Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New offer

I am making a new offer to people.

I have a stack of my books in my basement.  I have never sold them, because I don't know how to collect sales tax.

I will give you a copy of my books, if you agree to write reviews on & -- and if you agree to a telephone interview first, so that I can determine that you are not a crank.

Just contact me on twitter: @AnnalisseMayer

You don't have to give it 5 stars, so long as you don't completely pan it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wind in the Trees (a poem)

Wrote this 6/1/12

Not sure why I didn't post it

Long sighs of the wind in the trees
A rainstorm brews, though its showers
May scatter elsewhere.
I got inside before it started
So my socks are still dry.

I wonder what will happen
To that beggar lady
Who was sitting on the sidewalk
Across from Grand Central
With her baby.

I didn't give her any money.
I wonder if that was right or wrong.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the deficit

I'm horrified by the budget deficit, but my confidence in Republicans to fix that issue is nil.  In recent years, it is Republicans who have increased the deficit.  Reagan was really irresponsible and ran up a huge deficit. Carter ran up the same deficit in real dollars in four years as Ford ran in two.  Clinton eliminated the deficit.  Bush created the suicide strategy of reducing taxes while starting two expensive wars, which left our country in a very fragile situation when the real crisis hit, which is what Obama was faced with.  Obama had to spend to counter the crisis.

The past shows Republicans to be borrow and spend people while Democrats are tax and spend people. I find the latter more responsible.

Therefore my horror about the deficit and my certainty that a currency crisis must follow do not lead me to want to vote Republican.


Of course, being pro choice & pro marriage equality also makes me lean Democratic.

Neither party is talking about age discrimination, which is my big bugaboo

Friday, October 5, 2012

Understanding the bondage of self / step 3

I wrote this back in 2008, but decided to share it now

What is "bondage of self?"

I wake up in the morning.  My eyes are closed.  I am inside myself, except for the sensation of bedding around me.  I open my eyes and I see something outside -- but, even if I am seeing something outside,  I am still inside of here.

Before I was in program my thought was always "I don't want to get up.  I want to go back to sleep.  If it was a weekend I would close my eyes and start fantasizing -- fantasizing about Tom Cruise usually -- fantasizing that he would make my life more comfortable: sexually, materially, excitement-wise.  I would imagine him loving me, taking care of me, needing me.  I might lie there for an hour or two, fantasizing.

If the world were as I imagined it, it would be better.  I would get what I want for myself.

Now, before I open my eyes, I start praying:

Good morning, Shiva. (though I'm thinking of switching to "Mommy Shiva")
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the help I am going to receive to day.
Please direct my thoughts.
Please remove these motives: self-seeking, self-pity, dishonesty, and fear.
Please direct my course, give me an inspiration, a thought, a decision, a vision of my next step, what I need to deal with problems
Please help me relax, take it easy, and not struggle.
Free me of self will
Please help me make good food, time, and money decisions today.

I say this prayer before I open my eyes partly because I want to get deep into my subconscious, which I hope is closer to the surface just as I awaken out of sleep.  Sometimes, if the radio alarm clock isn't going off, I find myself starting the prayer and falling back asleep before I finish it.  Then I think maybe HP wants me to get more sleep. Sometimes, on weekends, I start the prayer several times and fall back asleep each time.

I am trying to make myself continuously oriented toward what HP wants rather than what I want.  I also do yoga every morning and evening, to improve my spiritual focus.

I pray throughout the day, also -- asking for resentments and fears to be removed, asking for guidance with decisions.

Before I go to bed, I pray

Please forgive my resentment, selfishness, dishonest, and fear
Please direct me to make necessary apologies, speak what I should not have left unsaid, be kinder and more loving, improve where I have not done my best, not think of myself, take any necessary corrective action
Please free me from worry, remorse, and morbid reflection
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the help I've received today
Please help me make good food, time, and money decisions tomorrow
Please help: and then I list people who I feel need help
And please help us all live out Baha'u'llah's vision for the world.

Then I meditate before sleeping, though I often fall asleep while meditating

I am hoping that these prayers, based on the BB 11th step, just before falling asleep will also drift into my subconscious and help me have better surrender from a much deeper place.

