Today

June 20th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which I ate out.

My mister has the crud and stayed home from work today. We spent all day napping and cuddling. I didn’t manage to get into the shower until four in the afternoon!

Put on some old kohl eyeliner, because why not. Threw on some Thai fisherman’s pants, tossed my traveler’s journal crap into my backpack, and waddled over to Eat Street.

Little Tijuana

I think I thought I was headed for Bad Waitress Diner, but I ended up at Little Tijuana instead, where the food is mediocre but filling and the staff are nice as hell. Ate, doodled on the butcher paper they use for tablecloths, and journaled. Waddled home an hour later.

Opened the fridge to grab some cream for my iced coffee and oh my but the stench was serious! My pinto beans had gone off; not sure why, because I regularly keep them in the fridge for a week or more, but there you were: stinky beans. Had to pour them down the toilet.

It’s my night off so I should be doing something, but I’m just sitting at my desk fucking about on the internet. I’d like to go to a pub quiz but they’re all on Mondays, and I always work Mondays. Might just go sit in a coffee shop or something; really should get out and enjoy the neighborhood while the temperature is reasonable.

In which I’m just watching my mind be an asshole, because that’s what you do.

I smoked cigarettes for 30 years. I was at the point where my lungs felt dry, I couldn’t get a deep breath, and walking three blocks made me pant.

I quit smoking by switching to vaping, because patches and gum didn’t work, and I wasn’t willing to try Chantix. When I made the switch, I read everything I could find about vaping and determined that vaping was not zero-harm, but was most probably significantly lower harm than smoking.

That was a year ago. My lungs feel much, much better! I can walk to Pancho Villa’s and back without panting. My voice sounds better. I don’t think about smoking at all, and I think about vaping very little: when leaving the house I no longer feel compelled to bring my nicotine delivery system, I just go. It’s great.

The other day I read a Skeptical Raptor round-up about vaping. The take-away was, essentially, we don’t know what, if any, harms are associated with vaping, really, but it does seem like you might maybe possibly be exposing yourself to more formaldehyde than you should. Aaaaaand my stupid brain latched onto that, and I spent the rest of the day being afraid of vaping but doing it anyway. And like a tongue worrying a loose tooth, my mind is still trying to be upset about the topic and provide me not with solutions, but just vague dread and worry and self-pity. Nothing like, “Well, perhaps it’s time to set a plan for quitting vaping,” just vague dread. Nothing like, “Is your need to vape greater than your fear of possible formaldehyde over-exposure?” Just nervousness and anxiety and feeling bad.

Another example. Human hair sheds all the time, constantly. For me, about every 36 months I experience a few months of my hair shedding out more heavily than usual, probably because for some reason there are just a bunch of follicles on the same cycle, and because I’m vain and aging is weird, I dislike it. I mentioned my feels about hair shedding on social media yesterday and two people were all HAVE YOU CHECKED UR THYROID. So I rolled my eyes and went and looked up the information on hypo- and hyperthyroidism again, and yes, while I do have a number of the symptoms mentioned, half are from the hypo- side and the other half are from the hyper- side, so, yeah, no. It’s much more likely I’m subject to normal shedding cycles and, based on my older relatives’ hair, genes, thanks.

But now my stupid mind is trying to obsess over those “symptoms,” all of which are also consistent with hormonal changes typical to women of my age, while ignoring all the symptoms I don’t have and the fact that you can’t have a simultaneously over- AND underactive thyroid. It’s trying to give me an anxiety attack. Because it’s a bastard.

I’m not sick. Nothing hurts. My life is so nice that I never use an alarm clock! I sleep, every day, until I wake up naturally! I live a block or three from everything. I have incredibly fast fiber-to-the-home, money in the bank, and two vacations planned! I am pampered, lucky, well-cared for, and fine.

Except for my stupid mind, which wants me to have anxiety and panic attacks anyway. It wants me to be afraid of things over which I have no control, while frequently ignoring things I should be afraid of — it let me smoke for 30 years, unironically! It let me do cocaine, a street drug of unknowable dosage and provenance, for several years, without a peep of worry — and obsessing instead over dumb things! My mind is afraid of the regulated, properly-dosed OTC drugs you might buy to treat a bad cold, but was never worried about street drugs. Because it fucking sucks at risk-assessment and is irrational.

Conclusion: my mind is an idiot, and, because it never shows up when there’s actual statistical likelihood of danger (riding in a car, for example), anxiety is non-information and should always be ignored.

