Monday, December 29, 2003 Mad Rush Disease Mad Rush affects 3 out of 4 office workers and spreads virtually unstoppable during the last few moments of the year. I imagine the 4th person is either on vacation already or just ignoring the other three.
Everyone I talked to recanted similar stories... so-and-so is driving them crazy, calling every five minutes wanting this or that. My chat mates all have that glazed over look as they work overtime to get it done... just in time to send off emails and interoffice packages to the so-and-so's that "just left" for vacation for the next week and a half; so they won't see all the work until next year anyway.
Why do we do this to ourselves? (or "why we choose to play along with the home game") is because 1) they waited until the last minute to tell us about the project, 2) they promised THEIR boss that it'd be done before the end of the year, 3) if it doesn't get done it's OUR fault and 4) up until midnight on the 31st, it still counts towards our yearly review and consequently the difference of a few percentage points on our merit raises (ok, fractions of percentage points and technically "merit raises on not based on yearly reviews" but we all know how that goes)...
It's bottom of the ninth, all bases loaded, you're up to bat... the pitcher throws and... oh look, 5 o'clock, vacation time!
Sunday, December 28, 2003 Buried Treasure The linger you go on using "stuff" the more "junk" piles up. That just comes with living in a "modern" wasteful society. It just piles up around us slowly... old mail that we put aside for later, that article clipping or recipe we found interesting; the boxes all these things came in. Even when we try to keep up with it, there's always dust sneaking in between things we wipe frequently... "stuff" just happens.
Every once in a while you just have to get down there and really give it all a deep cleaning. It's liberating once it's all over... everything seems newer and in its place...
And you finally find that thing you were looking for last summer...
Saturday, December 27, 2003 Shake up as a wake up... When a 6.5 earthquake hit San Simeon on Monday, buildings swayed and one older building collapsed. We lost two people. Most people read about it over latte at Starbucks the next day, talking about how it felt like being on a ship and made them seasick.
Now, a quake of the same size hits the ancient city of Bam in Iran... a city much older than San Simeon... predating the United States; in fact, their buildings were built around the time Jesus walked in similar lands. The buildings built of mud and straw; Their story is completely different from our headline-making news.
They tells stories not of two, but of twenty thousand lost; foundations, not facades crumbling to dust.
Thursday, December 25, 2003 A Christmas Wish... Today I came across two blogs written by homeless men, one in Alabama, the other in New York. I was so touched by their writing, especially the one form Jonathon in Alabama. His writing is so powerful because his writing seems so in touch with his situation, even though he talks about his mental illness and being separated from reality so much.
People have so many preconceived notions about the homeless... that they create their own situations, or that they somehow deserve it. Some do. Others just have had bad turns.
I faced my own preconceptions, because it hadn't even occured to me that homeless people would have blogs. Have I been thinking that blogging is just for the "haves" all this time? Desire and access to a computer is all that's necessary, not ownership. Hmmm... I've think I've learned something new today.
Tis the season we think about the homeless... we send in our $15 for their meals or donate our jackets so that we can feel warmer about ourselves this winter... but we forget that their difficult lives don't end on January 2nd, when we get back into our SUVs to go back to work. These bloggers reminded me of that fact.
These two gentlemen were in my thoughts and prayer today... as are all those less fortunate right now. I don't know if I can change their lives, but I sent them well wishes in their guestbooks. I hope this year will bring them a better time of it than they have now.
Here is a transcript from my radio show "Enlighten Up!" about a decade ago, dedicated to the homeless then; and to Jonathon and James today.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003 The Greatest Gift... Today was the big day of giving at the office; where everyone brings in their bags of goodies, sees a card from someone they forgot, then scrambles to find those blank cards to jot down the giver's name. I brought two boxes of blank cards and some extra "tokens" for just such occasions... knowing myself only too well. Fortunately my order of Guru Mugs came in just in time, and I didn't have to scribble a guilt card.
Office gift giving is such an interesting phenomenon. Who do you give to? Who do you skip? If someone gives you a card or gift and you didn't give them one, do you rush to sign a card in return, or just say "thank you" and leave it at that? I got two guilt gifts today... and although they're really nice, they weren't necessary. I didn't give them gifts because I expected anything in return, but because I just wanted to give.
One reason why I enjoy giving so much is because of a gift I was given many years ago. Today is the anniversary of my Near-Death Experience at the age of three. I consider the experience itself a very great gift, but I consider the fact that I came back, and am here now, the greatest gift of all.
