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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Buddhist Terror

I am so embarrassed.

Okay, maybe that's not the best reaction to a bunch of people getting killed in the name of religion.  But still.  I am so embarrassed.  My teeny tiny religion based on kindness, nonviolence, compassion for all beings and just in general being nice to everybody finally makes the cover of Time, and what's the headline?  "The Face Of Buddhist Terror."  Great.  This has to be the best thing to happen to the international Buddhist image since the sarin gas attack in Tokyo.

Not, by the way, that you're actually going to see this cover.  This is the international edition cover.  We in the United States got a cutesy cover of veterans painting a wall, which is of course the cover itself, with a dripping wet-paint headline about national service and how it might save the world.  I'd paste it in here, but one stolen cover image per post is probably plenty.  Still, international-edition readers get the real news.  We get some cleaned-up version that's meant not to disturb us too much, I guess, lest we all jump up in a group and demand that the corrupt bag of bastards running our country fucking do something instead of just sit there.  For real news, try some of these Web sites: Alternet, Huffington Post, Common Cause, RH Reality Check.  And for fake news, there's always Fox.

Back to Myanmar, though.  If you don't know where Myanmar is, it's in the Far East and it used to be Burma, east of Bangladesh and a little bit north of Laos.  If that doesn't help, it's near India someplace.  Anyway: For the last several months, gangs of Buddhists armed with machetes (Gangs of Buddhists.  That is just the most antithetical phrase.) have been going into Muslim areas, beating up Muslims, burning their houses down and in some cases killing them.  And if you're a Buddhist and your head isn't spinning around at this piece of news, what kind of a Buddhist are you?

Obviously this is completely out of character for Buddhists anywhere, even Myanmar.  It's not Right Thinking and it certainly isn't Right Action.  It violates the First Precept and the Second Precept (I'd argue that burning somebody's house down is the same as stealing; you've certainly taken from them their use of that house, and anything in it).  Why on God's green earth would Buddhists behave this way?  Well, apparently because of the guy on the cover, Wirathu, who calls himself the Buddhist Bin Laden.  (Yes, he said that.  He said that.)  Wirathu says that the Buddhists are only defending themselves from Muslim corruption.  The Muslims come into an area, he claims, and they marry all the Buddhist daughters, spread their religion and take over.  Myanmar needs to remain Buddhist by any means necessary, and apparently the means necessary (as determined by him) is, uh, anything goes.

I'm blown away that so many people are listening to this guy and are willing to go along with what he says.  Rather than listen to the values they've lived by all these years, they'd rather listen to somebody who validates their fears and tells them to do what they want to do anyway.  I guess that's no different than people listening to Christian megapreachers on late night TV, going in to work the next morning and firing the gay guy who works in the mail room, but I just thought Buddhists were above this stuff.  Part of being human is being endlessly disappointed in your fellow humans.  Or, as my receptionist keeps telling me, "People are strange. People are strange. People are strange."

This is killing me, personally, because I love Muslims.  I am fascinated by Islam, though always from the outside because they'd never take me. (The whole lesbian thing, you know.)  I love their art, I love their music, I love their culture, and I love their food.  I love to go to Afrah on a Thursday night and hear Arabic spoken.  If Muslims and Buddhists become enemies again, they might not let me back in, and sales of pita bread in Richardson would plummet and create a miniature black hole that would spread and suck down the entire U.S. economy.  I mean it could be chaos.

Unfortunately, Muslims and Buddhists have a history with each other.  From the 9th century battles with Sunni Turks  to the destruction of the Buddhas at Bimayan in 2001, a lot of blood has been spilled, even if it had less to do with religion and more to do with living space.  And usually, the Buddhists came out on the losing side of these conflicts.  One thing about Muslims, historically speaking:  You don't want to piss them off.

Anyway, Myanmar isn't the only country to experience this kind of conflict.  Buddhist/Muslim riots have been reported in Indonesia, southern Thailand and Sri Lanka just in the last year.  The Dalai Lama has condemned the violence. Thich Nhat Hanh sounded off in Tricycle Magazine with a list of co-authors that read like a Buddhist Who's Who.  And both of them said what I suspected all along: This isn't about religion.  This is about two groups of people who are deciding not to get along, and using religion as a handy excuse to fight with each other.


