Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It Isn't Polite to Point!

This morning, Elysia asked me if I would like to go outside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the garden with her. I readily agreed, this being one of my most favorite activities, so cups of fresh coffee in hand, out we went.

As we sat at the table looking out over our garden and discussing this plant, that plant, and what we would like to do with this or with that, Elysia suddenly pointed out a small spider that was scuttling along the edge of the table.

"Look at this little fucker!... It's looking at me! It has little eyeballs!!

"Yup! Five of 'em!" I added, helpfully...

As she was talking, Elysia was making small circles with her index finger, which was pointed at the spider, and moving her hand back and forth from left to right... and, sure enough, the litte bugger was running back and forth, staying with her finger, and periodically... well, 'baring its teeth' at her... (not exactly.. but, it was doing something with its fangs that was suspiciously akin to baring... and, in any case, which conveyed (to me, at least..) exactly the same message; namely "BACK OFF!! YOU'RE BEGINNING TO PISS ME OFF, AND I'M FIXIN' TO KICK A MUD PUDDLE STRAIGHT UP YOUR SORRY ASS AND STOMP IT DRY!!!")

Elysia continued.. still moving the finger... "Will you look at him!? He's following my finger and acting all tough..!"

"It's a she.. actually"

"He..she.. whatever... doesn't he know I could smoosh him if I wanted to?"

Just then, the little varmint jumped - leaped actually - from the table right on to Elysia's finger!! (This was a jump that was approximately 20 body-lengths for the little fucker! Pretty damned impressive! Imagine if these things were the size of tigers??!!)

Well... Poor Elysia just about shit! She literally tried to get away from her own finger! (I swear that if she had any lizard in her, she would have detached the finger on the spot and left it twitching on the ground while she high-tailed it!!)

I got the hell out of dodge, because I just knew that that spider was getting flung somewhere, and I was just as happy to not have a pissed of spider landing on my face, or going down the neck of my shirt, or god knows where else!!

The spider dropped on a web, and Elysia sort of let it get back on the edge of the table where it ran around posturing and acting very tough!

Once she got her shit back together, she was slightly annoyed at the wee critter for scaring the crap out of her, and blew a blast of air that knocked it off the table to the ground!

"There! That'll teach ya! Ya little bastard!"

Not two minutes later, the spider was back up to the table edge, and going after her again! All 1/4 of an inch and half a gram of it!!

I laughed until I thought I had torn something!

Later, when I looked the thing up on Google images, I learned what it is called...

"What're YOU lookin' at?!"

This, my friends, is a "Bold Jumping Spider" -- also known in some circles as a "Daring Jumping Spider"... HA!!

Say hello to the nice people, li'l spider!!

(Hee-hee! -- I'm SO glad that for once it wasn't me who had to learn the embarassing and difficult lesson! Poor Elysia... )

"Wanna fight me?! Huh?! I'll KICK YOUR ASS!!"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Customer Service 101


BEAR: "Hello, 'Unspecified Building Supplies, this is Bear speaking, how may I help you?"

CALLER: "Can I speak with The Nose, Please?"

BEAR: "I'm sorry, he isn't in yet... may I take a message?"

CALLER: "he isn't in yet?"
[I can hear a smile through the phone]
"Where is he?"

BEAR: "He is still under the covers, with a hard-on, spittin' all over himself! He'll come rolling in here, around ten o'clock, with toothpaste all over his mouth, his eyes all fucked up, and water that he poured on his 'sticky-up' hair during the drive to work!"

CALLER: ".. .. .. Should I call back later?"
[Now he sounded sort of...worried! Hmm.. what's that about?]

BEAR: "Nah! Let me take a message, and I'll have him call you when he get's in, no sweat!"

CALLER: "Oh. Okay. Just tell him Revin Claiborne called."

BEAR: ".. .. I'm sorry.. that name went by a bit too fast. I have to write it down. What was that first name again?"

CALLER: "Revin".

[Revin? Sounds like 'Raven' with an 'i'... or like, revvin an engine! COOL name!]

BEAR: "Your first name is 'Revin', do you spell it 'R-E-V-I-N' ?"

CALLER: ".. .. .. I guess you could spell it like that..."

