Content Charmed with Context
Hidden Scores (What is ORAC?)
About seven months ago, I started researching literally every food I consume, rather than my generalist, lifelong obsession with plants and their effects. I wanted to know all the information about the things I consume daily versus what is touted for or against eating them. I have read countless blogs, several books, and too many contradicting studies at this point. However, I did find one unifying thing about the foods I eat now that is not really discussed in the way it should be in the modern media landscape: the ORAC score.
People are already framing ORAC as a "nutritional buzzword." I agree it's used constantly by proponents of a strict plant-based vegan diet to tout how much more beneficial plant-based, high-carb diets are compared to a low-carb, keto, or omnivore approaches. There is a big flaw with this idea that plant-based alone is best to get your ORAC score up. By researching my own personal diet I discovered that I eat way more antioxidants based on ORAC values than most people and I eat meat, fat, and low carb, not processed food. In fact, my diet always gets at least 500% more ORAC units than recommended.
How? I eat spices, herbs, and nuts all the time with every meal, especially meals with spiced meats and fish. The foods with the highest scores are nuts, herbs, and spices, not the veggies and beans everyone talks about. Not many in the nutritional gurus and supposed online "expert" landscape seem to mention herbs or spices often. The argument against mentioning spices along side foods is that no one eats that much of them, so their ORAC score has no impact. But that's simply not true; with most spices only need a teaspoon of spice or herb to compare to an entire serving of vegetable or fruit.
Maybe I'm just a spicy sort of lady but I almost always use about a tea spoon of herbs and spices in every meal.
The ORAC score is based on 100 grams, so when viewing it only as 100 grams, naturally no one is going to eat that much spice. However, just one teaspoon of these herbs and spices, about 4 grams will give you at least double and up to ten times the ORAC units of other more often discussed antioxidant foods like blueberries for example. Spices are way cheaper and more shelf-stable when seen as a ORAC powerhouse than fruit and veg.
Beans are one of the only other shelf-stable foods with a mentionable ORAC score that are also inexpensive. However, you need to eat at least a small bowl of high-carb black beans just to get the same impact of even the lower-scoring spices and herbs at one teaspoon. You're best off drinking to a cup of coffee, which has a higher score than beans too.
If you are following a nutrient-dense diet with a focus on whole foods, like I am, the spices are a win. Just adding rosemary, or oregano to my meal beats the ORAC value of beans. Putting some cinnamon or turmeric, or chili powder in your food also bumps it up. And most keto-friendly vegetables have a higher ORAC score.
Eating a small handful of pecans, walnuts, or olives, is also superior to a bowl of beans and the often touted brightly colored foods.
Not that I am speaking against brightly colored fruit and vegetables I usually eat at least eight servings of those a day when in season. Having food as my main medicine means acknowledging the use of abundant herbs and spices added to any meal, plant-based or not, is essential to get enough ORAC-value food in your diet.
When scraping the internet for information on ORAC scores, you will find lists made by blogs claiming to be discussing high-antioxidant foods but they rarely mention spices, herbs, and nuts. There is an inherent bias towards certain diets, and most of this bias is designed around a marketing agenda rather than up-to-date science. Expecting people to be able to afford to eat $5 worth of blueberries every day or $10 worth of organic vegetables every day just to get good amounts of antioxidants all year in a country that doesn't pay a living minimum wage is ridiculous.
My suggestion is to look up the things you eat individually. Daily consumption of high-quality coffee, herbs and spices, nuts and/or olives, and you'll be all set. Getting good amounts of these wonderful antioxidants without needing to buy or consume a huge amount of perishable expensive food is possible.
Another cheap fun thing to do if you have a yard or window box is grow some rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and peppermint and just eat a sprig or two to up your antioxidant intake for awesome health benefits, plus tasty too!
my typical lunch
this meal is reasonable only in season
lovely in season figs
Men on Pause
At long last, my first indications that I might be going through "the change" have started to appear. I can't be sure, because my evidence is a bit shaky, but I had my first ever early period and a night sweat. Due to some recent random gunshot sounding fireworks combined with my PTSD I can't be sure the latter is connected to being perimenopausal, but considering my age, 51, I'm going to make some assumptions.
I realize that most women don't look forward to going through this stage in life, reasonably so because having massive hormonal shifts, weight gain, more wrinkles, skin changes and hot flashes isn't particularly thrilling to contemplate, but I have wanted this for so long. I can remember the first time I looked forward to it.
On my first visit to a gynecologist after my extremely painful eight days long periods had started, I was in the waiting room when I overheard two older African American ladies chatting and laughing.
“You know he’s lucky I didn’t shoot him too the way Rosy did her man.” Both ladies cackled. "I mean they say it was an accident but you know..."
Me contemplating another visit with Auntie Flow.
Culture: Thy Name is Mother
In the past few days I've been reminded often of the cultural acceptance, or at least tolerance, of all sorts of beliefs and ideas- with the glaring exception of those that are primarily women led or have a historical basis in feminine ritual.
I could give hundreds of examples in my own life but I stick to basics we can all see in daily life.
Example: The media would never attack the big three monotheist belief systems for believing in some totally not possible stuff like a big dude in the sky that loves us all (except when he doesn't) but the same media is dismissive of forms of astrology or belief in Mother goddess of the Moon, or even Sky Father and Mother etc.
An example from the opposite end but with similar functions in life to religion: versions of therapy and psychology, like couples therapy with a pastor etc which could be considered "churching" are totally acceptable.
Even Mindfulness from DBT which is a lot like some aspects of Buddhism, is an example of something acceptable yet not totally "proven by science" but someone reading your tarot cards, making a person present with reflection upon what is there all around you, and what you have experienced in the past, just like Mindfulness, is considered totally bonkers.
Meditating is another great example accepted as totally valid by science and therapy—dare I say encouraged. Though much of witchcraft is similar to meditating and works better for many of the women I know, we're supposed to hide it or not call it witchcraft-related so we won't be ridiculed.
I can't tell you the number of podcasts I've seen with guys pretty much describing witchcraft but calling it Life Coaching or transcendental meditation.
Ritual, especially when helping to reinforce good habits, and broadening one's thinking, is a marvelous way to connect to your inner self and even connect with others. Self-determined ritual is my preference, but others chose older versions they feel culturally or spiritually connected to, which might work better for them.
Singing or some kind of chanting in ritual magic is pretty standard. But if you don't call it a mantra or a prayer when do this practice, you'll be mocked.
Important note: I am not trying to convince anyone to believe in anything, literally ever, except perhaps believing in themselves. I write these blogs to give voice to some of what I know others experience.
I know quite a few scientist friends who hide their witchcraft practice, or non-monotheist beliefs who don't publicly acknowledge it for fear of ridicule in the same workplace where going to a church is considered absolutely normal and would not elicit any mocking.
It would be really great if the mainstream stopped ridiculing people, particularly women, who have different spiritual ideas, as long as those ideas, or beliefs, don't actually discriminate against or harm someone. I think it's important to have an other side of the coin sort of perspective out there- like Atheists vs Theists but mocking for the sake of mocking without giving in real consideration to what those belief systems do is pretty tragic, more for those who ridicule because a narrow, not flexible, perspective isn't good regardless of your particular beliefs or lack thereof.
A lot of great advice has come my way from fortune tellers. There could be many reasons: maybe the cards are like iconoclasts in art that can help the mind visualize; maybe my own connection to the medium gives it a special significance. Maybe some people use them to communicate in a more organized way with themselves, becoming able to unlock some unconscious inner feelings. Or maybe there's something else to them...
Regardless of why, they work for me, I used to hesitate to speak publicly about them, because I knew ridicule would ensue. So that aspect of my world, for a long time, became underground and only shared with the others who didn't dismiss me.
I once had an astrologist, (Vedic) tell me about all the injuries I had suffered until that point my life (which if you only knew whoa, you'd be impressed)
I went to a pagan ritual, didn't do any drugs, danced with the group naked, and that night dreamed of my future, which I am currently living.
I've been to countless ceremonies where I learned about life and felt deeply connected to the earth and to existence. The first versions of altruistic, unconditional love came into my life from these gatherings.
I admit to seeking these things out most of my life, but that seeking comes from a perspective of things that actually enhanced and worked in my life not from blind dogma.
The communing with nature I've done my whole life- barefoot in the garden or the woods or the beach is now being called "grounding" by the "let's not call this witchcraft" set. The herbs I've relied heavily on for health reasons introduced to me by witches, have also become accepted. Gut feelings are even being scientifically accepted via the microbiome's connection to how we think and feel. But don't ever dare connect them to the rituals we witch sorts have been doing for centuries, even millennia.
Witch, in the context I describe, includes both the label slapped on women during the persecutions by monotheists for hundreds of years and women and men who have found their own way through nature based rituals, based in previous beliefs, as well as practitioners who embrace and celebrate the feminine aspects of existence in everyday life.
Cultural traditions connected to women and mothers are very much the basis of humanity's ability to cooperate as species which is why we are a successful species. I think it's pretty sad that modern methods of translating old feminine ideas that work feel the need to remove our Mother earth and mothers from the equation or narrative.
This modern recasting of ritual and witchcraft reminds me of when all those men on TV became super famous for making the food our mothers have made for centuries but until someone "is professional" by the Capitalist Hunta ruling the world, they aren't considered valid. Most of those dude-centric food stuff shows are diluted now, and even traditional cooking led by women is starting to get the attention it deserves but it was super annoying to watch in the early days of the "foodie" world awakening.
I guess I'll just have to hope the same happens with all these mansplaining podcasts with dudes writing books about ideas which are essentially witchcraft and ritual magic as if they invented it.
I am sure the hippies I've known all my life are a bit annoyed by the same people taking ideas they have embraced decades ago, and selling them as self-help.
Long live flower power. Or at least the power of flowers.
