"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Friday, November 01, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mood track

Because I can, that's why.

Got married!


Seven years after we met and a little over a year after we'd broken up, Danika and I got married this past Saturday. 😃

Monday, October 14, 2013

Togetherness Mantra

We'll be chanting this at the end of our marriage ceremony.

Oh, and Jenny Walton Dominique, the chanter in this video (and our close friend and yoga instructor, will be our officiant.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Getting married in less than a week.

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.

 ~ Rumi


After seven years (minus 7 or 8 months hiatus last year) of common-law living, Danika and I are making it official and getting married next weekend. The past year has been a struggle, but coming back together has helped us to see that the time apart was needed to see what we loved about each other. It sure as hell isn't some fairy tale wedding, but it's what's right -- where we belong.

And I Quote: Rumi

"Dance, when you're broken open
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off
Dance in the middle of the fighting
Dance in your blood
Dance, when you're perfectly free"
~Mevlana Rumi (1207 - 1273)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Irony

I've always had a problem with Alanis Morrisette's Ironic because it ISN'T Ironic.

It has been fixed.

Human Need

According to the late psychologist, Abraham Maslow, humans have a hierarchy of basic human needs which he expressed in the now famous triangle of human need. According to Wikipedia's article on Maslow, human needs were identified thus:
  • At the bottom of the hierarchy are the "Basic needs or Physiological needs" of a human being: food, water, sleep and sex.
  • The next level is "Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability". These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more.
  • The third level of need is "Love and Belonging", which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends.
  • The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the "Esteem" level, the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.
  • Then there is the "Cognitive" level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore.
  • After that is the "Aesthetic" level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty.[42]
  • At the top of the pyramid, "Need for Self-actualization" occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential.[43] Once a person has reached the self-actualization state they focus on themselves and try to build their own image. They may look at this in terms of feelings such as self-confidence or by accomplishing a set goal.[4]
http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/maslows-heirarchy-of-needs-wifi.jpgA few days ago, a friend posted this revised version of the triangle on Facebook. As you can see this version adds WiFi accessibility to the list which is, after all, one of our modern needs.
 But after I had my laugh, I noticed something that was.... sad. Those things on the bottom? Yes, the WiFi, but also the physiological needs of Food, Water, Shelter, and Warmth? Those basic human needs? Those aren't free. If you are an adult in a developed nation -- at least in North America -- You don't get those basics without paying. 
Sure, you could go to a homeless shelter and get some free food, but of dubious quality or quantity. They'd give you water there. Likewise you could get sheltered, maybe, if there is room. And you could get warm for a bit in the winter -- again, if you can get in. But homeless shelters are not always the safest of places. And it's clients become institutionalized. 
But where can you go -- legally in the United States and get food without buying it? Where can you legally grow crops or hunt or fish or forage in order to feed yourself? Where can you safely and legally shelter on a permanent or semi-permanent basis? Where can you go to get warm or (as is the case in the summer in the southwest) cool without having to make a purchase or fear being rousted for loitering?

And water, that thing that, next to air, we can't live long without. Three days, I believe, is the usual limit on that. We have a planet covered with water. We have a nation that has plenty of streams, rivers, and lakes. But they aren't potable. In fact, if I recall correctly, there is virtually no place in the world where it is safe to drink untreated surface water. In the meantime, "manufacturers" are selling treated and "purified" water in plastic bottles that clog our landscapes, load our landfills, and float en masses in our oceans.... I'm digressing. The person on the street has limited access to fresh clean water, whether for bathing or drinking.

While Maslow's ideas have supposedly gone out of fashion, and the remainder of his pyramid has suffered accusations of being biased toward the West, there can be no arguing that that bottom row of needs is universal. That means that everyone has those needs. And food and water are required to service. Yet we live in a society that routinely denies access to these needs based on our ability to pay someone for them. Something about that sounds broken to me. Our society is, more and more, feeling broken. Irreparably so. I have a theory that this isn't a matter of just going back to the "olden" days. Get back to how it was when we were kids. I think it goes much further than that. We have some amazing learning now. We have the knowledge to help people not succumb to the diseases and epidemics of old. And we have the knowledge of how to do a lot of that without the exorbitant costs of today. But our legal, political, and economic system -- all three of which favor a small minority of humans -- is clearly broken.
How do we change it? How do we live in a way that is equitable to all?
Isn't it interesting that Maslow's Hierarchy of need is encased in a triangle? A delta? The symbol of change?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

[UPDATED] it's all crap


I came to a realization the other day. Nothing epiphanic, just one of those moments of “Oh. Yeah.  That’s it.”

