What am I doing here? By this, I am not asking about my place in the universe (short answer: marginal) but rather here, in front of this glowing monitor on a Monday afternoon, writing about a topic of which I am wildly ambivalent and know little about.

Why not write about something I know well–like the “Steel Curtain” Pittsburgh Steeler’s defenses of the 1970s or early MTV videos? The short answer is that I learn best by writing and that this is a good time in my life to delve into one of my more esoteric interests.

I’ve found Buddhism, especially the baffling Zen variant of Buddhism, a curiosity since reading a book on comparative religions when I was 22. Most religions demand that followers accept particular stories—testimonies, histories, myths—that transform religion (IMHO) into a form of overly literally literature.

The teachings of Buddha, however, are like the original self-help book. Practitioners are advised to systematically retrain how they experience the world, making Buddhism a kind of psychology dressed up as a religion. Upon my first encounter, what lent it credence was the way it casually tossed aside theological concerns as irrelevant. What matters is what you are experiencing at this very moment.

Plus: Its practice is a wonderful opportunity for self-absorption under the guise of attempting to become less self-absorbed. There are times in every person’s life, I think, when a little dopey West Coast self-absorption is in order. And this may be one of those times for me.

My last two months have involved a frenzy of change. My wife moved to Washington, DC and, once the house is sold and classes are finished, I will follow. During the last two weeks, I’ve shed a really unpleasant job in a work environment that can only be described as carnivalesque, went on the dole, and experienced a cascade of frustrating real estate misfortune.

I now look forward to months of shuttling back and forth between DC and worrying about how best to tart myself up for the DC job market—perhaps something shiny and low cut?

All of this represents the general swirl of my life, which has created a childish fantasies of stability and permanence.

But that doesn’t wholly explain genesis of this blog. For that, I’ll have to introduce you to my former co-worker Brenda, part tormentor and part object of pity, in my next post.  My final conversation with her felt absolutely wonderful and settled a score. Even people who didn’t know Brenda cheered me on; after all, how often in life to you get to have the absolute last word?

But looking back on it, my motives were entirely petty and lacking in compassion. The environment was caustic so, over the course of years, I began to reflect that corrosive spirit.

What I would like to do is start from that final conversation and unravel a few layers of adult fight-or-flight instinct.

And then I can start blogging about those videos from 1981. Anyone up for a little Men Down Under?