Here’s my schedule!

June 24th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Life | Moving - (0 Comments)

In which Scott came home for lunch and told me it’s now confirmed that we can actually move this weekend.

Today: pack.
Tomorrow: pack.
The day after: pack and clean.
Saturday: MOVE. RENT A TRUCK AND MOVE TO UPTOWN.
Sunday: unpack.
Monday: unpack.
Tuesday: drive to Chicago for a 3-day Amma program.

I blew off my second week of notice — 4 shifts — at Home Depot because we thought this might happen, but now it actually is happening and OMG WHY AM I TYPING I NEED TO BE DOING LAUNDRY AND PACKING. MOAR. BOXES.

From Public

(Oh, that credit union interview was yesterday, and I think it went really well! Should hear back by the end of the week. It would be so great to work and live so close together. Especially if that work has a regular schedule and isn’t fucking retail. Did I even mention that the very instant I could request days off to see Amma I did so, and then last week, after over a month’s deliberation, they finally denied me July 4th off? Even without the move I would have quit over that. A year’s worth of shitty scheduling and overscheduling, and you can’t give me one holiday off?)

In which many exciting changes — a move, a job change, and not one but two opportunities for travel — are afoot!

The lease is up here, and while this apartment has some incredible amenities — such as southern exposure, a gas range, amazing cross-ventilation, and a wonderful view of a park with a pond in it — it also happens to be located in a rather industrial-sized, non-walkable bedroom suburb, so we’ve recently signed a new lease for an apartment in or very near Uptown.

“Uptown” is the neighborhood directly south of downtown Minneapolis, and it’s eminently walkable as well as featuring access to Eat Street, the Midtown greenway, and lots of groceries and bars and venues.

The new place has off-street parking for Scott and a storage locker for my bike (I’m hoping), wood floors, a larger kitchen, a bathroom practically identical to the one we have here, A GAS RANGE, a residential neighborhood that will probably be quiet, and a killer location for walking and biking to stores and bars and restaurants. (Well, during the nice months of the year, anyway.)

We’re still waiting on a move-in date from the new landlord (the current tenant hasn’t moved out yet), but it should be within the next few weeks.

I gave notice at Home Depot a couple of days ago. It’s been… interesting employment for me, and required a lot of comfort zone-stretching (sharing a desk, never sitting down, limited online access, steady physical exertion, etc). I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed any of it nor that the physical component hasn’t been good for me, but I’m incredibly happy to have a concrete end date in sight (since knowing it was temporary was sometimes the only thing that kept me sane).

The very day after giving notice I got a call back from a credit union two blocks — 600 feet from door to door, as the crow flies — from the new apartment! After signing the lease I’d used Google Maps to reconnoiter the area looking for work, and lo and behold there was a job posting for a part-time teller! In the neighborhood!

How great would that be? A two-block commute to a part-time job in a quiet environment? No nights or weekends or holidays? To work when Scott’s at work? (They’re open 9-6 on weekdays and 9-12 on Saturdays. I’d never have to work two solid months of 8-hour weekend shifts again! Even if I have to work every Saturday morning forever, it would still be a thousand thousand times better than the insanity that is the home improvement warehouse retail schedule.) Had a lovely pre-interview by phone today with the credit union’s HR; I have an in-person interview at the branch next Tuesday. So excited!

If it doesn’t work out — which it might not, of course, because they don’t post the pay range even in the job description and it might be minimum wage, which I’d probably pass on even with the ideal location and nearly-ideal schedule — I think I’ll just take a couple months off and get back into some semblance of a routine.

After a year of being scheduled anywhere from 6 AM to 10 PM, seven days a week, 363 days a year, I now have nothing like regular mealtimes and am usually not hungry when I have to eat or am starving when I can’t. Sleep schedules are utterly blown, and I’ve nearly lost my ability to sleep when I have to because I’m either inappropriately not tired or totally exhausted for whatever my schedule requires of me. I’ve never really considered myself a routine-oriented person, but that might be because I always had much more of one than I’ve had this past year. Random scheduling fucking blows and I feel deep sympathy for all those who are trapped in it.