I just want you all to know that there are 448 million Buddhists in the world, and most of us are NOT LIKE THAT.  Oh, sure, we get pissed off.  Myself I get angry about injustice and rape and lack of ethics in government and men trying to control women's bodies and bad drivers and $7,000 sewer pipes and bad faxes from opposing counsel and workplace pettiness and large companies that are "too big to fail" so they get away with anything and cats howling in the middle of the night and waking me up and people who won't look at the big picture and my idiot neighbor (who is an idiot) and so-called Christians who picket soldiers' funerals and the people who work on the 12th floor of my building who dress like it's Saturday and they're going to spend the day shooting up.  But I've never taken a machete to any of them and I never will.  When I took refuge and accepted the Five Precepts it meant something.  A religion is not a cafeteria, people.  If you're going to live by a set of values, live by them.  Full time.  Not only when it's easy but especially when it's hard.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Real Estate Deals Go Bad

Oh yeah.  We were selling the house, weren't we?

Well, we were, and then we weren't.  And now we're not.  And in case I never got around to telling that story, here it is.

The whole point, you know, of selling the house was that it needs an expensive sewer pipe repair.  Not only is it expensive, it's also annoying; we'll have to move out for at least a couple of days, we don't know what to do about the cats during that time, the logistics are mind-boggling even if you aren't mentally interesting and the whole thing upsets my wife, and what does it say in the marriage manual on page one?  Never, ever upset your wife.  In italic print, no less.  So somehow, it seemed like a great idea to just sell the house and let someone else deal with it.  As if packing up, buying another house (with problems of its own, considering our budget) and settling into a weird new neighborhood was going to be less stressful than just fixing the damn sewer pipe, already.  And trust me, they were weird neighborhoods.  There was this one where we looked at a duplex that--actually, I liked that duplex.  A lot.  I just wanted it to be built somewhere else, that's all.

The first sign that This Was Never Going To Work was when our wonderful real estate agent, who helped us find this place after a day of running around in the rain, suddenly didn't work for the agency anymore (we never did find out what happened) and the agency assigned us another agent.  The new agent was--well, it didn't really matter, because I never gave her much of a chance.  I tried to.  I even muttered it through my teeth; "Give her a chance, Jen.  Give her a chance."  The truth is that I have very little patience for certain kinds of professionals, and one of them is real estate agents.  Before we found the Wonderful Real Estate Agent, I fired three others.  (Or was it two?)  In that particular transaction, we had 48 hours to fly into Dallas, buy a house and fly back out again.  We. Did. Not. Have. Time. To. Fuck. Around.  So the second one of them started messing with us (and they do that; they give you weird hand signals during a viewing that you're supposed to understand sight unseen, they show you places that have everything you don't want and say things like "Just wait until you see the kitchen", they show you places you can't even remotely begin to afford and say, "Now, with an FHA loan, you only have to put down 3 1/2 percent!"), I fired them.  But I was fair about it. When the next one came on board, I'd say, "Don't do this, this or this."  Then either they did, or they found a new and exciting way to mess with me, and I fired them.  God has a special place in Her heart for these people.  They had to put up with me, after all.

So here we are with this new agent, and already things aren't going well. She wants us to "dress up" our house so it'll sell faster, which basically means stripping it of everything that suggests two human beings live there.  She wants the pictures gone, the paintings gone, the craft stuff gone, the bells and chimes gone.  She wants the frick'n meditation cushions gone and makes some crack about it doesn't look good to homebuyers if you're worshipping a pagan god.  (Damn. Well, reschedule the human sacrifice til next week.)  She wants the doors replaced, the kitchen painted, the back yard redone.  Oh, and she has no sense of humor.  She didn't actually curl her lip at us and say, "How charming," but she could have and I wouldn't have been at all surprised.

