Friday, December 30, 2005

Mark's God Survey


> God would like to thank you for your belief and
> patronage. In order to better
> serve your needs, He asks that you take a few
> moments
> to answer the following
> questions. Please keep in mind that your responses
> will be kept completely confidential, and that you
> need not disclose your name or address unless you
> prefer a direct response to comments or suggestions.
> 1. How did you find out about God?
> ___ Newspaper
> ___ Bible
> ___ Torah
> ___ Book of Mormon
> ___ Koran
> ___ Other Book
> ___ Television
> ___ Divine Inspiration
> ___ Word of mouth
> ___ Dead Sea scrolls
> ___ My mama done tol' me
> ___ Near Death Experience
> ___ Near-life experience
> ___ National Public Radio
> ___ Tabloid
> ___ Burning Shrubbery
> ___ Who?
> ___ Other (please specify): _____________
> 2. Which model God did you acquire?
> ___ Yahweh
> ___ Jehovah
> ___ Allah
> ___ Just plain God
> ___ Krishna
> ___ Father, Son & Holy Ghost (Trinity Pak)
> ___ Zeus and entourage (Olympus Pak)
> ___ Odin and entourage (Valhalla Pak)
> ___ Gaia/Mother Earth/Mother Nature
> ___ None of the above; I was taken in by a false
> god
> 3. Did your God come to you undamaged, with all
> parts in good working order
> and with no obvious breakage or missing attributes?
> __ Yes
> __ No
> If no, please describe the problems you initially
> encountered here. Please
> indicate all that apply:
> ___ Not eternal
> ___ Not omniscient
> ___ Not omnipotent
> ___ Finite in space/Does not occupy or inhabit
> the
> entire universe
> ___ Permits sex outside of marriage
> ___ Prohibits sex outside of marriage
> ___ Makes mistakes (Geraldo Rivera, Jesse Helms)
> ___ When beseeched, doesn't stay beseeched
> ___ Requires burnt offerings
> ___ Requires virgin sacrifices
> ___ Plays dice with the universe
> 4. What factors were relevant in your decision
> to
> acquire a God?
> Please check all that apply.
> ___ Indoctrinated by parents
> ___ Needed a reason to live
> ___ Indoctrinated by society
> ___ Needed target for rage
> ___ Imaginary friend grew up
> ___ Hate to think for self
> ___ Wanted to meet girls/boys
> ___ Needed blind moral righteousness to justify
> violence
> ___ Fear of death
> ___ To piss off parents
> ___ Needed a day away from work
> ___ Enjoy organ music
> ___ Needed to feel morally superior
> ___ Graduated from the tooth fairy
> ___ My shrubbery caught fire and told me to do it
> 5. Are you currently using any other source of
> inspiration in addition to God? Please check all
> that
> apply.
> __ Self-help books
> __ Tarot, Astrology
> __ Star Trek re-runs
> __ Fortune cookies
> __ Ann Landers
> __ Psychic Friends Network
> __ Dianetics
> __ Playboy and/or Playgirl
> __ Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
> __ Chicken Soup for something-or-other
> __ Biorhythms
> __ EST
> __ Television
> __ Mantras
> __ Jimmy Swaggart
> __ Crystals (not including Crystal Gayle)
> __ Human Sacrifice
> __ Wandering around in desert
> __ Burning shrubbery
> __ Other:_____________________
> 6. Have you ever worshiped a false God?
> ___ No
> ___Yes
> If Yes, by which false God were you fooled?
> (Please check all that apply.)
> ___ Odin
> ___ Cthulhu
> ___ Lottery
> ___ Baal
> ___ Beelzebub
> ___ The Almighty Dollar
> ___ The Conservative Right
> ___ Mick Jagger
> ___ Bill Gates
> ___ The Great Pumpkin
> ___ Ronald Reagan
> ___ A burning cabbage
> ___ Mushrooms
> ___ Other: ________________
> 7. God employs a limited degree of Divine
> Intervention to preserve the balanced level of felt
> presence and blind faith. Which would you prefer?
> (please circle one)
> a. More Divine Intervention
> b. Less Divine Intervention
> c. Current level of Divine Intervention is just
> right>
> d. Don't know - what's Divine Intervention?
> 8. God also attempts to maintain a balanced
> level
> of disasters and miracles.
> Please rate on a scale of 1 to 5 God's handling of
> the following: (1 unsatisfactory, 5 excellent)
> Disaster:
> 1 2 3 4 5 flood
> 1 2 3 4 5 famine
> 1 2 3 4 5 earthquake
> 1 2 3 4 5 war
> 1 2 3 4 5 pestilence
> 1 2 3 4 5 plague
> 1 2 3 4 5 AOL
> 1 2 3 4 5 Republican Congress
> 1 2 3 4 5 Jerry Lewis
> 1 2 3 4 5 Dubya
> 1 2 3 4 5 my last relationship
> Miracles:
> 1 2 3 4 5 rescues
> 1 2 3 4 5 spontaneous remissions
> 1 2 3 4 5 crying statues
> 1 2 3 4 5 water changing to wine
> 1 2 3 4 5 walking on water
> 1 2 3 4 5 stars hovering over towns
> 1 2 3 4 5 AOL
> 1 2 3 4 5 VCRs that set their own clocks
> 1 2 3 4 5 clear and competent statements by the
> President
> 1 2 3 4 5 my present relationship
> 9. Please rate the following on a scale of 1 to
> 5
> (1 unsatisfactory, 5 excellent):
> 1 2 3 4 5 God's Courtesy
> 1 2 3 4 5 answers to your prayers
> 1 2 3 4 5 Are your spiritual needs being met?
> 1 2 3 4 5 How are your shrubs doing?
> 10. Do you have any additional comments or
> suggestions for improving the quality of God's
> services? (Attach additional sheets if necessary.)