Anecdotally, the new place is two blocks — normal city blocks, not the monstrosities here in the old apartment’s neighborhood — from a 30-year old breakfast joint called The Egg and I. HOW COOL IS THAT. There is nothing that close to this apartment but grass, trees, other apartments, roads, and weeds. Oh, and a pond.

So, the Employment Of Misery is basically over, a new lease is signed, I’ve started packing, and I already have an interview for a highly desirable position in the new neighborhood. On top of that, we’re going to see Amma in Chicago in a couple of weeks, and we have plans to visit Walla Walla in mid-August for a Morgan family reunion/get-together!

Totally stoked. Now I just need to put more stuff in boxes and find something nice to wear to next week’s interview!

Calories

May 10th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (6 Comments)

In which I’ve been tracking what I eat.

According to the BMR Calculator, to maintain my weight I should be eating 1,920 calories per day. To lose a pound a week, it should be 1,420.

Out of curiosity, without doing any kind of dieting except avoiding white bread, I tracked what I ate this week. (The “Goal” column show the tracking site’s defaults; I’m ignoring them because the fat and carb recommendations can go fuck themselves. I can’t even imagine how you’d meet the fiber recommendation; I eat basically nothing but beans and veggies and it’s still not “enough” fiber.)

week

On my sedentary days, I tend to eat less, apparently. On the super-fucking-busy days at work, where I end up walking multiple miles, and rather rapidly at that, I eat about two thousand calories. Monday I closed, and didn’t bother with dinner. Wednesday, I worked 8 – 2 and didn’t have any lunch. But I probably would have eaten about two thousand calories on those days, too, if I’d had my druthers. (Sometimes, after busting ass at the store all day, it’s so much easier to sit on the couch than it is to cook something.)

I’m about as fat as I can stand to be, so I’ll probably start restricting carbs pretty heavily for awhile. I was just curious about what I actually eat “in the wild,” so to speak, since we usually only ever track our eating when we’re on a diet of some kind.

How to have the best cup of tea ever

March 10th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Health - (0 Comments)

In which there are instructions!

Step 1: Don’t have mint tea for, like, a few years. Not because you’re against it or anything, but just because you don’t happen to.

Step 2: Move to Minnesota and catch a cold.

Step 3: Wait a week and buy a box of mint tea. Stick it in the cupboard above the sink.

Step 4: Make a mug of mint tea with boiling water. Add a hint of honey. Hold the mug. Breathe the steam. Enjoy the warmth. Drink the tea. Marvel at how insanely wonderful a simple mug of mint tea can be when it’s March in the Midwest and you still have the faintest remnant of a spring cold.

Empty Earth

March 1st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which it was eerily quiet.

We stepped out onto the back porch of our building for a smoke.

“Wow,” he said. “You hear that? So quiet.”

We listened. Absolutely no traffic, none. All the lights on the other side of the park were green. No traffic on the streets, no traffic on the interstate below. No voices, no nothing.

Silence.

“Damn. Maybe it’s finally happened,” I said. “It’s like every end-of-the-world book I ever read* and everybody disappeared while we were inside watching The Sopranos and eating zucchini bread. And now we’re the only people left!”

It was another sixty full seconds before we finally heard any traffic.

“There,” he said.

Oh, well. The world hasn’t ended. Maybe next time.


* When I was a teenager, I read Lucifer’s Hammer and The Stand and that whole empty earth idea has always kinda been part of my psyche. Like, you’d just wake up one day and all (or most) the infrastructure would still be here but the people would be gone and you’d be there while the electricity and water plants ran down and there’d be houses and businesses empty of people but filled with food and supplies… kinda like the zombie apocalypse only with dinosaur killers or divine intervention. I’ve always wondered if I’d meet an optician or if my glasses would break AND I WOULD BE FUNCTIONALLY BLIND UNTIL I DIED.

