Fun in Dysfunction?

I need a reason to use my fountain pens, you see? Writing letters does no good these days – nobody answers them!  So I bought, sometime ago, this little notebook which gives you the first line or two of a story that you are meant to finish in one page.  I had forgotten about it for a while in the overall rush of life around here.

I admit, it gets some of the political angst and dystopian terrors out of my head!  So here is an example for you!  The italicized bit is the part the book has started:

“Deal!”

Harry shuffled the deck of cards and pushed it across the table. “Deal,” he said. “One more hand,” I agreed.  It was a way to pass the time.  More importantly, it was a way to avoid talking about the problem we were tired of arguing over all the time.  When did it all get so difficult?  What happened to the real fun we used to have together?

Well, not just us, I guess. I’m not sure anyone has much fun anymore.  Almost nobody has any money.  Everyone uses up their food chits by the third week of the month.  Most folks look sleep deprived – specially those with gardens or chickens in the back yards.  Households take turns mounting guards on those sparse spare food sources – you can eat or sleep, but rarely both.

During the daytime, those not working at crappy Amazon warehouse jobs are busy keeping up online with the “pop-ups.” The 1% types have a public relations campaign as benefactors where they “pop” up at unannounced venues to pass out goodies.  Sometimes even jobs, but more often things like survival kits for purported emergencies like quakes or storms; but we know those kits will feed families that same night.  Social media sites highlight these new “opiates” of the masses moments as if they are Christmas.

Television tells the never-ending war news and begs for fresh warm bodies to go to the recruitment trains.  Few takers there means there has been more talk in Congress of lowering the draft age again – this time to age 16.  But that hit a snag when the Light Web broadcast video of a mass suicide of 17 year old women at a draft center gun range, this resulted in a peculiar silence about draft age.

Harry turns 17 next month, as do I.  He wants to knock me up to give me time to get across the border into Canada or Mexico.  But for now, we play cards instead.

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Divorce – When You Leave Your Cellphone Carrier

I’ve been hating AT&T for a good long while. My husband insisted they all cost the same and that AT&T gave him a discount as a Boeing employee.  Recently, however, our discontent with lousy coverage from AT&T made our sons decide they HAD to leave the family plan and go elsewhere.  My phone does not have the exclusively AT&T chip (as theirs did), so I was going to go with them.  That left only the Minotaur himself with AT&T.

So we all jumped – though three of us had to buy new phones.  We went to T-Mobile, they had a great plan for military members and retirees – four phone plans for $100 per month, reduced to $80 per month IF you signed up for automatic payment.  Three new phones and insurance added about another $100 per month.  This was still a great deal below AT&T’s rapacious $260 per month.  And we got FIVE TIMES more data!

So what is the “but” you ask?

Well, T-Mobile offers “break up” funds — they told us they would pay “up to $650 per phone” to cover costs of leaving our carrier.  We took that, incorrectly, to mean they would pay OFF the phones still having a balance at our old carrier.  That is not what happened.  The balance owed on three phones bought from AT&T came to $1100!  T-Mobile is sending us a debit card with only about $650.  Apparently, they only pay you what they GET from the phones you relinquish at the time of sign up.  So we were suddenly on the hook for $500 I didn’t expect.  And since AT&T, being made of ass, did NOT mail us our final bill as requested — we finally got the news online with only 4 days to come up with said $500.  It felt, irrationally, as if we were being punished for leaving – if we waited to pay until we got the card from T-Mobile, we would be put in collections.

So our new cellphone carrier is cheaper monthly, but a bit skeevy about how they keep advertised promises — all that damned small print.  And our old carrier IS really asinine.  I hate cellphones.  I hate computers.  I like phones on walls and letters.  But I know the world doesn’t move that way any longer, so I have both a cellphone and a computer.

Buyer beware – inquire closely about small print.  But it IS better than AT&T.  Now, we can actually GET phone calls while in a VA Hospital, for instance!

Bad Medicine

Doctoring is not my favorite activity….

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A recent post here at Herlander let me vent about how much I often hate the behavior of doctors with regard to female patients.  I’ve had my own issues with dumb ass parochial-assed medical professionals.  Like the one that diagnosed me with asthma at age 42, but by age 52 acted like those same symptoms were all in my head.  The same one that told me I was “tense” for three years while the nerves controlling my left arm died because of cervical disk compression/herniation.  The one that suggested that if I wasn’t allergic to my tattoo ink, my other allergies were non-existent, too.  Arrrrrgh.  That was the one where I snapped and fired him.  I just wish I HAD sworn more.…thank you Judy Dench!