Monday, December 22, 2003 I see spots As the year comes to a close, we could hear the sounds of yearly reviews coming soon. Visions of Sugar Coating dancing in our heads. Only there are no reindeer in sight, only leopards... and even though they've renamed their spots, I recognize every one of them...
Everyone knows what to say, though they act surprised to hear us being told to once again repeat them to others. Maybe they believed last year's "next year will be different" or maybe they still believe that no one falls for the same old lines years after year. Will they be rewarded for integrity, or punished for insubordination?
Once again, people are faced with having to deal with "whose truth is it anyway?" By the end though, that line will get very blurry.
We'll get through it, of course. We always do. We'll learn our lines and balance our version of the reviews with what's "approved". We'll learn to acquiesce, even if we don't learn to accept... then we'll move on with a smile... and get ready for our next great work of art...
ISFPs live in the here and now. Their impulses yearn to be free, and are often loosed when others least expect it. ISFPs may be quite charming and ingratiating on first acquaintance, flowing with compliments which may (or may not) be deserved. On other occasions, the same individual may be aloof and detached.
Because of these variant expressions of Feeling judgement, ISFPs are sometimes confused with ESFJs, but keep themselves more aloof, more often concealing the feelings that ESFJs are so apt to expose.
ISFPs can and do perform admirably in the spotlight, but generally have little to say about the performance.
I asked him for his opinion. He had nothing to say.
Friday, December 19, 2003 Let em eat cake... I looked longingly at the chocolate cookies in front of me. The boss was filtering through during our holiday, year end gathering. I imagined what it would be like if we were all bakers, would the conversation go something like this...
Boss: I'm very excited about next year, we're going to bake lots of cakes, big chocolate ones with lots of icing! What do you need to succeed?
Me: I'll need flour, cocoa and some sugar.
Boss: You can't have them. What else can I do?
Me: How can I make chocolate cake without flour cocoa and sugar?
Boss: You'll just have to be creative. What have you got already?
Boss: That's a start.
Me: I can make you an omelet.
Boss: We don't want omelets, we want cake.
Me: But how am I going to get the ingredients?
Boss: You have to make the cake first, then we can talk about the ingredients.
Boss: It's going to be a challenge, but I have faith that you'll find a way to make it happen.
Me: What happen to the head chef saying I could have whatever I need to be successful?
Boss: You can, anything you need... as long as you don't ask for the ingredients. Would you like a cookie?
Wednesday, December 17, 2003 Days of Hope Thinking back over the events of today, this common theme arose... today marks several events of Hope...
Hope of a Century 100 years ago, Wilbert and Orville Wright had hope as they took to the skies. Who'd've thought it would lead to chicken or lasagna and taking your shoes off in front of strangers.
Hope of a Half Over 50 years later, my mother flew down the aisle, in hopes of being half of a whole. A decision I know I personally appreciate more than chicken and lasagna combined.
Hope for Today Today, the Burbank Airport, often my first stop on my way to see mom and dad, was renamed The Bob Hope Airport. I don't know if the airport is better for that, but I know the world is better because of Bob Hope.
Hope for Tomorrow I finally had time today to start adding material into the intranet project that's been hanging over my head at work for a very, very long time. What struck me the most was how "open" the structure was. Even though things were labeled for specific purposes, they were open enough to allow me to do just about anything. I called them "containers for content" and have already found so many uses, I've lost count.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 Hi Ho, Doh! The morning's horoscope read:
You like what you like. Your style is famous. People can always count on you.
So I was prepared to give it my all, playing Dopey in front of the entire department. Considering in my last acting job I was dressed as a cow (see post Dec 8th), this was a step up. Having to MC the entire event without saying a word was challenging, but many years of pretending to be in a box as a mime helped a lot.
I made it a point to cheer on the rest of the "dwarfs" because if they didn't go all out, this would be a really dumb thing for us to do. It was fine for me, after all, I'm Dopey... I'm supposed to be, well, dopey. Imagine a smiling Grumpy or an angry Happy? Might as well rename them "Crazy" and "Boring."
I knew that some people were going to laugh AT us, instead of WITH us, but that's the point... laughter... enjoy it. Sometimes playing the fool is what it's all about.
Let's see... a Cow, now Dopey... what... is... next?
Monday, December 15, 2003 If deadlines were baseball... December 15th must be the ultimate day for deadlines. It's two weeks before the end of the year, so it still looks like you're getting stuff done. Well, I only made two out of the four due today. If this were baseball, that'd be .500, which would get me millions of dollars a year. But alas, it is not. What it gets me is two deadlines to add to the two deadlines due tomorrow.
