Friday, January 31, 2014

California drought scary serious

On Friday, the state government, maybe the water board, cut off water for communities with 25 million resident and for 750,000 acres of farmland. Quite a lot of the country's food is grown in CA. I imagine food prices will rise quickly as this drought continues.

here is NYTimes story about it. This drought is really scary. There was an equally scary drought in the Midwest last year, destroying a lot of food crops. CA Agency will withhold water deliveries.

you will not be lead astray

I prefer happy people who believe in magic

This was a fun quote and I like the fairy wings on the gal to the right but I actually prefer the company of happy people that believe spirit/god/goddess/cosmos is love, only love. Love is the only reality. Fear is not real. So I prefer people who happily believe in the magic of love/cosmos/spirit.

The Game of Enlightenment, edited a bit

I would like to 'be' loving without being attached to commitment, monogamy or the kind of relationship I have with other beings. I aspire to be enlightened but I remain a work in progress.

I used to have a friend who could be loving the way Ram Dass described. This friend loved (loves?) me but I could not just accept 'being' love with him. I wanted to be his lover and he did not wish to be mine. This would influence me to feel hurt and rejected and, hurt, I would offload my hurt onto him so he dumped me.  I actually thought he would love me around any impediment. I truly did. He dumped me six months ago and I still don't quite believe he did it. I really thought his love was unending.

Like I said, I am a work in progress

I also aspire to write as wisely and as well as Ram Dass does in this link I am sharing.  XO to all.

a sexy game; soup happened to be involved this time

Next time you eat dinner with friends in a restuarant (just one friend is enough for this game), try to consider how every aspect of your meal mirrors something about your sexuality and sex life. Watch yourself as you order. Do you pay attention to what you really want? Do you ask for it? And what do you order? How does the food you chose reflect your sexuality?

You might be surprised. If you put yourself into your own erotic energy, everything can be seen as erotic.

I hadn't played this game since the early nineties, when I used to run five-day intensives with a biz partner. On the final day, before the 'graduation', we sent all participants out to dinner, at their own expense. They chose who they dined with. And we invited them to play this game.

I had always liked doing this. I noticed, back then, that when I was looking for sexual metaphors in my dining experience, I ordered different food than I would have other wise. Watching how I savored whatever I had also revealed a lot about my own sexuality. It was hot. And harmless. And good self discovery.

Not too long ago, while at dinner with an acquaintance, I suggested we try the dinner as a metaphor for sex game. He and I were not lovers so this was not about any shared sexuality. I am attracted to him but he had made it clear he felt no attraction to me. Not in 'that way'.

He did not say anything about my suggestion. He certainly did not discuss any aspect of that restaurant meal in terms of my invitation to see everything about the meal as a metaphor for his sexuality. He seemed uneasy with my suggestion and I dropped it.

We took a long time to order. We had not seen one another in awhile and had a nice time talking so we had kept waving off the waiter because we hadn't looked at the menu.

I had chosen the place because it was cheap and served half an organic chicken entre that looked very low carb with my choice of two sides.  To manage my diabetes, I eat low carb as much as I can.

I ordered my chicken and then my dinner companion suddenly suggested I order the lentil soup. No discussion. Just a suggestion that I try a new taste, or sensual, experience. He didn't get the soup so why did he suddenly suggest it for me?  Since I was playing the game for myself, I ordered the soup and the chicken.  I told myself I wanted men to make interesting suggestions and I wanted to accept them. I loved the metaphor of a man suggesting a savory, unusual-for-me selection.

The soup was exceptionally delicious. And although it was a small cup of spicy Syrian lentil soup, it completely filled me up. I had the chicken dinner packaged to take out. The guy paid and insisted I take my chicken dinner home. Another great sexual metaphor. He might not have been consciously playing the game but everything he did that night made my game wonderful.

Looking at that dinner as a metaphor for my sexuality, a man made some unusual but very satisfying suggestions that I accepted and then enjoyed very much. That sounds like a good place to start enjoying sexuality, doesn't it? And then when he insisted I take home that whole chicken dinner, and insisted on paying, wow. Another great metaphor for my sexual abundance.

Now I need a face-to-face male who actually wants to be sexual with me to make interesting sexual suggestions to me that I accept and enjoy. We both enjoy our sexuality, that is part of my fantasy.  Mutual physical and erotic pleasure is my fantasy. That soup and added-bonus take-home and paid-for dinner was perfection for my game.

legumes! Beef is over?

In my first foray into vegetarianism, in grad school and living alone in my first solo apartment, lentils were one of my most commonly eaten foods.  I made lentil soup all the time.

That vegetarianism faded. In Nov 2012, dining in a Syrian restaurant with a friend, I had chosen the place for its organic roasted chicken with organic side salad and its affordability, my dinner companion suddenly said to me "Get the soup." So I did. Syrian spicy lentil soup.  It was a fairly small bowl but it filled me. I never touched the chicken dinner he paid for and he was nice enough to let me take the whole untouched dinner home.

Since then, I have made many batches of lentils, trying to recreate that delicious, spicy Syrian soup. I've made some tasty lentil soups but I am missing something that was key to the soup in that restaurant.

I think I'll have to return and ask them about that soup.

Red lentils.

As humans move away from eating meat, and they will because they have to, legumes will rise in importance as a protein source. We don't need nearly as much protein as most Americans eat daily but we do need some.

My long ago and far away ex-husband was general counsel for the world's largest cattle feeder back in the early eighties. His employer gobbled up hundreds of small family farms to create gigantic feedlots. That company fed 500,000 head of cattle a year. Do you have any awareness of how much that is? Anyone who ate beef back then ate some of their beef. Everyone did, from McDonald's to the finest steaks in the fanciest joints. When you feed half a million head of cattle, you raise all grades.

At the company picnic in August 1982, and I remember the date because my daughter was a newborn in my arms, it was hot and muggy and I didn't like being at the noisy picnic with all the women wanting to hold her. My baby seemed unsettled to be handed around to strangers, one after another. And that night, I swear, she was restless all night. And the only difference in her life to disturb her sleep had been being held by about 20 strangers. The owner's wife -- yes this huge agribusiness was privately owned by one man -- did not ask to hold the baby. She was very observant. She came over at one point and whispered to me "Do you realize that as each woman rocks Katie, you are rocking with her, in rhythm with your baby's movement?"  I had not realized I was doing that. And I did not stop. That wife realized I was rocking because my whole being was straining to be holding my baby, as the mother of any six week old infant should.

The owner chatted briefly with each employee and with most of the spouses. My spouse was pretty high on the food chain so I got the owner's attention for awhile. For some reason, he told me he had decided to phase out of the beef business. He said beef eating would grow less and less because it was unsustainable. A man who raised 500,000 head of cattle a year said "It makes no sense to grow food to grow food and that's what we do to get beef. Beef is going to get too expensive. Plus if we fed humans all the food we feed cows, there would be an end to hunger." Then he shook his head, seeming to be reinforcing his thinking, and said "Nope, beef is on its way out.  I make all my money on the grains futures. I can cut out all the expenses of the feedlots and keep on making money. Someone else can feed cattle. And I'll still make money."

Understand. That man did not think folks would stop eating beef overnight. This was a long-range thinker. He had dropped out of college when his father died to take over the family's tiny cattle ranch. Thirty years later, he owned millions of acres, fed half a million cattle, employed thousands and was a billionaire.  When he told me beef was on its way out, I was sure he was right. I still am. But change, real change, moves glacially.

Legumes. It's what for dinner!

more on Melancholia

A blogging acquaintance recently blogged about Lars von Trier's film, 'Melancholia' a few weeks ago. This guy is an excellent writer and a sensitive, sometimes delightful being.  Sometimes he is not at all delightful, like when he quickly rises to anger he gets emotionally abusive, which I could deal with. All humans are imperfect and slip into triggered emotions and speech but this acquaintance must be in denial about his own unkindness. He carefully notes all of mine and denigrates me to his friends, some of which are also mine and I care what my friends think so it matters to me that he freely denigrates me to people whose good opinion matters to me. Reading his post about the movie prodded me to watch it.

Suddenly, melancholia keeps cropping up in my worldview like mushrooms can seem to magically appear. Now you don't see it, have it pointed out to you and suddenly it is everywhere.

Here is a link to a post by a blogger I just discovered named Topo-ka (I think, I'm being lazy and don't want to click around to check).

I have not mastered the art of bleeding joyfully when depressed but I am becoming fairly equanimous about my depression. I'll take that.

April update:   I am no depressed now. Thank goddess.

I took 3 sixteen year old girls out to lunch

When my daughter was at her first college, I picked her up on her campus for the weekend. Two friends of hers wanted to visit friends of theirs at UMass in Amherst, where I lived, so they hitched a ride with us. We did not see them during the weekend.  It must have been one of those times the campus made the teenage early-college students get off campus, theoretically to visit one's parents. Younger adults, the theory was, I think, needing to keep in touch with their home base more than slightly older college kids.  Katie never came to stay with me unless she had to.

