Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sex and Lexapro--
I'd like to have them both, but
it ain't Viagra!

This morning I went out and joined a gym by adding myself to DW's membership. She hasn't been there in several months, but she never got around to resigning. I did a decent beginning upper-body workout. However, despite jogging yesterday, I had a very hard time with cardiovascular activity. I ran for a few minutes on a treadmill, then rowed for a few more minutes. I am terribly out of shape, and it will be a very long time before I get back to where I was in the early 1990s.

This is part and parcel of my attempt to take positive steps to overcome the grieving and depression I've felt for the past few weeks. Yesterday, I cleaned Toby's room, but I couldn't go into Adam's room for more than about five minutes. Today I'm working on his room. The fact that I can go into their rooms is a good thing, I think. I'm keeping up with zazen and Zen reading, and I'm watching a course on CD from the Kanzeon Zen Center in SLC. Finally, my psychiatrist bumped up my antidepressants, which should help too.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Some of these will ring true to Ann and Craig:

You Know You're From New Orleans When...

Your sunglasses fog up when you step outside

You reinforce your attic to store Mardi Gras beads

You save newspapers, not for recycling but for tablecloths at crawfish boils

When you give directions you use "lakeside” and “riverside' not north & south

Your ancestors are buried above the ground.

You walk on the "banquet" (sidewalk) and stand in the "neutral ground" (area of ground between a two sided street) "by ya mommas" (by your mother's house).

You take a bite of five-alarm chili and reach for the Tabasco.

The four basic food groups are boiled seafood, broiled seafood, fried seafood and beer

You are asked to name the holy trinity and your reply is "onions, celery, bell pepper."

Every once in a while, you have waterfront property.

Your mama announces each morning, "Well, I've got the rice cooking ... what will we have for dinner?"

You get a disappointing look from your wife and describe it as, "She passed me a pair of eyes."

You give up Tabasco for Lent

You worry about a deceased family member returning in spring floods.

You push little old ladies out of the way to catch Mardi Gras throws.

You leave a parade with footprints on your hands.

You believe that purple, green, and gold look good together

You know what a nutria is but you still pick it to represent your baseball team.

No matter where else you go in the world, you are always disappointed in the food.

Your loved one dies and you book a jazz band before you call the coroner.

Your town is low on the education chart, high on the obesity chart and you don't care because you're No. 1 on the party chart.

Nothing shocks you. Period. Ever.

Your idea of health food is a baked potato instead of fries with your seafood platter.

You have to take your coffee and favorite coffeemaker with you on a three-day trip.

You call tomato sauce "red gravy."

Your middle name is your mother's maiden name, or your father's mother's maiden name, or your mother's mother's maiden name, or your grandmother's mother's maiden name, or your grandfather's mother's maiden name.

You've done your laundry in a bar.

You don't show your "pretties" during Mardi Gras.

You know that Tchoupitoulas is a street and not a disease.

You suck heads, eat tail, sing the blues and you actually know where you got them shoes.

You know why you should never, ever swim by the Lake Pontchartrain steps (for more than one reason).

You cringe every time you hear an actor with a Southern or Cajun accent in a "New Orleans-based" movie or TV show.

You have to reset your clocks after every thunderstorm.

You consider garbage cans a legal step to protecting your parking space on a public street.

You fall asleep to the soothing sounds of four box fans.

Your one-martini lunch becomes a five-bloody mary afternoon... and you keep your job.

You're walking in the French Quarter with a plastic cup of beer. When it starts to rain, you cover your beer instead of your head.

You eat dinner out and spend the entire meal talking about all the other good places you've eaten.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I have it on good authority that one of my brothers-in-law reads Dumpster Dive on occasion. Here's a not-so-good haiku in his honor:

Tall, young, hot RM
BYU women want him;
he'd much rather fish.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Deep, dark ocean world;
upward migration at night--
interesting dreams

Here are the folks I was hanging out with in the first dream referenced below. At least it's a nice-looking bunch. Posted by Hello

I had weird dreams last night, and I can't remember what order they were in.

First, I was in the back bedroom of a house somewhere, with several cast members of "The O.C." Strange, as I've only seen that show 3 times. However, I saw a poster of a cast member yesterday morning at WalMart, so that may help explain the association. Anyhow, evil grandfather Caleb was performing a ritual of some kind to possess Ryan (the blonde one) with an evil spirit. Ryan was on the floor, evidently unconscious and near death. I watched for a while, then I went to fetch the Cohen boy from his bedroom, where he was having sex with that girl he likes. No, I wasn't watching them--I knocked on the door and he opened it. It was no big deal for anybody that they were gettin' it on or that I interrupted them. The dream ended with me strangling Peter Gallagher's character (Cohen's dad) in an attempt to stop them from killing Ryan. Gallagher was lying on a sofa, and I was banging his head on the sofa arm as I choked him. It was kind of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" meets "The O.C."

