Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Make Me A Believer

Everything is still weird.

I know there are probably a lot of things I’m not right about.

I don’t remember everything I’ve written as I was writing through trauma.

I went back and revised some things, but it feels disingenuous. Many of my perspectives have changed, especially regarding nutrition. Not so much with respect to education. A lot with respect to materialism, but probably not in ways that would show on my blog, even though I have tried to write about it. Spirituality? Belief? Well, that's a higher love that relies on consciousness, which I will cover below. I wrote in my book last year that experiences with materialism caused me to lose my faith; I believe I understand the reason why.

Language can really hamstring a person. The more verbal communication I do, the more I tend to ruminate on it. At some point it can become enslavement. For this reason, I am going to challenge myself to communicate in less stressful ways that are less subject to the pitfalls of changing perspective.

I am tired of thinking so hard. Tired of being so serious. It invites a lot of criticism, and I’m sorry to say this but I think that people are still confused about what’s important. The world’s on fire and I can’t even get the people in my own home to change their behavior. Not that I should; they are their own people. Being isolated sucks, so what else are young people who are trying to become adults supposed to do? I wish we had an electric car - one that is a few years old. I barely drive, anyway, but I feel it’s important for me to not consume so much. So, I’m just going to continue singing, making art, making love, reading, cooking, walking, sitting in the grass, and being accused of not doing things I “should” do. I want to work to live, not live to work. It has become non-negotiable. The stress was killing me. It’s a real challenge for me because of the indoctrination I endured. I have a difficult time relaxing and not worrying. I pick up on a lot of little stuff. Too much stuff. Plus, I have way too many ideas, but things I still have to do because I am not a fucking aristocrat. I don’t have money to pay Minions to do my bidding. Furthermore, I’m not sure that’s something I believe in.

I’m hoping that we actually have immunity after having the illness itself and then two doses of the vaccine. It’s scary hearing what’s going on in Malaysia right now. Coming out the other side of it, I feel like I know how to treat it, but I am not a medical professional. Furthermore, the approaches I have taken are anti-authoritarian and question a lot of the standard medical dogma. This is my space and I can write whatever I want here, but it’s too much work, and I’m still testing my theories. Something odd happened in India, though. If it really was from Ivermectin, then the CDC needs to pony up. I’m letting my family go on with their lives, and I am seeing people when I have energy, but I may start wearing a mask again because of the new wave. We are all vaccinated. I have heard other people say they might do this because they enjoyed not having colds and flu. I was hoping that people would figure this out during the pandemic and desire to take responsibility for the general spread of airborne disease.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young person right now. Their grandparents’ generation made everything so expensive already, and COVID was just another excuse for the wealthy to make it worse. It was heartbreaking to see so many people arguing that it was more important to protect industries than it was to protect lives. I wonder if they knew that they were making that argument.

I believe behaviorist and meritocratic thinking is due to lower states of consciousness. I say that because when I am in lower states of consciousness, that’s how I think. I believe lower states of consciousness are fairly common because we are poisoning ourselves. I wish I could say that I was being hyperbolic. I’m not. It’s not an urban thing, it’s not a rural thing, and it’s not a suburban thing. It is an American Thing.

We owe it to the world to clean this up. Each and every one of us, and especially our corporations. And we need to share how it changes our lives.

Volatile chemical solvents, which are now ubiquitous in the environment, induce anxiety by causing autonomic nervous dysfunction, and this results in xenophobia. I am certain of it. Xenophobia is essentially fear. Volatile chemicals also induce problems with communication, specifically with auditory and language processing. They cause problems with memory. They cause neuropathy. They cause depression. They cause digestive issues. When we’re feeling lousy, and are unable to communicate our ideas effectively, it is difficult to trust others, and it’s also difficult to be accountable. The communication problems get amplified the more people have been exposed to chemicals. Inability to think through problems or be self aware causes people to default to old modes of behavior which may not be as healthy. Sorry, I know I’m totally pooping on the party, but somebody has to say something because this has everything to do with dementia, war and peace.

