Sunday, October 29, 2006


I'm feeling slightly disjointed and 'out of it' today... muzzy, blurry... something...

I'm not sure if I'm coming down with something (hope not!), or whether I just didn't get a decent night's sleep, or what..

Maybe its the time change, or the climate change, or all of the recent changes ganging up on me... or a combination of everything at once...

In any case, I have to get it together.. I have got to find a part time job to help make ends meet... I feel like I'm chasing my tail, lately..

For today, I would be satisfied to feel as though my head is attached, I think..

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Three Gifts!

Today I received some unexpected gifts... some tangible, and some less so... but, tangible or otherwise, gifts are gifts, and I am thankful for them!

I got up early and headed out to the meditation retreat.. during the retreat, I found that during the sitting I was in quite a bit of pain.

There is something not quite right with my hip (I injured it years ago and it has never quite healed properly.. so I am forever re-injuring the bloody thing!).

Apparently, with whatever type of injury it happens to be, the angle that my leg happens to be in is very important, and I generally have to use cushions judiciously to make sure that I support my left leg so that I don't hit that spot that causes me so much pain...

Well, at the location that was hosting the event, (a local university), there were no support cushions! (I usually use a large flat cushion which is about three feet square, upon which I use a few other cushions to sit upon and to prop up 'loose bits' here and there...), and we hadn't thought to bring any, as the hosting organizations for these types of functions generally provide them.

Consequently, we were essentially sitting upon a hard floor without any type of support whatsoever. As you might expect, I was hurting within minutes (well.. seconds.. it pretty much sucked!), and it only got worse as the sitting wore on...

As I sat there, the pain began to distract me from my practice... at some point, I simply decided that there was nothing I had to do about it (and nothing much that I could do about it, truth be told..), and that it just hurt, and that was that... I let my mind focus on the pain whenever it seemed to need to, and then I simply returned to my practice...

Well... this had an unexpected result for me... after a while, I felt a curious sense of freedom from realizing that even though I was hurting, I didn't actually have to do anything about it! I had basically forged a contract with myself that I was going to continue the sitting, that I wasn't going to move, come hell or high-water, and that if I was uncomfortable, well... daunting as it may seem, that was just the way it was going to be, and be that as it may; I was going to sit, and sit for the duration; pain be damned!

So.. I sat. And, despite the pain, which under most circumstances would be a huge distraction, I sat well! And then the unexpected thing deepened... I began to notice that others were beginning to fidget and move around a little.. it was clear that they were also very uncomfortable, if not in pain, and some were moderately distressed by this. They all continued to sit and meditate, however, for the most part... save for one lay-person who began to fidget and squirm quite a bit.

For this retreat, one of the other monks and myself were sharing an identical responsibility for the event (we maintain order and see to the needs of the participants, help to ensure that things run smoothly, and enforce proper etiquette and discipline... there are rules since it is a formal event). The other monk at one point corrected the individual by instructing him to 'sit still!'.

(Note: The proper way to approach a situation where you are in physical pain, discomfort, illness, or any other problem that affects one's practice, is to approach one of the monks designated for the purpose, and that monk will accompany the individual outside of the meditation area or room, and attempt to resolve the problem... failing that, the individual will be installed in a separate meditation area set aside for those who cannot practice in such a fashion that they will not disturb others... this is all explained to any group prior to the start of the formal portion of the retreat or session).

Well, upon being told to sit still, this individual surged to his feet, said "Fuck This!!" in a fairly loud voice, quickly gathered his things, and left... his wife, mortified, followed after him a few seconds later...

I had noticed that something had been bothering this man for quite some time, but he, for some reason, resisted letting anyone know about it... in fact, he had been quite reluctant to follow any of the suggestions or instructions that we had been giving from the very start of the program... which is fairly odd, since most of the participants at these events generally follow instructions and are eager to take part in, and to experience whatever it is that we ask them to do. This fellow was plainly different in this respect.

I briefly wondered why he came to begin with... I could tell that he had no interest in doing this, whatsoever....

Although I don't honestly know what his reasons were, or why he came, or why he acted the way he did, I think I can make some fairly accurate conclusions based upon my observations of him, and based upon some of the things that I heard him say during the earlier part of the day. I concluded that his wife had to have convinced him to come, which is a fundamental mistake, since this is not a sort of thing that one should attempt to talk anybody into, since it is such a highly personal calling that drives those of us who have decided to make this practice a part of our lives that I cannot imagine anybody doing it who doesn't have such a vocation... it is difficult, physically painful, requires a great investment in time, discipline, effort, and concentration... and, simply wouldn't have any beneficial effect on someone who had no interest or desire to do it... so why had he come??

My first thought was that the wife had nagged him or bargained with him in order to get him to accompany her... but this didn't resonate after turning it over and giving it some thought. He wasn't the type to be swayed that way... he didn't seem to very much care what she wanted him to do, or, for that matter, what anybody might want him to do.. he was basically the type of person who did what he wanted to do - when he wanted to do it, and that was pretty much the way it went.. this much was fairly clear to anyone who came into contact with them. So, It had to be something else...

Then it occurred to me that he had very probably come in order to save face in front of his wife! It is my thought that he didn't want her to think or come to know that he didn't know anything about this practice, or that he had never done it, or that he wasn't good at it.. (can one be good at this??!)... or something along those lines.... I heard him talking to her as they were walking through the building to find the room where the retreat was being held, and he was telling her all about how these things went! He was, apparently, well read on the subject, but, this isn't a thing that you can truly come to understand without participating... sort of like swimming or something, I suppose... it wasn't a favor to her, that much was clear... this was entirely about him, and when he found that he was coming up against the brick wall that all practitioners come up against when they first confront their own mind without the distractions of day to day life, or when they confront the inescapable physical discomfort and sometimes outright pain, boredom, the necessity for intense self-control and self-discipline... and, to come right down to it, a group of other practitioners who seem to be tranquil, peaceful, calm, and utterly unaffected by all of the aches, pains, great doubts, and the whole host of other annoyances and vexations that seem to be plaguing only you!! (But it isn't only you! It affects everyone pretty much the same way..)

He had probably made some statements that he was having a hard time backing up, now that it came down to it (this can be an austere and daunting practice.. it isn't easy, but anyone can do it if they commit themselves to it...) He wanted to convince her that he was worthy of this... and when he felt that he was not - that he was the only one who was having a difficult time of it.. (which was very untrue... every single person was in agony to some degree or another... it is simply the way it is sometimes during these long sittings....), he became agitated, angry, and felt that he had to flee. So, he created his escape strategy by deliberately doing something that he knew would eventually be addressed by one of the monks who were present, and then, under the guise of being offended or insulted; he left!

