As part of my routine of repairing myself to the point of being able to maintain honest relationships, I've started doing zazen again, so far with halfway decent regularity. Zazen is Zen sitting meditation: the practice consists of focusing the mind somehow, maybe using a koan if you've got one, or just concentrating on breathing if you're me. Actually the traditional practice is to count your breaths, and start the count over when you get interrupted by a stray thought; but I find that paying that much attention to my thoughts is itself a distraction from focusing, so I just focus on breathing as it happens.

If we practice Zen at all we clearly believe there's some benefit to it. I find that I am better able to concentrate on just about anything, and my memory improves noticeably. The ability to focus and direct the mind at will is called joriki, and it's part of what practitioners usually carry out of meditation into the rest of our lives.

Last week I took my car in to get smog-checked, more than a month overdue--and it failed, miserably. So today I brought it in to the Saturn dealership to get it checked out. The cost starts out at $300 before they even look at it, because I'm replacing a collapsed engine mount (which, when not collapsed, acts as a shock absorber on the engine), and it's $95 just to get the smog stuff checked out. Then it turns out the spark plugs are all bad, as is the water pump (and the latter they warned me about last time, but I waited on it for a time when I had more money). That put the total to just shy of $700, but when they'd done all that and done a pre-test, the catalytic converter failed. Apparently Saturn's converter's are so expensive ($800 for the part alone) the dealership actually suggests another place to customers, Ron's Muffler. They call Ron's, Ron's picks the car up, does the work, and returns it to the dealership, for half of what Saturn charges.

So that's $1000 worth of car repairs, plus another $150 to re-register the car, plus money for counseling, plus rent, and I'm going to be unemployed again at the end of the month. This week I'm going to start a 10-week class in Oracle Database Administration. Not that I want to be a DBA as a career, but the thing is that everyone wants and needs a DBA, but no one wants to pay $150,000 a year for one, so I'm thinking that even if I can't get a DBA job, the DBA skills will push people past this bullshit I keep getting about how they'd like someone with a couple years' more experience.

Smile at the joys of parenthood.