My friend Mark's New Years resolution

To All My Online Friends:
> As the new year approaches, my heartfelt
> appreciation goes out to all of
> you who have taken the time and trouble to send me
> "forwards" over the
> past 12 months. Thank you for making me feel safe,
> secure, blessed,
> and wealthy.
> Extra thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat
> crap in the glue on
> envelopes 'cause I now have to go get a wet towel
> every time I need to
> seal an envelope.
> Also, I scrub the top of every can I open for the
> same reason.
> Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola
> because it can
> remove toilet stains.
> I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the
> people who make these
> products are atheists who refuse to put "Under
> God" on their cans.
> I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because
> it causes cancer.
> I no longer check the coin return on pay phones
> because I could be
> pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
> I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even
> though I smell like a
> water buffalo on a hot day.
> I no longer go to shopping malls because someone
> might drug me with a
> perfume sample and rob me.
> I no longer receive packages from nor send packages
> by UPS or FedEx
> since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
> I no longer answer the phone because someone will
> ask me to dial a
> number for which I will get a phone bill with calls
> to Jamaica,
> Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
> I no longer eat KFC because their "chickens" are
> actually horrible
> mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
> I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will
> change once I receive
> my free replacement pair from Nike.
> I no longer have to buy expensive cookies from
> Neiman Marcus since I
> now have their recipe.
> I no longer worry about my soul because at last
> count I have 363,214
> angels looking out for me.
> Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers
> my prayers if I
> forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a
> wish within five
> minutes.
> I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a
> sick girl who is
> about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th
> time)
> I no longer have any money at all - but that will
> change once I
> receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are
> sending me for
> participating in their special email program.
> Yes, I want to thank you so much for looking out
> for me that I will
> now return the favor!
> If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000
> people in the next
> 7minutes, a large pigeon with a wicked case of
> diarrhea will land on
> your head at 5:00 PM (PST) this afternoon. I know
> this will occur
> because it actually happened to a friend of my
> next-door neighbor's
> ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's
> beautician.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The higher self

I guess this recent series of rants about inner being are what I need to be writing about. We are almost out of that black vestibule called "The Holidays". Only the riotous New Year's celebration (i.e. Viva Zapata) stands between myself and the hope of spring. I have always felt that the holidays are like a strange whirpool of lonliness that keeps churning. Sort of like a crab nebula that the starship needs to pass through on the way to the Romulan Neutral Zone. I find that I am more petulant today, more worried, less calm. A little too much unstructured time on my hands for another week. Then, back to HH for the last four months of the school year. Things are good, they say. Yeah, they're alright. Better than before, that's for sure. I still wonder about the persistance of this disease thinking, this self involvement. I just need to quiet down a bit and pay attention. There will be guidance.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

When does the fear go away?

