I have been going a few times each week to Al-Anon meetings. Part of “working the program” includes understanding, accepting, and living the twelve steps, which is not a quick or easy practice. I am an academic by nature; it is going to help me to read everything I can get my hands on about this, think about it, listen to others, and then write my response. I’m going to write my responses here, until such point that I decide not to. In any event, this daylog is going to be about Step Two.

Step Two:Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

(I’m going to work backwards on this one.)*

sanity. Well, I don’t think I’m insane. I do think I have had moments of irrational behavior and over-reaction, fighting with or yelling at or trying to control someone who’s too drunk to speak. I have spent too much time worrying about that which I cannot control, and have gone so far as to drug myself (with over-the-counter sleep aids) so that I wouldn’t stay up fretting and obsessing over the alcoholic, who was out until all hours, drinking with friends. So yeah, I need balance. I need perspective. I need a way of remaining (more consistently) rational, not getting sucked into pointless and fruitless arguments, not spending my time sick with worry over something I have no power over—another person’s actions.

restore us to sanity --implying that I’m off-kilter from a previously balanced or rational perspective—that I just need help unlearning bad habits and ineffectual coping mechanisms that I have learned over the years. Not that I need to be brought to sanity (as if for the first time), but re-introduced to healthy ways of thinking and relating.

a Power greater than ourselves Al-Anon literature states fairly constantly and consistently that it is a spiritual program, not a religious one. That an individual’s Higher Power can be whatever s/he wants, or imagines, it to be -- a belief in a Life Force, in God, in Goodness or Love, or simply in the love and support of other Al-Anon members; “a loving, caring, nurturing Power that provides us with guidance.”1

"In the beginning, emphasis is on acting as if--praying even if we have no idea who is listening to our prayers, acting as if we believed that we are loved and supported."2

Some people who come to Al-Anon are comfortable with the idea of a Higher Power; others are not. Years ago, I decided I believed in God the Creator, a life force, a “clockmaker” who set the universe in motion and bestowed humans with free will, and has since then been letting things unfold on their own. This kept me from having to deal with the conflict between an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God, and the fact that there are starving children in Africa, and good people dying every day—the whole “ Dear God: how about that whole holocaust” thing. Yes, I believe in god, no, I don’t expect him to talk to me or intervene with my life.

I was okay with the idea that I didn’t know the whole picture, that I was only seeing a small part of the back side of the tapestry-—that the universe and the events therein looked pretty different to God than they did to me. But I didn’t pray for help or guidance—my view of God was that he was a pretty hands-off kind of dude.

Recently, however, I came to the point where I simply couldn’t figure things out for myself. I couldn’t fix everything. I got desperate enough, and I asked for help. I didn't stop what I was doing; I didn't have some lightening-bolt type of epiphany, but I prayed HELP and I got it. Within 3 days, I was overwhelmed by the relief and hope I was feeling, which had resulted from me finding and attending Al-Anon; meetings full of sympathetic, supportive people, edifying books and encouraging affirmations. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of going there before, but I hadn’t. I don’t care how anyone else chooses to view this chain of events, and I’m certainly not trying to witness or convince anyone, I’m just describing what happened in my own life. I asked for help, and help appeared.

I have a tendency to think that, in the grand scheme of things, my problems are not so bad. Why should I bother God with them? I don’t believe in a God that would swoop down and change the situation, anyway. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that even if prayers are not being answered by some outside force, maybe the act of voicing that plea helps you get some distance from it, changes your perspective. If God is there, and (s)he’s infinite, it’s certainly not going to overwhelm him(her) to have me add my concerns to the list, and if by doing so, I can stop feeling that I have to fix everything, stop worrying for a few hours, calm down long enough to move on with my day, then where’s the harm? I don’t have all the information. I’m smart, but I’m not that smart—or resourceful, or imaginative. I’ll leave the problem alone for a bit, ask for guidance, and maybe I’ll read something, or hear from a friend, or learn something that gives me a different perspective. I can pray—talk to God aloud or inside my head—or meditate, sitting calmly and breathing deeply, and not feel that everything is on my shoulders, and needs to be straightened out right away.

Came to believe I decided to give this a try. I decided to act as if I believed, as though I was coming to believe, that a power greater than myself could help. And I felt better.

I’ve rejected a lot of other people’s views of God, or a Higher Power, or whatever, because they didn’t make sense to me. In the past, I had tried to come up with a logical viewpoint that explained everything, made it knowable and understandable. I'm sorry if this sounds like a cop-out, but perhaps everything is just not understandable, logical, knowable. That's rather a freeing viewpoint, in my humble opinion.