Second, I was being chased around town by a hungry bear. I thought I had got away from him by going to the top of a skyscraper, via elevator, and another time by scaling up a sheer cliff. I had to jump down from the top of the building by going from ledge to ledge, in hopes that the bear would jump and miss the ledges. I can't remember whether that strategy worked or not. I can't remember exactly what happened with the cliff, either. I ended up at a big family breakfast, except all of the sausage omelets had been eaten while I was out preoccupied with the bear. I fried up a load of sausage, and the bear appeared. I fed the bear and he left happy.

Third, I was watching coverage of events from the South Pacific. Some island or other was voting for independence, claiming to be the last piece of territory in the world occupied another country. People in Alaska were upset because one of their islands had been occupied by the Soviet Union (which was still intact). Suddenly, I'm in a boat in an Alaskan forest, going up some pretty intense river rapids. I wonder why we aren't out in the Bering Straight or in the Aleutians. There is a bear in the woods, I think.

I may have had another dream also, but I don't remember any details about it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Oops! Yesterday was a federal holiday, and I showed up for work anyway. I didn't even notice that I wasn't supposed to be here. I put in a leave slip to go home sick half an hour early, and my supervisor called me in this morning to ask why I did that when it was a holiday. I needed to get some things made-up anyway. I'm going to see if I can count yesterday as a work day and take a comp. day later in the year. How embarassing is that!

First it was Tinky Winky, now it's SpongeBob SquarePants. No, he's not changing his name to SpongeBob QueerPants. However, Nick Jr's biggest star has been denounced by the Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family for appearing in a video produed by a group that promotes social tolerance, including tolerance for differing sexual orientations. I looked at the group's website, and it is affiliated with that dangerous leftist, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Go figure.

Oh yeah, I'm wearing a SpongeBob tie today for my presentation to a panel of judges. Most of the lawyers here are pretty conservative about how they dress for those conferences. Not me--I favor loud ties and colored shirts. That always annoyed the old boss, which, of course, meant that I had to keep it up.  Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I've had a very weird psychosomatic pattern since Adam moved to the St. Mary's school. Historically, I've been the parent who gets up early with the kids on weekends, and the one who runs them ragged all over town on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, I tend to crash physically and emotionally on Friday nights, then have panic/anxiety symptoms on Saturdays. I think my mind and body are anxious about the abrupt change in my routine, and that causes the symptoms I've been experiencing. I'm treating myself by increasing my Zen sitting and by doubling my dose of Lexapro. I'll be seeing a psychiatrist on Friday about this, as it seems to be a mental issue with physical symptoms.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My wife and I were looking through a box of her memories this morning, and we came across some of her old writing. Here's a little sample that I like:

My rag doll sits still;
untouched, yet loved
from a distance.

Her face, expressionless;
without smile or frown--
she does not know
what the future brings.

Friday, February 18, 2005

I neglected to mention in the photo captions that we had another encounter with the notorious Shoe Nazi of Alexandria yesterday. We took Adam to McDonalds for some fries and a romp in the playland. The Shoe Nazi appeared and told us that Adam must take off his shoes. DW didn't even look at the Shoe Nazi, and she told the Shoe Nazi that Adam is a special needs kid and that his shoes would remain on his feet. The Shoe Nazi went back into the main part of the restaurant, glared at us for a minute or two throught the glass, then went behind the counter. We weren't bothered again.

We had school planning conferences yesterday in Alexandria, Louisiana. Toby strikes a nice profile on the way to the car. Posted by Hello

Adam is deep in thought while the occupational therapist talks. "When will these people shut up so I can go eat some french fries?"  Posted by Hello

Adam looked like a little man during his school planning conference. That guy holding him just looked fat. Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I needed to get out of the house today, so DW and I decided to head down to the French Quarter for a few hours. She's been wanting to look around for some stones for her emerging interests in spiritual and psychic phenomena, and the Quarter is the place to go for that. She's still a little uneasy about actually walking into some of those places, so she asked me to come along.

We started at a tea room that has psychic stuff on the side--way overpriced psychic stuff. DW didn't find anything there she really wanted, so we decided to walk around for a while longer. We walked aimlessly for about 20 minutes, when I spotted Marie Laveaux's House of Voodoo on Bourbon Street. I walked straight in, and DW followed nervously behind me. We hung around there for a few minutes, then left abruptly. DW told me there was a very dark spirit in there; otherwise, she would have suggested that I have a reading done there. We made our way back up Bourbon Street to a more wicca-oriented shop. DW told the clerk I wanted a reading, but the psychic wasn't going to be there for a couple of hours. We had lunch, then found a gemstone store that had exactly what DW wanted, and for cheap at that.

