through regardless of how I'm feeling when I'm writing.  So it seems.

So press on, and do the work, regardless of how you feel.  It will show when you're feeling better.  There are some speedbumps and potholes, sure, but the over-arching theme of the work will come through, radiantly.

Or maybe I'm just manic now.

No.  I am hungry though.  So maybe that distracts and distorts my experience.  Do they have a pill for hunger yet?  Something I can take with my daily medication so I don't have to bother with all of this chronic eating?

Just kidding, of course.  I don't want to rid myself of the pleasure of eating.  But I do want to slow down and get a hold of myself when it comes to eating.  I could stand to not gain any more weight.  I'll be flirting with the 300lbs. mile marker if I keep on like I've been.

I really can't afford to eat the way that I have been.  Grabbing meals conveniently (read "fast food") just isn't convenient long term.  I can't afford it financially or physically.  And I pay a mental price, too.  Having a good nutritious diet is good medicine.

So for lunch today, I'm going to go out for Chinese food.


What was I talking about?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tell Me Where It Hurts

So I continue to stabilize.  I'm not having the suicidal ideation anymore.  I'm back at work, sleeping well, spending time with friends.  Laughing.  I realize that I did the right thing, and that feels good.  I'm at peace with myself.  I'm not searching for my voice or my calling.  I just am my calling.  I just am my voice.

Feels damn good, if I can say so myself, and apparently I most certainly can.  So what else can I say?

I wish that I didn't have to pay for an overnight stay in the hospital and an ambulance ride that was less than a city block's distance from one Kaiser facility to another.  But it's the price of doin' business here in America.  And I have healthcare coverage.  A person without my experience and coverage might be looking at a several thousand dollar invoice after an overnight stay for the same affliction.  And that's wrong.  Because mental illness doesn't care if you're affluent, or poor, or middle class.  It's doesn't favor women over men, or one race over another.  It attacks like cancer, without the lesions or visible symptoms. 

I went to work today, but work wasn't ready for us.  The work ran out, and they couldn't come up with a way for us to have more work to do, so they sent us home at our lunch/dinner break.  Half a day's pay for half a day's work.  I gave one of my coworkers a ride home, as she lives in Santa Clara too.  As we talked on the ride home, I shared with her how I had been through a crisis last week (we were already sharing personal stuff so I thought it appropriate.)  I told her that I had been hospitalized because I was suicidal.  I described what that had felt like for me-- that I had felt hopeless, and that I just wanted it all to go away.

"I feel like that all the time," she shared.  She explained her situation, and how tough it is sometimes to get through what life throws at you.  It was a good, cleansing, and nurturing talk that we had.

I wonder if more people have that feeling, and struggle with suicidal thoughts and plans and other hurtful things.  Are there really so many of us suffering out there?  I'm sure I'd be surprised by the numbers.  And the numbers are probably lower than what is happening in reality, because people, at least in this country, don't talk about such things as suicide and mental illness.  We don't ask for help.  We don't admit that we are broken, or hurt, or vulnerable.  We don't want to show any weakness.  We tough it out, with our "rugged individualism" that only goes so far.  You just can't think your way out of a broken mind.  It doesn't work.  And there's a lot more mental illness in this country than people are willing to admit and acknowledge.

I'm reminded of the documentary film "I Am," by Tom Shadyac, and his personal journey to arrive at a healthier place.  Recommended for viewing, I think it's out on DVD now.

That's what is known as a product placement.  And since I blew up my AdSense, it's one of the few ways for me to benefit something on this here blog.

So I think I've given you enough to think about for now.  Talk to you later.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sensing the Ending

So I'm fresh out of the hospital again.  Just an overnight stay this time to make sure I got my thinking right and could "contract for safety" as they say these days.  I'm in charge of my life, after all.  Especially when it comes to thoughts about ending it.

I don't know why I was thinking about killing myself, exactly.  But I was.  Can't deny that.  I was thinking about it in great detail, wondering about who would be the first to find me, and what they would find.  What materials I would use and how I would go about it.  How I could account for contingencies, like if I got halfway into it and changed my mind, how I could be sure that what I was doing was right.  Like if I started to struggle to save my own life, could I anticipate such a struggle so that said struggle could be denied, unsuccessful?

This is not easy stuff to talk about.  But it's not fun to think about either.  This I know.  I'm not recounting this now for sympathy or attention.  I'm trying to understand it, too.

So I thought about suffocating myself with a plastic bag and duct tape.  I'd get a couple plastic bags and wrap the duct tape around my neck nice and tight.  Then I'd wrap my hands up in duct tape so that I couldn't claw at the plastic when I was struggling for air.  Not sure I would have been successful, as it's hard to wrap your own hands up, but I did try to envision how I could do it successfully.  This, of course, is dangerous.  Getting this far into a suicide scenario can't be a good thing, unless you're really meaning to end your life.

I was confused.  I think I believed that I was slipping into a situation that would land me back in the hospital and on various medications that would disrupt me and be another great struggle for me.  This didn't happen, and for that I'm thankful.  I knew that I didn't want to go through that again.  I still know that I don't want to have to fight for my very sanity like that again.  But that's what we do, every day of our life: fight for what we believe in.  Fight for what is right.  Fight for those that we love.

There's something about death that intrigues me.  I am in awe of it.  How does it work?  How is life here one moment and not the next?  Where does it go?

I will always wonder at these questions.  Maybe someday I will know, but I don't need to kill myself just to try and find out.