If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.         ~ Zen Proverb3

There’s a part in the M. Night Shyamalan movie, Signs, where Mel Gibson’s character, a former priest, tells his brother that he has to decide whether he’s the type of person who believes in signs, who believes that nothing is coincidence. When I was watching the movie, I answered for myself—no, I don’t believe in signs. Yes, I believe in coincidence.

Then there’s the part in Richard Bach’s Illusions that says:


		You are led
	through your lifetime
	   by the inner learning creature,
		the playful spiritual being 
			that is your real self.
 
                    Don’t turn away
			from possible futures
	before you’re certain you don’t have
anything to learn from them.

	(and)
     The world 
          is your exercise-book, the pages
    on which you do your sums. 
		It is not reality,
although you can express reality
	there if you wish.

                     You are also
	free to write nonsense, 
	   or lies, or to tear
		the pages.4

Here’s my point. I’m not writing a doctoral thesis on religion; I’m making up a vision of a higher power that is beneficial to me. There’s no way to prove that I’m right or wrong, so why not have some fun with it? What’s the harm in seeing signs? Who does it hurt? Which is more appealing, believing in coincidence or in a playful, loving higher power?

If it makes my life easier or better or more fun, does it have to be objectively, empirically provable? Or can my perspective make all the difference? I like the idea of magic in the world—why not choose to see it, and believe in it?

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."               ~ Norman Vincent Peale5

______________________

"It is my confidence in a Higher Power, working in me, which releases and activates my ability to make my life a more joyous, satisfying experience. I cannot bring this about by relying on myself and my own limited ideas."6

*Please keep in mind that many of the ideas expressed here are gleaned directly from Al-Anon literature, including (but not limited to): 1Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts, © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1997, page 18. 2ibid.page 20. 3Courage to Change,© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1992, page 61. 4 Richard Bach, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Dell Publishing Inc., 1977, pages 63 and 127. (NOT Al-Anon related...) 5Courage to Change, © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1992, page 243. 6One Day At A Time in Al-Anon,© Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1968, 1972, 2000, page 80.

The Twelve Steps | Step One | Step Three | Step Four

Sometimes I will spend an evening on the back porch, looking up at a sky that could cause an atheist to believe in God. In the mountains on a clear night, away from the amber-pink glow of the city lights, stars come out and shine brilliantly. Nights like these also signal a cold morning, but I will take that weight in order to sit under a cloudless sky and let the minutes fall away.

Life has continued. My job keeps me busy, on my toes, and occasionally teeters me over an edge, pulls me back before I fall, dusts me off, and gives me a shove in the right direction. A new car gives me something to look at: a cut stone that provides pleasure. The weather grows warmer, dips into cold, stumbles, changes its mind. The sun comes up, the sun goes down.

And I think about my future, about not knowing where I am going. There was a time when everything that was going to happen was certain; all I had to do was sit back and let it happen. I've since learned that sitting back and waiting was perhaps the biggest mistake I ever made. The future is not a straight line, and it will not catch up with you. If you are complacent, the future may simply bitch-slap you on its way by, demonstrating the Doppler effect as it screams past. How fast? The speed of sound? The speed of light? As far as I can tell, the speed of life doesn’t have a measure; there is no way to comfort oneself by mapping or drawing diagrams. My life ain't a pie chart.

Ah, this late night gibberish.

My time is spread out before me, not unlike my late mountain night sky. I don't care how clichéd of a metaphor that is, I'm gonna use it anyway. There is nothing more liberating that realizing that you are free to do what you choose, to carry that weight, to fire yourself into the world like a roman candle, aiming for a place among the stars. I'm still young enough to see the romance in travel, to find meaning in jumping in a car, pointing the nose in a cardinal direction, and just driving. I'm not looking for anything specific, but I know, if I drive long enough and stay true to my route, that I will eventually end up exactly where I want to be.

I never claimed to be an anti-romantic.

I think I'm gonna go look at the stars a little more before I go to bed.

First daylog in a while, but I need to put this down so I can evaluate my thoughts.

I got a call from my aunt yesterday, though I was sleeping when she called. She left a message saying she'd call back later. Listening to the message, I could detect a touch of something in her voice that was a little "off", but couldn't put my finger on it.

I talked to my brother this morning, and found out she had called him too. This was definitely out of the ordinary, as she rarely calls either of us - let alone both of us. I definitely got the impression something might be wrong, but I didn't dismiss the thought that maybe she needed help with the computer.