I looked at my watch, and it was time for the psychic to be at that wiccan shop. We made our way back there, and I met Tom, the hippy psychic. I told the man nothing, so as to test his abilities. Tom began my reading by having me shuffle a Tarot deck. He then took my hands, closed his eyes, and felt my hands. He rubbed hard after a few minutes, then opened his eyes and examined my hands. He declared that I prefer to receive information in very practical terms, and that I learn best through hands-on experience. I don't like bullshit, and I believe in accountability. I'm open to ideas, but I also have a stubborn streak.

He then noted that I have markings for mild depression on one hand, but not on the other. We talked at some length about my depression and my treatment regime. I mentioned my anxiety and panic attacks, but he really didn't react to that. He did say that I'm on the edge of a precipice emotionally and psychologically, and that if I can make it through the next 4-6 weeks, I'll be fine in the long run.

As far as genetics, he noted cancer and heart disease from my hands, then pulled a Tarot card and said that I didn't need to worry about either, but that I shouldn't be surprised if I have Alzheimer's in my 70s. As far as careers go, he said I must have a natural business sense (I wouldn't know) and that I would make an excellent trial attorney. I already had said that I went to law school, so he knew I was an attorney.

Tom said that my hands were very rough internally and that's why he rubbed them a little harder than usual. He was surprised to find a strong spirit of compassion underneath the roughness. That is a feminine trait, and it is very unusual to find it in that measure in straight men in America.

We talked at great lengths about the boys and their issues, after I brought up autism. He placed nine Tarot cards on the table, and said "wow, you really are concerned about those boys" (the first three cards) and "well, you're really unfocused." (the second three cards). He assured me that placing them at St. Mary's was the right thing to do, and said bluntly that the boys' autistic behaviors are going to get worse. He predicted that Toby will take a brief turn for the worse in the near future, and that I need to be able to deal with that. He then brought up my anxiety and panic attacks and said that he could understand why I am having them, given the stress that I've been under the past several years.

DW decided to have him give her a reading also. I hung around the store and checked out some of the trinkets and baubles. I purchased a dharma wheel talisman necklace, which I'm wearing right now.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I seem to be full of Zen thoughts this week. I posted this on a bulletin board, so some of you may already have read it.

I'd like to throw something out that I've been thinking about lately, the Buddhist ideal of ego-abandonment. I read a fabulous Zen book recently entitled "Opening the Hand of Thought." The author distinguished what he called the "conditioned self," or "karmic self," from what he called the "universal Self." The conditioned self is ego-driven (or even id-driven, if you want to use Freudian terms), and has a strong sense of him/herself as an independent, separate entity. But Buddhists believe that nothing--including individual people--has any permanent form. Everything arises from a life-force paradoxically labeled "emptiness," and to emtiness everything returns, and everything is impermanent and always changing. Moreover, everything--including me--is dependent on the conditions that bring it about and that bring about its termination. So I have no independent existence and no permanent form. The universal Self thus is emptiness, and through emptiness I am one with all sentient beings in the universe. Therefore, I am you and you are me. One obvious consequence of this line of thought is that I must abandon my sense of self along the way. I have felt that ego-abandonment while sitting zazen intensely, dropping my pride and my baggage, if only for a few minutes at a time.

My point of departure in all things spiritual, and my comparison/contrast naturally is Mormonism. It struck me yesterday that the LDS Church (and, indeed, Christianity generally) teaches ego-abandonment to some extent. The Christian is broken before the Cross, and submits his/her will to God's will. The Mormon is broken before the Cross largely by submitting his/her will to the will/commandments/policies of the LDS Church.

However, while the individual members of the Church may achieve a great degree of ego-abandonment and humility, the LDS Church as an entity most certainly does not. The One True Church on the face of the Earth is infallible and incapable of error, as a matter of doctrine. Those who question are mislead, apostate, or incapable of understanding. Additionally, the Church builds up the egos of those broken souls I describe above by advancing them in the corporate hierarch and giving them titles and status. It's really something to have the power of God to do His work on the Earth, via the exclusive LDS Priesthood. For example, a decade or so ago, a GA gave a conference talk titled "Honoring the Priesthood." He spoke about how people should be addressed by their titles, how counselors should stand behind the Bishop at the end of Sacrament Meeting to receive assignments, and so forth. Even then, I found this talk small-minded and pharisaic. Shortly thereafter, my Bishop requested that I speak on the topic of honoring the priesthood. I spoke all about administering to the sick, home teaching, being good examples, avoiding unrighteous dominion, etc. That to me was honoring the priesthood. Ultimately, then, the LDS Church rebuilds the egos of those who come to it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Friday, February 11, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Yesterday while jogging, I thought about some of the things that have been causing me angst recently. I realized that at the root of most that angst is attachment to objects and concepts. If I can loosen those attachments--particularly to a concept I call categorical identification ("I am this," "I am that," or "gosh, I could be that")--and just live the best I can with things as they are, much of that angst should lessen or even disappear. The attitude of detachment has helped me deal with the challenges of "exceptional" parenting in the past 18 months or so that I have been studying Buddhist philosophy. I didn't have terribly strong notions about what parenting should entail to begin with, and I've managed to let go of even those notions.