The wrong magics

May 31st, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Food | Introspection | Soapbox | Social - (0 Comments)

In which I continue to try to figure out why I care so much about people being wrong.

today in the shower i gave an imaginary person a lecture about chiropractic:

“chiropractic doesn’t do anything but separate people who can afford it from their money

“there are one or two adjustments that actually do something, apparently, but you can get those, when indicated, from any physical therapist. if you get them from the chiropractor, you probably didn’t need them anyway

“when people leave the chiropractor feeling better, it’s placebo. because most of the time they don’t go for the two demonstrably effective adjustments in chiropractic’s arsenal

“chiropractic is a scam, probably not a deliberate one (i’m sure most of its practitioners are sincere, if deluded by their training), but a scam nonetheless because we know that ‘subluxated’ bones don’t cause disease, period, and interesting but ineffective cracking sounds don’t get muscles to move bones ‘back’ where they ‘belong’

“the whole concept is bunk; i mean, it was a cool concept in its time. but, alas, a totally and completely wrong one

“point being you should probably spend your relaxation money on a licensed massage therapist, a sex worker, or an hour in a hot tub.

“and definitely avoid neck adjustments. once in a huge great while, if certain things come together in a certain way, you can be dead of the stroke caused by that neck adjustment even before nightfall!”

NOW:

since chiropractic is almost entirely harmless placebo, why do i care about it?

I DON’T KNOW

i don’t know why i care about any of the rest of it, either, from raw milk to chemtrails to alkaline diets

none of it affects me directly! it doesn’t matter! i don’t know anybody who is refusing chemo for kale ‘n’ chlorophyll smoothies, and if i did i’d probably be like, fine, if that’s how you want to die, i respect that, but please get yourself set up with palliative care asap

last night i got drunk on pinot grigio and wrote a post about raw milk or some shit, and apparently posted it without a title or anything, because some roos on facebook were telling me things that are all absolutely untrue, and drunk me HAD TO WRITE A THING but didn’t want to get in yet another pointless comment war with people who want to be wrong

plus i know it doesn’t matter

if you’re healthy and hale and want to drink raw dairy, fine, whatever, you’ll probably live,

but OMFG WHY DO YOU HAVE TO ARGUE SO FIERCELY WHEN YOU ARE DEMONSTRABLY FACTUALLY INCORRECT

i can show you these claims have all been refuted by experts!

and you’ll do what people do, you’ll say dumb shit about ‘dairy shills‘ and trot out baby-tier conspiracy theories in which pasteurization was not, in fact, a scientific breakthrough that made a measurably vast improvement on the quality of human life, but is, in fact, just like vaccines, THE MAN tryna PUT US DOWN

another friend recently started posting about chemtrails, of all things. CHEMTRAILS. the first time she did it i responded with “lol” because that’s what you do when you’re not crazy, but she wasn’t kidding

and IT DOESN’T MATTER, it’s ultimately harmless, really, if people want to believe that water vapor is a vast government conspiracy of mind control/poison/weather manipulation/insert batshit insane crazy nonsense here, and i don’t know why i give a shit

BUT I DO

it drives me nuts that people want to be stupid

it drives me nuts that people get so violently angry when you show them that what they believe is incorrect

it drives me nuts that people want to base their very identities on shit that isn’t even true

somebody got super pissed when i said the ‘50% of marriages end in divorce trope’ was never true. i remember enjoying having learned something new, when i learned that stat was a lie, but other people do not enjoy learning something they’ve “always known” is wrong. it infuriates them and they attack you like their very lives are in danger, which, according to brain scientists, is how it feels, i guess

whenever i find myself repeating something ‘everyone knows’ i tend to go look it up now, because a bunch of it is wrong. the divorce rate peaked at 40% in the 80’s and has been in decline ever since. the average human utilizes about 64 ounces of water a day, but it comes from the food and drink we consume so there’s never been any need to pour an additional 8 glasses of water down your gullet. body heat radiates from everywhere equally, not mainly from one’s head. glass is not a liquid, it’s an amorphous solid. if you touch a baby bird to put it back in its nest, its mother will not reject it.

and so on.

i have given up “believing” anything at all about, for example, human diet. i was rabidly low-carb for awhile, but humans ate carbs for ten thousand years before the obesity epidemic started, so it’s not just carbs, or even refined carbs, because we were eating those for hundreds of years before we all got fat, so i just don’t know. and it’s okay for me not to know.

i used to believe that vegetarians were healthier and longer-lived because some diet book or another told me so when i was 20-something, but since then i’ve learned that those things are not true.

and in general i don’t care what you eat, unless it’s something stupid, like smoothies

other friends of mine post their morning beverages on instagram and they have an old-fashioned juicer that spits out the fiber pulp of the fruits and vegetables they’re juicing (so they’re basically drinking sugar) and they drink chlorophyll daily and “believe” it’s healthy

except it’s just another health food trend in an almost infinite line of them that does nothing measurable but get your cash out of your wallet rather neatly

but they’re very healthy people with low risk factors and they do use the fiber in their diets elsewhere so it probably doesn’t matter IN ANY SIGNIFICANT WAY if they feel their morning juicing ritual is good for them, but it just makes my fingers itch

because at best it does nothing, and at worst it gives one of them type 2 diabetes since taking the sugar out of whole fruits and vegetables and ingesting it all at once causes blood sugar spikes normally regulated by the fiber the juicer takes out and if you’re going to take risks shouldn’t they at least be in the form of wine or downhill skiing or something fun rather than a beverage ritual done because people think it’s “healthy”?

