Author Archives: Mush

About Mush

I want to be a veterinarian because I love children.

Old Fashioned Frosting

August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Family | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a recipe from my grandma.

I came across the image below from a few years ago, remembered how really delicious that frosting was, and realized that I have no idea how to make old fashioned frosting.

So I googled it. Weird results.

(I mean, I’m off carbs right now, but it’s unlikely that I’ll never eat another cupcake. A girl never knows when she might be called upon to produce, you know, delicious treats for some event or another. Best remedy this lack of knowledge!)

Low tea

So I emailed my G’ma and asked her for the recipe. This is what she said:

Somewhere out there there is probably a recipe for that frosting with accurate measurments but this is my way.

You will need powdered sugar, butter, or if you want white frosting use shortening, and some liquid.

I melt about two tablespoons of butter, add about equal amount of cream, and slowly add powdered sugar. A little liquid absorbs a lot of sugar, so add slowly mix until spreadable.

Then the fun begins, add any flavoring you like or spice, food coloring for fun. Powdered cocoa if you want chocolate. A tiny touch of mint is good in choc. Orange juice or lemon juice can be used instead of cream. Top with whatever.

I have used molasses in place of cream when frosting a spice cake. The more sugar used and liquid the more frosting you get till finally you can frost dozens, so that is why you add sugar slowly. After a few times you will have it perfect for your project.

Basically a procedure for making delicious frosting in any flavor in any quantity! And much better than that crap in a tub from the grocery store, in my opinion, although I have been known to eat that stuff by the spoonful on occasion.

Here in the future, job hunting sucks! Ha-HA!

August 26th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Work - (0 Comments)

In which OMFG WHO EVEN ARE THESE PEOPLE.

With the very, very few exceptions of one or two small businesses looking for help, the job market is now a shitshow of fake work-at-home pyramid schemes, horrible poverty-level drone jobs, and weird demands to “call in for application instructions” or “apply in person, but not during peak hours.”

All the so-called part-time positions are around 33 hours a week — just under the threshold that requires employers to provide benefits — or nine hours a week. WHY IS THERE A NINE-HOUR-A-WEEK JOB. Just get someone already there to do it, whatever it is.

The pay for nearly everything is horrific. Like, ten bucks an hour. Or less, in many cases. Typical office work gets about $12. That’s barely twenty grand a year!

Most listings don’t disclose their address, so you can’t see if a bus goes there before you apply.

A disturbing number of listings expect full availability even though they’re for low-paying part-time entry-level jobs. Like, for less than three hundred dollars a week take-home pay, they think they own you.

Tons of listings blithely “require” a car, driver license, and proof of insurance. For deliveries or occasional errands. Like, you can’t get this shitty job without a car you can’t afford to maintain on this shitty pay.

They’re not even trying with these job listings; I saw a posting that was actually titled “Repetitive entry-level job.” It paid nine bucks an hour and was listed as part-time even though it’s about 34 hours a week based on the description. No benefits, of course.

Even lousy entry-level jobs are specialized. The dishwashing jobs say things like “this is a great opportunity for someone in culinary school!” and the shitty overnight hotel jobs say “this is a great opportunity for someone in hospitality!” A lot of listings even advise you not to apply if you’re not basically already a member of the industry (because obviously, any entity paying shit wages and scheduling inhumane hours deserves experts in its any-idiot-could-do-this positions, right?).

I found a listing for greeter (basically a doorman or lobby attendant?) in a super upscale apartment building. YOU’LL BE THE FACE OF THE FRONT OFFICE AND THE FIRST POINT OF CONTACT FOR THE MAJORITY OF OUR RESIDENTS! Pay rate conspicuously absent. They want enthusiasm and “great energy!” and they probably want it for nine bucks an hour, and you probably have to buy your own uniform.

A few low-paying, part-time office admin jobs require the applicant to have up-to-date technical or professional licenses.

All that said, though, I’ve sent off a few resumes with snappy, well-written cover letters today anyway. One was even for a semi-technical telecommute gig, which would be ideal! (I googled the shit out of the company to make sure it was real and not just a honeytrap for resumes/identities first, of course.)