Anyway, I also gave those two other girls a ride back to campus when the visit to Amherst was over. When we got to Great Barrington, I offered to treat all of them to lunch at a Russian tea room that all the girls had said they longed to try. It was expensive. I found virtually all the restaurants in Great Barrington expensive, actually, but this tea room was considered at the high end of expensive.

All the girls agreed to my treat. I had made the offer because back when I was in college, when someone's parents visited, it was understood that the parents would feed their student in several local restaurants and for at least one fancy dinner, the student would invite a friend or two, all on mom and/or dad's dime.

I had frog legs the only time I ever had them when I went out to dinner with a friend and her parents during my college years.  The place was 'famous' for its frog legs. I was bullied into trying them. I don't remember what they tasted like or whether or not I enjoyed them.

What I remembered was how nice it was to meet a friend's parents, to have a little taste of parental caring even if not from my own parents, and to go out to dinner as a nice restaurant. To be treated had been so welcomed.

All three of the girls, each of whom were sixteen, took forever to decide what to order. I remember struggling to ignore the money I was spending, believing very sincerely that I was giving the girls a treat.  I discovered times had changed since I was in college in the seventies. Eating disorders were very rare in my college world. And most of my college friends would have heartily enjoyed whatever they ordered at that Russian tea room in Great Barrington.

What these three girls did was each order something expensive and then not eat it.  I was perplexed, of course, but did not criticize them, not wanting to embarass my easily embarrassed teenager. But I did ponder on what the heck was going on.

I think the girls didn't eat to be competitive, to show off to one another how little they could eat compared to the others. Each of them very lightly picked at their food. Even now, in my visual memory, I see each girl glancing at the other two to see if the others were taking note of how little they were eating.  They were eating disordered and define their social image by proving they could not eat. Geez, I spent sixty bucks, fifteen years ago, just so those three twerps could show off to one another that they did not eat the meal they had ordered. That was the last time I offered to treat any of her college girlfriends to a meal. She had a great boyfriend for a couple years and I happily treated him to meals, esp. after he told my daughter, while at dinner with the two of us, that he thought she was unduly harsh in how she judged me. She was furious when he said it. I was relieved to know that someone else saw that her harsh judgment of me was unfair and unfounded. This boy said "I have good instincts, just like you do, honey, and your mom is okay. She is not the monster you seem to think she is."  I was sorry when he broke off from her, of course.

I wanted to make each of them pay for themselves because none of them ate the food I paid for, beyond a couple tiny bites to show off how little they eat.

Immaturity. Valuing females for how they look. Misogyny. Stupidity. Inconsideration.

At the time, especially as I paid for that uneaten food, I was frustrated, angry and impotent.  It had never occurred to me that those girls would order a meal and not eat it. Why had they accepted my invitation if they weren't going to eat? To competitively not eat in front of the others?!

Just as I have no tendencies to drug or alcohol dependency, even though it runs heavy in my clan, I don't have eating disorder tendencies, I guess.

being fat determined by age 5

Did you read a story that was published in the last day or two, maybe in NYTimes, that says scientific studies indicate becoming fat is determined by age 5.
I kept saying the story reposted, too. And I kept trying to avoid it.
Like you, I've been fat a long time and the whole time I have been fat, I have longed and longed not to be. And tried and tried not to be. Well, for about 20 years, I made no effort to lose. I told myself yo-yo dieting was worse than just being stable fat. And I think there is some merit to that thinking.
In recent years, however, I have become very determined to be not-fat. I don't feel a need to be actually thin. My standard:  buy clothes in the regular size shops and departments.
I tried to avoid that age-five story because right now, I am very tightly focussed on weight loss. I am going to get close to my high school weight. I say 'close' because I am sixty, reality is reality, metabolism is metabolism and I don't want to set myself up for failure.  I felt overwhelmed and defeated each time I read 'being fat determined by age 5'. The article did not say it was impossible to reverse but it sure seemed implied.  I don't want to feel defeated.
I am going to lose another 80 pounds. Hopefully within the next twelve months.  I will starve myself regularly if I have to. But I don't think I need to go hungry. Following the To Quiet Inflammation diet by Kathy Abascal allows me to eat as much as I want. "As much as I want" might sound like a risky indulgence but in order to foillow the diet, you have to eat tons of fruit and veg. It is hard not to lose weight when 2/3 of your food is fruits and vegies. Hidden in the plan, but not quite spoken:  a plate of garlic-infused braised greens and mushrooms is so sating that you don't want to eat much, certainly a plate of mushrooms and greens are enough. Calories don't matter, not really. They matter if you are binge eating but not if you are eating plates of vegies for dinner.  Even though calories don't matter, the mushrooms and greens of my current favorite dinner can't be more than 250 calories, and most of the calories come from the organic extra virgin olive oil.
For the first time ever, I feel completely positive that I will achieve my weight loss goals. And I've done okay so far. I am down 110 pounds from my all time high. This weight has been lost in fits and starts. I regain easily if I am not extremely careful. You read all the time that most people who lose weight regain it and it is true. It can seem to happen no matter what you eat, altho weight is not as simple as what you eat. Obesity is a health issue, not an overeating issue. Which comes first, chicken or egg, obesity or overeating?  I think health challenges that give rise to obesity come before overeating. Once fat, it is a little easier to overeat in your discouragement.  Once a person begins a bad habit, like overeating, it's almost like a drug dependency. You get hooked. Thank goodness I never really have been an overeater.  Sure I've overeaten but I don't know anyone who hasn't.
I am thinking of doing a mini-marathon. I will join a club to train so I have lots of support. I have wanted to do a mini-marathon since forever, as long as I can remember. I am now recalling the endless excuses:  being a single mom, being too fat, not being able to cover the fees. Baloney. I wasn't committed to doing it. I have not yet committed to the triathlon idea. I am committed to stepping up my exercise to get a more intense workout. If nothing else, I want some swim coaching so my lap swimming gives me a better work out. Right now, I am one of the slowest swimmers around.
I have some happy dreams for myself. I wish I had a couple best friends to share my focus.  But new friends will appear.

you never gonna keep me down

Remember this song? Most of the lyrics are kinda dull. The point of this song is the refrain. "I get knocked down but I get up again. You never going to keep me down."

I, Tree Fitzpatrick, get knocked down but you never going to keep me down. I've been knocked down, yet again, but watch out world. She's back.

when my daughter was very young

When my daughter was very young, living with her was, for me, living in heaven. I have never had finer experiences than the ones I had simply being alive alongside my little girl as she grew.  I also have had similar glimpses of heaven spending time with a former friend.

A friend of mine, the guy who co-founded Black Bear commune and Fairview House co-op in Berkeley (the purple co-op in what used to be the ghetto . . it is gentrifying scary fast) once talked to me about a two-year-old he used to occasionally spend the day with, providing child care for a friend.  A lightness of being came over him as he talked about how pleasant it was to just 'be' with a two-year-old. I knew exactly what he was talking about.  I was impressed that a then-sixty-something male who had never had kids had discovered the deep human joy of just being with an emergent human.

Virtually every friend I had as I raised Katie commented on my happiness being a mom. Most would remark that most of their single mom friends talked about the stress of being a single mom but I never once complained about being a mom. Of course I didn't complain.  I was too happy.

One of the many, many things I was able to impress my toddler with was writing stories. Sometimes I would ask her to give me a a topic, any topic, and then I would write a story. And then I would. I wrote very short stories.  I did not ever, in this game, write a long or complex one. The fun, for me, was how easy it ewas to please her. And it did please and impress her that I could write a very short story about anything.

Any adult could do this. I was not writing literary fiction. I was playing. My story writing was comparable to playing cooking with fake food, then feeding whoever is playing with pretend food.

One day, when Katie was five or six, she had a friend over. She had bragged to this friend that her

We Two Are One

This is one of my all-time favorite albums, We Two Are One. I love just about all the tracks. Every album has one or two songs, at least, that don't grab me. I am way into Annie Lennox.

In this song, "You hurt me, I hate you" conveys exactly how I have felt at times.  It is true that when someone hurts me, I have moments when I am hurt, angry and might say 'I hate you' but I end up continuing to love everyone I have loved.

It can be satisfying to say "I hate you" in a reactive, unhappy moment, though.  Here's the song.

Blowin' out the flame . . . .

My favorite stanza from this song:

Now there's a cool breeze blowin'
Blowin' out the flame
That used to burn inside me
At the mention of your name,
Now there's a cool breeze blowin'
Blowin' down the track -
That's where I'm goin'
And I'm never comin' back...

I was lit

I was lit yesterday. I wrote a bunch of posts, rapid-fire.

Today, nothing. I've been posting so much lately that I feel I have to post at least one post, even if it is just this one, before 4 p.m. my time. 4 p.m. is when a day's cycle ends on blogger. They must use that universal date line, the one where it is midnight when it is 4 p.m. in Berkeley.  I wonder why. To be universal?

Blogger, I have read on G+ by a guy who writes lots of great advice about how to generate traffic for a website, is dead. He wrote a list recently of where he links all his posts to, to grow his audience.  In this list, he said he doesn't bother at all with Blogger. That's when I began to consider moving my blog.

Fascinating post, eh?!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jean-Luc Godard

Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, presently a few short blocks from my place, is showing Jean Loc Godard films all year long.