Right now the air is pretty toxic from the wildfire smoke, so my prediction is that we may see an increase in things like accidents and depressive symptoms. If the people who were driving just because they want to slowed down and stopped driving so much, maybe we could avoid catastrophe. It doesn’t seem right to penalize citizens who have to drive to work because Colorado sold out to the oil and gas industry and didn’t invest in better public transportation for the Northern I-25 corridor earlier. But the rest of us could certainly chill out. Maybe we could all enjoy breathing while sitting out on the porch if everyone would just take the time to sit out on the porch!


Furthermore, we need to be careful how we spend our money. I've long been suspicious of derivative markets and the way they create economic imbalances, but I was recently made aware that cryptocurrency is bad for the environment. It's interesting how human beings can turn something invisible into something toxic. When we make investments, they should be in the interest of the future, not something that erodes it.

I think the world would change for the better if people would start metering their personal air quality and pay attention to how it affects their health. A year ago, people thought I was crazy because I could tell when my water heater was backdrafting based on how I felt, but I now know other people who can feel these things. We have to start somewhere. In the case of air quality, what we don’t know does hurt us, and I can’t think of a faster way to get us on a path to sustainability so we don’t experience the societal collapse predicted by MIT in 1972. I think it’s possible that we may end up finding that exposure to organic solvents is involved in things like SIDS and highway fatalities.

Talk about gaslighting!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

No One Is To Blame

We all got our COVID vaccines. For many of the reasons John Green talked about in his video last week, I have not wanted to talk much about vaccination. This is because I understand both sides, personally. We have a history of vaccine reactions, sensory integration issues, and seizure in our home. We also know more people than we should, statistically speaking, who had Guillain-Barre after vaccinations pre-COVID. I have also heard all the arguments, and I worked in science long enough to know how things can sometimes work in that industry.

I figured it is time to speak out because I met a new neighbor who is a retired dentist who seemed like he was kind of confused himself and said that “they passed a law that we are not allowed to say anything against ‘them’ and that “they can now go through our text messages and email.” I couldn’t get him to elaborate on who “them” was, and he did mention that his wife would not be happy if she knew he was talking to me about it, which made me wonder all sorts of things about how our beliefs about things can be sources of shame in our relationships. I didn’t want to add to anyone’s fear of the vaccine unnecessarily, so I have been keeping my mouth shut until I know how my family is doing. I was under no illusion that we would be able to continue on indefinitely alone. While my sudden illness in 2019 had the effect of cutting us off from many people, I didn’t anticipate how isolating it would be.

I understand why people are afraid of the vaccine. They have a right to be. For people who have not noticed a change in their cognition after illness or vaccine, of course they’re not going to think these things are a big deal. But to have a neurological illness is torture. Just like you can’t explain to a woman what it is like to push seven and a half pounds of human being through her vagina before she does it herself, you can’t explain what constant vertigo, arm and leg weakness, fatigue, and feeling cold as pain is like to a person who has not experienced it.

We had reactions to the COVID vaccine. I’m not sure I can say they were severe, because they were different than actually having COVID. They were like apples and oranges, neither particularly enjoyable, but the virus itself was way worse for us. Well-meaning liberal people have shrugged our vaccine reactions off saying, “Well, that must mean you’re getting good immunity.” As far as I know, we know nothing about the severity of reaction to vaccines and how it may be connected to effective immunity. Besides, if they *didn’t* have a reaction, what does that mean for *their* immunity? It may mean nothing at all. I never had a positive COVID test when I was ill, yet I lost my sense of smell and had many other symptoms which distinguish COVID from other illnesses.

My son had a reaction to the MMR vaccine when he was an infant. As a scientist, it has been excruciating having to deal with other health professionals who have never experienced a severe vaccine reaction, which can go on for months or even years because medicine does not know how to treat it. That being said, I am not an immunologist, and I am going off what I have heard from other immunologists and what my gut has told me that what we understand about immunity from the cursory survey I got through molecular biology, biochemistry and cellular biology courses. Our understanding of how to prevent infectious disease at the immunological level is poor at best. We do, however, have a pretty good track record when it comes to life-extending band-aid pharmaceutical interventions, and I think we are missing that opportunity with COVID, because we place too much trust in vaccines as an encompassing solution.

I don’t like being experimented on without my consent, yet because I am female, that’s essentially what has always been done to me.