The thing was, nothing insulting was said to him... others had been corrected in exactly the same manner, he wasn't the first.. its all part of the deal... he was quite aware that he could have simply approached one of us, and that we would have found a solution to whatever issue that he was confronted with... but he was running away from something else; and that was the inability to convince himself of his worth in that specific circumstance. It was entirely unnecessary; he was just as capable and just as able as any other person there... but he let his desires and his frustrations cloud his mind and get the better of him this one time.

So how is this a gift??

Well, it occurred to me that I had been attempting to do very much the same thing that he had been doing when he was trying to convince his wife that he was knowledgeable, experienced, capable... and, probably much like it was with him, I had been doing it quite unconsciously. I don't believe that I would have ever even noticed that I had been doing this had this not occurred, when it had, under the exact conditions, and when my mind was receptive to it. My situation was different in a few ways, but essentially the same. Where he was trying to convince himself and his wife of his worth or ability... I was trying to convince my teacher of my knowledge, experience, and, consequently, my worth. Perhaps I was trying to convince myself, as well... I don't really know. There was no valid reason for either him or me to have to do this... but, our minds work in inexplicable ways, and for whatever reason, we each felt that we did have to do this... and we were both fairly foolish in doing so...

His method of dealing with what he perceived to be an intenable situation after all of his pre-existing strategies had been tried, failed, discarded, and ultimately found to be useless under the circumstances, was to concoct an escape hatch. Much as people will do to end a relationship when it becomes sticky and complicated and they want out.. but do not have the moral courage to either face it head on, or, more likely, to face their own ineptitudes or shortcomings in the failure of the relationship.

It is very possible that I was heading down that same road of 'try/fail/try/fail, get frustrated, disengage, run-away', had I continued along that path without learning something about myself, something about the reality of the situation, and, perhaps, gaining some small degree of wisdom in the process.

The physical pain, however, had just at that moment taught me that I could manage to continue my practice without taking any action to try to avoid or escape the discomfort. I was free! Even though my body wasn't happy... my mind was completely at ease! This is quite out of keeping with the ingrained avoidance response that most of us have with regard to discomfort, awkwardness, pain, or anything that we find we do not like... Somehow, I had stumbled across a way to break out of a day-to-day habit based, I think, primarily in fear.. or, more likely, the practice did what it was designed to do and ground away these habits until only this response was left... I'm not really sure.

When I observed this man's discomfort, the degree of his internal turbulence, anguish, agitation, and, ultimately, need to address it in the fashion that he chose... I suddenly realized that had he simply accepted the situation as it was presented to him, and had he continued, regardless of the pain, regardless of the difficulty, regardless of the discomfort.. in other words, had he broken out of his day-to-day habit of avoiding those situations that are not familiar and comfortable.. that he very likely would have made a vitally important breakthrough in his practice, and, in his life!! -- You see; There are situations that you do not (can not!) defeat. You do not solve. You cannot escape from. They defeat you. -- and that is alright. You don't have to do anything about it.. you don't have to feel bad about it... you don't have to act or think at all... this is simply the way it is. As a matter of fact, it is almost ridiculous to attempt to win in these circumstances... and you are not one iota less of a person for it. THAT is the lesson. It is okay to lose sometimes. You can only do so much. Be content! Breath in. Breath out. Wake up. Be alive. Understand the truth of your existence. That's all!! Just BE!

When I applied this realization to my own circumstances; to my own weaknesses, if you would term them that... I understood instantly that my expectations or desires to appear experienced, knowledgeable, worldly, worthy.. good enough were only so much smoke and mirrors. Who did I need to convince?? And, maybe more importantly... why do I feel the need to convince anyone, including myself, of any such thing at all??

The answer is, of course, that I do NOT have to do this! I don't have to do anything!! This was an obstacle to my progress... and one that I never would have seen, or faced, or dealt with, until, perhaps, the situation had gone so far that it was too complicated to unravel and it became a crisis for me.. and then, who knows?? I very well may have fallen right on my face.

But, thankfully, this man who I do not know, quite unwittingly chose to give me a gift of wisdom by momentarily sacrificing his tranquility, and, to some degree, his sense of dignity, and in so doing he held up a very clear mirror right before my face and gave me a glimpse of the truth that lay within my own soul and psyche. And, much as I did with the physical pain, I realized that I didn't have to take any action, or do anything about it, other than to acknowlege what I had learned, and then simply move past it and leave it behind. It will come back... many, many times, I'm sure... in all sorts of different guises... but now I am forearmed because I am aware that this exists in my mind.. and I will acknowledge it, and leave it behind again!!

He wasn't a bad man, or stupid, or weak, or anything in the way of a label that will stick. He just made the choices that he made when he made them, and for some unknown reason, this resonated with something inside of me, and he unwittingly became a teacher of a very important lesson that I very much needed to learn. I am free now of this need, because I have caught it out and exposed it to the light! I understand a component of my psyche that may have caused me untold problems in the future, and which, I am sure, has caused me problems in the past... now, perhaps it will be easier to deal with; once you learn how the trick works, you aren't as easily fooled by it again..

A gift!!

Mind you, this is definitely not something that I am happy to learn about myself.. quite honestly, in my own private view of myself, I am quite above this sort of thing.. I'm "better than that"... but, truth will out as they say, and any spiritual path is, above all else, a quest for truth.. or it should be.

Naturally, we embark upon such a path in order to transform our consciousness.. to change and to improve and grow and become somehow 'wise'. If there wasn't a 'seamy underbelly' to our characters and spirits that needed addressing, the whole thing would be a waste of time, I suppose... but seeing ourselves in all of our unadulturated humanity... with all of the quirks, faults, weaknesses, and so forth under the harsh light of truth and honesty is an exceedingly difficult thing to do!!

I assume that nobody really wants to learn that they are needy, wanting, imperfect, dishonest, petty, gluttonous, or inferior in any way to the expectations that we hold for ourselves.

I don't find it particularly comforting... but the truth is the truth! And, thankfully, the type of loving compassion that we have been taught to foster in ourselves through our practice, a loving compassion that allows us to expose these truths and still love ourselves (and others!) just as we are is a very powerful tool...we learn to see the perfection rather than the faults. The faults are there... but so are the strengths. This doesn't mean that we are soppy and coddling, however... far from it! It is compassion... but it isn't a namby-pamby kind of compassion... where we make excuses for our shortcomings... but a realization that all of these characteristics are part of the whole package of what we are at this moment. It is only through this realization, and through work, and practice, and proper choices (and, perhaps copious amounts of mental restraint and self-discipline...) that we can hope to address these characteristics, and, perhaps bring some positive change about in the process...

The simple truth is that not a single one of us can live up to our own expectations... not if we are completely honest, anyway.

