Reading/books


Well, yet again I find myself finally returning this summer’s reading for punishment — (Train your Mind, Change Your Brain — apparently I did neither) after renewing it the maximum # of times (originally checked out 6/2).

So yeah, I’ve had it checked out for about 3 1/2 months, haven’t finished it, and it’s overdue, as were at least 2 previous selections for reading for punishment: The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot and The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching.

Someone with a larger ego might be embarrassed not completing them, but nope – not me. A bit disappointed, but not embarrassed. I tried, right? And it’s not like I totally slacked off in the reading department: I did manage to catch up on several months’ worth of O, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, More, and read several thriller-type and just-plain-funny books…

What did you read this summer? (If it was something like Proust please don’t comment.)

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I just heard this today on Weekend America and it’s my new favorite Halloween story.

The authors had to write a Halloween story that was no more than 30 seconds long.

You can read it below or listen to it, but I recommend listening to it. I think poems and stories are better when you hear the author read them. But that’s just my humble opinion…

Listen: Audio version from WeekendAmerica.org or ignore me and read it here.

But I really recommend listening to it.

So here it is if you disagree with my opinion, if you’re a Luddite, or if the audio link doesn’t work (which should — I tested it). Just scroll down a little more…,

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Untitled I

Henderson felt the needle go into his forearm, and almost immediately, he tasted the drug on his tongue. And then he didn’t care about anything. The cold metal gurney? A featherbed. The screaming fellow down the hall? Birdsong. Suddenly he couldn’t wait to have his appendix out! The nurse smiled at him. “Relax,” she said, as she fitted the rubber mask over his nose and mouth. “You won’t even remember the triple bypass by the time you wake up.”

— David Rakoff

moooooahahahahaahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

OMG, major book geek alert:

The Buddha (for past posts use the Search window to right) will still be resting this weekend, as will “The Sistine secrets : Michelangelo’s forbidden messages in the heart of the Vatican” (his subversive “eff you” symbolism in the Sistine Chapel ceiling — sounded better when I heard author interviewed than it actually is) because I just got 3 GOODER books waiting at the libarry* for me:

New Patricia Cornwell thriller

New David Sedaris book (although I like hearing him read it more, so I might wait)

New Ridley Pearson mystery

New CD by Duffy (Rockferry) that everyone’s been talking about

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*previously discussed here and here

Dear Diary,

I’ve been losing myself in my weed patch garden and in magazines or books (but the poor Buddha still waits <background post here>, renewed for 2 more weeks from the county library (maxed out now), though I’ve also had the other copy from the city library for 3 weeks now. I have 2 Buddha books just reeking of good things they could impart if I could just read one of them…) because I’m “processing.”

I just feel like my postings and non-postings are kind of crabby (and some would add “and boring” to that). Sorry, dear reader. Believe it or not, I strive to be light (yet deep!), humorous (yet profound!), and engaging. No really, I do…

I’ve been processing a couple of things. The main one is should I proactively decide that my days at the Everywhere Place are numbered and I need to go now, under my own power, or can I handle the consequences of taking chance that they’re maybe not numbered and go through some inevitable pain etc. to stay a little longer because I like the place?

You’d know exactly who I was talking about if I mentioned the name of the Everywhere Place, but suffice it to say that there’s a pretty big M&A (that’s “mergers & acquisitions” for my fellow art historians) battle on between the Everywhere Place and another place known for increasing its (profit) margins by cutting cutting cutting.

When a major multi-national corporation starts cutting costs it’s not just downright goofy. it’s not bad enough that you have to start begging for pencil lead for your mechanical pencil (seriously — been there, done that), but people get fired (aka getting “RIF’d,” “attritted,” laid off, reduced, etc.) <another post about this>.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s business, corporate america, the way the real world works, nothing personal, blah blah blah. But really, if you have any heart, loyalty or work ethic it IS personal.

I’m not saying it should be this way, but I wonder if the qualities that make one take it personally may also be the ones that make one a good employee. I’m not talking about me of course (me take it personally?!), just musing…

Some people at work have been through this a lot (some 3 times and more!). They seem immune to it all, and it really seems like it’s no big deal to them. But like it or not, I’m easily attachable, and what I thought would be easy (leaving) may not be so much.

The reality of cutbacks, layoffs, cost-cutting measures, whatever you want to call it, is harsh. It’s brutal. At my last job at the Mother Ship, one time we knew when the firings were coming and another time it was a surprise attack, but both were harsh. Even though I “made it” through both of the cuts, I learned (on a real level) that corporate america is harsh and impersonal.

In corporate america now, you should (IMHO) do your best, but when something better comes along you should jump on it. Because when the tables are turned they will do the same to you in a heartbeat. Harsh, sad, possibly amoral of them, but true.

Usually when you ( I ) leave a job, I am ready. I’m looking forward to the new place and the — clichéd word alert — challenge of a new job, but I’m leaving the old place for a reason: I’ve learned all I can from the position or the place, I need a change, the management changes (i.e. – sucks), whatever. It’s time. Even though there are people you’ll miss and you have some good memories, you’re ready to go & you know it’s for the best.

But when you think you still have good work to do, you’re not finished learning the lessons you’re meant to learn there (job-wise or lifewise), and mostly, you just really like the people you work with and what you’re doing, it is hard hard hard to think about leaving, not to mention pre-emptively doing it on your own initiative. Hard hard hard.

As a legalized ‘ho,’ employed by a legalized pimp, which is a company that pimps you out contracts you to a john a company you report to work at every day and then takes a cut of your billable hours, you have a certain comfort knowing you’re not trapped when things like this happen. There’s degree of freedom in knowing this.

But when it actually comes to pass and you’re not ready for it to happen yet, intellectually understanding it and living it, doing it, are all more difficult.

Tonight while I was yardening it finally hit me:I am going through the 5 (?) stages of grieving that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined and wrote about.

Adding insult to injury is that I need a new pimp ’cause this one’s been ‘jackin’ me). So my work is doubled before I’ve even started! While I know it will all work out in the end, it’s the getting there (going thru the process: both the “get a new job” process and the “accept that I have to get a new job even though I don’t wanna” process) that can be sucky. well, not necessarily sucky, but not something I’m particularly looking forward to.

I just think it might be worse to stay and watch all these “lifers” (some there for 20+ years!) go through this for the first time. My tendency is to be like a paper towel: I absorb a lot, even the icky stuff, and I’ve absorbed enough moisture I don’t have control over (let alone what I do have control over) and think I just might be saturated.

So the long story is that that’s why I haven’t been feeling it lately.

‘Cause when a person is practicing “Would you like fries with that?”, beginning the poverty program (tonight: turkey dogs ‘n’ buns, and dammit I just remembered I forgot to heat and eat the beans), and they’re just not really feeling it, do you really want to read this person’s posts?

I know — me neither.


I got a massage last night. I’ve gotten them on and off for ~20 years, and have experienced everything from crying to weird bumps that tingle, to pain, to release from pain, to mindlessness, to floaty-ness, to talking, to…

Sleeping.

Until this year, which is when I started getting regular massages (god that sounds so luxurious doesn’t it? And it IS — it’s my biggest splurge ever. I just feel decadent getting them so often but they really help with my back), I had experienced all of the above except sleeping.

I’m sure I’ve wavered in and out of consciousness sometimes, but as relaxed as I get, I’d never fallen asleep until about 6 months ago.

And now I always seem to fall asleep, and right when she finally gets to the good part — my neck and shoulders and my back.

That’s the part I want to enjoy the most, for godssake. I want to be awake and enjoying it, not snoozing and drooling!

Tell me I have a sense of entitlement, but I have to endure daily pain so I think I should at least get to enjoy a fleeting release from it, right? But no, all but once in the last 6 months, I have snored through the good part.

I find that so alarming and yet I’m not sure why I find it so alarming.

Other than getting massages more frequently (causing me to relax more easily and fall asleep during them?!), the only possible causes I can think of (that would cause me to fall asleep) are that my 1 year old job is still mentally taxing because my brain is still engaged and absorbing information,

AND/OR that I don’t get enough sleep.

By the time I get stuff done (whether necessary or desired) we’re looking minimally at 8:30pm to start…Step #1 of the Disengagement Process.

That’s stuff like my washing face, prepping coffee maker, letting the dog and/or cats out and in a few times, writing some notes to myself or posting, maybe talking to a friend or doing some online reading (which “they” say is not good for you to do at least an hour prior to your bedtime, and which NAG** would undoubtedly agree with).

Then all of a sudden it’s time to go to bed.

“Going to bed” is Step 2 of the Disengagement Process and is code for “reading.” I always say I’ll read for “only” X minutes, but it’s usually one extreme or another: Either I get absorbed in a magazine/book and read too late, or I read something “inspiring” or “educational” like my summer reading for punishment, in which case I’m asleep in 15 min.

Step 3 of the Disengagement Process is turning off the light and turning on the radio to you – know – what, and Step 4 (the Unintended Step) is lay/lying there and listening for a 1/2 hour until I doze off.

Sometimes I can turn the radio on (which I do to keep my mind from racing) and I can fall asleep in moments, but often I end up listening.

Anyway, the point is (and I do have one): I don’t get enough sleep, and maybe that’s a reason I keep falling asleep in my massages. (Bet you forgot what we were talking about, didn’t you?)

I am a grownup for godssake. I know by now that to function properly I ideally need 9 hours of sleep a night. I also know that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll get into bed by 9:30 not to mention get 9 hours of sleep on a weeknight.

And speak of the devil: it’s 9:30 now, so I’m gonna go read before bed.

I think it’s a Buddha night <This summer’s reading for punishment>

**NAG=Nurse Aunt Grace, who’s — ironically enough— my aunt and a nurse, and who’s been spot on about all her diagnoses (except probably on herself and her husband, ’cause you can’t be perfect I guess) and who saved my mom’s life. But that’s another story.

ADDENDUM written last night after I went to bed to read (Step 2 of the Disengagement Process). I opened up the Buddha book (fully anticipating my normal 2 page limit) and started where I left off, on page 24 at a chapter called, “Stopping, Calming, Resting, Healing” (AHEM to me).

Thich Nhat Han tells a story about a man galloping quickly by on horse and being asked where he was going so fast. He said “I don’t know. Ask the horse.”

Here’s Thich (with emPHAsis by me): “…we are riding a horse…and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along…we are always running and it has become a habit. Then he starts talking about the “art of stopping,” which I just did to write this, but which is probably not what he meant.

He then, as the chapter title would suggest, goes into calming, resting and healing, and the interconnection between them all and the benefits to our minds and bodies. Definitely a “you had to be there” moment, I guess, especially because I can’t summarize it well enough, and we already know this stuff (intellectually anyway).

But when I read that chapter (written in his simple, spare, yet elegant style) after having just written and thinking about the very same topics (albeit in a totally different style to say the least) I almost wet my pants I was so freaked out!

Talk about the teacher being there when you’re ready to learn the lesson!

Opening up to that chapter — coincidence?? I don’t think so — it all just hit me so hard, since I had JUST been saying I’ve been falling asleep in massage, going going going until later than I “should,” not getting enough sleep, not making enough time to disengage.

And there it was again in “Bedtime with Buddha”: the “art of stopping,” which then led me (perhaps not surprisingly given the name of the chapter) to Calming, Resting, Healing. I just had to finish that chapter.

I ended up reading up to page 34! (so I can skip a week now?)

TONIGHT It’s 9:38. I’m sleeping with Buddha. Must go back to 2 page toleration limit. Was up ’til 11:30 last night pondering all of that (above).

Last summer it was ”The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot,” among too many others. <See Reading for punishment>

This summer’s book for punishment englightenment (and there will be only one this summer, not 6 like last summer) is Thich Nhat Hanh’s The heart of the Buddha’s teaching: transforming suffering into peace, joy, & liberation : the four noble truths, the noble eightfold path, and other basic Buddhist teachings.

Yeah, just a little light ‘beach reading’ even though there’s no beach in the flyover zone.

I’ve been interested in Buddhism since before I started yoga lo-those-many-years ago. My first teacher is a Buddhist and I’ve always been fascinated by the spiritual paths of the East. I even brought back Buddha-ettes to my sisters from Kamakura, Japan, a present that must’ve made my catholic parents think they had gone terribly wrong.

But I’ve been reading a lonnnnng pdf on B-ism, which I downloaded (and clearly reading it quite slowly, which is why I’m only on page 19 after 3 weeks).

And thanks to my magazine whoredom I keep running into articles that refer to books on Buddhism or interviewed Buddhist nuns (which I’ve considered becoming; see Increase your blog traffic by…), or that showed the Bamiyan Valley cave shrines the Taliban blew up, so I’m taking it as a sign to learn more about it.

I’ve also always wanted (and finally found, thanks to Brett) a Buddha for my garden, which will make an interesting juxtaposition to the cherubic angel bird feeders and “cute little kid” sculptures (calling them that denigrates sculpture) statuary and trolls in my neighbors’ garden.

So it seemed “meant to be” and I got this book from the libarry, and as with last year’s summer reading for knowledge, discussed in Reading for punishment I had to return it ’cause I had it since 4/10.

Not to worry though. I’m picking up a copy from the County library tomorrow. I already know I’ll run out of renewals before I’m done with it, so I am also back on the “hold” list for it at the City libarry.

After all that, how far am I? Uh, well, I’ve only made it to page 24. sigh. That’s an average of 2 pages a week.

And yet I am a reading geek who still joins the libarry’s Summer Book Club, just like when I was a kid.

Don’t laugh! I still haven’t won the laptop, but I have gotten free baseball tickets the past 3 years in a “random” drawing they have. AND a cool different book bag every year. I don’t think I was randomly drawn though. I think they rigged it because they like me 🙂

sigh. It can be a burden to have this much curiosity yet so little staying power (dare I say, “discipline”?) when it comes to reading tomes of wisdom for my own edification. Must be a holdover from school summer reading lists that were excruciatingly boring.

But I confess that with summer here, the pool doesn’t exactly inspire me to bring Thich Nhat Hanh for a little mindless reading.

I wish I were European. They bring books on vacation about Bush and the history of US involvement with the Middle East and oil. (That one, which I saw for myself in Barbados, was in English and the owners were Danish — not the edible kind though). And they could speak German with the owner. Anyway…

In motels / hotels / resorts / inns that have swapping ‘libraries’ you can always tell where Europeans have stayed because they leave behind books with wonderfully intellectual titles (even if I don’t understand the language inside) that I wouldn’t read on my most bored day on a desert island with nothing else to do.

I’m probably the only one that’s left a (comparatively) trashy suspense book there, that’s for sure. And I bet somebody snagged it up soon after I left it. That’s my hope and my consolation anyway.

namaste

**about Libarry: yes I know that’s not the correct way to spell it. Just deal, ok? This topic previously discussed in Definitely NOT a NY Times book review

First, yes, I am catching up on blog-reading (which is why I keep referencing them). I recently found one about this 40-ish woman who moved to France (an idea / dream / wish / hope / possibility I keep in the back of my mind).

I haven’t read enough of it to even know what she does or why she moved there, but this alone provides me reassurance about my future, regardless of where I end up:

Excerpt

<She’s about to move in with someone.>

“To put this in perspective, it is important to remember that I have been SINGLE for all of my 46 years. And I was good at being single; I must have been good at it because it seemed I was out of relationships much more than I was in them, despite my occasional insistence that I really wanted to be “in a real relationship”. Only once in all that time did I sort of semi-live with someone, and that was more about him hanging around my place 4 nights out of 7 without the benefit of kicking in for the rent or groceries. (I’m smarter now.) I have been alone and fending for myself for my entire adult life.

Is it hard to give up that independence for a completely different life with a man AND his children? Surprisingly, no. I mean, I am sure there will be days, at least initially, where I am inwardly craving some alone time or some quiet in the house, and in terms of working there (since I work at home), THAT will take some adjustments. But Georges and I want to be with each other all the time now, and I want that far more than I want to hang onto some outdated need for my so-called Freedom.”

link to post: http://theboldsoul.lisataylorhuff.com/the_bold_soul/2008/02/forward.html

I don’t feel “desperate” by any stretch, but every splitup makes you wonder and question, so I’m glad especially for this right now. Hope springs eternal!

Ooh, and this one made me think too. It’s about the author’s new understanding of freedom.

Excerpt: “Freedom isn’t what I used to think it was. For one thing, it doesn’t mean being on my own, without another soul to answer to.”

Link to post: http://theboldsoul.lisataylorhuff.com/the_bold_soul/2008/02/freedom.html

We might be getting into TMI for you now, but what can I say? I’m feeling “journal-y” tonight. And admit it, you like knowing a little something private on someone, don’t you? Who doesn’t?!

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