Much to my frustration, my husband was digging around in the medical literature last year and became convinced that because he saw evidence of gene splicing activity involving furin and coronavirus before the pandemic, that it was a lab leak. Because I had worked on engineering retroviruses and was trained to work in a BSL4 lab, I knew it was possible. When I was in grad school, we had a unit on genetic engineering and ethics in my cellular biology class which informed us about the problems Monsanto had generated in Argentina (this was in the mid-90’s) which had wiped out most of the indigenous corn. Our professor made no bones about the fact that genetic engineering technology came with great responsibility, and that it was possible that humans actually weren’t intelligent enough to make good decisions about how and when to use it. A few years later, I would find myself cutting up pieces of DNA to insert into murine leukemia virus as therapy for osteoporosis in mice for the government. Animals don’t really get out of test facilities, and there are a lot of protocols in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. Many of the animals used for research are genetically engineered and so we need to keep them from the wild populations of animals. People in PETA don’t understand that, let alone the damage their precious vinyl does to the environment over the more sustainable leather that was good enough for the people who came before us. Letting genetically altered animals out of lab facilities undermines the work they are doing to protect natural species. Given what I knew, I figured a lab worker probably contracted the virus. There are a lot of ways to goof as a lab worker, including accidentally sticking oneself with a needle. But I sure wasn’t going to say anything to push forward any conspiracies because the government at that point had no ability to make a calm and cool decision about anything. I’m pretty sure I am right about that.

Furthermore, I understand how the scientific community works, and also that if we looked hard enough, we would probably find information tying the intellectual property back to the United States somehow. We invent a lot of technologies, and we also educate people from many other countries. Scientists work in multi-center global teams. Most of the people I encountered in my career as a molecular biologist were Chinese. Many of them had gone to medical school in China. I don’t know how it was at other research Universities in the United States, or if this was a phenomenon that Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio and California shared. This is not some sort of conspiracy on the part of the U.S. intelligentsia; I know from having worked as staff in a molecular biology department that American citizens just weren’t applying for grad school positions in science 25-30 years ago, because it was a job for nerds.

Nevermind that beyond the stigma of it being a job for nerds, if one doesn’t do a postdoc position, many jobs pay so poorly that a job at a convenience store sometimes pays more. That was my experience. Even after I had found a “good paying” job, it still was barely enough to cover childcare, and that is a big reason I left the profession. And, I realize now that most of the time I was working with volatiles I needed to be using a respirator, but at that time we weren’t aware of that. I never had one until I begged for one because I was pregnant, and that was only because I called the California Teratogen Registry to ask specifically about the things I was working with. There were no specific advisories for the things I was using at the time, only the advice to take precautions if the mother was feeling unwell, which I think was probably the reason I called, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

That all being said, I want to make sure that I say that the effects of long-haul COVID are much, much worse than the vaccine. Yes, I wish we had something better than vaccines, too, for sensitive individuals. There are so many problems with relying on vaccination to protect ourselves from infectious disease. For most “vaccine preventable illnesses” the burden has mostly been on developing children, whereas adults can carry disease silently as immunity from vaccines is usually not permanent. Only people working in the healthcare industry might bother to get titers done to see if boosters are needed, because they are costly. So with COVID, the shoe is kind of on the other foot - the elderly population at risk has to be protected by the voluntary actions of people who would otherwise be unaffected by the disease and develop natural immunity. Getting compliance out of the adult population is extremely difficult, as evidenced by our sub-50% COVID vaccination rate in the United States. Vaccination only ever worked because children are not given a choice. The symptoms of autism and spectrum disorders are subtle enough that it would be easy to attribute them to something else.

I understand this perhaps more than most people because I took the time alone to really comb through my perceptions. Essentially, I took up the study of phenomenology which is the in-depth study of consciousness. I studied my perceptions and how they changed, and I learned how to control my consciousness to feel happier. I paid attention to the things that altered my perceptions negatively and how they altered other aspects of my health. I learned a lot about how our environments conspire to produce different states of consciousness. My sensory issues are greatly affected by metabolic stress, which includes toxic exposures, emotional stress, and illness. They were absolutely affected by the vaccine, but as I am addressing my mitochondrial health, I am slowly improving.

What our government needs to understand is that we will never get COVID out of control relying on vaccination alone, because of the impossibility of adult compliance. Until people understand that the vaccine reaction is preferable to long-haul COVID, and children are vaccinated, we will continue to be bothered by COVID, and its effects will burden our society and our healthcare system.

