Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crap, it's my birthday

And the coworker formally known as Drink Man has everyone at work believing I'm 40! Grrr. I'm only 39, and I deserve to have my year before the big four - oh. Not only that, but he's 41, and is now trying to pass himself off as 40. I'm sorry, but you can't take one of your years and add it to mine!

Work has been non-stop today, in part because Annoying coworker called in sick for the second clinic day in a row. From one perspective, that's been absolutely wonderful. From another, it's made for extra work and people scrambling to cover his duties. In both ways, though, it makes me look good for being flexible and hard working, so I'm happy.

Last night Formerly Drink Man and I went out to look at guitars at the local music shop. I fell in love with an arctic white Fender Fat Strat. It was the "made in Mexico" variety, so it was roughly $500, as opposed to the Made in America $1,200 kind. Despite the urgings of friends on Facebook, I did not purchase it, mainly because it will be a long time before One Ring and I recover from her not working during this summer due to her exams and our trip to Disney World. Also, ahead on the list of must buys are a new car and a replacement for my computer. So I must remain separated from my new love for a while. Barring a winning lottery ticket or a very generous friend or relative, this will be a while!

Meanwhile, One Ring is taking me out to dinner tonight. I'm trying to finess a trip to the local game store and see if I can get something out of this. Or maybe something guitar-related. We'll see.
Okay, 30 minutes and then I'm gone.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tired of Complaining ...

... because there are far worse jobs than the one I currently have!

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Back to Reality

Actually, I've been back for 2 days now. It's just that Monday was my first day of substituting for Annoying Coworker (how's that for irony?!?) and we were slammed. 6 patients for one on one counseling, plus my normal clinic duties made for a serious headache. Fortunately, Annoying Coworker called in sick yesterday, so I was able to get caught up and get things relatively back to normal in the office. Bad news is that he's back to work today, so I'm expecting some sort of conflict to start brewing soon. It's sad, really, that this thing is dominating so much of my time, energy, and capacity for stress. Hopefully things will get worked out soon.

But on to happier topics! Like my 3 year-old nephew stating emphatically that he wants to be a pirate! He even told Ariel, of The Little Mermaid, that he was a pirate and not a prince (for some reason, Disney World characters like to call all the children who visit either "Prince" or "Princess." Must be a marketing thing). My nephew corrected this particular Princess, although it must be noted that she recovered quickly and said, "Well, I hope you're a good pirate!" Like I said, it was a proud day for my clan!

I did get a chance to poke my head in the Pirate's League face painting / costume shop, which is located next to The Pirates of the Caribgean ride at the Magic Kingdom. While I seriously doubt it's worth the hefty price tag, it does look like fun. We saw four adult men dressed up, and I have to say, it looked like the make-up artists did a good job. I pointed them out to my nephew, who quickly wanted to know if they were "real pirates." Too cute.

My niece also had the time of her life, although at 8 she's now at the age where she's questioning the Disney magic. Several times she asked if one of the characters was "the real" one or "just someone in a suit." She's figured out that Mickey, et. al. are people in suits, but she was thrown off by the princesses. I was able to put off reality for a little while by saying things like, "Well, it's Cinderella's castle, isn't it? Why would they put a fake Cinderella in Cinderella's castle?" I imagine that by the next time I see her, though, she'll have everything figured out. They grow up so fast!

The kids really enjoyed collecting the character's autographs. We gave each a book and pen at the start of our trip, and each time we saw someone (which was almost constant!), we got out the books and sent them over. My niece's book is almost completely filled at this point, and since each page has a place for a photo of the character in question, she should be left with something that will hold her interest for years to come. Maybe. Hopefully. It's hard to tell with kids.

As for the adults - One Ring and me in particular - let me tell you that travelling with children is way different than going solo to Disney World. We got home Friday night, and by the time Saturday rolled around, my body felt as if I had aged sixty years. Fortunately, by Monday most of the stiffness and pain had subsided, though I'm still trying to recover the sleep I lost. How children can keep going at full tilt for so long is beyond me. Maybe it's because we pushed them around in a stroller. I'll have to try to get this level of treatment the next time I head down there. The weather was way too hot for a grown man to have to walk around on his own!

I forsee myself looking something like this:

Well, back to work. We have a clinic tomorrow and I need to get back up to speed.


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Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Always Darkest ...

Before I go to Disney World, apparently.