if i’m going to have that much sugar, it’s not going to be some fruit and vegetable combo that tastes like sweet dirt, it’s going to be a chocolate malt. at least the dairy fat may mitigate the sugar the tiniest bit, and i’m not going to delude myself into thinking it’s “healthy”

“healthy” is the opposite of diseased. it’s not something you can get better at. like, if you’re healthy, you’re not going to get somehow “healthier” if you do a few weird things to your diet

i take no supplements. zero. none. haven’t for a decade at least, because i learned that they do nothing at best, and poison you at worst, plus they’re expensive and i’d prefer to spend my money on pinot grigio and chrome baskets for my bicycle and vacations

DOES IT MATTER IF PEOPLE BUY SUPPLEMENTS THAT DON’T DO ANYTHING AND ARE GENERALLY HARMLESS?

um, no, i have to say, no, it doesn’t really matter

they can afford it, it makes them feel like they’re doing something, most supplements aren’t toxic or anything (although some are, and will fucking put you in organ failure)

it just BUGS THE SHIT OUT OF ME anyway

why is my species so gullible, so prone to magical thinking about the wrong magics, so fiercely violent when you tell them they’re incorrect?

and why do i care?

I DON’T KNOW!

i “believe” less and less as time goes by, but the world isn’t less magical. i don’t know much of anything about “being healthy” because NOBODY promulgating diet advice ACTUALLY DOES. i don’t take pills or drink smoothies or buy kale, because those are all dumb fads.

fermenting? well, i don’t know, and neither do you. the WHO says it’s linked to stomach cancer, so maybe ferment with restraint and very, very, very clean equipment. the discovery of a second ‘brain’ in the gut does not necessarily equate with anything going on in the fermenting movement. the bacteria that like to eat the sugars in your ferments are not necessarily the ones you want in your gut biome, plus a lot of the bacteria you eat don’t survive the acids in your stomach, plus some of your biome is yeasts, plus nobody knows yet, and probably won’t in this lifetime, so what you ‘believe’ about your ‘healthy’ ferments and your gut biome is mostly made-up nonsense and your results are more likely to be placebo than anything you’re actually doing

what i do is eat a varied diet of less-processed foods and monitor my caloric intake. brown rice, whole wheat flour, beans and legumes. lots of fat, because fat is delicious. i do not drink 64 oz. of water daily, but i do have at least a glass.

i’m overweight, which we know increases numerous risk factors, so i assume my diet and lifestyle are not ideal. but it’s also true that every female relative i have looked about like this at my age, so there’s definitely strong genetics here as well, and hey, most of them are very long-lived anyway. and i prefer moderated enjoyment of a variety of foods over fear and guilt and magic rituals involving blenders or fermenting jars.

so, most of what everybody ‘believes’ is harmless, even if it’s wrong, and i know that but it’s DRIVING ME NUTS to be constantly bombarded with bullshit. no, milk is not filled with pus. no, vaccines do not cause autism. no, kale isn’t a ‘superfood,’ because ‘superfood’ is a flawed concept to begin with (if you have scurvy, a lemon is a superfood; the rest of the time it’s just a lemon. kale has never cured anything, as far as we know, except hunger, temporarily). no, the alkaline diet does not cure cancer. no, chelation therapy is not effective ‘against’ autism. no, vegans aren’t healthier. no, no, no. i know it doesn’t matter that you’re wrong, but you are, and it drives me nuts that you WANT TO STAY THAT WAY.

your mind is the only tool you have. the only one. you cannot get enlightened without a mind. you NEED the fucking thing functioning properly, which means you need to be able to use it to discriminate between reality and unreality, truth and lie, fact and fiction. letting it fill up with shit is just a bad idea, i guess. clear it out, throw that shit away, just be with what is, rather that what you think you need in order to shore up your ego. get rid of beliefs rather than collect them.

be wrong.

let go.

listen.

The Dread

May 30th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which there was a sensation and I freaked the fuck out: another boring-ass post about my anxiety disorder, because I bring the content!

Woke up weirdly early, like 7:30 or so, and though I did try, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually got really hungry, as one does if she’s awake long enough, so got up and had a cup of coffee, and made some hash browns, facon, and a poached egg.

After eating I went outside and dug up a bit of the turf where the tomatoes will go, then came in and swept the kitchen and living room, and hand-scrubbed the kitchen floor. Go, me!