Also yesterday, I received a CD from a friend in New Jersey containing the Big Mind teachings of Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, abbott of the Zen Center of Utah. Big Mind is a program that fast-tracks its participants into a Zen state of mind. I watched the introductory portion of the CD last night; it looks like it should be interesting.

Today I'm mulling over the notion of ego-abandonment. I may post about it if I come up with anything at all interesting.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I have priceless Latin American artifacts on display in my office. Posted by Hello

We had a nice sunrise on the Northshore this morning, so I ran back inside the house and grabbed the camera. Posted by Hello

Here's a recent photo of my oldest son, Toby. He's my mini-me, except I've gotten fat in my old age. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hmmm. I went on the IRS website a few minutes ago to download a form I need to complete my return, and I got a pop-up ad for "sex" It didn't look all that promising, um, I mean, I was shocked to see that our Government is allowing sex merchants to sponsor its websites.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I had the strangest experience Friday and Saturday of this week. I was planning to attack housekeeping and physical fitness with real vigor after all the chaos of the past few months. However, I experienced a physical and emotional shutdown Friday evening and all day Saturday. I slept for 11 hours or so Friday night, then went back to bed during the mid-morning hours on Saturday morning. I felt physically ill much of yesterday. It was a real effort to clean one room and go to the drug store to fetch a prescription. I think my body is reacting to 6-7 years of being stressed out and constantly on-call.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Got one right:

Take the quiz: "What color eyes should you have?"

sad eyes

Take the quiz: "Serial Killer Quiz"

The Green River Killer
You are somewhat methodical, as you kill women and leave their bodies in the Green River.

I was thinking this morning about making it through four major family crises in the past year, relatively intact, and how meditation/zazen has kept my head from exploding:

Angry man, burning
Sitting, sees his Ancient Face
Coldwater trout stream

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A mountain of Zen
A valley of disturbance

I noticed a comment on my Sopranos post by a blogger from Logan, Utah. I falsely listed my DW's hometown as my own hometown on my blogger profile. Anyway, here's a photo of my fake place of origin. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

DW saw a story today about "The Sopranos" being syndicated. Evidently, they filmed alternative scenes along the way to make the show less objectionable to people who get bothered by sex and violence on television. I'll stick with the HBO version. Posted by Hello

Here's an aerial view of my kids' school. Posted by Hello

More about my kids' school -- here's a kid during a hippotherapy session. I don't know much about it, but horses are therapeutic for kids with autism. Posted by Hello

Yesterday was Adam’s big day, when he moved in at St. Mary’s with Toby. We drove up to Alexandria on Sunday and fetched Toby for a short outing. Adam was so delighted to see his brother that he squealed with glee –- very loudly –- at Target and at the restaurant we took him to after we dropped Toby off at school. Adam and I had a long time together in the hotel swimming pool and at the doctor’s office Monday morning. I’m grateful that I was able to have some special time with him.

I’d been trying to prepare Adam for this transition for a couple of weeks, mostly by saying short phrases like, “Adam live with Toby,” but I don’t know whether he understood what I was saying. It turns out that the people at St. Mary’s were using social stories to prepare Toby for Adam’s arrival. For the first time ever, Toby was delighted to see Adam. However, I got the impression that Toby had made a mental leap from “Adam is coming” to “Adam is coming, so I get to go live at home now.”

We took Adam to the dorm around 12:30 yesterday. He tantrumed when he realized I wasn’t there (I pulled the car around to unload his toy box), but he calmed down somewhat by the time I left. However, I was told that it took six adults working with him for about an hour or so to get him calm enough to go into the classroom. After that, he did fine yesterday, and he was sleeping soundly when I called around 8:40 p.m.

I think Adam will see this as more of an adventure than Toby does. He has always enjoyed running around the place and jumping on other kids’ beds. Adam was getting bored with the same-old same-old here, and I was having trouble getting him into new things. I hope that being around other children –- especially Toby –- will give him good models for imitation. If that happens, this will be a great development. Still, it’s all very chancy.