There’s a position I’m considering applying to, just because I think I’d enjoy it, but it’s full-time. I’m not sure I want to work at all, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to work full-time. On the other hand, it’s not like I’m doing anything; I’m not even volunteering. (Although now that fall’s here and it’s not NINETY DEGREES AND SIXTY PERCENT HUMIDITY AT ELEVEN O’CLOCK AT NIGHT, I want to. I wanna go volunteer at the soup kitchen I donate to sometimes.)

It’s been hours since I last had a taco. I’d better go eat more tacos.

Living in Uptown

August 4th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Life | Moving | Weather | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I’m all about the neighborhood.

I’m an Uptown girl!

Uptown!

After a full month, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that I’m stupid and missing something, it’s that there really is nowhere to put our remaining stuff. It has to go away somehow, or get packed into the basement storage closet, because there’s just no way to organize it. And I’m sick of having bags and boxes in my living room! Ugh!

For people who don’t have much shit, we have too much shit. Hell, we have an entire drawerful of single-function kitchen gadgets. I mean, I’m sure I really did feel like I needed a garlic press, tongs, corkscrew, can opener, and thermometer at one time or another, but all that crap in one drawer and it’s basically a bunch of shit that wants to gnaw your arm off at the wrist. Dude, seriously, that drawer is dangerous and pointy. Stay out of it.

I’ve also got a bit of buyer’s remorse, on the level of the apartment’s issues. The window and air conditioner leak when it rains. None of the outlets will hold a plug, so everything’s always falling out, which is frustrating as hell — I can’t even count how many times we’ve had to reset the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, or how often the internet’s gone out because the router plug (which we have taped to the wall) just fell out.

Laundry list of first world problems. I know. I know. There’s more, of course:

The A/C basically only half-works. It comes on, but even if you have it on full blast, it cycles off every few minutes and just blows recycled air. (Even if you run it for hours it never gets cold in the apartment, and merely cooking a meal makes the place unbearable even with the door freshly weather sealed and two fans circulating the air). Half the lights in the kitchen overheat after ten minutes and turn themselves off, so cooking and dishes and cleaning is done mostly in a sort of dim gloom. And it’s smaller. And there’s no cross breeze. Plus it costs more than the other place!

But the location is great. I love the location. Bars, stores, tacos, falafel, liquor, parks, lakes, libraries, coffee, nail salons. Pretty much anything you could ever want is within walking distance.

Well, except for a job. I still don’t have one of those, but I’m not out of money yet so I’m trying not to freak out about it. I basically don’t let myself go out and spend money more than once a week, and usually that’s either a trip to The Egg & I for breakfast, or down to CC Club for a drink. Just to get out while it’s not blizzard season and enjoy the fact that I can. But basically I’m afraid to spend, because part of me is convinced I’ll never get another job again. Too many online friends out of work for two or more years, all those ladies at Home Depot with two or three jobs, my age, plus getting turned down by that little CU for both of their P/T teller gigs…

Oh, and this: I applied at the wrong grocery store. My Saturday interview last weekend wasn’t over here at the neighborhood store, it was 4 miles and a half hour bus ride away, on the other side of what Scott described as “pretty sketchy areas.” Never occurred to me that the Cub on Lake street would actually be on Lagoon, and that the one on 26th is actually called the Lake Street one. Because how would anyone who doesn’t work there even know that?!

Anyway, we moved here so I could make friends and have a life without needing to buy a car or drag my beloved everywhere all the time. To make friends, you go out. Frequently. And people get used to seeing you and start talking to you, and the next thing you know you’ve been off on adventures and you have a back story and now you’re friends. The last time I went through this process in a new town I was spending the last of my money like a dumb kid (which obviously worked out okay or I wouldn’t be here, but still isn’t very responsible) or I was on unemployment. It takes a lot of money, actually, to just hang out in a bar or a bookstore or a coffee shop enough to belong there. Well, “a lot” if you have no income, I mean.

So I now live somewhere cool! Yay! And I’m not doing shit. Boo. Right now I have time and no money; by the time I’m working again I’ll have money and no time (and it’ll be too cold to go anywhere anyway). I’m basically screwed either way.

I should really be looking for a band, but it’s too hot. I just can’t even. Actually I found a couple of musicians via Craigslist last spring and then blew off following up with them because of work and moving and travel and blah blah blah I suck.