Godard was pivotal in the evolution of cinema, not just French. I am going to try to see every single one of his films shown in Berkeley this year.  I find it very rich to see an artist's entire oeuvre. I learn about all kinds of things, apart from the individual works and the artist. I see art film history from a richer perspective.

When I lived in Minneapolis, I had access to a neverending film festival. As a tour guide at the Walker, which had a deep film program, I could go to all the movies free if they didn't sell out and buy tix if they looked like they were selling art.

One of the most powerful film experiences I have ever had was watching all of Rainer W. Fassbinder's film, night after night. His film editor even came to one of the films for a Q&A.  It was the first time I watch all of a filmmaker's work. See all his work was a revelation, making each piece more visible to me and cracking open my understanding of the genre of film. And it was free!

I'll have to pay to see the Godard films but it will be money well spent.

2014 is going to be a great year for me, maybe the best ever.  Sorry to go trite, but maybe I'll meet my man this year!!! I sure want to find him.

my super tasty dinner

A cup of very spicy pinto beans, a whole avocado, a whole tomato and raspberries for dessert. I have to do 1/3 protein. The pinto beans count as protein on TQI. I used the biggest avocado I have and it was a pretty big tomato. I think the avocado and tomato got close to double the pinto beans but not quite. So I'll force myself to eat a few very expensive raspberries.

Organic raspberries can be two bucks a half pint in peak summer. Right now, midwinter and hauled up from S. Cal, they cost four bucks a half pint.  I have a freezer full of organic blueberries. I eat a lot of blueberries but every now and then, I just gotta do some raspberries.

Yum yum yum. I feel almost pure, eating so well.

a mini-triathlon to begin?

I have always, truly always, wanted to do a mini-triathlon. I've never been a runner. I am not a serious biker. Most folks I know are most intimidated by the swimming. I have the swimming down. I'm not a very fast swimmer but I can swim two hours without stopping so I can do a mini-triathlon. For a full triathlon, the Iron Person kind, I might be the slowest swimmer, but I could most def do the swim.

I am most intimidated by the running. I'm not bike fit at the moment but I have been an avid biker in the past. I find past exercise habits tend to 'come back' more quickly. I have never been a runner.

UC Berkeley Sports Rec center has a triathlon training team. I'd have to buy a bike eventually but I could do spin classes at Sports Rec to get started, see if I am really 'in' for the long haul.

It costs $225 a year. Can't do it in February. I'd have to set aside money in March and then join in April, which is very late. The triathalon team does not meet in the summer. So maybe I just rationalized waiting until next fall? But in the meantime, I could start running on machines at Sports Rec, doing some spin classes and, of course, swim swim swim, which I do no matter what.

I'm sixty. I've had this fantasy forever. It might be time to act, eh?

I bet I could get a few friends to kick-in for the fee, at least for the first year. And how will I manage a bike? I can't use an electric citycarshare bike for a mini-triathlon, I bet.

There is a crazy voice in my head telling me  I should go for the full triathalon but I will ignore it. Begin with the mini is a saner voice nagging me to move more.

cherry blossoms in Berkeley today & a prayer

Although the blossoms are beautiful and pinkly, I felt a mild wrench to see cherry blossoms in January. It did sprinkle early this morning for a few minutes, just enough to see dampness on sidewalks, not enough to see any running water. As we head deeper in drought conditions, it is warmer and warmer in midwinter.
 It can't be good to have cherry trees blossoming in January. Berkeley is usually cold in January. Cold for here and cold for cherry trees.
 Today it was so warm, I removed my sweater and jacket on my long walk home.
 A beautiful cherry tree in full bloom can lift one's spirits, remind us that it is a wonderful world. Cherry blossoms in January weighed me down.
Please may it rain. Rain buckets.

Update on April 23:  most cherry blossoms in Berkeley are gone but Berkeley is a riot of flowering nature just now.  I happened to walk home from a morning writers' group through an unfamiliar, North Berkeley residential neighborhood. Nearly every yard was bursting with flowering color.

How I miss having my own yard to garden!  I can take great pleasure in someone's carefully tended flower garden. I can take great pleasure is wild, unkempt flower gardens. Even if these aren't my gardens.

but I would like my own garden so, goddess, when you send my man into my life, it would be very nice if he had a garden to share with me. Thank you. Amen.

What a wonderful world!

Louis Armstrong could sing, eh?

I cry a lot in life but songs rarely make me cry. I'm crying right now. It is so moving to think the thoughts he is signing.

It is a wonderful world.  He even validates a longheld theory of ine that virtually all human interaction is either a request to be loved or an effort to be loving. Whenever someone is angry with me, and I am not triggered, which is actually more often than not, I try to remember "in his anger, this person is asking me to love him as he is showing up right now". this trick usually works and I feel love.

My friend Peggy told me when I show her anger, she overlooks how she feels in reaction to me and she focuses on me because she knows if I am angry, I am in pain. She loves me, in other words. I try to do this, too. I do not always succeed but I really do try, all the time, to be loving.

I am a work in progress.  I can't wait until I meet my man and he joins me in my work being loving. It's better done in pairs. People support one another in being loving.

a purple hippie commune in Berkeley

Fairview House is a cooperatively owned house developed by the Northern California Land Trust. A friend of mine was involved in its creation, then he lived in it a long time, maybe as long as thirty years. Then he fell in love with a woman who owned a house on top of a hill with panoramic views of the bay, a gigantic sloping backyard perfect for a gigantic food garden. And she came with grandchildren!  My friend scored. When he first moved out he kept one share in Fairview House. It was hard to let go.

Fairview House is actually two houses. First they turned the three-story maybe-Victorian grand old house on the corner into a co-op. There was a derelict duplex next door. The hippies kept seeing that derelict building. I can just imagine my friend, who seems able to do everything from high technology programming to construction and construction management to great process consulting, community activism and just generally being a very good person. He talked his co-op and the N. California Land Trust into buying the derelict house.

He told me when they closed on the purchase, the roof had fallen in so rain fell throughout the house. The whole house was a mess. And he personally, with his own hands, did a lot of the rehab. It was soon a comfortable part of the co-op with two bedrooms in each, and some living space in each. One living room was the co-op TV room. Another living room was the co-op music room.  My friend rented two bedrooms on the top, one to use as his office, one for his bedroom. He was proud to have been a part of creating that co-op.

And this was not his first hippie dippie home. He was also a founder of Black Bear Ranch, a commune still chugging along in way north California in a rural area.

I am proud to know this guy.

Today, walking past his old Fairview House co-op, I saw it was purple. I have stayed in the Fairview House guest room. I have visited Fairview House many times when my friend use to live there. I had never noticed it was painted purple.

I painted my dining room, in the last house I owned 'poet's purple'. I painted each room a different color. One day I realized I wanted to be surrounded by color so, wall by wall, I added color. I really wanted to paint a mural on my dining room wall with my daughter but she never had any juice for that project. I thought it would be educational, artistic and good family fun. Never happened, though.

I did get the dining room to be poet's purple.

My daughter's father entered that house once. Just once. I let him in when he delivered a new laptop for our daughter to start college with.  I figured shelling out a couple grand for that laptop allowed me to cut him some slack and let him in my home. He's such an odd duck. He almost inspected my house, walking up close to most things to scrutinize them closely. This was about 10 years after we had divorced, I had moved 500 miles away. He had nothing to do with me getting that house. yet there he was, snooping and sniffing.

When he was done, he said "It seems just like you that you would paint your dining room purple. What were you thinking?"

It truly was a poetic purple. More of a lavendar than a true, full-blown purple.

Fairview house is mostly a deep lavendar with dark purple trim. If I had been asked, which of course I was not and I did not know my co-op creating friend when he created the co-op, I would have advised against it. It is so Berkeley, to have a hippie commune in the city painted purple.

Purple? It's still a poor neighborhood, very rough edges, although gentrifying quickly. I saw several new buildings on my walk today.

I wonder what all the poor African Americans thought when the hippies first painted that gigantic corner house with the three-story round tower on the corner lip of the lot purple?!!

Purple?  I am sure it was fun to choose purple. I would have gone with a different palette. Included purple if that pleased some co-op owners, sure, but touches of purple with some other color, like a painted lady in SF is what I would have done. That's what I did with my Victorian in Minneapolis: I used a bunch of colors. No purple on the outside but I have elaborate trim on the front and back deck. I painted each band on each stick of the fencing surrounding the porches different colors. My predescessor had painted some of the trim a dark maroon which was nothing close to purple.  I painted my front door periwinkle. The carved dowls in the fencing were gold, navy blue, maroon and beige. Each dowl painted identically, in the same order. Many of my neighbors complimented me on the hard work.

It turned out painting elaborate dowels spun on a wood shaping tool, all identically shaped, was easy. You just taped above and below each bit of color, let that color dry, the then again. It was fun, not work at all.

And everyone loved the periwinkle door, which didn't match anything else on the house.  I chose blue for my front door because in Mexican blue doors signify happiness in the home with a blue door.

The periwinkle was close to a kind of purple but that was as daring as I got.

A whole purple house in what was, when the co-op created in the sixties, a rough, very poor neighborhood? It must have been fun making that decision. And not the direction I would have gone.