I called her this morning, and she laid down two bad news bombs on me. First, she told me that she talked to my Dad yesterday, and he didn't sound good at all. He was short of breath, and he thought he might have pneumonia. As stubborn as he is, he didn't want to go to the emergency room. Finally, he supposedly agreed to go. I don't know his current condition.

Then she told me my great Uncle Carlo died yesterday. Apparently he got smacked pretty hard by a taxi cab, and never regained consciousness. The last time I saw him, I was very young. He never failed to send me a Christmas card every year, though. I've been planning to go to New York this year, and I was looking forward to seeing him and my grandmother for the first time in a long time. Chalk up this one under "TEH SUX". Not only am I sad about my great uncle's death, I'm also worried about my Dad.

So long, Uncle Carly. Dad, stop being so goddamned stubborn.

Today's Headlines

US News

Texas Execution Receives Special Attention
Former FBI director William S. Sessions has asked the United States Supreme Court to stay the execution of Delma Banks Jr., a man sentenced to death in the state of Texas in 1980 but has since gone through several appeals. The evidence against Banks was limited in the original trial, having no fingerprints, no witnesses to the crime and little apparent motive, and in the intervening years the key witness against him has recanted parts of his testimony and evidence of prosecutorial misconduct has emerged.

Dozens Hurt in California Bus Collision
One tour bus rearended another on a California interstate Sunday, injuring dozens of passengers, including at least eight critically, authorities said. The crash happened on southbound Interstate 15, the main artery from Las Vegas into California. The California Highway Patrol reported that the buses were going about 55 miles per hour through a road construction zone when a Gold & Silver tour company bus hit the rear of a bus from Hebaragi & Lemi Bus Inc. Gold & Silver was unavailable for comment.

Gwendolyn Brooks To Be Honored
A resolution to rename the Illinois State Library for the late poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks has been approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and is certain to be passed by the Senate. Brooks (1917-2000) will be long remembered as the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize (in 1950) and among the first women poets to gain an international following. "All my life is not writing," she once said. "My greatest interest is being involved with young people."

International News

Diplomatic Battle Rages Over UN Iraq Votes
France waged a diplomatic battle with the United States on Monday to win the support of wavering nations in a U.N. vote unlikely to hold up U.S. plans to invade Iraq for long. Meanwhile, problems appeared on the home front of its main ally Britain with the threatened resignation of a cabinet minister and a growing revolt in the ruling Labour party. US Secretary of State Colin Powell however remained confident that the necessary votes would be secured before the expected vote on Wednesday.

Germany Sentences Algerian Bombers
A German court has sentenced four Algerians to prison terms ranging from 10 to 12 years for plotting to bomb a Christmas market in France in 2000. The Frankfurt court found the four guilty of preparing a bomb attack and conspiracy to murder. The defendants were arrested in December 2000 after raids on their Frankfurt apartments turned up large quantities of chemicals for making explosives, as well as weapons and false identity papers. In his decision, the presiding judge referred to the targeted victims as "defenseless" and stated that the law "is not severe enough" in this case.

Power Shift in Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey's governing party, won a seat in Parliament on Sunday, setting the stage for his ascension to the prime minister's office and a reconsideration of a measure that would allow US troops to use Turkey as a base in a war against Iraq. Speaking on CNN, Erdogan, who heads the Justice and Development Party, said that there were steps that the United States had to take regarding the issue of motion, and it would be difficult to ease the atmosphere in Turkey before the United States took those steps.

Business

Nikkei Hits 20 Year Low
Concerns about the likelihood of a war in Iraq continued to take its toll on Asian stock markets Monday. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.3 percent to 8042.26, a new 20-year low, extending its losing streak to five days. Other Asian markets also fared poorly, with major losses in Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, The Phillipines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The downfall in Japan led the way however, spurned on by talk of war and of the selling off of banks, shifting the playing field in the Japanese banking market.

Microsoft Plans Enormous Beta Test For Microsoft Office 2003
Microsoft Corp. on Monday is set to release the public beta of the of the next version of Microsoft Office. Office 2003, which until now was known by the code name Office 11, is set to launch in June and includes two new applications, a new interface for sorting e-mails in Microsoft Outlook, and several other tweaks that Microsoft hopes will entice customers to shell out for an upgrade to their existing version. "We're going to be making 500,000 copies available, which is one of the largest beta programs Microsoft has ever done -- certainly the largest Office beta we've ever done," said Simon Marks, product manager for Microsoft Office.

