Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IF ONLY LEAP DAY WERE A TIME OUT

Leap Day. It is not all the fun and frolic as depicted on the last episode of 30 Rock, believe me.

For starters, it is a grey day outside. Ms. Becky, with whom I was to have dinner, predicts rain this evening. Although I have yet to check, she isn't prone to wimping out. Just to be irritating, there is still construction and street repaving work going on outside. Dark. Noisy. Grim. Okay then.

Next, we have impending rent due and a shortage of funds. Yes. Okay. And although I have managed to allay disaster with internet provider, gas, and cell phone, ConEd plans to pull the plug unless I give them a deposit that I can ill (or not) afford. Of course, given that I work mostly on line, that entirely negates my ability to work or to look for it. Seriously, these corporations have to rethink their policies in the light of changing economic times. My past due amount is only $16.

I don't know. Should I be ashamed and embarrassed to admit of difficulties? Will my current compromised straits and my openness about them compromise me? Make me appear to be a less than responsible, capable human being and thus impact my employablility? I guess we might find out.

The situation is not improved by those who owe me money, albeit a small (but crucial at this point) amount, are not coming across with the cash.

And then there is the worldwide perfidy, no extra examples, needed right? You all have the list right there is front of you, even if "Rick Santorum Running for President" is the only item.

So, I have this friend who works in an alternative high-school in the Northeast. This school is the last stop before dropping out, reform school, jail/prison, or early death. I've been hearing all about this school for several years now, so I trust my friend's reports.

Sadly, there seems to have been a shake-up and the formal principal, a fellow who seemed to understand that he is not dealing with Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead, and Reggie, was placed on "administrative leave." This morning, my friend sent me a magazine article which, hue and cry!, castigates the school for, in short, not living up to "one child left behind" standards. No where in the article does it mention the real nature of this school, nor the level at which the students enter. A school where we should be pleased that the students are still motivated and conscious enough to show up.

This article gives no context, and yet is fairly damning from the no-context point of view, from the "no child left behind" absurdist point of view.

I know how hard my friend works, how much he cares about his students, how punishing his job is even when it is going well. But this crap. This ignominy. This is perfidious, upper-class bullshit, adminstrate/rule by the book. This kind of administration is like bombing by drones. No personal interaction or responsibility. No long term thought or contextual analysis. Just "get 'er (standards) done or fuck 'em" ...

After all, they are mostly poor blacks, so what else would we expect. What's another life in these United States? If you don't have money or looks, you don't have any value anyway.


This person was desperately ill on the train yesterday. I know how she feels.

Monday, February 27, 2012

REASON DOES NOT MUCH OBTAIN

Yeah, it was a tough day today, wrangling those bills. I couldn't even face all of them, but I still have a day or two until direness really sets in. The day went by, now it is 10:48, and I am not entirely certain of all that happened.

Emmylou has the cat crazies and is running up and down the apartment, something she doesn't do all that often. Cooder even got up to watch, perhaps thinking that a chase could be fun, but now they have both disappeared.

I was quite on edge today, talking with my bill collector friends, trying to figure out how to balance, stretch, and juggle the income I have. And those kittehs. They are so sensitive, I think. They were both needy and climbing up on the dining room table, where I work part of the time, having read that it is a good idea to have more than one work station if you can. My initial reaction was to shoo them off, yell at them, and not be very nice. I remembered, though, that they are my beloved companions and that reason does not much obtain with them. Impatience is not an appropriate reason to be rough or loud. Instead, I tried to stop and play with Emmy, give some extra treats to Cooder, and to calm down a bit, even if internally.

I did play too much solitaire (but, just to be clear, we are talking about 30 minute jags every couple of hours). I made a small amount of progress on CodeAcademy. Again, I found myself quite angry and stressed and very nearly discouraged. Frustrated. I got up and walked around. I reminded myself that coding is a different way of thinking, just like learning a new language. Just because it is difficult at first does not mean that I cannot learn it, only that I must be patient and open-minded.

And then, this evening, I was graced, blessed, and something short of delivered, perhaps. An old friend had purchased some items on last week's eBay sale. I was sent rather much more than the agreed upon price and told to hang on to the articles until next we met. That is not likely to be soon as this vieux lives far away. This was just out and out kindness and I am tearing now with grateful appreciation.

This whole not-having-money thing teaches quite a bit. I am not comfortable with such a degree of vulnerability; yet, all of us are vulnerable, security being such a illusory state.

I saw my first crocuses today.


And I saw these cute pups waiting for their owners at a bar.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

THE WAYSIDE AH!GAIN!

I'm really pretty good, notwithstanding looking at a week of some fairly intensive bill-wrangling coming  up. Although I am weary (young girls ... and old ones, too ... they do get weary), and I could trip heavily around the light darkly, I will vote for acceleration of income next week and stay open to it.

These good people, Bryan and Shirin, were married on Friday. Saturday night there was a most excellent dinner party for them. The greatest triumph for me was resisting the beautiful wines and spirits which were in abundance. I kept my eating and drinking moderate, remembered to hydrate, and was able to remember my responsibilty to work on Sunday with KaHug. Staying relatively sober in the presence of all the largesse of (damaging) fun was no mean feat. Not to mention the high number of amiable and interesting folks about. It was one of those parties wherein you wished time would stop so that it could just go on and on.

And I didn't even mention that there was a real hedgehog there. So cool. I have never been so relaxed at such formal event. I don't think the hedgehog had any bearing on that though. Perhaps being relaxed also helped me to not drink as in this kind of social gathering, I do nervous imbibe.

I dragged myself away from the time waster known as The Academy Awards. I watched about half of the show, enough to get a look at some of the clothes, which is my favorite part. I am using the new guilt stick of asking myself whether I want to remember the day before as one wherein I played solitaire for two hours or one wherein I did some yoga. I am very much fighting to reprogram myself to accomplish more of the things I think about doing. And not wasting time as much is an important motivator.

So, again, though this writing is not insightful or inspirational, I will cut it short in order to get in a bit of yoga practice which seems to have fallen by the wayside Ah-Gain! I did take a walk, clean the litter box, finish the dishes and straighten the kitchen, as well as started the pile of things to photograph for this week's eBay.

The Academy Awards, damn it, took folks away from computer screens and eBay, so I did not do well at all this week, hence the extra money stress.

All one big adventure. I just stole these pictures, but I cannot help myself. Shirin's smile makes me smile.




Saturday, February 25, 2012

PERFECTING GRACE

This is from Jeff's post today ... the italized was written by William Hazlitt. I haven't read him but I think he's now on the list ...

 . . . perfection is slow of attainment, and we must have time to accomplish it in--that's what we think at the start of the game. And then by half-time, it turns out that the one art we have any shot at perfecting is the grace of knowing that we never will.


the italized was written by William Hazlitt. I haven't read him but I think he's now on the list ...

Yeah, perfection, maybe even acceptable ability or passable accomplishment, is slow of attainment. And the grace of knowing ... and accepting that we won't be perfect.

Well, I wasn't so focussed on perfection, at least, not consciously, and now I see I am thinking about it after just having posted Ron Padgett's long poem, How to Be Perfect, as Poem of the Week.272. Must be touching something inside.

I have felt frustrated or sheepish or ashamed that I don't much strive for perfection; is that because I think it is unattainable? Unreasonable? Too much effort? Or even that the state of perfection is not static?

The next morning.

Yeah, up and getting ready for another one. It was stormy all night and I slept fitfully. Maybe it was eating too much too late. Anyone out there ever done that? And then you spend a good amount of time in the self-loathing dance.

But today is sunnier, although the swaying tree outside the front window indicates that it is still blowing. So, this weekend I will try to slow down and stay a bit more aware of where I am.

And there is the element of grace mentioned in Jeff's note. One friend frequently remarks that mercy is unearned grace. I am not sure I understand either.


Should any itinerant blog walkers come upon this post by chance, here's the Ron Padgett poem again.


Poem of the Week. 272 (2/24/12)

Damn, How To Be Perfect, is a good book of poetry. Here’s the title poem. A long one, but I just love it. Copied and emailed with no permission but by your leave.


Ron Padgett, How to Be Perfect (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2007)

HOW TO BE PERFECT

                                                                        Everything is perfect, dear friend.
           Kerouac

Get some sleep.

Don’t give advice.

Take care of your teeth and gums.

Don’t be afraid of anything beyond your control. Don’t be
afraid, for instance, that the building will collapse as you sleep,
or that somebody you love will suddenly drop dead.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Raise your pulse rate to 120 beats per minute for 20 straight
minutes four or five times a week doing anything you enjoy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.

Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled
expression of another desire—to be loved, perhaps, or not to die.

Make eye contact with a tree.

Be skeptical about all opinions, but try to see some value in each
of them.

Dress in a way that pleases both you and those around you.

Do not speak quickly.

Learn something every day. (Dzien dobre!)

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
ball collection.

Be loyal.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Design your activities so that they show a pleasing balance
and variety.

Be kind to old people, even when they are obnoxious. When you
become old, be kind to young people. Do not throw your cane at
them when they call you grandpa. They are your grandchildren!

Live with an animal.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

If you need help, ask for it.

Cultivate good posture until it becomes natural.

If someone murders your child, get a shotgun and blow his
head off.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don’t want.

Do not waste money you could be giving to those who need it.

Expect society to be defective. Then weep when you find that it
is far more defective than you imagined.

When you borrow something, return it in an even better
condition.

As much as possible, use wooden objects instead of plastic or
metal ones.

Look at that bird over there.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Visit foreign countries, except those whose inhabitants have
expressed a desire to kill you.

Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want
to.

Meditate on the spiritual. Then go a little further, if you feel like
it. What is out (in) there?

Sing, every once in a while.

Be on time, but if you are late do not give a detailed and
lengthy excuse.

Don’t be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don’t think that progress exists. It doesn’t.

Walk upstairs.

Do not practice cannibalism.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.

Take your phone off the hook at least twice a week.

Keep your windows clean.

Extirpate all traces of personal ambitiousness.

Don’t use the word extirpate too often.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Grow something.

Do not wander through train stations muttering, “We’re all
going to die!”

Count among your true friends people of various stations of life.

Appreciate simple pleasures, such as the pleasure of chewing, the
pleasure of warm water running down your back, the pleasure of
a cool breeze, the pleasure of falling asleep.

Do not exclaim, “Isn’t technology wonderful!”

Learn how to stretch your muscles. Stretch them every day.

Don’t be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for twenty
minutes. You will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and
gravity.

Learn how to whistle at ear-splitting volume.

Be calm in a crisis. The more critical the situation, the calmer
you should be.

Enjoy sex, but don’t become obsessed with it. Except for brief
periods in your adolescence, youth, middle age, and old age.

Contemplate everything’s opposite.

If you’re stuck with the fear that you’ve swum out too far in the
ocean, turn around and go back to the lifeboat.

Keep your childish self alive.

Answer letters promptly. Use attractive stamps, like the one with
a tornado on it.

Cry every once in a while, but only when alone. Then
appreciate how much better you feel. Don’t be embarrassed
about feeling better.

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Do not step off a curb until you can walk all the way across
the street. From the curb you can study the pedestrians who are
trapped in the middle of the crazed and roaring traffic.

Be good.

Walk down different streets.

Backwards.

Remember beauty, which exists, and truth, which does not. Notice
that the idea of truth is just as powerful as the idea of beauty.

Stay out of jail.

In later life, become a mystic.

Use Colgate toothpaste in the new Tartar Control formula.

Visit friends and acquaintances in the hospital. When you feel it
is time to leave, do so.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It’s a waste of time.

Read and reread great books.

Dig a hole with a shovel.

In the winter, before you go to bed, humidify your bedroom.

Know that the only perfect things are a 300 game in bowling and
a 27-batter, 27-out game in baseball.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to
drink, say, “Water, please.”

Ask “Where is the loo?” but not “Where can I urinate?”

Be kind to physical objects.

Beginning at age forty, get a complete “physical” every few
years from a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with.

Don’t read the newspaper more than once a year.

Learn how to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “chopsticks”
in Mandarin.

Belch and fart, but quietly.

Be especially cordial to foreigners.

See shadow puppet plays and imagine that you are one of the
characters. Or all of them.

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there’s shooting in the street, don’t go near the window.




Thursday, February 23, 2012

TULIPS AT THE DELI

11: 49 p.m.



I guess a definition of pessimism is feeling the large problems unleavened by anything positive. The good stuff probably comes under the radar in that  "not known, not looked for / But heard, half-heard in the stillness / between two waves...".  The issue is, one supposes, to see that positive trend, hear that possibility, and to follow it. Reminds me of the Louvin Brothers song that I learned from Emmylou Harris, You're Learning. However the lyrics have nothing to do with my learning to move toward the positive. The harmonies are beautiful, though, and the last refrain, "Yes, you're learning." is cool

Because I have not mentioned or checked in on the progress here, I'll give you a little report card. Dishes are done. Walk was taken. Books returned to the library. Netflix disc mailed (the new version of Brighton Rock. Very depressing, but Helen Mirren with red hair!) Posted to blogs. Worked on book with KaHug. Sold some items. I even worked at CodeAcademy on JavaScript.

And I even did some yoga. Interesting how that practice just falls away when the going gets toughish. I must learn to prioritize that, but why don't I do it? Because it causes me to slow down? And that's not instantly desirable why? I complain about how stressed and tired I am, yet it would seem as if I am not taking advantage of some relaxation easily within my budget and skill set. Calming your mind in order to get your mind calm.

Realizing that another day had gone by with more solitaire than yoga, I just stopped after my teeth brushing, face pampering (another new to do), and thought "why not start with even two or three minutes of tadasana?" Small, incremental steps if need be.

As I stood quietly, I was (and I mean this) blessed with the voices of my teachers (Susannah, Dana, Kira) gently correcting me, grounding me. I could make the adjustments. I could sink more deeply into the simple pose of standing still. And then, in that stillness and breath, came some tears. I started to trace the cause, but then returned my attention to stretching my toes and ankles. The tears just came. And then stopped. I moved into a slow forward bend, and lo! I could touch my toes (don't think I could last time I tried). Then Emmylou curled and snaked in between my ankles as best she could to see if petting was an option. (It was.)

And now to bed, in a slightly calmer, more positive frame of mind.

There were tulips at the deli.