The old place was closer to Scott’s work, had a park next door, no traffic, everything worked, was bigger, was cheaper. He didn’t want to move; I did. I just didn’t like the neighborhood, because everything was a mile or more away over an overpass. Now I like the neighborhood but I’m too old and too conservative to spend money without a job and I basically just look at it out the window and feel like an asshole because I know any second now there will be three feet of snow out there and it’ll be twenty below and it won’t matter that there’s a corner store because I’ll just wait ’til the weekend so I can get a ride in the car to the grocery, like I did at the old place, and we’ll have moved for nothing.

Because that’s how the Midwest works. You’re frantic in the spring and fall to Go Out And Do Things, and the lakeshores and streets are absolutely stuffed with humanity. During summer there’s still a lot of bodies (because these people don’t seem to understand that HUMIDITY IS AWFUL) but less than spring and fall, I think, and in the winter you hardly ever see anybody outside besides in grocery store parking lots, at all, ever, because the weather will legit kill you. They don’t even plow most of the sidewalks, because people aren’t walking.

Lots of traffic at our intersection. Really a strong noise comparison with the old place. Cars here 24 hours a day, lots of emergency vehicles, foot traffic pretty much all the time. Lots of activity and vibrancy. It’d probably feel amazing if I knew anybody, but mostly I still feel like a tourist. Or a tourist’s mother.

Seriously. I unconsciously classify the vast majority of people who walk by as “kids.” How did I get this old? (more…)

In which there’s some crap I more or less stumbled across online.

Today I came across a site that told me that some stupid product for women to wear under tight clothing — Camel No — IS THE WORST THING EVER AND SHAMES WOMEN AND IS ANTI-WOMAN AND ANTI-VAGINA.

Because obviously the woman who developed the product is a card-carrying misogynist, and not just trying to hide her labia in tight pants. Takeaway: modesty is anti-feminist, and everything that ever happens, ever, even if a woman does it, victimizes women.

The next post I read told me that calling Jenner ‘Bruce’ instead of ‘Kaitlin’ is A METHOD OF SILENCING AND SHAMING, because clearly not giving a fuck about Bruce Jenner is the same as being transphobic which is the same as being Hitler. “Not prioritizing trans experience” is now a heinous a social faux pas, even though taking the recent explosion in the number of so-called trans people they still make up less than a single percent of the population. Because “It’s not that Caitlyn was formerly anything. Judging from everything she’s said about her life, it’s more that she has always been Caitlyn even if she didn’t know it.”

Takeaway: SO IF I’M REALLY SOMETHING ELSE, EVEN THOUGH I DON’T KNOW IT, WHEN I PULL THIS SOMETHING OUT OF THIN AIR, YOU ALL HAVE TO PRIORITIZE IT EVEN IF IT’S RIDICULOUS. Riiiiight. People don’t really believe this shit, do they?

Then I read an article in which a black woman calls a white woman giving her advice — true, stupid and unasked for advice, but still: just advice — RACISM. Instead of just plain ol’ stupidity, which is more likely what it was: one feminist saying stupid feminist “don’t let the man — literally — get you down” dogma to another.

Takeaway: even though we’re all women, any white woman talking to any black woman, ever, unless she’s not saying something stupid, is a racist.

If this site is legit and not just another so-called ‘satire’ site publishing ‘news’ it knows to be untrue, then it set off every YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN cell in my body.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe

July 16th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which sometimes you just don’t want to turn on the damn oven.

I had intended to pop over to the grocery store this afternoon, but by the time I was ready it had started raining and has been raining ever since. So I had to make something with what I had, so macaroni and cheese for dinner it is!

It turned out quite well, actually.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese

8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon steak sauce (I used Heinz 57)
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 or more generous dashes of hot pepper sauce (I used Crystal)
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1-3/4 cups grated American cheese
2-3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 – Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

2 – While macaroni is cooking, heat milk in the microwave. Whisk in the mustard, steak sauce, salt, and hot sauce.

3 – When al dente, drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and the three cheeses. When incorporated, pour the hot milk mixture over the macaroni.