Sat down on my ass in front of the computer, found a show to watch on Acorn (‘Delicious,’ with Dawn French, which is much darker than I’d expected because I guess I’d assumed it was a comedy). Scrolled Twitter and Facebook like an asshole, as if it were some sort of reward for doing a couple of chores rather than an absolute and utter waste of time. Realized it’d been hours since I’d eaten already and that I was hungry again, damn it. Was going to eat leftover rice and chickpea curry, but they’d gone off, so I threw some veggie tots in the oven. Mixed up a little bit of fry sauce while they baked.

Brought my treat to my desk, pushed play on the vid, and began to eat, cross-legged in my office chair, chin a couple of inches above the surface of the desk.

Sudden, weird fluttering in my chest, like a bird trapped. No pain or discomfort, lasted maybe three seconds, but scared the shit out of me. During, I stuck my index on my pulse but by the time I’d found it the flutter was over and my heartbeat seemed, well, fine, if a little fast. Realized I was slouched forward and so I sat up straight, adrenaline just coursing through me because holy fuck did my heart just fuck up?!?!… and burped.

Sat here freaking the fuck out for a moment, as you do when you have a panic disorder, then started googling shit like ‘esophageal flutter.’ Burped again. Immediately realized that searching symptoms would just end in shit about heart defects and cause a full-fledged panic attack, so I closed the tab, breathed deep, and pulled my plate to me.

Finished eating my tiny plate of tots, had a couple more burps, and… well, haven’t died.

My shoulders are so tight they’re up by my ears now, and I have the nervous energy and delusion that I’m dizzy and bouncy leg of a fairly acute anxiety attack, so I’ll need to get up and go do laundry or something, to keep myself moving until I forget I’m nervous.

Who am I kidding, I’ll probably just sit here and marinate in my own juices.

Ah, fuck the dread. Seriously. Although I guess I’d rather have the dread of modern living rather than, say, the plague, or the various other much more dangerous afflictions of the past. The dread fucking sucks, but at least it isn’t actually fatal.

Sigh.

Eyes

May 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Health | Weather - (0 Comments)

In which there’s an appointment.

It had clouded over a little, sure, and was only in the 50’s when I checked the weather, but it didn’t say anything about rain online. Notification on my phone said, at 1:46, when I checked, that the rain would end by 2 PM. I looked out the window but it wasn’t raining. Grabbed a vest anyway (so glad I did) and headed out.

By the time I’d carried my bike up the stairs and opened the door, it was raining.

I was soaked within three blocks!

Arrived, locked up my bike, squeezed the water out of my hair, and went inside, dripping on the carpet. Receptionist gave me some paperwork, which I had just finished filling out when Doctor Hansen came out to get me. Did I have my glasses with me? No. Did I have my prescription? Yes, I’ve written it down on a post-it. Did I have insurance? Yes, but not optical. What was my insurance? Hennepin Health. They do optical, give me your card.

Apparently I do have insurance? It doesn’t say optical on the card, and I don’t remember seeing it mentioned in the paperwork, but I got the full exam and was told to order a pair of glasses because the insurance covers it!

I can’t remember ever having eye insurance. Thanks, Obama!

The prescription I wrote down made no sense to the doctor and did not match at all what Pearle Minnetonka faxed over. It matches what’s stamped on my contacts boxes, but I have no idea what any of it means. The doctor said something along the lines of my actual prescription being so different from what I’d written down that he’d have had to worry about things like acute diabetes or organ failure or something. He ripped up my post-it and threw it out.

Note to self: next time you see the optometrist, bring your glasses and the print-out of your previous prescription!

For the record, I still don’t enjoy having my eyes dilated, but it wasn’t half as bad as it was the last time when I had to sit in my truck in the parking lot for two hours before I could see well enough to drive! (It occurs to me now that that doctor may have used too large or too strong a dose.) I was able to see well enough to ride my bike home, but everything’s still weird-looking nearly two hours later.

Doctor says my prescription isn’t changing much at all (which surprises me, considering I’ve upped the strength of my readers and have a hard time seeing my journal well enough to actually write in it) and tells me not to drive with mono vision lenses. My new glasses — which are large and chunky and a clear dark blue — will be distance-only since I take them off to read anyway, and should be ready in a couple of weeks.

The doctor was concerned with the idiotic cluster of zits under my left eye. How long has that been there? (Three days.) Advised me to “see the dermatologist if it doesn’t clear up.” (I didn’t go into how I’d messed with the area the day before with a pair of sharp tweezers and some rubbing alcohol, and that that ill-advised behavior, along with the proximity to the delicate under-eye tissue, might be why it looked weirder than your standard garden variety blemishes.)

Excited to get new contacts and new glasses! Even more excited if the insurance really does cover the entire exam plus the new glasses; I’d been expecting to drop $99 for the exam plus the contacts, but only had to pay for the contacts themselves!