The other thing was that she had a specific kind of person in mind to buy the house, a "target market," as it were.  Which was great, if the specific kind of person was ever going to come within fifteen miles of our neighborhood.  Our neighborhood was built in the late 50s/early 60s, and apart from the fashions and the presence of people who have skin colors other than white, it's kind of like it never left.  Kids ride bikes around and toss the football after school instead of going to some expensive day care. What's more, they walk to school.  Both ways.  In the snow.  Our street is about half white, half Hispanic with a smattering of Other, largely working class, largely multilingual.  Our across-the-street neighbors just got here from somewhere south of the Rio Grande, and on most weekends they have friends over, barbecue something, drink beer and tell jokes until the wee hours of the morning.

It's not suburbia, is what I'm trying to say here.  It's really not the scene for the soccer mom and the downtown lawyer dad.  Yet when we tried to suggest they print the flyer in Spanish, she looked at us like we'd just grown nine heads.  And when it arrived, a beautiful four-color laminated flyer that was all in English, we'd also lost a bedroom.  Somehow we went from a 3-bedroom 1-bath to a 2-bedroom 1-bath with an "extra living space."  But that wasn't supposed to have any effect on the price.  People like extra living spaces. Um, I checked Zillow and until my scroller got sore and there wasn't a single 2-bedroom 1-bath anywhere around listed for as much as we were.  3-bedrooms, sure, but no 2-bedrooms, extra living space or no extra living space.

Then the agent e-mailed me and suggested we drop the price, because there hadn't been very many showings.  Hey, was that the crack of doom I just heard?  I was delighted--not about dropping the price, but because I didn't think there had been any showings.  I immediately called her up to see what people had said during the showings.  Was there something particular they liked or didn't like, something we could fix, play up, learn from?  No reply for a while.  Finally she said there actually hadn't been any showings.  At all.  None.

I can put up with a lot, but when I lose respect for you, I do it all at once and very hard.  In this case it wasn't the lack of showings, it was the fact that she lied to me.  It was a ridiculous lie, too; all I had to do was call the lockbox company to find out how many showings there had been.  It was a good thing we weren't having too much luck finding something to buy, either, because I was about to fire another real estate agent.

Only I couldn't.  We'd signed a contract.  The only way to get out of it was to take the house off the market.  So that's what we did, and we're still in our little house.

Which is good.  I love my little house.  And my shrink, when I mentioned all of these goings-on, got a bit annoyed and said, "You know, if you'd told your psychiatrist you were considering this move--and you should tell your psychiatrist, when you're planning a major life change--he would have told you not to do it, because it would be a lot of stress you wouldn't need right now."

Oops.  Duly noted.

No, the sewer pipe isn't fixed yet.  If you have seven grand you don't need, you could send it our way.  And maybe come pick up our cats for a little while.  But anyway, that's what happened with the selling of the house.  And now (Paul Harvey voice) you know the rest of the story.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another One We Won't Post to Facebook.

The view from the front porch.
Oh, who am I kidding.  I probably will post it on Facebook.  I just won't email it to anyone in my family.  They don't come looking for my blog posts, you know.  They only read them if I email them.  Too much to do on the Internet already and blah blah blah.  (Actually, I don't know if they read them when I email them, but I figure they've got a slightly better shot.)

Anyway, I got a communique from one of my aunts that she and my uncle have sold their place on Lake Metigoshe (it means "many waters" in Chippewa) in North Dakota.  I was both sad and not surprised; it's been on the market for a couple of years.  The whole time I was hoping it could stay in the family, or that somebody would lend me $1.3 million and I'd be able to buy it.  Make it $1.4 and throw in the sailboat.

Most of the happy parts of my childhood took place in this house, and in a way, I'm glad it's gone before I have a chance to go back and see it one more time.  How do you do something when you know it's going to be the last time?  I've taken cats to the vet for the last time, and believe me, it is not fun.  I'm not in favor of trying to mark significant endings.  Buddha said people and things will come and go out of your life like the tide.  Love them while they're here and then let them go.  I think that was Buddha, anyway. (I'll bet Buddha never took a cat to the vet for the last time.)

They have to be out by the end of the month.  Which is kind of insane, seeing as they've lived there for about fifty years. Having done it once, when my grandmother died, I can honestly say I'd have no idea even where to start.  (Hint to those of you who expect to be survived by loved ones: Do the loved ones a favor and START CLEANING BEFORE YOU DIE, fer godsakes.  You think your loved ones want to try to figure out who should get the 1940s era Dick Tracy comic books and the Icelandic Bible?  And the piano--no, don't get me started about the piano.)

