Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Well, Guess What, Y'all... looks like yours truly is going to the Pen to Press Writers Retreat after all. In a great confluence of forces all coming together to produce, I dunno, say, the Big Bang and all life in the universe or something, I have somehow managed to attain money to pay for the thing (a Saturday job plus help from a friend), a place to stay (more help from another friend), a cheap plane ticket, and best of all, the suggestion that my new place of employ can do without me for a few days. (Yes, that's probably the longest sentence I've ever written on this blog.) Imagine that. (And that was probably the shortest.)

So I haven't bought the plane ticket yet but everything else is all done. And I'm excited and oh so scared. I mean, these are the Big Boys here and I'm just a little guy. Girl. Whatever. I mean, F. Paul Wilson is going to be there. F. Paul Wilson. Sincerely. And then there's, uh, me. A person could get seriously intimidated. Right now, though, my plan is just to show up, wing it and see what happens. That is usually a good plan. At least, it has worked for me for a long time.

Oh, in news of all things Buddhist-y, happy Wesak! Pick up some flowers today just for the heck of it and give somebody a piece of fruit. It's trad.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Blog Post That Almost Wasn't

Playing in the background: Something on the Documentary Channel about prostitution in Russia. Which is a downer. Looking for something else.

Well, gang, you almost didn't get to read this blog post. I got most of the way done with it and then almost deleted the whole thing. But here it is anyway.

Being unemployed, or rather under employed, like I am now is kind of disorienting. You;re cut off, in a way, from ordinary folk. You aren't going to a regular job that you can be reasonably certain will be there next week or the week after that. Of course, Buddhism tells us that all jobs end, all people die, all things change and all double espressos will eventually be consumed, but most of us count on stuff anyway, usually to our sorrow. Anyway, disoriented and all that, I was wandering around on the web one day and I came across this link.

My first thought was, "Oh, how nice, another outfit seeking to separate me from what little money I currently have." But I started doing some research and prowling around a little more and lo and behold, this started to sound legit. The application process was daunting, but it wasn't like they were going to accept me anyway, so what was the harm? Besides, maybe I'd finally figure out how to write a goddamn synopsis.

So, with a great deal of angst along the lines of writing query letters with Scaley the Paranoid T-Rex, I put the application together one night at Afrah, home of the best Middle Eastern food outside, uh, the Middle East. And, after several gentle reminders from Joan, I finally sent the silly thing in.

And then the strangest thing happened: They accepted me. And I let them accept me and put down a deposit so they would continue to accept me. (They like me! They really like me!) And I've been wandering around in a state of mild shock ever since.

Mind you, I still don't know if I'm actually going. There are certain obstacles (chief among them financial, and then we'll add to the list how in hell will I get there, as well as can I get the time off of work just on the off-chance I have a job), but strangely, some of the pieces have started to fall into place. My friend Marcia, who is awesome, has graciously offered to let me stay at her place in the French Quarter. Another friend, Tammy, has offered to lend the money to me, and given that she doesn't have a lot of money to lend, only right now she does, it's all starting to seem like the will of God or some such thing. I even have a friend who might let me work for him some Saturdays to help pay for it.

So, anyway, that's what's going on. And let's put this in bold caps: I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT TO GO. Mind you, going is also scary as hell, but look, people, I'm not getting any younger. Either I'm gonna pursue this whole writing thing or I'm not and it's really time to find out which. I wish finding out which didn't cost quite that much but, you know, sometimes to gain everything you have to lose everything else, which is something else Buddha said.

Wish me luck, kids. It's going to be a interesting couple of weeks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Buddha on PBS

Playing in the background: Some weird bird that sounds like it has an upset stomach

Last Wednesday, PBS ran an interesting two-hour special called The Buddha. Being as this is a Buddhist blog and all that, it occurred to me I might want to make some commentary about this show. First of all, though, I'll make a plug here and let you know that you can watch the program for the low low price of absolutely free at this web site. You can also buy a copy on Blu-Ray or DVD if you want one, or become a fan on Facebook or just hang around and read all the stuff people have posted about the show. And of course any purchases you might make support public broadcasting and all that. Happy? Good.

This program made a great Buddhism 101 for anybody who's unfamiliar with the whole thing. It began with the Buddha's life and ended with his death, but in the meantime it went all over the place, talking to ordinary folks who followed the teachings of the Buddha as well as the Dalai Lama and some monks and nuns. (Thank you, David Grubin, for including some nuns; things are changing, but women still tend to be invisible in Buddhism the same way they are in the other major faiths.) The inclusion of the ordinary folks made what could have been a pedantic little Afterschool Special into a nice little movie.

In case you did not know this, what we know of Buddha's life is about half folklore and half actual fact (rather like that of another religious figure I could mention). The movie made that distinction by putting a lot of Buddha's life into a sort of watercolor animation thingy (I don't know the technical term) that not only indicated "Hey, this is probably folklore" but was also really cool to look at. Interspersed with the animation were real-world footage from sacred sites around India, and discussions of real-world problems that can be viewed, if not actually solved, from a Buddhist perspective.

The Buddha is well-done and informative and is recommended by, uh, me. Richard Gere narrates, just incidentally, but that's the last reason you should check it out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LinkedIn, and In, and In

I've been perusing the Interweb looking for good web sites for us unemployed folk. Boy, have I ever found one. It's called LinkedIn, and it's like Facebook for grownups. By grownups I mean professional types of all stripes, from accountants to plumbers and yes, just incidentally, paralegals. If you haven't checked out this site and you're looking for work, or if you're already a business owner/venturer and you're looking for more work, you could do a lot worse. There's just so much in here I hardly know where to start. Networking, corporate events, workshops, recommendations, shout-outs, and that's just the beginning. I've been wandering around in here for days and I haven't gotten bored yet. Plus, it creates a mini-page for you with your work experience, picture, general credentials and a little statement about who you are. Here's an example. (My accountant, Scott.) Seriously, check it out. You will not be disappointed.

For that whole looking-for-work thing, we have two nifty Web sites that do in a flash what can't do in an hour; search virtually the entire Internet for job ads and bring them to you in a neat, tidy prepackaged format. They're called and I'm not sure how they work but work they do. If it's been advertised somewhere on the Net (including on Monster) it will show up on one of these sites and probably both. It doesn't hurt that Linkedin works with and tells you if one of your connections is already connected to the job you're looking at. I should probably also mention but I don't use that one as much. All three of these work with Google Reader or whatever RSS feed you care to set up.

As for how not to get depressed while looking for work, I found a whole lot of really good real world advice from ordinary folks right here.

And how is the whole job search thing going, you ask. Well, firstly I have a job starting April 27 with the U.S. Census, so if I can survive until then, and I think I can, I don't have too much to worry about. But the Census gig is not full time, and I will still need the real gig with the bennies and all that stuff, so the search continues. I've had some good interviews and we'll see what happens, folks.