Friday, November 13, 2015

Conquer the ego and free the soul

Easier said then done, ya know. I think letting go of the ego is the hardest chore we have as humans. It takes us years as children to develop one, learning we are distinct creatures with our own feeling, wants, needs, etc. Then we grow up & need to realize that yes, we are distinct, but that maybe sometimes the things we think are important aren't that big of a deal.
Today at work the tech manager called said one of us techs had to come over to the hospital & help out. Now we get pretty angry about this, mostly because they don't help us when we need it. So the four of us ranted & raged & carried on.
Then I looked at what Buddhist tenet I was going to focus on today, which is the title of this post, & I started looking at it differently. This is my job. What the hell do I care whether I work in my normal position or over in the hospital? I'm getting paid either way, & I'm not having to compromise my beliefs in doing so.
So I volunteered to go over. It was no big deal. And while I was over there I realized something else--I didn't want to help them because I don't feel like I'm great at the job over there any more since it's been 18 months since working at "The Big House". I want to be the best. All the time. And I can't be.
I work with three great techs. They're some of the best you're going to find anywhere. And son of a bitch, I come off feeling like a slacker every day I'm at work because I can't do everything as well as they do.
Why must I be good at everything, I ask myself. And the answer comes back to my post title again: ego. I can't be good at everything, nor should I.
It's a journey.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Path

Lately I've been feeling like I need to explore where I'm going more. I guess I feel like this because I haven't had a clear idea of where my life is going since 1992. There have been some clear moments, but I certainly haven't felt that there is a true direction or over riding goal governing my choices.
I know a lot of this has to do with being 45 & also with losing my mom. I heard a disturbing story on the radio this morning about how many people in their 40's are on antidepressants & whether they really need to be on them or not. I know there are many people that do need these medications, but there are a lot of folks too that are being told to just medicate their problems away.
Anyway, rambling post. I saw this website & thought it was really neat. So to try to find my path, I'm going to try to focus on one of these life lessons every day. Today was "Give generously to others", so I lamely let my 2 coworkers go to lunch before me. It was something.
Tomorrow is "Free yourself from attachments". Not sure how I'll apply that tomorrow, but I suppose I'll just have to have faith that something will present itself.
So now I shall meditate/zone out on that theme for awhile until I pass out from lack of sleep. Night all!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Little Pisser

Just got finished cleaning up dog piss again. I can say that it's the worst part of my whole weekend, which means I've had a pretty darn good weekend since the dog pisses a lot.
Puppy's 16th birthday party was Saturday. We had the biggest turn out yet--maybe 40 people! Teddy says he had a great time & enjoyed being around all his friends. The weather was excellent too--60 F & sunny to boot. It's stressful to plan & execute his party every year, but we really love doing it. It's like a big holiday for us.
My mom wasn't at last year's party because of her health. She was having trouble walking at that point & we knew it would have been hard on her. I did a good job yesterday of not thinking about the fact she wasn't there this year & never will be again. Maybe it was a good thing there were so many people & so much to manage in that it left me little time to think of anything at all.
Today was another gorgeous day so we walked at JB park before we got some chores done & then went to my brother's house for my nephew's 18th birthday party. There were only a few of us there, which makes it easier to think about Mom being gone. But we're all so awkward together (at least that's how it feels to me) that I didn't dwell there much.
And now the dog with the most f'd up behavior out there has decided that he's scared of me again (we've owned him for going on 3 years) when I'm trying to put his leash on so Dog can take him for a nice evening walk. I've got no patience left for the the poor thing. Little fluffy white pisser.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Today my son turns 16. I can't hardly believe it, mostly because at the time I didn't know how long we'd have him around. He had some pretty serious health problems when he was born, but he's beaten the odds as time has gone on & now he's 16. Yes he has a developmental disability, but I've accepted that & the person he is long ago. I'm just so glad to have him here.
His birthday-November 3, 1999-is the first date that I truly had seared into my mind. I was very lucky in that I didn't experience much trauma or extreme change during my childhood, therefore there was never a date that marked a boundary between "before" & "after" for me. I had plenty of good dates to remember (birthdays of loved ones, my marriage anniversary, etc), but never one like this. It a day that very much embodied Dickens', "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" for me.
It wasn't long after Pup's birth that I then had another date. March 1, 2000. That was the day he had a incredibly traumatic MRI & we found out that the stroke he'd had at birth had grown into a large fluid filled cyst that was starting to squeeze what was left of the right hemisphere of his brain & bulging out his skull. I thought our hard times were over, but they weren't.
Then theres March 10, 2000. That's the day he had brain surgery to drain the cyst. I don't know if I've ever been so terrified in my life as when I had to hand over my sweet baby boy to an anesthesiologist so they could cut open his head. It was a nightmare that ended up being well worth it, but brain surgery is scary. I would like to never feel that kind of fear again.
I had quite a respite from these types of markers until August 5, 2009. That's the day my dad died of cancer. He had a hard end too, difficult to witness & filled with what felt like contrived "family moments" that I hated. I wonder now if I should have felt that way. I worry.
Because the latest date entered into my ledger is April 23, 2015. My mom passed away at 4 am that morning after having a stroke the night before. She had brain cancer that had metastasized from it's original location in her pelvis. 
She was alone when she died. I still feel guilt for this. I worry that this was her greatest fear & that it came to pass due to my callousness. I don't know if I should feel this way or not, but I do. It was hard being her daughter. The constant comparisons, the expectations that I never met, her anger at me for making my own choices, her disappointment--it's been a heavy burden at times. I only felt anger with her for the first 5 months after she was gone. Then suddenly, late in September, grief caught me suddenly. 
Grief doesn't come with a clear date for me I've found. All I know is gradually, over the course of a few days, it visits. And then it makes itself at home & stays. I know I'm in the first flush of sadness about my mom's death & that it's going to take some time to get to the next phase. It will come. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Time Marches On