Speaking of childhood relics and pieces of real estate, it occurred to me a couple of blog posts ago that I never really explained about the whole Lutheran Church thing.  I grew up in the Lutheran Church, and if you're going to be a Christian, you could do a lot worse than this particular flavor.  Lutherans tend to be liberal-minded, soft-hearted, all about helping the poor and downtrodden, and just in general, very, very nice.  They rarely get mad; they just get very, very disappointed in you.  And yeah, there are a couple of factions that split off from the main body over literal interpretations of certain Bible verses and other strange things, but for the most part, the Swedes and the Germans have all come together and made one big happy church, at least in America and Canada.

And I grew up in it, which was hell.  I don't know why it was hell; as I've said, everybody's very nice.  But I had a Problem from the get-go, and as soon as I got old enough to articulate it, I was articulating it at anyone who would listen.  The Problem was that I didn't want to be there.  Not that I had any other grand plans for a Sunday morning -- Joan attends the High Church of the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle, but that wasn't an option for me then, much less in ink--I Just. Didn't. Want. To Be. There.  And because I had to be there, I made sure to make a huge ruckus so that everyone knew beyond a doubt that I didn't want to be there.

This went on from my initial baptism, during which I made a run for it, until I was about twelve, which, coincidentally, covers most of the time we lived in Utah.  You'd think there'd be nothing like being an oppressed minority to make you love your religion, and you're right, mostly.  But I only loved my religion when I wasn't mired in it.  When we were there, all I thought about was escape.

Again, it's hard to articulate, but it's something like this: I had figured out very young that for all the supposed importance of church, the one thing I wasn't supposed to do was actually buy any of it.  You know, actually start believing that Christ rose from the dead and saved us all with his blood and that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  We weren't there because we actually believed that stuff.  We were there because my mother didn't want us turning into little Mormons.  We needed something to do on a Sunday morning that didn't involve a day-long church service and immersion baptism at the age of eight.  And to talk to people who said "Oh ya?" with the same flat Midwestern accent as we did.  And that, to me, was a complete and utter waste of time.  Why bother coming to church if you didn't believe it?

What was worse, I didn't.  Believe it, I mean.  I tried to.  I was fine with the whole God part, big paternal spirit in the sky that keeps an eye on us and wishes we were nicer to each other.  But the Jesus thing?  Raising a little girl from her deathbed, saying "Lazarus, come out!", turning water to wine, coming back from the dead?  Uh, no. Sorry. Guy was cool--long haired radical, wanted people to do what was right instead of what was popular, looked out for the widows and the orphans and so on--but all that miracle stuff?  That was strictly an out-of-control press agent.

And it pissed me off.  I was furious that I couldn't believe the whole Jesus thing.  I was furious that my parents didn't believe the whole Jesus thing, because if they believed it, surely I'd have inherited some belief from them.  But I didn't buy it.  Couldn't buy it, really.  It just went against some fundamental something-or-other in my brain that I can't seem to let go of.  There's this whiny little voice in my head that pops up at the damnedest times and and says, "But Jen, that doesn't make any sense."  Handy when you have a high fever and you're hallucinating the sounds of falling paper clips, but really annoying when you're dreaming that you're having sex with a man/woman/ fantasy creature and it suddenly pops up and says, "Uh, Jen, you've been married to Joan for 18 years."  I mean, there's not much to say after that except, "I'm sorry, dude, I have to go home."  I lose more somnolent dates that way.

Fast forward to Tempe, Arizona circa 1983.  We've moved, so we need to find a new church.  We visit three of them, and one is much bigger and more ostentatious than the others, and populated by people who appear to be much richer than us. (I don't know yet that my parents are millionaires.)  Guess which one they liked best.  So for about a year I put up with this church--or maybe it's two years--and in that time a bunch of stuff happens, none of it good. (Remind me to tell you the story about the new organ sometime--I'd tell it now, but this blog post is already getting overlong.) One day I turn sixteen and I suddenly say, "You know what, I'm done.  I'm not going to church anymore.  You want to ground me til I'm eighteen, fine."  (I've already figured out that between music lessons, band practice and after-school study sessions, I'm rarely home anyway.)  They didn't.  Ground me until I was eighteen, I mean.  But I did fight like cats and dogs with my mother about this issue every single Sunday from that day until the day I moved out.  I kid you not.  Every week it was World War Three in our kitchen.