I was really chilled and my shirt and vest and messenger bag were cold and damp by the time I left an hour later, and the ride home was therefore cooler than I’d have liked, but some warm socks and a dry long-sleeved tee put me to rights. I might need some sort of rain jacket, if I’m going to keep getting monsooned on when I’m out on the bicycle. I was completely drenched when I got home from the grocery store last week!

Need to drop a couple of packages off at The UPS Store over on Hennepin Avenue, but my eyes still feel so weird I’ll have to do it tomorrow.

Summer reading list

May 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Reading | Sci-fi | Spiritual - (0 Comments)

In which I’m not Bill Gates, but I have a book list, too!

I’ve finally started Cloud Atlas. I bought it months and months ago and it’s just been sitting five screens deep on my Kindle Paperwhite:

It is absolutely goddamned brilliant. No question.

A Calamitous Chinese Killing is still in the pile. Inspector Singh is adorable, as ever. I’m about halfway through:

The Dark Monk is next. I bought it because the book’s design looked cool. The cover is black and gold, and the pages are torn. It’s translated, so hopefully it’ll be a good read, as sometimes translations can be a little flat:

Contact, by Carl Sagan, because I really like the movie and I’ve never read the book:

Still reading my abridged 1970 copy of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna with the gilded ink on the spine and cover and the ribbon bookmark. Might be reading it again, actually; I really don’t know if I’ve ever finished it, as I frequently set it down for months then just open it at random:

The Outpost, by Mike Resnick. Came part of a sci-fi humble bundle that remains, to date, mostly un-read:

The Shelf Life of Happiness. May not finish this one, depends on how it unwinds:

The Heretics of De’Ath:

The Sheep Look Up, because it was a Nebula finalist:

A Gitanjali re-read. I bought a physical copy because it’s so beautiful and maybe the power will go out or something and I’ll need something that’s not electronic to read:

There’s more unread stuff on my Paperwhite and on paper both, but these are the titles I care about now. My reading habits have become so erratic in the past couple of years that we’ll see how many of these I actually finish, and how many non-listed books I’ll read instead.

What’s on your summer reading list? Anything I’d like?

Close enough!

May 16th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Weather | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which there’s another slightly wonky Android map of my adventures.

I went for a bike ride! Now I’m melting like a bad witch because: heat and humidity!

I felt like I had to go because it’s my day off, the dishes are done, and I sit around inside ALL THE GODDAMNED TIME, because it’s either a blizzard or a sauna out there. (Or I have nowhere to go. But I digress!)

So a bike ride it was, even though it’s 80-something and 70% humidity.

Went to unlock the Schwinn from under the stairs and it had a flat tire, of course. Went to the Marathon on the corner but their air’s off, so had to wait for the light across Lyndale at rush hour to go to Eric’s Bike Shop for air.

They let you borrow a hand pump, the bastards, rather than having a compressor. Plus you have to haul your ride up stairs and through a manual door to get in, which is weird for a bike store. You’d think they’d let you enter with your bike through the level garage door entrance on the side or something, rather than making whoever’s working the front desk hold the door all day long.

Anyway, then I rode along 28th to the Bryant street Greenway ramps and headed back toward my place. Passed it. Exited the Greenway at Nicolette, rode around a bit, moseyed on home, passed it, went down to Lake and turned left, and rode until I finally found the damned Walgreens.

Bought the mini-scrunchies (that’s how thin my hair is now! i buy mini-scrunchies!) and pair of sunglasses that have been on my to-get list for months, put them on, and rode home.

So humid. So hot already. It’s only the middle of May! It’s only bearable if you’re on the bike and moving (which I discovered when I tried to sit on a rock under a tree on the Greenway for awhile). I hope so much that it cools down and acts spring-like for the next four weeks, because this is bullshit!

Rode home. Nobody hit me with their car!

The apartment building itself seems somewhat bearable in the hallways, but my living room is miserable! Stuffy, hot, humid as fuck, just uncomfortable. I love you for supporting all life on earth, Sol, but sometimes you overdo it on this little ol’ brick building I live in! Ha ha!

LUCKILY, THE BEDROOM NOW HAS AN AIR CONDITIONER. So I turned it on high and stripped off and am sitting here in blessed refrigerated air in a cotton bra and prairie skirt and probably will not actually melt. Yay!

Portable air conditioner

Whenever I tell Scott I hate the weather here, he just ignores it like I’m saying I hate TV commercials or something. I don’t think he groks that I legit do not like Midwestern weather, and that this is not merely my third, but my sixteenth (at least!) year living in it, so it’s not just an offhand observation! I really think it’s not the best!

Compared to Walla Walla — a town with the mildest, most pleasant weather on the continent, and all four seasons fairly represented in their time — the weather here does suck! The grass was still brown a month ago, and now Spring’s over! It’s summer! Turn on your A/C! Fuck you!