I've made my feelings on the 4th of July holiday fairly clear already so today I'm going to highlight things that gave me independence on this day and helped me in forming better health and habits over the past 3 years or so. I have the pandemic to thank for much of this self focus.
I spent a lot of my time before the pandemic focusing on everyone else and their needs as a default operating mode, as many women are socialized to do from a young age. The pandemic and the need to avoid people for an extended period changed my thinking about most aspects of life. I survived. Many people I love did not and I owe it to myself and to them to carry on in the best way I can.
So after much research and years long self experimentation I can confirm all the things below as greatly enhancing my life and that compromising on them makes my life worse. In other words these are my personal "complicated house plant" instructions:
Panfur the local stray waiting for me on the porch
This morning's flowers plus my coffee
Deep Blue Sea
My apologies to regular readers, I've been on a blog hiatus while I finish the final drafts of my fictional memoir (fictional because fiction can be more free and honest than non-fiction sometimes). It's tough to be involved in creative writing based on my life, from my own past before the MAGA crowd had all the power, and then switch my mind and thinking to the current times to write a blog. Happy to report I'm nearly finished with the final draft. Another factor contributing to my hiatus was weather- it stopped raining here in coastal maritime Washington and that means being outside as much as possible in the garden and at the beach. Writing comes second to desperately needed sunshine in this rain dominant world I live in.
This past weekend my husband and I played music for a bit at the local Pirate fest. I danced, dressed as pirate bellydancer, for three days in a row. The amount of human interaction required for festivals is something I am just becoming accustomed to again after the past few years with almost no activity with crowds. I used to do these sort of festivals quite often, but I think I need build up my socializing muscle a bit more to do them regularly again.
It was a family friendly silly pirate festival. Many little ones came to dance with us which is why I love busking and performing more informally on the street in the day time. There is no stage or formalizing of the activity so children feel like they can participate in the music and dancing without being afraid or timid. I've busked long enough now to know adults, who have come up to me at a show, remembering how they meet me on the street as children. Some of these young adults even blame me for their interest in becoming a musician or dancer- which is exactly why I do it.
I've played also many stages during these sort of festivals which, while still great experiences, they are less fun for me because the band stage is always near the beer garden and there's less audience interaction due in part to the roping off of said beer garden.
So in my opinion busking is almost the perfect way to perform, but I make sure to go dance for the band stuck on stage whenever I can.
Still, at one point during these festive things I always have an overwhelmed moment where I can't continue to mask. And because there's no way to hide myself when dressed as a festooned bellydancing pirate, I walked to the ocean during one of these moments when I felt too many eyes on me and the self conscious awkward autistic self needed alone time. I've noticed over many years, living near beaches, a universal reaction to the sea-no one tries to interact with me and almost everyone is hypnotized by the water too.
I sat there perched on a rock as the waves crashed against the shore, the salty wind blew in my face, and I connected to the ancient everlasting deep blue sea. The sea was here before us and will be here when we are a faded memory and well beyond that time too. It felt good for a moment to remember the impermanence of existence without feeling the grief of loss.
I finally feel my life is normalizing again after the traumas, intense changes, and losses of the pandemic, despite the crazy amount of war and disaster going on affecting friends of mine around the world, and despite the anti-gay laws and anti-woman laws affecting friends and family around the US. I am settling into the new realties of modern life, which has shifted greatly for anyone really paying attention, and doing my best handle the moments of extreme grief and understandable anxiety.
It's probably why this weekend felt a bit odd for me because this sort of festival weekend is from the before times and so many of my festival friends from over the years aren't here anymore, but I bet they would be pleased I went out to rejoin the fray. I am making new friends in my little town who I believe my chosen family who have passed on, would have considered new chosen family too.
And I bet those treasured friends would be equally happy to see me jump in the sea in my pirate clothes which I did on Saturday despite the very cold water.
ARRRRRRG! Matey! On with summer explorations!
Two videos I found on social media of my dancing pirate behavior.
The booth artfully handled by the skeleton crew of one (clarinet player)
Everyone feels welcome on the street, unlike the stage
requisite pirate selfie
Lately, I find myself extremely disappointed in medicine as it stands in most of the western world, and it's not just the lack of access and the high cost, the treatment is extremely subpar, bordering on cruel.
I recently finally got to see an actual good primary care provider, so the contrast is on my mind.
Since 2020 I've tried and failed to even get an appointment in the system. Eventually, just last month, I finally got an appointment with an inexperienced ARNP who completely ignored me, spent almost the entire time with his back to me filling out computer forms, and asked medical history questions I had already answered on the extensive intake form. Then he told me he had limited time and couldn't be bothered to check both things I needed addressed in the visit, saying I had to pick one. So I picked one, though both issues are a big deal. He dismissed my choice and didn't even examine me. I recorded the entire visit on my phone so I can have it as a record of care—even listening to a few minutes of the recording had my husband hopping mad. He said he never experiences these things in comparison. I'm a woman of lesser means, so my entire visit with the actual provider took 12 minutes and 22 seconds. 95% of which was spent with his back to me.
I had to demand my bloods get taken (as he was leaving the room). I fasted before the visit, making the assumption that someone would at least draw blood. I had to demand a referral for something I've been told I need to do every year—a colonoscopy—after having had surgery for early stage colon cancer. I had to get pushy about seeing simple things, usual things, like a gynecologist. No referrals have come through, only a text saying how the dermatologist he referred me to is no longer accepting my insurance. This guy, this ineffectual ARNP is supposed to be my health gatekeeper; without him, nothing I need gets addressed.
My experience in America is very common. I went on the hunt again for a medical provider and finally had a bit of luck.
A local friend recommended a naturopathic doctor who is allowed to be my primary care provider in Washington state. I had the opposite experience with her. She didn't ignore me. She is a health advocate. I wasn't an annoying visitor who shuffled out of the room. I feel I may have a chance now to restore and maintain my health fully.
I have received bad medical advice for most of my life. In the form of misdiagnosis, a lack of being assessed or diagnosed at all almost leading to my death, and even a flat refusal to help me many times, as happened recently when I asked for a COVID test before they were available to everyone.
I have been treated like a buffoon, disrespected, told being fat was why I was sick (when actually it was the other way around), and literally just not believed. I've been prescribed crazy amounts of pills to treat my symptoms, which made my hair fall out and my body hurt more. 14 surgeries over 33 broken bones, 50 dislocations, and many acute infections have made me an expert on the mediocre response to serious health issues in America. If they can't give you a pill, or cut it out of you to make it go away, a patient is unlikely to get much help.
All of my bad medical treatment has been based on that particular doctor's opinion, but we must acknowledge a culture of misinformation or bad information in modern western medicine, particularly around diet, exercise, and lifestyle, which arguably have the greatest impact on disease.
My health journey of recent times is because I decided to finally completely ignore the advice I was getting. I have always researched (and I mean this in a JSTOR, Pub Med, etc sort of way, not just youtube) my issues. Also, most of the health gains I have made have been self directed. I read, I consult, and I go for it.
I volunteer and share my experiences with some young people similar to me so that I can help them help themselves.This bad advice is given to all of them too.
Here are some recent examples of what many of the young ones I mentor have been told by medical doctors:
•Eat right and exercise, and you’ll lose weight
•We “burn fat”
• Low-fat food helps with weight loss
•Salt causes high blood pressure
•Cholesterol is bad for you and causes heart disease
•Exercise has almost no effect on weight loss. But it can help prevent weight gain (marginally).
•Cholesterol is essential for health particularly brain health and the links between heart disease and cholesterol in otherwise healthy people are erroneous. However, insulin issues combined high intake of sugar plus cholesterol are dangerous for your heart. It’s the sugar, not the fat.
Most of these corrections are not new crazy science. If you are in medicine you have had access to this information at least 5 years ago if not a decade or more.
Yet, these myths are still given out as advice every day.
And for all the people out there thinking it's not such a big deal, think about the deeper issues. If you struggle with health, then are given advice that doesn't work or makes it worse, by the person who is supposed to know what to do, maybe you think there is nothing that can help. Maybe you follow it until you die, likely an early death, honestly.
The danger of health myths (for some reason people always think alternative medicine is to blame for all myths, but actually more often myths come from MDs) is the unintended consequences. A perfect example is Alzheimer's. Eating the right fats can greatly reduce the likelihood of the disease, yet patients are often still told to eat a low fat diet.
So if your doctor(s) say to eat right, ask them to specify what they mean and scrutinize this advice. If they start off telling you to lower your sugar intake and try not to eat processed foods, then you've lucked out and have an informed clinician. If not, take your health destiny into your own hands. There are always things that can help, maybe not cure, but definitely lessen the impact of disease.
As a chronically ill person with a whole bunch of genetically inherited diseases with a half century of experience in the system I can report that naturopaths, Chinese/Eastern doctors, and herbalists have made a bigger difference in my health than any general practicing MD ever has.
I acknowledge that if I need a surgeon, I'm not going to a naturopath, but functional and integrative medicine should be a bigger focus in our medical culture than it is at present. People need lifestyle medicine every day and surgery, hopefully rarely. Millions of people could recover their health without ever taking one pill if we changed to a preventative approach to medicine with functional medicine as the model.
Sometime ago I "came out" about being neurodivergent a secret I hid for decades. I did so after some marvelous young people pointed out to me that if I didn't admit to being autistic and normalize neurodivergence and encourage people to embrace neurodiversity then they suffer too.
Like many people of my generation, I kept my diagnosis a secret so I could get a job, keep a job, have autonomy, and have, in theory, friends.
When I was told I was actually autistic over three decades ago when mentioning autism, people thought immediately of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, at best, or a drooling cretin at worst. I didn't even tell my serious romantic partners or spouses that I had a diagnosis until the past decade or so. Also, it was believed women couldn't be autistic, again due to the extreme sexism that still prevades much of modern medicine.