The trick is to change the expectations into something more attainable, and to change and improve those things that we are able to improve, and, in so doing, to perhaps find that perfect balance whereupon we become whole, healthy, spiritually advanced humans somewhere in the middle ground that exists between our expectations and our reality...

So... my first gift was a rude awakening.. but, an awakening nonetheless!!

On my way home, I stopped and checked the mail. We got a package that turned out to be the new wind chimes that my wife ordered to replace the ones that had been lost with the trees.

When I returned home, she and I went out into the garden to survey the damage, and to begin to come up with a plan to address the drastic changes wrought by having the trees removed...

As we were heading outside, I half-jokingly commented, "Now that we have nice clean shiny new wind chimes to replace the ones that were lost, we have created the perfect opportunity to find the old ones if they are anywhere on the property!"

My wife chuckled at this, and then promptly found the old ones under a pile of brush!

So now, we have two sets of wind chimes!! (Well.. three sets.. two wee ones, and one big deep sounding set!) What started out as a loss turned out to be a gain! The wind chimes that I had thought were lost had been an anniversary gift that we had given ourselves... they had quite a bit of sentimental value, and I was sad that I hadn't had the foresight to safeguard them.. but, now they are found and we have even more beautiful music to listen to in our garden! Yay!!

This was Gift #2!!

We heard a knocking sound at the door, and when I opened it, Jack (the outside cat) was staring up at me with a distinctly complaining look on his face, and a plaintive 'meow' into the bargain. I wasn't sure what he was on about, but when I looked around for a bit, I spied this wee fellow just gathering up the nerve to sneak back through the lattice and continue munching away on Jack's food; (yes, apparently Jack has learned that knocking at a door gets a response.. go figure..)

I called my wife, and she quickly grabbed the camera to capture some pics of our guest...

Jack is plainly not thrilled with the course of events, but, being an old hand at taking things as they come, he just went with the flow.. we have a rule here at Thistlebright; nobody hurts or threatens anybody else... and that goes for him as well... and he knows it..

The possum, just a baby by the looks of him, didn't seem to consider any of us a threat.. he just went on crunching away, gave us a last searching look, and waddled away, presumably to find someplace to curl up and get some sleep...

This, too, was a gift!

Between these three gifts.. and all of the other multitudes of gifts that each day brings to me, I find that I simply have too many gifts to keep track of...

So... to the powers that be, I would like to send out a humble 'Thank You' for my wonderful gifts... they are truly and deeply appreciated....

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Natural Order... A Tiger Leaping

Today, as I worked, I let the agitation and the internal upheaval over the loss of our trees percolate its way through me and simply fall away...

The situation is what it is, and, like so much in our lives, it cannot be changed or affected by me or by anyone else.

I am thankful for the beauty and the joy that I was fortunate enough to experience through living alongside the two trees... but, nothing is permanent, nothing is immutable, nothing lasts forever.... Everything changes.... even mountains...

This is the way of the cosmos.. and to resist it is a pointless exercise.

So what is to be done about that?

My heart will learn to accomodate the changes, and to flow with them.... now there will be other plants, other trees, and other life that will flourish and thrive in the newly bestowed gift of sunlight in that area..

There will be flowers in the spring and summer where there were none before, and the worries and the stresses over possible damage and/or injury have gone with the trees.. naturally, they will be replaced by other worries, but, then, they will not last either... nothing does.

This situation is a gift to me.. a gift in the form of a minor tragedy that none would even notice save myself, my wife, some squirrels and raccoons, and a number of very confused birds.. a gift of learning. From this, once again, I have come to face to face with the simple undisguised fact of mortality.. the trees', mine, yours, everybodies.... we all come... then we all go!

That is simply the way it works, and it is foolish not to realize it and accept this simple truth regarding our existence...

So.. this is what I must do. Accept. Realize. Understand. Equanimity in the face of change is a more appropriate response, I think... than clinging and refusal to accept changing circumstance, whatever they may be. The world doesn't bow to my expectations, or to anyone else's... and to expect that something will be a certain way is a fundamental mistake that we all make, I think... time and time again. The answer, in a nutshell is to have no expectations, but to maintain an active, accepting frame of mind.. balanced, tranquil, and prepared to move with whatever transpires... instantly and intuitively!! This is much easier said than done, however... but, this is my practice.

Another work-week is done... and tommorrow begins a meditation retreat for me, so I will not be doing anything save for sitting meditation, walking meditation, chanting, and work meditation for the duration of the retreat. Tommorrow I will wake up very early and begin... I will sit and meditate and I will sit like a tiger leaping! I will sit like a mountain. I will sit like a great gnarled pine on a rocky pinnacle!

In my heart, my trees will sit with me, I have not really lost anything, because truthfully, I never had them to begin with... my fondness for them is undiminished, so they are, in a sense, still here... whenever something of beauty is taken away... something of beauty always remains!

The Lovers...

For as long as we have lived here at Thistlebright, there have been a pair of trees on the property that I have come to love dearly... One, an old Mulberry tree, was twisted and gnarled and leaning.... and beautiful. It had at least three differently shaped types of leaves on the one tree... and it was the tree where our bird feeder hung for these past years... growing from practically the same spot was a maple... a little straighter... not quite as tall... upon which we hung the very first set of wind chimes that we bought for the property as a wedding anniversary gift to ourselves...

The two trees were so close that they appeared to be hugging one another... and we came to think of them and to refer to them as "The Lovers" (in a sort of "Tristan and Isolde" sort of way, I suppose...). Their canopy provided an area of cool dark shade on the hottest and sunniest of days in our 'circle garden', where we would often sit, and watch, and contemplate,.. and just be....

Over the past months, it became apparent that the old mulberry and the maple were in trouble; the mulberry began to split open here and there... both on the trunk, and on some of the branches.. which had begun to sag and weep sap.. apparently, this affected the maple, which began to grow thin and straggly.

We brought in a tree expert who told us that we should either have the trees removed, or that they were likely to come down in the next storm and cause damage or injury.

On Thursday, the tree folks came and took those trees away with them. It looks bleak and forlorn without them... the light is all wrong.. even when you are inside the cottage. The place looks strange, and cold, and sad...

I cried. I am crying right now... almost. At any rate, I have an empty, lumpy feeling in my chest and in my throat.

Yesterday, when I came home from work... I stood in the upstairs window for perhaps an hour, and simply looked out at the now barren spot where The Lovers had stood so silently and patiently for all these years...

I am finding it difficult to adjust to how different everything looks now, without them... I suppose because I have grown so accustomed to them being there...the garden looks somehow wrong without them... I almost find myself avoiding going back there, or looking, or thinking about it... but, as it is with such things, it sneaks up on me when I don't expect it to.. you can't really avoid what is... it just is...

Because we were so thrown off our keels over the loss of these trees... neither of us thought to take the chimes down that had hung there all this time... and they apparently went with the maple...