Leave it to me to figure out how to voice several unpopular opinions at once! I might as well put a target on my head.

Here is the most recent paper I could find on what we know about vaccine reactions. The researchers do state that a significant number of cases of vaccine-induced epilepsy (which is rare) were in people who had "pre-existing neurologic or neurodevelopmental abnormalities."

COVID shed an interesting light on these things for me. Early on I, along with many other scientists, were keeping a close eye on the discovery of the mechanism of the virus’ action. I wondered if we know it binds to the ACE2 receptor and we know the sequence for that, why we didn’t come up with some therapy taking advantage of that knowledge? Preventing viral entry into the cells in the first place, while giving the immune system a chance to recognize myriad targets on the native virus would mean the body would be given a chance to develop proper immunity, before the virion were ultimately phagocytosed and eliminated. I’m willing to bet an approach like this would have actually addressed most of the symptoms, too.

Theoretically, we should be able to come up with a safe biologically-based substrate to block the entry of any virus into cells, rather than having to work with the complex immune system and exposing so many scientists to native virus. If it’s furin that is helping COVID enter cells, why do we not have some furin-based technology to block entry?

The Salk Institute has found that COVID ultimately does its damage by causing mitochondrial fractionation. The mitochondria are what make energy in the cell. The part of COVID that does this is actually the spike protein itself. The different vaccines contain different portions of the spike protein. Pfizer is the mRNA encoding just the spike protein. Moderna is a few fragments, and also mRNA. I had the Pfizer vaccine, and my post-vaccination reaction was very similar to having COVID. I had more psychiatric issues, however, which I think has to do with the nanoparticles helping the spike protein cross the blood brain barrier.

When I say psychiatric issues, I am going to broadly say that it made me anxious and afraid. More than just the background COVID situation was making me. I’m not exactly sure what was making me anxious or afraid, but I had to meditate all the time. My sister is a doctor who ended up with long-haul COVID and she was telling me she was pretty sure it messes with the autonomic nervous system somehow. When she said this I had been reading about Polyvagal Theory and was trying to be more mindful of my autonomic state.

I need to explain what the “nanoparticles” are, because my next door neighbor was totally brainwashed by conservative propaganda. It is possible to make fake cells using fatty acids. We call these micelles. They are “fake” because they don’t have any cellular machinery like mitochondria, ribosomes, or golgi apparati, so eventually they will just degrade. With the fake cells, it is possible to insert different augmented cellular components and see how it affects the concentration of various things inside and outside the micelle. Essentially, the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are packaged in these micelles. The lipids they used in the micelles for the vaccines were man-made, and not a lot of testing has been done on them. I am wondering if some of the symptoms I had from vaccination were actually from those man-made lipids because I am sensitive to oxidizable lipids. There shouldn’t have been that many, though. It really puzzles me how such a tiny amount of something could make me feel so crappy. But anyway, these lipids do end up being eliminated through the liver completely after 40-60 days.

Anyway, I’m really thankful for the vaccines. I read the paper the European Medicines Agency prepared for approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and it’s nothing short of miraculous that it came together the way it did. I do hope we do not use this as an excuse to discontinue research on other methods of prevention, because the virus is surprisingly small and elegant, and it has given us a good model to work with which might benefit our approach to other infectious disease. It’s pretty clear that at least in the case of COVID, mitochondrial support is critical. I think if more people understood what this was, our population might actually become healthier overall, and we may be less susceptible to infectious disease.

The whole reason we have vaccination is to protect the weakest among us. But what if it’s not doing that? What if it is doing further harm to certain people, overall? We really need some alternatives, and we need to be more understanding about people’s concern about consent. Neurological illness is life altering. I have seen people use vaccination as an excuse to behave fairly recklessly, specifically around the flu season. In Asia, it is customary to wear masks when one is not feeling well, and it’s not cool to show up to gatherings sick. But people here have a runny nose and write it off as allergies, because we’re too proud to admit we may have gotten a virus. This strange American ethos we have around hiding our weaknesses, casting blame, and failing to listen when others are hurting is just going to perpetuate divisiveness.

