Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Today's daily zen is that I've signed up for a meditation class at the New Orleans Zen Temple. I previously had the impression that those folks were too churchy for my liking right now, but I gave it a second thought and decided to do the class. I was comforted to find that the NOZT has moved from a nice, comfy building downtown to a dumpy old marine-supply warehouse in the Bywater, with the marine-supply logo still on the front of the place. Maybe they aren't so churchy after all.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I'm feeling very depressed this morning. YS had a difficult, violent weekend, and I was the recipient of most of his violence. Also, a couple of other big issues I've been juggling recently came crashing down last week. I thought I had gotten over the gloom yesterday, but it's back this morning.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

From the Daily Zen:

You are a seeker.
Delight in the mastery
Of your hands and your feet,
Of your words and your thoughts.
Delight in meditation and in solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.
You are a seeker.

- Buddha in the Dhammapada

The first thing I thought of was Harry Potter, the youngest seeker in over a hundred years. Actually, I wish I had mastery of words and thoughts.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Today's Daily Zen:

Worldly ups and downs
Should be treated
As lightly as clouds
Gathering and breaking up.

- Anon

This is a great attitude to have, even if it does seem a little naive. Come to think of it, that's exactly how I used to view life. I'm working back to that, so I guess I'm really just going 'round in circles, or maybe it's just my nature.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Today I was huffing and puffing up a storm while I was jogging in the heat. I took a rest stop next to the Aquarium and did something I've been meaning to do for quite some time. I took a close look at the New Orleans Holocaust Memorial. The memorial consists of nine acrylic pillars painted with what appears to be stained-glass patterns in the center. The edges of the pillars facing the river are painted different colors, while the edges on the other side are painted black. When you go to the plaque explaining the memorial and look at the pillars, you see a yellow star of David on a black background. Walk around slowly, and the star of David disintegrates, eventually into blackness. Continue walking around, and eventually a multicolored menorah appears. Continue further, and rainbow colors appear.

I found the memorial moving. Despite the darkness of the Holocaust, Jewish culture and faith has survived. Also, I love the way the memorial was put together. It's very cool and not dark and depressing. I think we need to be reminded of that terrible chapter in 20th century history; this is the kind of thing that can't happen again. I say that knowing that we've had the killing fields in Cambodia, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and the slaughter in Rwanda.

Also interesting was that the Archdiocese of New Orleans contributed money to build the memorial. Yesterday I read an article by Elie Wiesel praising Pope John Paul II for improving Catholic-Jewish relations.

Last night I attended a group for men to talk about dreams. My therapist put the group together and invited me to join it. As my dear readers know, I've had several unusual dreams in the past year or so. I just don't know about this group thing. The guys who were there last night all seemed intelligent and articulate, and my therapist obviously knows what he's doing. I like the fact that he's open to anything and doesn't want to impose his own interpretation on our subconscious thoughts and images. However, I wonder whether it's worth $50 every two weeks to sit around and shoot the shit about archetypical symbolism. Maybe I should just have a better attitude and try it out a few more times.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Today's Daily Zen:

Cold night, no wind, bamboo making noises,
Noises far apart, now bunched together,
Filtering the pine-flanked lattice.
Listening with ears is less fine than
Listening with the mind.
Beside the lamp I lay
Aside the half scroll of sutra

- Hsu-t’ang Chih-yu

I like this for three reasons. First, it serves as a reminder that hearing and listening are distinct. In human communications, it's all too common to formulate our responses while the other person is speaking. Second, it suggests that the mind can benefit from letting down its filtering mechanisms and actually listening to "white noise." I suppose that goes for experiencing other phenomena that we filter out routinely. Third, it suggests that at some point we must stop reading about philosophy, religion, ethics, etc., and go experience life. It reminds me of the commonly expressed LDS thought that one must live one's religion to truly understand it. There's doctrine, then there's practice.

Any thoughts? Am I full of it or what?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I just redid my settings to allow anonymous comments. I hadn't realized that I was only allowing registered members to comment. Not that anybody else is reading and wants to chime in, but those hypothetical teeming masses now can snipe at me without giving themselves away.

Yesterday was Family Day at the St. Mary's school. DW, YS, and I drove up on Friday afternoon. The only room I could book was at a fancy downtown hotel, so that's where we stayed. It was a singularly inappropriate place for an autistic 5-year-old, but oh well. YS loves little adventures, so he was bouncy and giggly Friday night. We took him to the local Chuck E. Cheese, where he had a grand time climbing around in the sky-tube, which supposedly was closed. Some other kid had removed the cardboard barrier, and YS was at the top before I could do anything to stop him. I decided I didn't care about the wobbly lower part of the slide, so YS played away. Can you tell I grew up in the '60s and '70s, before child safety was a big issue?