But yesterday I had an extremely positive medical experience.  We recently changed our “doctoring” from the Multi-care system to the Franciscan.  Our Multi-care doctor’s…

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The Stuck Skeptic

skeptic: (1) a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions
(2) a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions – an atheist

Hmmm.  I am absolutely definition #1.  With #2 I don’t even get to the end of the definition without an objection: the use of the word “truth” with regard to Christianity or any other religion.  For me, “truth” is a proven thing – not a belief, nor a feeling, nor an opinion.

I have beliefs, feelings and opinions – none of them are facts, nor truths.   I have no “faith” – I have experiences.

Can I say those beliefs, feelings, and opinions are in some sense “true for me”?  Maybe you could, but no, I could not.  I exist in a state of permanent and painful doubt.  My comfort zone, perforce, is the discomfort zone.  The problem with that is translating beliefs and feelings into action when there is not some sort of implicit trust in the absolute trustworthiness of said belief or feeling.

I attempt to cope with being on the liminal edge of rationality by considering my experiences in mysticism a personal divergence perhaps devised by my brain/sub-conscious to teach me something or enable some new insight.  This is semi-satisfactory.  It is one small side-step away from calling deities and all other religious paraphernalia “metaphors”.  That bit is not satisfactory to me.  Metaphors are pretty weak beer compared to the mildest mystical experience, you see?

I have been teased, by pagans (and suggestively damned by Christians) for my “liminality” – about which the best thing I can say is that it demonstrates intellectual flexibility and the worst thing I can say is that I am glorifying fence sitting.  Over time in almost 65 years of living, I have been poised on a particular edge time and time again.  The edge of belief that changes my life and precipitates me into some action based upon that belief.

It feels, to me, like I imagine it would feel if the world really were flat, to be walking on that very edge on teetering high heels.  Sooner or later, I must fall – but in which direction?  Back to the hard surface of only what I see, hear, taste, physically touch, or smell? Or off the edge of the accepted world into an other/darkness that, to me, is alive with possibility?  To my (6th?) sense – some finely tuned perception I don’t know what to call, that sightless place I could fall feels more warm, more alive, more real than the place I walk through (in occasional agony) daily.

How to willfully go into and come back from that perceived other reality is, for me, the central question of spirituality.  Shamanistic tradition says that is the job of the shaman.  It is good for me to know others have perceived that same other and that there is at least a practice of negotiating that journey.  I have used shamanistic techniques and felt like there was success.  Did it convince and reassure me?  Only partially; I am hard-wired to doubt even my own experience.  Why is this?

Perhaps because I have seen such spiritual/religious techniques/practices put to such abuses by those who call themselves priests/priestesses that I am repulsed and fearful.  Such an other would seem to perhaps partake of some power, and we all know the saying about power corrupting in proportion to its absoluteness, don’t we?  It is not that possible power I fear, it is my own sufficient resistance unto that power, then?

And yet, the fence I sit upon is ever more uncomfortable and un-satisfying.  In a world ever more damaged and dangerous, to sit semi-serenely upon any fence seems more and more an existential act of bad faith.  It could be described as a steroid-enhanced Pascal’s Wager of sorts:  IF I could by believing and thus acting in a certain way, make my world healthier, better, happier – would I not be ethically wrong to NOT believe, and thus not act upon said belief?

That is where I am.  That is not to say I have never acted upon those tremulous moments of utter belief – I have.  The Labyrinth is one example and it is the enduring nexus of peace in my life, but also an enduring example of sensation of an otherness the five ordinary senses do not explain.  If that action based on something I could not prove had such a result, why would I not simply not “fall” into that unbelievable/unprovable otherness – but dive, full-heartedly?

I am stuck.  “Snarling logicality” IS a thing, not a labyrinth – but a maze, a trap, a frustration.  I am stuck.

I don’t like being stuck.  It reeks of failure.  I don’t like failing unless I am learning something that allows success the next time.  So, I must move forward mapless or not.  I will begin with physical motion – enrolling in a formal yoga course, perhaps.  I know one that insists upon engagement of the mind and spiritual with that physical.  I will consider, perhaps, a meditative tattoo?  Something to insist on the marriage of mind and body with room for that spiritual dimension I perceive and struggle to believe is possible?

 

Shop

…as in, computer in. I will do anything to get out of posting, eh? It actually is still here but mid-massive- back-up mode. Arrrgh.

Have a ferret picture instead!