Intel Funds Wireless Startups
The latest recipients of Intel's largesse in its recent move to invest in wireless computing startups are rovingIP.net, Vivato, Broadreach Networks and Pronto Networks. Intel has invested in seven such companies since it announced plans in October to spend $150 million on companies developing so-called Wi-Fi, or wireless networking, technology. More than $25 million has been invested in at least 15 companies since 1999, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said.

Science & Technology

Afghanistan Enters Cyberspace
Afghanistan has launched its own national internet domain, .af, for websites and e-mail addresses. This move marks a big technological step for a country where the net was banned under the former Taliban government. The .af domain was first registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority in October 1997 by an Afghan expatriate called Abdul Razeeq, who has since disappeared. Now the domain belongs to the nation of Afghanistan with the Afghan Ministry of Communication (www.moc.gov.af) and the UN Development Program both online there.

New Insights Into Atmosphere of Jupiter
Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn has altered the scientific perspective on Jupiter's famous stripes. On Jupiter's surface, darker "belts" alternate with lighter "zones." Scientists have long considered the zones, with their pale clouds, to be areas of upwelling atmosphere. However, pictures from the Cassini spacecraft show that individual storm cells of upwelling bright-white clouds, too small to see from Earth, pop up almost without exception in the dark belts. This is causing a revision in the ideas governing the relationship between the belts and zones.

FeRAM May Revolutionize Memory Market
South Korean memory firm Hynix has started sampling its first FeRAMs, a new type of memory that works by moving iron atoms around inside ferroelectric crystals and keeps its contents even when there is no power going through it. This could truly revolutionize the methods in which memory is stored, including applications to countless limited power portable devices that could utilize such memory. Hynix has filed over 150 patents related to the technology, and are currently testing 4 Mb and 8 Mb chips, with plans to test 64 Mb chips in the near future.

Health

Fast Food + Television = Risk of Obesity and Diabetes
Eating fast food and watching television can add up to a high risk for both obesity and diabetes, according to a study reported on Saturday at the American Heart Association Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epistemology and Prevention. "Fast food consumption in this country has increased dramatically," says Mark Pereira, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. "The association between eating fast food and the incidence of obesity and abnormal glucose control has not been thoroughly examined before."

Early Viewing of Television Violence Linked To Adult Aggression
Watching even one violent television program or movie as a child can increase the risk of aggressive adult behavior, according to a psychological study spanning 15 years. The study found a causal connection between early observations of violence in media and later aggression, even for young men and women not classified as violence-prone in first and third grades. A report about the study in the well-regarded journal Developmental Psychology cited violence like that in the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry, where the Harry character is rewarded and the child views the violence as a slice of real life.

Sports

NC Defeats Duke
The Tar Heels salvaged their uneven season and three year slump against their rival by beating the 10th-ranked Duke Blue Devils 82-79 Sunday in Chapel Hill in a wild ending to the men's basketball regular season. Rashad McCants scored 26 points and Raymond Felton added 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as North Carolina ended a six-game skid to Duke (21-16, 11-5), which saw its streak of winning at least 12 ACC games in a season end at six. The Tar Heels (16-14, 6-10) lost to Duke by 29 at home last season, when they went a program-worst 8-20. They bounced back this season with one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Scott Hoch Angers Golf Fans At Dubai Tournament
Scott Hoch stopped his playoff with Jim Furyk in semi-darkness at the Ford Championship in Dubai on Sunday, angering thousands of golf fans who paraded Hoch back to the clubhouse with a chorus of boos. The tournament finished with the two competitors in a tie, resulting in a sudden death playoff. After the first hole ended with a tie, darkness began to close in, and the finish was postponed to Monday morning at the request of Hoch.

Entertainment

Chicago Dominates SAG Awards
The hit musical Chicago won three Actors, best female actor in both lead and supporting roles and best ensemble cast, at the 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held in Los Angeles, California on Sunday. Renée Zellweger won for best female lead actor and Catherine Zeta-Jones took away the trophy for best supporting female actor. These awards are seen as a prelude to the upcoming Academy Awards, in which Chicago is seen as the heavy favorite in many categories.

Clinton and Dole Debate on Tax Cuts
On the CBS news program 60 Minutes last night, former US president Bill Clinton and his 1996 opponent, former Senator Bob Dole, debated on whether or not a tax cut is appropriate in the current political climate. The format was with each side taking a single minute to present their side of the issue, with Clinton representing the liberal perspective and Dole the conservative perspective. Nine more segments are expected to appear before the end of the television season.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I work in a small office with another individual. We have frequent discussions on politics, music, philosophy, education, and other issues. On some issues our views overlap; on others, we're as different as night and day.