We went to St. Mary's on Saturday morning, where the administration had 8 or 9 activities set up, with each age group to rotate on a 15 minute schedule. YS ran straight past OS's dorm and to a large slide/play station he's been lusting after for months. OS was already out on a tractor ride around the campus, so DW waited in the shaded pavilion while I went out into the blazing sun to watch YS. DW and OS eventually came over to the playground with us. YS wouldn't budge, and OS only wanted to swing, so it was farewell to the activity schedule for us (we weren't the only family to blow off the schedule). I discovered that I've still got it going on with high-speed merry-go-round pushing. OS loved that. Let's see how fast a 41 year old can get a merry-go-round going and jump onto it without falling off and breaking something. Again, can you tell I grew up in the '60s and '70s?

Eventually, we took the boys to Target and McDonald's. It was a nice family time, for the most part. YS threw a few nasty little tantrums to mess things up a little. I think he's jealous of OS now for getting to live in a place with so many playgrounds, horses, and such.

DW and I were talking last night about what a fine boy our OS is becoming. He's always been sweet and happy, not to mention cute beyond belief; now he's making progress with speech, behavior, and demeanor.

The Family Day was a good thing. I hope good things keep going on with OS.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Daily Zen is on a roll. Why do I like this one so much? What does it mean?

No form, no sound.
Here I am;
White clouds fringing the peaks,
River cutting through the valley.

- Daito

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Today's daily Zen:

If you understand the first word of Zen
You will know the last word.
The last word or the first word,
Is not a word.

- Wu-men

Have you ever had feelings and thoughts that you could not articulate using language?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

DW and I saw the new Harry Potter movie Friday night at the Aquarium of the Americas' IMAX theater. It was great on the IMAX screen, even if the chairs there are amazingly uncomfortable. Anyhow, I thought it was the best of the three films. By cutting some of the scenes from the book, Alfonso Cuaron ironically managed to come closer to the spirit of the Harry Potter books than Chris Columbus did when he crammed every little bit of the books into his two films. The movie has a great flow to it and kind of captures the breeziness with which one reads the Potter books. Also, the film was colored with a dark pallet, in keeping with the spirit of the third book. Oh, and Draco Malfoy has bangs in this one instead of slicked back hair a la Macaulay Culkin.

But enough of that. Tonight is the season finale of "The Sopranos." Who's gotta go? I expect a bloodbath, but we shall see.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

A couple of weeks ago, I got a quasi-promotion at work -- with no corresponding raise, unfortunately.  This quasi-promotion entails me occasionally reviewing other attorneys' work, in addition to writing up my own caseload.  Three or four other attorneys are in the same position I'm in.  In the past week I've reviewed two memoranda written by other lawyers, and I find myself being more heavy-handed than I would have thought.  However, I can't think of any changes I wouldn't suggest if I were to look at those two cases again.  Moreover, I've been told that the ultimate readers of these memoranda look to see who reviewed them in case of screw-ups, and I'm cognizant of the need to establish my bona fides as a reviewer with them.  Additionally, this is my new boss's first big change since taking over the office at the beginning of the year, and it would help his standing (and, therefore, my own standing) if this works out.  Finally, we're looking at the possiblity of a RIF due to budget issues in the near future, and I want to be keep my job.

Craig, a couple of your neighbors may have my picture on their office dart boards right now.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I feel like shit today.  We took O.S. back to his school yesterday.  He was high-strung all day Sunday, and he stayed that way most of the way to Alexandria.  Still, he was cheerful enough until we got about 50 miles away, when he started crying and sobbing.  He tantrumed when we got to the school and took him into his dorm.  Y.S. ran into the dorm after him, laughing with a malicious cackle.  Y.S. made himself at home while enjoying his brother's misery.  That boy sure can be a mean SOB.  I've noticed that he deeply resents O.S.'s abilities, limited though they may be in our eyes.  On the good side, O.S. was fine a few minutes after we left.

O.S.'s speech, deportment, and behavior all have improved dramatically since we placed him at St. Mary's in late February.  However, there's still a long way to go, and I want to see O.S. continue to make progress.  That hope makes moments like yesterday's bearable.  Also, Y.S. has much further to go than even O.S. does, and things seem to work best when they are apart.

This parenting business sucks out loud.  Still, I wouldn't trade my boys for anything or anybody.