January 10th, 2012 by soundofrain

So, how are your New Year’s resolutions going?

New Year’s resolutions are bullshit, mostly. Everyone goes to the gym for a few weeks, if that, and by February we’re all back to our same old selves. It’s one of the many things I hate about the holidays, that all that stress and expense and schlepping ends with the renewed knowledge that I suck at my own life.

I’ve made the same resolutions every year for close to a decade. Some have been with me since high school. I no longer make formal resolutions, but every new year that rolls around finds me pondering that same old list, that same old self’s desire for a new self. The old, the new. The familiar, the possible.

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New earth on the barrens

July 4th, 2010 by soundofrain

As part of my quest to read every apocalyptic novel ever published, I’ve just finished Riddley Walker by John Russell Hoban (1980). It was recommended to me by a co-worker, and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. In case you don’t know it either, it takes place in England roughly two thousand years after planet-wide nuclear holocaust, and the whole thing is written in a dialect Hoban invented, a guess at what the people of Kent might sound like at such time. Read the rest of this entry »


May 10th, 2010 by soundofrain

There are two ways to lose your mother. Actually there are many more than that, but let’s assume that she’s a good woman and you love her and want her around. You can lose her when you’re very young, and never know an adult relationship with her, and have very few, precious memories that you hardly dare think about for fear of wearing them out – that’s where I am. Or, you can lose her when you’re both older, when you’ve had way more history with her, and maybe conflicts and complications, and way more opportunity than I ever had to get to know her and love her.  Read the rest of this entry »


May 6th, 2010 by soundofrain

When I was a child, I made a conscious decision never to lie to myself. No matter how forbidden or unwelcome the thought, I would never try to hide from myself that I had thought it.

All kinds of things occur to a person. You can’t help what thoughts occur to you; all you can do is keep yourself from acting on thoughts that are unacceptable, such as, the desire to kill someone who’s hurt you in a relationship. The thoughts themselves are not under your conscious control. That I recognized this early in life made it easier, in a way, for me to do zazen or sitting meditation. I know I can’t stop the thoughts from coming; what I can do is stop myself from grabbing onto them.

All of this effort to be honest, though, may very well be a contributing factor in my lifelong, chronic depression.  Read the rest of this entry »

The strawberry story

April 28th, 2010 by soundofrain

There’s a famous zen story that you may have heard before. It’s a very old story. I’ll put a woman in it instead of a man, just because.

A woman is running from a tiger that’s chasing her. She runs through the woods until she gets to the edge of a cliff. The tiger is still behind her, so she climbs down a vine. The tiger reaches the top of the cliff and paces back and forth, licking its chops. Midway down the cliff, hanging onto the vine, she sees another tiger below her, pacing back and forth, licking its chops. As she’s hanging there, two mice come out and start gnawing on the vine. She tries to shoo them away, but they won’t go.  Read the rest of this entry »

Just glad February is over

March 1st, 2010 by soundofrain

Today is my birthday, March 1, which makes me a Pisces if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m not doing much, just took the day off from work and plan to go shoot some pool with friends later tonight.

I kind of hate birthdays, but not for the reasons you might think. I don’t even much like other people’s birthdays, and can never remember the dates. I don’t think anyone in my family has ever received a birthday card from me on time, and I seldom buy them for friends. I feel guilty about this, because I know other people do like birthdays. I just really, really don’t.

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The meaning of apocalypse

January 27th, 2010 by soundofrain

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with the apocalypse. It’s hard not to think about it these days, what with all the apocalyptic movies out – The Road, 2012, The Book of Eli, Legion, etc. – and all the books and media interest in the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, not to mention large-scale disasters, which used to come along once in a lifetime, now happening every few years.

History is thick with cultures and religions that believed in apocalypse, and not just us wacky westerners (google Hopi Prophecy if you’re into that kind of thing). Doesn’t that make it something ingrained in us, perhaps something genetic?

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Can it be… SEITAN?

January 19th, 2010 by soundofrain

I simply cannot resist a bad food pun.

Seitan is vital wheat gluten (so poison for those with gluten intolerance), as unappetizing a phrase as it is a concept. It’s pretty unappetizing for most of the preparation, too. But oh my god, it totally rocks!

I am so excited about this. At last, a protein that acts like meat (but isn’t), and is really easy to make! If I can do it, I swear, anybody can. I present the following for seitan newbies who might be wondering if this is hard to do, or for those who’ve started and are now wondering if something’s gone horribly wrong.

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Who do you want to be today?

January 18th, 2010 by soundofrain

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve had an epiphany. I’m going back to school for Environmental Studies, and I want to be involved in sustainability planning for communities. Ta da!

Only took me twenty years to figure that out. I’ve never been particularly interested in anything specific as a job, except writing novels. And I certainly don’t give a crap about a career just for the sake of a career. Associate manager to manager to senior manager to associate director to director to senior director – who cares? Do any of those people actually enjoy what they do every day?

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Post-Avatar depression

January 17th, 2010 by soundofrain

We're blue, too.Several news outlets this past week, including CNN and a local NYC paper, reported a worldwide phenomenon: Many people who have seen the James Cameron film Avatar are experiencing depression.

They’re depressed because they’ve seen a world that is beautiful, in which every living thing is connected and in harmony, and they’ve been reminded how far they are from living that way.

I went to and had a look at the discussion there for myself. And you know what?

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