A day off from my awful retail job.

December 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which it’s Friday for most, but Saturday for me.

I slept until noon, because today is my day off. As I was slowly drifting awake, I planned my day. Here’s what happened.

Intention: Get up, pee, do yoga. Make tea. Make the bed. Dress. Sit and meditate. Sort the laundry. Then have a spa day, complete with mud mask and foot soak. Shave and moisturize. Put on a cute but comffy outfit, and maybe some mascara. Be mindful and grateful and inwardly full in a tidy apartment while looking clean and soft and cute.

Actuality: Get up, pee. Make and drink a latte. (So far, so good!)

Eat cold, leftover curry out of the pan in front of the laptop looking at meaningless shit on the internet. (Um, need to meditate here in a bit.) Put the dishes away and take some broth out of the freezer. (Yes. So domestic!) Sit on ass in front of Facebook.

Let the UPS guy into the building. Sit on ass in front of Facebook. Chat with Embo about zits, burritos, and baking soda online. Move a box that needs to ship, but don’t actually tape it shut or put an address on it or anything. Realize it’s already starting to get dark and you haven’t even made the bed.

Pour a cocktail, because fuck it. Turn on the tee-vee and find an old movie station; marvel at the red lipstick and wish you had lips. Sit on ass in front of Facebook. Wonder if Scott will be able to pick the truck up from the shop tonight so you can get him to take you out to dinner or, even better, go get carry-out, so you won’t have to cook. Sit on ass in front of Facebook.

Consider the things you could have accomplished, shrug, and smile, because you have a cute little Christmas tree, your favorite person will be home in an hour, and you have tomorrow off, too.

You can do chores when you’re dead.

This.

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Weather | Whining - (2 Comments)

In which it fucking snowed.

Fucking SNOW.

And frozen ponds and sub-freezing temperatures. It’s not even Thanksgiving! WHAT HAVE I DONE.

Weekend

October 26th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there are pictures.

On Friday I worked for 6 hours and got a flu shot. Then I ate this adorable lunch.

On the way home, I stopped and bought these flowers to go along with the orange lights and pumpkin that my beloved had already brought home.

Autumnal!

When Scott got home after work, we went out and got burritoes from Pancheros and brought them home to eat them.

And then the flu shot hit, and there was coughing and chills and aches and pains and I spent the next eight hours wishing I was asleep much more often than I actually was. It was utterly fucking miserable. It was exactly like having the flu and just as painful, it just didn’t last as long. I woke up at around 1:30 in the morning and was completely well, save for some residual muscle soreness.

Saturday we slept in well past noon, had a yummy big breakfast at home, lounged around for a few hours, then went on something of a shopping spree: Namaste Plaza for dals and spices, then a few dollar stores and a discount clothing place for shoes for Scott, Cub for a few groceries, Target for dice and a game.

Our Saturday night looked like this.

Yahtzee! Ten Thousand! Deer in the Headlights! Adult beverages! It was super fun. Scott won every single game we played because he’s mean.

Sunday, I worked from 9 to 1 as greeter at Home Depot, because OH HOLY SHIT I’M NOW THAT OLD LADY SAYING ‘GOOD MORNING’ TO YOU WHEN YOU WALK INTO A FUCKING HOME DEPOT ON SUNDAY MORNING BECAUSE YOU’RE A WEALTHY WHITE FIRST WORLDER WHO NEEDS TO BUY PAPER BAGS TO PUT YOUR LEAVES INTO. (Seriously, though, the astonishing waste of this country. We take perfectly good land, plant grass on it, then have to rake up the fallen leaves (which would otherwise turn back into lovely new dirt) and put them into bags manufactured for the purpose. Good God.)

Yeah, today I was a greeter. I have no idea how this happened, but there it is. I’m that old now.