I know that I have received very good care and help during this latest crisis.  Thank you all that have assisted and counseled me.  I have a great group of support.  I am blessed and loved, it is clear.  I hope I can always draw upon this knowledge and love to get me through the tough times.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I am Wan; Hear Me Roar

Most of my friends have heard me joke about how I'm 60% woman.

I say this primarily because I'm sensitive.  I don't identify with the macho, tough guy persona.  I cry fairly easily.  I'm emotional. 

I joked for a while in college that I was actually growing a clitoris.  That there was an itchy nub of skin in my nether region was probably something I shouldn't have shared with the general public. 

But this week, my friends, all that humor came back to haunt me.

Last Tuesday, I had my first mammogram.

All those times I joked about women getting their boobs rolled up in the car door window?  Yep.  They rolled mine up in there, too.  Even though I don't have much to roll up.  Didn't matter.  I guess I'm lucky I've put on some weight so they had at least something to work with.

No alarms or worries-- it was just to rule things out.  I do indeed have a benign cyst in my left breast that is causing me some discomfort.  But no cancer, as far as we can tell.  Dodged that bullet.

So go ahead and call me girlfriend.  I deserve it.

And I might be up for some hormone therapy soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Folk Singer Phil Ochs Had Bipolar Disorder

Watch this great documentary.  I highly recommend it.  Here's the trailer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Bigger Bang For Your Buck Theory

In 1957, hysteria swept over America as overnight we fell behind in the space race.  Russia had launched Sputnik, the first man made satellite to the earth.  America was haunted by the thought of the Russians beating us to outer space, and the implications that followed.  Would we soon be monitored, or even threatened, by superior communist space technology?

These days, there isn't much of a "Red Menace," and space exploration isn't stealing the headlines.  More prescient is the race to develop alternative energy technology in the age of "peak oil" and the threatening energy crisis as we look to move away from the use of fossil fuels. 

Although China is a commerce partner of the United States, many consider the country not as an ally but as a threat to American values.  So when the Chinese government announced a thorium research program in early 2011, many in the research community wondered if there might be another "Sputnik Moment" coming for the United States.

Thorium energy was developed in the United States in the 1960's during the Molten Salt Reactor research program.  The Nixon administration cancelled its development in the early 1970's to pursue plutonium technologies.  But there is definitely more research to be done on thorium, and it may provide an energy solution whose time has come.

Thorium is a safe and plentiful element that can be mined like many other heavy metals.  It has the potential to replace the use of coal plants, with many small "molten salt" reactors utilized, and a much lower refueling cost than conventional nuclear reactors.  Its benefits have been actively suppressed by the nuclear power industry, which lobbies for subsidies and other funding for a nuclear solution that has shown to be much more risky and dangerous, not to mention limited by the availability of uranium.  And nuclear reactors are far more expensive, volatile, and expansive of an undertaking than thorium reactors would be.

Thomas Wang of West Valley for Change, a political action group, provided much of the information for this article.  He indicates that thorium research may be an avenue that the United States could traverse to avoid being left behind in the energy conservation and alternative energy development frontiers.

Grinnell Yearbook Project Opens April 13th

Here's a story about my college, narrated by my friend's dad.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Peace Is Good Food

Another April blog entry.  Deal with it.

I'm writing tonight because it's what I do.  What I do well.  What I am trying to do with my life.  You wanna help?  Keep reading. 


So.  Um.  And also tell some friends about my blog.  Spread the word.  Let's get this thing started here.

I'm doing well, thank you.  I started a new job and had a really good night there tonight.  Love sitting in my shorts, listening to my favorite music, doing a simple task and doing it well.  And enjoying it.  It was like I hit a jackpot tonight and saw everything through the happy lens. 

I was tagging pictures.  Pictures of a lot of what people might consider as "nothing" or "ugly" or something like that.  But I was noticing how I was getting to see, through these pictures, a part of the world that I had never seen.  There were brilliant cloud formations, sunsets, trees, interesting mailboxes even.  There was so much beauty to behold.  My eye was trained-- I had to keep reminding myself not to dwell on things and move on to the next task.  But it was almost like watching a movie or a music video, with my iPod providing the audio track.  I drowned out the chatter of my coworkers and focused on the task and had fun doing it.

The big boss must have noticed, because she came out and checked on me, then offered me a new chair.  Thought that was nice.  The one I had been using had a broken arm support, and the new one has a nice springy aspirator that bounces when I sit down.  Felt nice to have something nice done for me.

I really felt tonight that I was where I need to be.  I was comfortable, at peace.  I wasn't lamenting being where I was.  I was present in the moment, and it felt wonderful.  May we all feel such joy in the moment.

It's warm in here tonight, I'm sweating just sitting here writing.  I'm having my Smirnoff "tall-boy" of sorts, and life is good.  I'm making progress on my dreams.  I can feel it.  I'm healthy, and I know it now.  I have my faculties back.  I feel like I can handle things again.  I trust myself and my judgement.  Things are good.

Looking forward to May.  My birthday's right around the corner.  What are you gonna get me?  I love presents.

What do I want?  I want... I want you to buy my book when it comes out.  Wanna help me get it published?  We could try and work something out...  put in your pre-order of the Raging, Flaming Goat of Samos now, and I'll send it to you when it's ready.  Should be about ten bucks a book, I reckon.  Sure, you can send me cash, if you're so inclined.  Or a check.  Whatever.

At the end of next month, I'll be attending my Grinnell reunion in Grinnell, IA.  Really looking forward to seeing folks again.  I love me some Grinnellians.  Most of 'em.  Haven't met them all.

So.  Good night.  It was and it is.  So goodnight, I say.  Good night.