For years I had this thing where, if I were going to return a product to a store, I’d play out the big argument with the store in my head.

I’d go there and say, “I’d like to return this, please.”
 And they’d say, “Why? What’s wrong with it?”
 “It doesn’t fit right,” I’d say. Or “It doesn’t work.” Or “It broke when I tried to install it.”
“Well, if you wore it,” they’d argue, “you can’t return it. It’s got your cooties.” Or “You broke it, you bought it.” Or “You’ll have to return it to the manufacturer.”
And I’d argue back and there’d be a big to-do with cops and sirens and beefy managers trying to escort me from the premises.

Of course that never happened. I never—as best as I recall—had a huge issue returning a product. In fact, in recent years, it’s become incredibly easy. Some stores take things back without a receipt even. Yeah. Easy. Too easy, maybe.

I’m sure Wal-Mart was the driving force behind this change. Once they got their vendors under their thumbs they said, “If your products don’t sell we’ll return them to you,” it was an easy next step to say “We’re sending back all of our damaged merchandise, and while we’re at it, all our customer returns.”

On the face of it, it makes sound business sense. Easy returns build goodwill in customers. And a happy customer in the store will likely buy something else while they are there. As well, vendors no longer have the payroll expense of employees to handle customer issues—not as many, anyway.

And, since it’s so simple to accept returns, the need is not as great for quality. If a customer won’t get a hassle when he returns an item that broke or was mislabeled or had parts missing, he’s not as likely to complain about the shoddy workmanship. Who cares? And certainly making cheaper parts makes it more cost-effective to deal with returns and make the customer happy.

I can’t count the number of times Danika and I have returned products to Home Depot. Not always because there was a fault in the product, but sometimes because we got the wrong item. In fact, we’ve even gotten to the point, at Home Depot, where if, say, we are unsure of the size of something we need, we’ll buy it in a range of sizes and return the ones we don’t want.

Not the point, though. The fact is that easy returns seem to make up for shoddy quality. “No-Hassle” guarantees are supposed to make us feel better about poor workmanship among the trades. And, seriously, if I buy something for two or three bucks and it doesn’t work, am I really going to return it? How likely is that?

We keep buying stuff, keep the economy moving, but to whose benefit? Wal-Mart buys a warehouse full of shitty little widgets that they paid a dime for but sell for $3. Half of them don’t work and they sit in our junk drawers or landfills because we don’t return them and so, in essence, we’re handing over money for nothing.
Not sure where I’m going with this, but I guess you get the point. I think maybe what I’m saying is that this is another place where our society is broken. Two-hundred years ago, if someone built something for you, they stood by it because they had to. They lived in your town. They saw you at church or the store or on the street. They’d hear about it otherwise. They wouldn’t get more business.

We consumers are as much to blame as anyone. We demand low cost above quality. We bitch about paying $2.39 a pound for “vine-grown” tomatoes that taste like shit. We want tomatoes that taste like we think we remember them. But we only want to pay prices like we remember. And you can only have one of those. And we go with the latter.

UPDATE: Today (the day after I wrote this) I got to thinking about this idea in relation to food. As with the above, we've traded  quality for convenience. It's convenient to be able to eat an apple year round. It tastes like mushy shit because it's been sitting in a warehouse for months, but you can have apples all year round. It's cheap to buy, but it wasted tons of diesel fuel to ship it from New Zealand or Chile, BUT you can have it all year round. Same thing for tomatoes or other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Le Marriage de Moi

I got engaged this weekend. I'm 55. My fiancee is the woman I've called my 'wife' for pretty much the last 6 years or so, though it's never been legal. The woman I love. We wear rings. We're (re)committed. I refer to her in this blog as La Esposa. She's also known as Danika de la Cruz. She's the woman I talk about when I talk about a breakup a year ago. In fact, it's been about a year since she asked me to move out of the house.

On Saturday we get a joint checking account to pay the bills with, do the grocery shopping. This way it's not just her doing that stuff. That evening she asks me when Fall break is at for the University where I teach. "The eleventh," I say. "Tenth and eleventh of October. Why?"
"This is going to sound a little weird," she says.
"Why?" I ask. "Do you want to get married that weekend?"
"Yeah. I do."