Having not learned my lesson, I joined another Lutheran church in San Diego when I was 26.  But that was different.  They fed the homeless every night, and they had an acupuncture clinic and a doctor that came around if anybody needed one, and a lawyer would volunteer his time to help people apply for benefits if they were due them, and a social worker would come down and get the kids into school (there was a special school for children of homeless parents), and if somebody wanted help with a drug or alcohol problem they'd make sure he or she got it, and oh yeah, they had this church over here, too, if you wanted to come by on Sunday.

Less than two hundred members, I might add.  Less than two hundred, and they made all that happen.  I miss them to this day.  But something started to happen to me the last two years in San Diego. Some of it was synod politics and some of it was just hubris, but I began to realize that I couldn't stand under the banner of Christianity and still be who I was.  The problem was how to extricate myself.  I'd become one of those church ladies with big breasts and a clipboard.  Just try getting off a committee sometime, never mind leaving an actual church.

Then we moved to Texas.  OH THANK GOD.

And now?  Well, nobody in my family goes to church anymore.  My brother in law does, I think, occasionally.  My sister doesn't.  My parents don't.  I go to the temple sometimes.  Hang with the Zen Center folks and the meditation group.  But that's kind of it.  I'm a Buddhist and I'm fine with being a Buddhist, but I can't say I'm all that religious, really.  I address my prayers "to whom it may concern."

And I posted this on Facebook.  But it's not getting emailed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's My Birthday! And On June 12...

...Joan of Arc leads the French army to victory in the Battle of Jargeau.  (1429)

...Death warrants are issued for Samuel Adams and John Hancock by British general Thomas Gage, who also declares martial law in Massachusetts. (1775)

...the United Irishmen fight the Battle of Ballynahinch. (1798) 

...Ulysses Grant pulls his troops out of their positions at Cold Harbor, giving the Confederacy a victory. (1864)

...The Phillipines declare their independence from Spain. (1898)

...One of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history kills 117 people in New Richmond, Michigan. (1899)

...The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, NY. (1939)

...German troops liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Brzezany, Poland, and kill 1,180 men, women and children at the city cemetery. (1943) 

...Medgar Evans is murdered in front of his house by a Ku Klux Klan member. (1963)

...The United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declares all U.S. state laws which prohibit interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. (1967)