I was so ashamed of being a dysfunctional person. Who's going to hire Rain Man? Who's going to date him? Or marry him? So I kept the secret. I pretended to know less, to think slower, and to be ok with the constant hugging and nuanced cruel double speak and lies people told each other to feel good about something. I thought I was passing, but I suspect some people knew no matter how hard I tried.
There were obvious tells if someone understood autism I'll list them here because some people might not know these are associated:
I took things extremely literally, often unable to tell sarcasm from truth. My mind is very literal in thinking generally.
I am dyslexic.
I have multiple autoimmune issues
I eat based on color, not hunger.
I have synesthesia.
I was often suicidal and depressed.
I have PTSD.
I babbled and information dumped often.
I was super direct when speaking to anyone.
I couldn't make eye contact comfortably so I stared at people's foreheads.
I stiffened when you hugged me. I often tried to avoid close contact with strangers.
I said exactly what I thought without a filter, often answering a question so honestly that people never spoke to me again.
I watched the same shows over and over. I could listen to the same song twenty times in a day, and would often self sooth by listening nonstop to music.
I could do complex systems style thinking in my head and remember all the variables and imagine new potential based on in new systemic input.
I was always stimming- humming, finger snapping, spinning, repeating words over and over tapping on things.
I always had a stern resting face- not resting bitch face exactly more a resting "I think you are full of shit" face which did me no social favors.
I prefer to be truly alone for many hours, days at a time, even weeks. I need recovery, lots of recovery time after I socialize.
I was clumsy, very clumsy.
I have extremely heighten senses and crippling reactions to smells, sounds and the feeling of certain materials
Probably the biggest tell was my closest friends were all "fringe" or "other" types. I know now after decades of experience that neurodivergent people tend to be more comfortable with each other than with the status quo neurotypical world. Artist, musicians, scientists, queer folk, and nonconformists are to this day my main group of friends.
My diagnosis had some benefits of helping me realize I couldn't fix certain things my brain does but I could enhance the positive effects of the incredible things my brain does. My brain doesn't like things that are not accurate so it does a sort of mental hiccup when I have to smooth over the truths like everyone does when you're supposed to pretend to like stuff you couldn't give a shit about or be ok with someone lying about things.
I learned to read micro expressions on people's mouths to help adapt to the social world. I practiced making expressions others make until they became second nature, never instinct though, more like a dancer practices body moves.
In my friend groups I was a chameleon. I was the whacky chick who talked too fast at bars, the brooding sexy goth chick in dance clubs, the nerd at school, the adventure queer when traveling, the serious medical professional at work, the loving supportive wife at home. I was completely different for each relationship, peer group, or job situation.
I had so many masks that sometimes I would forget which one I should utilize. I read every existing thing on autism imaginable from the day I was assessed. It became my new special interest in a way adding to all my other special interests, which are basically a driving passionate obsession.
These days I can't even keep up with the amount of information circulating about autism and related "disorders." This month is "Autism Awareness Month" which I prefer what those of us in the neurodiversity community are calling it "Autism Acceptance Month."
There's lots of controversy about many organizations who tend to raise money for research on autism like it's a horrifying disease. While I do understand how great a burden having a differently abled or just unusual child can be, I think most of the "research" going on from organization like "Autism Speaks" are harmful and are based around trying to eliminate or prevent autism and in doing so stigmatize people who are autistic or non-neurotypical. There is a very eugenics tint to these groups.
Evolution is playing out through neurodivergence and accepting that different ways of thinking and being may just be what betters the world is the push behind many scientists embracing the neurodiversity model. Reasonably everyone can imagine some incredible people out there in history that were not neurotypical. Whether or not they were autistic is up for debate but in my opinion half of the good science on earth is generated by non-neurotypical people.
Every week I've been attempting a bit of prose, or poetry, or lyrics on the masks I use to wear and some masks I still wear:
Chat Bot-aggedon. The End of the World as We Know It?
Snowed In Snowed Out
Recently my husband and I finally got to visit his family in California after a failed attempt during the ice storm debacle of Christmas 2022 when we didn't fly after being held in the airport being told we would fly for seven hours but finally cancelled due to lack of a staff. This time we made it down safely to sunny southern California for a nice visit with family. It was our return trip that was a bit harrowing.
Travel is something I can reasonably say I've done more than most people. I've lost count of how many planes, trains, automobiles, buses, helicopters, motorbikes, boats, and even some horses and bikes I've used to get to from one place to another. I've traveled in torrential rain, ice, with a hurricane approaching, tornadoes having just hit, mountains of snow, heatwaves, and even once landed during an earthquake.
My personal record amount of time having wait inside the plane after landing is four hours six minutes. We nearly hit that this return trip our plane waiting on the runway to taxi up to the arrival for three hours. I managed to handle this cheerfully enough though many others on our plane did not. Portland doesn't often get this much snow, and certainly not so quickly, so I was just pleased we landed safely.
I didn't get discouraged until at 4:45 am four hours after being let out of the plane, our bags had still not come out to baggage claim and the snow was piling up to a point that no cabs, no public transit, no ubers, no lyfts, nothing would pick us up at PDX. Getting a hotel, even walking in the snow for a mile wasn't an option because the airline, Spirit, refused to shelter the bags saying that if they were stolen it wouldn't be their problem. In the predawn light when finally the bags arrived no hotel rooms were available.
It is in these moments in life I find myself to be the most contemplative. What else is there to do but ponder and wait?
My husband and I slept on the baggage claim floor under the removed drop ceiling showering dust down on us. All of this because in the Portland airport to be upstairs in the warm you need a boarding pass. Don't look up I kept telling myself tucked under my travel duvet.
One guy was actually sleeping on the baggage carousel, no doubt thinking if his bags ever came the movement would wake him up. Children were crying, ladies throwing up from stress in the bathroom, many miffed angry conversations accompanied by the smell of rotting carpet, humans wafting the stink of travel, anger, and fear all around us.
I usually travel with makeshift bedding and always extra warm hats so we were fine, if a bit annoyed and in pain. I had a nose bleed from the dust and pain from a leg injury being made worse by extra hours in a cramped plane. I'm not the sort of person who can actually sleep with strangers all around. My husband, Nate, has that magical talent I've often admired of falling asleep nearly anywhere regardless of the sounds around him.
Many elderly people were shivering down in this baggage claim hellscape without much heat, though I am not sure why the PDX airport didn't just crank the heat with families huddled all around on the floor hoping the sun would rise and solve our problems.
The sun did rise. A lovely Lyft driver with an unbelievably pleasant morning attitude carefully got us to a friend's house (at a much inflated price but hey I was happy we had the money to pay it) where we finally warmed up, bathed and ate some marvelous food prepared by our friends. Our friends played music for us, feed us, and made us feel at home.
I slept that night in the comfort of shelter I knew I wouldn't have to leave until it was safe to go home. My home. Traveling always makes me appreciate the haven of our little house, regardless the duration of the trip.
However, the sun rising doesn't mean the same safety for everyone in Portland. So many don't have a haven, the sanctuary of their own home to snuggle up in. The sun rising often means these people will be kicked out of the warmth.
I couldn't stop thinking how there are people all over the city who hope they can have the amount of comfort I had on that airport floor. My painful exhausted night is likely better than their daily life. I'm referring to the large population of unhoused people which the city has seen an explosion of over the past seven years or so.
Many people are a mere paycheck or emergency away from joining the ever growing group of people sleeping in their cars, in tents, or under bridges hoping things will get better and mostly they don't. And this last week being without a home must have been a torture beyond the usual suffering. And what's so hard to contemplate is for the most part, all this suffering is entirely preventable with some decent laws changing in how real estate works as an industry as well as property ownership with "investors" rather than individuals.
I am extremely lucky to have landed safe, to have been abled bodied enough to endure, and then also have good friends shelter us in a time of need. We left California on Wednesday. I got home to Washington finally on Saturday.
I hope all those who endured being snowed in as the entire city really did shut down, realize how lucky they are not to be snowed out, shivering in the freezing temperatures hoping the warming rooms have space to fit one more.
My husband, Nate, lying on the iconic PDX airport floor.
The heart shape is sacred to me. It has nothing to do with Valentine's Day but I do enjoy the 14th of February because for a month previous and a few weeks after heart shaped boxes and items are cheap and plentiful.
I first realized just how important the heart shape was to me as a child. In fourth grade we had a visiting art teacher who made all the students work on one sheet of paper to do a collage together as a class.
Many of the boy students were bullying everyone else, unchecked by any intervention from our teacher, and taking up more space on the sheet and hogging most of the art supplies. Because of this I gave some of my crayons and paint to a small girl who I knew was too scared of the other children and invited her to be next to me.
I was left with a small dab of red paint and a green crayon and about 10 inches of space on a 50 foot sheet. The teacher had said we should paint or draw "something that connects us all" and gave us 15 minutes to finish. I thought about it for a few minutes then decided with just two colors I had only one choice. I painted a very sharp heart shape coming up out of the grass, a bright red meticulous heart with very defined sharp grass. I was very proud of this drawing.
The bully boys drew rolling hills, footballs, rivers, army men, cars, and some drew houses and buildings. Other children had drawn and painted families and pets. My friend, the shy girl had painted a snake in grass heading for my heart. I liked the snake because it was smiling and our grasses connected on the page.
When coming around assessing the art work our teachers, my 4th grade teacher and the visiting art teacher, made comments and asked questions of all the kids about their work as we all sat crossed legged on the floor waiting in front of our part of the paper. "What does it mean? How does this connect to everyone else?" They were asking.
I was ready to answer and explain about my heart. Love connects us all, I was going to say, and even if you think nobody loves you, this shape means the same all over the world so you always know love is out there. I rehearsed it in my head as he got closer.
Instead the art teacher asked me why I had not tried something more adventurous or detailed as the other children had, seemingly implying to me my art was bad. "Why didn't you try to draw more things, take up more space?"