4 – Simmer briefly over medium heat, stirring often. Then cook on very low heat until thickened. (No need to stir after turning the heat down, though, because it’ll just break the macaroni.)


This recipe is adapted from cafeteria macaroni and cheese, which I was going to make but didn’t have the ingredients for and I seriously didn’t want to run the oven.

In which I don’t think I got the job.

Well, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I haven’t heard back from the CU. Pretty sure they offered both of their lovely P/T teller positions to other applicants. I’m sad, because I really wanted to be able to live and work 600 feet apart, and have regular hours, and spend my work time in a quiet building.

I opened an account there anyway, because being 600 feet away it’ll be the only convenient place to buy quarters for laundry.

Oh, well. Guess I’ll call the other place back, even though I don’t really want to do full-time helpdesk, but maybe it’ll work out.1

I suppose I could apply at the Cub grocery store a few blocks from here, but that’s basically just like the last job, what with the industrial lighting and the standing up and, probably, the random scheduling.

So, the ideal little job I want being pretty much off the table, I responsibly paid my Chase rewards card off (like I do every month) and it took almost half of my remaining funds. As wonderful as it is to sleep in and cook Scott’s dinners and shop online for shoe racks, I guess I really need a job now.

Ugh. Job hunting. So hard. Especially considering that the comfortable, reasonable part-time job seems to be a thing of the past. Retail offers nothing but part-time so they don’t have to pay bennies but it’s really much closer to full-time hours because they’re always understaffed, and ‘real’ business offers nothing but full-time because apparently there’s no such thing as a qualified applicant who will accept part-time employment anymore.

After much consideration, I’ve determined that in order to finish unpacking the last few boxes, we need a little rolling rack for the bathroom, a shoe rack for the closet, and possibly a small shelving unit for the bedroom. I also continue to want-but-not-need an old fashioned coat rack to put by the door for umbrellas and jackets and bags and crap. Even with that many purchases, I still wouldn’t have any place for the officey/desk box of stuff that you’d normally store in your desk but Scott’s desk doesn’t have any drawers or storage or anything, so where the hell are the checks and staplers and mail-that-needs-to-be-saved-for-awhile supposed to go?

Anyway, after staring at stuff a lot, that’s where I’m at. Everything’s full but I still have more stuff to put away. Ergo, we need to obtain things to put said things away in.

I’m going to go throw the bedding in the wash, and then go get milk and eggs. Everything is humid (68%) and hot (81F) and I’m miserable because in my old age I no longer tolerate heat well, but at least it’s overcast so the temperature has stayed down. Sorta. But not really, because HUMID. Even with two fans going in a tiny apartment it still manages to feel stuffy in here; guess I better fire up the A/C.


1 It didn’t. I called the HR lady and she told me that the entire bank is moving to Plymouth in October, abandoning their downtown tower. WHO KNEW. Bus ride from Uptown to Plymouth? An hour and twenty-four minutes. Each way. And I happen to know from my adventures last week that cab fare is forty bucks. So no jobs in Plymouth, that’s for sure.

Grateful

July 12th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Gadgets | Life | Photography | Reading - (0 Comments)

In which it’s a lazy Sunday.

It’s so shitty outside there’s a heat warning on! Stay inside, stay hydrated, check on your neighbors, that sort of thing! Temperature in the mid-90′s with a heat index of one hundred degrees! A big-ass line of storms tonight! Large hail possible!

So I’m staying inside with the A/C on. I’m so grateful to have access to air conditioning technology. And fans, too — we have two fans running, to circulate all that conditioned air (because otherwise it just pools by the door and does no one any good at all).

I stayed up super late last night devouring part three of Seveneves. Other than the agnostic science fiction writer’s silly dream that a catastrophe survived only by scientists would somehow end religion1, it’s a really fantastic read. Being the jaded reader I am I’m loving being so absorbed in a story, since it happens so infrequently to me now.

I’d like to go look for curtains and wood glue and a few other needed household items, but I’m pretty sure leaving the apartment is a bad idea. Scott’s asleep anyway, taking a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.

I slept until two-thirty, then got up and made fried potatoes, Hollandaise, eggs, spinach, and toast for brunch. Not as good as the AMAZING Eggs Florentine at The Egg and I, but still edible. I also had a brilliant iced cardamom mocha breve with the last of the Radiance Dairy cream in it.

