Stranger Than Fiction is probably one of the most lovely movies I've ever seen. I need to watch it over and over again until I finally regain my optimism.
Over and over and over and over.
Hello there, come on in, and welcome to the small pity party I have thrown in my own honor. I have been close to tears all day. One of those everything-hits-me-right-in-the-heart days. And a sort of buildup of the past month or so. Okay, the past three years. And I just feel so . . . pointless. (Cue string section)
The whole driving down the road and giving of the bird of a couple of nights ago stemmed from a sort of breakdown/through episode from my evening class. I love the class, love the info, never miss a class, do all of the reading, studied hard for the midterm, zipped right through it, left feeling Good. And got it back Monday night during the break in the middle of class to find out that I'd gotten . . . an 80. And that was only with several pity points added in.
At first I felt incredulous. Then angry. Then just plain stupid. It was my fault. I blew it. I misread directions. I gave slightly different answers than what she was asking. Really stupid, basic stuff. Then, I just chanted my new mantra, the one that I have convinced half the school to chant with me: a B is still an MPH. And I let it go. But five minutes later, I took a bite of my trail mix bar, and I discovered that I'd lost the ability to swallow. I tried several times, but the food stopped in the middle of my throat and wouldn't go down. Then my eyes began to tear up. And all the while the lecture is continuing in this small classroom that only seats 15.
So with a throat full of nuts and seeds, I got up and ran for the bathroom, walking past classrooms, down the hallway that I've walked down hundreds of times the past year and a half. And it all looked totally foreign, as if I'm seeing it for the first time. I see how flat and depressing it is, white walls, industrial carpet, fluorescent lights. I make it to the bathroom, and am startled by who I see in the mirror. She isn't anyone that I recognize. Overweight, puffy, sallow, eyes like two boiled beets. I look down at myself, at the chewed cuticles, the pants that don't fit. And I sit in a stall and cry for a while.
A month ago, the new state administration closed the Complementary Alternative Medicine office down. I get why they did it, for issues I won't go into for obvious reasons. But it essentially trashed my internship. My regular bureau, where I still keep my desk, has continued supporting me, and they are, as always fabulous, and encouraging, and supportive. But it's like this: there is a war going on, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying. The people I work with are out on the front lines, fighting for every last square inch of safety as Shrub and his horde rape the health system (and every other system of course) of its cash $100K at a time. So, while my CAM background is unique and from a holistic point of view, ridiculously neccessary, at this point in time, it's as if I am wandering around the battlefield saying to people: we need to stop the war if we are going to stop the killing. I say this and these lovely, crazily dedicated people can't help but shake their heads and say, excuse me, I need to go tend to these children who are dying of adult diseases like diabetes and heart disease, other obesity comorbidities, hemorrhaging depression and cancer and white hot rage while the food industry laughs and the feds cackle and the execs say: more high fructose corn syrup: in everything!!! This is not a metaphor by the way.
So I sat in the bathroom stall for a while. Then went back, sat through the rest of the class. The prof asked me to stay after class and we talked a bit, about how shocked she was at the grade, how it really doesn't matter, how she got several lower grades during her stint at A Very Famous School of Public Health. She had a baby six months ago. She's sleep deprived. But still, she is doing her dangdest to make me feel better. But still, I just feel like crud.
If I look at my life of the past three years from a very practical standpoint, very objective lists of the very real things I've been through- death, multiple betrayals, hostile environments, isolation, financial hardship, nine separate household moves - it makes sense that I'm tired and sad and more than a little homesick for Who I Am. And yet I get that it's about dragging myself over the finish line, which for all intensive purposes, comes on May 17th. That's all I've got to do: make it to May 17th.
Of course, after that comes a whole new packet of insanity to do with relocating back to the childhood town that I fled some twenty years ago, to be a real, in living color, part of a family dynamic that in many ways deeply frightens me, and to find a job that will allow me to both make enough money to begin paying back the enormous debt of school and be something that I can go to everyday and not feel like a phreak.
Some days the personal burden of being alive has got some serious weight and heft to it. Some days the added burden of knowing what is really going on in the world makes it just too heavy to carry. And so I set it down, all of it, and just give up. Because on this very essential level, I do know that I'm learning the things that I need to, even if it's not in the ways that I would 'prefer'. Because, really, I have so much to be grateful for. The Hoon's numbers are way down - from 350 to 315 which means that the new food and herbs are doing their work. And spring is here, with warm breezes and chirpy birds. And I'm doing well in school, and well at work, despite what my mind tells me. And there are beings I love, who love me back, and even though they may not live within several hundred miles of me, that it exists at all is a lucky, lucky occurrance.