Still, I find that I am not entirely surrendered.  To a great extent, I am still preoccupied with *me*.  I am afraid of the future.  I am afraid of economic collapse.  I am afraid of war.  I am afraid of poverty and suffering.  I am afraid of injury to or failure of my children.  I feel shame when I think others are displeased with me.  I want more money.  I want a husband.  I want more power, fame, glory.  I want more time.

And this is part of the bondage of self, focusing on me, me, me -- rather than being surrendered to HP's will for me.

I must say I am finding the Al-anon thing a bit confusing, though, as they do emphasize that we have to take care of ourselves and focus on ourselves, because focusing too much on taking care of and fixing others is also a sort of self-destructive, addictive behavior.  This sometimes seem to contradict the Big Book.

And, yet, in some sense it does not.  If my focussing on others involves trying to remake them into what *I* think they are supposed to be ("Why do they hurt *my* feelings?  Why do they do self-destructive or selfish things that are uncomfortable for *me* to watch or that hurt *my* security?  Why don't they reform themselves to make *me* more comfortable?") rather than what accepting them as they naturally are, then I am still in the bondage of self.

What does it mean to be relieved of the bondage of self?

I don't suppose it is possible for most humans to achieve this.  *I* still wake up every morning inside this body and open *my* eyes or otherwise begin to sense the world through *my* ears or *my* nose or *my* skin.  I still see the world from *my* perspective.  I am a human being.  I am not God.  I cannot see all things from all perspectives at once -- and if I could I would be completely overwhelmed with data beyond my computing powers.

Still, if my sense of self is lesser, I can start to see things from a few more perspectives.  "This person is not paying attention to me or is grumpy, because this person is tired.  He can't be expected to take care of *my* needs when he is tired, because he is too overwhelmed with his own.  The world is not all about *me.*"

There is such a classic example going on in my Quaker Meeting right now.  Quakers have a history of resisting authority.  Early Friends refused to use the formal "you" to the king and called him by the informal "thou" instead.  They refused to take their hats off to the king.  Even modern Friends like to wear buttons that say "Question Authority."  

We have hired a young woman in her early 20's from another Quaker Meeting to watch our children.  There was a recent incident where the children were defiant and uncooperative to this woman.  The young woman complained.  Some parents had their children apologize.  One father, though, was all into this "Question Authority" business and felt that his children should have the right to question authority.

This young woman is overweight.  She is full of resentment over this situation.  She wants her authority accepted. She wants people obviously in authority to stand behind her.  She and this father are in an angry dispute.

He is locked in his bondage of self.  He is thinking of how this situation would have looked to him, perhaps, when he was a child.  He is becoming his children.  He is seeing the young woman as an authority.  He is angry at her for being an authority.  His face is getting red.  His muscles are tensed.  His eyes look insane.  

From my perspective, though, he is not looking at the fact that he is old enough ot be her father -- that in fact he is the authority -- that we as a group hire her, that we are her employers, her boss.  If we foment rebellion by tacitly encouraging our children to be rude and defiant, then we are really being very inconsiderate to her, since we hired her to keep order.

She is locked in the bondage of self.  She cannot imagine herself as an authority, really.  She wants to be an authority.  She feels unsupported. She is making herself sick.  Her face is getting red.  Her eyes are filling with tears.

From my perspective, she cannot see that this father is actually pretty emotionally disturbed.  It's easy to be deceived by his cool, British demeanor and accent, but really he's fairly unstable.  He is often angry and irrationally so.  He often seems to hear something other than what is said.  She cannot feel pity, patience, and tolerance for him.  She thinks something is wrong with her, because he is insane and it isn't being fixed for her.  She is impatient with the Meeting, which she also regards as "authorities," though in fact the Meeting has no "authority."  

In fact, no one is allowed to have authority over anyone else in a Quaker Meeting.  My personal experience is that the older people in our Meeting have a lot of problems with anger.  They get all flustered and overwhelmed with dealing with an angry, irrational person like this father.  They bend themselves out of shape trying to control people who are angry to be less angry. They fear losing Meeting members and their families.  We are a small Meeting.  We need more members.  They get in a tizzy.

The father is sick.  The Meeting members are sick.  The young woman cannot see that.  She can only see that her need for authority and self-confidence are being attacked.  She feels emotionally sick.  Many people are stuck in their current position.

I did see, though, that some of our members of the Clearness and Counsel committee were meeting in silent worship with the father.  I have found that sometimes that works.  Sometimes, if we sit with a group of people and focus together on God, clarity ensues, different perspective, a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  Not always, perhaps, but still sometimes.

How does God see this?  How does God see us?  Each one of us: the father, the young woman, the older members of the Quaker Meeting -- all of us are bound up in our own little issues: resentment, fear, disappointment, self-pity, jealousy, desire to control.  Many of have only minimal awareness of what the others' perspectives are.  Many have very distorted awareness of what they look like to others or how their own distorted perspectives are affecting their connection with others.

Maybe, if we start praying, we start breaking out of that.

If I am relieved of the bondage of self, I am to be liberated from the limited perspective of "*My* feelings are hurt.  *I* didn't get what *I* want.  Other people are bad, because they don't do what *I* think is right.  *I* am a bad person, because other people seem upset with me.  Why don't they give *me* more strokes?  Why don't they see it *my* way?"

Maybe I start thinking, "Other people have problems that they need to recover from with God's help.  They behave sub-optimally.  This does not mean that I am a bad person or that God doesn't love me or even that these other people don't love me.  I can't fix all these problems."

Or maybe I don't think at all.  Maybe there is just that non-verbal presence, that conscious contact with the Other, where I flow along, like the water in a river, in the natural course of things, past the trees, the flowers, the buildings, the people.  I do what I am naturally supposed to do, because I am who I am, the way the water in the river is what it is.  Other people do what they are naturally supposed to do, because they are who they are, the way the water in the river is what it is.  We are all part of a greater whole, just as the river is part of the scenery, all in conscious contact with that One.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Last night's presidential debate

My mother was a member of the League of Women Voters.  She taught me to be politically engaged.  Recently, I feel increasingly reluctant to go down this path.  

I watched the debate because I follow a celebrity on twitter, under another pseudonym.  This celebrity was watching the debate and tweeting funny comments about it.  There were several of us, chatting with each other, following the celebrity, following the debate, and following a fact checker.  It was a very absorbing experience, but I don't think I heard very much about what the candidates were saying.

I found listening to them very difficult.  They were hurling statements back and forth.  Often they seemed to contradict each other.  It was impossible to check what they were saying.  There wasn't time to read the links the fact checker was putting up with detailed explanations of words used, like Dodd-Frank.

Afterwards, the pollsters said viewers felt Romney had won.  I didn't feel that at all.  I  liked Obama's personality better.  He was calmer, slower -- made better use of dramatic pauses, had a more beautiful smile.   I thought Romney seemed more nervous, more aggressive.  Also, I thought Romney's smile when Obama was talking seemed sickly & weak.

This kind of confirms my feeling of being a space alien.  I can look at a situation and it seems like I see things that are different from what other people see.

I want a calm, measured person as president.  I don't want an aggressive, nervous person.

Also, I think Romney looks over-groomed and Obama looks more natural and human.  I like that more natural look.

Anyway, I'm still voting for Obama.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Musings on bank bailouts & property redistribution

One characteristic of the Great Depression was that property ownership was de-concentrated.  In other words, the percentage of property held by the top economic tier of the population was reduced, and the percentage of property held by the lower economic tiers was increased.

The current depression -- and I would insist that this *is* a depression -- is different.  Property ownership has become more concentrated.

I am feeling that this is likely due to the fact that three large investment banks were bailed out right at the start.  People thought that this would prevent a depression, but it really hasn't.  What has happened is that it has allowed the stock market to recover without the job market recovering.

I wonder whether we might have a broader recovery if the banks had been allowed to fail.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Maybe the world really is going to end in 2012

We've got Israel & Iran facing off against each other & saying they will use nukes.

We've got North Korea threatening to use nukes.

We've got China & Japan facing off over a few tiny, uninhabitable islands


This really could happen.  The US & Russia could be sitting calmly, making friends, long past our cold war, and these other folks could just get it going.

Let's please find an alternative.