When I got home I made a pot of chili and a pan of cornbread.

IMG_20141026_151715

We ate chili and cornbread. And then we took a nap.

The end!

Money and credit, poverty and fees

September 12th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Finance - (0 Comments)

In which I have rejoined the regular people.

Once upon a time, I was married.

My spouse, who said, “You don’t have to worry about money. We can always get more money,” and whom I believed, talked me into quitting my job. And then he quit working himself, so we lived on my credit cards for awhile (because he didn’t have any credit to live on, because he’d never filed taxes and basically didn’t exist).

Then, because there wasn’t any money coming in, well, some bills stopped getting paid. And some nasty collections agency took fifteen hundred bucks out of my checking account [illegally] and there was nothing I could do about it because I was broke and legal counsel ain’t free.

Shortly after, for various reasons, the marriage ended. Interestingly enough, although money is one of the top reasons for failed marriages, it was buried pretty far down on my list of reasons for leaving. I was exhausted by being miserable; being broke was merely icing on the cake. It’s not like I hadn’t been poor before. Only this time my debt was actually the debt of two people, one of which wasn’t going to help me pay it off.

I cashed out my tiny little 401k and drank heavily for a year.

When I surfaced, I tried to open a checking account. Nope, you’re listed at TeleCheck. Can I open a savings account? No, no, you can’t.

So I got a pre-paid debit card. It cost $1 to $2 per transaction to use it, but you can’t survive without some sort of bank account. Eventually I started paying the $69 annual fee instead of the per-transaction fees. And I just resigned myself to being poor forever.

Because when you’re below a certain line financially, everything costs money. Far more than it should. It costs money to use a debit card, it costs money to cash checks, it costs money to pay bills. Once you’re a certain level of poor, you pretty much stay there unless someone pulls you out of it, because you’re charged for transactions that are free for everyone else simply because you’re poor. I’ve paid hundreds if not thousands in “poverty fees” in my life and I know that being poor is expensive.

Well, that $1,500 judgement that overdrew my checking account and basically destroyed me financially was over seven years ago now, and I’ve paid off most if not all of those bills. So on a lark I applied for an Amazon Rewards card. And I was approved! AND the card came in the mail with my credit score, which is now, mysteriously, almost 700 printed on the letter.

Which means I now have a free checking account with free bill pay, and a VISA card that pays me from 1 to 5% just for using it. In short, I no longer have to pay for the right to use my own money. I get paid for using my money. Even though I’m no different today than I was two years ago, except I actually have less income.

I’m now one of them; and the only reason for this is that I haven’t had to pay rent since 2005. All those years of paying off my marriage’s debt and having zero revolving credit has made me a good credit risk again, even though I have very little income, and have historically earned very little. Which is to say, companies that extend credit? After all this? Still don’t give a shit if they ruin you by giving you too much rope as long as they get their fucking fees out of you.

Luckily I’m old enough now to have conquered most of my avarice; I won’t be buying things I can’t afford with my nifty new credit card. And I’m glad that using my own money is not not only free but earns me rewards, but I think it’s fucked that I spent most of the last decade paying for the right to spend my own paycheck.

Charging the poor for being poor is nothing short of evil. Especially since most of the poor are there not because they deserve to be, not because they’re ignorant or lazy or sub-par, but because they just don’t have someone to help them up over that invisible line.

Greed, I believe, is absolutely the worst of sins because of the endless misery it causes in the world.

In which it really doesn’t matter where you go, because there you are.

Recently, maybe within the past couple of years, the Inner Guru appeared. Or maybe, to put it another way, I became capable of delving into mySelf enough to hear what the seers tell us has always been there. Or by the Guru’s grace — certainly not through my own merit or work — I’ve gotten enough dust off the mirror.