I had never noticed Fairview House was purple so I called my friend who used to live there to tell him "Fairview House is purple." He said "Wasn't it always?" I could only admit that I did not know, that I had only noticed its purple today. I would have sworn it was stucco colored years ago.

Purple. Poet's purple.

I can paint walls in my apartment if I get permission. Maybe I should paint a wall purple for old time sake. And to be more Berkeley.

my property gestapo complained about this!

The maintenance guy in my building cleared out the sink in my bathroom yesterday. I removed everything under the sink before he arrived to do the repair. I left three bags of insulin needs under the sink because they were way in the back, I could only reach them by kneeling down, I didn't feel like kneeling down. And who would imagine that a property management company would dare to tell a diabetic resident they can't keep needles under their bathroom sink.

It is true I have other options where I might store my syringes but, geez, I think it eminently reasonable to store them in my bathroom and the cupboard under the sink is the only place they would fit.

These syringes were in plastic bags, positioned far beyond the reach of the maintenance guy, who I quite like, so this is not a diss about him.

I am surprised he didn't say something to me himself. Intead, he had the assistant property manager warn me.

I stiffened when told this complaint and said "I have a right to keep medical syringes in my home. I have a right to store them where I choose. I dispose of my syringes propertly, using those red boxes made available specifically for medical waste like used syringes.

Used syringes are a significant concern for maintenance staff and garbage haulers. If someone is inadvertently pricked by one, they have to be tested. What if the syringe was used by someone with AIDS? It is irresponsible to throw syringes into the trash instead of using proper receptacles.

But, yikes, it feels like Big Brother is Watching You to tell me I can't store new syringes under my bathroom sink.

I agreed to move them because a couple of the syringes were loose. There was never the slighteset chance that the maintenance guy was going to touch my syringes. He would have had to reach to the back and open one up, expose the need and then prick himself with it to be at risk. True, he could not know the ones outside of the bags they come in were unused. The only way he could have come in touch with a needle, however, would have been for him to open a capped syringe and poke himself with it.

A small thing. I quite like my maintenance guy. He is impeccably polite to me and I actually give him a tip in February. Why February? Why not? I am always broke at Christmas, the traditional time to tip building staff, although I doubt if many in this affordable housing building tip the staff. I tip the head maintenance guy because he treats me with such graciousness.

Why didn't he tell me about the needles?

And, come on, unopened needles in a secluded private space in my home? The only way my syringes could have hurt would have been if he had gone berserk and even then, since I don't have AIDS, if he had poked himself with several, he would have come to no harm.

My feathers are ruffled.  My privacy in my bathroom is my privacy in my bathroom.

everytime you spend money . . . .

Everytime you spend money, you are voting for the world you want to live in. If you want to live in a world full of natural, unprocessed, free-of-chemicals-added foods, you buy local and organic, at least to the extent you can afford organic. You should always, always, always buy local food when possible.

Me, I confess, I buy bananas every week. They are not grown locally. I don't know where some of the organic legumes I buy come from. Virtually everything else I eat is grown within 100 miles or less of Berkeley, is organic and unprocessed. I cook, too. Who knew?!

Just as it is optimal to buy locally grown food to reduce the food's impact on the planet, it is optimal to support any local business over a national corporation.

I have to confess, however, that I buy bulk organic spices online. I know of no local grocer who sells one-pound bags of Frontier organic spices. Some stores sell Frontier spices in the bulk section but they are rarely organic and sitting in open air jars, they get stale fast. I store my pounds of spice well in tightly closed glass jars. My way is better and cheaper.

I don't really do any food supplements anymore. Guess what?   I eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that I get everything I need from real food.

I do buy, on the advice of a homeopath, chromium picolinate. It is not made locally, as far I know, but I did buy it at the Berkeley Bowl, at least where the NOW brand is conveniently the cheapest price I have seen anywhere. Today, walking home from my cute psychologist meeting, I stopped at the Bowl to pick up a new bottle of chromium picolinate. I had to ask for help. The vitamin and supplement aisle overwhelms me with its endless tiny products. At first the guy showed me several brands that cost much more than I had remembered paying last time. I said "I thought you carried NOW. Maybe I bought it at Rainbow?" and he moved a product that had been hung for display so it was hiding the NOW chromium picolinate.

Other than this supplement, I do no supplements. I eat real food!! I get al the probiotics my colon needs. I support my metabolism with many spices and foods specifically integrated into my eating habits because they support my metabolism. As a diabetic, everything that helps my metabolism convert food into fuel means I need to inject less insulin. I have to inject some insulin but the less I inject, that means, hopefully, my pancreas is still generating some. I want to keep my pancreas plugging away, producing insulin, right?

Every time a person spends money, they are voting for the kind of world they want. It's hard to pass p large corporate bargains but I want a better world. Corporatacracy is not the way forward.

Citycarshare v. Zipcar/local moneyshed

©An acquaintance discussed getting rid of his car after he moved back to SF in 2012. He knew I had volunteered a lot with citycarshare, a local, nonprofit that circulates all the money in the local economy. Zipcar, now owned by Avis, has seemingly comparable pricing, even maybe a teensy bit cheaper than citycarshare because citycar charges low hourly rates plus 35 cents a mile.

How we spend out money is how we vote for the world we want. So I ask you this:  if someone claims that they care very much about changing the economic system in America, why would someone join a national, corporate-owned car sharing system, which siphons money out of every economy it operates in, creating what amounts to a draining cancer on our economic life. An investor in an initiative can and should receive a modest return when they lend their capital to begin an initiative. The corporate shareholder system, also the nonperson corporate system, that allows shareholders to inure income without any labor in perpetuity is a cancer on human culture. It is wrong for someone to derive income generated by another's labor. I reiterate:  it is just for an investor to receive a modest return on an investment. Awarding shares that exist indefinitely, even forever, and awarding income to the owners of those shares is giving those share owners the fruits of another's labor. Wrong. Unsustainable. Immoral.

So to my acquaintance:  if you ever sell your adorable old collectible car and join a car share company, I pray you will vote for the kind of world you want and join citycarshare. Don't support Avis shareholders. Support your local economy. Live your anti-corporate rhetoric. You talk all the time about the need for new economic thinking:  be the change you seek. Go with the local nonprofit that circulates every cent you would spend with them in our local economy, instead of siphoning profit to global shareholders who do nothing to earn their profits. Profits should go to the folks who created the profit i.e. the workers, and to the local moneyshed.

P.S. Although Zipcar sales people will point to their cheapest cars as being slightly cheaper than CityCarShare cars, which are almost all one price*, they won't tell you that a small percentage of their car fleet consists of those cheaper cars. When you go to make a reservation, unless you plan well in advance, it is unlikely the cheapest cars will be available. You will end up paying more to rent a fancier car. So is Zipcar cheaper?  Not really. And what does it say about a national corporation that they avariciously try to take over the market from a local nonprofit that recirculates money, which is kinda like keep fresh air and water flowing for all beings, in the local money shed. I use the phrase moneyshed to be analogous to a local watershed. 

Zipcar, national corporation versus local nonprofit that sustainably circulates all the money that flows through it in the local moneyshed.

Vote with your wallet, Mr. X. Join Please.  Be the change you want to see in the world.

Electric bike-sharing comes to town!!!

Since my new Cannondale got stolen from the secured bike room with two surveillance cameras, which suggests a resident in this building stole it, I have resisted replacing it. I loved that bike. The truth behind my procrastination to buy a new one was twofold:  money and hills.

I had bought the bike when I lived on the peninsula, which has sloping streets but not the hills of Berkeley or the even steeper hills of SF. I have been lazy and cheap. I decided my next bike would be an electric bike, which would cost at least a grand and altho I could save up a thousand bucks, it would take a long time and I would not have been able to buy other things like a painting for a former friend, a trip to Spirited Work and, well, just stuff. I have to plan to spend large amounts of money, a thousand bucks is a ton of money and, well, the hills. Inertia set in.

The wait was perfect. Now citycarshare, a local, nonprofit car-sharing company is launching an electric bike sharing program. There are two electric bikes around the corner from my building for an experimental launch, with a full launch later in the spring.

I would have rented one today but I need to procure a bike helmet. One step at a time. Everything in life seems to require incremental steps. It's Jan 30th. I am tapped out of moola until Feb 1st.

On Sunday, I'll buy a new bike helmet. My bike thief stole my helmet, for it was attached to my bike. S/he also stole two locks, including a kryptonite one. Those babies can be priest apart with a simple crowbar. And this thief had plenty of time to scope out the newest, most expensive bike in the bike room so once they picked mine, although it was probably a professional bike thief with a pre-existing crowbar, it would be easy to borrow one once the decision to steal my bike was made.

Now, thanks for a special deal for my building, which lends parking spaces to citycarshare and citycarshare gives residents in this nonprofit-owned building a special pricing structure, I can rent an electric bike for $1.50 an hour. I am so in.

As soon as I buy my helmet. I have already reserved a bike for Tuesday. I'm going to go to the DeYoung, take the bike over to SF on BART and then ride the bike to Golden Gate Park. Unless it is raining. And if it rains, fine with me. Drought takes precedence over joyriding.

in case anyone wondering . . . .