The bit of sky I can see under the blinds looks nice and blue, with fluffy clouds and a strong breeze ruffling the leaves, but it’s probably as damp as sweaty crotch out there. I’ve always maintained that the Midwest looks lovely all summer but feels awful.

Yesterday I installed Flickr on my phone and it worked. (It’s never worked on this phone before, and getting images off the phone and onto Flickr has been a pain in the ass since I got the phone last year.) It worked so well, in fact, it uploaded all 200 images in the phone’s gallery and now I have to delete them!

The credit union didn’t get ahold of me at the end of the week, but neither did they do so last time. I just don’t think they’re in a hurry about anything. Hopefully they’ll offer me a position next week! *fingers crossed* If they don’t, I’ll have to start looking for something else in earnest. I mean, I’ve applied for three jobs this week so as not to have too many eggs in one basket, but I’ll really need to buckle down before I run out of money.

Friday, I got my nails done because they looked awful. That evening, Scott went to a ball game (and watched Detroit lose to the Twins in the final inning) and I had the evening to myself. I drank some wine, then rode my bike down to Nicollet and ate at a Mexican restaurant.

El Nuevo Mariachi Restaurant

Then I went home and took a nap, sprawled diagonally across the entire bed, with a fan blowing on me. It was a fucking glorious Friday night.

I just looked up to see that the blue sky is gone, and is now the gunmetal grey of a thick cloud deck. The last time I checked, storms weren’t due for five more hours. Maybe it’ll get interesting out there!


1 We all want to end the bullshittery of organized religion, of course, but evolution and bureaucracy are part and parcel of human nature. Wherever there are human beings, there will be religion, because there will always be a need for jargon to describe the internal and the numinous, and there will always be weird little rule-following bureaucratic assholes making people miserable. Basically, every time a writer kills “religion” in a book, it just tells you that s/he has no idea what religion actually is beyond what it looks like on the surface.

Embarassing stumble

July 9th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which IT WAS BASICALLY QUICKSAND.

Yesterday, I stepped into wet concrete.

I’d walked to Las Geel (the Somalian bodega on the corner) and seen the cement truck and guys pouring the stuff right in front of the store. I went in, shopped, paid, and exited. I carefully skirted the fresh section of sidewalk and crossed the street.

Aaaaaand stepped into another fresh bit of sidewalk, with both feet, a bit that didn’t have a barrier around it and was only vaguely marked with an orange traffic cone!

I sank past my ankles and nearly lost a Birkenstock, which I fished out and used to smooth the horrible mess both my feet had made. Then I scurried home with my groceries to rinse my feet before I got chemical burns.

My shoes were so bad I considered throwing them out, but they’re Birkenstock clogs and not cheap and so I figured I’d try to save them even though they’re suede and COVERED IN CONCRETE.

Rinsed my legs and feet first. Then put my shoes on a big piece of plastic and wiped and scraped off as much concrete as I could before rinsing the shoes in the tub, too. Put them in the sun on the front porch.

Then, of course, I had to clean the tub.

The shoes survived, miraculously, and today the spot was covered by one of those bumpy panels that might be for traction but don’t seem to be, so my error is gone.

I made rice and dal for dinner, and fried up some cumin papadums. I did the dishes. I made the bed. I paid my cell phone bill and made my monthly hopeless student loan donation. I applied for a random tech job. I read some of Seveneves.

I did not do laundry or unpack any boxes.

Dear Diary

July 8th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a diary entry.

Yesterday I was messing about on YouTube in order to watch videos of Amma bhajans; I found Breakfast Lunch and Dinner and ended up watching all three episodes because HOW COOL IS THAT SHIT. It led me to the diary of Samuel Pepys and awakened in me the desire to diary again. Or blog. Or whatever.

Did well with the remaining unpacking yesterday; emptied and collapsed quite a few boxes. Moved his desk out of the corner and to the center of the wall. Moved my bike. One can now walk through the living room! Found some things I’d thought had somehow been lost, including my peacock quilt and shams and saris. There are now only four boxes in the living room and one in the bathroom that remain to be unpacked. Our storage cage in the basement has two boxes of yarn stash in it as well as the Xmas box and tree, the Aerobed, and the wicker basket I’d bought for the now-sold Raleigh and which won’t fit on my current bike.