BEAR: "And the last name is Claiborne?? Is that 'C-L-A-I' or 'C-L-A-Y'?"


BEAR: "Is there an 'E' at the end?"


BEAR: "'Revin' is a very cool name? What kind of a name is that? Do you know what it means??"

CALLER: "Yeah. I do. It means Revin. Minister. Pastor. Priest. Clergy."


BEAR: "...uh.... I... ahhhhh.... I see... Um.... Look, I'm really sorry. I completely misheard what you said.... I'm really sorry.."

CALLER: "No problem"

[WHY.. (knock head on counter).. DO.. (knock head on counter).. I.. (knock head on counter)..ALWAYS.. (knock head on counter).. HAVE.. (knock head on counter).. TO.. (knock head on counter).. BE.. (knock head on counter).. SUCH.. (knock head on counter).. A.. (knock head on counter).. DICK!!!]

BEAR: "I'll, um... make sure he get's the message."


I looked up to see the Owner's brother (For Blog purposes, I will hereafter call him, "Two") standing in front of me... smiling and nodding..

TWO: "Nice one, Bear! Classic!"

And with that, he walked away, leaving me to continue alone through the gauntlet of humiliation...


Oh man...

Friday, June 16, 2006

What's Going On Here?

Lately, I have been noticing a sort of weird (though I can't figure out why this is weird to me... something tells me that it shouldn't be weird... but; it is nonetheless...) trend that has begun to take effect;

People are falling over themselves in order to be nice to me

It isn't just a few people... it's literally everybody that I come into contact with..

.. this is sort of spooky... they are all conspiring to kill me, and this is the portion of the nefarious plan where they are encouraging me to let down my guard...

Seriously, though... it's actually sort of cool. I have no explanation... I wouldn't even know where to begin trying to unravel this mystery...

Instead, I will simply enjoy it.

Until they cut my head off... or something...

What's going on here, anyway?!?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Waters Begin to Calm

Following the ritual dedicating me to my Order, I found that many of the people who knew me were both inwardly and outwardly disturbed by the change. Even to those who were not aware of my new status (as an eremetic monk of a religous order), the change in my appearance (my head is now shaved..) was apparently startling to some.

I took a number of vows during the ceremony, and one of these vows requires me to be truthful, so, when people ask me directly why I shaved my head, there is no option to simply give them a 'story', the truth is that I shaved my head as a sign of humility, and as a symbol of a new beginning as a member of a religious order, and this is what I tell them. (If they simply say something like, "Is that the new look?", I just agree and say "Yes!" and leave it at that..). Generally, the response that I get is a quizzical stare, a mumbled, "Uh huh.." or a startled "What?!", and that is pretty much the end of the conversation for a while. Infrequently, the other person is somewhat familiar with the concept of monasticism, and they are either intrigued, or simply happy on my behalf, which is encouraging.

During the work day, I tend to remain silent the majority of the time, spending my time in contemplative silence rather than engaging in conversation (when this is possible. I converse when it is necessary to interact with others, but I don't generally seek this interaction). Between the shaven head, and this seemingly radical change in my demeanor, this has caused a number of folks who know me to feel slightly (or not so slightly) disturbed, awkward, or otherwise weirded out... This is an obvious change, and people don't generally like change very much.

As of today, it has been exactly two weeks since the dedication. During this period of time, I have observed most of the people that I know progress through various stages of adjustment to my new status.

Disturbance: At first, they were slightly disbelieving and more or less denying that anything was different, then they were fairly disturbed and agitated by the whole thing, wondering how this would affect them, and whether, I suppose, I would start trying to convince them to adopt my ways, adhere to my rules of ethics, etc.

Grudging Curiosity: Once they came to a realization that this wasn't an issue, they then would show either some degree of curiosity, asking me questions regarding my Order, my status, and how my life was different as a result, what sorts of rules I was required to follow, etc. Or they would use humor or aloof formality to keep the whole situation at arm's distance, signalling me that they were uncomfortable with the change, and non-verbally asking me to please not burden them with unasked for information, or what have you..

Gradual Acceptance: As the days passed, most of the people who were spending any amount of time with me began to settle down and accept the change that they were confronted with. They seemed to realize that this was mainly a change that affected me, and that it was a chiefly internal change which didn't infringe upon them at all, save for the fact that I am a bit less talkative, and somewhat detached. A few people asked if they could talk to me, explaining that they wanted to ask me some questions regarding my vocation.

I agreed to this in the instances where this occurred, and fielded an array of questions ranging from the mundane questions about whether I planned on leaving my wife now (I am not, there is no restriction against being married, or against having appropriate sexual relations in my belief system..), if I was going to quit my job (I am not.. we are an Eremetic order (i.e., we live alone, as opposed to within a monastic community ((such an order would be 'cenobitic')), and we are expected to be a part of our community, and to support ourselves - we work!), through just about every topic one could possibly imagine, including some canonical and doctrinal questions - they basically wanted to know what I believed, and in one case, whether I was a member of a cult (I am not.. no airports, no poisoned kool-aid, no giving away of my personal belongings.. of which I have few.. nothing of the sort).

My lifestyle follows a monastic schedule, remaining contemplative and reflective throughout the day, and praying at various times during the course of each day (four prayer times interspersed with four meditation periods daily..). There is nobody to look over my shoulder in order to force me to do this... I discipline myself.

Acceptance and Re-Integration: Following the initial period of strife and upset, I am finding that just about everyone is beginning to settle into the new pattern, and to regard me as what I am, as opposed to what I was. Naturally, since this is still a very new thing, there will be others who will be only beginning the process as they meet with me and learn of this change... each person has to have some time to get their brain around the fact that anyone would choose to live their life in this fashion, and why, and how, and whether or not anything will be expected of them because of it. Another thing to consider is that since the process of transformation has only just begun with me (I am only a dedicant at this stage - after I have completed some schooling, and have been a dedicant for a period of time, I will then make simple profession as a novice. After more schooling and more time, I will then make solemn profession, at which time I will be a professed monk (and will consequently be acknowledged as having formally and permanently adopted this lifestyle). At some point after this, If it is deemed appropriate by the superiors of my order, I will then attend yet more schooling, and will eventually be ordained. This will be in the very distant future), there hasn't really been all that much of a change for anyone to be able to observe, save for the new hairstyle (or lack of same!), and the quieter demeanor. I suppose only time will tell if what is taking place inwardly will have any observable effect on me outwardly and observably. I would guess that if it does, I will know... because the way that others relate to me quite clearly reflects even the slightest difference right back at me!

I find that it is somewhat difficult for me to articulate what this whole thing is about to others... Everyone seems to have their own views and opinions about it, and while some are so off the mark as to be humorous, others are remarkably accurate.. still, though, not a one really hits it on the head. It is my thought and belief that a monastic vocation may be slightly different for each person who takes the cloth. Indeed, there are most likely some who would disagree that it is a vocation at all, since I am not celibate, and since I live in the community as opposed to within a monastery. That's fine with me. It doesn't really matter to me one way or another what or how others view my path, or my vocation. It is whatever it is. And, more importantly, it is between me, and the divine. So long as my chosen pathway provides me with a suitable vehicle that I can use to bring my spirit closer to the divine, closer to an understanding of reality and of myself, and so long as it enriches my life (both interior and exterior) to the degree that I desire... what it is called and how it is viewed is immaterial.

The most surprising part of this whole thing is that once everyone has had a while to come to terms with the change and the strangeness, they essentially have simply taken everything in stride, and have accepted me as being the 'resident monk'. For the most part, both at home and at work, it appears that everyone is happy for me, and, to some extent, it seems to me that they are happy to have me around... whether as just myself, who they have always known... or as a monk to whom they can either look at and wonder about.. monasticim being essentially strange and new to them.... or as a brother monk to whom they can turn when they need someone to listen, or to help them work through the rough spots...

As far as I am concerned... as I wait for the final ratification of my dedication (which should take place today, as far as I know...), I am content with my decision, and take solace and refuge in my newly found community. Once I receive word that I have been formally accepted, I can begin my new life in earnest, and then the truly hard work begins!! I am very much looking forward to getting started, and anticipating the study, meditation, and all the rest that will help me to move closer and closer to my ultimate spiritual goals!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Far From the Truth...

Of late I have been feeling oppressed by words... fed up with the meaninglessness, the falsity, and the needlessness of the majority of things that I find myself saying to others.. others meaning the people that I meet in my daily existence outside of my home and family life...

Precisely what am I hoping to convey with my words to them?? And why do I feel that I should have to convey anything at all??

I have not a thing to say, really... we mostly have nothing whatsoever in common. We inhabit entirely different worlds. There is nothing of any substance for either of us to say to one another... All of the conversations that society's norms and expectations force me into having with these people are basically empty. I don't particularly want to say the things that I say, and I don't think that the other people really want to hear them. I don't want to hear most of what people say to me, and I would wager that they don't honestly want to say them...

How happy we all be to simply admit this in practice.... But, I believe that all men (and women) expect one, at times, to say something.

I oblige them by bowing to the expectations of societal norms, and trying to say something witty, something intelligent, something meaningful.

What a fool I have often made of myself by believing myself to be wise. My words don't mean anything.

How much nicer it would be to simply enjoy one another's company, and just leave it at that... until perhaps, somebody had something real to say...

To heap insult on top of injury, I find that I do not have the moral fiber to stand behind this realization; I have realized that there is nothing to say, and yet I dare not be silent.

Instead, we force one another into exchanging vapid pleasantries, discussing topics that neither of us could care less about, and nobody really wants to be involved in it!!

Since everyone pretty much knows that it is all empty, meaningless drivel, why can't we simply agree to not say the things that neither of us have to say to begin with?!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Birds Don't Know (or Care) that We have Names for Them...

FatCat: “You aren’t the same anymore..”
Bear: “I’m not? How so?”
FatCat: “I’m not sure… you’ve changed, you’ve gotten quieter since you became a monk. I’m not sure if its good or bad yet.”
Bear: “You think I’ve gotten quieter? (I bet Elysia would get a laugh outta hearing that! Ha!)”
Co-Worker #2: “You have changed. Its creepy, in a not so bad kinda way.. what did they do to you? Do they beat you or something?”
Bear: (Smiling) “No, nobody beats me. I’m not sure what you are seeing, but, if I’m different, I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising. The whole point of any religious path is to cause some type of inner transformation, I would suppose.. If this is taking place, I guess you can’t help but see it at some point. Honestly, I don’t really know.. I’ve never been through this before.”
Co-Worker #2: “See! Creepy! You’ve gone all, like… calm and nice and whatever. You don’t seem like you anymore.”
FatCat: “You’re different.”
Bear: “Well, hopefully, I will change for the better if I change at all…”
FatCat: “I’ll let you know. I’m not sure yet.”
Bear: “Um.. Okay. What would make the difference, if you don’t mind my asking?”
FatCat: “If I get blown off and stuff, then its for the worst.”
Bear: “I won’t blow you off. Don’t worry.”
FatCat: “You don’t fool around anymore.”
Bear: “I guess I don’t.”
FatCat: “You don’t make fun of anybody… and then you make us feel all weird when we do. It sucks!”
Bear: “I never really made fun of anyone as far as I can remember.”
FatCat: “Well. Okay, fine. It still sucks anyway. You make everyone feel like… whatever!”
Bear: “Honestly, I don’t think I am making anybody feel anything. I think that if you are feeling anything… any of you… the feelings are coming from within you… not from me. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to take a look at those feelings. Maybe you are having them for a reason…I don’t know. That’s something that you’ll have to learn on your own. If I am doing anything, or if I have become something that leads you to look introspectively at yourself, It may be a good thing… or, to be more accurate; it may be a necessary thing. But, just so you know.. I’m not judging anybody, okay?”
FatCat: “Well, you seem all detached and everything…”
Bear: “I’m still me… if I am changing in any way, maybe it’s a change that is needed. Have you thought about that?”
FatCat: “You really aren’t judging anybody?”
Bear: “Nope. I promise. I have no room to judge anybody. Its easy to find faults in other people. I have plenty of faults of my own that I wouldn’t exactly like everyone else to point out to me. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t make fun of other people. The biggest reason is that it isn’t nice, and most importantly that even the least of us was still created by god, or whatever you conceive of god as being… and therefore, are precisely what they are supposed to be. I don’t judge, Bro. It isn’t my place.”
FatCat: “That’s cool.”
Co-Worker #2: “So, what do we call you now?”
Bear: “What?”
FatCat: “Yeah. What’re we supposed to call you now?”
Bear: “Call me whatever you like. It makes no difference. Call me ‘Bear’.”
FatCat: “Whattya mean, ‘It makes no difference’?”
Bear: “Well… … …See those birds?”
Both: “Yeah… ..?”
Bear: “Do you know what they are called?”
Co-Worker #2: “Starlings?”
Bear: “Has it ever occurred to you that the birds don’t know that we have names for them?”
FatCat: “… … …?”
Co-Worker #2: “Ah… … … “
Bear: “It doesn’t make them any less of what they are, though, does it? They’re just what they are. You may look at them and notice things about them that make you think that they have changed, when they have actually always been just as they are. It is you that have changed… or at least your perception has changed. You can call me whatever makes you comfortable, guys… Maybe you’ll want to wait till I am all done changing, that way you only have to make up your mind the one time, ay?”
Both: [Smiles and nods!] “Ya know, you’re pretty good at being a monk!”
Bear: “Thanks..”

This is an example of a conversational thread that I have been having repeatedly with various individuals or groups of individuals over the past few days. It seems that people find it off-putting, strange, or disturbing when someone in their midst (seemingly) suddenly embarks upon what appears to be a different path than that which they were perceived to be on to begin with. I can say that the path that I am now following is simply only a leg of the path I have have been following all along. It is only a new phase of a very old journey. I don’t know whether I am changing, or whether I am simply beginning to discard the portions of me that I am discovering that I no longer need. Honestly, I don’t really know much of anything, it would seem. I know that I have learned to appreciate.. no… to crave silence of late. It is only in silence that I can really truly feel the divine presence within me… without me… beyond me… in the space between an exhale and the next inhale, that space between, I catch small glimpses… glimmers… hints..

It is my thought that if I have changed in any perceptible way, it is in the simple fact that instead of talking, or thinking of what I want to say.. or thinking at all, for that matter… I find that I am simply listening… and waiting… in silence.

I imagine that this must be somewhat disturbing to people who know me, as I am generally running my mouth, joking and fooling around, and generally breaking chops. I don’t feel an urge to do any of this lately. It isn’t a conscious effort to quit doing it, or to be any different than I have ever been… but, if this process is causing me to change… well, I suppose that change is necessary.

It doesn’t mean that I love anyone any less… or that I think any better of myself or any less of others. If anything, this calm abiding frame of mind allows my spirit to expand to fill the spaces that have been, up to now, filled with nonsensical chatter, and incessant (and sometimes meaningless) conversation. A definite change that I have noticed is that I feel a great deal more compassion for others.. for everyone and everything… than I have in the past. I think that I do not discriminate between things as much as I had… my thinking has become somewhat less … dual, by which I mean that I don’t feel a compulsion to decide between this, and that… or better or worse…. I don’t know precisely how this has come about, but I do notice it. I would imagine that this probably makes me appear somewhat detached, but this detachment in no way signifies a lessening of my love or regard for anyone or anything. I just wanted to be clear about that.

I don’t know where this path will ultimately take me… but I know that I feel more grounded, more settled, and somehow more real than I have ever felt before.

To all of those folks who are looking at me now and worrying that I have changed, I would simply say that what you are seeing now is the most honest version of me that has ever existed. I would guess that as I let go of whatever other vestiges of my false self remain, you may see more of what you regard as ‘change’. But know that this isn’t change, it is simply me unveiling my true self to you.

I don’t think that this is a reason for anyone to be disturbed. If I seem a little quieter, it isn’t because I am keeping you at a distance… it is simply that I am comfortable simply being with you.

I would think that anyone on a path upon which they seek to ultimately be ordained as a member of the clergy… any clergy… would undergo some significant transformation.

My worry is that I won’t learn enough to be worthy of the path that I have taken.

What are you worried about? I'm still here... all of me! I'm just focusing on the parts that seem to be the most important to me right now...

Friday, June 02, 2006


Sound of alarm clock chirping,
Thump of furry feet jumping up to greet me good morning,
Feel of soft sheets around me,
softer skin against mine,
carpet against my feet,
cold bare bathroom floor,
water on my skin,
the sound of a muzzy voice wishing me a good day,
misty, grey morning,
warm, fresh air, all the possibilities of a brand new day..
the deep red of brand new roses,
dew on spider webs; like a necklace of diamonds..
morning greetings from the bagel shop folks,
the smell of fresh coffee,
a wave from the Aikido folks, at their morning workout..
morning traffic, everybody hurrying to work,
but not those in the graveyard, empty, silent, except for a few rabbits. They aren't worried about anything!
Click of my turn signal,
The sound of tractor trailers,
fork lifts unloading material,
shouts of the guys in the yard already hard at work.
Phones ringing, morning talk, complaints, jokes, wonderings.
Tires singing on hard bare road,
the song of birds.
Hammering in the distance,
the smell of summer days, what is that smell?
Shuffling papers, cash register bell, tapping keyboards.
Endless activity around me, but inside?
Silence.. stillness.. tranquility.. and peace.
Sting of sunburn,
cool breeze on my skin,
car horns,
Joggers pass by,
somebody walking a dog,
blaring stereo in someone's vehicle.
The usual customers;
Hey Bear? How's it going?
All is well, how 'bout you?
Conversations around me,
"Howz it been, you busy? Ain't makin' no money!"
"Have ya seen the new Mustang?",
"Can't stand my wife, wish I had a girlfriend",
"Have you seen so and so?",
"I can't believe flounder season is over!",
"I had ta sell my boat!",
"Can I use your bathroom?".
Door opens and closes, people come and go.
"Why are you so calm all the time?"
"Nothing to worry about, I guess.."
"Nah! You're extra calm.. whatta you know the rest of us don't know?"
"Don't sweat the small stuff, and enjoy the little moments that you get..
that's all!"
"Hey! Smart guy! One'a dem philanderers!"
[Philosophers?! I smile inside!]
Everybody is agitated, they don't have what they need..
if only they could have the one with the new thing,
the bigger other thing,
or the one that's better, faster, newer!
I think about the Mustang that they lust after...
Think about cars I have seen,
rusting away in overgrown fields...
I wonder if they were somebody's dream once; "If I could only get that car, all my prayers would be answered!"
Now? Where is the dream?
None of it lasts, I guess... just the sky, and the sun, and the changing, whirling, dancing vibrance of it all..
I don't own things.. don't really want things... Or do I?
Different things, I guess... for each of us..
I decide that I would like monks bowls of gingko wood, and maybe a bell with a pretty sound! On second thought, maybe not... I don't need anything...
Afternoon quiet,
In comes the late day crowd,
dice roll,
shouts, complaints, cheers,
"I'll get lucky this time!"
I sit apart,
in the background,
somebody has to answer the phones!
tidy up, gather my stuff...
Satisfaction of a job well done, time to go!
End of day well wishes, "Have a nice weekend!"
Afternoon sun on my face, birds fly against the sun,
Familiar faces at the library,
kids shouting in the parking lot,
Family strolling together, "don't run!"
In the library, smell of books, hushed whispers,
phone buzzes, text from my girl; "Where are ya?", sent back a pic, "I'm here!"
Driving home,
breeze through the window,
smell of freshly cut grass,
a sprinkler spins out whirls of flying water,
cat hurries off on urgent kitty business,
car doors slam,
sound of somebody laughing in the distance.
Kids are talking and playing; knots of them, sharing secrets that only they know..
I think of the past, school, old friends, my dog, family long gone, trips to the beach, ice cream trucks, and fireflies.
Home. Squeak of mailbox door, click of the gate latch, more new roses!
The soft whisper of a hello kiss,
velvet couch,
Cat greetings.. "Hi Dad! I was good today!"
the welcome smell of summer evenings...
reminds me of every summer vacation I have ever been on.
Somebody barbequing.
Squirrel rooting around in the yard,
birds call,
old movie on TV.
Luscious feel of bare feet, grateful to be released from their shoe prisons!
Catching up with one another, "how was your day?", "What'd you do?", "Look what I got today!", "We're having salmon for dinner".
Pleasant feel of end of day tiredness, looking forward to relaxing evening.
Soft round kittys curled up in the window.
Summer rain gently patters on leaves.
This is a day in my life...
Day number seventeen-thousand, one hundred and eighteen...
I wonder how many more there will be?