Intellectually, I know that we did what was right, and that it would have been negligent to leave things as they were. I wish that we had had a huge field where the trees could have simply stood while nature took its course, and they could have fallen without harming anything...

Now there is just an empty spot in the yard where The Lovers used to stand...

.. and an empty spot in my heart, as well.

You see... Those trees were my friends, and I loved them.

I will miss them terribly, but, I suppose as in all things, I will simply have to adjust to the change, and adapt to the circumstances.

I think, though... that someplace in the dark, secret reaches of my heart, The Lovers will always stand, quietly, and patiently..., reaching their arcing branches up towards the sky as they always have... Branches upon which I can tie my prayers, so that they can be carried up to the heavens.... while I remain... to dream of my beautiful trees....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Things I Would Say to My Wife if She Were Here..

In answer to Marcheline's post to me, entitled,"Things I Would Say to My Husband if He were Here..."

  • I Love You!

  • I am constantly amazed, baffled, and overjoyed that you love me and that you are my wife... I feel like a member of the most exclusive and coolest club in the world... I am SO happy being married to you!!

  • Someday may or may not ever come... I am content to wake up by your side, and to take joy in each and every moment that I have to spend with you... of all of the billions and billions of years... and of all the billions of people... and of all the billions of miles.... I managed to find you... to fall in love with you... and to make a life with you... how much more can I honestly ask of the universe in good conscience??

  • Working hard is what we do.... you look out for me... I look out for you... (But I can sew better and pick much better parking spots than you do... so you are lucky to have me around so that you can park in the best spots that I find for you!)

  • I agree that you are stressed out... and perhaps tired. As for the rest? I think you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on... and I wish you could see yourself through my eyes...

  • I Love You!

  • You are the best friend I have ever had in all of my life... the most fascinating, coolest, amazing person I have ever known, and the light of my soul... I would be lost without you... thank you for being born during my lifetime and for being at my side in both the good times and the tough times... you are a true and sincere friend, and you have a place in my heart throughout this lifetime, and, I believe... in each and every other one... you make my heart sing, girl... you blow me away with your intellect, your inner strength, your resourcefulness, and your ability to roll with the punches, I admire you, I respect you, and I love you fiercely...

  • I want to jump your bones.

  • I would marry you anytime, anyplace, and under any circumstances.... If I woke up and found myself single, firstly, I would be very upset... secondly, I would kidnap a justice, minister, priest, shaman, or ship's captain... or whoever could do the job,..... within two minutes. So there. I couldn't (and don't want to) imagine not being married to you... you're my girl!!

  • Did I mention that I Love You??!

  • 1111 2222 191 6969!!!

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Because Things are Different Now,.. That's Why!

    This morning we sat outside and drank a delicious warm cup of coffee... then Marcheline decided to call her mom and chat for a bit, and I simply sat, happily, and played around online for a while... no goal in mind... nothing to be done, or accomplished, or looked up, or finished, or started, or worked on... just messing around for no particular reason!

    As I am writing this, my wife is in the bathroom washing and putting on makeup and perfume and doing her hair and putting in contact lenses, and doing all of those other mysterious and slightly incomprehensible but wonderful things that women do before they go out in public...

    ... and why is she doing this??

    Well, because we are going to see the 3D re-release of Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" in just a little while, that's why!

    ... and why is this a big deal??

    Well, because generally speaking, I would be working from early, early Saturday morning, only to run home, change clothes (read 'uniforms'), and run back out to go to work after I get off work.. and, therefore, we would be unable to go to the movies on a lovely late summer/autumny Saturday morning with wind and leaves and sunshine and birds and blue skies and clear air and stuff like that!!

    Because, thankfully and blessedly, I don't work in a job where I am required to haul my ass into work on Saturday mornings any more... I am OFF on Saturday mornings now!!

    Admittedly, I will still be going in later in the day to tend bar... but that's somehow different... and besides, now is now, and later is later!!

    And right now we are going to the movies!!!


    Well, because things are different now, that's why!!!

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Position Wanted

    P/T Evenings (avail M/T/F from 3:45PM till 9:45PM) - Pref Patchogue NY area, or close commute (Sayville / Medford / Holbrook / Bohemia). Telecommuting is welcomed!

    Hard working, detail oriented, go-getter. Administrative/computer skills, excellent verbal and written abilities, experienced A/R, A/P, payroll, writing, editing, document preparation. spreadsheets, presentations, access databases created quickly and accurately. Uncanny analytical skills. Familiar w/ internet, skilled researcher and investigator. Able to write, edit, proofread. Notable teaching and training abilities. Proven leader and team builder, w/ above par organizational skills.

    Graphic artist, manual laborer, file clerk, all around craftsman/handyman, research assistant, yard worker. Speaks english, korean, gaeilge. Multi-faceted quick learner can assimilate and excel in any task that is presented. Fully able to produce professional references to back this claim!!

    Also: capable cook, seamster, bartender, and bouncer. Plays bagpipes, teaches martial arts, and brews mead. Trained to parachute from aircraft, SCUBA dive, and rappel from helicopters.

    Do you have an office you want managed in the evenings? A crew that needs skilled leadership? Parties that require a bartender? I'm your man! Customer service is my specialty!!

    Closets cleaned. Files sorted. Documents translated. Cats trained. New lands discovered. Codes broken. Fields ploughed. Information Acquired. Accounts audited. Virgins deflowered. Specimens catalogued. Ledgers verified. Alligators tamed. Spies interrogated. Escapees tracked and captured. Garments altered. Pictures hung. Available for mutinies, hangings, insurrections, rallies, get-togethers, hootenannies, and hoedowns. Guy Friday. Jack-of-all-trades. Crewmember. Henchman. Minion. Functionary. Overseer. Executive Assitant. Counterperson. Manager. Supervisor. Clerk. At your service! I am available for hire and able to start immediately. Serious enquires only.

    Salary negotiable.

    No animals were hurt or injured in the production of this want ad.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Cool Breeze..

    Truth be told, the new job doesn't really pay all that well... (actually, I haven't been paid at all so far... but I should get my first paycheck as of tommorrow..)

    That is the down side. (.. well,.. the 'not paying all that well part', not the 'getting a paycheck tommorrow' bit... which is decidedly on the 'up side' portion of the 'GOOD / BAD' scale... !)

    The up side is that they are all very nice people, nobody is nasty or overbearing, they let you know what is expected of you, and expect you to do it.

    I am given as much rope as I need, and it is up to me to either do well or hang myself.

    I have seen a few minor catastrophes take place, and not so much as a single feather was ruffled in anyone... these folks are more in line with my personality, I think... at least insofar as I have been able to get to know them. There isn't a lot of talk or banter in the office... we are mostly pretty busy, and we simply keep at it.