...and then I come along.  Pretty cool, huh?  And since I've been around...
  • I played in a bagpipe band for eleven years.  Well, okay, I was in one bagpipe band for six years and the other one for five years.  Booze, drugs, wild sex, constant travel, loud music--it all kind of runs together, ya know?
  • I bought a condo in San Diego, California with Joan, and then sold it for twice what we paid for it, after I exasperatedly told our real estate agent that there was no way on earth anybody would shell out that much money for an 800-square-foot space with high ceilings. 
  • And so I was rich for about five minutes.  After which student loans and cars and credit cards and moves to Texas got paid for, and I was no longer rich, but that was okay.  
  • I went to England one summer and followed Big Country around.  And here it is, twenty-something years later, and I'm getting ready to follow Big Country around...three dates in Texas.  (Well, hey, I'm not a wide-eyed kid anymore.) 
  • Despite several attempts, I never got arrested for civil disobedience.  For some reason, by the time the police showed up and said "You have five minutes to clear the area," I always figured the point had been well made.
  • That, and there were maybe ten liberals on campus where I went to school.  And they weren't very good company.  If you're going to be locked up overnight, you need good company.
  • I went to music school for two years.  It's John Lennon's fault I didn't graduate. 
  • I've been through ten-plus cats.  There must always be cats.
  • I worked in a public law library for seven or eight years, during which I contended with:
    • A guy who was sure that the copy machine was reading his mind and transmitting his thoughts to the government.  He came in every Tuesday.
    • A man who stated that the CIA had bombed his town with nerve gas that caused everyone in the town to forget that this had ever happened, and that he needed to file a Freedom of Information Act request but he couldn't remember the name of the town, and the CIA kept denying that this had ever happened.  
    • A sweet little old lady that would come in, walk around the whole building and sprinkle holy water on everything while whispering something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like "motherfucker."  
    • A guy who'd been ticketed for having a dog at the beach, and was trying to prove that since he was actually in the water at the time, he was not "at the beach," and if that failed, that he was in "international waters," where the police had no authority.
  • I was born in Texas.  I live in Texas.  I want to die in Texas, and have my ashes buried under a live oak someplace because I ought to provide some nourishment for something, after all those trees went through all that fruit growing to nourish me.
  • Okay, I was born in Laredo and left almost immediately, but I still count as a native Texan.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
  • Since we moved to Texas I was unemployed three times in five years, and never once did we fall behind on the mortgage payments.
  • Why? Because we bought a house we could effing afford, that's why. Imagine.
  • I wrote a trilogy of thriller novels that are called the Mindbender books while I was unemployed, and they're really good, so if you're a literary agent or a publisher or something, or if you know a literary agent or a publisher or something, drop me a line so we can both make a few bucks. Thanks.
  • I was a little manic while I was unemployed. Just a little.
  • I have a Garfield bowling ball that's bright orange and says, "Let the Fur Fly."
  • I can't bowl. Well, I can throw the ball down the lane and occasionally hit something, but so can your average chimpanzee.  
  • Bowling is a lot of fun, though.  I like it a lot.
  • I play on the law firm softball team, the mighty Law Dogs.  We are the worst team in the league by a comfortable margin, but we have a good time. 
  • I took a writing course once from the mighty F. Paul Wilson, which is kind of like taking a painting course from Vincent Van Gogh.  Totally awesome.
  • I've been married to the lovely Joan for the last 18 years.  Yep, that's long enough we could've had a baby and raised it to adulthood.
  • I have no interest whatever in having a baby and raising it to adulthood.  
  • I sometimes have dreams I have a son, though.  And he's a teenager, and he's taller than me. I have to look up at him to shake my finger under his nose. 
  • Joan and I actually got married three times.  I think the third one was "legal."  At least it was at the time.  What's the Supreme Court said lately?
  • I was really kind of disappointed that we couldn't get married in the church, but the pastor didn't want to get into a fight with the bishop and Joan didn't want to get married in the church anyway. 
  • The next same-sex couple that the pastor married, got married in the church.  About which I have no comment. 
  • Since October 2007 I've been dragging myself awake at five a.m. to swim a mile in the morning before work.  
  • If you added up all those miles I bet I could've swum to Hawaii by now.
  • I enter a swim race every year, a 2k distance race, which I sometimes manage to finish in under an hour. Dead last, I might add. 
  • Joan's ex-husband and his wife are friends of ours. It's very Noel Coward, no?
  • Just this afternoon, Joan scored us tickets to The Book Of Mormon. Sweet!
  • Joan got me a meditation cushion and mat for my birthday. Best. Gift. Ever.
  • I paint a little.  My favorite painting is one of a school of fish, swimming through the air in a desert landscape.
  • I used to have dreams that my fish could swim around in the air, that it did them no harm.
  • I miss my fish, but I think aquarium fish are incompatible with one of my cats.
  • Someday I wanna go tornado chasing.
  • I have a bad feeling I might actually catch one, and then what would I do with it?
  • I became an "official" Buddhist about two years ago.
  • Who ever thought that Buddhists would dig tornadoes?
  • Despite my occasional bitching, life is actually pretty good.
Cheers, all!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Splitting Hairs, Or Tablets, Or Whatever

This is interesting.  My boss's boss's son, who is all of seven years old going on thirty-five, wrote his own antivirus software today.  You know, a product to rival McAfee or Norton or something.  He said he did it because the pop-up windows in the antivirus software he already has frighten him.  (Yeah, you're working away and minding your own business and suddenly there's  a window open on your screen announcing with garish colors and a loud noise that, by God, your antivirus software is On The Job: That irritating little infostealer.jumcar has been rendered harmless and you, the nice person who shells out the $49.95 a year, can go on about your happy life.) So he wrote his own, with no pop-up windows.  It just works away in the background, completely invisible unless you actually want to see what it's doing.

Did I mention he's seven?  When I was seven I was still trying to master the fine art of laundry. I'd more or less figured out the washing machine, but darned if I could figure out how the clothes got out of the washtub and into the dryer.  Fairies, maybe.  Or elves.  I was pretty big on elves.  Goes with the Icelandic heritage.

Speaking of reliance upon imaginary beings, I may have mentioned at some point that I'm sort of an experimental proving ground for what seems, to me, like a rather large number of pharmaceuticals.  Not all of them have side effects--well, I could say that I'm not experiencing all of the side effects--but one of them does and it's the one that bugs me the most.  In a nutshell, it messes with my brain, or to use the lexicon, it slows down the cognition.  Which means what?  Well, that my short term memory sucks, basically.  At work I'll flick from one monitor to the other (dual monitors at work -- very cool) and in the nanosecond between Monitor A and Monitor B I'll have forgotten what I'm looking for.  Which means I have to go back to Monitor A and look at it until I remember what I was looking for on Monitor B, which looks like I'm sitting there staring at a monitor doing nothing.  (Sometimes I move the mouse around to throw people off.)  Occasionally I have to go back in time, step by step, to figure out what I was thinking about and why I need the information that's now pulled up on Monitor B.  Like so:  "Okay, I glanced down at the Post-It note on the monitor which reminded me I needed to compose a Rule 11 agreement in the Burns matter which means I haven't filed the amended petition yet because I have to do that at the same time and I need to get to that today and before that I was thinking that I really need to refill my water bottle which probably came up because the defendant in the case about the German shepherd was reaching for a water bottle when she lost control of her car and--yes!  I was looking for the photos of the interior of the car that show the water bottle smashed against the dashboard and the odometer stuck at 45 mph!" And I go back to Monitor B, before I lose momentum.

And that happens basically ninety times an hour, every hour I'm awake.  You can see how it might get slightly irritating.

The other problem is simple words.  It doesn't happen when I'm typing, usually, but when I'm speaking I might tell you that the defendant just filed a motion for summary juniper, I mean judgment, summary judgment, yeah, one of those.  Or I might say, the defendant just filed a motion for--and then stop as the words I need go flying past their exit ramp on the freeway, and stand there like a fool while whoever I'm talking to, which is practically always my boss or my boss's boss, looks at me like I've just grown nine heads.

So I've put up with it for a couple of years now, and it hasn't gotten any better, and it may in fact be getting slightly worse.  Today I took the bold step of actually asking the prescribing physician what would happen if I were to taper off of the stuff.  He said I'd see an immediate improvement in That Sort Of Thing, because it's dose-dependent and if you go down, even a little, there will be a reaction.  However (there's always a however), I'd also see an immediate increase in moodiness and emotional volatility.  So it becomes a balancing act.  My mission:  Find a dose that doesn't irritate to extremes with the missing words and the distracting thought patterns, yet doesn't have me flying up to the high highs and crashing down to the low lows, since I've already done that parade and I didn't care for it at all.  Though, the high highs were fun.  And being able to stay up and write until three in the morning and still go to work the next day was awesome beyond awesome.  But it bothers my wife.  Believe me, you can tug on Superman's cape and you can spit into the wind, but do not ever bother your wife.  If they don't teach that in premarital counseling, well, by God, they should.

So I'm starting out by splitting one of the doses in half and taking a dose and a half every day, instead of two doses.  If this doesn't send me spiraling down into the cellar, I might go down to a single dose a day in a couple of weeks and see how that goes.  And unfortunately, that might be the end of it.  I don't think I'm going to get completely off the stuff, which was what I was hoping.  Because if I got off of that one, then I could get off the one that I'm taking to stop my hands from shaking, because that first one makes my hands shake, and if I got off both of those, it's remotely possible that I could maybe not take the little blue ones, or take them less often, and then I'd be taking half as much medication as I am now and that would be pretty cool.  Less to keep track of, for one thing.

This disease sucks rocks sometimes.  In case you were wondering.