However, waiting for me at home was good news... gurustu.com has won four more awards, including an interview for one of their e-zines.
Sunday, December 14, 2003 Tis the season to wrap it up... The holiday get togethers are starting, the cards are waiting to get out into the mail, and with only two weekends left, I've started to become acutely aware of my own deadlines for the year.
It's around this time of year, every year, that I make a personal summary list. I go through my date book and make a list of all the accomplishments I had. Next I list all the things in progress; and finally all the things I didn't get to. Reviewing it brings a lot of insight. You never really realize you've actually done so much, until you see the list. I'm thinking of publishing that list over here when it's done, but here's a little sampling of what it's gonna look like...
Completed communication site and (number here) other projects at work
Lost 10 pounds
Became much better at saying "no"
THINGS IN PROGRESS
Losing more weight
Started new chiropractor to straighten up
THINGS I DIDN'T DO
Finish my book
Start offline Gurustu speaking tour
Map out 2004 plans
Buy a house
The goal of this is to acclimate myself and my direction. By reviewing it, I can decide what is important; what I want to do next year and beyond; and basically use the holidays as a celebration of my Life as it is and as it is yet to be.
Friday, December 12, 2003 Slowly into place The them over the past two days (perhaps the past several weeks, but just noticably more intense lately) is how everything is falling into place. Everything has been happening at once, so at first glance it seems like everything is frantic and it just feels like nothing is ever going to get done.
It's kind of like defragging your hard drive. At first there's this swirl of mixed up color and it just takes FOREVER to get the pieces from one place or another. But before you know it, all the colors are nicely arranged and everything is as it should be.
At work, projects are all starting to finish up at the same time; others are showing that the end is near. Last week, it looked nothing like this.
And speaking of getting put back into place, I just had my second session with a new chiropractor. She definitely is going after areas that the other guy simply ignored. Getting out of my car this morning, I was shocked... not by the pain that I've come to expect, but by its lack. Hmmm, that's what it felt like to be the old me (or rather NOT the old me).
This has been a very good lesson in making sure that everything is in its place. That balance, and harmony can make the world of difference.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003 Commit! I did not choose the theme for the award ceremony, and I was "volunteered" to MC... but if you want it to be successful, you have to commit to it. Being half-committed doesn't result in half-success; it results in full-failure.
I encountered my first sign of resistence to the idea from the same people who came up with it. Apparently, the committee's idea is to get someone else to do as much of the work as possible. Unfortunately, it's going to take the commitment of everyone, or the day of the event will label the idea as a bad one.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003 Squeeze Sometimes they say my mind is like a sponge... and it's never as apparent until it's under deadline. This is the time that I have to squeeze my brain for ideas, because the stuff I need is only days away.
It's not one of those traits that I admire or try to cultivate within myself. "Working well under pressure" often wastes so much time because not much is done, until there's not much time to do it in.
Society seems to admire those people who work well under pressure. The irony is that I'm writing the scripts for award events that will eventually reward people for working under pressure. We pat ourselves on the back for handling the mess that we in fact create.
Then we reward ourselves with a break... a long one... that lasts until the next deadline comes along... and the cycle begins all over again.
Monday, December 08, 2003 Get it straight I started a new chiropractor today and I feel much better... the pain's still there, because she didn't do any adjustments yet, but just by the way she goes about her business is so far superior to what I had last year. The questions, the equipment, the touch... they all indicate an understanding towards an answer.
I put up with a lot last year. If figured that these things take time. I overrode that nagging feeling that something just wasn't working. The last guy came recommended by not one, but TWO of my friends. They were in a lot of pain, and always went to him, so I just figured...
I figured that they should be well by now... listening to the doctor tonight, I'm sure they would be if they made the right choices.
It took me a while to get to this place. Going to the other guy was as much procrastination and not going to this new one... but that's better now... and I trust I'll be better tomorrow (much better!)
As I walked towards my car, along a stretch of quaint, small town like stores, a feeling of familiarity flooded over me and
ended up on my face in a smile. I walked past my car, heading instead to a local theater just half a block away. Peering into the lobby, scenes of yesteryear filled my memory like an old forgotten movie.
It was in this theater, some xx years ago, that I did one of my last acting gigs... it was as part of an improv troop and we were performing in front of a comedy traffic school... and I remember being dressed in a cow suit...