But he did buy me an air conditioner (which just basically astounds and amazes me), and I suppose since he won’t fucking move to Walla Walla, it’ll have to do. Heh.

Revision (8:53 PM): I went to bring my bike in just before dusk and it was cooler, so I went for another brief ride. Would still be out except I didn’t have my bike lights with me. Sky was doing a Maxfield Parrish thing, and although the humidity is still high it was much nicer!

My Amma Doll

May 15th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Introspection | Spiritual - (0 Comments)

In which I write about a toy. A doll. A temple idol, a spiritual tool.

I’ve had an Amma doll for a long time, and over the years I’ve collected all the outfits and extras, and I keep it all in an old wicker picnic-style basket. I can dress her in her whites, or as Devi, Krishna, or Kali.

There’s also a nightgown, socks, a swim dress, perfumes, a sun dress I made, and a tiny Home Depot apron (in case she ever wants to do some yard work or something). Garlands, necklaces, earrings, belts, a mala. A hairbrush.

There used to be a sweater, but apparently I’ve lost it.

Amma doll

I’ve read treatises written by those who don’t yet grasp what spirituality is or what it’s for, droning on and on about the phenomenon of white women and their Amma dolls, trying to make all kinds of Freudian implications about infantilization and adult women “playing” with dolls, as if there were something wrong with play, something sinister about child-like joy and absorption.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. There is evil in the world (although this is not it), and the dolls creep you out. Whatever. Your mistakes are your own. Or are they?

Because the fact is, this doll isn’t a Barbie, empty of meaning. It’s not a collection of plastic crap that symbolizes only imperialism and consumption. This doll is a profoundly useful spiritual tool, whether anyone who thinks they’re weird is capable of understanding that or not.

When you’re nearly always apart from your guru, being able to play with and cuddle a toy, one imbued with layers of complex spiritual and philosophical information, is a fucking oasis in a desert of streaming services, social networking, avarice, empty affluence, fear, and anxiety.

The process of handling the doll focuses the mind on the guru. Changing the costumes over time creates deep curiosity — why does Kali have a garland of skulls? what issues are there to consider about religion and violence? is suffering different than violence? is death meaningful? what the fuck is a demon: is it a literal bad entity, or a representation of one’s own flaws? is the mind a demon? Does Krishna’s flute, like, symbolize something? maybe Krishna just liked to play the flute? does it have to be meaningful? What’s the difference between information and meaning? what’s it feel like to be enlightened? aren’t the enlightened supposed to be without preference? so why the flute and not something else? — which drives self-education and awakens the understanding that all this shit represents something.

Kali Ma

These symbols are not just arbitrary foreign cultural weirdness. They have meaning. They peel like an onion.

When you see your guru for two days a year, and spend maybe 4 minutes of those two days actually with her, you need a conduit, a way to get back, a helpful symbol. When you’re losing your shit because you don’t know what the fuck is going on with your life or what you are or are supposed to be doing, you grab your Amma doll and you have a good cry.

Or, as I frequently do, you bitch God out for this stupid reality in which one has to have a mind capable of suffering in order to want to become enlightened: you cannot even want enlightenment without suffering first! It’s built-in! What the fuck!

Brahman dwells within itself, forever content. In the deeps, God isn’t even aware of us. If he’s the brilliant scientist in the state-of-the-art lab, we’re some random bacteria in the sludge around the drain in the unused third sub-basement he doesn’t even know about.

This occasionally makes me so infuriated I bitch and hiss at my doll, because it’s easier to have a conversational focus in the form of a small item than it is to try to somehow address the entirety of the manifest universe at once, because seriously, where would you even look?

My Amma doll

You look at your doll, as a representative of That, and you complain. You lay out your grievances. You pitch a fucking fit. You say you know everything that exists is a manifestation of an inherent quality of the Lord’s, and you know that selfishness, stupidity, and greed are just as much expressions of God as generosity, intelligence, beauty, and sacrifice, and that’s cool, but: suffering! Why is there suffering? Why even manifest as apparent discrete entities with minds of their own when that is itself literally the cause of suffering? What’s the point of us even being here to experience shit when it’s frequently so awful? Why even do this in the first place? How can You be loving if this manifestation with all its inherent bullshit is a fundamental expression of what You are?!

And then you get the brain dump. God, Guru answers. No, you don’t see visions or hear voices, but suddenly you have understandings that you didn’t have before. Knowledge just appears in your head, intact. (I’ve noticed when reading Matruvani that devotees’ stories are often like this. They’re waiting and waiting for whatever outcome they think they want, and eventually they get freaked out and complain to the altar or a photo of idol or guru, and then, and only then, at the final hour, the thing, the outcome, the whatever, occurs.) I think that it’s perfectly fine and okay and even encouraged to natter and nag and bitch at the Beloved. Amma even says several times in various books that one should have a running commentary and be always thinking of and talking to one’s beloved deity. Don’t gossip with others, tell the beloved. Don’t complain to others, tell the beloved. Don’t suffer needlessly and stoically, tell the beloved.