Having dealt with fear all my life (it seems to be THE big hurdle), I often now wonder when the non-useful fear will finally evaporate, or at least lessen. I say non-useful because, clearly, there is useful and non-useful states of fear. Certain fears are quite valuable, such as knowing when to run when the bad guy is after you. But other states of fear are clearly not as useful, such as when the boogie man is after you. When the bad guy is after you the state of fear that is useful is called prudence. When the boogie man is after you, that state of fear is paranoia. Paranoia is also a perplexing state that may or may not be quite real. But if the boogie man IS real (such as in the case of the Bush administration, or the visitors/Greys of Whitley Streiber) then paranoia becomes somthing quite different from prudence indeed. It becomes psychosis. This is a condition that is separate from the DSM version of psychosis, which is a product of a particular strain of mental illness. This psychosis is one brought on by actual events residing in the world, or not, and the resultant condition becomes a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/psychosis. Just because it's not "real" doesn't mean it's not after you. To the individual who suffers this rather disconcerting situation, fear becomes a very very relative term. As is the heightened and alert state of readiness which follows calling the police on someone, even when they don't know it's you. The mind still attempts to convince you that they in fact DO know it's you and soon the door will come crashing down with numerous murderous butchers eviscerating you in your bed. Again, just because this is rather illogical doesn't mean it won't happen (see the evening news at 11:00PM every night). When most people go to bed they don't expect a 747 to come crashing into their apartment, or a meteor to land in the kitchen, but these things do happen to someone, like the lottery does.
All I'm trying to say is, when does the fear begin to subside? I have found that acting contrariwise to the fear does not seem to lessen this power much at all. I'm just acting against it, like a weight on a barbell which doesn't get lighter no matter how many times I lift it. It still is heavy. I'm still waiting for my faith muscle to get bigger. You see, the fear, no matter the form, is five million times the trauma as the event. That I know. But living with the fear is just as collosal. There must be some way.
Perhaps meditation is calling to me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Looking Within

It has come to my attention that the world of the living resides inside. What I have been looking for, I am looking with.
As a new year dawns, I recommit myself to the values of the inner life. I have found that this is to be my life's journey. What arises in the world of the seen (the projected "outer world") is but the manifestation of my relationship to the world of God, inside. To really seek and to see this clearly, without prejudice, is my ongoing goal. This is what is meant at God's will. There really is no other will to speak of.
The journey goes in and through and out and back in again.
All that is related is I. There is no separation between these worlds.
There can be no imperfection as this insight is true and eternal.
Love is the ever-unfolding matrix of surrender to being present with the "I AM" that is at the core of heaven.
I AM is all you need to know. I AM is all you need to do. I AM is all you need.
Merry Christmas
Happy Chanukah
Peace and Love to you and your eternal self within.

Monday, December 12, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, December 09, 2005

Queen Elizabeth. The Virgin Queen. Posted by Picasa

Standing. With her thumb in her mouth.

This is the historical death of Elizabeth R, Queen of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Bolin. She refused to go to her bed and, four four days, stood steadfast, her chambermaids fainting around her, as she approached her last breath. She sucked her thumb for that time, went into a coma, then succumbed.

She could well be considered among the most influential human beings. She certainly was among the most mercurial, this virgin majesty. Perhaps she was ultimately unknowable to us, even to herself. But the course of human history, undoubtedly, was altered forever by her total sacrifice to England, her unthinkable quiesence and culpability in the beheading of her cousin Mary Stuart, queen of Scotts. And, ultimately, her chastity and devotion to her god, the god which saved her from Philip I and blew the armada away from Dunkirk to Ireland and to victory. No heir, none appointed by her, keeping with her strange indecisive decision making. She sent the puritans to start the colonies, where they still rot. She prevented state changing civil war and, pound for pound, defied the pope and cemented our value system, where it remains in charge, to this day.

She gets my vote as the greatest ruler in world history.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Things are looking up. Go Blue! Posted by Picasa

Little Ball

For the first time in months I am feeling optimistic. The Dodgers have not only signed an excellent baseball man in Grady Little as their manager, but Ned Colletti seems far better suited to be their GM than Paul Spockpodesta. The signing of Rafael Furcal as their new shortstop, while incredibly expensive, seems only the first salvo in a concerted effort at rebuilding themselves to a legitimate contender again. As of this hour on Wednesday, the Dodgers are involved in numerous rumors which have the potential to alter the balance of power in the west significantly on their side. Some things I'm hearing at the present moment are: bringing Bobby Abreu and David Bell to the Dodgers for either Brad Penny or Derrick Lowe and prospects. The Alfonso Soriano rumors seem to be dying quickly on the vine. But the explosive deal, which Steve Phillips of ESPN says will likely get nixed, is Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers in a three way trade that would send JD Drew, Derrick Lowe to Boston, Boston would send someone (can't remember) to the Phillies, and the Phillies would send Abreu to the Red Sox. If the Dodgers can land Manny Ramirez, that would be the prize of the century. But I can't really see that happening. Why not go for the best though?
They need pitching desperately as well. A masher in the middle, left handed relief and a solid third baseman. Things should play out quite soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What happened to the food?

Hollywood High might be know for many things, food service is not one of them. Since I started working there over a year and a half ago, there is no cafeteria available for adults at all. Additionally, there is only a small window connected to a "hash house" that serves what remains of allotted portions for teachers and staff. If you arrive at the window three and a half minutes after lunch starts, you are SOL. The frightening reminder of this bizarre entropy can be seen in what has happened to the fully designed empty "ghost" cafeteria. It has been converted to a classroom with books sitting on the hinges of old lunch counters, blackboards blocking the old coffee maker and make-shift desks where communal tables once existed. Not that there isn't a plethora of eateries within mere blocks from the school, but with a half/hour (not even a dog can eat in that amount of time) to consume, there is no restaurant worth leaving campus for.
I have worked at over twenty different schools in my tenure witht the district. All of them have at least bare bones cafeteria services for the staff. I'm not really sure how long this has gone on for prior to my being here. One can only shake one's head as one eats one's Hot Pocket (plenty of free microwaves still availabe). What a joke!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

dead friends

What happens when you have to psychologically "kill off" your old friends? Metaphorically, of course. What happens when you have to let them die in order for you to be born? What happens when you have no other choice but to pay attention to the company you keep, if you are codependent and have very bad traits in picking companions? There is a period of extreme confusion, anger, grief and hopelessness. A very frightening thing happens when we empower ourselves. We stop choosing perpetrators. We begin to take care of ourselves and the very scared inner-child that is still terrified and trembling. I can tell you what fear comes up first: the fear of being alone and unable to take care of myself. This is the very essence of getting well. How terribly unattractive is that? The level of faith one has to bring to the table, when self-abuse is no longer an option, is nothing short of biblical. The reliance on a god of my understanding becomes THE central locus of my entire existence. To sit with this terror, feel it, invite it in and ultimately to see through it, is among the most courageous acts we can perform. Assertiveness is not imposing your will on anyone else, attempting to change anyone else at all. It is the recognition of the right to be the ultimate judge of my own life. When I cross this threshold, the universe will mutate and opportunities will open up that are congruent with this metamorphosis. The old skin of dependence and fear begin to shed and we walk quite naked, but embossed in gold, on a new plane of existence. With a new kind of perception and peace. Totally alone yet one with all that is eternal and sustaining. This is an act of love that is sacrificial. The old ways fall, the new ways pick up the pieces of the old entrails, and you consume the afterbirth of the newborn infant that you, indeed, are. Nothing can stay the same after that. All relationships then become an extension of your new sight. Expectations vanish and pain becomes a companion. Such freedom is why we are here. There are others coming.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I am lost again

What is it I'm supposed to be doing with my life? Here I go, down this rabbit hole one more time. Am I supposed to be focusing on something specific? Or am I supposed to be letting go and letting god? Are they mutually exclusive? Is this question actually a plant by my disease to get me to go out? Is this a fair question, which must be asked in order to be free? Where is the peace in asking it, and then doing nothing. Am I responsible for answering it? Is this a chinese box? If I arrived at what I'm supposed to do and be, would that be enough? Would this be a funny stand up comedy act? Or do I have to put on a veneer, a character, to be funny. Would I be booed off the stage, by the drunken philistines out there. I could never stand the barrage of artillery the audience threw at me in stand-up comedy. I couldn't even look out in the audience. All those Alpha Males, drunk, and their girlfriends. "Should" I be different than this? How come people with the same issues seem to be able to do it? Do they suffer the slings and arrows? They must. How do they deal with it? Maybe they don't.
Here I go again. All this potential. Whip whip whip. Stop it now Tony. I didn't have to jump out of the World Trade Center. I feel like Doestoyevsky, "in a mousehole". Well, I am Russian, for God's sake. We do love our suffering. We love to dance with it. I am sure that arriving at my destination would certainly not be enough.
This is my standup act. Who would find this funny? I find it as annoying as Jerry Lewis's "Oh ladyyyyyyy".
I need not feel shame about my shame which is shameful to those who hate me. I definitely am paranoid.
Turn it off. This is masturbation my friends. It's for me.
OOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhhh, yeaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.
That made me cum.
Shame makes me cum.
Failure makes me cum.
Psychedelic self-involvement.
I am alone.