He is sixteen years older than I am, but he grew up in a similar highly rural background. I grew up with fishing, trapping, gardening, and hunting as the foundations of life, while he grew up on a farm.

We are both Libertarians, but in terms of fiscal policy, we're on vastly different ends of the scale. He wants massive tax cuts and a tiny government; I just want a reorganization of spending.

He listens to James Taylor and Mannheim Steamroller and Seals and Crofts; I listen to Woody Guthrie and Uncle Tupelo and They Might Be Giants.

I wish that Bill Clinton could have served a third term as President; he voted for George W. Bush and still thinks he made the right choice.

He listens to Rush Limbaugh; I listen to Neil Boortz.

He's an avid Windows XP user; I prefer to use Linux most all of the time.

But what makes it work? The fact that there's an underlying respect for one another as individuals.

It makes for an interesting mix, sometimes.


Lent Diary, Day 6

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

I woke up early this morning and sat outside eating a bowl of cereal, watching the horizon slowly fade to grey then ever so gently begin to reveal colors. With each cold bite of milk and crispy flakes, God added another stroke to the sky in the east. And I watched the painting unfold itself.

It was almost like watching Joy of Painting, except on a more massive scale; God was the figurative Bob Ross, but silent as he let his mystical strokes do all the work.

I finished off the cereal and leaned back as ever so slowly the sun began to peek up over the horizon.

And I was glad to be alive.

I hope with all my heart that God will grant me the grace to someday be in such a place where things of beauty like that are the essence of life.

Just another tale of woe and injury involving yours truly.

Well so far, it’s been a bad year for pinkies, for me anyway.

Not too long ago around Christmas time, we decided to get a little kitten for Anna. Figuring that she had recently turned eight and was willing to take on the responsibility of feeding the little critter and tending to her litter box needs, the kitten would make for some good company.

At first it didn’t start out that way, the cat (named Spice) had been a little shy and withdrawn when we first got it home. It would hardly make an appearance and seemed quite content to sit in the bathroom and wait to be fed. I didn’t know what to attribute this type of behavior to. Maybe it was because it had been a cat shelter for quite awhile and had been surrounded by other cats or maybe it was just asserting its “cathood” and couldn’t be bothered with such minor details as human beings. Maybe it was the “trauma” she experienced by leaving the shelter. Who knows and for that matter, who cares? The cat has overcome whatever was plaguing her and has taken full control of the house. This was a good thing and was greeted by both me and borgette with a sense of relief.

Until last Monday.

Nothing tragic mind you. The cat isn’t sick or injured. It didn’t run away or get stuck in the cold. It just sorta “asserted” itself.

I was sitting in my recliner, idly playing with the beast with the ever popular piece of string that cats seem to find so fascinating when, after awhile, we both got bored and the cat wandered off in search of who knows what. I, on the other hand, decided to remain where I was and focus on whatever was on the television. After about 10 or 15 minutes, the tv began to have its usual narcotic effect on me and I began to doze off. It was about this time that the cat decided it wasn’t through “playing.”

At first I felt her wrap her paws around my right wrist (which was dangling down the side of the chair) and sorta grab me. Naturally, this roused my from my stupor and my reaction was such that I quickly raised my hand away in order to avoid being scratched. My cat’s reaction to this was to sink her fangs into might right pinky and take a decent chunk of skin with her. As the blood started flowing and the cursing got louder, the cat vanished upstairs.

I commenced to the kitchen sink where I proceeded to wash, disinfect, and dress my injured digit. It was then off to bed and all was right with the world. (Or so I thought.)

The next day arrived with little fanfare. My finger was bit swollen and red but didn’t hurt all that much. I made my way off to work and started in on my usual routine. It wasn’t until about noon that things started going sour.

My hand was generating heat and looked as red as a lobster. It was sore as hell and was starting to swell up. My co-workers were encouraging me to get it looked and I, not having a family doctor and being a brave soul, tried to brush it off.

A couple of hours later and it wasn’t long before I was in the emergency room of a local hospital. By that time, my injured paw had almost doubled in size and the redness was beginning to spread up my arm. I was eventually hooked up to an IV loaded with antibiotics. There was some talk of admitting me overnight. A little later, a doctor came by and cut an incision my pinky and in my lower hand in order to drain whatever infection had taken hold. It was later determined that whatever germs resided on my cat’s teeth had given me a bad case of Cellulitis.