The whole point of and thread running throughout is about where the mind should be. The mind should be not on worldly bullshit, but on any symbol that will eventually lead it inward. Apparently this is called pratyahara, and is the process of withdrawing the mind from distraction and turning it inward toward its source. It’s a pain in the ass, in one way, because it’s hard and tedious and sometimes it hurts. But it’s also effortless, in the sense that at some point you realize that there is no effort, only grace. Because you feel like you’re making effort but you eventually come to know you’re not: you go years sometimes without effort, and then suddenly great strides are made. Your heart is arid and then the rains come, and you’re not the rain. You reach for That when the guru wants you to, and at no other time.

Another irrationality, that, as most of it is in this arduous process of destroying the world, and yet once you know it, you know it. Since there’s nothing to measure, you can’t prove it, but you have experienced it and know it to be true. They say if you take one step toward the guru, the guru will take a thousand toward you, but you also know that shit does not move at all without the guru doing it, because you’re not the doer, you’re not even real. You are your mind, and your mind is a reflection of consciousness.

Just like you know God’s not an asshole but doesn’t really find human suffering all that compelling, in the same way a human being does not find the death of a few skin cells all that compelling, and yet, by the same token, some aspect of God does shit like takes birth and gets nailed to a cross like Christ or dies of cancer like Ramakrishna or crucifies herself in her darshan chair like Amma in order to point us in the right direction. They come and They come and They ever come, these incarnations, and They show infinite love and beauty and grace and They say, look, I’m suffering my balls off here, because hey-what, the suffering of the mind and body is irrelevant. And let me teach you why.

And it’s utterly impossible to encompass, but there it is. The whole thing’s a huge joke somehow. You’re not even here, your you-ness isn’t real, it’s a soup of consciousness your mind is building the whole of reality out of, and your mind is not even conscious itself. It’s a construct! It merely reflects! I’m waiting for the punch line!

Terror is the mind realizing you know it’s not real, and that you’re becoming willing to surrender it to That in order to escape suffering, which is also not real.

I’m waiting for the punch line!

On the crushing stress of debt.

May 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Finance | Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I lecture.

This article advises you to immerse yourself in all the miserable details of your debt, and feel how bad you feel for an entire week, because apparently remorse and guilt will somehow magically attract money into your life. Because your debt is the result of your own terrible emotional flaws, and not a system set up to put you in debt.

“Unconscious spending habits”? Like you’re somehow not aware your outgo is higher than your income? “Messy money practices”? How is being poor in a rich society a messy money practice? Don’t spend any money for a whole day! Fuck you, person who wrote this article who has obviously never been broke a day in her life. Poor people tend to have to buy every day, because they can’t afford to purchase in bulk.

When you’re living hand-to-mouth, you tend to buy food and gas daily, in small increments, with the ten bucks you have to your name. You can’t go buy $150 worth of sensible groceries to last you for the next three weeks of frugal meal-planning, because you don’t have $150. You can’t cross town and fill your tank at the one gas station with the lowest prices, because you don’t have enough gas to get over there, in the first place, and even if you did, you have to eat so you couldn’t even buy a quarter tank anyway.

These sorts of articles about debt, about writing it all down in excruciating detail, living cash-only, really getting a handle on it… they’re all bullshit. You fuckheads have literally no idea what you’re talking about.

To fix debt, you need money. That’s it. Emotionally torturing yourself with your poverty, in minute detail? For an entire week? Is just weird. You already know you own more than you can pay. You’ve already tried to earn more. This isn’t psycho-fucking-therapy, it’s math.

I repeat: only money fixes debt. Nothing else. Not guilt, not self-recrimination, not even more austerity. Just money.

Odds are you’re not in debt for making extravagant decisions. You’re probably in debt because you were given a line of credit you could not support, by a greedy corporation eager to exploit human nature, were or are un- or underemployed through no fault of your own, or went to college to get a degree that doesn’t boost your earning capability (because that’s what they said you were supposed to do and you were compliant).

Very, very few people live beyond their means in the sense of buying too many extravagant things. Paying rent and bills, buying food and clothes, and having the same sorts of extras everybody else in your class has (like vacations and iPhones) is not extravagant.

Most people in debt are in debt because their employers don’t pay them enough to live like the rest of their class lives, or because they can’t get any or enough work. Not because they’re greedy or lazy. The numbers show most poor people actually work more than full-time.

Wages have remained stagnant for the past thirty years. You’re not earning what your parents earned at your age, and yet society expects you to do what they did and buy a house, get married, have two cars so you can both get to work, have new cell phones every two years, own a sufficiency of linens and dishes and furniture and be able to afford hobbies and toys.