I didn't immediately say anything. Then the teacher said "there just wasn't much going on here- you should be more like those boys" he pointed to the bully kids "and draw with more details and use your imagination" I felt my face get very hot and anger wash over me. But I said nothing.
Then he asked my little friend what the snake was about. She was so nervous but told him "He's the snake from Eden who first told us about how good apples were and now that we know about 'em, we can't be with God no more. But I still love apples don't you?" She looked up at him smiling. "Bianka's heart is love in the grass. And my snake in the grass loves her back so maybe he's hiding some apples behind her heart to give to the rest-" She lowered her voice "even them mean boys" she whispered smiling at me.
"Yeah my heart don't need more details" I said still fuming but touched by my friend. "everybody knows what I meant by it 'cept you." I glared at the teacher and I remember him taking a step back from us.
"Well nice try girls" he muttered then carried on praising the boy who stole most of the art supplies.
I had to rehearse saying things in my head I intended say out loud when I was little so I didn't say anything offensive or too weird and upset people but usually I still messed up in the delivery, so after I would always replay the situation to figure out what I should have said instead.
I must have replayed that scene in my head of what I should have said back to that art teacher hundreds of times. During this replay I came to realize just how much I believed in the heart shape. The only symbol I could think of in the entire world that always meant the same thing. It was the only thing that really "connects us all."
Sometimes in my life when I have felt alone and unloved I would think about the heart shape and remind myself that for centuries people have had this shape as universal, just like love and therefore love was out there even if I didn't feel it.
There are other reasons the heart shape is sacred to me but this story I haven't shared publicly before and reflecting on it makes me want to thank that art teacher for being so critical, and frankly I thought a bit mean, because even though he may have meant to convey disappointment in me his actions made me think fiercely and protectively about love for a very long time.
I have always started new heart felt things, and quit bad habits on February 14th in honor of the shape, not the commercial holiday. Because like Halloween, Valentine's day behavior is a sort of year round affair in my house. Valloween as it's called here.
I quit smoking over two decades ago on Valentine's day. I quit consuming sugar in 2021. This year I am quitting engaging in commentary completely with negative people on the internet- which on the face of things might not seem as life changing as my other habitual changes but I suspect it will make my life and my love of life far greater. This day is charmed for me.
I hope everyone out there loves fiercely, and completely. And I hope you all realize that should also apply to loving yourself. If you find yourself single on Valentine's day (which I think being single is awesome) but you don't want to be single, take a bit of time to love on yourself. Write down the things you love about yourself. Write about love and its place in the world. Eat some treats, take yourself dancing, or to a movie, or to fancy dinner. Treat a friend you love to dinner or make plans to hangout. Call the people you love. Don't let capitalism define love with what you're supposed to do, or not do, or buy on Valentine's day. Just love people, openly without shame.
Let your life be shaped by your heart and remember that when you see the heart shape.
Much love to you all!
Life is Sweet
My life is sweet because I stopped eating sugar.
In January 2021 I stopped eating sugar, no added sugar foods, and no cakes, no cookies etc. Then, in March of that year, I started eating a healthy ketogenic diet.
Healthy ketogenic= = nutrient-dense foods, no sugar, very low carbs, moderate protein, very high fiber from greens and veg, and high fat from high quality cheese, eggs, meats, fish, nuts, and olive/avocado oil, no trans fats at all.
Healthy keto my way= almost no processed food and absolutely no highly processed food- all this combined with intermittent fasting for at least 16 hours but usually 18 hours.
I was a person who tried calorie restriction alone and gained five pounds. Nearly two years since I started keto (which I probably wouldn't have done if calorie restriction had worked) I have lost over 60 pounds- the first 30 pounds in just a season, which certainly spurred me on to do more. Results really helped me with discipline.
I gave up sugar just before going ketogenic hoping to lose the weight I had packed on post surgery from early stage colon cancer and the mental fallout of surviving with a threat dangling over me of its potential return after moving across the country away from everyone I knew to take a chance on new things.
No weight loss happened when I gave up sugar until I went ketogenic. Stopping sugar stopped more weight gain- I mention this because lots of people have asked me in private messages.
Giving up sugar is awesome for health outcomes generally on its own but if you don't replace it with something satiating you'll be hungry all the time. I've literally never felt hungry or deprived during this entire time because a higher fat /fiber diet makes you feel full.
Sleep is a super important element in all of this. I sleep better now because I am in less pain. Healthy weight loss will not happen if you are not getting enough restful sleep.
Mental well being plays a role. Stress drives cortisol, and as a result, your body holds onto your flab. Daily gratitude meditation and disconnection from the digital world are big factors in mental health outcomes for me.
Also important element of maintaining weight loss is healthy exercise, not because you "look" good, but because you will feel better. It does make me look better as well. Now that I have less weight on me exercise is easier, dealing with my pre-existing health problems is also less of a catastrophe.
I don't work out the way others do every day. I put in 15 minutes of intense exercise at a time. Some days just once, some days five times, depends on my energy/schedule. I find it's easier to fit it into my day without it being exhausting or a time suck. I switch up what parts of my body I'm working on to give the muscles healing time.
I always do one 15 minute session BEFORE I eat. I've read this is very good for metabolic health which is what I am trying to recover completely after too many years with issues.
Keto makes me feel more energetic even when I'm sick, like I was last week. And I don't feel as sore all the time even with my genetic illness issues. I still feel pains, but way way less than before, so dancing can be more of my day, playing fiddle, juggling, and typing in the same day even with arthritis.
Currently I'm 64 lbs of fat down, 10-15 lbs to go depends on how much muscle I can develop in my 50 year-old lady status.
Keto isn't a diet. Diets don't work. Keto is a lifestyle approach to eating, like being a vegan or vegetarian.
Most health based arguments against keto rely entirely on the idea people can't stick to it or are made by "experts" with outdated facts and ideas about nutrition, such as the false idea eggs contribute to heart disease via cholesterol intake, among many other false narratives spread by under informed GPs and health professionals.
Most studies on keto haven't been done with healthy clean strict keto but with dirty processed food lazy keto. Ultra processed food is poison, regardless of your eating approach.
Studies about the dangers of sugar and ultra processed foods are endless and generally well established as fact yet I've never had even one medical professional suggest quitting sugar completely as a pathway to health.
They wait until someone is diabetic because modern medicine spends almost no time on effective prevention.
My life is so much sweeter without sugar, and trust me yours will be too if greatly reduce or stop eating sugar too.
Me with lit from below intense exercise faces.
Happy New Year(s)
The Comfortably Numb
I often wonder how some friends in major cities just walk past the explosion of homeless camps around the country in the past seven years, especially the west coast, without being moved by it.
I wonder at the conversations I hear around this crisis. They always center on self-centered interest of property value, business, and their safety. It has been a bit of a rude awakening for me to realize there are people in my circle who think like this. People seeing homelessness as dangerous for them, not the preventable human tragedy it is. They are the comfortably numb.
I think the media has influenced these people in my life as much as Fox influences people I don't generally associate with due to what I consider the intense propaganda via the right wing.
Public radio doing "year in review" all month reminds me what a bad job they do reporting about inflation and recession and actual causes of inflation and recession and what those things actually mean for most people, not just the comfortably numb.
They report on the housing "market" without one goddamn mention of the impact it has on homelessness and poverty. The media my comfortably numb friends consume confirms their goodness when they contribute to charitable causes, and vote. That's all you need to do. Contribute and vote.
Yeah, 'cause that's working perfectly right?
They report on inflation and gas prices completely down playing the profiteering of corporate interests. A mention of it is always tempered with "but it's not the only cause." "Oh and the supply and transportation issues due to the pandemic."
They never connect the record profits with inflation or record home prices with homelessness which are in fact, the biggest impact on those two crises in America. Health care coverage that doesn't equal universal affordable access is the third main crisis.
Public radio talks about people's portfolios and investors interests. Yeah, I get it 55% of the US have some kind of "investment" but most people do not have enough to actually effect their real day to day life.
I am disgusted with reporting by supposed public resourced reporting which still centers on people who are higher income, with comfortable lives. It's just not most of the country, but these people in my life who walk past the homeless without being moved- that's who they are. The comfortably numb emphasis on comfortable.
Reporting should expose uncomfortable truths. Good reporting makes that exposure easy to understand and relate to while not degrading the facts of the story. That sort of reporting is rare in the world now and certainly not found on mainstream media, not even public radio and TV. Of course, there are exceptions like the show Frontline, but the average news consumer, the comfortably numb aren't hearing those truths daily.
Many people turn to other sources instead of NPR or PBS for information not because they are morons, like so many of my comfortably numb friends like to think, but because they feel included by those Fox anchors, those shows, and by that reporting. Feeling like the news is reporting on things that actually matter to you plays a massive role in whether or not the audience will listen.
Alas, most of those other sources are terrible sources. Obviously, Fox News is right wing propaganda but they realize they have to speak to people who aren't in comfortable circumstances. The end result is horrible propaganda that leads to right wing Nazis rising to power. It is poor white people who are a major part of this extremist nationalist movement. Fox News has radicalized these people to be sure, but what alternatives do these audiences have?
I suggest the complacent exclusion of the actual issues of the poor and truly struggling people in the US from public medias like NPR and PBS is equally to blame for why people fall prey to these conspiracy hate driven narratives.
Sure, some people are doing splendidly, though public radio seems to think reporting on inflation should center on people who largely can take the hit, not actually poor or struggling people.
They occasionally have human interest reporting on people struggling but I never hear PBS or NPR ask policy makers or economics reporters or pundits if these situations are directly connected to the profiteering during this crisis in housing, or the crisis with food prices.
Hey, I get it, maybe financially stable, comfortable people are the only ones who have time to listen long form media like PBS or NPR. These public media sources don't want to offend their main audience, privileged people who are sometimes profiting off those less fortunate via rental properties, blind investments that encourage cruel business practice, and even paying their own employees less than a living wage.