A couple of hours later, I was discharged with a bandage about the size of Rhode Island wrapped around my hand. After getting a couple of prescriptions filled, and being the clear-headed individual that I am, I made my way to my local watering hole where I proceeded to regale the assorted patrons with the story. Naturally, they being the good friends that they are, greeted my tale with skepticism and scorn. Many thought that they would be embarrassed to blame all of this on a little cat and suggested that I re-rearrange the details and blame my injury on either a mountain lion or saber tooth tiger. Not getting what I was looking for in the way of sympathy, I made my way home.

This was a week ago folks. The antibiotics have kicked in and my hand seems to have returned to its normal size. The redness is gone but some pain still persists in the inch or so gash that now adorns my right wrist. My pinky is stiff and sore and there is some speculation that some nerve damage might have been done. I’ll find that out this Thursday after my doctors visit.

In retrospect, I’m sure I’m going to incur some kind of cost for all of this and that’s okay. However, if any of you are, such as myself, avid golfers, and have read about the other incident involving my left pinky, its sure to be a strange year. Oh well, at least I’ll have something to blame my shitty shots on.

Peace!

I'm still sick. I'm coughing like one of those tubercular characters in a Victorian novel and my voice is all fucked up. I took a sick day last Tuesday when this started, and then went merrily back to work the next day along with all that goes with that: waiting outside in the cold for buses or rides from co-workers, spending all day talking with users on the phone...moron. At least I didn't try and bike to work. Anyway, this is really distressing because we're flying to Washington on Friday and I kinda need to be well by then. And it's cold and wet up there. And the convergence of bills and rent this week means we are flat broke and don't have the money for a co-payment for me to go to the doctor. There are always ways, I guess. It's only ten dollars, and maybe I can talk the doctor's office into taking the co-pay on Friday

If we continue at this rate without making a change, we will be out of debt (excluding student loans) in a few short years. That's the good news, and fanTAStic news it is indeed. Until then though, life will largely be like this. Not having ten lousy bucks for the doctor. Having to dip into laundry money to take the bus. Having to turn down invitations because our paychecks went into bills and the egregious sums they charge for rent here in sunny SoCal. And then what will I do? Last I checked my friends who are strictly freelance writers were either desperate or being supported by their significant others. While I'd love to be paid for my writing again (and still intend to pursue that as a sideline), I don't have any kind of clear vision of a future wherein BOTH Angela and I can make a comfortable living creatively. In those same few short years, I'm gonna be 40. We want a house. We want to adopt a little girl. I would really like to be able to retire someday. I need a future. What I'm doing now is fine in and of itself, but the more I look at it the more I see that this road leads nowhere.

Which is why it's time for me to take a serious look at going back to school, something I've resisted with all my might till now. Whenever I've thought of things I might like to do, library work has always come up. All that stands in my way is an MLS or MLIS degree, but I have experience with books and experience in information technology, and there will apparently be a drastic shortage of qualified librarians in the near future. I've waffled, wondering if I would really like it or if it's only appealing to me in a daydream sort of way, but it's time to cut all that crap. If I do it, I am very certain that I will at least not dislike it any more than what I'm doing now. And I can see a future in it, where I do not see a future for me anywhere else.

So my rudimentary plan then is this: get as much information about enrolling and succeeding in an MLIS program from the folks who offer them and the folks who've gone through them (any librarian noders out there?). Research the jobs available in that field to see where I want to take this--already I find there are more potential uses for the degree out there than I imagined. Research financial aid that does not involve getting deeper into debt. Get that aid, get into a program, move to where the program is and the cost of living is more reasonable (maybe do distance learning at first, if we can't move right away). And then as the maus would say, Go, Go, Go.

I hope this doesn't sound like some kind of "poor me" rant. Honestly, it's not that bad. I'm not picking roaches out of my food, battling some terrible disease, getting on a transport headed for Kuwait, or anything genuinely awful like that. My life is more than adequate in the great global scheme of things, really. I'm just fed up with the way things are. There's no action. I've been at a virtual standstill for close on three years now. It's time to kick a hole in the wall and get out into the fresh air again.