And so it is. We begin the planning. Nothing ostentatious. This will be my third. For her it will be the first she's gone through with, having narrowly missed things about 10 or 12 years ago.

I'm reading back over this and realizing I sound... blase about it all. Not true. I'm thrilled! I'm happy and content and excited about the direction my life has turned in the past year -- though I'm dismayed about the fact that we've not yet sold our house and moved to Colorado.

I've been thinking about it all and what it means. I keep feeling like the Colorado move hasn't happened because we (I) haven't yet accepted the current situation, haven't found happiness in where we are. Haven't come to terms with the greenness of yonder grass.

But, what is marriage after six years of living together if not "acceptance"? Is this not accepting that we belong together and will be together for our remaining years? Is this not accepting that the grass over there is precisely the same shade as the grass on this side of the fence? Doesn't it mean that I can accept that I deserve happiness and that I can find it right here? I think so.

I am happy. I am content. This is where I belong. This is where I shall stay.

Relationship-wise anyway. New Mexico is for the birds.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tall Grass Prairies



From Chipotle




Chipotle is one of the few restaurants I feel good about eating at. Plus, it's inexpensive as hell!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm trying harder

http://www.yoganonymous.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/recovering-yogi.jpg

Neither Respond Nor React

And the more you judge others as rude, critical, and argumentative, the longer it will take you to find peace.

And I Quote: Anne Lamott

"I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish."
Anne Lamott

Monday, August 05, 2013

Where to be happy

According to HuffPo. Look! There's Fort Collins right in the middle of the happiness!
Click the graphic or go to Huffington Post for the full story.
http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/2013_08_Happiness_0.png 

Friday, August 02, 2013

Right?!


But it's HARD!!


Destiny? Is that you?

Selling Off The Farm

We first put our house on the market back at the end of May. Fully expecting it to sell fast, we ordered up a POD and had it dropped in our driveway. If you aren't familiar with PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage), they are, in essence, large plastic shipping containers -- the size of  U-Haul box truck -- for moving, with roll-up doors that you load yourself. The company comes and picks up the container and trucks it to wherever you want. We used one several years ago when we were building an addition in our garage and needed to clear out some stuff during construction. That one just sat in our driveway the whole time, but it worked great.

This time, we loaded it up with the type of things we thought we wouldn't need for a few months. A few extra bits of furniture. Boxes of books. Winter clothes and Christmas tree decorations. Beyond that we had an eye for clutter. What were the things, we asked, that might make our house seem muddled? 

Now, we've got a pretty minimal decor sense anyway -- at least La Esposa does -- so this took a bit of work. Furniture pieces that we kept on hand for visitors were loaded into the POD. As were some kitchen items. An extra set of dishes. Photos, paintings, tchotchkes. Some of the kid's toys. The idea was that when potential buyers came to look at the house, there'd be enough there to give a sense of how furniture might fit, but not so overwhelming that it made the rooms look cramped. The POD loaded, the house looked bare. I was almost embarrassed, wondering what buyers would think of us. How poor we must be. They would think we were selling the house because we were avoiding foreclosure. We'd sold our furniture and now all that was left was the house.

The truck came and moved the POD and the moving sign went up.

In addition to the above reasons, we were looking at this as an experiment. Of those things we'd packed away, what things would we miss? What things would we forget we even had?

There were a few that popped up in a matter of days. La Esposa and I had just gotten back together -- I'd just moved my stuff back to the house from my apartment a week earlier and much of it remained in boxes -- boxes that were just put away into the POD. I had an inkling I'd be teaching a few classes during the summer, so there were some things I kept out for that purpose. And even now, I can't tell you what any of the things were that I wanted. (The exception being a sweet-sage smudge stick that we thought of using to clear the negative energy out of a few rooms.)

And as the time went by and the house was not selling, we came to realize that most of it was stuff we could live without. And, in fact, a lot of the stuff that remained in the house could go. As I said, we were pretty minimal before. Having the stuff gone made us realize how well we were doing with much less.

At the point where we were considering throwing in the towel on selling -- at least for the school year -- we called up the PODS people and had them return our stuff. We unloaded everything, putting it back where it was.

