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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dust-up in the Zen Garden

Hello, there. Stamp Girl here. Chick on a sharp learning curve. The stamp people and I have developed an exciting atmosphere, everyone learning from everyone else, people chewing on "her database" who'd never heard of a database a month ago. "Can your database do this?" Probably can! From my side of the building, "Is this a Lincoln Commemorative or something else entirely?" I think philately is at least interesting, and maybe even kind of fun. They seem to think I am at least interesting, and maybe even kind of fun. New friendships formed, a Labor Day BBQ is planned and next week I will put on my first event since returning to work. More on that later, as my event is a surprise in honor of someone who happens to read this blog.

One does not work for David and expect slow easy days. He and George pay well and provide absolutely everything needed so the staff can work hard and do their jobs well. They're excited about what I bring to their company and want magic immediately. Without any pressure ~ they know everything about why I crashed and burned, approximately where I am in recovery, and some of the triggers that could be bad for me. It's been four weeks now and the days fairly gallop. I haven't missed one AA meeting for  being too tired (or for any other reason), though I've had to be disciplined about managing it all. I know this, for certain: I was more than ready to return to work and people and to activities requiring the use of my brain and energy. I also know this: it takes everything I have to do everything I need to do in this new life and keep my balance at the same time. I am frustrated I cannot find time to write much to be posted. I long to "make art" now the creative juices are flowing. I must do my Fourth Step work and continue with my program. Yeah. And not lose myself in any way.

For the purpose of decompression, I made a little zen garden at my desk. I keep a plant, some essential oil to rub on the pulse points for relaxation aromatherapy, my Tao, some special rocks, a pair of framed Asian artworks Jenn made for me, a lovely little piece of Depression glass I got for my birthday, a pair of Asian art collages I've made, and - oh, yes - the fish. Though I always keep bettas in pairs - yes, in separate homes, but within sight of one another so they'll flare and put on a show for me - there was only one available the day I went fish shopping. He's a purple hazy little fellow I named Jimi and he was a pretty mousy little fish. Not
much to say. But I liked observing him in his cool watery world separated only by glass from the hellfire of the blacktop parking lot in a Las Vegas summer. Shopping again, I found Big Red, a crowntail betta with some blue areas against the scarlet fins and some attitude. I submit that few creatures contain as much testosterone, ounce for ounce, as a betta fish. Peace and tranquility are no longer. But I laugh out loud at the fish rowdies.

OK, so some insider philately fun:

To give the reader some sense of perspective, if this was a full set of the five stamps, it would be valued at somewhere between $7,000 and $26,000 depending on many things including whether the stamps had ever been hinged (listen to me talk stamp!), the condition of the gum and more. I don't know the value of these exact stamps. But let's say they're on the lower end of the price range. Wouldn't you still want the word "Louisiana" to be correctly spelled on your display? Just sayin'.

And for the truly discriminating investor: One of our consultants has a customer who wants a fine classic, but feels the price is too high. Alex is an older, courtly Russian man from Moscow who has seen many of the finer things in the world. His accent is slightly French and becomes more pronounced when he gets animated. "Leslie, he just doesn't understand. He's not stamp expert. We are. How can we show him?" Hmm . . well, let me see. 1875. Only 3 known to exist. eBay Buy it Now price: $64,999. "Mr. Smith, for a VIP client such as yourself, we'd be willing to match the eBay price. You'd save so much over full retail." Buy the stamp, dammit!

Leslie's hammer
So I've produced a few small pieces of mixed media collage work and they please me. I've even made some for myself and put them up. Sometimes completing a piece means stealing 10 minutes after work, standing at my counter gluing and arranging, hustling so I can have the pleasure of creating, but still making it to AA. The other staff watch me with interest and flattering me. One woman said I inspired her to decorate her office after sitting between blank walls for two years. I finished a piece and hollered indelicately, "Charles, do we have a hammer?" He said we didn't. What? We live amongst half of the world's Steve Kaufman paintings hanging on the walls and we don't have a hammer? "Could you get me something I could use to drive one small nail? I'd use my shoe if I had the right kind on." He moves pretty quickly for a big man. "Here you go. You can keep it to be used again." I asked if he was sure. Was it special for any reason to him or his son? "No, it's yours." That nail was about 2 inches long and not very big around. It required delicate application of the tool at hand. It worked really well.

In my ears right now: A double served either way you like it.


  1. Have you seen philately? Nope, have you? I love your "hammer." I used my shoe for many years...even after I owned a hammer. Glad you're doing so well in your new job. I'm afraid I would find stamp collecting deathly dull, but different strokes for different folks, right? (I'm hopeful that I have this commenting glitch worked out. We'll see if it's a one-post wonder, or if it will hold for the long-term.)

  2. @ Doozyanner ~ No, I haven't personally seen the fellow recently, how about you? Stamp collecting wouldn't work for keeping me fulfilled, but - to be fair and precise - our clients are investors, not stamp collectors. The market has never lost in 85 years and these investments earn 18-22% per year, so you get the picture.

    It pleases me to watch you continuously jump up and say "Damn you, Blogger, fix this glitch!" Good to hear from you, Dooz.

  3. Ohhhh...I had no idea it was a money-making thing and not a dusty collection to show off when company comes. I'm still not 100% confident that the commenting thing is resolved. We shall see... (It's a two or three step process--not straighforward like it used to be. Grumble grumble. But--being able to comment is better than not.)