I have no idea how this came to be, but there it is. I can’t even describe my wonder and gratitude nor how utterly close and familiar the Inner Guru is. It sounds exactly like my own thoughts, it just knows shit I don’t, and regularly, if I’m sincere about wanting to know, dumps very large, entire concepts into my skull too subtle to be codified in language. I’ll just be riding my bike with questions about how and why and what for, and BOOM, there it is: I now know something I didn’t a moment before. It’s heart-breakingly loving and sweet and awe-inspiring and miraculous, and other times I forget completely about it. Because I’m human. Which is to say, my ego is still ascendant enough to make it impossible to sustain the wonder that will eventually destroy it.

I work retail in a gigantic industrial building with concrete floors and beeping forklifts and cutting equipment and horrible lighting and multiple incoming lines that ring incessantly. It’s a mile away from my apartment, over a giant interstate overpass not really designed with pedestrians in mind, and I often have to walk both to and from work, as well as untold miles inside the building each shift. I’m in my mid-40′s and my feet never stop hurting and don’t seem at all inclined to acclimate to my non-desk status. My bicycle has a flat tire and I don’t have access to a compressor — well, I do if you count that gas station a mile away in the opposite direction, but I’m not inclined to walk the thing that far to fill it up only to discover it’s a fast leak.

Anyway, I’m being scheduled more hours than I want and my feet hurt and the roads are scary and indelicate and the job is loud and indelicate and I’m exhausted all the time and my brain is buffeted with noise and the ugliness of modern American values and my ego is all up in this trip about how much I’m suffering and how I’m not comfortable and not getting what I want but truth be told I actually like the job when I’m doing it and a lot of the people seem really great and there’s climate control and anyway you have to do something and I’m working on my humility and getting to serve and I’m trudging my tired aching body down these sidewalks on my way to a job I don’t want to go to that’s just going to make me more sore and more tired and more wiped out from the sheer volume of input and I’m spinning around and around in my head just trying to solve this whole suffering thing because it’s not lost on me that these are truly first world goddamned problems and finally about halfway across the overpass in the hot sunshine and choking exhaust I just give up and ask, “How the fuck do I feel better? What do I do?”

And the Beloved within promptly replies with, “Sit here [and on "here" there's the indication of the heart center], and let the organs of perception and action operate themselves.”

Sit in the heart and witness. Let perception and action do themselves. There are, after all, entire laws of nature that define their behaviors. You are not them. They are not you. Let them do what they do. Understand?

Well, yeah. I do. Sort of. I do know that. Or I know about that, which is not the same thing, of course. I’ve read the Gita dozens of times, in as many different translations. But I still don’t know what the fuck the three gunas really are. Or what my dharma is. I mean, lower-middle-class white chick who drinks and sleeps a lot can’t be Dharma, can it? Even in Kali yuga it seems unlikely.

And so I’ve been trying to do that for a couple of weeks now. Trying and trying. Trying to figure out how replicate that spacious, contented silence I experience around Amma, thinking a lot about dispassion and what it really means, trying to quit bitching at my boyfriend about my feet and my fatigue and irritation at being scheduled 35 rather than 20 hours a week (because I really do believe you should treat your lover better than the strangers that are your customers and coworkers), trying to step back from my identification with and habit of having preferences that are, essentially, random and irrational. Doing japa and trying to serve and trying, just trying. And suffering at the jitteryness of it, like a radio station out of range, at my inability to not feel so sorry for myself.

Remember Ram Dass? That book Be Here Now? I bought a used copy at Powell’s Books when I was in my early 20′s. It was even signed. I enjoyed reading it, and kept it for a really long time because I thought it brought me some kind of importance, having a signed copy of Be Here Now, for fuck’s sake, but really my main takeaway from it then was that drugs are okay and you need a guru but you’re not cool enough to, like, go to India and find one, because you’re provincial and you didn’t go to Harvard like all these LSD trippin’ Western devotees. I have no idea what I might take away from it if I were to re-read it now, beyond nodding energetically at the part where he says the guru comes when the devotee is ready. Hell, I’ve still never gotten to India, but Mother came to me.

