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Decoration Day Weekend

Hello Faithful Reader,

I was just looking around for how to make the blog public again. With a few tweaks I think I can live with it being public. I was just looking and haven’t posted in almost a month. Maybe with knowing I have more readers again I will feel like posting. I feel like, and someone reaffirmed this is a time in my life worth documenting. Its Saturday night a little passed bedtime but I napped hard so I expect I will be staying up later then usual. It was good to sleep, certainly the most solid one in 2012. My thoughts have been rushing since January with the frenetic activity and deep thought of newly minted political life. Overall I am pleased.

I haven’t had a good nights sleep this week. Monday Council ran late with two hours of public comment on this controversial tax incentive/job creation thing we are doing. I didn’t get home until 11:30 and I was pretty wired. Probably should just start taking people on offers of beers afterwards as its pretty stimulating. I work the next morning though and don’t want to give up an evening to get a late night on Tuesday as I had thought I would do during the campaign.

Its hot on the first weekend of Summer. Mid 90s. Still mowed the front yard. We put in a scoop of cedar mulch, mostly Flow. Got the roses and mailbox beds and the beds along the privacy fence in back and a path to the compost and the dirt outside the back porch. Flow mulched the strawberries  and garden beds with straw. I cultivated a little but have been hard pressed to do more then mow. I weed whipped the back and skipped mowing its been hot and dry. I mowed the front lawn, mostly because it was longer then the neighbors.

The girls in the basement apartment moved out and the owners have been scurrying around on projects. New neighbors. I thought I was going to start a community organizing project but there is a hitch with my intern starting and I want to involve someone else. I told a neighbor I would start in May but I’m not quite there.

Had about 800 pages of reading for the last Council meeting. All the usual stuff plus trend statements and data for Strategic Planning. We did small groups with Council and department heads and the like. Rotated groups and topics, it was interesting. Got to know a lot of folks. Been on a name learning tear.

Everything has a steep learning curve with all the background information and the level of detail to make informed decisions. I have been sideways with my base early on which makes for a bit of consternation. I also get a lot of positive feedback and bounce ideas off whoever which is fun. I’m going to start doing my prep reading in the dog park and getting feedback from the folks out there.

Didn’t do much with the nap and all. I went to the market and got a lot of stuff since I am helping Harry move next week and won’t be able to go. Got a nice deal on big fresh white onions, a giant purple cauliflower, asparagus (I was surprised at that), a couple of nice looking lettuces (everyone agreed this is pretty much the last week for that with the high temps), kohlrabi, some yellow turnips, kale, carrots, sweet cherries, a couple of big beautiful hybrid tomatoes (seconds even), and some trout for my luncheon tomorrow.

Made some fried cabbage for supper. Cabbage I got at the market last week, an onion with some of the green tops, some of the turnip greens, garlic scapes (I cut those earlier in the week), lightly toasted sesame seeds, fried in olive oil with a lot of crushed red pepper and a splash of Worcestershire. It was good and Flow made crab cakes and naan. We were pretty grateful because we have been living large.

I called in sick yesterday. Hadn’t slept right all week, a little free floating anxiety when I am supposed to be slumbering and stayed in bed late and felt sluggish and dumb. Couldn’t nap and slept poorly last night as well but I feel like my 2+ hour nap today was a break through. There’s been so much change with City Council, the new position at work which is learning a bunch of new programs and trying to wrap my head around a few defuse projects, plus adjusting to being an everyday bicycle commuter.

I have advanced the probate situation and have a meeting on Thursday to sign affidavits and go forward so it will be nice to get the truck on the road again. Going on a float trip on Monday. Trevor, a friend of his, Jesse and myself going South out of Coopers Landing to Millersburg I think. I’ve never done passed Coopers and am looking forward to seeing something new.

Jeff and Vicki, Trevor and Lisa and Harry are coming over for trout. Reminds me I need to look up how to roast garlic. I am going to baste the trout in a yogurt sauce with roasted garlic, lemon, parsley, and chervil, maybe a little mace. I am also going to do the cauliflower in a foil pack with olive oil, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Might grill the asparagus as well. I think I will put one of the trout packs in the freezer. I got 3 packs (6 fish) and Brian isn’t coming and Lisa is a vegetarian so probably can get by with 2 like the trout lady suggested.

 

Election Day

Well at long last it is finally here.  I woke up early like I needed to for the plan. I was groggy, sleep has been hard to come by and last night was no exception. Up late doing stuff, mind turning, fitful sleep. I made coffee and grabbed my stainless steel water bottle out of the car pleased with my forethought for remembering where it was in the car and remembering to grab it, not going to have time to drink it at home got to get rolling to glad hand after at the polling place after voting. It wasn’t until the bottle heated up and I dropped it spilling hot coffee all over my hand that I remembered I don’t drink coffee in the stainless steel water bottle but in the stainless steel coffee cup. No harm no fowl. Good coffee though, a light roast Rwandan I roasted yesterday, quite yummy. Almost a nutty flavor.

I got my shower, shave and dressed as fancy I get, pretty much, my nice shirt, my first silk tie I bought new, perhaps all the way back in the 80s. It was late 80s so not totally narrow but narrow on the top and flared out at the bottom, not like they make ties now but passable.