You'll Feel Like Yourself Again

A few years ago, my sister-in-law asked me if I would like to see a psychic with her. She had seen one in Florida and was feeling like she needed to see one again, and wondered if I knew any. I did end up knowing a few, but not in that capacity, so I set up some readings for us with the one which seemed the most convenient.

My sister-in-law had her reading first, and from the waiting room, I thought she was laughing the whole time, but when she came out, her eyes were red and watery. I entered the room and sat down across from the woman I had once discussed homeschooling kids on the autism spectrum with. While I had once been a member of the Skeptics Society, I was never an atheist. I had experience with precognition and had also had near death experiences.

I now know that there are other neuroscientists and even doctors who have had these experiences. Not much attention has been paid to the experiments that were being run at Stanford, MIT and Harvard in the 1960’s, but they are critical to understanding psychic phenomena. The CIA was involved in these experiments, which were about remote viewing and altered states of consciousness produced with LSD.

Around that time I was using cannabis for relaxation. I had never thought about states of consciousness before, but I did realize that cannabis produced a more preferable state of consciousness. I had been wondering about this idea of mind over matter that I had tried myself for years, but which sometimes failed. When I was depressed I received a lot of ableist advice about how my lifestyle might predispose me to depression. I call that “mind over matter” because a conscious choice has to be made to not let matter interfere with one’s happiness. But I knew people who were doing everything right and still battling more illness than I had. When I adopted the standard advice of medicine, I was depressed and tired, too. Cannabis helped in a number of ways. It helped me feel my body. Sometimes I am tense, and I don’t even know it until I actually relax. Cannabis helps me relax. It showed me where I was mentally by slowing my thoughts down and helping me identify cognitive distortions, too. The trouble with that, though, is that once one identifies them in oneself, it’s hard not to see them everywhere else.

In my psychic reading, I sat down on an easy chair across from the reader. The room was decorated with Eastern ephemera. She had oracle cards out in the waiting area. She asked if I had any specific questions, and I probably said no. Somehow we got on the subject of my grandmother, who said she had a long death and that it “would have been better to get hit by a bus.” She said this in a Long Island accent, and there is no reason she should have known any of those things. I was told that I needed to write about narcissism, and that my grandfather was a narcissist. I don’t really want to get into that here, but just know that we didn’t know him. He passed away in 2015, and things have been too crazy to reach out to his kids.

Around this time, I was chatting twice a week with a sculptor friend I had studied with about why the world is the way it is. I lived for these conversations. He had opened his class the previous semester with a study of Giacometti and existentialism, and I think that is probably when I fell into the quicksand, although it wasn’t obvious at first. Shortly after that, I started having dreams about him all the time. We cannot control our dreams. So, during the semester I took his class and thenceforward I would wake up most mornings feeling fairly hot and bothered, and totally not sure how I was going to manage myself around him, and that went on for three semesters, but I was only his student for the first one.

I was like a puppy. I hung on his every word. I was simultaneously feeling embarrassed, guilty and loving it at the same time. I was really excited to tell him what happened during my reading, because I had asked him if he knew any psychics. A few weeks earlier, I had given him my copy of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces, and a note asking him if he’d like to go for coffee. He had said he didn’t think of me as a student. He was always saying things which could have been interpreted as flirting, but were just statements. It really didn’t help matters. Ultimately, I couldn’t handle the ambiguity of the whole thing, but I was having a heckuva time trying to figure out what to do. So I went for coffee with him and told him my marriage was falling apart. He didn’t know what to tell me.

I’m not sure that was the truth. Maybe the truth was more like I was falling apart. That’s kind of what my art was saying. He and I had kind of connected over that - how difficult it is to be an artist. Not to be taken seriously by others because they don’t think you work as hard as they do, because you don’t earn as much, and art is unimportant.

I once had a short-lived career as a scientist. That makes it difficult to talk to a lot of people, because much of mainstream advice is shaped by policy rather than science, and most people don’t know enough science to understand why that is a problem or recognize when that has happened. There are a lot of reasons that didn’t work out, but the primary ones were my chemical sensitivity and the cost of childcare. I think chemical sensitivity was always a problem and that it is a major factor in my life. My problems with expressive and receptive aphasia and memory are known sequelae of exposure to many chemicals. I’ve had to do a lot to forgive myself for not continuing on in my profession. It was hard to be stuck at home during the pandemic just trying to figure out how to feed us while I was trying to regain my speech. It was really humbling. I hear about what other people did, and I want to feel like I contributed during this time, too. But I also know that everything I say and all my actions change things, and as a scientist there is even more pressure on me to say and do the right things.