Having to choose between groceries and the dentist is bullshit, but being told to take better notes and avoid spending for an entire day to get out of debt isn’t advice, it’s abuse.

Another ride

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Life | Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

I’m so fucking high strung, you guys.

So I woke up this morning, had a hummus/tabouli/falafel/feta lettuce wrap, drank some water, decided being awake was stupid, and went back to bed ’til afternoon.

Detail

Got up a second time, had some water, rearranged my very dirty hair, put on eyeliner, dressed, took my shit out of one bag and put it into another, and went for a bike ride.

Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to see. It was so easy when I lived in a small town and didn’t have a car. Got my exercise in without noticing, in the form of transportation.

It was raining. Low-seventies. Nice light spring rain.

It rained

Rode to the Midtown Global Market again. Locked up my bike, under a tree to help keep the seat dry. Went inside.

Walked around for a few minutes. Realized I was hungry. Walked around until I found a place selling chile rellenos. Ordered some. Wandered over to a coffee shop. Didn’t buy coffee. Felt anxious and weird, dizzy maybe, and realized that my vision isn’t really up to dealing with very high-information environments: the two different prescriptions, both out of date, plus the addition of the floaters that have been slowly and regularly increasing over time, make my brain feel weird.

Chose a table. Took out my readers and a magazine. Leg bounced. Felt like I just wanted to get back on my bike. Uncomfortable. Not an anxiety attack yet, but close. Also, the body, so unaccustomed to exercise, feeling different than usual.

I had cheese chile rellenos

“Number one seventy one? Do you want salsa?”

“Please.”

“Mild or hot?”

“Hot.”

“Green or red?”

“Red. Thank you.”

Sat down to eat. Can’t really see my food; really need to get in to see the optometrist. Put my readers on. Methodically and rapidly devoured a chile relleno. Unwrapped the tortillas. Cut the other chile relleno into thirds. Made three chile relleno tacos. Wrapped them up. Took off my readers. Cleared my table. Got a container from the counter and put my tacos into my messenger bag.

Walked around the market some more. Really should have enjoyed it, because it’s really the sort of place I would enjoy, with all the international stuff and all the interesting people, but didn’t. Just wanted to get the fuck out, get back on my bike, move, use up some energy. All the little shops: didn’t go in. Last time I was there, last winter sometime, I saw a really great top in one of the booths. Didn’t even look for it. Walked by the coffee place again, decided I didn’t need a drink because I had a water bottle on the bike. Really not feeling at all normal. Just being here is fucking difficult. What the actual fuck. I have nothing to do until work at 6 tonight, and I came here to sit and read and write, didn’t I? What the fuck is even wrong with me?

Sat down at a table in the central seating area. Readers and magazine out. Knee bouncing, I made it fewer than five minutes before I got up and left.

The rain had stopped.

Unlocked my bike, tied up my right pant leg, and off I went.

Nice ride. Much better. Leg muscles working felt good, damp air felt good, the lilacs are finally in bloom.

Most of the Midtown Greenway is in an old train corridor, beneath the streets and safe from traffic. Saw Mexicans under the overpasses. Some were singing. One was sleeping.

My Schwinn

Pulled over at a rock and sat for a few minutes. Thought it would be a nice place to meditate, but didn’t want to mediate. Wanted to go the fuck home and relax. Got up, rode the last thirty feet to the Soo Line Garden, dismounted, and pushed my bike up the bark trail to street level.

Flushed, hot, inwardly shaking my head at how honestly hard it is to walk my bike up a steep hill, almost there, almost at the top, slow steps, at least nothing hurts.

Still aware of how floaters confuse my brain’s interpretation of what I’m seeing and what’s moving when I’m outside and the light is bright. I don’t notice them at all in familiar or low-light situations, but out in public in bright light there’s a sensation that everything is moving, even though it’s not, and my response to weird vision and being in public is to ratchet everything up, fight-or-flight style. My internal experience is one of great agitation and intensity and nervousness, and I’m having to deliberately focus on the feel of the air and the smells and all the nice nature around me rather than the quite frankly irrelevant internal experience.

Meanwhile, while all this weird shit is going on, simmering half a degree below a full-blown goddamned panic attack, I look like a pleasant, plump, white lady, slowly walking her retro bike up a hill through a garden, wearing black linen palazzo pants and a slouchy V-neck, meditation beads and a messenger bag. Really makes you realize that nothing is how it looks. You see someone and have no idea what it’s like to be them; who knows what goes on in the skulls of other pleasant-looking, plump, white ladies?

They’re probably all mad geniuses but too pleasant to say so, or gacked out of their head on street drugs just walking along, looking like somebody’s grandmother, smiling pleasantly.