Yesterday the situation with Annoying Coworker escalated to out of control proportions. Following a meeting in which I expressed doubts as to the accuracy of some information he was presenting, he confronted me in the hallway and started shouting. In front of the doctor and a patient, I might add. So today has been spent trying to set up a meeting with my boss' boss in order to make sure this never happens again.

I didn't post yesterday because I was barely able to contain my rage and professionalism. Drink Man was very supportive, as was One Ring, and I have been avoiding all contact with Annoying Coworker for obvious reasons.

So that's the work situation. I'm sorely tempted to burn some sick time so I can get home, go to my guitar lesson, pick up some meds at the pharmacy, and get packed. I talked to my mother today, and was told that my niece and nephew still do not know anything about the trip. They won't know that we're going to be there until they arrive at the resort tomorrow. Awesomeness will ensue!

Okay, time for me to do a process group. Might do anger management. Let the irony roll on ...

By the way, we're leaving before dawn tomorrow, so don't be surprised if you don't see a post before the 27th. Then again, I may post from WDW, as One Ring is bringing her laptop. We'll see.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

At Last, A Moment of Peace

Today is a non-clinic day, and my only appointment this morning was a no-show, so things are quiet. The doctor and I are going to be driving to Nashville (in separate cars, so I can listen to my own music!) to give a talk on the clinic and try to get referrals. She's hinted that I'll be going home early! And One Ring has suggested that, being that the temp's hitting the mid 90s today, a trip to the ice cream shop may not be out of the question. Life's simple pleasures are sometimes the best.

We're down to three days until vacation - or "two days and a wake-up" as One Ring puts it. Last night she told me that she was worried that I was putting so much energy into anticipating this trip that I was bound to be disappointed if it was less than perfect. She was also worried about the possibility of my being incredibly depressed upon my return to the chaos of my workplace.

All of which brings to mind a major tenet of Zen thought ...

One Ring's concern that I am too focused on vacation and therefore will be disappointed echoes the second of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, namely that suffering is caused by craving, or attachment, to ideas of how things "should be." The idea here is that our brains create an artificial reality, usually mentioned in texts as an illusion. When the illusion does not match reality, negative emotions are produced and experienced.

In terms of the upcoming Disney trip, One Ring is correct in assuming that I have created a mental image of how events are going to play out: small crowds in the parks, everything running smoothly, children behaving, sunshine constantly, low humidity, and cool temps. Obviously, none of these things are going to happen. It's Florida, after all, and summertime! One of our guidebooks puts the crowd levels at 8 or 9 out of 10 for every day we're going to be there. Plus Florida is famous for its afternoon thunderstorms. Tigger and Pooh were there a few weeks ago, and it rained nonstop for 8 out of the ten days they were there.

And I won't even get into the odds of overstimulated children behaving on their first trip to Disney World!

So if I hold on to my illusion of a perfect vacation, I am doomed to suffer. There is no way that I will be happy on this trip if I think everything will work out without a glitch. Now the way I used to cope with upcoming events like this was to follow the teaching of my family, which was, "Plan for the worst. Hope for the best." Trouble is, in planning for the worst case scenario - which would be something like being stuck in a hotel with a 7 and 3 year old as a hurricane shuts down the parks! - I would be also creating an illusion, one in which everything goes wrong. Now I may be happily surprised when something goes right for a change, but I'm still expecting horrible things to happen - illness, injuries, stolen items, lost children, and the like. And that brings yet another type of suffering, because I'm attached to the idea of negative occurances. Make sense?

My understanding of the Eightfold Path is that in order to avoid this trap which we all fall into - even if we know the trap is there - is to work to keep a clear mind and take reality as it comes. Using the example of my upcoming trip, I should attempt to keep my mind clear of anticipations, hopes, fears, and opinions. And that is certainly not easy! As One Ring will attest, I have a very short fuse when it comes to being jostled by crowds, people cutting in line ahead of me, and so forth. But if I can remain centered and unattached to desired outcomes, as I work to accept reality for what it is - neither good nor bad, but simply what it is - then the trip should be free of suffering.

Obviously, that is the goal here (and I do note that by saying "goal" I am even now, yet again, attaching myself to a desired outcome! Told you this stuff was hard!). Now I get to see if it is possible to pull off.

As a side note: Tigger is screaming for a "do over," for his trip that occurred during a freak monsoon season. Again, attachment to desired outcomes breeds suffering.

Lunch time is coming up, then I'm off to Nashville.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thought for my day ...

So if I hate being lied to so much, why in the world am I working with addicts?

Or, in a more sophisticated parlance, what is it about me that draws me to certain types of work that often contain people and situations that push my buttons?

Maybe there's a life lesson I need to learn from all this.

But for now, I'm beat and heading home.

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There and Back Again

Though I have not even left yet!

I would have written volumes last Friday, save that I had a running battle with annoying coworker that escalated into a face to face confrontation. It was not pretty in many, many ways. The worst part, I think, was that I finally realized just how sick the man is emotionally and mentally. And the scary part was, after all was finished and I had time to process the incident with the help of some other therapists, the hospital knows how sick he is, and is not requiring him to receive any assistance.

That was the topic that consumed me last week and yesterday, and to be honest I don't want to deal with it anymore. Or talk about it, anyway. I'll deal with it whenever I have to. It's just that there are far more enjoyable topics to cover today ...

... such as the realization of my dream to take my niece and nephew to Disney World! Oh, sure my sister and her husband are coming, too, but we all know that it's about the kids. We fly out Saturday morning and are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a room overlooking the savannah they created:

We're talking six days of spoiled bliss!

Speaking of spoiled bliss, some time ago I spoke of the new attraction next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the Magic Kingdom. At "The Pirates League" the cast members turn you into a pirate by way of face paint and costuming. I had planned on doing this, but unfortunately you have to book 90 days in advance. So sadly I will not be completing my transformation into one of the brotherhood of the coast. I'll try to swing by, though, and grab some picture of what's going on there.

One Ring and I have done everything we could think of to make this trip as incredible as possible for the kids. I typed up letters that they'll receive daily from various Disney characters and we booked special meals where they can meet all their favorites. Add to that the usual spoiling, and there should be no living with them by the time we send them home! Honestly, I think that I'm looking forward to this more than my sister and brother-in-law.

I'm so glad this trip is coming up. I really am burned out with this whole Annoying Coworker battle. Days like the ones I had last week make me wish that dueling was still legal!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Continued Conflict and Online Comic Books

Annoying Coworker was especially annoying over the last few days, leading to a conflict that left me unable to blog coherently (eyes crossed by frustration will do that to you!). Suffice to say that attempts to end this peacefully by appealing to higher authorities (my supervisor and the assigned chaplain to my department - the position that I once held) seemed to go nowhere. Actually it went further with the chaplain than it did with my boss, unfortunately. So I may have to deal with the nutjob - that's a technical term - myself. At least Drink Man (who has been sober since his accident, thankfully) and a few of the others have my back, so that's good.

I'll blog more tomorrow, as there is only 14 minutes left to my work day and I'm exhausted. In the meantime, I have a new favorite web comic book - Shadowgirls. Think Lovecraft-inspired plot (and a good one, at that) meets characters with lots of chutzpah. Enjoy. I'll be adding a link to the list on the right.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Has the Shooting Stopped?

I've felt like I've been living in a war zone over the last few days. Since we live on the line between a "no fireworks" county and a "we love to blow stuff up" county, people in my neighborhood have been crossing the line and heading to one of 5,000 vendors set up to fuel their pyromania. Seriously, there are that many fireworks tents set up near my house. And the end result is that every night the evening calm is torn asunder.

Normally I love blowing stuff up. It's just that I have a dog who doesn't like that at all. Barney the not-so-brave Beagle refuses to go outside, which results in the occasional accident. Even when we drugged him with puppy prozac (ask for it by name!), he was coherent enough to realize that outside was not where he wanted to be. So clean up duty was a constant around my house.

It did rain for part of the evening of the Fourth, though, which proves the point made by the following chart:

The funny part was that people were apparently sitting inside holding their fireworks while standing on starter blocks. The moment the rain halted, or even slowed slightly, the explosions commenced. Sometimes it seemed as if people were holding umbrellas over the rockets, then jerking them away at the last minute!

We did manage to have a good time with some friends who came over for dinner and to watch the dog chaos. Strangely, the cuisine was all Mexican - enchiladas, Dos Equis beer, chips, salsa, the works. Oh, well. We're free to eat whatever we want, and after watching a clip of the hot dog eating championship on CNN, I'm not sure I EVER want to touch one of those again!

To sum up: the holiday was fun. Sleep was in short supply due to the dogs and fireworks, and I am exhausted. I am at work now, and still am tired.

More later.

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