I’d gotten vetoed on taking Fido to campaign with me. Last year, regular readers may recall I took Fido to the polls. It was the day after Dad had died and we were coming back from the dog park. We’d opened up our hearts to some sweet old ladies (sisters I recall) and we had all talked about losing our Dads. At the polling place I saw Henry from across the street (he’s working another polling place this year) and he offered his condolences and me and all the poll workers all talked about losing our dads. I never felt more part of a community then to walk out of my house and find solace in the comfort of my neighbors.

I’m very emotional today, crying as I write this. The campaign has been a wonderful distraction as the one year anniversary approaches but I am melting down today, just a bit. Its normal politically astute folks have told me. Excuse me while I go find a tissue.

That’s better. Breathe in Breathe out. So I walked down to the polls, sans Fido. A neighbor I had spoken to at length yesterday (for the third time, I had won her vote, Bill Pauls came by and stole it, I spoke at length to her husband trying to get a yard sign placement when he told me about Bill, but won her back yesterday on the final pass). She pushed the edge of talking about the campaign in the sacred neutrality of the polling place. I told her I called it a “personal project” when I talked about the campaign at work.

I did the same thing at City Council meeting when I spoke up for some neighbors who wanted a zoning change delayed to gather more neighbors. I publicly commented in favor of the tabling at one of their all’s request and talked about how I had canvassed the neighborhood for a “personal project”. As I was leaving I was set upon by some J-school students for an interview and none of them knew I was a candidate and had a fair shot at being on the Council next meeting. It was funny. (tabling passed 5-1, only dissenter was our current rep who I think is bent because I’ve been campaigning against his comment that the Ward was “apathetic”. He also isn’t trying to develop a cordial working relationship with me as the rest of the council appears to be. I also obliquely referenced that in my comments which probably didn’t help.)

The woman I worked so hard to capture her vote voted absentee yesterday (that’s at least 3 of those plus my own so I’m getting at least 4 votes). Another neighbor was there, I had gone by her house a couple of times but she never answered the door. She’s super-religious and felt she was voting for Pauls, I would have if I was her in spite of a personal connection which she made an oblique reference to herself, so perhaps I did win her vote. I’ve done a good turn or two for the community and there will be some folks who don’t normally vote showing up today.

Seeing yourself on the ballot is pretty cool. These things are close so I chose myself. I got my sticker and put my ballot in the ballot machine.

I went outside and stepped past the “no electioneering past this point” sign and should have slipped on my “Michael Trapp for Ward 2 City Council” badge and started thanking people for coming out but just couldn’t do it. As I told my advisers in an email “I’m not really a friendly and outgoing person. I just learned to act like one and I can’t do it this morning”. The church is my neighbor and they have a sign saying “no trespassing except for church business”. I respect that. The counter-argument is that by providing access to the polls that extends to electioneering on site but it was all to ambiguous, it was early, I felt weird and I am tired, not just tired but weary to the bone.

So I walked home took off my tie and dress shirt and wrote this blog. I am going to make a second pot of coffee and put some time in the garden, perhaps nap if my racing mind allows, and probably take the dog for a walk. I’ve earned a little R&R. Hell I’m going to put shorts on. I closed my email with “If I lose by 3 votes I will feel silly and self-indulgent”. True dat. If I get a chance to do this again I will take a friend with me to buck me up.

 

NA step 2 part 2

Hmmm, just tried to link to the cyber recovery page after writing a little intro but it just cancelled out my post. Dang. Well this is part of a project to translate the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous into simple concrete English with all hearing references removed. I hope to finish by Sunday in spite of being horridly busy.

http://www.cyberrecovery.net/NA/StepTwo.html OK, there’s the link, it came up when I was trying to paste in the actual language of the step. Let me try that again.

“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Some people say church is for people are afraid of Hell. Knowing God is for people whose life has been Hell. Faith is the gift we get for accepting the truth. If the second step is hard we should look at what we think is important or valuable. If we feel we are not getting important stuff or it doesn’t work well we should change. We want to change. Step 2 is about finding and using extra power to change. Believing is knowing what we think is important and what we hate. Believing helps us get what we want in the future. Being weak and feeling trapped makes us value not feeling pain. When we start to love and do God’s will we can still have bad things happen because what we think is valuable hasn’t changed yet. Changing what we think is right as God changes our life helps us “come to believe”.

One way to figure out what we really want is to put in words what we want in the future. It helps to believe in what will help us get what we really want. When we know the future can be good without limit it changes how we see. Many people try to clearly remember what they wanted out of life in early recovery. Then when it happens we will be happy. As we grow in recovery new dreams come. When we tell these dreams to others in recovery we grow and become stronger. Sometimes our dreams help other people instead of us.

We see more when we learn from what others have done. We become more free and helpful to others when we train, study, and work on what we are learning. A part of changing is enjoying how we have changed and seeing it help others. It helps when we can Give it up to God when we believe God can’t help us enough. The belief that God can’t help us is old or not thought out or only a piece of the truth. Most of us are surprised we can change what we believe about God. D0ing drugs hurt us more then health and legal problems but have hurt the way we think. If you put in wrong thoughts you get out wrong thoughts and actions. Because we were afraid we did not slow down and think clearly. We get used to thining wrongly and believing bad things will happen.