Oh lordy, I have so much more to write, but I need to set this down too. Because tonight it's about making a healthy dinner wiith turkey sausage and pasta and salad, watching American Idol, and inhaling the luscious scent of feline fur, and squeezing bellies til kitty squeeks and purrs become one and the same. It really is about setting it down and knowing underneath it all, we are all okay . . .
I'm really hoping that none of you guys have fallen for the whole "The Sec*ret" sack o'poopoo. It's just a bunch of enlightenment=soulmate+cash+shinyhappyjoyjoy that will make you feel like crud for getting breast cancer or faults your willpower for not being megarich, because you know, if you are really spiritual, god gives you lots of money and free two-for-one poon*tang and all of the jimmy choos you can scoop up and hoard in your closet.
Oh, no, here comes the bile. And so I shall pass this off to someone who can write about this rationally and with heart and in a very straightforward practical manner peppered with judicious use of the word "bullsh*it".WB over at the Integral Options Cafe.
If you live in Albany and saw a woman driving down the road tonight in the rain, steering the car with her knees so that she could flip off The Powers That Be, effectively giving The Dreaded Double Finger, really showing them who's boss, oh yeah, please know that it was not me, but a woman who only looks like me, just with all of her boundaries boiled off, and in desperate need for this all to be over.
And did you know: In (the) space (of your car), no one can hear you scream?
Via The Occidental Girl, one of those question spam email thingies:
1. What is your occupation? Currently, professional student :)
2. What color are your socks? Brown. And I'm wearing grey sweatpants. Don't ask.
3. What are you listening to right now? The Hoon licking himself.
4. What was the last thing that you ate? Shelton turkey, ceddar cheese, lettuce, on spelt toast with mayo.
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Like Danica :)
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? olive green
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? The chiropractor's assistant, as I begged for a sliding scale so that Dr. J could crack some of the back misery out of me.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? She has been absent from comments lately, and this site is poorer for it :)
9. How old are you today? 41
10. Favorite drink? Water with lots of fresh lemon juice and stevia. (and coffee with cream but it makes me crazy(er) :)
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? Romantic comedies
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Way too many times to count. Lately I've been doing the dark brunette thing.
13. Pets? Two luscious weaselly felines!
14. Favorite food? Cupcakes, oranges, anything cooked by Kelly.
15. What was the last movie you watched? Something so pointless that I don't even remember it. Good movie: Children of Man. Dang if it didn't blow my mind wide open. But I can't wait to see Blades of Glory!
16. Ever been out of the country? Canada and the UK
17. How do you vent anger? Not very well these days apparently.
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? Raggedy Ann doll with blonde hair named Misty. My books.
19. What is your favorite: fall or spring? I like all seasons and am always happy to see each of them for various reasons to do with smell and temp and foliage and change of water form . . .
20. Hugs or kisses? Ummm, I would like both please.
21. Cherries or blueberries? Yeah, both of these two please.
22. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Yes. Every single one of you should cut and paste this into the comments section so that we can have the longest comment section ever to infiltrate the blogpsphere :)
23. Who is most likely to respond? The usual suspects. While the rest of you lurkers do your lurkey thing :)
24. Who is least likely to respond? Oh bad, bad selfish lurkers who lurk and hide and only read then run:)
25. Living arrangements? Hovel in downtown Troy, NY. A few weeks ago, Jacinta found an old used crack pipe hidden behind a baseboard. I fear spring and flying, hairy bug season. And yet my legs are getting in great shape from the climbing of five flights of stairs. And I'm grateful for a safe place to rest.
26. When was the last time you cried? The tears they come, the tears they go . . .
27. What is on the floor of your closet? Crammed full of all sorts of stuff as it's the only one here in the studio. But there is a box where The Hoon goes to have his quiet "Me Time" every day . . .
28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Not sure if Dee still reads, but we were friends in high school. Probably Kelly, my friend of a decade or so. Or my sis, Boo.
29. What did you do last night? Finished reading Patry's just published novel. A real nail biter :)
30. Favorite smells? Lilacs. Lilies. The fur of jacinta and the hoon.
31. What are you afraid of? Not much. And everything.
32. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? After watching a particularly heart-breaking Peta video, I'm off the misery meat these days. Only veggies and grains and some supplemental free-range egg and organic cheese are dying for my continued existence. It sux on a lot of levels, but there is a lot of suckage occurring with our food supply these days and I'm navigating it as best I can . . .
33. Favorite dog breed? Mutt, freshly liberated from the pound.
34. Number of keys on your key ring? 7
35. How many years at your current job? It will be three years in August that I've been on this back-to-school extravaganza
36. Favorite day of the week? Friday. I can finally sleep in til 8 or 9.
37. How many provinces/states have you lived in? Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and the Island of Manhattan.
38. Favorite Holiday? Ummm, what are those?
39. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? I am an excellent back seat motorcycle rider, and I have wielded both a chain saw and a circular saw.
40. Strangest food ever eaten? I constantly weird out anyone I cook for, but it's normal granolahead fare: daikon, umiboshi plum paste, gomasio, nut loaf, keifer, the usual :)
So, yeah, feel free to cut and paste and answer away and keep us all amused with minutiae about your living :) (yeah, share that window into your living . . . you get to peek into mine . . . it's only fair :)
I'm supposed to be working. Oh so much to do. But instead I wind my way around the net because this weekend's travels have unearthed jewels that make my heart do lovely langorous laps in the ocean of yes . . . the latest:
Who knew Darryl was so gorgeous and so green??? Maybe she is not the world's biggest champion of genuine Less, but she is presenting excellent beautiful ways to translate More into mini-More, and dang if it isn't genuine and provacative and so sweet . . .
And tied in nicely with this is mouse's latest post on what to do with diamond rings. Brilliant idea, Mouse!
And if you combine these two links, you see from Darryl's clip on Rwanda that you can buy a cistern for $6500 and 500 people get fresh water, and instead of having to spend all days schlepping water from miles away, the children get to go to school.
I love the internet so much . . .
Art is less of a Doing and more of a Being. Splatter-posted all over the blogosphere are wails of lovely people who Want To But Just Cannot: write that novel, return to oil painting, take the dance lessons. But I know with all of my heart that the thing standing between them and the flow of their creativity is not Time or Weirdness With Some Unknown Force, but Fear.
I knew a guy during my first stint in college 20 years ago who was a brilliant actor, and poet, and visual artist. Everywhere he went, he left trails of art. He doodled on your notebook, inserted poetry in the middle of conversations about what to have for dinner, peformed love scenes with your couch pillow. In an effort to capture some of his magic, I put up big sheets of posterboard outside of our dorm apartment bathroom. And not only did he leave his artistic meanderings, but everyone who came into our apartment did, too. Bits of people's days, vapors from the speed of hearts, mental trail dust. They left their notes to me, notes to my room mates, notes to themselves from deep within an altered state. It was all art. And it was endlessly fascinating.
To me, one of the biggest insults is when someone dismisses my blog as a journal, as if because my choice of art as deeply personal and insanely intimate demotes it to a lesser scribbly form that only recently escaped from the confines of an adolescent pastime that was more mastur*bation than making love. But why shouldn't the written word be personal? Why can't an art form be about turning a heart and mind and life inside out, taking verbal pictures, and releasing them out into the world via an electric web?
I think of the bright eyed Neanderthal who was so radically altered and excited by the mastodon he/she killed, by the sheer size of the beast, the ecstasy of the battle, by the gratitude of their tribe, the knowledge of the fact that their actions ensured that they would all live for another few weeks. I think of him/her in the cave that night, vibrating with the energy of it all, feeling so mindblown that he/she took a piece of charcoal from the edge of the fire, and on the walls, on the ceiling, began to draw.
He drew the mastadon. He drew himself. He drew the weapon he used. He drew the sun. Maybe his fellow hunters sat around the fire and laughed at him as he drew. Maybe they pointed and rolled their eyes as they shook their heads in disbelief that someone would expend time and energy scratching lines with firewaste. Or maybe they celebrated it, and each year, returning to the same cave, they all touched the drawing for good luck as they set out on another hunt. Either way, thousands of years later we get a little window into their life, and time fallls away, and we too celebrate that mastodon, all because one guy just had to tell about the wondrous thing he experienced.
Because art is simply expression of energy. As in: I must take this picture and mail it from inside of me to outside of me. Art as letter to the world. Art as carrier pigeon for love, for inquiries into wholeness, of smokesignals spelling out Yes, Yes, This is what has passed through my mind, my heart, my body, my spirit.
What else can be said but: Go. Make your art. Scratch on a wall. Bake a cake. Create a monument out of rocks on your coffeetable. Take that collection of feathers and create a mobile to torture your kitties with, thereby co-creating dance art with your felines. Quote poetry and include it with your mortgage payment. Write Bad Posts. Write posts that are what you Really Want To Write About. Hum as you walk down the street. Buy a big sheet of posterboard and glue magazine pictures and found doodads and meanderings from your friends.
It isn't about The Big Art. It's simply about the Being. Don't be afraid. People may judge. They often do. But sometimes they don't. And sometimes you don't care. And the main thing is that momentum will build. Creating will become the default. You will set yourself free. You will come to see that you have always been free.
But mostly, mostly you will breathe . . . and laugh . . . maybe cry a little . . . or even holler to the heavens or into the great abyss inside . . . and it will be good . . .
Regardless . . . Life will boogie on . . . because that is what it does . . . might as well send a letter from the cave to let us know how you're faring . . .
This is one of the most extraordinary experiences I've ever witnessed. Autism as it's own language, a very, real, valid language, and in this video, an autistic woman patiently explains and shows how she speaks it.
My world just moved about two inches closer to the truth . . .
Five years ago I met a man and fell in love. It was one of those big loves, filled with awe and magic, where a few weeks after meeting you turn to one another and get: this is it.
I genuinely, whole-heartedly felt that I could have died, that my life finally made sense, that all of the insanity I'd survived in my life was so that I could sit next to this person as we drove down a country backroad, smiling at one another, tears running down my face.
But within a few months he was gone.
I still think of him, how cruel he was when he left, the things he said that pierced my heart, how I cried and he couldn't have cared less.
I dreamed about him last night. He called my friends and we all went to the movies in a big group. And before we went in he walked up to me, a humility in his face that I'd never seen there before, and he said: I'm sorry, I'm sorry for everything, I'm sorry . . . . to the whole universe (he gestured to include all of life) . . . I am so sorry.
And then I woke up to the first few rays of yet another dawn.
Three midterm exams, one presentation, the never ending glut, the hundreds and hundreds of pages of text to read. A project with three other people who blow off meetings, don't return emails. I divvy up the work into segments, tell the prof we're each doing a portion and will turn it in as such. He gets my hidden meaning and gives the okay.
Cooking chicken for the fuzzy guys. Chasing them around the apartment, playing with the kitty-tease toy which is a bit of cloth on the end of faux fishing pole. The sounds of attack are unearthly and deeply hilarious. The Hoon sounds as if he's snorting cocain*e. Fat Boy goes airborn!
Okay, back to the couch. Big midterm tomorrow night. The next couple of weeks I'll be utterly submerged in work. Who am I kidding? It'll be like this through May.
I knew when I signed up for four classes and a 20 hour a week internship that it would be a push. Did I share with you my secrets for surviving this? My mantra is: a 'B' is still an MPH. As in, it's okay to be average. No one will know. The point is to do my best, stay as relaxed as possible, know that it'll be done in May.
Then, an internship this summer plus one class. Then just one independent study class in the fall (where if all goes to plan I shall be in NC), then . . . .
For those of you who've been coming here since the beginning of this odyssey, what a long, strange trip it's been. Heck, some of you have been coming here since I first got that wild hair of an idea to go back to school . . . That was three years ago . . . Now I'm all Degreed Up and Stuff. Dang :)
PS - It's 61 degrees today! I went for a walk, a human mole blinking in the sun, my clothes too tight, the fresh air foreign to my wintery skin. Birds wheeled around. Ice floated by on the newly freed river. The sky showing signs of springs. I filled my pockets with feathers. Came home and made the first super salad of the season. (I am queen of the salads :)
Enough chatter. Back to the couch and more studying of drinking water purification and waste water treatment and hazardous waste disposal and toxic metals and endocrine disruptors and food safety and ionizing radiation . . .
Deep in the heart of PMS. That angry little twisted mass of broken shards. Is it a broken heart? Perhaps it's a disco ball that yearns for a little sweaty mermaid dancing. Instead, I yet again sit down to my studies.
This, I tell myself, is discipline. When you do not wish to do it. When every fiber of your being says Nooooooooo. And yet you sit down, and you open the book, organize the notes, and begin. Because soon the Land of The Mind will open to you, and you'll be gone again, no longer of this world. Until . . .
The Hoon squeeks. Jacinta meows. Furry heads get smooched. More Feline surprise (chicken/salmon/liver wetfood mixed with milk thistle, olive leaf, garlic, yeast, hard boiled egg, tuna chunks, yum). I sit on the couch for a few minutes. Boo's electric throw keeps me warm. Kelly's care package gives forth chocolate and puffy heart stickers and fuzzy socks and many, many things made with ginger. Yet, still, the existential itching goes on.
My hormonally driven frustration entices me to scream. Instead I take magnesium tablets, valerian root, boil water, and run a bath. I fill it with rose and bergamot, geranium and clary sage, and a generous pouring of mineral salts. I float. And the rage flows out of crevases in the thinky mind, out into the bath water. But more rises, takes its place. I give up. Get out. Oils and lotions and thick socks.
What will I do once I finish school? Will this MPH only serve me in thinky thought jobs? Will I ever feel safe? Will I ever simply enjoy my life again?
Remedy of food? A huge pot of sauteed garlic and leeks. Add the whole pack of collard greens. Then a handful of mushrooms. Finish it off with equal parts balsamic, rice, and apple cider vinegars. Serve with flax and sesame bread and a big glass of water.
Later will come an orange, a grapefruit, maybe a few strawberries. Bad movies are on tv.
I don't like this life much that I live. But here I am at least until May. Probably August. All in the service of the MPH, which will be acquired, oh yes it will. This semester isn't torturous, but the things I'm learning are. I've always Known them, but now I Live the knowledge, feel what is occuring all over the globe, what is happening, what is coming. It hurts. I hurt. What can I do? It's like staring down the maw of a giant, monstrous, organic machine that eats people and animals and dreams and fairness and decency.
All of my life I have checked out of reality, preferring instead to go where the drugs, the s*x, the meditation, the "teachings" took me. Now I see this world for what it is, and I undertstand why I left. But now I can't turn away. I see it. And you can never go back. You can never unlearn. You can't plug back into the matrix no matter how much you may want to.
Yeah. PMS. Always the grain of truth. But grinding in the eye.
I am alone but not lonely. Something strong and surrendered has taken over. There is no Great Understanding. But there is acceptance.
The sam-e keeps the dopamine humming. The stress herbs help with the electrical fires. The stair sprints every morning help the wind and heart and pipes. The yoga wrings me out like a dishtowel. The fruit soothes the beast. The kitties keep me soft. The sleep saves my soul. Farland's photos remind me that there is another way.
We stay in forward motion.
. . . about the previous post . . . I don't feel freaked or upset or anything of the No variety. The Hoon has high energy, and a good appetite. He isn't behaving any differently than he always has. And feline diabetes is like human diabetes in that it comes in two flavors. Type 1 is caused by a malfunctioning pancreas that is damaged in some way and can only be dealt with through insulin. Type 2 is diet and exercise related and can be managed quite nicely by cleaning up the food, which for a cat, who is a carnivore, means more protein, less carbs.
So, over the next three weeks I'll feed him nothing but wet food, chicken, tuna, and egg. And I will chase his fat ass around the apartment. And we'll find out if it's Type 1 or 2. Even if it's the former, it's easily dealt with through insulin injections, and he can live many healthy years. He's fifteen now, and I'm holding out for at least 18, and if he so deigns to break the cat age record and cruise into his forties with me and Jacinta, wouldn't that be fun? :)
All Hail The Hoon!
I took The Hoon in for a vet visit yesterday. I've been putting it off for a couple of months as I tried to sort through what to do, as well as wrapped my mind and heart around the fact that he is ill, probably diabetes. In the meantime I moved both he and Jacinta's diet away from dry food and towards more wet, even though it more than doubled the cost. A few days ago, in addition to the vitamin-mineral-green food-maca root mix I've always given them, I started adding an herbal compound for liver cleansing. The taste, however, apparently pissed The Hoon royally off as he shot me the Stink Eye this morning and refused to eat more than a few bites.
I toyed around with switching to a different vet. I'd moved from our original vet when I'd moved out to East Greenbush, and although they are both good vets, I got that they practice western medicine, feline-style. Meaning: let's not do anything or change anything but wait until their systems are totally broken and then let's rush in and throw as much emergency medicine at them as you can afford. Western medicine is great at emergencies, but chronic and systemic? Not so much. And so I asked myself: why not find an holistic vet?
After hours of searching via net and word of mouth, I found one guy. I called him, spoke to him for about 5 minutes and thought: what an arrogant butthead. But he did practice herbs, accupuncture, and homeopathy on cats and so I thought, this is our best bet, and set up an appointment. Then, for the next three days, I had a terrible feeling about it all. The new vet was terribly expensive, and while I'd sell my car, my shoes, and my laptop if it meant that The Majesty That Is His Hooness got to be healthier and happier and here for longer, I also got that more expensive doesn't always mean better care. Plus, I'm at the stage where I don't suffer buttheads very well, especially not the arrogant ones.
I also got that I personally couldn't go back to the vet that took care of Grandma. She was a lovely, compassionate woman who sent me a heartfelt condolence card, but she was also the vet that I took Grandma to twice over a six month period when I knew that she wasn't doing well, the vet who kept saying, she's fine, until the third time when she said: she's dying. I will not let this happen with The Hoon.
And so I acknowledged that health research is what I do. Holistics is what I know. My mind may be all wacky and splayed out from the past three years. My body and heart may be all funky and splayed out from the past three years. But I know how to bring a human back to health, if bringing back to health is an option. And I can learn how to help The Hoon. We're not so different . . .
And so I called the first vet, the one who took care of both Jacinta and The Hoon's teeth extractions, the one I genuinely like, who is kind and funny and knowledgeable. I took The Hoon in yesterday, and this time I asked questions in a different way. Rather than simply ask questions related to what the vet might or might not do as treatment, I asked questions that would give me a clearer picture as to what systemically was occuring with him. This time, I asked questions so that I would know how to research holistic methods of treatment, so as to avoid the whole insanity of having to turn His Hooness into an insulin junkie.
And Grandma's illness, and her hard death, still haunts me. Part of what I've been wrestling with the past few months is knowing that eventually, The Hoon will die, and that part of loving him will be to make sure that he has the best death possible. It also means doing the most I can for him now. Because the vet called an hour ago to say that The Hoon has diabetes.
The vet believes that we should try diet modifications first. Eliminate dry food altogether, only serve high-protein wet. His liver levels are a little off, but so far his kidneys look fine. So I'll track down some herbal blends for pancreas, and keep doing the liver ones, though, obviously, I have to find a better method of delivery, or Hoon will begin to shun me and I will whither and die from a snuggle deficit. And in the meantime, I'm going to do as much research as I can. According to the vet, Hoon's blood sugar levels aren't terribly high right now (around 350 when normal is 150), and I know that with diet and herbs we can get his little pancreas in a much more joyful state of groove.
Do any of you guys have any experience with a diabetic feline? Any tips, treatments, etc.? I'm feeding him Petguard's wet food, which is 12% minimum protein, which seems to be one of the highest I can find. I'm also thinking of buying chicken breasts and adding them in with the wet. Any of you guys out there try this? Any resources, websites, books you can direct me to? I have both Pitcairn's and Puotinen's books though they don't seem to be that helpful . . .
The Hoon and I thank you :) . . . . . (and Jacinta says: Woof!)
I could say that American Idol is my guilty pleasure, but it wouldn't be true. I don't feel guilty loving it. I feel mezmerized, and uplifted, and encouraged, and heartened. There are quite a lot of entitled, wealthy kids on it, and the arrogance sometimes takes my breath away. But there are also these scrappers who you get have been deeply humbled by living, and yet there they are, gorgeous, vibrant, heart wide open to the world.
I adore LaKisha. I love how full and round her body is, and how she wears close fitting, simple, luscious clothes. How she is sexy and present and vulnerable and smart, all at the same time. How her energy is beautiful and sweet, yet her soaring notes echo off this strong, vibrant core. I just love, love, love her.
I love her on her own, but it's also a little selfish. She makes me believe that I, too, can rise from Life's perpetual ass-kickings to create something beautiful and powerful and unashamedly sexy.
(Melinda, I love you, too, you righteous WOMAN you, oh yes, you are. You give your body over in reverent service to your magnificent voice, but this post belongs to LaKisha.)
1. I have submerged myself in this whole conservation thing, actively thinking of ways to save money and energy, then putting them into practice. And really enjoying it on a lot of levels. But lately, when I've gone to cook, I've either had to stop and run hot water on my hands, or take breaks to go warm up under the heating throw on the office couch, because I couldn't feel my fingers anymore and I was afraid I'd lop off a digit. And I've also been waking up with the side of my face not on the pillow so frozen that it ached. Waking up with one's sinuses as echoing ice chambers of a small outpost on the frozen tundra is not a great way to start a day.
Finally, on Saturday, I gave in and decided to turn the heat up Just A Freakin Smidge. And I discovered that it was Off. As in completely turned to 0. Apparently, when my landlord had a guy here to check into the heating cost issue, he turned the thermostat off and forgot to turn it back on. So, basically, for the past week, I've been sleeping . . . outside. But look at all the money I've saved!!!
2. Ms. Jacinta has been making the most hilarious sound the past couple of months or so. She does it doing all sorts of things: jumping off of high things, trying to get my attention, expressing deep fascination. Or sometimes she just does it out of nowhere, just this rough, growly sound of: Woof! When she makes it, it is so freakin cute that I call back to her with it: Woof! And then, yesterday, I discovered that in my graduate school Haze Against Reality, this is what I bought the kitties and have been feeding them for a couple of months:
Woof, indeed :) Well, she always has been very fond of the game of Fetch. (Except when she forgets the fetching portion of the program, but that's another post altogether)
We forget that it isn't about the struggle, about whether or not there is one. It's what we do with the motions of struggling. How we react. How we swim it. Where we let it take us. What we do in the bubbles of calm in between.
Where do we come from?
Who are we?
Where are we going?
Because there is no real stasis. In this place, everything is always in motion. And everything is on its way to somewhere else. We are all just passing through.
Where are you? Right now? In this moment?
I finally finished and turned in the paper for my environmental health class. The overarching topic is the epidemic of chronic disease that is escalating and going global at an alarming rate. The way we're headed, today's kids will be outlived by their parents. Stop and take that in for a second because it's a doozy. What it means is: life expectancy will actually be Decreasing.
What I discovered while researching this topic over the past few months (and tying in research from the past two years) is that there are many risk factors, but it's the toxic food environmental that's doing the most damage. I cover all sorts of levels including advertising, government subsidies, current corporate sleights of hand, why weightloss for adults is downright impossible, the mechanisms behind the manic joy of sugar, and why you just can't seem to put down the doughnut. There's good solid background stuff, but also plenty of genuinely wild, bizarre, and shocking data, theories, and hypotheses. So have at it, and prepare to get your mind bent :)
Follow this link: Refined carbohydrates as environmental toxin
Party on, party peoples, party on :)
I thought as a nice appendix to my last post I'd write a little bit about why my friends call me "Queen of The Hook*up*s". (because obviously they ain't talking about my Player status :)
I know that so many people don't do things, or feel that they have access to things, because they feel they don't have enough money for them, but as a lifetime member of the Poor, I call major bullsh*t on it. Having the money for things means that purchasing something, like a massage or a yoga class, is as simple as pulling out a debit card. When you're poor, you have to get a little bit more involved, and that's where most people get stuck. But there are many ways to get unstuck. And I can't speak for how anyone else pulls something like this off, but I can share how I've done it.
If there was one piece of wisdom I'd pass on to my grandkids, if I had kids who had kids, but I won't be having any kids, but that's besides the point, so anyway: the wisdom bit would be this: Never Be Afraid To Ask. But that's not quite right. It's actually more active, less abstract than that. It's more like this: Ask For Stuff and Thou Shalt Receive. You may have to ask several people, but eventually someone will fork it over. Really.
One of the things I discovered pretty early on in my going-back-to-school extravaganza is that no one really tells you what the hell is going on. You have to fiumble your way through the party by your lonesome, and it can put the hackles on high alert. You'd think that a major university's financial aid department would be crawling all over it's students to make sure they got the aid they need and deserve. Ha. And Ha again.
I found that even to get baseline - the grants and loans that your financial aid package entitles you to - you have to ride the financial aid office like a $2 pony. And how do you ride a $2 pony when you need for it to give you cash so that you can keep your kitties in the organic catfood that they are accustomed to? Regularly and with a smile and a gentle but firm hand. A typical week at school my first couple of semesters back in school?: classes, study sessions, and a stop by the financial aid office.
As to the latter, I almost always spoke to someone different, of varying levels of experience and commitment, and I found that each person had a different piece of the puzzle. Some told outright bullsh*t, although I've no doubt that they thought they were giving me good info. But some unearthed magical tidbits: how to get a free computer, how to get reimbursed for travel expenses, how to get more grant money, how to get an immediate payment rather than wait two months, how to get an emergency loan when waiting for a grant payment, how to get a $600 emergency loan payment rather than the $300 limit. On and on it goes. And the secret? I asked. And asked again. And asked for good measure: are you sure? and is there is someone else I might speak with? Most of the time I got a Big Fat No, along with a big fat Nowhere, but oh, when I got Somewhere, how sweet it was!
And the questions I asked: Would you mind taking a look at my financial aid package to see if there is anything I missed? Would you mind taking a peek at my account to see if I forgot to do anything? Would you mind taking a look at my financial aid status to see if there is anything else I can apply for? And the old standby: do you know of any other ways I might get more funding? I asked this latter one several times a week, and not just to financial aid but to fellow students and faculty and people in the freakin bookstore. And riches were unearthered from within the treasure troves of people's minds, and the magic password was: Please.
And then there is bartering. The world of bartering is so delicious. In this era of Cashola Deification, most people don't seem to like to barter anymore, but there are so many people who do. Before I had the skill of my medical intuitive sessions to barter with, I used to barter house and office cleaning, clerical work, babysitting, store stocking, errand running. And in return I've received massage and therapy, yoga classes and health food, all sorts of great stuff. In the beginning I felt embarrassed, as if I were begging. But then I came to realize that a truly fabulously executed barter means that both parties walk away with a great deal.
When I first began trying to shift my food and household purchases to organic and healthy, I couldn't because I couldn't afford it. The local health food store was run by a woman whose back was bothering her. I offered to unpack the shipment boxes and stock the shelves for her, about four to five hours worth of work each week, in exchange for $30 worth of free groceries. I got "free" food each week, and she saved paying someone ~$30, and instead gave them groceries that she only paid $15 for wholesale, before her retail markup. A good deal for both of us! And may I share with you how mortified I was, how hard it was to put that out there to start with? And may I also share with you the look of sheer relief on her face when I finally got up the nerve to ask? Sure, I was a 32 year old stock girl, but I was living the high life with my organic produce and lavendar scented biodegradable laundry detergent, and it felt darn good!
Of course there is always The Bad Barter, but all that really means is that one person isn't getting something they want in the trade. Like the woman who called me and spent a half hour trying to browbeat me into giving her a feng shui session (value $175, and four hours of my time) for a used vegetable processor. That was a bad barter in my world, not because it was a small kitchen appliance, but because she was mean and I felt her trying to manipulate me. I give her four hours of my life and she gives me a hard time? A very Bad Barter, yes.
But a good barter, oh yes, the Good Barter: I did lots of hilarious barters for sessions for people: a box of stones from a guy's hiking treks (I love rocks :), or a huge box full of plants, or my all time favorite with an elderly woman who used to bring me bags full of dollar store refined carb products. I passed them on to the local food bank, but I was always happy to do the barter with her as she was so lovely, and giving to the food bank felt lovely, too.
And one of my other favorites: five or six years ago I did a reading for a woman that was so beautiful, so elegant, that my eyes bugged a little when I met her. I had a pretty tight rule not to become friends with clients (it always comes back to bite me in the form of their idea of 'friendship' becomes free psychic sessions) but for her it felt different. I just loved listening to her stories, her issues. She was just so fascinating. She began calling me regularly and we'd chat, and over time we became good friends. The thing is, she's really wealthy, at least by most people's standards. She doesn't consider herself wealthy, but her measuring is a bit off as all of her friends have private jets and vacations homes in Tuscany. For many months she offered to pay me after our phone calls (more proof of her elegance as she would never presume that that any use of my abilities was free) but it never felt right. It didn't feel like a session. It felt like friends chatting, and who can charge their friend for a chat?
And as I've struggled with money over the years, she's repeatedly offered me money, which I always turned down, understanding on some intrinsic level that it would destroy our friendship. But I also recognized that she hated seeing me struggle, and genuinely wanted to help. So this is what she finally figured out: she is a big shopper, the type that often has clothes with tags still hanging on them in her closet, and rather than giving them to Salvation Army, she said, I have some things that might fit you, would you like to take a peek?
And she was so casual about it, so gentle, that it never made me feel like charity, or less than. If I had a job interview, she said: I have a great suit that I was getting ready to give away that I bet would fit you. And along with the suit she'd have huge bags full of stuff: a suede coat with delicate embroidery, a fire red "car coat", well made blazers and trousers, shoes and bags and scarves. I can honestly say that almost every single nice piece of clothing I have is because of her generosity. Because of her, I get to both be poor, and dress well. Plus it was such a blast to play dress up with my friend.
Maybe the last story is an offtake of the hook*u*p thing, and is a sort of barter in the "exchange of resources" amongst friends department. But it all gets back to a willingness to give and a willingness to receive. If you tell every single person that you come across that you are looking for an apartment, you will find an apartment. I believe that you can do the same with a lot of things in life.
Sometimes it's volunteering at the theater as an usher so as to get free concert tickets. Or offering to help in some capacity to attend free classes or workshops. Or working in a computer store for a month or two so as to get both the killer discount on a laptop And access to the fabulous deals that arise and are gone in a heartbeat. Sure, you'll often get told No, and sometimes in a way that is rude. But good things always come through, and it's so freakin cool. Plus it's always fun to be An Insider, rather than simply a mere patron :)
So, yeah, Ask and Though Shalt Receive.
Please feel free to share your feelings and experiences here in the comment section . . . I'd love to hear about them . . . :)