And, holy crap, it was a lot of stuff. You saw that coming, though, right? Suddenly our house -- which had once seemed minimal -- now felt jammed full. Nothing seemed to fit right. It was cluttered. We had to get rid of a lot of the things that had been in the POD. We held a yard sale the following weekend. It was a cleansing experience. Furniture and things we'd dragged around with us for years, holding onto "just in case," went up for sale. Slashed prices. Given away. Given to thrift stores. 

There's not a point here, really. As I said, you saw it coming. But, much of it was hard. I had a boombox cd/cassette combo that I'd lugged around since the late 90s when my second wife and I separated. I used it when I worked in the garage or 
out in the yard. Since then, though we'd gotten Bose portable iPod player that I used instead. I used it to make cassettes from CDs because I still had a cassette player in my truck -- though I used the player as an adapter to play my iPod. There was really no rational reason to keep it. It went to a piano teacher for $3 and I felt better about it.

My whole time with La Esposa has been about downsizing and minimalizing and letting go of things. It's been a sucky, painful, angry, humiliating, and mostly enlightening process.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

CNN - Has technology ruined handwriting?

-----
Sent from the CNN App for iPad
-----

Hey, check this out from CNN:
Semi-ambidextrous Nicholas Cronquist rebelled against third-grade cursive lessons. http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/26/tech/web/impact-technology-handwriting/index.html?iphoneemail


Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

For the Duration

I guess I'll be here a while. Till December anyway. I just picked up five courses to teach at the University of New Mexico for the Fall term. With La Esposa not working at present, we'll need the money. If we sell the house between now and December, she'll head on up with the kids and get us set in the new house. (Yeah, the one that has not presented itself yet.)

It's scary, but exciting, too. I've never done anything like this. But, then, there are a lot of things I'd never done in my life and, when I finally did, they mostly turned out OK.

And it all makes me wonder why. Why did I live my life in the shadow? Where there great things I could have accomplished in my life if I'd just had the motivation earlier on? Or did I need all the life experiences I've had?

Sometimes, when I look at what I'm finding interesting now days, I can see that those things didn't exist when I was younger. Or the threat to society wasn't great enough. Or the threat to me wasn't great enough. Mostly, I think, the latter. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that I couldn't do great things. More so, I was led to believe that in order to be successful, I had to be a certain way, and I was not good enough to be that way. I was too much of a failure to even try to be a failure at succeeding.... Ummm....?

What I'm seeing.... what I'm sensing is that A.) That model and definition of success that was held up before was a sham. And B.) that even if I'd somehow attained it, I'd not be able to hold it because that is not who I am. Not that I'm a failure. Far from it, I'm a success at being myself. And who/what I am did not follow the rest of the herd, lock-step, nose-to-ass, wearing a club-tie noose as I was led to slaughter.

I feel I've escaped something. Some cruel twist of fate that many other didn't. I've heard the squeals of terror from those far far ahead of me in the slaughterhouse line. I've heard the shotgun blast that puts them down one-by-one. I've turned and walked away.

I like teaching college level. I like the environment. I like the way I can dress. I like the creativity I can bring to the room. If I get to do that here in Albuquerque while I'm waiting to move, that's not so much of a punishment.

Just Because the Grass Isn't really Always Greener, Does That Mean itCan't be Sometimes? Part 3: The Taste of Greener Grass



In this third part about my planned move North, I want to look at the idea of, as the title has inferred, the greenness of the Colorado grass. That's in no way intended to refer to Colorado's recent changes on the legalization of Marijuana -- though it could. And, perhaps it does, but more in a sense of personal freedom from unreasonable idiocy.

Though I MIGHT want to discuss the idea of being happy where we are -- happy in the here and now -- I want to give an example or two of the greenness of the grass up yonder.
On a recent trip to Fort Collins -- a scouting mission to look at housing -- we found ourselves with a little time to kill. My wife and I ventured over to the Old Town to wander around.
A.) Rather than the strict tourist orientation of Albuquerque's Old Town, we found a community activity. There was a sense that this was part of Fort Collins -- then and now -- and not a low budget Disneyland gift shop strip mall. 
B.) The activity in question was a Book Fair. 

Yes.

A Book Fair.

At one end of the promenade was a piano that some local artists were painting as part of a larger Pianos in Public thing. (Elsewhere, at least one other painted piano was available for the public to play. There was a note that, should it begin to rain, it would be really cool if someone would close the keyboard cover and pull a tarp over it.) Next there was a group of musicians performing some odd experimental composition. not my cup of tea, but great to see people getting out and trying stuff; using public space. 