A mantram

"How am I not myself today?". These are the final words that appear at the end of the credits for I heart Huckabees, an existential comedy by the very Catholic David O. Russell. What a wise film! And a throwback to a more chaotic time, when films were countercultural events. He clearly made this film for himself. I appreciated the blackness of the balance between connectivity and nadirism. The present moment, the Zen quality, was a reminder of how we will do anything not to be in our own skins. How we move back and forth from no-thought to thought. There is suffering and there is peace. But the battle we have, in our own psyches, that society versus the individual, the soul versus the collective, these are universal truths. I find myself habitually comparing myself, endlessly without fail, to others outsides. My life, as it is, is simply never enough. And yet, at very unpredictable moments, I am freed from the hideous constraints of people-pleasing, self-hatred, alienation, etc.. and just allow myself the freedom to exist, create, fail, succeed, love and be. How many of us really can do that? Even if we do, we are told that we must give to others (something they may not even want). Ultimately, we are totally responsible for our own lives. We are the architects of our divinity. My discomfort is a constant reminder of how I feel nothing but shame in being me. If I felt none of these things, I can only imagine what I could allow myself to participate in, and how I would see my world. It could be a lifetime of battling to get there. But, as I am now, I am myself today. Even though I feel like shit.

How am I not myself today? Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 02, 2005

The nasty birdy

I am sick. I have some sort of flu. It is not a flu I am familiar with. It is a birdy flu, I suspect. I have no fever, no sore throat, no swollen glands, just a total awful lack of energy combined with vomiting, severe muscle pains and neck cramps and the blahs. I have been in bed since Tuesday (now Friday). The flu is an altered state. In it, all my character defects come to the fore. I believe, with all sincerity, that I am a loser and have done nothing with my life. This is a wonderful way my disease attempts to get me to do the only thing it knows, drink. Gratitude is essential at this moment. Also, recognizing that acceptance is the way through. This is my life, this path, this trail. Have I gotten all new agey on y'all? Well, what can I say? That's what's coming out of me. It really was easier to run rough-shod over all my insecurities when I was out there. But now, without the armor of a drink, holy cow. I can really feel just about every fear and terror. I have been pantsed. Yet, I have something irreplaceable. I have a peace of mind that I can't possibly replace. Again, no amount of people, places or things can replace that.
There is a lot to do, yes. But my responsibility is to show up (suit up or shut up), and leave the rest to you know who. Stay completely out of the results and live life now. That is what I am required to do. No more. Have goals, of course. Perspective. Stay connected. My life is who I am, not what I do. What I do is an extension of this. But my HP loves me unconditionally, and that is the only thing that fills the hole. The only thing.
Damnit, I want it all still. Funny how that is.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


That's a long word. But it says so much about me. I just finished reading an article in last Monday's LA Times (November 28, 2005) in the Health section entitled "Competition Freaks", written by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak. This feature appeared on the heels of the recent splurge of articles regarding ambitious people, go-getters (see my Manifesto against go-getting) and other super competitive folks who are obsessed with winning. I found myself intrigued at what the article said, primarily from the point of view of the consequences of such behavior. I found it very interesting that the hyper-ambitious individual is a kind of geno-type that exists in nature in order to propogate and protect the species. I was most interested in the fact that American males are considered, by far, the most competitive people in the world. Ms. Szegedy-Maszak makes a wonderful distinction however. She posits that the main difference between effective successful people who win and those who are not successful lies in the nature of their relationship to competition. One woman, in particular, designated a remarkable homage to this truth with her own decscription of "healthy" competition. Lea Antonopolis-Inouye, a financial planner who won the Jr. Wimbeldon championship in 1977, describes winning "is a by-product of super-hard work and dedication and being driven to perfection...You can't just win. You have to forget about winning and work on other things". The ideal of a winning person is someone who MASTERS their craft and is focused on that. The hypercompetitive person is more interested in power and control over others. Ironically, the latter is the american ideal in business, art and commerce. American male athletes tested highest in this range.
The end of the article suggested a book entitled "No contest: the case against competition", by Alfie Kohn. "Competition itself", he says, "is corrosive and counterproductive in every aspect of human life, from interpersonal relations to business productivity".
This was an important read for me. I have found the results of hyper-competitiveness in my life to be disastrous, from how I interact with colleagues, friends and co-workers to how I watch a sporting event. It's good to know that there is hope.