Pretending like that this comfortable group of people are the majority in America is disturbing.
The anchors and show hosts on public radio referring to the listening audience as "us" when referring to topics and reporting that, in fact, has almost nothing to do with most people's lives.
In 2021 there were nearly 40 million people in the US at or below the poverty level which is far worse this year in 2022. Considering that being just above the poverty level in the US doesn't actually pay rent and utilities in a large part of this country.
Those people not able to pay the rent aren't counted in that 40 million in poverty. Some of those people are sleeping in their cars or in a tent.
The "us" these hosts on public radio are referencing are not these people, unless somehow they imagine a lady working her two jobs but sleeping in a beater car on its last leg is shivering in her car while listening to these programs discussing investment yields nodding in agreement on how that interest rate hike will make a difference in her life.
NPR and PBS has mostly factual reporting but what they don't report on speaks as loudly to me as what they do report on.
What is not being said? Volumes and Volumes. There is a serious disconnection to reality with journalism these days.
There is a narrative bias on American public media coverage that is so obvious it screams out status quo, moderate conservative, non-progressive interests but also an elitist bent to the narrative.
Simply put NPR and PBS are incredibly classist and elitist in how they voice the narratives in the average reporting. Even though they do good reporting about issues effecting the country they are reporting for a certain audience- the comfortably numb.
Seen through that lens of classism, it makes sense that labor reporting, poverty, and injustice reporting has a biased voice that doesn't offend the upper middle class listeners who are actually participants contributing to these crises in the US and around the world.
Oh and that lady who is sleeping in a car but officially above the poverty level, she has mental health problems, now she has addiction issues too, but guess what, the homelessness caused those problems- not the other way around as often reported by the media.
How I serve my weekly dose of bacon.
Read the Science, Really
Brace yourselves regular readers this is a long one.
It's my two year anniversary of this blog GenHexer. So I am celebrating myself and part of that is by examining how far I've come since we began eating ketogenic.
Lately I've been receiving some push back from two camps of people. One group are some vegans in my world, the other some plus sized friends. The complaints or even sometimes down right insulting accusations have involved my enthusiasm for the ketogenic diet.
Due to my pursuit of better health, and to grapple with odd genetics, weird auto-immunes, and multiple severe medical issues over my lifetime I'm one of those people that reads actual science journals, JSTOR etc. I've been doing this for about twenty years. The internet has made my access easier, especially with google's scholar search, bugmenot, etc. It's how I came to the conclusion that I might benefit from a healthy ketogenic diet.
In the past few years I've noticed a huge amount of reporting on health and diet by mainstream media seeks to either trash and decry any keto diet or to gush about it as the cure to all your problems- sometimes from same media source! Both of narratives aren't useful when reporting on science and health.
As a rule, I think people shouldn't experiment on themselves too often, but my overall improved health is undeniable and frankly most doctors just treat my symptoms at this point while shaking their heads in sympathy. One doctor actually cried telling me a prognosis during my visit. She cried in sympathy because she knew she couldn't help me. I have respect for her above all other doctors I've come in contact with over the years.
I am very glad I used the information I gathered from scientific research rather than the sad corporate biased reporting on health. Do I think my outcomes would be universal, of course not. But I do think that 50% of the US population would benefit adopting a healthy locavore seasonal ketogenic style diet.
You can be a vegan and also follow a ketogenic diet. WHAT? Yeah, you have to eat a whole bunch more nuts and oils than I am willing to indulge in but it's possible. Being a vegan you have to work a lot harder to feel full on a keto diet, but also spend a lot more money.
You can be a vegetarian and also follow a ketogenic diet. WHAT? Yeah, you eat a lot of eggs, cheese, nuts, and oils and have to work harder to feel full.
I am following a healthy ketogenic diet that has meat but not much more than before I went ketogenic- just fattier meat, more healthy oils, and more small oily fishes. I feel full, I'm never hungry, and even with inflation it's about the same costs since I switched to higher quality food and those foods haven't jumped up as high with inflation as junk foods and processed foods. I eat bacon about once a week, just like I did before I was keto. I eat high fiber nutrient dense food every day. 95% of my meals are unprocessed food, most from scratch and as organic as I can afford.
Regardless of what you read in mainstream media, the key to good health is learning about your body, eating in response to your body, improving your sleep quality, lowering stress, and exercising and limiting your intake of sugar.
Eating nutrient dense, low or no sugar, unprocessed foods and intermittent fasting are universally accepted by science to increase positive health outcomes.
Some science that is generally accepted by experts in the field as fact these days:
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day- in fact, it's not even needed for most people.
Eating 3 times a day is also not better for your health.
Consumption of sugar, particularly high sugar diets, is linked to early death and disease.
Whole grains and grain based diets do not have better outcomes than low carb/keto diets.
Yet, you will read scores of recent articles about how plant based diets are better than keto for health outcomes.
But wait a minute- my healthy keto diet IS plant based. The oils are from plants, I eat more vegetables now than ever I have. When you look into the studies quoted in these articles the keto diet they reference is an unhealthy keto diet vs a healthy vegetable based vegan diet.
Doesn't seem very scientific to me to compare eating only crappy poor quality meat, oil and fat with eating only vegetables. Most healthy keto diets in practice increase the fat sure, but also the vegetables and perhaps most importantly no added sugar. Most vegan diets have huge amounts of sugar and carbs simply because it is just cheaper. Sugarcane is a plant after all and technically plant based. Many vegans and vegetarians are eating more grains and sugar than vegetables.
My personal health journey has taken a snaking route to keto. I was a vegetarian for fifteen years, then I went vegan to hopefully get better outcomes. I got much more ill and I gained weight as a vegan. I went back to eating clean proteins, meat, etc but on the low side. I felt better but still plagued with issues. I tried to eat only organic wondering if that was the reason.
I tried a low calorie diet for a year, eating only 900 calories a day most days. I gained 10 pounds felt horrible, always hungry, tired and cranky. None of this was about losing weight for me, it was about feeling better getting my diseases to go into remission.
I stopped drinking for 8 years, completely no exceptions in case that was my problem. No change in my health but I saved money. I wasn't a heavy drinker though just at social things which were every week.
I tried exercising every day while working. My body signaled this as stress and held onto the pounds and it made my body really hurt since I have autoimmune issues.
Those autoimmune issues got out of control when I lived in Detroit. My inflammation response was so bad I couldn't even move some days without searing pain. The allergens in the air, the sudden deep humid heat were contributing to my illnesses getting worse. I got fatter because I could not summon the energy to move. I always seem to gain weight when I am sick even if I am eating less-it's just what my body does.
As the pandemic happened, my sugar loving excellent baker of a husband was home all the time making me sweet homemade treats filled with sugar, honey and love. I got fatter still. I tried to exercise it off. I tried to garden it off. I tried. I knew getting big at this age was a very bad turn. He was gaining weight too but he has the sort of body that can hold it and he's a dozen years my junior.
In the summer 2020 we moved from Detroit to costal Washington. Immediately I felt better within a month. I was able to move. I was jumping in the ocean. I was swimming, walking everyday, dancing etc. I could breathe and I could sleep. But the weight I had gained wasn't going anywhere. I worried about diabetes, common in my genetic hertiage. I worried about cancer, which I have already had once and survived.
I didn't want to be one of those people who slides into later middle age with no muscle tone, letting their health and body go just because it was comfortable. I decided to research every aspect of nutrition available. Eventually, I found healthy keto. Not Atkins, not the acclaimed Mediterranean diet, or the Paelo approach. Strict clean keto. At first, I was resistant because of the framing of keto as a fad diet, and the massive propaganda against it, but I decided to try it anyway because it was the only thing I had not tried.
It took less than a month for my body to begin transforming. It took only 4 months for my body to lose all the weight I had gained. And far more importantly, I actually felt good, really good for the first time in years. My inflammation response was so much less, my migriane headaches were less, my soreness manageable, even my insect bites don't turn into saucer shaped welts anymore. My joints didn't howl as loudly when I danced around. I'm almost in the same shape as I was in at 37 years old the last time I remember feeling at least ok about my health. I'm 50 years old now and even my face looks younger, not kidding, though I've always looked less aged than many, my skin is glowing these days.
Keto worked, it's just that simple. My husband, supportive partner he is, went keto too. These days his body is like it was in his twenties and he feels much healthier too. Between us we've lost 90lbs of mostly visceral fat and become expert keto cooks along the way.
Eating more healthy fats and NO sugar was the answer for me.
Our blood pressures are healthy, perfect in fact, our hearts in great shape. My wings as I used to affectionally refer to my triceps are almost gone replaced with muscle.
You'll read a bunch of articles talking about how saturated fat is linked to breast cancer and heart disease with literally nothing to back up these claims. Usually it's some popular doctor or another quoting the usual dogma of suspiciously funded correlation studies, which newer science, more detailed empirical science, has debunked. In fact, keto has been shown to improve outcomes with breast cancer.
Being obese or extremely over weight and eating lots of sugar has, in fact, been linked to breast cancer and heart disease regardless what sort of fat you eat.
Many vegans are fond of pointing out how my diet is destroying the planet. I agree in some ways how our world has made food into commodity is contributing greatly to the destruction of the planet. ALL diets have an impact on the environment-vegan included. For evidence of this look at vegan staple foods and where they are being grown in far away places, as crops robbing the local areas of the limited water and resources. I grow much of my food or buy it from people near me who grow it, therefore lessening my carbon impact, but I don't pretend that I am saving the world. Being a seasonal locavore is about the best you can do when it comes to food systems impact on the planet.
The problem with being vegan in winter must be addressed. Where do all those foods, especially fruit come from when it is too cold grow food up here in the global north? Those fruits and out of season veg travel more than the average American will in their life time making their way to your plate, unless you just eat greens and nuts all winter which is kind of like a vegan KETO diet.
The other people who are seemingly annoyed by my keto enthusiasm are some plus sized readers/friends, not that many readers, just enough for me to need to address this.
I don't have body dysmorphia and I am not fat phobic. I was a bad ass striking witch when I was fatter than I am now, and I'm a badass striking witch now. I really don't understand why discussing my body openly and my perspective on my weight must be conflated with the unfair fat phobic troupes of modern life but in a world filled with overreactive social media outrage I can understand some misinterpretation. I am proud to say that many friends and readers have used my willingness openly show my progress and went healthy keto. We've lost over 700 lbs of visceral fat in the past 18 months.
Being obese undeniably causes health outcomes to be worse than if you aren't obese. That factual information shouldn't be considered "fat phobic" regardless how others weaponize this information. Genetics, illness, mental health and poverty are the overwhelming factors in obesity but diet has a link too. There are people who have too much visceral fat but are slender in appearance they also suffer worse outcomes with health.
I didn't put all the links studies possible to ketogenic approaches, and I did link some well written articles with links to studies on diet effects but I invite you, if you have interest, to make up your own mind using Google scholar search. READ THE SCIENCE
You should read any and all case studies with an open mind but also a critical mind. Science evolves when at its best. Studies can have a bias and usually that bias is based in sexism, racsim, corporate funding, or even occasionally the ego of the establishment.
After all, scientists are only just now acknowledging the clitorises of snakes, even though two of them have been on the serpent bodies all along.
I am presenting my anecdotal evidence of my life changing love affair with a ketogenic approach as just that, one person who is doing well. These past two years I learned a calorie is not a calorie, and I wish that was taught to everyone everywhere.
I will use keto as a tool for the rest of my life to guide my eating choices but I doubt I'll be "strict clean keto" forever, but I will always embrace intermittent fasting, low/no sugar consumption, exercise, getting decent sleep, and good mental health, as the key to long life and good health. My chronic illnesses are still there but with keto at least I can tolerate the pain and downturns.
Check out keto if you struggle with weight loss and obesity. In the meantime, let us all marvel at some beautiful death adder viper clit.
The Power of Nostalgia
I am dealing with an illness at the moment that prevents me for being active or doing much of anything at all so I've been allowing myself to be nostalgic to help feel better.
Nostalgia is an incredibly powerful tool that really does help me feel better about life even at very trying moments.
“Nostalgia makes us feel safe, loved and reminds us that others care about us,” Hepper said. One study found that waxing nostalgic can even make one feel physically warmer." Direct quote from a great article last year from the Washington Post you can find here.
(Side note: Never ever use them. I do my own SEO now, I only pay for a domain. I use google sites for free and I literally relaunched our site in one hour from nothing which with squarespace would have taken hours or even days dealing with their crappy system.)
It was dark waxing crest sky on Halloween 2011 nearly midnight by the time this video was taken. Nate (that's my husband but he wasn't then) and Gregory and I were dressed as 19th century era ghost Oregonians leaning up against a stable grave stone monument lit by a flashlight- I'm hovering in the dark, as always.
My fingers were numb and fiddle refusing to stay in tune as the cold humid night progressed. We played "Cold Cold Hand" "6 Feet to Go" many spectators thought them to be tunes was from the historic era but are, in fact, originals which I take great pride in. We also played other appropriate "sad bastard songs" as I often characterize them and improvised a bunch of stuff.
The event was to raise money to help preserve and take care of the rather unique Lone Fir cemetery in Portland.
Actors portrayed scenes all around the graveyard of the lives of famous and infamous occupants. There were trained owls and conservationists there too. I got to pet several owls!
An adorable six year old girl dressed as a pink princess told me she hoped to return as violin ghost after she died. This after she made sure I knew she was six only yesterday. It was almost still her birthday she told me as we looked in awe at the owls. I asked the princess if she had a fiddle and I said she'd need to learn violin. The princess immediately started harassing her pleased mother to get a violin as they headed toward the owls.
It was a physical chore for me wandering about the cemetery in a corset and long trailing dress, a velvet frock coat and hat made up as dead musician as scores of people took the tour on a luckily rain free night. I was sick and anxious. And though I remember this night with near perfect clarity I feel primarily positive even though in actuality I was terrified due to stage fright, sick due to autoimmune disease, worried because I felt unworthy. I felt like I let people down.
But I got to pet an owl and a little girl wanted to play violin because she saw me and most importantly I got to support something I believe in. Here's another video I found about the event. The music in the beginning of this video is a recording someone made at the event combining my band during improv moments and the bagpiper who played at the other side of the graveyard to us during the tour.
It's us and I just found it. So I feel even more nostalgic.
Gratitude vs Thankfulness
We still have calendulas blooming on Thanksgiving!
Paradoxical Intention for an Intentional Paradoxical World
Me up on stage in Detroit on a day I was sure I couldn't do it.
Not for Sale
Not everything and everyone is for sale regardless of all the messages online and in the media saying otherwise.
After a very revealing early morning discussion I have come to the conclusion that less informed people enjoy being sold something literally in every aspect of their life. Or perhaps I should be more explicit about my meaning-stupid people will buy anything. Any idea, any product, any lie as long as the person selling it to them is charismatic or entertaining.
It explains the popularity of religion because rather than acknowledging no one knows for sure what happens to us when we die religion offers a comforting entity, a God, or savior sold to people with compelling all knowing answers about life. Religions often require a decided lack of critical thinking.
These people being less aware and stupider explains why celebrities are worshipped. It explains why capitalism rules the world. It explains why people confuse having the choice of products with actually having freedom and democracy. Having lots of things to chose from isn't so great if most of the things kind of suck. Those choices are a distraction from what is really happening in the world. It's easy to distract people who don't actual have a depth of understanding.
Marketing and religion live in the same part of our brains. In fact, I suggest religions claiming to have the answers to everything prime people for being good little consumers who don't question what they are being sold.
Being informed hurts. The more informed the more it can hurt especially in a world full of people who will callously ignore real suffering while crying about their problems which are almost entirely self created. The voice of people without many actual problems seem to complain the loudest. They spend their days constantly consuming while bitching about issues the system their constant consumption created is causing.
Now after more than a dozen years of constant social media around the world with an algorithm bias toward these complainers and controversy over community, especially created unimportant controversy- the world seems a dim dark place. People are making themselves into a brand. Often their posts online are like ads. It's pretty disgusting. In the digital world the bullshit always floats to the top.
Empty vain people enjoy selling things to everyone regardless of how wrong it might me. They like being seen as having the answers. They like the attention. But now in order to make a living many people have to craft a self image online rather than having who they actually are represented. People must do it either to get a proper job and/or to get people to buy their art, writing or music.
And of course, the darkest turn is the branding and genrefication of actual personality for sale.
I've been advised to do this- to improve "my brand." Actual people I know in real life have said this to me. I consider brands of any kind to be attached to forms of slavery. And while the physical branding of slaves in our horrid dark history is so much worse than what I refer to in this post- branding is about ownership and often about being owned by someone else.
I can't stand ads of any kind or commercials or people behaving like commodities even if there is an unfortunate need to do it at times in the fucked up world we live in. It is disturbing to me.
Critical thinking in not really rewarded in our current society. Being a gas bag, a ridiculing clown, a violent misogynist, and being vain and empty as long as you are beautiful are rewarded. People receiving attention often have to equivalent of a bad morning radio personality from the 90s.
I can't believe there are people who still argue about these facts:
People aren't putting drugs in candy and handing it out for Halloween.
Inflation isn't the president's fault.
The presidential election wasn't stolen.
No one is trying to replace white people.
Climate Change is real and the biggest danger we face on our modern world.
Vaccines don't cause autism.
Some of us aren't for sale and we usually we are less susceptible to marketing. In short, we aren't as stupid as people who are susceptible. I am proud to be an authentic self and I don't feel like I need to sell that self to anyone. I deactivated my existing twitter accounts now that a billionaire butthole owns it.
I am so sick of pretentious people online and the bleed over into real life. It doesn't matter to me how great that photo looks, or even no matter how "clever" or witty someone seems most of online life is false and feels empty.
How much time do these people spend trying to look like something they are not? Are they kind? Are they caring? Do they believe in helping others?
The people I respect most in my life don't sell things including themselves and they don't spend their consuming things most of the time. They are focused on critical thinking, creating, loving, and sharing.
I've been spoiled by being lucky to have most of the important people in my life being marvelously not for sale.
The only time I really enjoy being something I'm not is this week- Halloweek. Everyday I like to imagine being another creature of fantasy, a spooky dark version of myself or even a silly self.
Happy Halloween in advance. And cheers to everyone out there who can proudly say they too are
NOT FOR SALE.
The Power of Romance and Love
Real Solidarity During War Times
Lately I've noticed a narrowing of solidarity. Solidarity of working peoples can only succeed if we all bond together. I know many of my blog posts have centered on this topic in various ways but people seem to be experiencing a disconnect between their actions and the real world, not the narrative created by market forces.
The term "call to action" has lost all meaning among the endless shouts for help in a world being consumed by desperation.
Preparation is a better call right now. Particularly, for those of us who are able to have a nice cup of coffee in the morning without worrying about what we have to eat today. Prepare and show solidarity internationally. Don't listen to the media down playing the real threats of nuclear war, disease, and climate catastrophe.
Many of us lately have turned away from even keeping track because it overwhelms the average person. Kind passive people living in the US, Europe, Canada, and the UK are turning away from being informed. It's too painful to be actually aware.
We are treating people who are suffering around the world like a rape victims who finally cry out for help despite the shame for from being assaulted but we don't want to believe or know about it. We don't want it to be true. So we the victimizers are not held accountable. And the victims ignored.
I personally know comfortable passive people in all these places. I love them, and I know they care- but don't know what to do or how to help.
Some of us are even buying into the narrative that all is well. I get it, it feels good to believe everything's going to be ok now that Trump isn't in power- but it's really not the best idea right now.
Think of the people in Pompeii who didn't realize what the rumbling meant, who saw the smoke but it was too late to run by then.
We are currently in World War III. Writing that means I'm inviting ridicule but I don't care anymore.
This new world war making the world more incredibly unstable during a pandemic, a world wide famine, and climate change fueled insane weather disasters. The Oil World War that has been going on for the past 30 years is easier to deny than the bombing and death in Ukraine. Honestly, people just didn't give a damn about the killing of millions of Arabs, muslims, and non white people. The current aligning of world powers against each other is an even darker turn.
World War II wasn't called a world war for years, and neither was World War I. "World Crisis" Or "European War" was the term until well after millions were affected and 500k people had died.
The doubling down of the lunatic Putin to regain autocratic empire via violent killing and bombing in his push toward the potentially worst war in human history. It's underway regardless of how the media is framing it.
Eventually, just like they downplayed inflation, just like they downplayed the healthcare crisis, and just like they downplayed a majority of climate change, the undeniable reality of world war will have to be faced even for Western mainstream media.
300,000 people in Russia, who for the most don't want to fight either, will be compelled to fight in this war.. Putin's got 25 million people to force this slaughter or so he says, and he doesn't get a damn if they die.
It's why many people are actually fleeing Russia today before they aren't able to escape. These Russians don't want to leave their homes anymore than I do but they realize what is happening even if our world is in denial.
With the backdrop of world war, I must mention the massive irresponsible behavior of the Fed and our government in general with this current situation. This is not the time to escalate troubles- especially financially. Desperate people will do desperate things.
Jerome Powell pushing for more multiple interest rate increases (after the fed has behaved irresponsibly 15 years by not raising it when they should have) will make the recession we are actually in already, far worse. It's happening in the rest of the world too because of our fed's behavior.
Unemployment will rise. Poverty will rise. $7.25 isn't worth what $5 was last year.
Housing prices will go down with the rise of interests rates many say.
Really that won't make a big difference because the problem in the housing market is caused by cash buying mega companies- not ordinary people who need to borrow money for a house.
Sure less people will buy now, but more cash buying companies will scoop up even more property just as they did in 2008. They will sit on the houses and property for years, sometimes decades in some places and then destroy entire town's economies.
Families won't have houses or options to buy or even rent a home they can afford and the homeless population will grow even more than explosion of the past 7 years.
How people haven't connected the fact that Trump's empire and influence was built on shady real estate deals combined with manipulating religious extremists is beyond me. I'm glad Letitia James has. The entire country is being destroyed by his sort of businessman, really the entire world.
Denying we're already in a recession is like denying the pandemic is still killing people. Politicians keep denying facts in hope the population don't have access or to ability to translate the data.
Increasing the interest rate during a recession is a bad fucking idea. Really using all the old tricks of economy of empire of the past on an economy that doesn't actually work like that anymore is the problem.
People always use comparisons to The Great Depression and other parts of history saying how it's not that bad now. It is worse than the great depression for some people in the US right now. Over 500k people are homeless officially but many estimates have that number much higher closer to 1.5 million people.
During The Great Depression millions of people were homeless. It would only take one major event to put us there again in an instant. Hoovervilles of that age could be translated to the huge homeless camps of today.
Yet people look at those photos from the past with sympathy and sorrow but will walk by the same thing today in their city with disdain and anger at the unhoused as if they are not the same thing.
How many tents on the sidewalk do we need to see? How many empty houses while poor people sleep in a yard or in a car do we need to see to declare this what it is?
What would you do if you could go back in time and help those sad victimized poor people back in the 30's- well guess what NOW is your chance to help the same people today.
You need to be worried about what is happening and you need to act not by becoming a doomsday prepper but by becoming reconnected with your community after the pandemic instead of staying in your comfortable bubble of life.
History can teach us many things but actual moment of now is unique. Life could be end up being far worse than the depression in the US. We don't have a Roosevelt, and there are many nuclear issues all over the world and many more troubles such as intense climate change issues that could make life far worse.
If you're not an investor or multiple property owner it doesn't apply to you. Powell is not talking about real working class people he's talking about investors- often the people who are incentivized toss people in the street for money.
The fed is engaging in magical capitalist empire thinking in a world they no longer control.
My dear passive kind friends should not be engaging in this same false magical thinking. It won't work this time.
Be an informed realist who gives daily space for gratitude and using magical thinking in our personal lives or creative lives is perfectly lovely but magical thinking in the financial systems and world issues is not wise, it's dangerous.
Currently working people have a slight advantage- less workers exist than demand for workers. If the "economy" slows before the minimum wage is raised to a livable wage by this time next year millions more will fall into desperate poverty. Millions.
If you are sitting there in your comfortable life thinking- "Well it's a shame but I'm doing ok I can't be thinking about that right now."
I understand! I want you to enjoy this fall weather, to be hopeful, to be happy. But also:
I am asking you to prepare for coming dark times that will effect people you know even if you make it through safely.
People in your town, in your apartment complex, in your family will not make it without your help. Reach out. Make this harvest time a time of kindness and generosity of concern and care.
Help care for those around you especially those who aren't desperate yet but will be soon and please realize you could be there in a flash and most of us don't know how to ask for help because it's been stigmatized severely.
Preventing desperation is the best way to stop disaster.
You are safe and comfortable- that's awesome! Help others get there too. I am always writing about this but I think people just input bad news and walk away from ideas to change things.
You don't need to walk the streets in protests (but do please) You should not cross a picket line EVER. You must vote, you must do "all the things" but really you should help connect people with resources and connect with real people in your daily life not online connections which are causing a disconnect in communities.
You are in a good job- help other people get one actively help reach out since asking for help is hard. I have so many low income friends who are struggling because they can't seem to even get seen by jobs they apply for because people don't really seem to refer each other anymore.
A leg up is all people need. But they don't know who ask for help and/or embarrassed to ask.
Please remember many of the people sleeping in the streets, fleeing their countries as refugees, living through floods and fires, and getting desperately ill thought it couldn't happen to them.
Don't take what I'm saying as a call to be afraid. Take it as a call for more solidarity.
Stay informed. Help each other. Vote against conservatives.
Buy stuff from your friends' businesses, services, and support artists you know, heck even yard sales from local families, help people directly not via some charitable cause. Give things away to others directly without making them feel ashamed. Take the marketization of your compassion as the insult it is and walk away from big charity and the tax evasion of billionaire philanthrocapitalism.
Have a fire and flood bag, have stored clean water, realize no one is beyond the reach of the current troubles. Become aware of the emergency preparedness in your community.
Winter is coming. And it might just the darkest one in generations.
50 Years Young
PFAS: What You Can Do to Limit Your Exposure to Forever Toxins in Your Daily Life
Another study published yesterday has again confirmed and expanded the effects of so called "forever chemicals" known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.
Researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine have shown that thirteen diseases may result from PFAS exposure including diabetes and endometriosis.
Almost everyone is exposed to PFAS in the modern world. There are nearly 5000 chemicals that make up the "forever chemical" group almost none existed in commercial production before the 1940's. PFAS is in our drinking water these days too. Some places have dangerously unregulated amounts in the US and around the world.
Other things with PFAS
Fast food containers and wrappers,
Microwave popcorn bags,
Stain resistant carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics
Water resistant clothing
Eye makeup and cosmetics
Varnish and sealants
Pre year 2000 Scotch Guard
Fire fighting foam
Since it's in drinking water almost universally PFAS will be impossible to fully avoid. In fact, it's estimated that 95% of the population has PFAS in their body right now!
What can we all do to help limit further exposure?
Most importantly in our personal lives we should all stop using the products above especially non stick pans. Avoid any cosmetic or personal care product with "fluoro" in words in the ingredient list.
Cleaning products especially spray cans increase exposure. Use alternative cleaning supplies with organic ingredients or make your own and hepa filters when vacuuming.
Get a reverse osmosis water filter if you can afford it- removing up to 90% of PFAS in drinking water would greatly improve most people's daily exposure.
Be careful with thrift purchases of furniture and clothing particularly predating 2015 as many of these items have high levels of PFAS.
Luckily, the list of PFAS free products and stores is growing everyday. Pushing your state government and the federal government to actually totally ban PFAS as Canada did would greatly reduce exposure over time as well.
The Environmental Working Group is a great resource if you need more information on chemical dangers and how to limit them.
Land of "the Free"
Life Budget Potluck
Someday I'll have a Sand Dollar party where everyone trades for things I'm giving away with sand dollars they found on the beach near me- that's as close to default capitalist in my thinking I ever want to be.
My friend, bandmate, model and co-conspirator Gregory just after the alien fountain spit on him, wrapped in my scarf blanket
For 25 years since 1997 I have been a devoted fan of the NW Folklife Festival. Folklife was the first truly amazing music experience I had after moving to the PNW from Virginia all those years ago, followed by many more. During my time living in Detroit I always felt homesick on Memorial Day weekend because I knew many of my friends would be having a fantastic time performing, dancing, or sometimes simply taking in all the shows they could for 4 days in row.
Typically, the festival is featured music, dance, and art from all over the world. Also typically buskers line the through fares in spots all around the paved walkway of Seattle center luring patrons with their performance to slow down and even forget they were headed elsewhere. This is how Folklife seduced me- the busking. It is actually not possible to see all the music on offer no matter how hard you try and with the buskers you'll also have unexpected moments beyond your expectation.