I can't launch my new blog until Feb 1st because I am going to pay for a domain name and hosted space. I don't have the money now. I will on Feb 1st.

I am not going to tie the two blogs together. Anyone who wants to read the new one will have to find it. The new one will not allow anonymous followers, although anyone can still read the new one. No one can 'like' posts anonymously on the new one. Yippee skippee.

I will have control, which is so elusive in real life. But a blog is not real life, eh?

I have lots of plans for the new blog. And this one is going to increasingly become my writers notebook, where I make notes to remember snippets to use in larger pieces.

the psychologist I saw today was very attractive

I told him I only see female therapists, which has been true in the past. My very first psychologist was my marriage counselor a male. I continued in individual therapy with him while I remained in Omaha. Switching seemed hard. I bond with people.

As I talked to this male psychologist today, this very attractive, studly young man, I heard myself voicing a lot of male wound material.

Maybe I should work with a male therapist. Today's psychologist just will do my intake so I won't get this hottie. It's true that more attractive people get unearned rank and privilege. This guy seemed brilliant, skillful, caring, kind, gentle and wise. Add that to being very attractive and, hubba hubba, suddenly I am open to seeing a male.

I called him and left him that message. It's up to him to decide what to recommend.

He'll do the right thing, whatever he deems it to be.

I would happily see him. Easy on the eyes. And I know I could trust him with my most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. I did that today and he was impeccably gentle and caring. Maybe having a male therapist who me kindness and caring for a year would help me with my male wound.

We'll see what my very attractive young man says. Young. I am sure he is at least thirty. Young compared to me. Not a kidlet, not an undergrad.

I had asked if I could bring food since we would meet for three hours. I brought a protein shake and so did he. We compared notes. He uses, heaven forbid, a commercially blended, flavored protein powder, the kind loaded with chemicals and bad fake sweetener. After we finished and he told me about next steps, I offered him some protein shake advice. I told him a commercially blended protein powder is loaded with crappy chemicals and chemicals often stay in our bodies forever, no matter what kind of detoxing we might try. He said he knew that and had been intending to look into options. So I told him about the natural whey protein sold in bulk, how he could turn the natural protein powder into any flavor he wanted using all organic and healthy ingredients. I said something about the yucky sugar subs most commercial blends use and he said "i'd use honey." So I suggested raw unpasteurized honey, pointing out that most jars of honey on store shelves are highly processed and, thus, denuded of much of the nutrients honey starts out with. When I suggested raw honey, and told him I buy great raw honey on amazon, his eyes lit up. Light bulb. I could tell he thought it was a good idea. He even said he had been meaning to look into better protein options and had just put it off, that my advise was well timed.

I was glad to have something to give him for he had given me the gift of his full attention for hours.

I am glad that I can feel safe with a male therapist. I haven't seen one in over thirty years. I have built male therapists up into boogey men in my mind. This guy seemed wonderful. He was especially tender when I spoke about my daughter. Of course I cried a little, then felt big waves of pain, as I always do. He just sat there with me and gave me space to feel them. He didn't try to soothe them away. He didn't need to ease any discomfort within himself to see me in pain. My 'you are such a borderline' former friend gets upset when I am in pain and tries to cajole me out of it. He is not as wise as he thinks he is if he doesn't understand that it is perfectly okay to just be with someone a few minutes while they allow a few waves of pain to move through them.

Today's guy even said that is what DBT teaches borderlines to do:   to allow themselves to feel their pain, to let the pain move through them, and then to move on. I did that right in front of him a couple times. I had thought all along I was good at doing that but I allowed the 'you're such a borderline' uninformed bigot to undermine my self-confidence. He doesn't know a damn thing about how my disability affects me but he was constantly preaching to me about how to be.

This 'you're such a borderline' guy often talked as if there was something wrong with me when I would do exactly what I had been trained to do to manage my emotions. He had no training but he told me what was my truth. And I let his words seep into me like an odorless toxic vapor.

He was offloading his unworked stuff onto me, I think. But that is just my speculation.

everyone stands under their own dome of heaven

©The title of this post is the name of a small painting by the brilliant German artist, Anselm Kiefer.  We each create our life and we can make it a heaven or not. I choose heaven. I think of my personal heaven as the golden tunnel. I would not have chosen blue. Blue is my favorite color, though. I love this painting.

I wrote about this painting earlier this month but I got the name wrong. I had written that the title indicated 'everyone makes their own dome of heaven'. I like the word 'make', it gives us some credit for creating our own reality. Either way, we stand under our own customized dome of heaven. Some, I supposed, choose to stand under an unheavenly dome. I admit I struggle in and out of heaven, the dome of heaven.

Today I am standing in my own dome of heaven. One day at a time, eh? If you click on the image below, it embiggens. Or you can google it and see many lovely copies of it. I love this painting.

This is a screen shot of the painting. I couldn't find a clean download of it. Understandably, the artist or whoever owns this painting wishes to protect their ownership.  I don't know how to make it bigger or I would.

It is not a big painting. And when you see it up close, you see that  the figure in the middle is dressed in academic robes, hat and gown, as if teaching the classics at a classic, European old-fashioned institution of higher learner where professors are given much respect for their knowledge and wisdom.

A guy standing in his own dome of heaven, seeing the dome emanating all around him would elicit reverential respect from me. A guy like that would glow, radiating his dome of heaven.

The viciously snarled line 'you are so borderine' often glows for me.  I live in a dome of heaven where no one who has ever claimed to love me would speak to me that way.

Wish I had a better photo but, trust me, the dome I am standing in right now is beautiful, happy and joyful.

borderline personality disorder: ah ha!!!

Today I met with a DBT professional. DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy. It was initially developed for borderline personality disorder. Now DBT is used for many, if not most, mental health issues. A key component is to foster mindfulness, emotional regulation and a few other 'skills'. The psychologist I saw today said I didn't seem borderline to him. I seemed hurt but not borderline.

I have had DBT therapy at the clinic run at the U. of WA in Seattle by Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed DBT and is probably the world's leading expert on borderline personality disorder. Linehan is occasionally interviewed by the NY Times about borderline personal disorder. Last spring, in a NYTimes interview, she said that once a borderline has had good treatment, they rarely relapse.

Ah ha!  I was recently, and unkindly, accused of 'being such a borderline'. This was spoken to me in angry tones that I experienced as derisive, unkind and a broadly negative characterization of my whole personhood.  Uncool.  He also said, in the same phone call, "fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you fucking bitch" but, apparently, conveniently forgot such remarks in his expression of regret.  The comments rocked me, triggering me to behave even more unkindly than the person who said those things. Be mean to me and I'll show you mean. Funny, how we get what we put out. Shit on someone and, big surprise, they tend to shit back. Tell someone they are being 'so borderline' and, it should be no surprise, they snap into borderline action. This guy, he blames me for every bit of negativity that ever passed between us. I am the one with the diagnosis. He's never been diagnosed, at least not so he's telling, so I become the easy target to blame. And I take on blame. I have a lot of painful shame about being a borderline. It has made much of my life hellish but I have worked really hard to get better and that last thing I need is some ignoramus who is uninformed, except listening to other loonie tune friends of his who 'warn' him about getting close to a borderline. One friend, without even a college degree to her name, warned him 'don't get close to a borderline'. From that I extrapolate that he talked to her about my disability. But he never talked to me about it.

I've also been recently, and negatively, characterized a rogue lion because when someone is cruel to me, I get deeply hurt. When that person does not acknowledge my pain, I keep talking about it, as if to find release.  I want my hurt acknowledged. When it is not, my pain grows and I sometimes offload it in what looks like anger to some. It isn't anger.  It is pain.  I am not a rogue lion. Someone refusing to acknowledge having wronged me is more of a rogue lion, esp. when they begin to angrily denounce me as 'being so borderline'. If someone wants to do the best they can to hurt me, reducing me to 'such a borderline' and a 'rogue lion' is perfect. My pain ratchets up, I lash out in my pain, blind, wounded with no kindness forthcoming so I behave more and more unkindly, seeking any reaction but cold disregard of the fact that I am in pain. I wanted to be shown I am cared about, no rebuked for being an imperfect human.

I have several friends who work internationally as professional communicators and facilitators of communication. All these friends tell me that I am very good at explaining what I need to have optimal relationships with them, my explanations are good, clear and helpful. All these friends tell me that once they understand my individual needs, I am actually easier to communicate with than most people. I am comfortable being open about things most people keep private. I am vulnerable and honest about my human imperfections. Many have told me they learn from me and find it easier to be themselves after hearing about how I cope with my disability. But this ignorant bigot -- most bigotry is rooted in ignorant, right? -- did some internet research.

I told this to the psychologist I met today, about the internet research and he guffawed. He agreed with me that a lot of whacky shit gets slapped up on line, much of it by inexpert ignorant therapists trolling for clients. Alternatively, there is a lot of material from people who were in bad relationships, blame the other person, blame them for being borderline whether they were or not. Basically, such people are offloading their own responsibility for their fifty percent share of the relationship.