C.)There were at least four independent bookstores represented, along with several local writers. This, in case you didn't get it, was at a community event -- not a reading put on BY a bookstore AT their location. 

D.) There was a giant scrabble board game laid out with a come and go set of players.

E.)There was live music by local musicians that was not so loud no one could hear for a three block area (As I witnessed at a recent Albuquerque Summerfest Event.)

F.) Directly across from the stage (which was a permanent structure) there was a booth sponsored by a local literary magazine and three local brewers. They sold beer.

I am 55 years old. I was not carded (nor should I be.) I was not required to wear a bracelet showing I'd been carded. The beer drinking was not sequestered from the rest of the public nor hiddne from There were no mounted police patrolling the crowd. There were no police period. There were no rent-a-cops. There WERE a few event volunteers who, if you happened to stroll a bit too far with your beer, asked you politely to head back.

In other words, I was treated like an adult.

Another example. Driving down the average street in Fort Collins, You are hard-pressed to spot signs for businesses. Signs near the roads seem to have a height limit of maybe 8 feet. Trees line the roads, blocking most businesses from view. Not that you CAN'T see them. You just have to look harder. Many businesses are painted in low-key colors, or employ different style exteriors from what is seen in most urban-sprawl areas.

Contrast this with Albuquerque with its 20 foot or higher signs. Driving down, say, Menaul or Central Avenues, one sees nothings but business signs for miles. In older areas, all that remains is an abandoned framework from the sign of a long-defunct business. Owners are loathe to remove them because, once down, the original sign-permit is revoked and new signs must adhere to lower height standards. In Fort Collins, it's about how it is to be a resident. In Albuquerque, how it is to be a business.

I just read an article in the Fort Collins quarterly "Matter", published by Wolverine Farms. in it, a 15 year resident (formerly from Buffalo, NY among other places) decried the shabby shape of the north end of town as well as the sprawl. He's living in my future grass, but he has complaints, too.

So. Should I be satisfied with where I am and how I live? I guess. Thinking about how it will be when we move north is just me living in the future. But satisfaction doesn't engender change. I can't change the way where I am is.... (?) Maybe I could get my citizenship and vote for change in the city. But I can't change the dry miserable heat of summer. Or the dry, dusty cold of winter. I can't change the mindset of the people here. What I CAN do is to go somewhere else and try that. I've given Albuquerque a fair 40-year shake. Time's up.

Will the grass be greener? Will I wind up working at Walmart? Or worse, selling Whole-Life Term Insurance? Maybe. And maybe in the midst of a snowy Colorado Springtime, I'll miss the.... cold dusty wind of an Albuquerque Spring. 

Nah. I have a good feeling that that Northern grass will taste sweeter, even if it's buried under three feet of snow.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just Because the Grass Isn't really Always Greeener, Does That Mean it Can't be Sometimes? Part 2: Personal Freedom in the Land of the Free

I want to address a misconception about living in America. Our freedom here may or may not be an illusion. Our freedom of movement, anyway. 

I don't want to sound like a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist, or a 99%er -- even if I am assuredly the latter, and on occasion a bit of the former.

Sometime last Fall, when I was out living on my own, I had a conversation with a friend -- one that turned somewhat bitter in the end. 

"I'd love to move away from here.I feel so trapped."
"Why don't you?" the friend asked. 
"They don't call New Mexico 'The Land of Entrapment' for nothing," I said half-jokingly.
"What do you mean?" he said. "If you want to go, go." He said this in the same tone of people who tell the homeless guy on the corner to 'just go get a job.'
"It's not that simple," I said, unsure if I even had a valid rationale. 

Since 1973 I'd lived out of state for only seven years -- while I was in the military and a bit after.I'd never actually *tried* to leave. Not seriously. But part of that was because I'd lived, for the most part, paycheck to paycheck for so long. Sometimes not even that. Sometimes there were weeks in between with nothing. Living on food stamps/ Weeks of ramen for dinner. Eating potted meat product. 
Even when I did have a bit of a cushion in savings, I was loathe to spend much of it -- and there was never enough of it there to live on for more than a month or two. I guess there was always that idea of being so close to living on the street.

"I'm talking about packing up and leaving," I said to my friend, clarifying things.
"Of course it's 'that simple'," he said."Sure, you'd have to save up a little money before you went. But you can just do it. Hell," he added. "I've done it myself many times."

And maybe he was right. Maybe at one time you could do that. Save a bit of money. Rent a U-Haul and drive to a new city. And I suppose that if you wanted to renounce your worldly goods, you could up and hit the road. Hell, it's how I wound up back in Albuquerque in the early 19802. My first wife and I, tired of living in Tacoma, Washington, packed our 72 Pontiac Bonneville to the point that the tires were scraping on the wheel wells and left town within 24 hours of making the decision. 

Something was telling me that this was not possible now. Something was telling me that our movements were being subtly controlled. At least those of us on the lower-end of the economic strata. 
Now, I'm not dirt-poor, though when I was single, even as a University adjunct faculty member, I was living below the poverty line.

++++++++++++
As an aside, I'd like to say that I really am not about the whole wealth thing. If you've read anything else in this blog, you've probably gotten that point. So this is not about me being concerned about lowering my standard of living... Though it may, in fact, be about me (us) and attachment.
+++++++++++

My friend and I came to a tense agree-to-disagree standoff. Neither of us had the will to prove our point. I think that my friend felt like he had freedom of movement because he traveled a lot, visiting different countries, hiking and camping around the U.S. But the (relative) freedom to travel is not the same as freedom of movement.

In my previous post, I told how my wife and I decided to move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Fort Collins, Colorado. We assumed it would be simple. We sell our house here, use the equity as a downpayment on a new house up there. A simple exchange. 
Right?

Enh. Not so much. We hit a roadblock right out of the gate when we talked with a realtor. We were informed that, in order to get a mortgage these days (since the lending fiasco of a few years ago) you have to have at least a one-month paystub. Mortgage companies were no longer just handing money out. Forget the fact that we've had a mortgage for 9 years with no late payments. My wife has stellar credit. Doesn't matter. Well, we were moving without having actual jobs in place -- we weren't going to have that paystub for a while. 

But that's not saying we couldn't get one. Just that we'd have to move us and our kids into a temporary living situation -- an apartment or house rental -- until we came up with the jobs.
BUT, the house rentals are much more than a mortgage payment -- so we were looking at digging ourselves into a hole while we waited.
If we'd been making another 10 or 20 grand a year, we might have been able to had a bit more in savings. 

The second roadblock came in the form of something we honestly did not anticipate; the inability to sell our house. We're baffled. It's not that people see it and find it lacking. It's that they aren't seeing it. We've had maybe six or seven people come to have a look. The place shows well -- every realtor has said that. Few people are looking at it online even. I know that one couple was not interested because we'd refinished part of the garage and they wanted a two-car garage. Another couple got priced out of the market when the new mortgage rates went into effect. I imagine that many people just don't want to live on the West side of town. I know I didn't. If I had to live on this side of town, though, this is were I'd want to do it. 

So, yeah. People aren't coming. It's disheartening and frustrating.
I guess, in a way, my friend was right. We could probably sell the house for what we owe on it. We could go up to Fort Collins and find a small place to rent that won't care that we don't have jobs yet. In effect we would have moved to Fort Collins. But what then? The questions is really, can you pack up and make a lateral move?

I imagine it's possible for many people. I imagine people who play the corporate game, who have a lot of money in savings. Lots of liquidity. Noose-wearing shirt-tuckers. Them. They've got that back-up money in savings. They've got the assets to be able to buy a second house in the new city while they sell this one. They work at places where they can just transfer to the new job with the same company, therefore, they have a paycheck to give the bank.

I'm not saying I'm jealous of them. I'm not jealous of the mobility. I'm angry at the way that those of us not interested in playing the game don't get to move so easily. We are, in a way, being punished for the sins of the bankers. Because they made shitty lending decisions, WE can't get a mortgage in a new town. They got bonuses and bailouts. We got... Albuquerque.

Sure. It's their money. I understand that. And that's part of the reason that we made another housing decision, one I'll talk about later. But the whole thing has somehow left me feeling that escape is not an option. That the government does, to a degree, control our movements. I have moments recently where I've felt like I'm in some weird blend of "The Matrix" and "The Truman Show." Like it's just a matter of waking up to the reality of the situation; the reality behind the reality. 

I was listening to an podcast interview with Noam Chomsky this morning. In it he talked about how Alan Greenspan considered one of the crowning achievements of his tenure at the Fed as having made the average American worker fear the loss of his job. (It was Greenspan, no doubt, that coined the phrase, "You're lucky to have a job.") It's that same sort of thinking that got the proletariat believing that we have true freedom of movement. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

And I Quote ~ Jimmy Buffett

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn't use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And If I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On


According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Don't try to explain it just bow your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On
~Jimmy Buffett & Matt Betton

Tiny houses


And I Quote ~ Marcel Proust

"The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is;  and this we do, with great artists; with artists like these we do really fly from star to star."
 - Marcel Proust

Just Because the Grass Isn't Really Always Greener, Does That Mean it Can't be Sometimes? Part 1

The story to date.

About two months ago, my wife and I made the -- admittedly drop-of-the-hat -- decision to move from our home in Albuquerque (where I've lived for forty years) to Fort Collins, Colorado; a city we'd been to twice. We'd gone once for the day, back in 2008, when I was considering attending graduate school at Colorado State University, and once in the summer of 2012 as a side trip from Denver to tour the New Belgium Brewery. 

A few months following the latter trip, our relationship hit a couple of potholes that rendered it inoperable. I moved out of the house for, what I assumed was forever. 

But in the end, things came together. In the time apart, we both learned a lot about ourselves and we did some growing. In March of this year we agreed to try to work it out and, for the most part, it has. We had talked about the possibility of selling the house -- which she had purchased just before we met -- and buying a new place that was "ours." One we'd chosen together

One afternoon, while I was in the process of moving my stuff back to the house from my little apartment, she phoned me.

"What would you say about selling the house and moving to Fort Collins?"

"..." I really wasn't sure what to say. It was as though someone had asked if I wanted a million dollars. What was the catch?

"I was looking on CSU's employment site and found an Occupational Therapy job," she said. That's what she's been doing in Albuquerque for the past 9 years, mostly for local schools.

She went on. "They've also got listings for English instructors." That's what I've done for the past four years. I didn't really need to think too much about it.

Or more to the point, I didn't WANT to think more about it. The big reason I hadn't applied to CSU for grad school five years earlier because we weren't going to be able to sell our house, it being in the depths of the housing crash.

But now? Was it better now? Summer is supposed to be the best time to sell a house. It was, however, putting me well past the time when the Universities hire for the Fall semester. There was a chance that I could get into the Part-Timer pool. In a pinch, I could probably come up with something else.

I didn't really care, because it meant escaping Albuquerque. I hate to say this, it sounds so negative, but I hate this town. It's got a few minor charms, and everybody can list some attributes that I can't argue with -- the sky, the sunsets. People will often mention the weather here. "360 days of sunshine," they'll say -- as if that's a good thing. As if you can be out and enjoying that sun. A bunch of those sunny days come in the cold, dreary, dusty-brown winters. Many more come in the intolerable summer heat. (For those who say, "Oh, this isn't hot, you should try Phoenix or Houston," I say, shut up. just shut up now. If you step in a small pile of shit, the fact that there's a larger one that you DIDN'T step in doesn't make it better.You've still stepped in shit.) As I was writing this, I saw rain clouds moving in. I remember that someone had recently commented on the smell of this place after a rain and, I had to admit, yeah. It's great. But we've been having a real monsoon season, after so many years of teasers, and last night, during a good downpour, my family and I sat outside under the patio covering. The magic never happened. Even the rain smelled like dust. Or like musty old dirty sweat. There is so much more I could bitch about, but I won't. Yet.

There actually IS a reason for my story here and it has to do with the idea of personal freedom in the land of the free, and also, the concept of the grass being greener. I'll go into those in parts 2 and 3 of this post. But until then, understand that I know how to be satidfied with what I have. I don't think that's the issue here. Or maybe it is a little.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Change

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Fort Collins, Colorado. My fiancée and I have come up here to look at a home -- to put an offer on it if we can. 

We love it here. The air is fresh, the people friendly, the skyline devoid of signs and billboards. To move our family here would be, we think, a positive change. 

A positive one. So why is this so damned hard? Is the Universe fighting against us? Is the change we are supposed to be going through one of acceptance of where we were? Did we need to learn the lesson of satisfaction first?

Don't get me wrong. We don't think this is going to be a magic cure-all. But trying to raise our children in a better environment sure can't be wrong.

Today we are heading back to Albuquerque. We did make an offer on a place yesterday. The owner made a frustrating counter-offer. At noon today we'll call the realtor with our response. We put our best offer forward from the start. I don't want an angry negotiating battle from this. If that's what it will be, I don't want the place.