For many years NW Folklife had the greatest hospitality/participant only "tent" (half indoor- half outdoor under a tent) of any festival I've ever participated in. A place to safely check in your instrument was only a small part of it. Socializing with other performers and jamming was a major factor in my love of Folklife some years, even if "Sally Ann" was being played by an ever changing group of old time fiddle players for, as friend recently said, "seventy two hours straight" in sessions- it had its own charm, right along with hearing the rhythmic clang of skate boards landing in the park directly adjacent. Pleasantly sipping discounted decent beer away from the crowd, or sharing a flask/food, or dancing and laughing with festooned ladies after being in the fray of the general festival was wonderful. The tent is how I could find out who all the other musicians were excited to see perform, if they too were going to busk, and if there would be after parties or events. All performers were made welcome, including the buskers.
My favorite form of performance is busking. I actually enjoy playing for people on the street level with my hat out far more than being on a stage. Busking is a perfect antidote to my many years of gig hounding (not to be confused with gig whoring or slutting) and the endless hassles of being a musician interacting as a professional when most of the business interactions with bars, venues, and even festivals are with unprofessional and often disrespectful people who have the power to ruin your performance.
Street performance is freedom. No venue to book. No endless messages back and forth basically to just arrange a show that one message could have achieved. No sound check or frequently substandard sound guy making the band sound off, no room full of drunks more interested in hearing a cover than original tunes-"Get that fiddler to play some Charlie Daniels! Hey you've got a good banjo player there don't you guys play the Deliverance theme?" No promotion to do, no cover to charge, no door person or merch table to staff, no wrangling bandmates to be there at a rigid certain time- just show up and start playing, and leave when you want.
When I busk I can move and more importantly dance. I don't trip over a cords snaking their way around my feet or knock over a microphone by swirling around. Just me, my bandmates and the people who are there because they wanted to stop and watch us play. Busking isn't transactional like stage shows.
Dancing while playing is so magical to me because I'm a hack musician at best but a fairly decent dancer so any opportunity to dance is pure joy for me. Probably why I've met so many splendid people at Folklife is because I can just join them dancing in the moment at any performance including my own.
Dancers of all sorts are always at NW Folklife from eager adorable standard folk dancer geeks quickly shuffling from one group dance to the next traditional dance often in sensible shoes, over stuffed hip belts, and some bit whacky fashion with 10 folklife buttons like badges of honor- to the cape wearing seventy year old man in a pink leotard and Tevas spinning endlessly between the drum circle and sculptural water fountain resting in a concrete crater. That thing looks like an alien ship landed in Seattle to bring the one gift no one needed- more water falling from the sky. People dance under it too but as my best friend discovered this weekend the aliens like to spit on you.
Yet Folklife isn't just a dance or musical experience. It's cultural one that transcends festival norms. Devoted Folklifers, "Folkies" have their own culture. Importantly part of that culture- it's a free festival. Of course, there is a recommended donation, and generally Folklifers pay it willingly proudly displaying their buttons. It feels so much less classist than literally every other musical experience in the US. Volunteers are large part of the experience or it really wouldn't take place and this includes musicians. 50 years of gatherings qualifies this as a type of culture as much as Goths, punks, gamers, sports fans.
Folkies are their own thing. Sometimes rigid in thinking and behavior when it comes to what sort of dancing should be done to a certain type of music and sometimes supremely welcoming to a newcomer who wants to join in. They will buy the music, the merch and support the music generally. They go to other shows by the performers. Folkies really are what keeps the whole thing going.
This year's Folklife experience was more brief for me than usual because I have to be gentle with my body more than 25 year old me did. I still came festively dressed, danced, and importantly saw great performances with good friends. I ran into many people I've haven't seen in years and met some new people. But it was subdued, partly because I wasn't performing at all and because the first year back during the pandemic, which isn't over.
Also I was remembering friends of mine who died of the virus who I will never dance with again. There were complete strangers who within moments of meeting fell into discussing the grief of lost loved ones with me, one lady simply because I reminded her of a dancer she had known. I wonder how they knew I'd understand? Maybe I have a sad magnetism now.
It rained most of the day so alas busking was sparse as well. I felt a bit like a museum piece though as I kept being asked by passersby if they could "take a photo" (meaning with me) and my response was always "As long as I don't have to stop what I'm doing you can take any photo you want." I really miss the days before instagram. Seemed like lots of people used to wear whatever they wanted to Folklife without fear of undue attention or the need to document it for some posing experience. These days, not so much- too many "let's take a photo with the whacky lady" types to prove on social media they left the house. I can proudly say not one actual "Folkie" asked to take a photo, they just smiled and carried on.
Happily, I was reunited with former house mate and good friend I had not seen in years and was able to hear about her life and introduce her to NW Folklife by meeting us there. So all in all the risk taken going to a place with lots and lots of people for the first time since 2020 was worth it.
This fellow's beard was stunning
Brass band busker
This photo is an exact metaphor for the political and religious situation in America today. This wonderful woman followed the "god botherer" around all day at the festival while he spouted hate she waved a flag of love and acceptance.
Thurston High School.
Shitty Shitty Bang Bang
Things on my mind today, things I don't expect anyone to want to think about, but many probably agree and are thinking the same:
The Wonders of the Brassicaceae Family
I've become part of the crucifers mafia of late, well, at least when it comes to chopping things up and pushing broccoli on people.
Recently, urged on by my actual cravings for cabbage, arugula and broccoli (an unthinkable turn of events before I started a ketogenic approach to eating) I started studying these plants so I could learn more about them as I intend to grow many more of them this year in my little backyard paradise.
It turns out the Brassicaeae family of plants and Cruciferae or Cruciferious vegetables are pretty much my main source of vegetables these days.
Here's a list of these low carb beauties:
(and even my all time favorite)
All of the vegetables have good amounts of vitamins like the ever important vitamin C and are great for fiber and micronutrients too! And super tasty, naturally.
Recently scientists have been tinkering with broccoli to see if they can find a way to get the sulforaphane to be retained when eaten since cooking it tends to deplete the levels of this extremely beneficial organic compound. So just having a stir fry loaded with cauliflower and broccoli won't do the trick.
They discovered that damaging broccoli and leaving it out for a while makes the sulforphane last even through light cooking.
Since I eat so darn much broccoli and cabbage these days I figure why not just cut it up and leave it out on the table to get the most benefits possible.
I've become convinced now that I don't have sugar controlling my hunger or my brain my body actually craves the things it needs. So here's to more crucifers- a name I once associated with death due to its similarity to the plight of that unfortunate Jesus fellow- but now I will associate with life which is as close to religious as I will likely ever get.
This is an average haul for a week for the vegetables I will eat while being ketogenic, this and a box of arugula
Being Prepared for the New Era
Today as I listen to public radio, the mainstream news stories, I am reminded of the times I read historical news papers and listened to old radio from the early 1918-1945 as a nerdy young girl in the 1980s. I wondered if my schoolmates and I would face any of the trails our grandparents and ancestors had earlier in the century. I wondered if the world would have tragedies be the norm the way people who lived between the First World War and the Second World War did.
In 1918 people all over the world dealt with a pandemic flu while the first most tragic of all wars ended at last in November that year. 40 million people died in that war and estimates between 17 million and 50 million people died from the pandemic flu.
So let's imagine you were in your early 20's during this time of turmoil and you managed to survive both the World War 1 and the disease ahead of you lies an economic collapse. Ten years later, you have a child maybe two and a husband who works through the world wide depression to provide for you and your family. If your little boy was born before before 1925 he will likely be drafted for WW2 and possibly die fighting the Nazis.
By the time you are 50 years old- which is the age I turn this year- your lived through the two greatest wars in history, one of the worst pandemics, and also you lived through the greatest economic collapse in American history. You outlive your children.
As a young woman I tended to bond with grandparents and grannies where I lived more than people my age. I was very lucky and got to ask them questions about what happened. As a teenager I had a job as a CNA working with very elderly people in a nursing home. All of them were exactly these survivors who had lived through both wars often they were the last of their generation. They had so many unbelievable tales to tell. I was fascinated listening to their lives as young people and they in turn were made happy to have someone who actually wanted to listen to their life stories.
What would those sweet knitting old ladies tell me about today? What would the grannies and grandpas say to me today as I look forward to this new era I wondered this morning. Would they warn me to stock pile food?
Because this time 2022 might be the beginning of more trying times- considering climate change, and the likelihood neoliberals will start another war and that a second cold war has already begun. What would they do if they had known the future?
I think they would tell me the same as they did when I was a teenager- I still have the journals from those days they said these things:
Always tell people you love them everyday, for they may not be there tomorrow
Learn how to repair your stuff
Buy long lasting coats and shoes
Get a house, two if you can
Marry a friend
Trust your instincts
Read more than the headlines
War will come again fight against it before it happens, and VOTE
Don't drink when you are afraid or sad
Money is meaningless when there is nothing to buy
Grow food, grow enough to share
Prepare for the worst but expect the best
Clean more than you think you need to
Be kind to people who are afraid
Cry when you need to cry, don't hold it in
Learn how to heal yourself, learn how to nurse your family
Protect your health no money can buy it back
Look for the light in the darkness, be that light if you can't find it
Have a fire bag, a medical bag
Don't have children (all of these people told me they would have chosen not to have kids if they had been able to choose)
I wonder sometimes if I have wasted my time in this pandemic so far by not becoming Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 preparing for the return of a killer robot. Especially in the context of January 6th 2021 which was the 3rd dress rehearsal for Christian Nationalist who intend to bring back Nazism to power whether or not the participants like Proud Boys, Boogaloo, and Republicans realize that is what they are doing serving the cult of Trump. It seems Merrick Garland is not going to go after any of the big fish, so the new Hitlers continue to gather their forces.
But then I remember I have very much lived my life preparing for now and I am doing very well considering all that is happening. I'll stick to the advice of those old dear people who put up with my constant questioning. I have made it to the year I turn 50 and in my case that is amazing.
But I'll start working out a bit more and just in case I need to call on my inner Linda Hamilton.
Light in the darkness of a storm in California December 26th 2021