Well, Ram Dass is still writing and still pointing the way, even after a stroke. I bought Polishing The Mirror and read it and the advice to just sink into Self, to just keep gently coming back when you lose your shit, reminded me of something really important. Mainly that YOU ARE NOT DOING WELL, LITTLE SEEKER, WHEN YOU ALLOW YOUR EGO TO CONGRATULATE YOU FOR STOICALLY ENDURING YOUR SUFFERING. You’re not purifying, you’re not burning karma, you’re just feeling smug that you have decided — because that’s what happened, you decided — you’re miserable and you’re not bitching about it. Is this really a good use of time? Of your life?

And today I had to get up earlier than I wanted to, and when that irritation started I just sank below it, didn’t judge it, just sat in my heart and let it be. And my feet still fucking HURT but instead of thinking “my feet hurt” I just observed that there was pain and that it was okay and I didn’t have to engage my ego in having preferences about it, I just let it be what it was. And I kept gently returning to the heart while doing my morning stuff of coffee and eggs, and didn’t get involved with the whole OH MAN I REALLY DON’T WANT TO GO TO WORK AND I’M TIRED AND MY FEET HURT AND I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME THAT I CAN’T GET A JOB MORE FITTING FOR A 45-YEAR OLD TECH WORKER, even though I certainly tried to get involved, oh fuck yes I did, habits die hard, and I sat in the heart while walking to work and didn’t do the martyr thing (much), and the weather was gorgeous and I nearly got lost in the flowers I don’t think I’ve ever even seen before in front of that giant Alianz building even though I’ve walked down that long block dozens of times. And at work I tried to see the souls inside the humans I interacted with rather than the meat.

And it was much less tiring. I mean, my hips and feet still hurt, but I’m just letting that exist rather than investing in it. It just is. And I came home and took a nap. And I have the next two days off to be quiet and NOT WALK TEN MILES IN SIX HOURS. And I had a few moments of really deep light and love, just walking around in the biggest of the big box stores doing my little job/doing my little practice/being here now/sitting in my heart, witnessing, letting the organs of perception and action operate themselves.

I mean, it’s not continuous, but it turns out you don’t try to do it, you just Yoda that shit. When you realize you’ve stood up, SIT BACK DOWN. IN THE HEART. That’s it. No judgement.

There are some great meditations in the book. There’s an expansive meditation that’s really great (reminds me in part of the original IAM technique), and the one on the breath I’m doing like japa, of course, because I rarely ever formally sit for meditation but tend to just do the techniques that attract me while engaged in activity, which Ram Dass actually discusses — maybe some of us just are spiritual debutantes by nature. I mean, it’s never been lost on me that it’s better to dig one deep well to get the water rather than a hundred shallow ditches, but I’ve never been able to want regular formal practice even though I would self-describe with utter sincerity myself as having been applying practices in earnest in non-formal ways at least since I meet Mother, if not long before (albeit in stumbling, sophomoric ways). I even ask Mother every year to help me keep a formal practice, and the desire just doesn’t arise.

But years ago I prayed to always be reminded to do japa, and my prayer was answered. There were many, many little nudges to do japa. Now it goes on by itself half the time I’m awake. It’s often going when I drift off or wake up. I also have a little thing I do to sort of… wipe thoughts away, but I don’t know how to describe it. It just occurred to me at Amma a couple of years ago, and when the mind-thing is just freaking out and chattering and not being at all useful I can wipe it clean. It’s often only for a split second, but that’s better than nothing. Especially when your head’s being a jerk.

And now I’m going to go drink wine and read period romances. Because I’m human. A human being, and a human doing. Dying the cloth, dying the cloth.

Om Namah Shivaya.


UPDATE: Here’s something I found today on meditation, and maybe it’s not always sitting with the eyes closed and the spine straight: