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.

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!

Blathering on about change

April 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Introspection | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I catalog not terribly relevant stuff!

Realizing that your youth is well and truly over is so fucking weird.

One, you now know that people don’t even know what youth is until they’ve left it. Two, now you’re a grown up, and you’ve finally gotten some wisdom and some work ethic, and now you do chores because you prefer to have a somewhat tidy apartment rather than out of childish resentment, but you can’t help mourning your lost measurements rather than being grateful you’ve lived long enough to even become middle-aged.

I have no idea what to do with this body. It’s fat. It’s low energy. It’s hard to dress because it’s basically square, and it’s even harder to lever up off the floor. I’ve been dieting for months, and after losing an initial 4″ off my waist: nothing. No change whatsoever that isn’t monthly cycle-related. I mean, I feel better, yeah, but I’m still fat.

Also, the diet’s morphed from a sincere LCHF attempt to just plain old calorie restriction, because I wanted to eat some motherfucking beans and bread already, but since I tend to end up gorging once a week my calorie restriction attempt isn’t all that legit. You’re eating a thousand calories a day for six days, then you have a 2,100 calorie day because you can order literally any meal you can think of to be delivered.

Doubtless our bodies evolved for frequent bouts of lack, but our brains engineered themselves into a future completely filled with food.

I mean, where, exactly, is the line between reasonable discipline and self-flagellation. Being on a diet can turn the normally pleasant act of eating into an unsatisfying chore. “Oh, well, I’m hungry, and I have 300 calories left for the day. Looks like I need more protein, but the idea of a cheese and olives and almonds again makes me just not want to eat.”

My hair. I don’t want to be vain and idiotic, but: my hair. It’s so fine, and thinning, it’s brittle and frizzy, and it looks like shit. I don’t want to be attached, I don’t want to resist what is just regular old change, but MY GODDAMNED HAIR. I’m trying not to be negative about what’s happening to my skin with the puffiness and the wrinkles and the sagging and the — based on what my relatives look like — unavoidable jowls, but MY HAIR.

I feel like my boobs are more or less normal, I guess, especially when I have them squished into a sports bra so they’re not getting in the way, until I see myself in the mirror and realize I now have Matron Bosom. What the actual fuck.

I watch a lot of period TV, espcially British period TV, and I feel like I should replace all my clothes with, like, whatever 48-year-old adult women should be wearing, but I have no idea what that is. Used to be a dress and sensible shoes, I guess, or a pantsuit? What do 48-year-old women wear now, leggings and tunics? And what do you even do about Matron Bosom?

I’ve spent the last week in a pair of boxy sweat pants and a tank top, with some long sleeved t-shirt or another. I never leave the building.

All those years I thought I was fat! All those years! Now that I actually am, I want to go back and smack myself upside the head for wasting energy on nonsense.

All those things older women wore and said that I thought were ironic but weren’t. All those things older women wore and said that I thought weren’t ironic but actually were.

I’m in a relationship that feels comfortable and easy, but I never could have been in it before. Part of it working as well as it does is that my body doesn’t want to go out and do stuff all the time, and he’s a homebody. If I were even ten years younger, we’d probably be, if not fighting, at least getting along less well, because instead of doing the dishes I’d be out at a my full-time job or with friends at the bar or at a gig or just somewhere he wasn’t.

These days I just don’t want to go do things very often. Couple times a month rather than couple times a week. I really can’t even imagine him with a woman his own age, to be honest, which is probably why he ended up with my old ass!

We get along so, so well, but as I am now and not as I used to be. When we met, I had a robust social life and a band. I was out all the time (even if I was getting sick of the band and beginning to realize that “going out” wasn’t any fun without the drinking; that it really wasn’t about the people as much as I’d thought).

These days, when I go out, he stays awake until I’m home, and usually texts me things like “???” if I close the bar. I feel conflicted about that; on the one hand, I’m fucking thirteen years older than he is, and I can stay at the VFW until it closes if I goddamned well feel like it. On the other, he actually gives so much of a shit about me that he stays awake and texts me when I’m out alone. And not because he’s a controlling fuck, because he’s not, but because he cares.

Right now, I have an embroidered pillowcase on my pillow. Last night as we were preparing to go to bed, he turned it over for me so the smooth side was up. He does shit like that every single day. Like I said before, relationships aren’t hard work at all when you’re not with an asshole.

Amma’s summer tour schedule has been announced and I’m obsessed with my job’s time off board. It currently ends June 30, and they should have posted the first week of July yesterday but didn’t. I want July 4 & 5 so we can go to the D.C. programs again, but might not get them if I don’t request the 4th the second it’s posted. Other option is Boston the 1st & 2nd, but it’s farther so the airfare would probably be more. I haven’t been to the Boston programs since Reni and I drove the East coast part of the tour probably fifteen years ago. Old me probably wouldn’t even consider driving the tour because it’s so exhausting. (I mean, if Mother herself told me to get on the tour bus, I would, but like that’s ever gonna happen.)

The best part of being shaped like a sailing frigate is that I still wake up with zits! Somebody once told me they’d go away when I grew up, but they never did!

The day before yesterday, it was 70F. Last night, it snowed. LOL Minnesota.

Perspective: January 13th

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a retrospective.

Ten years ago today, I lived in Fairfield, IA, freeloading off of an ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend by staying in their extra bedroom after having made myself homeless by leaving my husband a couple months before. (Well, technically, my ex-boyfriend and I were both freeloading off her, really, since it was her house and I don’t think either of us paid her rent regularly. I did pay sometimes, but not enough, although I did a lot of cooking while I lived there, and some cleaning, too, so hopefully that helped her out some.)

Not specifically from January 13th, but here’s some food I made a decade ago, as proof:

Golden Lentil Soup

She later became my ex-husband’s girlfriend, and I think she may have moved into my old farmhouse with him (I think so because she bought a building in Batavia), and for all I know they’re still together. They were still together as recently as a year ago, from what I can glean from Facebook, and more power to them.

Ten years ago today I was supposed to go bowling for her birthday, but I blew it off because it was cold out and I was probably doing coke. (And eleven years ago today, according to my blog, my ex-husband made me leave her birthday bowling early and go home, because he always did shit like that.)

Ten years ago today I was unemployed, uncertain, and had been unsettled and afraid for years. My marriage had failed to feel safe in any way: financially, emotionally, physically, or sexually. I’d tried so hard, but when I’d left the autumn before, that house was a standing wreck with holes in the walls, I’d had half a dozen miscarriages, and I was in collections several times over.

Five years ago today, I lived in Walla Walla in my grandmother’s attic, and had a gig in the Tri-cities at a biker bar with my band, for which I was probably paid a hundred bucks, and at which I wore a sweater and most likely got drunk.

I was single again, having broken up with a guy I’d dated from work, and pretty much over relationshipping altogether. More trouble that they were worth, relationships were, and always some guy crying at the end, baffled that I didn’t want to put up with his shit forever.

I was ready to be single for the rest of my life, and absolutely comfortable with it. I had a bicycle, an easy job, a bento hobby, and a band that played festivals.

Coyote Kings w/Mush

Today, I live in Minneapolis with a wonderful person who makes me feel safe and cared for, and who laughs at my jokes… when he feels like it. (Which is to say if he doesn’t laugh, it’s not because he doesn’t get it. He gets my jokes.)

Today I woke up cuddling with my beloved and smooched him off to work. I’ve done a mess of dishes, ordered groceries, and made white bean soup in the electric pressure cooker (it smells wonderful).

I’m old and fat. I will definitely get older, and based on how hard it is to lose weight now that I’m 48, will either stay fat or get fatter.

And so it goes.

I don’t know that I’m any more stable now, by certain metrics, than I was five or ten years ago; I’m still poor and depending on someone else for shelter. I haven’t paid rent since the last time I handed my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend money for letting me stay in her spare room. I’m freeloader as fuck.

I was having trouble finding work then, and it never really got much better. I’ve had jobs since, and I have one now, of course, but I’ve turned out to not be much of an earner. And my jobs have been, for the most part, pretty low-quality.

With the exception of LISCO, I’ve rarely liked working anywhere — one works for money, not fun — and I imagine I liked working there for a variety of reasons (like youth and enthusiasm and the chance to get paid to learn stuff) that I’d have gotten over eventually, had my ex-husband not managed to get me laid off through a combination of asking me to work part-time so I could focus on cleaning up after him, and then having me take an extended LOA to help him “sell roofs” in Indianapolis.

Most of my life’s contributions so far have been of the unpaid variety, like housewifery, so-called “emotional labor” (which, now that I’m in a decent relationship, I can see really means “picking the wrong partner and expecting then to make sense to you when your basic expectations are fundamentally different”), knitting things, writing things, situational comedy, and music (which, while a great hobby, was never enough to live on).

Money just has no interest in me, and yet I manage to be wealthier than a whole portion of humanity. It blows my mind. I mean, it’s not like I could buy a yacht, but indoor plumbing and HVAC and grocery delivery and I have so many clothes I can’t even guesstimate how many outfits I own.

Another form of wealth is that in my current life, I never, ever have to nag my partner. For anything. Ever. (Except the blender.) [Inside joke.] He does what he says he’ll do. If I need anything, I just ask and he does his best, which for the past three years has always been enough if not far more than.

It’s really easy to be with someone whose fundamental expectations of how a relationship should be line up with yours. I used to believe that bullshit about how “relationships are hard work,” but now I think that’s only true if you’re in one that sucks. My ex-husband and I had radically different expectations of marriage, and that’s why it failed. I would never for a moment allow anyone to think I didn’t put in the hard work, because I worked my ass off. He probably did too, in his ways. But no amount of “work” can turn you into fundamentally different people.

It turns out that good relationship is easy, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s hard work still, but it’s between each of us and life in general, not between each of us and the relationship itself. We don’t have to “work” to take care of one another, it just happens spontaneously. Even if I were still less domestic, even if I were still interested in pursuing a career, this relationship would work. It’s not the details, it’s the expectations.

The only thing that could make my life better than it is right now would be for us to move back to Walla Walla. I miss my family, and I’ve been too lazy to make new friends here. (Well, not just lazy. The weather’s awful a great deal of the time; I think I’m aging out of just going to bars until I meet random people and befriending them; sometimes I spend months on end feeling exhausted and inward because of perimenopause.)

Plus I already have friends! Tons of friends. They just all happen to not be anywhere near where I am right now, which is, as you can imagine, pretty awkward. But hey, what can you do when the love of your life wants to live in Minnesota for now. Just wait it out!

Universal basic income

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Reading | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I ponder the cuddle-the-baby or ignore-him-when-he-cries approaches.

I’ve been reading a lot about Universal Basic Income lately.

What is it? Well, the basic idea is that everybody gets enough income to keep them just out of poverty even if they never do anything at all.

In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of about $1,000 per month.

Everybody. No matter what. If you’re wealthy, you’d probably just shove it in your IRA or something; if you’re not, it would keep you sheltered and fed and off the streets and off welfare. It would put a lot of social services out of business. Homelessness would plummet, for instance.

Would people “abuse” it?

Well, let’s consider abuse:

Is deciding you don’t want to work abuse? I don’t want to work. Working sucks! With the exception of a couple of jobs that stimulated me and were interesting for awhile, I generally have never enjoyed work. Nobody truly likes going to the same place every day and doing the same meaningless shit over and over (especially not while being abused by the public). Most humans do not enjoy pretending to be total twats for money, just to align with the inhumane dictates of some company that doesn’t give a shit whether you live or die and which will fire you at the drop of a hat no matter how faithfully you perform/conform.

Is using that money to buy drink or drugs abuse? Well, if you’re addicted, you’re going to get those substances anyway. With basic income, you’d get them with your own money rather than other people’s. Probably a measurable reduction in theft. If you’re not addicted, you might party for awhile, sure, but that sort of life is pretty boring, so eventually you’d stop and look around for something fulfilling.

Many people object to the idea of giving everybody money because they think it would encourage laziness and slovenliness, but I think those objections reflect the objector’s personality more than anything else. Just because you’d drop out and let your place go to shit if you got free money doesn’t mean everybody else would.

And I think a lot of people would drop out, briefly, especially those in the bottom classes, and let the pizza boxes pile up. Daytime TV ratings might explode for awhile, sure. But so what? Eventually, people who are not disabled physically or mentally will get up and go do something. It’s human nature. And with basic income, that thing wouldn’t have to be degrading jobs at fast food restaurants or big box stores. That thing could be going back to CC to get qualified to work in a nice restaurant’s kitchen, or learning how to finally write that novel, or volunteering full-time to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With universal income, if your circs sucked, you’d be free to reject them, leave, begin again elsewhere. You could find your correct place in society, eventually.

People in good, satisfying jobs would probably stay put. But people in shitty, demeaning jobs would probably migrate out of them, forcing employers to retool those jobs to be less shitty and demeaning in order to attract workers. Right now, and for the last thirty years, it’s been an employer’s market. They’ve lowered wages and worsened scheduling, benefits, and other work parameters to the point where most jobs below a certain level are really, really awful. I know this because I’ve worked them; if you haven’t, you can shut the fuck up. “Random scheduling” doesn’t sound that bad until you’ve done it for a year. Closing at eleven followed by opening at six followed by no schedule certainty for years on end will exhaust you: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s bullshit, because it serves no purpose. We’re not at war; we’re not fighting for our lives and our way of life, we’re just making the rich richer. This is not sacrifice-worthy, noble employment. It’s theft.

Ignore-him-when-he-cries people think that by ignoring requests for attention, we’ll raise strong, self-dependent kids.

Cuddle-the-baby people think that by answering every need, we’ll raise confident, self-assured, unafraid children.

Obviously both approaches can fail and create selfish, self-serving monsters. Both approaches are imperfect, because they choose law over what’s actually on the ground.

I say the law was never meant to presuppose every possible nuance; you have a brain for that. React appropriately in the moment. And in the moment, machines are taking jobs, and a lot of industries are dying. Considering the lay of the land, it’s not possible to bring back all those dead manufacturing jobs. Not to mention that so many of the jobs that are left are poor quality and don’t pay shit. (If you’re working full time and still on welfare, something’s very wrong.)

It’s not like we don’t already have the wealth needed; if everybody had income, no matter what, we’d have a much healthier economy.

I believe that the more I learn about it, the more I’m very much in favor of UBI.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

November 21st, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Introspection - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a pretty thing.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

I’ve had this thing on my wishlist for pushing a decade. It’s a fairly close replica of the one my great grandmother had, which now belongs to my uncle. Ten years is a long time to covet something that costs less than forty bucks, and I finally just went ahead and bought it.

It arrived today and it’s wonderful and pretty, and I’m so grateful that I can just buy something like this and have it show up on the steps a week later. But it’s not a $40 meal to be digested and forgotten about, it’s another box to keep in the storage space and to have to carry the next time we move and I basically always feel guilt about accumulating things because I know at some point in the future I’ll be moving it or donating it or throwing it away or somehow trying to get rid of it, to deal with it, so I can take myself and the few things I really need someplace else because that’s how it’s always been for me.

I’ve owned entire sets of furniture that are gone now. Record album collections, dishes, waterbeds and sideboards: all gone. A table my maternal grandfather made: gone. An heirloom ring, a handmade doll, 99% of the books I’ve ever owned: gone. Leather coats, good winter boots, cast iron pans and whisks and 6×8″ woven rugs and a samovar and high school annuals and pictures in frames.

Once in a dorm building in Albuquerque I just threw shit into the incinerator shaft because I couldn’t get rid of it any other way. Good shit. But I couldn’t keep it and I didn’t have the resources to sell it or donate it. Once in a farmhouse in Iowa I had to walk away from things I wanted because they were ruined or wouldn’t fit into the Jeep. Once in an apartment in Portland, I abandoned a baby grand piano because I couldn’t afford to move it and I couldn’t find anyone to donate it to.

Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden.

But before it does, it’s frequently beautiful and brings joy.

In which I’m disappointed but not surprised, considering how many said they’d be voting their ‘consciences’ in this election.

I have several hundred Facebook friends; they are disproportionately musicians and cult members, and a lot of them announced they’d vote third party.

I really, really wish they hadn’t.

capture

So, to those of you who voted for anti-vaxx Jill Stein: congratulations! You voted for Trump! Ditto Johnson and all other third party voters.

Now, it’s quite normal for the country to vote republican after having had a democrat in office for two terms; it was very, very likely the republican candidate would win. Which is why it was particularly important we voted for Clinton this time, even though she wasn’t an ideal candidate.

Buuuuut we didn’t. So the republican candidate won.

Sadly for us, this time the republican candidate happened to be a spoilt little rich boy who does things like build hotels that fail, and host pro wrestling events and reality TV shows. And now this man will have his tiny little finger on the button.

RIP health care, gay marriage, help to refugees.

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:

In which there’s a very long-form piece about love. (Originally posted here, but since I wrote it I decided I’d like a local copy and moved it. So here it is.)

A year ago, if you’d asked me if I’d ever been in love before, I would have said yes, of course. I mean, I’m a divorced grown-ass woman, aren’t I?

I’ve been in love a dozen times or more, haven’t I? I’ve had that wonderful flush at the beginning, and the horrible heartache and tears at the end, and the various shades of really good to merely okay to this-fucking-sucks in between. I’m an old hand at this shit. Been there, done that.

So much so that I weighed the pros, as I understood them, of being with someone versus the cons, and came to the only logical conclusion:

Fuck relationships.

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On God

October 21st, 2012 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Spiritual - (3 Comments)

In which there are quotes from some favorite non-fiction in my library.

The truth is that we are all inclined to flatter ourselves – despite our daily experience to the contrary – that we spend our time thinking logical, consecutive thoughts. In fact, most of us do no such thing. Consecutive thought about any one problem occupies a very small proportion of our waking hours. More usually, we are in a state of reverie — a mental fog of disconnected sense-impressions, irrelevant memories, nonsensical scraps of sentences from books and newspapers, little darting fears and resentments, physical sensations of discomfort, excitement or ease.

The mind seems to be intelligent and conscious. Yoga philosophy teaches that it is not. It has only a borrowed intelligence. The Atman is intelligence itself, is pure consciousness. The mind merely reflects that consciousness and so appears to be conscious.

The external world, even in its most beautiful appearances and noblest manifestations, is still superficial and transient. It is not the basic Reality. We must look through it, not at it, in order to see the Atman.

PatanjaliHow to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
by Swami Prabhavananda, Christopher Isherwood, Patanjali

 
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