When we did drugs we thought the world was bad and we continue to think that. Healthy relationships are an important part of life. Being healthy means we have healthy places to go, healthy things in our life, and healthy people to be around. As we change we can feel weird as we change how we deal with people. Just because something feels uncomfortable doesn’t mean its wrong. We have to ask other people in recovery about stuff that feels uncomfortable. We feel uncomfortable as we change how we look at the world but haven’t gotten used to it yet. If we are sensitive and respectful to God we can learn to see things in a new way. We stop having beliefs that are to small to work.

Sometimes we make stuff by really believing things we knew were true but we couldn’t really believe. Addicts are sensitive to the truth even when they deny it or hide from it. Growing God shows us that we make ourselves and how we make ourselves affects other people. Staying close to God keeps us in our new beliefs. Our beliefs get stronger and more a part of us.

Things that don’t work for us take time to get rid of but beliefs won’t change by themselves. Its easier to go looking for a belief we may have been interested in for a while. We can try to find something that we feel good about and try to learn more about it. Many people find that what they believed as children will work now. Being confused by using drugs might have kept our beliefs from working good. Our new beliefs are not only easier but work better and we get more of what we want. The need for beliefs that work is stronger then being afraid. Once we belief this step it will stick with us and we won’t have to go back and do it again. Thinking about stuff all the time was a way we used to get stuff we thought we wanted. We had problems because we needed so much. Thinking about drugs all the time was about feelings and not meeting our needs. People could see we were crazy. Every time we give up an old fear our freedom and responsibility increase. As we give up our old fears our faith grows. Faith gives us more energy and allows us to do more with what we have. We are clear headed and relaxed.

Fear is false beliefs that we think are real and it is important to addicts. Fear keeps us from doing stuff that hurts us or makes our lives worse. When we are sane fear keeps us in a place where we are comfortable and our feelings won’t get hurt. When we were addicts much of what we believed was crazy. In other areas some things we think we know are not true but it doesn’t matter. Many things are in the middle and sometimes it matters if we are right. Figuring out what is true or not is a lot of work that we have to do every day. Freedom in recovery is comparing what we get to what we lost from being an addict. The longer we are clean the more important the truth is and that is why we keep going to meetings and working the steps. When we were using drugs we were afraid of getting caught and we may have continued to be afraid in early recovery. Maybe our real secret was we built our own cage out of fear? We replace fear with faith. We start to work the steps and we learn to feel pain without using drugs. When we remember the old craziness we learn to face the truth and get better.

Well that’s about all I have this afternoon. Looks like I won’t finish step 2 this week. I will try to get it done on my vacation. I am looking forward to not being maddeningly busy all the time. The only reason I could do this is I am supposed to be doing something else and I’m not. I’ve lost a little focus with a little “short term ego depletion” from all the challenging stuff I’ve been doing.

insomnia

Its 2:30 in the morning and I have been up for an hour. I lay in bed and tried to sleep but without avail. Last night I took a sleeping pill and slept pretty soundly. I started to wake up in the middle of the night but couldn’t fully emerge out of sleep or really wrap my head around the thoughts that were trying to buzz through my head. I slept late and was tired most of the day. I struggled with creative tasks and decided perhaps Trazodone isn’t for me.

Trazodone if you don’t know is a tricyclic anti-depressant, a fairly crappy one but it has this side effect of making people sleep all night. It builds up a level in your system so less problem with tolerance. Its the only sleeper I approve of clinically. Been around forever, well tolerated, few reports of side effects except for grogginess in the am on rare occasions. I took half a 50 mg. Maybe I’ll try 1/4 next time.

If I am groggy I don’t see how it is really helping me. I am pretty focused on what I am doing, hence the sleeplessness and being tired in the day time is the thing that bugs me about sleeplessness. Why should I have that and not the extra hours in the day? So no sleeping pill. When my insomnia was at its worst I quit trying to make myself lay in bed and allow myself to sleep and got up and blogged for an hour and got tired, got some good sleep after, and that was the end of that little cycle. So trying it again.

Where to begin, the campaign goes well. Last week had several meetings including the Professional Firefighter’s Association. That went well my listening skills paid off as well as my knowledge of where the public is at from all this door knocking. I hit 1,300 or 1,400 total yesterday, I can’t remember. My numbers keep going up although I am no longer looking forward to the time change. That extra hour of canvassing not only means more doors it means one less hour to manage my life tasks. Soon door knocking will fade right into follow up calls. Alas.

If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is at least fun and exciting and I like pushing my limits and working hard. I like being outside everyday and watching the sunset. Got some talkers at the doors tonight. Fun older folks. Listened to their concerns, validated what I could and discussed some solutions a bit, mostly they wanted some company. Probably swung a couple of votes from the candy maker. They had signed his petition, hadn’t seen him since. I can’t imagine trying to do this even half way seriously being the parent of small kids. Bigger ones you can put to work. I guess you could strap em in a papoose and bring one along.

I’ve been thinking about some of the parents I met. One guy didn’t come to the door a few days back because he was holding a toddler. I’ve seen lots of don’t ring the bell, baby sleeping signs. I’m not sure its healthy for kids to be the center of the family universe. Your mom ought to love you but you should be kind of on the outskirts looking for your place not having everything revolve around you. You get an unhealthy sense of your own importance I think. My family certainly didn’t revolve around me, especially being 6 of us, 5 after Dennis died.

I am getting more awake, not less. This might be the beginning of my day. This week have a lot going on, next week it gets worse, and so on… Only four though and then the election, and then vacation, and then increasingly likely 3 years of service. A 65 hour week will look like child’s play. I haven’t totaled the hours yet but pushing well past 90 probably over a 100 now. Not uncommon to go from 6 and never get done before 10:30 anymore. All fun stuff though and you have to do one thing after another all day any day anyway. I don’t feel pressured, I feel present in each moment, I just miss the time to process. I think that is what generates the sleeplessness. I’ve never not had it. Never not been able to read the newspaper cover to cover. Today I looked at the headlines on the front and back page. Got to know what’s on people’s minds and follow the local news at least.

City Council was short tonight so stayed for the end so I could see what the whole thing entails. I am curious about the order of voting. I am nervous about my early votes. I will have time to study the agenda and read the materials then that I don’t now. I sat by one of the people who was nice to me at the Chamber of Commerce forum. She talked to me like I was going to win. I think that has become the common wisdom. My opponent who goes to these faithfully and has been as I’ve said getting ready to govern rather then campaigning looked pissed tonight. I heard him venting to the conservative candidate from another ward who I have been friendly with, I think about me. “Going all over town… even went to Jenku’s [longtime former council person from the ward and treasurer of his campaign]”.

Someone helping me experienced in these things said you end up hating your opponent by the end. I don’t. I feel a little sorry for him. Thinking its inevitable, spinning his wheels and realizing he is getting out worked, out spent, and out organized by some guy he’d never heard of who he didn’t think had a chance. He looked pissed tonight and didn’t stop by and pat me on the back and say “hi” as has been his pattern. Everyone is not going to like you and I am going to have to learn to deal with that.

Tomorrow is the EEZ informational meeting. Will be interesting to hear from the state’s perspective. May help me make up my mind on it. Strong reasons to be for it and against it but you can only vote once. Hate to miss an evening on the doors but seems essential. Will at least be back in time for follow up calls. Got a big pile of them now. Wednesday is my campaign event, that should be fun. Yard signs are in, that’ll be cool. Jeff was excited to show them off. I went from work, to doors, to council meeting; rushing to still be late to all 3 and couldn’t get over to get some and check them out.

Tomorrow is another day. I guess. Sometimes I describe my current life as one big day. Its a blur, for sure. We’ll see how I function today on 2 hours sleep. I suspect a site better then I did on 8 today. That way madness lays. But you only get to vote once and I can’t do what I want to do on Trazodone. My work suffered. I couldn’t write creatively for my latest concept paper. I need to do that today or call in sick if I can’t do my work.

Thursday the Home Builders have a Happy Hour. Not only am I walking into what could be a hostile camp but they will all be liquored up too. Fun, fun, fun. Actually I think I will be warmly received. I met a builder, Chamber member, and conservative guy on P&Z last week who was ardent in his support and he knew my positions well as he was at the Chamber forum and we were in a visioning session together and I spoke a lot. I also door knocked the extremely Right wing guy who was there and he also is voting for me and hosting a yard sign. Lives on a busy road too. Sidewalks and common sense no no party.

I had proposed jobs and we all want to live in a good community as our areas of shared interest to build a 3-5 minute speech on. Vicki suggested telling them how they can help me enact my neighbor to neighbor vision for Columbia. It was a great idea and its a beautiful speech. Would like to have it virtually memorized and give it with rhetorical flourish. It’ll be hard to hold a room in a sports bar so I want to boom it and make a clear difference with the other fellows.

Friday is the Mule Skinners Forum. It should be interesting being in a forum with my natural support. Its been a while since the last forum. I am a different person. Well think I will try laying down again rather then turn on the light to find the power cord. To sleep, perhaps to dream…or really, to dream, perchance to sleep. Goodnight faithful reader. Be on the lookout for a change of gears and the second step of Narcotics Anonymous in simple concrete English with all hearing references removed. Man does not live on politics alone.

Peak Experience

February 12, 2012 1 comment

Wrote this yesterday morning but it didn’t post so here it is now:

Looking at all that is going on in my life it has really been one of the most dynamic and positive periods that I’ve ever had. The campaign is going really well. Then next door I hit will be number 500 the days are getting longer and I have upped my goal from 2,000 to 3,000 which means I will knock on every door of every voter whose voted in any of the last four April elections. Fundraising is lagging but we put some energy towards that and got some hits. We’ll see if checks start appearing in the mail again.

There was a raise on my paycheck I didn’t expect. Its not a lot but its the first since the economy went to crap. I am enjoying my new work in program development. Thursday was an especially cool day. I went from doing general research to a brainstorm session with the boss and a grant writer on speaker phone and we kicked around some ideas and something went from a thought I had to a program description with a budget by the end of the day. It might exist in the real world in September.

It was pay day and I like to get a paper check and go to the bank. Remember nothing is worth doing unless its worth doing like they did in the 19th Century. That inspired me to finish my paperwork and gather my documents for refinancing the house. Took a look at the numbers going to lower my payment by a buck fifty and take 10 years off the mortgage. I am well on my way to having the place paid off, easily in 10, possibly in 5 and then we’re talking serious financial freedom. Work one year in five. Write the great American novel. Finish the Appalachian Trail, whatever.

I also have a date tonight. Yesterday at work I was talking with a client about her follow up with a family doctor I had set up and she said she was supposed to quit smoking on account of her asthma. It hit me it was February 10 and I was two years cigarette free. I called my no smoking coach to thank her and left a message. She called me back last night and invited me to dinner, since I’d eaten, we made it for tonight. Things just continue to fall in place.

I read Marcus Aurelius every night to keep me level. This time will pass like all the other times that have passed. Stay in the now, listen closely, act with honor whatever your station. Don’t be afraid.

Categories: books, feelings, health, politics

and then earlier

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Was tired last night and went to bed early, 9:00 pm. Probably a mistake because instead of waking at 3 I woke at 2. I forced myself to do some progressive relaxation. Cleared my mind but didn’t help me go back to sleep. I’m done with that stuff. 5 hours is the new normal. On the plus side it’ll add hours to my day but there are down sides. Once things slow at work and that should be Tuesday unless I truly am a workaholic (I think not, I think I just care about people and believe in working hard) will make a doctor’s appointment for that trazodone I’ve been fantasizing about.

I think the real deal is that my brain is in overload with swallowing all the changes in my life, new information pouring in, new challenges, new activities, tons of new people. No time to process it all. I am one to take things a little slower. Takes time to ruminate, look at it from a more relaxed and creative space. That’s why my thoughts seem intrusive at night and sleep is elusive. Maybe blogging will help. At least I am not bogged down with doubt or second guessing. There are a lot of political calculations that go into even a local race and I am able to see some errors but I am doing a lot of things right as well.

There is a local guy who aggregates local news and writes some columns. He declared me the winner in my race, “thoughtful and eloquent”. I had a narrow lead on the online poll in spite of not voting for myself or gaming the system. I’m not above pointing out a poll to some friends, created some votes for Confederacy of Dunces in the library One Read program. (Next year I will create more. They don’t respect the intellectual capacity of the common person and that will not stand.) But you have to be an online subscriber and I am a read an actual piece of paper kind of guy. I tried to buy the online subscription but couldn’t figure out how to add it on to my subscription. I will have to call their subscription desk I guess. I have an outlet that stopped working too. I checked the fuses and they were cool, the outside light on the same switch works so it can’t be that. Its hard to be poor and helpless. My broken step needs attention, scares the house guests. Think I’ll pop over to gmail and start dealing with that one right now. Done.

Let out a big yawn, maybe getting up in the middle of the night and blogging was not a bad idea. I might have zoned out in front of the TV but only one channel comes in and it was an infomercial. I also drank some ice tea that has some of that Organic Nighty Night, powerful stuff.

Hit a lot of doors, did a lot of walking. Walked Fido early and no one was at the park so we took a lap around a pond and then a woman with her standard poodle came and they played a bit and I chatted her up and gave her a card. Sarah came over and laid out my turf and we finished my first precinct. She drove, kept me organized and walked with me. It made it fun on a cold and drizzly, to outright rain that could have been miserable. We had Korean for lunch (they stopped doing the Be Bim Bop in a stone bowl, won’t be eating there again any time soon).

I went out again and got more doors. Doing my own precinct now. Did my street and found less support then I’d hoped. It would be nice to generate more signs. Missed a couple of houses including one I’d hoped to hit up for some money. Don’t have very many friends, or neighbors for that matter, with dollars. But I had forgotten the West was off their address so they were in a different place. Had to change my patter being I had hit most of them up for signatures to get on the ballot and after a long day in the rain I wasn’t as shiny as I would have liked. Got back on my rhythm (big word for no vowels) but by then to late for my street.

Called a couple of sitting councilpersons. Had long talks so didn’t have to arrange meetings. Both very supportive and encouraging with some good tidbits. Mostly keep doing what you’re doing, talking to voters, steering clear of trouble. Finished my follow up calls and ready to go to bed early and sleep the sleep of the just. Feel ready to give it another try now. thanks for reading faithful reader, looking forward to bringing the blog back public soon and mixing it up. Using it more for therapy these days. Let these rampant thoughts out, decompress. sleep.

 

Categories: community, dogs, feelings, politics

up early again

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Woke up about 3:00, forced myself to stay in bed until 5:00. Had a long and strange dream. I had gone back to Amsterdam but it seemed more like Austin. I was following up on some mystery from my last visit but it was more like a detective show then the actual mysteries I encountered in my eventful Amsterdam trip. There was political intrigue. I remember being in the situation where I knew I couldn’t remember most of what had happened in the last trip so people knew me but I didn’t know them. I remember someone taking my car. Eventually I encounter these business guys who did it and they think it is a pretty funny bit of hazing and I remember grabbing this heavyset bald guy in a suit and telling him that he just committed a felony and that if this shit doesn’t end right now I am having him prosecuted. I remember walking around with people I know through long tenement type apartment buildings and walking through people’s apartments and introducing ourselves. Flea markets with a big radio station promotion.