Funny how technology keeps moving forward, making things like Blogger obsolete overnight.  First came Facebook, the instant way to let everyone you know (or only vaguely know) what's on your mind.  Why do I need a blog for that then, except to write book reviews.  Then came Goodreads.  How could I refuse?  I mean come on, no more looking for images of the books I'd read, no linking my blog post to Facebook cause it does it for me.  And so here we are--me only posting on here at times such as this when there's something I want to say, but Facebook just doesn't cut it.  I don't want to throw out there what is going on in my life like so much bread crumbs to be picked over by the birds.  Here's a good outlet for what's going on, but a much reduced audience.  It's like singing in your car--yeah, I know my fellow commuters can see my lips moving & I'm giving them a chuckle, but they don't know what I'm singing.
My mom has cancer.  There, I've said it.  This isn't a new development, unfortunately.  She was initially diagnosed back in August of 2012, but after a stop-gap surgery in September 2012 she's not done anything about it.  And now it's back, as I knew it would be.  I don't know if I would be considered negative, realistic, or pragmatic because of my assumptions.  But whatever the hell you want to call it, it's here.  The big C.  Again.
I could go on & on about my anger toward her because of her denial of her health problems & her selfish way of not taking care of herself.  But what good does that do now?  None.  I know that.
Instead I've decided to not do the same thing she has done.  I've always been good about getting my yearly gyno exam but I've also added on a physical now with my primary care doc.  I've got too much to live for.  And I've decided I'm going to put myself on the top of that list.
That's very hard for me.  I feel as though I've been conditioned all my life to think of others first.  At this point in my life I've gotten tired of being mad at everyone else for what I've decided to do myself, so I'm not gonna go there either.  All our lives we continue to learn & grow & that's what I'm going to do.  Live & grow.
So I think that brings me to my main point.  Dog & I watched Sherlock last night, a show I absolutely love.  As no show is perfect, it has it's flaws.  But this morning as I was idly playing solitaire on the computer & thinking over the show I figured something out.  It's neat how smart Sherlock is, how he can figure everything out.  No real person can.  But it seems to me that if you stay calm in the face of adversity, you can be smart.  That doesn't seem like a very good explanation of my revelation, so let me think of a better way to put it.
Imagine you're at work & all hell is breaking loose.  People are freaking out, running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  But you stay calm & get shit done.  You don't give in to the fear that you're going to fuck up.  You keep on going.
That's how I actually am most of the time at work.  Just keep swimming, as Dory would say.  It's given me a great reputation at work for being someone you can depend on when the shit hits the fan.  I actually start joking around & giving people shit when things are getting ugly there.  It's all good, it's all cool.
Before you think I'm just wonderful, let me tell you about my life when I leave work.  All it is is shit hitting fans.  My house is a big ol' fan, & the shit just keeps on flying at it.  Spatters all over the goddamn place.  And I just sit there paralyzed, scared to death.  Can't seem to do anything.  I find myself loosing hours at a time sitting at the computer, looking at foolish Facebook on my phone, or playing a ridiculous game on the iPad.  The calm is gone there.  I feel like I can do nothing right.  My son is constantly screaming & melting down, the house is an absolute wreck, the dog is jumping on the door to go out then immediately jumping on the door to come in, & the only creature that seems to be ok in the house is Mary Ann the cat.
I'm afraid I've put a lot of the responsibility of staying calm at home on Dog, my husband.  He tries to handle every crisis, every issue, every possibility of something going wrong.  And it's driving him batty.  He has the opposite issue than myself--he laments having the reputation at work of flying off the handle at the slightest provocation.  That's not who he wants to be there.  Who does?  But he's using up his collateral here at home.
So here's my New Year's resolution:  I'm gonna spread the calm.  First I'm gonna spread it with myself at home.  Take it one step at a time.  Try not to freak out when I see a mound of dishes or an overflowing clothes hamper.  Or the piles & piles of clutter stacked precariously all over the place.  I'm gonna take it a little at a time.  Pretend this is a job & I've got this.
Then I'm gonna spread the calm with the others in my home.  Puppy wants to wreck his room?  Fine buddy, wreck the shit outta it.  But now you have to clean it up.  Yep, that provokes another meltdown.  Whatever, that's how he rolls.  There's only so much stuff in his room & eventually he comes walking out of his room saying how he's cleaned it all up.  There you go.  Lesson learned.  Learned the damn hard way, but that's how we do it around here.
Then I need to take some of this responsible feeling off of Dog.  I know he feels like he's picking up my pieces all the time, but that 's my job not his.  So I'm gonna take care of myself & do what I can around here & not sweat that shit.  It's all gonna be good, cause we're together.
Cause what I realized while watching Sherlock (yeah there was a point to that) is that 99% of looking like the smartest person in the room is being the calmest person in the room.  When you stay calm, the people that can actually fix the sewer that is spewing the shit at the fan can calm down too & get it repaired.  Being calm=looking smart=everyone is smart.  Cause everyone is.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood ****

