Sunday, October 31, 2010


I'm not much in the spirit of the holiday, but the kids are looking forward to Trick or Treating tonight. I'm working overnight and just uploaded Microsoft Office onto this computer. At midnight, I begin the NaNoWriMo project. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, and I plan to do just that. It is a little tough to use the word "novel" and not feel like a fake, but that's my problem.

I'm still job searching, trying to figure out what my next career move is, and working part time as the clock tick, tick, ticks and my hair becomes more gray than brown. Writing every day should help me to focus in the coming month. I'm looking forward to starting and have only the vaguest idea of what I want to write about.

I'll try to post a piece on this blog every couple of days. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Out Of This Gloom, Out of This Rut

Silver, Smoke and Cold

a bright moon on the rise
gleaming white-cold
clear skies frame silhouetted
naked branches
most of their leaves shaken
down now by rain and wind and

wood smoke and a crisp bite in the air
 and silence and
... holiness...
if you leave it alone and
don't say

a hard frost will come tonight
winter's first stricken blow
while the last colors of Fall
trying hard to be beautiful
in their time

hoping we see.

Status Update

I haven't posted in the last few days because I've been focused on my job search. I had two interviews yesterday, one with the same company that laid me off. They offered me a job in a different department for a significantly smaller salary than what I was making. The second interview was with the non-profit agency where I currently work sometimes. They want to basically hire me to do the same job I was doing at the other place for a much smaller salary. I haven't decided yet, and I'm still looking, but with three kids in this country you need medical insurance. Any sudden medical problem will leave you broke for life without insurance, and health insurance coverage for a family is going to cost you right around $15,000 a year. Employers are paying less and less of the rising premiums going forward. It's a trap, but it feels like security. Freedom is an interesting concept and still somewhere out there, away from here. Of course, there may be those reading this from other places in the wprld who understand freedom and its relativity very differently.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

James Brown - Refuse to Lose

Meditation #1: The Lay Off

It's early yet, I was only laid off three days ago, but I can hear the marching boots of negative psychology in the near distance, getting closer. Contact with negative psychology at a vulnerable time such as this is to be avoided at all costs, it seems to me. In order not to succumb to terror, I think it is best to rewind to the meeting.

The first struggle is swallowing and metabolizing the news of the lay off - "your position is being terminated". In the moment, I was steady and solid. Hell, if I were the powers that be and had to make cuts my former position would be on the top of the list too. Organizationally, it makes sense. It's good business.

It's only business.

But then something gets past my guard, and I wonder is this code? Does "your position is being terminated" mean "we need someone better than you in that position"? So I ask the question, for the sake of my own professional development, if this is about my job performance please let me know. No, no - they reassure me - you have been an asset to the department it's just a cost saving measure. And I am relieved, but I've been nicked with a dart and hope the tip wasn't poisoned.

The first lesson is do not take the impersonal nature of a lay off personally.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Goddamn Man, I Didn't Mean That Hard

Well, I guess my instincts are still good. Today I walked into my supervisor's office for our weekly meeting and noticed a stern faced human resources person sitting at the table - "uh-oh", I said. They informed me that my position had been eliminated, the one that provides me and my family with a good salary (for once) and health insurance, and that about 99 other people in the company were getting the same news today. They told me about how to apply for unemployment insurance, COBRA, and EAP services. They told me I was a real asset to the department and that this decision had nothing to do with my work performance, my leadership style or anything else I had done or not done. Then they assigned an employed manager to escort me to my office to collect my personal effects and then to the front door and out into the cold October sunshine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Next Time, Just Slap Me

So I go from my day job over to my night job and I lay my goodies on the desk - impulse buys from Trader Joe's featuring Jamaican ginger beer, a big chunk of blue cheese, some dried meats, green olive tapenade, bagel chips and milk chocolate. I am somewhat annoyed when a fax comes through and tells me there is a woman waiting for me to evaluate her in one of the Emergency Departments; it seems she is depressed. When I get there,  I ask her what brought her to the emergency room tonight, and she's a year younger than I am though I would have guessed ten years older when I looked at her. She lays the reasons out for me dead pan - can't sleep, two jobs, recent divorce from an abusive husband, three kids at home that won't help, the town is about to put a lien on her house because she can't pay the property tax, foreclosure is imminent, her kids are acting out, a restraining order makes it impossible to talk to her Ex to figure out how to sell a house nobody wants in a down market, and today the electric company people came to her house and bullied her but couldn't get the $500 she owes out of her. When they left, she collapsed and cried for four and a half hours, something she's never done in her life, but it didn't help, so she came to the hospital because she didn't know what else to do.

The next time you see me moping around, don't say anything, just slap me.

Blue Cheese, Salami, Green Olive Tapenade, Bagel Chips and Ginger Ale

A fax is promised to set me in motion
when sleeping is preferred
in this haze of foul smells - damnit,
here it is now.

I have no cure for depression,
no remedy for vague thoughts of suicide, and
no innoculation against tears or fear or pain, but I will go
to bear witness at least and to
listen to what this girl has to say
and then to generate a bill
because the show must go on.

Cool air comes in through the window and sinks.
The lights are off.
Time to go.

From the Repo Man soundtrack


Fate has a tendency to knock me and my puny finances on our collective butt every Fall. I got an estimate from my mouth doctor yesterday - close to $5,000 of work needed in the next year. This morning, right on schedule, my car battery thought it was a good day to die and did so. My son's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Christmas are mad dogging me from a short distance away just waiting for their moment to jump me in. I still have a job - actually, I have two - so for this I should be glad. Fred Flintstone, he was glad, and he had a foot powered car.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


On a train from Fairfield to Grand Central Station, I sat alone and looked out the window. Four people in the seat across the aisle from me conversed in Spanish, and my attention drifted from the scenery to the conversation and back again. I found myself listening to the rhythm of their dialogue and understanding an occasional word. First I recognized corazon , a beautiful word that means "heart" in English.  A moment later I heard blanco - white. Then just a minute after that I caught flaco - which means skinny or thin.

My heart is white and thin...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Circus Elephants Transmit Tuberculosis

Driving home from work I noticed the circus wagons outside the local civic center. Barnum and Bailey's in town. There were a handful of protesters out there too. One young woman carried a sign informing me that Circus Elephants Transmit Tuberculosis. I can't explain why, but it struck me as sweet, sad, futile, foolish, bizarre, noble, tragic and stupid all at once. All of these causes, flags, banners, placards, chants, slogans, campaigns, struggles, jihads, riots, wars. All this passion, rage, love, hate, righteousness, hypocrisy, faith, belief. All these tiny truths, or half truths or outright falsehoods, existing in direct opposition to one another with their proponents invested to the hilt, ready to kill and to die. All this noise.

Shut Up!

All are worthy and all-important to someone, I suppose. I am nominally a proponent of taking a stand, I suppose, when in practice I do more shaking my head than anything. But it slapped me across the face tonight, it's belief  here in this circus that limits and divides us - our fantasies about the world. At least that's my belief tonight, here with a sour stomach and a plan to go to New York City for the weekend.

Meanwhile, any elephant that doesn't cover it's trunk around me when it coughs is going down. I'm fed up to here with it all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss Psychiatrist and Know It All, is labeling me from the grave. I'm a little terrorized and waiting on pins and needles for the authorities to come and remove me or something. Had to take the Myers-Briggs as part of a management seminar at work and was a little alarmed to see how accurate it is. I was also alarmed to see that most of my peers were almost polar opposites of me. That confirms and validates a few things for me down the years. But if Jung dares call me reticent again, I'll slap that damn pipe out of his mouth and the taste with it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thanks For Looking In

So, I'm gradually learning my way around this blog, and I've become part-time obsessed with the notion of whether or not anyone reads this, or listens to the music I post, and I wonder where they might be from and what they think. I guess maybe it's juvenile or desperate or something, but it's true, I do that. So I learned that you can see the number of "page hits" you get and what country the audience is from and what posts they read. It doesn't appear to be 100% accurate, but it gives me a sense that someone out there can hear me, and who doesn't need that?

It makes me happy to see Pakistan, Poland, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia, the U.K, Malta, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Japan, China, Chile and the U.S.A. But then I wonder if they actually look around, or do they just stumble in and right back out again?

What I am most pleased about right now is the fact that the most frequently visited post is a song I posted by Black Flag called My War which served me well as an anthem through some of my more turbulent years. It inspires me to post another one in a few days for those times on the edge of sanity, in the dead of a sleepless night also by Black Flag.

Anyway, if you're reading this - thanks for visiting. It means something to me that you did. I'd like it if you let me know you were here - post a comment, "follow" the blog if you want, send me an e-mail, tell me what you think or what's going on in your neck of the woods.

It's a big, big, big, old world.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

House Red

We'll drink red wine together, passing a bottle is best, and to me it will feel like passing blood between us - a sacred, ceremonial thing. My heart will open and seep forth, and you will understand, and there will be no need for explanations. We will feel everything together - the music, the night, the wind - and we will catch a glimpse of the beyond and believe. Everything will be stretched out before us and magic will protect us. By midnight I will be bursting with it all and ready for the sacrifice. Bear with me, I don't get out much.

This is something I posted on 6 Sentences a few months back while drinking a little wine after a long stretch of working too much. Sandra, thanks for getting me thinking about it again. Maybe there's more where that came from. I was thinking of the song below when I wrote it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bukowski - "Bluebird" read by Harry Dean Stanton


October begins in torrential rain thanks to Tropical Storm Nicole. Wow, there's a lot of water out there in a short time span.

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