OK, so it wasn't very glamorous... and maybe it explains why it was one of my last acting gigs... and maybe the smile was more just to laugh at myself... but it made me smile none-the-less.
Sunday, December 07, 2003 In memoriam Today is very significant for Americans. For over 50 years, it represented the only time that a foreign group successfully broke our borders... and as such, broke through our arrogance.
Maybe because it doesn't happened that often, or because we're still very arrogant, but we don't take attacks kindly. What started at Pearl Harbor ended in a mushroom cloud over Nagasaki. More recently, we're still awaiting the results of our outrage over September 11th.
The shattered glass that comes from animosity doesn't break the image. Instead, it shines brightly as sharp weapons. Instead of being broken, the many faces of the whole appear. It's who we are...
Saturday, December 06, 2003 A flurry of memories Today was the first "real" snowstorm in the northeast. It came on strong, as if to say that Summer is no longer welcome. It brought back a long string of memories of my childhood, when my brother started the tradition of creating "Snow Gurus" by pushing me face first into the first snow of the year.
Seeking shelter in the garage, I became a philosopher those years. At first I contemplated "why me?" and "when is mom coming home?" but as years went by, I started asking "why him?"; and in many ways, it started me on the path that eventually lead me to become "Gurustu."
I know those years in the cold lead me to one thing place for sure... the sunny, no-seasoned world of Southern California. It's interesting to ponder how different life would have been if he hadn't made that push.
Friday, December 05, 2003 The storm before the quiet The Holiday Season always gets so quiet at work... but you just won't be able to convince anyone of that three weeks before...
Today was perhaps one of the most hectic days I've ever seen at work. It wasn't that everyone had a deadline to meet... they had SEVERAL deadlines to meet; all today.
I only had two, so I guess that would make it a "slow" day.
I think this mad rush comes from the realization that the year (and consequently the budget) is nearly up. Even those people who are over budget are doing the rush, figuring "what the heck, I'm already over." However I can't help but be reminded that a lot of these rushes have been coming for months.
Two months ago:
"You need this when?"
"You really ought to get start on that now"
"Can we see requirements for what you want?"
One month ago:
"I thought you needed it by now, shouldn't you start soon?"
"Sure I can meet next week, but wouldn't tomorrow be better?"
"Any requirements yet?"
"It's really kind of late for that"
"You need it when??"
"Oh, thanks for the sketch on the napkin... no... really... this is good..."
I'm sure everything will come together at the last minute...
handshakes and awards will go out to everyone...
we'll explain away the overbudget...
disappear for two weeks...
then start all over again.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003 Tween Duty and Deadlines Though free from Jury Duty, I've still not been set free from the flu that is racking my body. My voice sounds like Harvey Fierstein, while my lungs feel like fire. With so many deadlines waiting for me back at work, I didn't want to take the time off. In return for longer hours and hardly a break, my reward was a nap at lunch time and no traffic.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003 To tell what truth? It was nearing the end; the jury had been picked, but the alternate selection awaited... so they called everyone else up who was just sitting with bags in hand and hopes of going home in their eyes.
Sure, we were all under oath to tell the truth, but I had to think "what truth would that be?" What memories would I conjure up, what tale would I spin to the judge and army of lawyers? Do I tell them about the friends in LAPD; sure, it's what they asked. But what constitutes acts of violence? How far back do we have to go until it is no longer "relevant?" What about the acts of a bullying brother? Even if sharp objects were involved, haven't we moved on by now? Who am I drudging up these memories for... for their convenience or my own?
And what of that young man sitting there? Do I want to send an innocent man to prison? No, of course not; not any more than I would wish to let a murderer walk free. Would I be fair and just? I think I could be. Would I be right? I would hate to think otherwise.
As they dismissed me I had mixed feelings. Relief that I would not have to be his judge; yet sad that our lives had such different paths.
I drove home a little bit more carefully this evening... the law weighing heavy on my mind.
Monday, December 01, 2003 Do I have to serve if I'm not quite myself? Yesterday was a day to just fall apart, then recuperate, then fall apart again... like a leaking faucet. I was ready to go to the eye doctor when I discovered a lash inside; once gone the pain and redness started to go away.
Next came neck pains, which started the headaches... and my breathing got a bit labored.
So today I got to Jury Duty wearing my glasses and feeling way out of sorts. I think I was become the quiet bookwormy nerd all over again.
It made for a rather uncomfortable day... sometimes behind human is just a pain...
Unfortunately Jury Duty continues tomorrow, so I'm trying to power rest as much as I can now that I'm home.