My Own Personal El Dorado (Instead of Jesus)

I should be doing yoga or something, right?  (And I will, in a few weeks again.) Yes, here is the boring post about how well my efforts to boost my own health after a rather crummy coughing-all-the-damned-time-winter.  I’ve been told I have allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, and rheumatic heart disease.  I should be a wreck with a pill collection to rival anyone, shouldn’t I?

Nope, I prefer to collect tattoos, if I am going to collect anything, thanks.  (Yes, that picture is almost ten years old now – but it shows the most of my tattoos!  Honestly, my hair is a bit shorter than then and my face is older – but not too much changed on my back!)

I do have allergies.  Asthma?  Not sure about that one, I have an inhaler which sometimes makes the hacking cough vanish.  But I don’t wheeze much and if I am short of breath it usually is because my heart is doing 188 beat per minute tachycardia tap dances to bitch about being at an altitude in excess of 3500 feet.

Did/do I have chronic fatigue?  I certainly WAS fatigued in the late 80’s — with three kids, college classes, part-time job, house and garden to run and volunteer work on weekends.  Do I have fibromyalgia – which I believe only when the pain simply sidelines me for two or three days?  I don’t know; I have spinal injuries and stenosis around the nerve channels that could cause the pain I have; I take muscle relaxants and get a massage and make myself work my body.  Or is my body old and resentful of past injuries and indignities?  It is hard to be sure – I keep my activities well centered between being too still and becoming stiff and being too over-worked and inducing pained exhaustion.

In the end, for me?  Diagnosis is less significant than learning to live in my own aging body.  I will be 65 this fall.  The gray is in my hair and will stay there.  Menopause gave me a little round belly pot making my navel look like it should be a pincushion’s central button!  I disapprove – having sufficient vanity for that!  No liposuction for me.  No, instead I focused on continual use of muscles so I don’t lose them and the one way I think I might burn some excess fatty tissue.

I took up intermittent fasting (time restricted eating version) as of January 1st this year.  I eat during an eight hour period each day and do not take in anything nutritive in the other sixteen hours of the day.  Usually, I eat between eleven in the morning and seven in the evening, giving myself two days per week to ignore the clock entirely.    At the end of December, I weighed 152 pounds.  For comparison, that photo was taken when I weighed 145.  I now weigh in between 138 and 140.  I have gone from a rough approximate of 35.8% fat (according to a scale I hate) to 30.4% body fat.

Researchers say that intermittent fasting makes the body break down fat to burn as fuel and does NOT use regular lean tissue for energy – as certain other dieting regimens can do.  So far?  I’d say they are right.  I feel better.  I am not starving.  My energy levels improved almost at once within two weeks of beginning.  Clothing that was snug now fits loosely.  I eat protein at every meal and am increasing my intake of vegetables.  My love and addiction to sweets seems pretty busted up – I have the occasional indulgence (ice cream!), but I no longer feel constant cravings.

In addition, a surprise benefit?  Pain relief!  Who knew, but the human brain apparently really sucks at multi-tasking?  The two main tasks – keeping the body fed and free of injury conflict!  So if I am slightly (not even noticeably) hungry at night, my body focuses on THAT instead of on chronic old injury-related pain that used to wake me at night!  Reduced pain AND waist size?  Now that is a fucking El Dorado any female Conquistador would go for, don’t you think?

 

 

No Tarot, Tho’ Tuesday

Busy week. Life a bit crazy. Still in Blue Beltane mode.

I did put the 49 beads for names I listed last year on the central stone of the Walk of the Fallen last night.  I walked in a few names I had missed due to very late release of said names.

We did carry a cup of woodruff spiked beer to the center as well.  Apple trees round the area are in bloom; my last apple tree however, is still not.  And so it goes.

I will mull over my Wear the Tarot readings and post-project thoughts before next Tuesday.  Do I pick jewelry by mood now, or draw a card.  Do I pick a bit to wear and then look up the card to see if it speaks of my current mood or not?

A Hard Year – Not Over It

A dark spot moves on the rug in the midnight moonlight – and I still think it is Maggie.

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(Edit: post made public late – after a couple weeks to think about it.)

Still a empty black hole through the heart although a year has passed.  Maggie was the last heartbreaker kitten for this house.  No more rescue dogs either, since one of those savagely killed her, abetted by another nasty little rescue dog we had for almost three years of misbehavior.  We kept him and kept working because sending him back meant euthanasia for him.