  4. Your moment of Zen is so much better than mine. My moment of Zen is find something to eat and my hips are the proof......

    I love looking at stamps always have and wish I could have really found the time.
    I do collect stamps from where ever I travel, and have found some special ones art wise that I love. When my son made a side trip to Lichtenstein, he has the passport stamp and the rest of the family doesn't..... he found stamps for me.
    I even like/have the special sheets of stamps that I like printed by the US.

    have a great weekend...
    cheers, parsnip

  5. @ Doozyanner ~ I've known vaguely for a few years about stamps as investment, simply from my exposure to David and George. But my head was always in carpet cleaning, not the stamp end. So it's new and interesting to me. Imagine a stamp nerd hauling out his collection to show off to visitors! You are funny.

  6. @ angryparsnip ~ Oh, I GET it about food as peace and tranquility. I just try to avoid it, as it can be a problem for me. Alcohol is not the only addiction I've ever experienced. I've worked hard to get healthy and try to stay that way without being a nut job about it.

    I say it this way: I appreciate stamps as art, and now as antiquity. They're beautiful to me. No more, no less. I don't care about gum and hinges. I just want my eye to be pleased and to maybe understand what's depicted on the stamp, understand how old it is, etc.

  7. I don't believe I ever heard of a zen garden before. Have you taken an interest in Buddism?

    A stamp from 1875 worth over $6000? I think I might have a stamp from 1975. It might be worth 60 cents.

    How heavy was the thing you were trying to nail? If it was light enough, a tack may work.

    This is off-topic, but is anyone else having problems with their latest posts not updating properly on other people's blogrolls?

  8. @ Kirk ~ Friend, that 1975 issue would be $65,000. Add a zero. But I'd like to see yours worth 60-cents.

    A tack! Who knew? Yes, a tack would have worked. But what I had on hand was a poster pin (the head was too long) and that nail. If I bring any more supplies to the place, they're going to think I'm moving in to live, so I tried to make do with what I had on hand.

    Well, my little spot isn't really a zen garden - you'd need to Google that to see a real one. I have long read daily Tao meditations. Tao is one of the elements I used to construct the higher power of my understanding that I must call upon if I am to successfully execute the AA 12-steps. That does not make me a Taoist or a Buddhist or an Anything-ist. I've just developed a yen for Asian-looking art and am willing to consider meditations for my own improvement.

  9. @ Kirk ~ Sorry, forgot to say. I am hearing from a number of bloggers about a number of problems. A couple of times I've thought to actually write a post about the travails of a faulty system, but I only succeed in frustrating myself about something of which I understand far too little.

  10. Yes, Kirk I am. Sorry Les I needed to get the important stuff out of the way. Bettas, the first one I had stayed alive for a long time since then every one I buy dies within a few days. Don't understand how I'm death to fish. #0 some years ago I put a $150 tropical saltwater fish into a fresh water tank. Lost that job. For my birthday one year Shari made me a zen rock garden with sand and pebbles from the beach it came with a little sand rake. Way cool.

  11. @Kirk, for example my last blog here on the bus is more than a month old. She may think I'm dead and writing from beyond the grave. I might be for that matter.
    @Les &Kirk; they don't have Zen Gardens in Cleveland?

    wv - valkywr A Norse Vampyre?

  12. @ Mike ~ My bettas tend to live for a long, long time and I appreciate that because I give them approximately the same care as I give to a plant. Anything under my care has to do their part for survival. But they give me great pleasure. Ex and I used to keep marine tanks and at the union we had a 250-gallon marine tank that was our "office project". When things got too nuts, folks would gather to clean it, maintain the workings, etc., or just watch the fish.

    Real zen gardens are lovely. My little area isn't one, actually, but I didn't know what else to call it. Tranquility Corner, perhaps? I don't know if they have zen gardens in Cleveland. I've never visited there. Kirk and Erin would know better than I.

    VERY good: Norse vampire.

    I - for one - sincerely hope you are not dead and writing from the grave.

  13. OK, I googled "zen garden", and see it's also known as a Japanese rock garden. OK, I have heard of those. Don't blame the entire of city of Cleveland for my unique brand of ignorance. That's all my own.

    @Mike--Complain to "Blogger Help" about that. I did. If enough people bitch, maybe they'll deign to do something about it. I wonder if has something to do with Blogger's constant tinkering. I swear mine stopped updating after I sampled their new (and, in my opinion, incomprehensible) "interface". If ain't broke, don't fix it.

  14. By the way, I'll be away from the computer all Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy the last blast of summer!


  15. @ Kirk ~ I hope your computer absence means you're going to go do something wonderful.

    You're not ignorant in any way, my good man.

    One more vote for "Stop messing with it, Blogger!" or "Mess with it and test it on a sample group before crippling us all!"

  16. @ Kirk ~ Beach Blanket Bingo, indeed!

  17. @ Kirk and Mike ~ I feel dumb. I'm tired and not 100% sharp. I realize that I made a typo up there, Kirk. It's the 1875 stamp that's worth more than $60K, Kirk. And Mike, I feel like a horse's ass. I'd simply thought you weren't posting. Now I've looked, taking the long road, and - Behold! Chris Isaak and more. Blogger got me! I didn't know. I'm sorry. I'd never just ignore your posts.