“Are you awake now?” I ask myself lying in bed allowing the details of the dream to come back in my mind. Dreams are cool and well worth cultivating. They’re just thoughts that we experience differently. The visual acuity, the sense of emotion, the heavy emotive content and lack of logic and social norms. The overall feeling (really the only thing that matters in dream interpretation) was one of discovery and adventure. A challenged sense of purpose that bounces back strong. Only a touch of confusion and that tempered by acceptance. I must be in a good place. Fido too, he slept in his own room last night.

Might take him for a walk even though I just did yesterday. I’ve got the time. All the house really needs is dishes done. Too rainy for laundry and it will force me to delve into my second tier dress clothes. All the walking and Marcus Aurelius is getting me more fit and trim. Wouldn’t mind growing down into some of my older dress shirts for example. My brown pants are fitting nice where I used to not be able to wear them with a shirt tucked in and they had fallen into the only to be worn in a pinch category.

Glad to have a tough week behind me at work. Closing or transferring all my cases has been grueling. A lot of details and good documentation essential for the hand off. Saying goodbye. “Mike, sorry I missed our appt. can I reschedule” “Well actually no you can’t, sorry I didn’t get to see you…good luck with the next guy”. I’m the only one who really meets people where they’re at all the time without exception. Some clients need that, everyone likes it. Everyone gets a step down in service.

The advantage of being a human being who talks to other human beings instead of the dis-empowering counselor to client relationship is they all care about me as a person too. Even though it sucks for them, none of them like people stepping out of their lives, they are happy for me and want me to be happy. They are proud to see me looking good and stepping into the spotlight. They know what I can do and can imagine that in the City Council. But its sad nonetheless.

I had a driver for my doors last night. Ann is a pilot and an interesting character who had some good tips and some things I hadn’t thought about. We hit the scattered houses in the precinct in the brand new neighborhood. All this generic America development. It was rainy and we saw the construction sites running with water mud pouring into the feeder creeks. In one site we saw the barrier material still in its rolls while the red mud pours into the creek. Everyone has a security system. The few people at home are content with the city. My picture and quotations are in that days paper and no one knows who I am.

Sarah is driving me today, might try her hand at door knocking. I am afraid its a little early for a surrogate. It definitely bombed when I tried having some help with signature gathering. If Sarah wants to do it we’ll give it a shot. Mostly she wants to hang out and be supportive which I appreciate. I got caught up on my follow up calls but it seemed late to be calling my assigned political contacts I need to reach out to. That’ll be today, Lord Willing and the creek don’t rise. Its supposed to be a rainy one. Need to figure out better plastic for my clipboard. Tried a comicbook bag cut in half which has the right size but was to flimsy.

The garage is flooded. I’ll need to get the subpump outflow extension back on track I suspect. Should have left well enough alone when I was messing in there. Dad usually had a reason for doing stuff. I miss him this morning. His wisdom, his unabashed self interest, which I always seem to run a little short on and causes me trouble.

Ordered beans yesterday. Will run short and probably have to pick up half a pound. Don’t even know if Z-Best is still at the market been roasting my own for so long. I’ll chat ’em up if they’re there. I hope the bread lady has some sliced. I ate the last of Jeff’s last night. I’d make myself some eggs but no bread. Eggs have been around awhile and will probably hard boil them. That or get the bacon out of the freezer. A pound of bacon is a big commitment for a household of one. (Sorry Fido no salt and nitrates for you buddy, I want you to live to be 20 so you’ll stay on dog cereal.)

Guess I’ll get my second cup of coffee, made it stronger today as this Guat is not that flavorful, hope the next is better. Got a Guat, Sumatran, Ethiopian and a Rwandan for the next round. Was going to treat myself to a pound of Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, damn the expense but they’re both out of season.

wow, what a day

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I didn’t post yesterday. I hit a wall, stymied by trying to complete a campaign ethics report online and then navigating through establishing online banking for the campaign account. Ate up my day light and I didn’t get to talk to any voters. It was a stressful day at work, with a tight frenetic pace and no longer have the option to just work a little longer to wrap it all up. But if going the extra mile were easy it wouldn’t be a commandment and everyone would do it.

Today was a good day. I went to bed early last night not even finishing my absinthe, served classically. Thanks John for the absinthe spoon, a rarely used but much appreciated kitchen gadget. If you don’t know you serve absinthe by pouring the shot over a sugar cube which rests on a slotted spoon that has a little bump to go over the edge of the glass. It clouds the water in a particular way and hard on the liver I hear so I drink sparingly. Last night I had the barest sip before deciding to hit the hay and let the glass sit on the counter. Left the house smelling like licorice and I finished it tonight after canvassing.

Woke at 4:00 and felt pretty good but lay in bed and pretended to sleep until 6:30. I got dressed, business casual, that’s probably reason enough for my work to be proud I’m running, finally dressing like your supposed to. Creates a hurdle to engage with folks who are more ghetto for lack of a better word. Poor people make assumptions about people in ties, usually correct ones. Now people are surprised when I talk about my sister who is addicted to crack (3 years clean though, so no shame there, nothing wrong with being an addict just doing drugs. some of the best people I know are addicts.) They used to take it as a given, I was more like them.

April 4th I go back to being me.