Anyway, my intake psychologist remarked several times, without knowing the above story or knowing that I am still a bit crippled by the verbal abuse*, said that he was impressed with how knowledgeable I was. He did not downplay how unhappy I am but he repeatedly observed that I seem to be using all the DBT skills properly, managing my disability well under personally painful circumstances.

So there, person who snarled "you are being so borderline" and "you are a fucking bitch".

*This 'you are being so borderline' person did express regret that he spoke to me about my disability while he was angry and reactive. Then he condescendingly, and ignorantly, imho, suggested that since I am a borderline and tend, as most borderlines do, to think in black and white, I might not be able to understand how he could behave like an insensitive jerk while angry and triggered. Duh. I am a borderline, not a moron. Most borderlines tend to have above average intelligence.  My black and white rigid thinking does not prevent me from grokking reality. B and W thinking is not psychosis.  He lost his temper and unloaded on me. I can see beyond my B and W thinking challenge and understand how people get upset (or triggered, as he put it) and erupt more emotionally than they otherwise would. I sometimes am guilty of this.Everyone is.  Everyone I have ever known has sometimes lost their temper, or been triggered, and spoken more harshly than they would otherwise. It was so insulting to be told "maybe since you think in black and white you can't understand that while angry, I lost some self control and said things I regret having said in the tones I used."  He did not, however, backpedal on the essence of his negative characterization. Man, this guy has lost his temper (or, in his vernacular, been triggered and reactive) any time I dare to 'negatively characterize' him but when he does it, he apologizes for saying negative charcterizations while angry but not for negatively characterizing me to begin with.   I only note this complaint because this guy has harped at me so many times for negatively characterizing him. It is especially galling because usually when he angrily has denounced me for, as he puts it, 'negatively characterizing him', I was not doing that. He projected that onto innocent word choices I made with wholly different intentions. When I would say "No, that was not what I meant" he has said "Then you must have been unconscious." But he's never unconscious. Oh no. He has insisted, so many times, that he and he alone retains the right to define his meaning and intention but he has withheld that right from me any time he fantasized, or projected, made-up meaning onto my words. Ack!!!!

I feel redeemed. And I feel a whole lot better. Validated. And not like quite such a fuck up as I have been feeling.

We've all heard the saying:  the people who never seek help are often the ones most in need of help. This guy has gone to some trainings to become a small group facilitator, which is about as close as he's gotten to therapy. Training is not therapy. T-group sure as shit aint therapy. Heck, you have to sign releases to do t-groups indicating you know it isn't therapy. But some t-group facilitators delude themselves into thinking they know 'all about therapy' because they facilitate a training group. NOT. T-groups are not therapy and neither is SDC, not when taken to learn how to use SDC with groups.

The guy who snarled 'you are being such a borderline' went to a once-a-month tgroup for years and he actually once said "It's sorta like therapy."  I politely let the comment stand but I wanted to say "Oh no it's not. Get some real therapy and then you'll know the difference."

I reclaim myself and the hard-won ground I worked to achieve. I am no 'so borderline'.  And I wasn't acting like a borderline when this guy told me I was. I was acting hurt. Hurt is not angry. Although when I mentioned that to the psychologist today, he pointed out that maybe in trying to be heard as I tried to talk about my hurt, maybe I came across as angry in my frustration over having my attempt to express myself ignored.

One session and I feel so much better.

Thank you goddess.

This therapist said that it sounded to him that when I tried to express my hurt over the birthday behavior, I felt unheard so, he suggested, perhaps I spoke more stridently and thus this insensitive male 'heard' anger. I went along with the therapist's speculation because we weren't there to do therapy but if it had been therapy, I would have talked about his assessment. I don't think I shifted into angry stridency when I tried to express feeling deeply hurt by the birthday diss. I think I spoke appropriately, although, yes, the person who had hurt me could easily have felt attacked. I was not attacking him, however. I was speaking in the first person singular about my feelings.

One of my therapy goals is to stop this kind of ruminating. I'm sick of this kind of ruminating.

doing something I don't wanna do

If I take more than a minute to write this, I'll miss my bus. I have an appointment today I dread.

I can't bring myself to write what I am doing today and I write about everything. 

Well, the bus won't wait for me.

I sure wish whoever follows my blog would not follow me anonymously. A big reason I am moving the blog it to shake the anonymous followers.

on starving & eating disorders

©When she was fifteen, my daughter decided to lose some weight before prom. It was startling how quickly her diet slipped out of her control and she was starving herself. Her prom dress hung a bit on her by prom time.

I knew, instantly, when her eating disorder emerged. Since then, I have talked to several young women living at home because they were too sick to work, had no health insurance for treatment so they were living with their parents. When I have told them I knew right away that my daughter had developed an eating disorder, each of these young women panics. They press me to tell them "how did you know? Do you think my parents know about my bulimia?" Or her anorexia, whichever it was.

I try to speak gently when this comes up with young women with eating disorders. I know that for an eating disordered woman, her most complex relationship, other than her relationship to food, seems to be her mother. That makes sense to me. Moms feed us when we are born, esp. moms who nurse as I did. A mother and child develop deep bonds over feeding. It makes sense that when the young woman's relationship to food gets distorted, she associated some of her pain with mom. I have also had this conversation with many young women, some that had been in many fancy treatment programs but none of the programs ever suggested that the reason the young woman had the hardest time with mom is that mom fed her her first food, and did so for a long time. A baby is completely dependent on adults to survive with food and the adult is usually mom.

This one young woman that I met at a Vipassana retreat really panicked when I told her I had known, I was sure, within a week or two when my daughter's onset of starving herself. Later my daughter binged and purged. Anorexia and bulimia are the same illness, different spectrums in the illness. The person's relationship to food becomes thought disordered. They are crazy when it comes to food. Irratinal. This gal wanted to bolt the retreat center, with one night left before going home. She wanted to rush home to look for signs her parents knew.

Very gently I pointed out that if her parents brought food in the house, then arose in the morning and all the food was gone, it wasn't rocket science to know the daughter was binge eating all night, as this young woman was. She kept saying "How could they know? I hide it, I never do it in front of them."  I said "Maybe they don't know but if they don't, they have chosen to be in denial. The person who shops for groceries for a household notices when all the cereal, eggs and toast disappear overnight when they thought they had bought enough to last a week. How could they not know?"

She pressed me for details for how I knew about Katie.

Katie's first tell was a bit bulimic. I used to buy packages of Paul Newman Organic Fig Newton cookies. My dad loved fig newtons and no one else I lived with ever did. So a box of Newman's Fig Newton's could last me a long time. I would never eat more than two. But suddenly whole boxes of fig newtons disappeared overnight. Since it was only me and katie in the house, I knew it was her cause it wasn't me eating whole boxes of Fig Newtons. I don't like them enough to binge on them.

Bingers don't have to like food. They are eating, I think, to not feel something. Any food will do.

Wanting to be a good mother, plus her doctor had noticed a problem might be developing, I pointed out to Katie that she was suddenly eating a lot more than she used to. I could not have known that would trigger anorexia, but it did. Suddenly she stopped eating anything.

We saw her pediatrician. He said she had to stop crashing off weight or her would hospitalize her. She was in therapy with Paul. Paul told me, when I picked up her file for the anorexia program, that he had never believed she would actually take it so far, that he was still struggling to believe she had crashed off 20 or so pounds on her already tiny, thin body. But she had.  She was warn by the pediatrician:   stop starving or it's the hospital for you.

She was eating one apple and a few bites of plain yogurt daily. That was it. The weight sloughed off. So she got hospitalized. AT the first visiting session, she begged me to get her out. I told her "You were told that you had to change and you were unable to do it on your own. Now you have to gain weight to get out.  I won't take you home."  I could have, of course. I was her legal guardian, after all.  I said "You got yourself in here. Now get yourself out." Surprisingly, she did not show me anger at my refusal to get her out. I tried to tell myself it was because she was scared, knew she was very sick, knew she needed help.

I never got to say much out loud about her anorexia. Anything I said about food at all upset her. She always believed I was trying to pressure her to eat. If we were in a restaurant together and I said "This looks good" she would flip up, seeing my innocent, normal talk as me manipulating her to eat more than she chose to eat.  I was forbidden to discuss what was on the menu, forbidden to discuss what I was thinking about ordering. All her life, we had eaten countless restaurant meals and debated together what to order. No more. Anything I said about food was loaded for her.

And it was worse at home. She would allow me to cook but stand guard to see what  I put into the food. She liked braised spinach. I would begin with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Spinach has lots of water in it. So if I put in half a pound of spinich, it looked very wet when it was done. She accused me of senaking in more olive oil to sneak calories into her. She refused to believe all the wet on the spinach was just water seeping out of the vegetable. So she would stand near me, watching everything I did like a store detective eyeing a known shoplifter.

Food was hell when my kid was sick with an eating disorder and eating around me.

I always wondered how the heck she could starve herself. how does a person just not eat?

Now I know why. In the pats year, I have not eatn for a couple days in a row. Partly I didn't eat because I was too depressed to walk to the fridge and pick up something to eat. Partly I didn't eat because my insulin resistance had caused me to pack on weight after the Type I diagnosis. Even now it seems the only way I can really lose is to just not eat.