Dinner was thick slices of ripe tomato, buttered toast, mushroom gravy, a hamburger steak for him and a poached egg for me, and milk.

Dinner

Tonight I think I’ll serve rice and dhal, or veggie kitcheree, with papadums.

Because I decided to drink an entire bottle of wine last night, I probably won’t get much accomplished today. Maybe unpacking that bathroom box, a trip to the corner store to see he has any veg I can put in the dhal, and a load of laundry.

I love being unemployed. He’s gone off to work two days in a row now with his lunch packed (today he’s got a BLT on Jesus bread, a Greek potato salad, two sticks of cheddar wrapped in hard salami, half a dill pickle, three green olives, a hard boiled egg, and a chocolate-covered caramel) and I’ve had dinner ready when he got home. I have time to meditate and do housework and mess around online. Yesterday I sent my resume off to our new ISP, US Internet, because why the hell not. I love having time to live a comfortable life. So, so grateful the warehouse-retail experience is over.

So far this day I’ve dressed, made the bed, had a latte, and chanted the 108 names. It’s 1:45. Currently listening to ragas and wondering where I’m going to find space for the contents of this box of office-y stuff: the one file box we do have is already stuffed full, and I’m not sure we really need four staplers…

Ugh. I should get off my butt and put the dishes away and walk to Las Geel (the corner store) for supplies.

Amma 2015

July 8th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Spiritual | Travel - (0 Comments)

In which there was a long-ass road trip for both of us, some hotel lounging for him, and some much-needed spiritual renewal for me.

Tuesday we slept in and then packed and drove to St. Charles, IL. It took forever, or about six hours. Checked into our hotel and slept. I was so excited to be with Amma again for the next few days, and so grateful my partner had agreed to take me again.

Wednesday was an all-day program. I got dropped off and meditated and ate Indian snacks and socialized and got darshan from Mother, who smeared my head with sandalwood paste and hugged me like crazy. It was a great darshan. (I mean, they’re all ideal by definition, but some are more enjoyable than others. The ones where you know you’re Mother’s own are the best.) I hung out with Cat for awhile; she gave me some Radiance Dairy heavy cream! I haven’t had any for, like, eight years!

I bought a few things from the bookstore; a tee, a mini altar, a rudraksha necklace. I watched Mother give darshan.

Cat caught a ride with me when Scott came to pick me up and we all three stopped at Los Burritos Mexicanos #3 for dinner. I still can’t figure out what’s in that second green salsa of theirs; Cat thinks cilantro is a main ingredient. Whatever it is, it’s amazing.

Thursday I got up fairly early and went to the morning program, mostly to meditate and get something to eat. Didn’t get darshan. In the afternoon Scott picked me up and we saw a matinee of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out and did some shopping (he got some shirts and I got a dress and a long-sleeved dark blue tee from Goodwill). In the evening, I told Scott he had to get darshan for his own good, whether he liked it or not, because the spiritual health of the family is the woman’s duty, so he had to park at the ashram and come in to the hall to get a token with me. Then I let him leave; bless his heart he came back at one in the morning for our hugs. (His darshan this year was nothing like the love fest She lavished on him last year, though.) Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.

Friday we slept through the morning program on purpose, because I’d decided to stay up all night for Devi Bhava (since I haven’t done so in a few years and really needed to). We ate at Corfu, saw another matinee, and I was back at the ashram by seven, just in time for the meditation and the puja.

Amma (Sri Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) in Devi Bhava

When darshan began I hung out with Tahmi — she laid an awesome theory on me about Calvinism and why so many people actively hate the poor — and we ate dinner together before her next seva shift. Most of the night I sat right up front and stared at the Holy Mother of the Universe and sang along to the bhajans and in general just basked in the presence of an Avatar. I’m half-certain She gave me a few looks; I’m also half-certain She did no such thing because why ever would She be sharing looks with me.

After my darshan I sat on stage for a bit, and when I was asked to move for other devotees I mentally asked if I could sit behind the kalari. The response I got was a clear “no, you should go” and I briefly felt sorry for myself until I saw that the next act up was the folky Michigan satsang duo I’ve always complained about! So I walked out to the back 40 and had a cigarette and realized from the singing of the birds that it was almost dawn already.