Today I put on slacks (long johns underneath for canvassing), dress shoes, dress shirt and cardigan. Debated the tie and realized it was Saturday. I made the call as all the city staffers and managers were dressed in their business casual/fancy casual except the deputy manager of a department who was filling in for his boss. He had a suit cuz he didn’t know. The Ward 6 candidate was in a tie, he didn’t know either. I sat next to him and we related as candidates.

His opposition is closer to me politically. It was nice meeting her and getting her perspective. I also introduced myself to the conservative council person who came even though he’s not up for re-election this year. He told a funny story about goofy constituent calls where someone complained about the parking enforcement double parking while they wrote him a parking ticket. The councilman brought up the beer trucks that block the street willy nilly servicing the bars downtown. “Well I like beer trucks”.

I heard presentations on city government by the city manager, and all the department heads and the municipal court judge. It was really informative and I am largely impressed with how the city is run. Columbia is the best governed place I’ve ever lived (with apologies to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place Monroe, Michigan; Berkeley, California, and Toledo, Ohio. Honorable mention to Rossford, Ohio because I didn’t know enough to follow local politics in my 19-20 years).

I learned that at our current funding for street repair we will repave the streets every 57 years. Streets last 30 years. We also have big pension underfunding issues, a storm water situation that is not getting the resources it needs and revenue is flat to down. We’re going to have to be really smart with what we do with our little dollars.

I was most impressed with the city manager who is personable, smart and a good leader. Seems like he is taking the city in a good direction. I am also impressed that we have maintained good reserves which has cushioned us through the tough times except for transit which is going to need some additional revenue or major cuts to services.

Neither of my opponents showed up. In a way it was cool, allowed me to relax and be treated as the heir apparent. I also learned one of my opponents had voted against GetAboutColumbia a $4.3 million (this year) Federal grant for non-motorized transportation as a Parks and Rec Commission guy because some people don’t like it. Its controversial, blow back by motorists who feels bicyclists are getting uppity or something but damn, that’s got to be a majority issue, even if you hate trails that’s a lot of jobs to be against.

I got interviewed so imagine I’ll be in the paper. Hope my professional head shot got in to the paper in time, although I like the unflattering float trip pic. they pulled off Facebook for the first story. Keeps me humble being a homely mug with a giant melon. Canvassing and staying on my dog walking schedule is going to have me looking good by April. I’ll have to come up with a scheme to keep it up.

After the interview I grabbed some Indian food, delicious downtown and hit the streets to canvass. The new flyer is out and looks a lot better with the new photo. Tomorrow I need to schedule another photo shoot, get the dog in the picture. I let him out and then canvassed until dark. I had a brief hiatus to wait for flyers but some down time was appreciated.

Had some good houses today. Met an anti-obesity community organizer and talked quite a bit. I went to one house and no one came to the door even though only the storm door was closed. A kid came up with a scooter and I gave her a flyer and asked her to give it to her parents. She said, “I don’t have parents, just a mom. I had two moms but one moved out.” I was thinking I was sorry I missed her as with a story like that it has to be someone I know and sure enough I heard Mike, Mike shouted down the block and got caught up with an old friend.

I’ve hit 126 doors. Not to shabby though I am off pace. It may not be realistic. I am going to try to recruit a driver to speed the process. I made my follow up calls. I talked at length with an older couple about the state of the neighborhood and they are going to talk to some neighbors and may gather a group to meet me. They live in the same block as the sweet old lady I talked to at length about not knowing her neighbors when she didn’t come to the door. When I left a message for one she had specifically mentioned she did not know I mentioned the possibility of a meeting.

I have this dream where the older folks meet the newer folks and everyone feels a little safer and a little more neighborly. To rekindle our cross-generational interactions. It might start on Garden Drive. I’ve been praying for that little old lady. After that did some business and looking to wind down and get some shut eye. Tomorrow morning is my own, you can’t canvass before noon on Sunday as you are supposed to be in church. If its at all nice I will walk Fido to the dog park and try to chat up some dog people. Fido has been getting his walks but its been after dark and he needs to see more dogs to have as much life satisfaction as i would like him to have. John was sweet enough to remind me that even with being busy Fido has a better life then most.

I know that. I got no room for guilt. I’ve been working hard all day, every day and get to sleep the sleep of the just. Its a good thing to work hard and try to help. There’s a lot of mess out there but there’s a lot of room for growth if you’ve got a little hustle and a lot of compassion.

step one part two

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Living alone has forced me to really think about food. Its really inconvenient to live by yourself if you like home cooking. Been making tasty soups I can eat for days and days and realizing I need two thing, because I can’t eat lunch and dinner. The minestrone soup has been good. For lunch on my late day I made hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes so I added some peas, corn, and brie and am baking it for shepherd’s pie.

I have as long as it takes to get done to post. I am going to go back to my paraphrase of the NA Steps in clear, concrete, simple language with all references to hearing removed. Original text is also beautiful, spare and powerful,  from Cyber Recovery. I read the first part to get into the flow and it sounds really good I think. Maybe I’ll strip down all my writing, its kind of powerful and adds to clarity of thought.