I finally know how an anorexic starves herself. I feel in control. My life is a shambles. I am very unhappy. I can't control much of anything. But here is something I can control:  I can not eat, which keep smy glucose down and causes me to lose weight. I can't keep this up. My body is peeing out fat. The weight loss might initially seem good but I am also risking all the many complicaitons of diabetes.

But now I understand how a person starves herself.  You get used to feeling hungry. It is almost like a high. It feels high to feel in total control. It feels high to know you must be losing. And I am really fat. She never was.

And I see how one quickly slips from being able to control an occasional day of not eating and suddenly, ka-bam, you aren't eating anything for days at a time. I also understand how hunger strikers do it. I don't get headaches when I am starving, at least not much.  I feel just fine. I feel my body in ketosis, burning off fat as fast as it can. It is a kind of high.

Bad for me, sure, but I like losing weight fast.

I don't have to set a good example for my child. She's gone. I can do whatever I want. No one really cares what happens to me. I have no family. No close friends. I have a few friends who love me but they can't help me.

If I can't be loved, if I can't be happy, then, by golly, I'm going to be not fat. I don't set the goal of getting thin but I sure would like to buy normal sized clothing again. If starving will get me there, fuck it, I'm in. As long as my glucose tests okay. Amazingly, when I don't eat all day and I have injected minimal insulin, my glucose does just fine. The good glucose readings reinforce my decision to go on fasting. And fasting is a kind of high.

Around and around. Bad for me? What a paradox. I need to lose weight to be healthy but losing this way is bad for me.

Ack. Stop the world and let me off.©

Irish girls are the best

When my daughter, was about two, I wanted to buy her something green to wear on St. Patrick's Day. I went to the Irish shop to find something. It fascinates me that most places have an Irish shop. Berkeley does. And Omaha did.

I settled on a small women's adult size green t-shirt that said "irish girls are the best". She was only about two so it hung on her like a dress. I put her in black legging, belted the baggy t-shirt and sent her to school in that ensemble on St. Patrick's Day for years. I usually dyed some of her hair green, too. She has a German name. She is 1/4 German. 1/4 Croatian. And almost 1/2 Irish. I am 1/8 Scot so Katie is, what, 1/16 Scot? I am not sure how the fractions work here. She is more Irish than anything else, in spite of her very German last name. I wanted her to feel some of the pride I felt growing up Irish.

It wasn't the same. I grew up in an Irish ghetto. It was a ghetto in the sense that everyone I knew was of Irish American ancestry.  She did not grow up surrounded by her Irish clan as I did. Her Croatian-German relatives were very proud of being Croatian, which I still don't get. What's so great about coming from a part of the world that regularly slides into genocide?  The maternal grandparents escaped genocide when they emigrated and they gravitated to Omaha for low level jobs on the kill floor of meat slaughterhouses. Yuck. I don't think they could read or write when they came while all her Irish uncles went to law school, her Irish grandparents each had college degrees. I did my best. That "irish girls are the best' t-shirt seems lame to me in my memory but I am pretty sure she liked wearing it. She always wore it on St. Patrick's Day and no kid was ever more stubborn about clothes than my kid. So she must have liked "irish girls are the best'.

She is more Irish than anything else. She can cut me off but she can't remove her Irish.

cynefin, a welsh word I quite like

Cinefin is a Welsh word for a place where a being feels it ought to live. It is where nature around you feels right and welcoming.

I felt like MN was a place I ought to live for over 20 years. Then I didn't. I drifted, moved around. I never felt I was in my right place when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. I am not sure about Berkeley.  I would like to live somewhere warmer. Many folks who don't live in California think all of California is warm but the Bay Area is cold a lot. Not as cold at Minnesota but Minnesota has a dry winter that I found easier to tolerate than the cold damp of the bay.

But where to go? I felt unsettled, in the wrong place, every minute I lived in Seattle. I feel just fine in Berkeley but I also feel a nagging draw to be somewhere else. I'd be at that somewhere else if I knew where it was.


Now I hear my mom, sing-songingly preachy, saying with her maddening smugness, "Bloom where you are planted." Easy for mom. She never supported her self or her kids a day in her life. Men provided for her and provided very well.She was never poor, as I am. She could bloom because men provided what she needed to bloom.  If I had just a bit of money, I'd move to a warmer place (probably along the Mexican border in New Mexico, maybe LasCruces) in a heartbeat.

Bloom where you planted. Fuck that. Bloom where you feel cynefin.

I know no Welsh. I would like to know more Gaelic, the langauge of my ancestor.  I am very proud to be Irish. It really is better to be Irish than anything else. We Irish have the gift of gab, humor, intellingence and good nature. Some stereotypes of the Irish are that they are big drinkers but I never drink any kind of alcohol.

I have a fantasy of living in an Irish village, where everyone knows your name, my American accent is forgiven and I learn Gaelic.  Not all that many in Ireland actually speak Gaelic but some do and I would find them.

Mixing talking points. Why am I referencing Gaelic language when posting a Welsh word. I know, for sure, that the Welsh do not sine to be lumped in with Gaelic. Welsh are not Irish.

I do have a tiny percentage of Welsh heritage in my gene pool. Just to give you an idea of the very proudly Irish world I grew up in on Chicago's south side in the fifties and sixties, my parents actually warned us kids to not admit we were 1/8 Scottish.  The Welsh might not have been Gaelic but, like me, they were Celtic. Maybe that's why I feel an affinity with the Welsh. And maybe these thoughts are gobbledegook.

I wish I could go back in time when the annual rites of Baltane were practiced in the Northern British Isles including Wales and Ireland and, maybe, Scotland. So much more interesting than being middle class Irish from Chicago's South Side.

starving one's self

Last January, newly diagnosed as a Type I diabetic, I took a four day insulin class. We were supposed to eat all our meals with the nurses. We saw an endocrinologist daily who adjusted our insulin based on our constant glucose testing and reporting exactly what we ate. Everyone else in the class was skinny. Some had to fight to hold onto weight. No one single word in the class addressed the different but just as important needs of a fat Type I. Wthin six weeks, I gained 30 pounds without changing how I ate. I was eating a very low calorie diet and I ballooned up. I wish all the people in the world who have never been obese could really know, and believe, that it is not about calories in calories out.  People's metabolisms become damaged, stop working right and lots of people get fat because of health reasons. I can't prove this but I believe few people get fat, at least in the beginning of being fat, by compulsively overeating.  I know some fat people give up, develop hopelessness and then they binge eat and eat crazy because they figure what the fuck, nothing I do gets the weight off. I sincerely believe few obese people get obese by binge eating. I'm angry that so many, including lots of doctors, blame people for being fat when it is almost never something the individual did wrong.  Increasingly, studies are showing that fat is a health imbalance but the bias about obesity is so entrenched that we don't hear that news unless we seek it out.  Humans seem to like to have a pecking order, to have folks they can look down on. Fat people are so easy to look down on, to blame their problems on being fat. In a way, fat people are a gaift to not-fat ones, eh?

After that rapid weight gain from the insulin, I went a little crazy. I became very depressed. What triggered the depression? I have several health conditions that could cause depression, including diabetes.  I stopped taking most of my insulin because it was so clearly making me pack on weight. Not taking insulin made me feel sick all the time.

my best day of 2013, best moment that day

My best day of last year was January 28, 2013. A now-former friend came over to my place after having refused to come to my home, a refusal that had hurt me deeply, for a long time. I made soup. It turned out to be one of my tastier batches. I got the broth just right; spicy, savory, warming. The cannellini beans had simmered for hours so each one was flavored with that perfect broth.

First we just hung out and talked for about an hour. Then we ate. Then we walked to Moe's, a used book store in Berkeley. This man had sold 25 cartons of books to Moe's when he moved from Oakland into his parents' home in San Francisco. He deliberately hid the fact that he was moving from me. That hurt a lot. And he would not tell me where he lived for eight months. By the time he told me, my hurt had cut me so deep that I didn't get over it. I am not over it still. He was professing unshakeable love for me while moving in secret. Who hides a move from a friend they profess to love? Yep, it still stings.  He took store credit because Moe's gives you more 'money' in store credit than they give you in cash but he still had, and probably still has, a large credit at Moe's. I had suggested we go to Moe's and maybe I'd buy a couple books, give him the cash, convert at least some of his credit into cash for him. I didn't really want any books. I was being loving towards someone I loved.

I bought two poetry books. One was the Complete Works of Marianne Moore and the other was a fat Works by Robert Frost. I don't really like Frost but when I first knew this guy, he had quoted Frost to me a few times. I thought he admired Frost and I thought I might give Frost a shot based on this guy's favorable impression. With tax, I spent about $28. He bought some books.  It was warm in Moe's, cold outside and it felt great to be there, anywhere, with him. Buying those books was pure gift to him. I paid him cash. I bought them because he had grumbled about Moe's giving more in store credit than in cash. I paid him cash to help him get some cash for his store credit. I bought those books because I loved my friend, so it was an act of love.

The best moment:  on the way to Moe's, as we walked along, both of us happy just to be with one another, walking up Bancroft with book browsing ahead of us. A simple, happy time. A few times, we were almost dancing or skipping, for we tipped and bounced in our happiness, our simple happiness to be walking with one another.

Suddenly he pulled back his jacket, placed his thumb in the waist of his slacks to show me the slacks fit and he said "See these pants?  They had gotten too tight. Now they fit again because I've lost so much weight."  I had done a similar thing the last time I had seen him. I had worn a pair of dress navy slacks, my only pair of dress slacks, actually, that I had not been able to put on for years. When he pulled out the waist of those slacks, he leaned back, his blue eyes twinkling, joy sparking off of him. He seemed so happy. And I was so happy to see him happy.  I wanted to hug him, give him a kiss, but this friend never touched me so I never touched him.

After he had not, literally, touched me for a long, long time, I asked for a hug as he left from my sixtieth birthday lunch and he placed one hand on each of my arms for about two seconds, as if he was afraid I had something catching. He was stiff. It was not an embrace. It wasn't really a hug. It was the minimum touching a person could do to qualify for a technical hug. It was worse than if he had flat out refused to give me a hug but it would also been preferable to have been refused than to have received to cold, wincing, grimacing touch.

Last January 28th, when he joyfully showed me some pants fit that had been too small for awhile, I was happy. A sweet, simple happy. Just being with him, when he is not being mean, makes me feel at home. He is my anam cara for sure.

I am glad to have that memory, of him throwing back his upper body to thrust out his newly smaller waist, show off the also-nice slacks that he, like I had, had hung onto because they were good slacks so he kept them even when they got too small. Just in case.

It was a perfectly happy moment. Is such a moment worth the deep pain I am in now that he broke off our friendship?  I'm not sure.

I am sure that I am very glad to have the memory of that evening. I was in the golden tunnel. So happy just to be near him.  I am afraid I'll never find such moments again with anyone. I am afraid no one will ever be as wonderful as he can be. He's not always wonderful. He has a maddening tendency to be imperfect, the impediment of his perpetual Grail King wound.

I have that evening. I have that pants moment. I have the happy light in his eyes as he showed off his weight loss in the pants that fit anew.

Thank you goddess for small graces.

I wish everyone could know a person with this man's magical specialness. He is not always magically special. Sometimes he is a wounded Grail King and sometimes he is a bit of a dick. When he is in radiant mode, being with him is to know heaven.  I knew heaven on Jan 28, 2013. it is hard to accept heaven is gone for good.

I believe this man is one of my Anam Cara, a meaningful soul friend but he hasnot shown me friendship. Friendship includes trust and nearly every time he has ever talkedk to me, he has said he fears and distrusts me. We can't besoul friends without trust.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anam Cara is soul friendship

I imagine it breaks all the rules of being a good blogger to post several times on the same topic, in quick succession. Since I am an obscure blogger with almost no audience, I am okay doing things wrong. Then again, I am okay being the dissonant note much of the time.

I am grieving my recent loss of an anam cara. Remember that old song 'it's my party and I'll cry if I want to"?

It's my heartache and I'll wear it on my sleeve if I want to.

When blessed w/an Anam Cara: Gaelic belief

John O'Donahue, an Irsh poet, philosopher and former Catholic priest published a bestselling book called Anam Cara in 1997 (I think that was the year).  He wrote:

"You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and efinition. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home."

I have found an Anam Cara of mine but he feared and distrusted me. His fear and distrust has hurt me more than anything ever has. I can't imagine a harder wound to heal from. I am so bereft.

I will heal.  I will find home.

I love this Gaelic belief. Being Irish American, or Gaelic American, I find most Gaelic beliefs resonate powerfully within me.

An anam cara is not a lover, necessarily. It is a kind of soul connection, a deep bond, being to being, that can feel as old as time and as necessary as air. Having lost my anam cara, I struggle for air.

Wordsworth on pleasure

Wordsworth, careful of the dignity of the senses, wrote that "pleasure is the tribute we owe to our dignity as human beings." This is a profoundly spiritual perspective. Your senses link you intimately with the divine within you and around you. Attunement to the senses can limber up the stiffened belief and gentle the hardened outlook. It can warm and heal the atrophied feelings that are the barriers exiling us from ourselves and separating us from each other. Then we are no longer in exile from the wonderful harvest of divinity that is always secretly gathering within us. John O'Donohue, Anam Cara 

I found this on a FB page by Toko-pa, a dream expert. It is an interesting page.

I love the line from Wordsworth:  "pleasure is the tribute we owe to our dignity as human beings."

Anam Cara is a Gaelic phrase and, apparently, the name of a book by John O'Donohue.

more wisdom from Pete Seeger's dad

“People used words and forget that no two people attach the exact same meanings to the same words.”

Seeger's father said this. Now this is something I have long known. No two people attach the exact same meaning to the same words.

I used to have a friend, who is brilliant and has a PhD from Stanford to prove it, who repeatedly wrote, in emails, that language is a series of mutual agreements. The friendship was new, light and easy then and I did not challenge him. Plus I told myself a guy with a doctorage from Stanford had to be smarter than me. Turned out he isn't smarter than me. He's plenty smart. So am I.

Language is not a series of mutual agreements. It's more like a series of mistakenly assumed agreement, misperceptions, mistaken judgments and plain old misses. Like cultural norms, folks tend to assume everyone gives most things the same meaning they give it but people do not all give the same meaning to much.

Sometimes, and this is not a particularly pleasant energy to be in, I think and feel that it is quite rare for two people to achieve truly shared meaning when they converse.  I think most people are drawn to form life partnerships and to make commitments to one another because it is so hard to achieve shared meaning. A good life partnership is not about sex, kids, economic interdependency, home-buying or family. A good life partnership is an island on which two people understand one another. This is just theory. I have not achieved it. I long to.

truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch

The New Republic has a good, heretofore unpublished interview with Pete Seeger. Seeger quotes his father a few times. His father said "truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch". Seeger seems to have been raised by a wise, subtle thinker, which likely contributed to Pete's wise subtle thinking.

I love the line 'truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch".

Home is wherever I'm with you: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

I like this band's last album. There is a lightness, cheer & reverence for spirit in their art.

two no smoke

One of our standard go-to restaurants as my daughter was growing up was a very good Chinese restaurant called The Great Wall. I always got the kung pao shrimp and she always got the mandarin chicken. Often, driving over, we would each pledge that this time we would order something different. Then we went with the same thing.

We also ate there every Christmas. We'd have a home dinner on Christmas Eve, open gifts Christmas morning, do our Chinese thang and then go to the movies.

We went there regularly enough that we were regulars, known by the staff. As soon as we walked in, they knew we'd want a table for two in the no smoking section. In those days, restaurants still had smoking sections. Remember that?  And aren't you glad there aren't smoking sections in restaurants now? At least no where I go. I imagine some places allow smoking in some states. Red ones.

Everytime we went, we'd wait our turn to ask for a table. There was usually a line. It was a very good restaurant. No lines on Christmas Day but otherwise, usually a line. None of the staff spoke much English. They just knew all the basic phrases they needed to know to do their jobs. Everytime the hostess would ask us "How many? Smoking or no-smoking?" I would say "Table for two, no smoking section." Then she, the hostess would turn around, beckon one of the floating Asian staffers, and say to them "Two no smoke".

I probably hear that 'two no smoke' several dozen times when, one day, when the hostess asked  me how large our party was and which section did we want to sit in, I said, on autopilot, "Two no smoke."

The hostess' eyes widened, her jaw dropped. I am pretty sure she was shocked, believing I was making fun of her broken English. Her English wasn't actually broken. She was using 'two no smoke' with the servers who were newer immigrants who did not speak much English. She spoke a lot of English just fine.

And my daughter, an adolescent by then, said "Mom", making mom a long, whining, irritating twang.  She sussed me in the arm and said "You are being racist. You are so embarassing."

I had no idea what I had done. I had said 'two no smoke' automatically without thinking. It still makes sense to me. Two no smoke conveyed all I need to tell the hostess.

The hostess spoke in Chinese to the manager/owner who held forth behind his regal cashier counter. The owner took all the money.  The hostess glanced meaningfull at the owner's wife, who I believe was her mother. Ever polite, the hostess beckoned a server, told him to give me a table for two in the no smoking section. She still said 'two no smoke' to accommodate the guy's limited English.

I started to explain that I had not been making fun of the Chinese but Katie told me to shut up. So, feeling lame, I docilely followed the waiter to my seat. Katie was so mortified that I couldn't easily read whether the restaurant staff had actually been offended.  I was truly innocent and I thought it was not a big deal. Teens are mortified by their parents so much, it is hard to know when it is legit mortification or teen mortification.

On the way out, when I paid, I did explain to the owner that I had spoken unconsciously and was not making fun of anyone. We kept eating there. They treated us with the same graciousness they always had.

And I never said 'two no smoke' again.

I thought it was funny. I might have invented this memory:  it is my recollection that Katie came round to seeing my 'two no smoke' as funny. Yep, I am pretty sure she laughed about it. And on our drives to the restaurant after that, we usually said 'two no smoke' a few times, and giggled.

Good times. In the midst of culture clash.