    I have already been given my own key to the building, the security access code, and, I basically open up and run the place for the first hour or so..

    If I am able to shine enough to actually make decent money in this place, this will be a fantastic place to work!! If not, it is still a fantastic place to work until I can find some way to pay all of the bills....

    I used to work from 6:30-7:00 AM until 5:00-5:30PM every day, plus 6:30-7:00AM every other Saturday... this worked out to about 53 hours per week... it sucked. On top of that, I tended bar...

    Now, I work from 7:00AM until 3:30PM, and no Saturdays! This leaves me plenty of time to work a part-time second job providing that I can find one that fits that schedule... I am actively looking, and hope to find something that helps me to make enough for us to get by....

    In any case, things are better than they were, and I'm happy!!

    China fully endorses the situation as well!

    In other news, I have been working busily on a fairly difficult craft project, lately. I tend to be driven to this sort of thing, where I can focus my mind on an extremely narrow point, when things are difficult... 'things' being defined as the general prevailing circumstances of my current life situation.. whatever they happen to be. I have been 'sitting' (Zazen -- meditation) regularly with a local group of monks from the Rinzai Zen Order. When I lived in Korea, I studied Zen, which they call Soen, and took my first Ordination while there. The Order in Korea sent me information that was needed to confirm my ordination to these folks, and they are recognizing (at least partially...) my ordination as a monk in that order, and sort of transferring it over to this order (I don't think that this is an entirely accurate description; there is no such thing as 'transferring' the ordination... but they are recognizing my past practice, and jumping my learning progress accordingly. In any case, I was told that, as a monk, I should wear proper vestments. Tradition is that we sew our own, so, I have been working on mine diligently over the past weeks and months. I am putting the finishing touches on what the Rinzai folks call a 'Koromo' or 'Kolomo', (what I know ((in Korean)) as a 'Chang-Sahm). It's a little bit weird, because I have Korean garment patterns in my head.. so they are coming out as Japanese vestments with a Korean accent or something... nobody minds.

    For all of you with question marks floating over your head right now... this is a separate discipline from the main order in which I am currently studying for ordination. There is no impediment or theological conflict, and both orders know and encourage me to learn what I may in my search for truth, in my efforts to purify and enlighten my heart, mind, and soul, and to live a life of contemplation, reflection, and simplicity, which is what I have chosen...

    In any case, since my monastic day is supposed to be broken up into 'work self-support', 'work for mindful caretaking of the home/hermitage/monastery' (wherever I happen to make my dwelling), and 'work of the order', this offers me a way of expressing that work very nicely, since 'work of the order' is described as; "Teaching, social action, care of the environment, the care, maintenance, manufacture or design of 'liturgical objects' and/or 'priestly vestments, or other similar pursuits, ventures, or activity" and my project happens to fit the bill very nicely!

    I have already made vestments for my main order, so this strikes me as slightly strange to be making other vestments... I feel like a monastic double-agent or something... I should design a sandal-phone!

    At any rate, I love the work, I don't use patterns... I work entirely from the patterns and measurements that are inside of my skull.. and I derive a sense of detached, calm, satisfaction in the quiet diligence of my work.

    Today, I should be able to put the finishing touches on the Chang-Sam/Koromo, and then I will move on to whatever the next project in the list is.... if my wife doesn't stave my head in first...

    I am happy in my new job, it is refreshing... like a cool breeze after a period of hard work...

    I am happy with my current state of affairs from a spiritual standpoint... I had begun to fear that I was drifting away from this facet of my life and becoming dangerously one-sided.... and now, I feel balanced and calm and whole.

    I have to find a way to work with and within the universe in order to be able to pay my bills however... I don't want to be responsible for us losing this beautiful home that we have made... so, to a great degree, the pressure is on..

    Anyway... wish me luck on finding the part-time work!! I really need it...

    Perhaps I should think about participating in 'Project Affirmation' with Marcheline of Mental Meatloaf...

    .. I have to do something, and soon.. that much is certain! I have this half-baked thought in my head that it shouldn't be as hard as it seems to be;.. I can do just about anything, and do it well, in the realm of administration, office management and flow, organization, writing, research, art, craft, verbal skills... or manual labor for that matter... it would seem that there should be zillions of businesses close by that would leap at the chance to have somebody who is reliable and capable to work for them... even on a part-time basis... but, it is turning out to be fairly difficult for me to find something... more so than I had anticipated, at any rate. Ach!! I'll find something.. I just have to think outside the box, I guess... keep yer fingers crossed, folks...

    In Peace and Brotherhood,


    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Everything That We Need...

    I woke up early this morning, and, while the rest of the world slept around me (or seemed to..) I simply knelt by the window and watched the morning unfold..

    In time, a tiny little brown sparrow showed up near the feeder and began to root around, poking here, poking there... and then, it flew off..

    I watched it as it flew away, disappearing out of sight... and I marvelled how such a tiny little thing, without the capability to call for or to receive help... a little creature that has no hands, no tools.. seemingly nothing.. manages to get by and live in such a huge, complicated world..

    I don't know what it does, or how it does it each and every day... I don't know where it goes, or who with... but, it would appear that it gets by quite nicely..

    ..and I was, and continue to be, amazed by this!!

    Just one tiny, helpless little bird in all of the world... and it knows *precisely* how to be *precisely* what it is... and it does it!

    Each and every day.

    It lives *precisely* as long as it lives... and then it dies *precisely* when it dies... and that's all! It doesn't worry about it.. doesn't agonize over it.. doesn't do anything except what it was born to do... be a tiny little brown sparrow. And it does this *perfectly*!!

    As the tiny brown shape disappeared into the blue sky.. leaving me to dream of small brown birds with delicate wings and shiny little black eyes... it dawned on me;

    The Universe is perfect!! It gives us *everything* that we need to do whatever it is that we must do... it left nothing out!.. It is*all* right here around us, right now, all the time!!

    I find immense beauty in this...

    Thank you, little brown bird, for being such a wonderful teacher..

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    More Movie Reviews

    After suffering through "The Drop", as I described in my earlier post... we moved on to what we hoped were bigger and better things in the world of film-making.. or not...

    The idea, being that we are steadily sneaking up on Halloween, was to begin our annual 'Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Extravaganza' (H.H.M.M. - things that make ya go.."Hmmmmm...") here at Thistlebright early enough that we would actually have at least a slim chance of actually finding the time to watch most, if not all, of our horror movies, and, perhaps, to even pop a few new selections into the mix... so.. off we went to the local video rental place, and after painstakingly working our way through the horror movie section... of all of the many hundreds of possibilities... these were our big picks... what a pair of goats we turned out to be in the movie selection department, so far... Oh, man..

    Our second pick, "Haunted Highway", was creepily, eerily, disturbingly similar to "The Drop" in many ways; an almost identical dorky protagonist, non-existent plot, characters that you not only do not identify with.. you actually find yourself hoping that they will be killed so that you don't have to deal with them any longer! There were unbelievably tiresome unending repetitions of the same vapid film clip, ceaseless and confusing running back and forth with no apparent purpose... senseless dialog, it was a complete abortion... this movie was, apparently, of the "Hey! I got a video camera that I borrowed, and nothing to do on Saturday evening.... wanna make a movie?!?!" variety...

    "Haunted Highway... Prepare to be Driven Insane" - Driven insane?! They were right about that! But, I somehow don't think that it worked out the way they planned... yikes!

    Watching this...

    Paint Peeling Off the Walls.. Ho-Hum!
    ... was more interesting by far!

    On to the third and final pick of the lot;

    Ladies and Gentlemen... we have a winner! "The Hills Have Eyes" is a remake of the 1977 movie of the same title, written by Wes Craven.

    This movie was creepy, hideous, disturbing, eerie, macabre, and sort of scary... but, in the way it is supposed to be!! It was well made, suspenseful, had its share of surprises, and was an all around good movie!!

    We both enjoyed it and gave it a resounding thumbs up!! So, it looks like the third time pays for all!

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Drop "The Drop"

    We rented this movie and watched it last night;


    ... ... When I am on my deathbed, I am going to wish I had that time back..

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Blogroll Banners

    I was playing around with my page, and decided to make some banners for the folks on my blogroll... I basically used images from their pages so that I could preserve the feeling that the authors wanted to portray on their individual blogs... with the exception of Mona, who's banner I made from scratch using her avatar...

    Firstly, if any of you hate the banner that I made to link to your blog, please let me know and I will remove it promptly...

    If anyone wants to make a banner and send it to me here, and I will put them up. Please make them either 88 pixels wide by 25 pixels high, or, if they must be larger in order to be able to make out the image, 130 pixels wide by 36 pixels high.

    For those of you for whom I did not make any banners, please do not be disheartened.. I didn't pick them in any particular order other than that I remembered that either they had a ready made image that I could adapt, or, that I wanted to try to make one using some element of their page... this is simply my creative instincts wanting to stretch thier legs... no worries!

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    What Gives?

    Okay... let's say for a minute that You are an employer who has a position to fill, and that I am a job applicant who is eminently qualified for the position. Bear with me, here...

    You go through the trouble of writing a job posting and actually posting it somewhere where prospective applicants can find it and, hopefully, respond to it... (this is what you are hoping for, I presume...) (yes?? no?? Yes??)

    A job applicant... (Me!) finds the ad, considers it an appropriate position, and wants to be in your employ... said job applicant writes a cover letter, and attaches a 'very well put together, impressive resume' (not my description.. I am quoting a non-biased third-party.. for the sake of fairness).

    NOTE: I am referring to job openings where I am **ABSOLUTELY** confident that I can not only do the job, but do the job in an exemplary fashion.. I AM TELLING YOU THAT I AM VERY WELL QUALIFIED FOR THESE POSITIONS! Period!!

    Back to our hypothetical ( .. or not so... ) situation: So.. Job applicant now responds to your ad, with a resume that clearly claims that the applicant is very well qualified for the position that you are ostensibly looking to fill!!

    You may or may not have a great many responses to the posting.. but, here is a qualified applicant who has taken the time to courteously respond to your advertisement, and who is quite obviously attempting to find gainful employment.

    You (Choose the best response):
    1. Promptly respond to applicant, scheduling an interview.
    2. Ignore response completely.
    3. Respond politely, explaining that the position has been filled, but that you will maintain the applicant's file on record.
    4. Send out a quick auto-response indicating that the resume has been received, that it will be reviewed, but that only the most qualified applicants will be contacted.

    Why do so many of you choose option #2?? Don't you want to fill the position? IS there a position? Were you raised by wild animals who were completely lacking in the ability to socialize you? Would it kill you to let me know that you received my message/letter and that either you are considering me or have rejected me outright for some reason? Do you have any sympathy/empathy for your fellow human beings? Just wondering...

    What the heck is UP with that?? I would really like to know... it is exceedingly frustrating...

    Thanx for listening..

    Obviously, the job search is going extraordinarily well.. {SNORT!!}

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Séamas, in answer to your comment...

    a-Shéamuis, a-chara,

    Ná bíodh buairt ort i mo thaobhsa. d'fhéadfadh an scéal a bheith ní ba mheasa... ar chaoi ar bith, bhí mé i mbearna ba chaoile ná sin ó shin i leith. Ar aon chaoi, Bí sí mo mhatair i gconai fós.. agus tá an t-am sin thart, anois.

    (Sorry for being so late in reply... I just stumbled across it (the comment)... Oh, man.. how'm *I* doin'?!

    Status Report

    Today I went on a job interview..

    The job doesn't pay all that well to start, but there is room for advancement. The company is growing in leaps and bounds, and it seems that this is the reason that they are hiring.

    The facility is a wee bit of a crap-hole, but, it isn't completely disgusting. The folks in the office all appear to me moderately normal and are recognizibly human... no horns, wings, or other assorted non-human body parts or obvious mutations.. to some extent, they even seem socially capable... perhaps even polite!

    They have a dog there named 'China'. China would hire me starting immediately. China was very happy to see me, and basically just wants everyone to be her friend, the occasional pat or scratch, and perhaps the odd milkbone snack now and again...

    The owner is a slim, good-looking, courteous and quiet sort of a guy... very self-possessed, (at least insomuch as I am able to tell by only having met him in the briefest of circumstances, that being the interview...), and he strikes me as being extremely intelligent, and on the ball... which, to be honest, I find refreshing...

    The interview seemed to go fairly well.. and I suppose I will simply have to wait and see what comes of it, if anything...

    The location is literally four minutes away from my house... and that is counting two red lights!! The amount of money that I would save on gas and maintenance alone almost eats up the pay hit... but not quite. The telling factor would be whether (IF I were to be hired, and IF I were able to quickly get my feet on the ground and running..) I could do a good enough job of it to merit a payraise or promotion, or, perhaps, consideration for a better position within the company... I suppose that would depend upon whether or not it is the sort of organization that takes note of, and recognizes this sort of thing...

    At the very worst case scenario... It would be some income until I could manage to come up with a better plan...

    I contacted the Nose to let him know that I was going to be using him as a reference, and he assured me that he would give me a good one... I did a fantastic job there, so I don't see any reason why he would be able to do anything else without being a complete liar....

    Then, I contacted my old boss from the job previous to the last one, and advised her that I used her as a reference as well (she gave me open permission for time immemorial to do so...), and she told me that she would tell anyone calling for a reference check that I am 'terrific'. (Terrific is good!)

    Lastly, I stopped by the place where I tend bar, and spoke with the owner, asking if they could see fit to schedule me for any extra work that comes around... and getting their blessing to work at any other of the competing businesses in the area... (I don't really have to do this... but, out of respect, I think it is the right thing to do... He encouraged me to do whatever is necessary to make things do whatever they have to do... and wished me luck... he said that he would speak to the banquet manager, who does the scheduling, and see if they couldn't throw some extra work my way... no guarantees, mind you... but they will try).

    It is a beautiful day... sunny, bright, breezy, and cheerful.. birds are singing, and the cats are dozing.

    There aren't any new leads for me to pursue today... nobody is doing much posting of jobs online... so, I think I might take some mental decompression time and do something other than search, search, search for a job... at least for a little while... clear my head, re-motivate... so that when I get back to it I can be sharp, and on the ball!!

    I'm happy... I would like to have a job, obviously, but, it takes some time... I can't make it go any faster than I am already doing...

    I am going to the local bartending school starting Monday (If I don't have a job...) in order to brush up on stuff that I don't generally do where I now work... hopefully, this will make me a little more marketable in that respect...

    Marcheline agreed to help me out to learn the finer points of 'Quickbooks'...

    And that pretty much covers all of the loose ends...

    I'm beating the bushes, and making things happen... but, to some extent, as in most things, I have to let things unfold in their own way, and in their own time...

    In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this marvelous day that I have been given...

    It doesn't really take all that much, when you get down to it, to make me happy...

    ... On that respect, China and I are very much on the same wavelength!

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Life Happens, Sometimes...

    The long and short of the meeting today was that I am no longer employed...

    The sort of cheesy part is that they offered me straight Saturdays...
    Just Saturdays... for half-a-day...

    What, I can't help but wonder, was the point of that, exactly? Was it meant to soften the blow in some creepily sideways logic sort of way?? I suspect that this whole issue was more or less manufactured as an escape strategy... which is fine. Though, I have to say that a simple, "Your position is being eliminated, you have two weeks to find another job..." would have been much more appreciated.. (did I say 'appreciated'? ... or 'something'). I felt like I needed to take a shower when I left out of there. Ig!

    I am sort of split apart about how I feel about this whole thing... though for the most part I am simply accepting it with as much equanimity as possible, under the circumstance... not that I have all that much of a choice in the matter...

    Part of me is glad to have been given the push so that I will find more suitable employment, hopefully where I can put both my intellect and my skills to good use... part of me feels as though I have been misused and cast aside like so much unwanted garbage... and part of me is simply worried about what the future brings...

    ... mostly though, it is simply what it is. I will find work. I have no other choice. Generally, life is the thing that happens while we are planning something else...

    I cannot change the fact that both pleasures and pains will be a part of my experience... and I cannot change the fact that both will come and go. Wonderful, happy, times will pass... and this will cause me pain... but I have learned that when something beautiful or wonderful passes... something beautiful always remains...

    When difficult situations come, I have to remember that they, too will pass... and in their wake, I will be stronger, more resilient, certainly tougher... and, perhaps, a little wiser...

    Since I cannot change these things, all that is left for me to do is make my heart more accomodating to both of these extremes... because both are a part of my life. Both are a part of all of our lives.

    Today there was some difficulty... but the sky was clear, and blue, and filled with shining white clouds! The weather was warm, and bright, and cheerful... and now I have a brand new canvas upon which to paint whatever the next chapter of my life will be...

    ... its all up to me.

    Tommorrow, I will wake up, kiss my wife, enjoy a warm cup of coffee while I survey the morning that the world has seen fit to present to me... perhaps with a snuggly kitty in my lap....

    I will do my usual daily mindfulness practice; that is, practicing how to appreciate the simple uncomplicated moment of 'now'.

    I will greet the sun, and the day, and I will pray... like any other day.

    And then?

    Then I will take the first halting steps on the new road that has been laid out before me...

    Whatever it is, and wherever it leads, it is part of my story.... and, like each of us must, I have to play my part.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Go the Fuck Home!!

    This is how my week transpired, starting Monday;

    I went in to work, and began working on whatever it was that I had to do... so far, no problem...

    The Fly was helping a customer, as well as juggling two other customers who only wanted to deal with him, and trying to help a few other folks who were holding on various phone lines... in short, he was jumping through his ass...

    The customer that he was helping, and with whom he was seconds away from finishing the transaction, and, therefore, seconds away from sending happily along his way... thereby freeing him (the fly) to clear the phone lines and the counter (which is the pressure that we are always under... "Clear the counter!" "Who's holding on line 16?!" "Clear that line!").. anyway.. the customer was, as I said, mere seconds from heading out the door, when he asked the Fly for a price on a particular product. I could see the Fly almost imperceptibly deflate... he was getting it from every direction... (Monday mornings, right?). He said to the customer, "Give me a few seconds, let me just clear these phone lines, these folks have been waiting patiently". I could tell that the customer that he was talking to didn't want to hear this.... after all, everybody is the star of their own show, and with our customer base, which is primarily building contractors and roofers, this is doubly so for some reason.... so the short version is that the customer was slightly miffed at being told that he had to wait...

    So. I checked the price on the computer and gave it to the customer. He thanked me and out the door he went.

    A few seconds later, the Fly went out into the yard, and some moments after that, he came back into the office.

    Fly: "Bear, did you give a price to that customer?!"

    Me: "Yah,... why? ... ... ??!!??"

    Fly: "The price in the computer is wrong!"

    Me: "Oh. I, ah... yikes... Sorry! I didn't know..."

    Fly: "It's Nose's job to update the prices... you couldn't have known.."

    Me: "... ... ... "

    The Fly went back to the Nose's office and apparently told him that I had given out the price as shown in the computer... The Nose sort of likes to snag folks screwing something up and making them sweat about it... or trying to, anyway...

    Conversely, he absolutely hates when anybody does this to him! (No surprise there, I suppose... )

    I heard his chair creak, which told me that he had just un-assed it... (great!), and a quarter-of-a-second later, this was confirmed by my name being bellowed out at top volume... wonderful... above all things, I love this sort of thing the most... its right up there with drilling my own teeth and finding half of a large invertebrate in my sandwich... bollocks!

    Nose: "BEAR!!"

    Me: ...

    Nose: "BEAR!!!"

    Me: [sigh..] "Yeah, Nose..."

    Nose: "The next time you don't know a fucking price... you ASK someone! Got it!?!!"

    Me: "Well... sure... but, I thought I did know the price... I got it out of the computer..."


    Me: (Taken slighly aback at this hitherto unattained level of unreasonableness).. "I just told you that I was under the impression that I knew the price, since it was in the computer.. "

    Nose: (Leaning close and putting his face into mine.. I suppose this is supposed to be intimidating...) "THAT PRICE IS WRONG! YOU FUCKIN' ASK NEXT TIME WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW A PRICE!!"