In recovery what we call success changes. When we were using drugs we were planning to get high or getting over being sick from being high. Success was staying out of trouble. In recovery success can be staying sober and going to meetings. Some people just do that for a long time. Staying clean is success. Working the steps can be success too but really its about knowing God. That way we can get clean physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we know God we learn how to live. We are honest, help other people, and learn how to love. We love people who don’t even love themselves. Going back to school or getting a job can be success too. Some people think money is success. Recovery does not depend on what we have or what we know. Recovery is being free and not thinking about drugs or wanting to do drugs.

Being sad over not doing something we said we would do teaches us about failure. Being curious about what we can do helps us grow. If we can let ourselves fail we can try to do stuff. When we are clean we have to be brave and try new things. Thinking things are better then they are or worse then they are is like when we were using drugs.

Wondering what other people feel and think, especially about us looks  like a problem. This helps us think things over and get advice. It helps us learn about God. Learning more about what is good and what is bad helps us know God. We don’t believe old lies we heard or be afraid of things we don’t understand. Learning about God is important in NA.

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getting tired, looks like there will be a step 3. Thanks for checking this out and sharing it if you do. Its cool stuff and I am blessed to have been asked to get to know it more deeply. Your comments are requested and appreciated.

step one part 1

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Introduction:

I’ve had the great pleasure to get to teach the 12 steps of recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous over the past year or so. I am a treatment person not a recovery person so I do not usually presume. The Steps are supposed to be worked by a Sponsor. Someone experienced in The Program who has worked the steps themselves. For people with multiple challenges Recovery can be an arduous path and unique accommodations must sometime be made.

If an individual speaks only a foreign language or is deaf and only speaks sign both NA and AA graciously make interpreters available but only for meetings not to meet with sponsors. Using deaf as an example you also have the unique challenge of concrete thinking, translation, and lack of all reference even through metaphor for hearing. I just looked the steps on line(cyber recovery)  and translated. And its been cool. One of the most interesting therapeutic approaches I’ve ever tried. Has made me really have to understand the text.

Someone requested I write it down for them. I told them it would be a lot of work but it may be of general interest so I would share it.

Step 1

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

Not understanding the first step makes people use drugs. Addicts have other problems besides using drugs. People in NA can only help others by caring about them and living life as it is not how we want it to be or fear it to be. NA just focuses on not using drugs.

Using drugs makes you selfish and step one helps that. If we are powerless we don’t have to stick up for ourselves or try to do stuff we can’t do. When we used drugs we tried to hurt ourselves, not because we wanted to but because we were sick. Our sickness is because we can’t remember what has happened or learn from other people. We lie to ourselves and can’t see how things are. Sometimes people wait to make decisions until they’ve been clean awhile and they’re better. Recovery is confusing in the beginning and waiting to make decisions helps. We can’t do that forever as we get better in recovery if we want to grow.

We can’t give it up to God without understanding other addicts. We do what other addicts who have been clean longer suggest. We read, study, and ask questions when we can. We share with others so we don’t plan to use drugs. We try to understand we are sick and can’t get better alone. The most important word in the first step is We. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. We are not alone we are in a group in NA. We don’t have to do this step alone.

When we were using drugs we felt the strongest when we were making our biggest problems. Sometimes it almost killed us and ruined our life. We thought we were strong but we could just make people do stuff we wanted. Other times we felt weak and nervous. When bad things happened we would admit we have a problem and things would get better. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. Then we can keep getting better forever, unless we decide we’re powerful.

Most ask “Tell me how it’s done? Show me what to do. I am afraid to try.” In NA we see people like us who have gotten better. We wonder if they are like us how can they do good? They do things we don’t think people can do. As we get better we learn that how it was when were using isn’t that way anymore. We are no longer dazed by drugs. We have meetings to go to. We learn new positive thoughts.

We learn to catch ourselves and slow down before getting caught up in things. Almost anything, even important things can wait five minutes. Taking time to think doesn’t mean we can’t do some things. It helps us not to feel hurt. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything and we can give it to God. Then we think of good things to do, people to call, and good things happen when we pray.

Some things remind us of drugs. Sometimes it does and we don’t see it and we don’t know why we want to use drugs. Some people make us think about when we were kids or when bad things happened or like they are the cops and we want to get away. This keeps us from getting better. Learning more about what reminds us of stuff lets us change it. Intense anger, fear, or shame for no reason shows you have a problem. We have to give everything in our life to God. When we remember we are not in control problems go away. Without giving it to God we can’t get better and we will do what we used to do. Part of giving it up to God is remembering we made our lives small. We did bad things and bad things happened. We get confused because we did drugs and need other people to help us. All addicts feel nervous sometimes but they help each other.

We have to look at what we do in recovery. We do stuff for a long time and we don’t think about it. We don’t remember why we do stuff we just do it. The longer we are in recovery we can do things better. We ought to think about what we do especially the stuff we were doing when we were using drugs. They make our life like it used to be. We are afraid at red and blue lights because of the cops but we aren’t breaking any laws and don’t have to be afraid.

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had hoped to finish but will call this part 1. The steps can seem daunting but they are front loaded with length and depth. Most of it is really clear. Occasionally I am lost by a thought. In talking with a translator I was told “clarity” was the essential quality. I am curious of what people who know this material better then I think. I enjoy abstraction but its been cool to lay it down for awhile. In the concrete there is room for God but not a Higher Power. If the New York Times said God is dead  in the 60s for this exercise Higher Power is dead killed by vagueness and abstraction.