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Pre-Beltane Blues

I had thought, this year, that I could perhaps do a more rigorous celebration of Beltane.  It seems so long ago that we set up a Beltane altar on my hearth and we took a picture before going out to light a fire in a newly constructed pit that we leapt over at midnight.  Beltane in the mid to late ’90’s was a favorite sabbat here, all that changed for me in 2003.  On May 1st, George Bush did his whole “mission accomplished” show on the deck of an aircraft carrier and something furious in me ignited like white phosphorous.  It burnt out the joy of the sabbat I celebrated near May 1st – whenever my apple trees blossomed and linked the day forever in my mind with the cross-year sabbat of Samhain.  My last attempt to celebrate Beltane was with a May pole raised around 2007 or 2008, but even then my heart wasn’t in it.

I thought perhaps I was simply too old to think of all the light-hearted fertility rites of May?  In 2003, I burned off the fire inside myself by building the Labyrinth.  For all the years since then, I have walked those stones — sometimes several times a week, sometimes only on a Friday.  Today, much later than usual, I will go out there to place the counting beads back on the central stone.  Usually I do this on the Vernal Equinox — but freezing nights that damage the more fragile ceramic beads have continued until recently.  Over 8000 beads for the men and women of the US and Coalition forces have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria.  Their names fill a shelf of books written in by dates of death.

But I had hoped this year, to return somehow to more Light and reserve the heavier bit for the ending of the year at Samhain.  But no, I’m not feeling it.  I wrote letters, not Beltane cards, to the people I care most about – pagan and other friends who matter to me.  We note five sabbats here: Yule, the Feast of the Wolf (Feb), Beltane, Summer Solstice, and Samhain.  The Equinox “sabbats” are of the working sort here — pre-planting and harvesting activities.  Beltane is the most quiet ever since 2003, no fire rises outdoors most years.  This year, there will only be a momentary rest with a beer from the tiny Catholic Bavarian cloister brewery where my youngest son was named: my “Mai-bowl” will be that here-weisse with a added shot of green waldmeister syrup.  The waldmeister – sweet woodruff, is beginning to bloom in my front flower garden.  Soon that sweet scent, followed a bit later by the hawthorn will fill the air.  Summer, as we count it, will begin.

The Minotaur and I planted the gardens this week — our first real effort at growing vegetables in several years.  Since 2012 all the space reserved for growing food has sat mostly fallow, as our marriage itself sat fallow in the wake of his PTSD crisis in 2011.  We didn’t reclaim it all – the back east-yard gardens are still fallow and deer haunted.  We must raise the fence this summer before we can make progress there.  Perhaps I should not worry about a lack of fire and celebratory behaviors?  Perhaps all sabbats should be “working sabbats” of ingrained living actions?  I was ever the advocate of “sacramental life” wherein what was holy was invested in daily behaviors, after all.

I contended that one didn’t need a “ritual fix” if kneading bread was a holy action sustaining life and love.  So, even if my Beltane is forever linked to death and grief intended to be noted at Samhain — I celebrate continuation of life and its fertility in planting my gardens?  We planted green beans and cucumbers, zucchini and lettuce, broccoli, radishes, and carrots and here and there to brighten things – flowers.  Beltane here is the waking into early summer intended, of course, to wake us humans as well.  Perhaps that is my problem?  I am SO “woke” that I can never sleep, never rest, never stop?

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We used to tie pretty “wish ribbons” to the hawthorn tree on Beltane.  I don’t know what to wish for these days as life seems one long slog of effort with little time to truly rest.  I “count my blessings” as I have been told to do; but each one is harder to hold onto these days.  Everything feels so tenuous and at risk.  Almost everyone I know is struggling in one way or another and I cannot help most of them at all.  Beltane of old marked the end of cruel winter and starvation.  Thus I celebrated when the apple and cherry trees blossomed – promising fruit.  How does that update to the 21st century as a spiritual marker?  Yes, nature is greening around us; but that doesn’t make better paying jobs and more stability these days.

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What we need is a greening of minds perhaps?  I suppose that is what ritual is supposed to do for us.  I can wake the earth within my property boundaries.  Tell me what ritual wakes the minds of the ones intent on delusion and hatred?  Beltane is lost to me as a joy of the season; this saddens me because remedy seems out of my reach.  I walked my house late last night with full moonlight flooding in my windows, after a restless night with gunfire on our road.  The springtime rite of weeding the labyrinth was completed last Friday, the Passion flowers are blooming there.  If only Beltane could re-ignite a passion in my hopeless heart.  But for me, whatever went amiss in 2003 is still amiss.  I will garden and live, strive and give.  If I cannot do it with any true sense of joy, at least I can do it with a determined doggedness.

May it be better than this for you!