    Me: "So... you want me to ask you the price on everything??"


    Me: "But, since it was in the computer, I thought I DID know the price... why don't you put the correct price of things like you're supposed to... and then we won't have this problem??"

    Nose: "I don't have the right price yet! You just ASK the fucking price when you don't know it!! Got it?!?!"

    Me: "Then why don't you just take the price out altogether, if the price in the computer is wrong, and put zero in there... NO information is better than BAD information.. so, just take the price out, very simple, then it will force us to find the correct price, and we won't have this problem in the future?!?! You can't expect us to just know that a price is wrong.. that doesn't make any sense! How are we supposed to know that a price is no longer valid??"

    Nose: "I'm NOT taking the price out... you have to have SOMETHING to go on!"

    Me: (!! WHAT!?!? !) WHAT?!?! What does that even mean??! "You have to have something to go on?? Just take the price out, Nose, problem solved!! Why are you being like this??"


    Me: "You can be very frustrating at times... do you know that?

    Nose: "OH YEAH!?!"

    Me: "Well.. yes, actually... I just told you that I got the price from the computer, that there is no way to tell whether a price is valid simply by looking at it, and I asked you whether you wanted me to ask you the price of everything.. each and every time which we both know is not workable... I suggested a very simple solution that would solve the problem until you have a valid price, and you refused to accept it... and you are demanding that I do something that isn't possible to do... so, YEAH!! You are! ... Very!"


    Me: "Yeah.. Sure, Nose... No problem... I'll do just that."

    Nose: "That's right, cause you're garbage and you'll do what you're fucking told. You speak when you're spoken to, and you do what the fuck you're told. Period.

    Me: "Whatever..."

    Nose: "WHAT WAS THAT?!"

    Me: "I said you're an asshole."

    Nose: "....!!!...???..."


    Nose: "Just ask the fucking price next time... that's all..."

    Me: "Whatever."

    Nose: "Whatev..?!?! YOU FUCKIN' GOT SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT IT??!!"

    Me: "You know what... you're just being a dick right now. I told you I would ask the price if I didn't know it. I'll do whatever you say, Nose. You're the boss, and you call the shots. However you want it is fine with me."


    Me: "Whatever."

    Nose: "YOU DON'T LIKE IT?!!?!? GO THE FUCK HOME!! NOW!!"

    So.. I packed up my few things, lunch, etc., ... and I left.

    I had never actually been sent home before, so I wasn't sure precisely what that meant. I didn't know if it was a suspension, or whether I was fired, or what..

    When I got home, I called Elysia/Marcheline (My wife for you new readers... ((as if!! I haven't posted in so long, I don't imagine that I have any readers anymore...)) .. to let her know what had happened...) and spent the rest of the day feeling sort of stressed out, mildly out of sorts, and, looking at job postings. I tweaked my resume, sent a few out, and basically felt like shit.

    I don't like the way something so completely stupid ballooned out of control like that...

    I began to wonder if there was more to it than simply the price issue. Did he simply want me gone, and use this to force me into a bad situation?? Am I that stupid to let myself be manipulated so openly??

    I wasn't sure what to do, but I figured I would hear from The Nose when he settled down; either telling me that I was fired, or that I was not to come back for some period of time, or that I should come back to work the next day... or something.

    Nobody called.

    I waited all day Tuesday... looked at job postings... sent out resumes... and felt like shit. And... nobody called.

    I spoke with a co-worker on Wednesday, and he said that The Nose was walking around asking everyone if he did the right thing, and that he was sort of being 'adamant' about the whole thing.... whatever that means.

    On Thursday, I went in to the office to try to initiate some dialog, figuring that to let three days go by without showing my face there could give them ammunition to turn the situation around on me and claim that I had abandoned the job. Nose was very cold and distant and put me off... I had typed out a letter to the Department of Labor, with his signature block on it, stating that I had been employed there from start date to the the present date, and that my employment had been terminated through no fault of my own... which clears the way for an unemployment insurance claim to go through in my favor... and I asked him to sign it. He refused, saying that only the owner could sign it. I asked when he would be in, and was told 'later'.

    I called the owner's brother, who works in the same office, and asked if he would have the owner contact me.

    I spoke with the owner, finally, when he called me on Thursday night, and he agreed to direct The Nose to talk with me.. He agreed that the situation had gotten out of control, and that we should at least talk.

    I spoke with The Nose on Friday evening, (he was initially supposed to call me early in the day, but said he would call around lunchtime, then when he didn't call I called the office, spoke with a co-worker, who said that The Nose would call at the end of the day, and, finally he did call.. and, surprisingly, he sounded like his usual normal self) and he wants to go to lunch with me on Monday and talk this over.

    It will either mean that we will come to an understanding and I will return to work, or that we will come to an understanding, and I'll be out of a job.

    I would prefer, I think, to return to work so that I can at least have some cash flow while I search for something better... but, at this point, I think the chips will most likely fall where they may...

    I am sort of baffled at how he can demand that I somehow 'know' when a particular price, out of over 300,000 different items in the inventory, would be incorrect... since, for the most part, the price in the computer is the correct price!! Taking the price out and showing $0 is not without precedent... there are many items that we sell that show $0 because either the price changes radically due to price fluctuations in some commodity that is used to produce the item, or due to the fact that we have to call a manufacturer or distributor to get the price from them...

    So, where does this leave me?? Well, the best-case scenario is that I return to work, and that I am out of a week's pay... a pretty hefty price to pay for speaking out-of-turn.

    As of 1:00PM tommorrow... (Monday, 2 October) I will know whether my employment has been terminated, or whether I still have a job. I know that what he wants me to do is to simply shut up and do whatever he tells me to do, no matter whether it makes sense or not... and that I shouldn't talk back to him. Unfortunately, some flaw in my character makes this very difficult for me to do when what I am being told to do either makes no sense, or when it is so disrespectul and insulting that I rise to it and strike back.. I guess I have to learn to be a good little worker drone if I don't want to have to keep going through this sort of thing.

    What I would like is to find a job where I can go in, do my work, do a good job at it, and go home. A job where the rules don't change at the whim of one person, and where, when I do what was initially agreed upon, it is viewed as doing a good job, instead of constantly expanding until it is no longer possible to do 'a good job'.

    My guess is that no such job exists... but I can wish...

    So... that was my week. I feel like a complete dick for giving my wife more shit to have to stress out about. To her everlasting credit and acclaim, I have to say that she never once berated me, jumped on me, or even blamed me. She said "Don't worry, we'll get through it." - which, honestly, is much easier said, than done.

    On top of all of this... Thursday was our 4th wedding anniversary.

    Nice job, Bear... sigh.