After a cup of chai, I went back to my spot (on the floor under a monitor next to the band) and watched Devi give darshan and sang along to the bhajans. I’d somehow ended up in exactly the right spot. Well after sunrise, other devotees began to crowd around me, so much so that I ended up with my shoes and my purse in my lap, smushed up against the velvet rope marking the edge of the musicians’ area.

There were a few first feedings, a first letters, and then a sacred thread ceremony for a young Brahmin boy. Then I sat and watched most of the devotees parade past Mother while she showered them with petals. I had an absolutely perfect position for the very end of the program’s chants, with an ideal view of Her. I did a lot of crying. She made a face at me.

Scott picked me up from the ashram at 8:30, the time we’d pre-arranged and which turned out to be exactly the right time (he’d come into the hall to find me just as Mother was emerging from the kalari to leave). We napped at the hotel until 11, then loaded out and headed for home. I finished my leftovers from Corfu (spinach and feta omelet on rye with a slice of tomato and leftover coleslaw from Scott’s plate) and dozed a bit in the back of the truck. At a gas stop I got back in front; eventually we ate in Hixton, WI; we finally arrived home at a little past six.

The apartment smelled like ass, even though I’d left two windows cracked specifically to avoid it. (Old buildings: what can you do? There’s funk in the walls.) A quarter of an hour of wide-open windows, a fan, and a stick of incense and everything was back to normal.

The place wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d remembered; most everything is unpacked and it’s really close to totally-moved-in and comfortable. I took an afternoon nap but woke up fairly refreshed at dusk. Scott reiterated his affection for the new place (he likes the open plan and the paint colors the most) and then proceeded to use a tape measure to prove that the dresser actually would, in fact, fit in the bedroom! (We moved it in there today.) With the dresser out of the living room, maybe we can keep the recliner after all!

Our first night home, I laid in bed and felt like my head was full of noise and agitation and, well, bullshit. Many years ago I felt the compulsion to say my mantra at the anahatachakra (heart) chakra. Later, this compulsion moved to the ajna (forehead) chakra and it’s been there off and on for years. That night, it became the sahasrara (crown) chakra, a compulsion I’ve literally never felt before. Not only the noise of my mind, but also a brilliant light, was blowing out of it as I laid there and said my mantra while drifting off to sleep. I find it impossible to believe that my awareness has traveled so far; if it really has, then all that so-called advanced chakra stuff must literally be the absolute beginning of spiritual life and not the esoteric knowledge I’d always thought it to be. Well, and also, it says a lot for being the devotee of an Avatar because you basically don’t do anything at all but make the slightest effort and yet you move along the path anyway, basically in spite of yourself.

Had some gut distress during the days of programs; woke up the second night with pain. Was able to eat just fine, though. Last soreness was the first night home, then everything back to normal. One always feels like these things are associated with something Amma is doing, because the symptoms of whatever it is occur only on the days you’re with Her; they never extend to time before or after. On the other hand, if they are, there’s no way to understand how a fussy lower GI tract has anything to do with anything, or a cold, or a fever, or a headache, or any of the things one experiences while around Amma over the years.

I can’t remember when I first met Her, but I think it’s coming up on twenty years. Could I have met Her as early as 1995? I was living in Walla Walla and went to see Her on Fort Flagler for a retreat. Devi Bhava was in Seattle at the Scottish Rite Temple; I remember that the people I was with all pretty much wanted to go, but I knew the most important thing in my life was happening and I refused. I felt like She was somehow whirling everything together, and that She was communicating with entities that were neither embodied nor visible who had also come to get her darshan. I didn’t give a shit that my boyfriend was distressed about my rudeness nor that the people representing our ride were bored and not digging it. It didn’t matter if a few people were bored for a few hours. I had to get one more darshan from Her.

Half a year later, broken hearted and living in California, I was sitting in a cubical farm and thinking about Her endlessly and I smelled Her perfume and felt Her presence and felt incredibly soothed. Weirdly enough, I never made it around the bay to the San Ramon Ashram — I never visited there until just a few years ago…