Lent Update: My Lenten discipline is daily time set aside just for solitary prayer using the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. So far, not bad--I've only missed one day. (Sunday! Cripes.) As always it has proven to be an amazingly good thing. Funny how the things that make me feel happy and complete and connected are the things I'm so goddamn lazy about. Like prayer, and writing, which for me are often the same thing. Just my innate depravity showing itself again I s'pose.

well, kids, this may be the end of crowjane. no, no.... i'm not going to quit hanging about or anything lame and stupid like that. but if i don't get my ass in gear, i may be a very dead little noder.

next week i go in to see if i have congenital mercury poisoning, which would explain the startling holes in my memory. apparently my mother has had mercury poisoning since before she was pregnant with me, so there's a damn good chance i have it, too. no wonder i've felt like my head's full of cotton these past couple of years.

next on the list is treatment for my badly overworked adrenals. this is what will likely do me in, in the end. apparently, i've been running on willpower and boiled cabbage for so long that i've stripped my body down past acceptable working condition. i'm tired all the time, but i can't sleep anymore. i was up for three days, and then down for eight hours, and i feel like i'm about to do it again. it's become a frighteningly common occurence as of late. i cry at the drop of a hat, i have crippling pains in every muscle in my body, and for the last two months, i've felt like my kidneys were in a vise. this is the problem with being poor: you can't afford medical attention, even when you need it. i can either see a doctor or i can eat, tomorrow.

on the bright side, i got approved for another student loan, so i can not only pay the rent, but i can finally see a damn doctor before i die of something stupid. yay, not dying of stupid things! also on my cheery news list, i scored a copy (for free, ov course!) of planescape: torment, which has been out of print for a while, but i have desperately wanted to play it again. hooray for me! at least if i kick the bucket before i can get help, i'll die happy!

I was sitting in a Cosi, which I don't normally do. However, I was dressed fairly nice, wandering around town until seeing a production of The Crucible, which some friends of mine are in, and being dressed nice meant that I was overdressed for the diners, and it was too early for a bar. So there I was in a yuppie sandwich/coffee bar, a more sophisticated cousin of Starbucks. I admit I felt out of place; worse, I was by myself, and had that awkward "dining alone" feeling. Hense why I was busy writing.

Cosi is all wood and warm tones, bland modern soft rock (Rufus Wainright, 10,000 Maniacs, etc), and vaguely abstract art. But they do have good sandwiches, so I can't begrudge them too much. Young urban professionals--men with goates, women with blond highlights, everone in khaki, the women's bootcut--sat discussing: mergers; hookups; shopping. It was crowded, but I could see why. The first Saturday since October where the temperature climbed above 50 degrees. Even if it wasn't the first Saturday, it felt like it. The streets of Philadelphia were crawling with pale faces. In Rittenhouse Square, people were walking, talking, sitting. Painters out with their canvaces. Couples holding--I swear by the god of cliches--holding hands. The bastards.

There's a certain kind of hope with that first hint of spring. Finally the sun shines with warmth. Finally I don't have to drown in fabric. Finally I can stand outside without worrying about losing body parts. The snow is melting. The air no longer bites.


I've been dreaming about Josh. I hadn't done that until the past few days. I'd been fine, I'd started to get on with my life. I even thought of digging out the mix tape he made me at Christmas. But then my subconscious decided to say "not so fast." And so I've been thinking about him. Where he is. What he's doing. Does he ever think about me, wonder what I'm doing, how I am? I'm sure he feels free. I'm sure he feels fine. For all I know, he's met a new girl and is sleeping with her. Maybe one day he'll wake up, realizing he loves her. Something he never did with me. Little did I know he didn't even care. "My feelings just aren't strong enough to continue." I still don't understand. We never fought. He didn't seem bored. There were no awkward pauses.

Everywhere I go I see couples. Happy couples. Old. Young. Yuppies. Punks. All races. All of my friends are in some sort of relationship. I usually am not, and so I got used to being alone. I hated when they'd pity me, when they'd set me up on blind dates. And suddenly, I was with someone, and it didn't matter that I didn't see my friends all that often, because I had Josh.

But now, I'm back to being alone. Physically. Everyone is too busy for me, everyone is with their SO. No one has time for me. My boyfriend, in the end, didn't even want me. And now?


It amazes me how happy yuppies seem. I wonder if they really are. Skinny blondes. Buff boys. All tanned. All work in offices. Insurance. Investing. Whatever. Accountants. Paralegals. Young lawyers. Young stock brokers. People who would come into my store and treat me like a serf. Drinking lattes. They seem very happy. I'm not happy. And I dont' know if I'd be happy as one of them.

When I was a kid, I used to get beat up for looking different. Namely, I was grunge before there was such a name. So my mom made me go out and buy new clothes, clothes that would match the preppy kids. I wasn't happy. I knew it was a lie. And so did they. I got beat up anyway. So I stopped wearing the preppy clothes and went back to my ripped jeans and flannel shirt. I wasn't happy, but I was honest.