I read Oryx and Crake quite a few years ago now.  It's about what happens to the world when the eventual day comes when there are too many people & most of them are living in a horrible state.  It's one of my favorite post-apocalyptic books.  So imagine my surprise when I opened up this book after buying it at a grab-bag sale at the library & seeing that this is the sequel.  Or rather a sort of prequel.  Or maybe just the same story, but told from different characters' views.  Whatever it is, I liked it.
This vision of what happens is from two women that somehow live through the "Waterless Flood"--the plague that kills most of humanity in the not-so-distant future.  The first is Toby, a woman that has lived the typical brutish American life of the future--has to drop out of college because her parents can't continue to pay for it, parents pass away, & she's left fending for herself in a very unfriendly world.  She works at Secret Burger, a fast food restaurant of that serves burgers made out of God-knows-what, hence the name.  But after Toby's boss assaults her repeatedly, she escapes to a different world, the world of the God's Gardeners.
Ren is a young woman who was raised with the God's Gardeners for most of her young childhood.  The cult/religion/survivalist group believes in being strict vegetarians & learning how to take care of themselves without any outside help.  They are waiting for the "Waterless Flood" to come, when the world will be wiped clean again by God & the Gardeners will rise up & take over the stewardship of the Earth just like Noah & his family.  They never write anything down, but memorize animal names & celebrate holidays like Saint Dian Fossey Day & Saint Euell Gibbons Day.  Ren came here with her mother when she left her father for Zeb, a man with a shady past but who knows how to take care of himself.  He teaches the Gods Gardeners how to survive on the gang-ridden violently corrupt streets & is Ren's father figure while she is young. 
The action mostly takes place after the Flood has killed off most of the human population.  Toby has survived by using the skills she's learned from the Gardeners & her own father.  Ren has survived only because she was on quarantine at the upscale brothel she works at as a dancer.  Both women flash back to how they've gotten to this point, & how they might possibly survive from this point on.
My only wish was that I'd more recently read Oryx and Crake so I could have put the puzzle pieces of this story together with the other better.  But suffice it to say I enjoyed this book without having done so. 
Disturbing yet hopeful, I highly recommend both books.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch ***

The idea is very intriguing--using your own family's history, write a mystery novel with your relatives as characters!  That's what Oliver Pötzsch did about his ancestors, the Kuisl's, a family of professional executioners.  Set in Bavaria in the 1600's, after the 30 Years War, Jakob Kuisl is the hangman for the town of Schongau.  When a group of children that played together start showing up dead, one by one, Jakob is charged with proving the local midwife innocent of the crimes.  With superstition, allegations of witchcraft, hidden treasure, & hired swords, the action is very intense & the plot thickens nicely.
I was excited to find Schongau in a modern German atlas that my husband has.  He's a high school German teacher, but more importantly he loves history, so when I told him where & when the story was taking place in the book he knew immediately that the 30 Years War was over, but that it had decimated Germany.  The whole area was left in poverty & ruin, & it took many years for the people of the area to get back to what their lives had been before the war.  The war had been very brutal & been fought on German soil, with many atrocities performed on both sides of the conflict.  He told me that many people, especially not from Europe, don't know anything about this war & why it was fought.  We think that the Protestant faith just came about when Martin Luther nailed his list on the door of the church, but that was just the beginning.  The 30 Years' War was the fight for control of Europe--would each country remain firmly Catholic, or would they become Protestant?
I liked the setting, the characters, & the action of the book.  My only personal, petty issue was that I was hoping for a bigger mystery in the end.  I was a little disappointed by the conclusion & found it lacking in believability, but overall it was a great read.  I don't know if I'll read any more of the books Pötzsch has since written about his famous ancestors (they seem to be a series of mysteries), but I definitely don't regret the time I spent reading this book.