Even though I do want it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Reminder from this station.....

https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/q92/s720x720/1011744_10152927779135654_2112913154_n.jpg

And I Quote: Allen Ginsberg

"Being able to exist without credentials, existing simultaneously with the earth without apology any more than the sun has to apologize."
~ Allen Ginsburg

Sunday, June 16, 2013

C'est Le Merde

ryan_duggan

Don Quixote (by Moebius)

http://biblioklept.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/donquixotemoebius.jpg?w=340&h=535

Quote

Myth of Unsustainable Meat


Read the accompanying article by Joel Saltin on Grist.com












Source: grist.org via Rick on Pinterest

Zen

http://24.media.tumblr.com/46f064dc26f297bb7d47dc5ab507348b/tumblr_mmyf6iKEMt1qz6f9yo1_1280.jpg

From Huff Post: Boomer Suicide In Men May Be Caused By Loneliness

Dr. Melinda Moore joined guests on HuffPost Live Wednesday to discuss why middle-aged men just may be "the loneliest people." To hear her explanation, take a look at the video above or visit HuffPost Live to watch the full segment.




Friday, June 14, 2013

And I Quote: Alice Walker

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
~ Alice Walker

Thursday, June 06, 2013

And I Quote: Jerome K. Jerome

"It is just at the very age when a man's character is forming that he tumbles into love, and then the lass he loves has the making or marring of him. Unconsciously he molds himself to what she would have him, good or bad."
~ Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)

And then he spends the rest of his life trying to fit that mold.

....and it really was good, you know.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/942966_10201061163920508_2099183579_n.jpg

And I Quote: Louis C.K.

“It’s not your life, it’s life. Life is bigger than you. Life isn’t something that you possess, it’s something that you take part in and you witness.” 
- Louis C.K.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

impermanence

It's been a year of learning about impermanence for me and my family. So many shakeups. Today was a tough one as we said goodbye to our oldest dog, Deja. Putting her down was a tough decision, but it was for the best.

Things die. People die. Pets die. It's the way of things. Knowing that doesn't lessen the blow, I know, but it is a helpful reminder and makes facing our own mortality a little easier.

Deja is the black dog on the left. She was a sweetheart. She could be annoying with her barking, but overall she was well-behaved. I think she helped me to understand people better, including my son who has Aspergers. She helped me to get the idea of our reactions to things as evolutionary tools. As well I saw that we react out of fear. When my son does some of the things that can, honestly, piss me off, I get it now. He's responding in fear. "Something is different. Something is wrong. Stop it before it hurts me." That's all dogs are doing when they bark at the doorbell or the neighbor.

Monday, May 27, 2013

:~D


Compassion

And I Quote: James Turrell

"We eat light, drink it in through our skins. With a little more exposure to light, you feel part of things physically. I like feeling the power of light and space physically because then you can order it materially. Seeing is a very sensuous act - there's a sweet deliciousness to feeling yourself see something."
 - James Turrell

And I Quote: C.S. Lewis

“The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes.” 
–C.S. Lewis

Don't follow the herd


Zen, Mindfulness, and Depression




I wanted to recommend two resources for those working with depression and who may be of a Buddhist bent -- though that part doesn't really matter. The only obstacle would b e if you were fervently anti-that persuasion.

The first source is an audiobook from Sounds True titled The Mindful Way Through Depression.

The first section discusses depression, it's sources, and some recent findings on recurrence and alleviation. The remainder is a selection of guided meditations by Renowned Buddhist psychologist Jon Kabat Zinn. This has been a very useful and helpful book for me in dealing with my depressive times. Even just listening to the introduction has made me feel less alone and different in my suffering.

The next is Phillip Martin's The Zen Path Through Depression. It features short chapters on a variety of depression-related issues such as Pain, Death, Fear, Doubt, etc., along with helpful meditation ideas. I got it as an e-book on sale for a couple of bucks and it would easily be worth the full retail price.

Three other books I'd like to mention are ones I've been reading concurrently with the above have likewise worked well in reinforcing the ideas of mindfulness as a path through depression -- and even as a tool to help reshape the brain to avoid future bouts. These would be Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step, Charlotte Joko Beck's Everyday Zen, and Mark Nepo's awesome daily devotional, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. I don't read them all every day, but at least one or two. they usually sync up and give me insight and reminders for the day.