So why are they happy? Why can they live on sports, shopping? Why do they seem like they'll be content ending up in the suburbs in a few years, after they're through with their drinking and drug stage? Why are they happy?

I'm not happy. I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. I think, sometimes, I'd be happy if I could just drive around in my car, playing my guitar in this bar or that, just crossing the country, not sure where I was going to sleep. It's certainly the classic American Romantic image. Woody Guthrie. Jack Kerouac. I assume I'd be happy doing that. Not tied down. I've never actually done it, so I can't say for sure.

So why are they happy? I would be bored with their life, except that I'm living a poorer version of it. I'm a clerk in a library. I make very little money. I get up and work from 9 to 5. I go out drinking, though not in the expensive clubs like them. I go to bars like Tatooed Moms and drink $2 cans of Pabst. They wear Gucci. I wear Converse. And I'm bored. I'm tired. I don't like what I'm doing. I daydream about just getting in my car and driving, never looking back.


You know, I was happy with Josh. I didn't want to get married, or anything. But I was happy. Talking to him. Going to the movies or plays. Waking up next to him. I was just happy. It was strange, being happy like that. Maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe I'm supposed to wander around alone. Maybe normal human contact, normal human existence--normal American yuppie happy existence--is out of my league.

Maybe.

So, today I was in my kitchen, doing kitchen things - toasting bread, eating jam off a knife-blade, the same old same old - when I happen to look at the calendar on the wall. Cathy's calendar.

Unfortunately, Cathy is a nineteen-year-old female letch, thus driving her to put up not only this calendar of topless men in our kitchen, but pictures of topless men in her room. But I digress: For the first time I looked - by which I mean looked properly - at Mr. March. He seems to be holding an arc welder/sparkler WHILE HIS TROUSERS ARE UNDONE! That's right kids: this man is supposed to have unzipped and unbuttoned his trousers, then thought,

"Time to get on with burning the end of this pipe".

What???!!?? Seriously, what can this guy be planning on doing with the pipe once he's cut the end off? Is he going to give it a good rogering? Seriously, what other explanation is there??!!? Which begs another question: do women find the idea of a man with an extremely small penis lacerating and, quite possibly burning it, while humping scrap metal, horny?

I read this news item and it floored me. Cakewalk anyone? Seriously, I do wonder why the Iraqis had to be sent back. I suppose it might have caused a diplomatic incident or something. More likely, the soldiers just didn't have any orders to cover this contingency...a situation I think will be corrected soon...

From the London Daily Mirror, http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/news/page.cfm?objectid=12715943&method=full&siteid=106694

Saddam's Soldiers Surrender

Mar 9 2003
Mike Hamilton reports from Camp Coyote in Kuwait

TERRIFIED Iraqi soldiers have crossed the Kuwait border and tried to surrender to British forces - because they thought the war had already started.

The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.

The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.

The drama unfolded last Monday as the Para batallion tested mortars and artillery weapons to make sure they were working properly.

The Iraqis found a way across the fortified border, which is sealed off with barbed-wire fencing, watchtowers and huge trenches.

A British Army source in Kuwait contacted me to explain how the extraordinary surrender bid unfolded. The source said: "The British guys on the front-line could not believe what was happening. They were on pre-war exercises when all of a sudden these Iraqis turned up out of nowhere, with their hands in the air, saying they wanted to surrender.

"They had heard firing and thought it was the start of the war.

"The Paras are a tough, battle-hardened lot but were moved by the plight of the Iraqis. There was nothing they could do other than send them back.

"They were a motley bunch and you could barely describe them as soldiers - they were poorly equipped and didn't even have proper boots. Their physical condition was dreadful and they had obviously not had a square meal for ages. No one has ever known a group of so-called soldiers surrender before a shot has been fired in anger."

Last night the Ministry of Defence officially denied the incident had taken place, but the story was corroborated by an intelligence source.

Meanwhile Saddam Hussein has ordered thousands of troops back to Baghdad as he turns the city into a fortress.

It is believed that two rings of steel are being established around Baghdad. The outer one consists of regular Iraqi army soldiers and the inner one is made up of Republican Guard fighters - thought to be the only troops that will put up fierce resistance.

pronounced lover
showers me with
a bouquet of secrets
slender glassy tongue
teaches dark solace
I want to bruise you
wild consuming
in & out
up and off
what a morning

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