I’m not sure that my marriage was actually falling apart, but I was feeling less connected to my husband. I was reading about narcissism and covert manipulation and was recognizing things I read in myself and others around me. It was like the more materialistic people were, the more narcissistic they were. I had always considered myself an anti-materialist because in my mind, my stuff was not more important than another person’s health or life. But what I learned was that I had people in my close inner circle who felt the opposite. These people tended to only talk about their stuff, where they were going, who they were going to see, and what was happening with those people. It was doing nothing to solve the problems of the world. And it was keeping me bound to a world of thought where what brand of jeans I wear was more important than working toward equanimity.

Well before Joseph Campbell or the coffee shop, the sculptor told me he’s never cared about weight on women.

At the time I was also trying to lose weight for my health. I was doing it really carefully because I had lost weight before in ways that affected my health negatively. I had also read about Ancel Keys’ starvation studies and what extreme fasting can do to metabolism. All I was doing was trying to eat 60% of my calories from carbohydrate (to take the load off my kidneys). I was avoiding polyunsaturates. I was also trying to walk 3-4 times a week, at least 20 minutes. I had some great body weight exercises I had learned from Christy, my personal trainer, which I also tried to do three times a week. I didn’t really care about losing weight as much as I wanted to feel well. I knew he could tell that I was losing weight, because he obliquely brought it up once, when I had lost about 30 pounds. My goal at that point wasn’t to lose more weight, but to maintain a healthy lifestyle and see where my weight was naturally. I had recognized that a lot of my metabolic damage was from dieting, and so for me the primary focus was my mental health.

It was frustrating to have to diet, because I had watched other people around me constantly going on fad diets and seeing how it affected the way they interacted with others. They were often less patient and overly particular about things that didn’t matter. I think the kind of dieting that makes people pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside is a big problem we have in this country. I have also had to navigate a lot of food intolerance issues with myself and my kids, and so I worry about eating disorders. We already have a fairly limited diet because of genetic factors. I’ve gone through periods where I try to open up my eating repertoire, and that always results in me getting sick.

Anyway, we talked about other things during our coffee, including his experiences with altered states of consciousness, and what we’re going to do when we grow up. He expressed worry about his own future, and I broke down, telling him I thought he was perfect just the way he was. He couldn’t look at me after I said that, and it was probably one of the only times I noticed him do something like that. Ultimately he needed to go work on his art, so we rode back to school in his truck. He dropped me off by the building we usually were in, and before we parted ways, we had a little side hug in the car, and said we would see each other later.

Sometime later, I asked my husband if he would be willing to learn the tantra with me. I thought perhaps if we added some spice to our sex life my feelings for this other man would cool down. But he was perfectly satisfied with our sex life and too tired to learn anything new, and so he said no.

The sculptor had to move away. I tried to connect him to people in my network to see if he could get help or opportunities, but nothing panned out. After he left, I made a couple other guy friends. I was still really hung up on him and married, and so I wasn’t attracted to them that way. I just can’t handle that much complication. It was nice to be around guys, though. I’ll be honest. Being a stay at home mother hasn’t been easy for me because I have never gotten along as well with women. We can be so hypersensitive. With guys, what you see is what you get for the most part.

It appears that I have lost several female friends over the course of the pandemic, and I can only attribute it to pettiness. It’s actually mortifying to me, because these are people with whom I discussed how what’s wrong with the world is people being petty. They are all people who had discussed with me struggles with depression and anxiety. Well, I can only hope that they just don’t have time for me because they are having too much fun.

I had to stop seeing people during the pandemic. I knew we were really vulnerable to the virus because of the water heater problems. It meant that I couldn’t support the businesses of people I cared about. I was having constant panic attacks, which was partially from stress, and partially from our backdrafting water heater. It took all of my energy to calm down. I felt like I was going to die.

Luckily my husband knows a woman who is a biochemist and a nurse who had struggled with the sort of tachycardia I was experiencing, so I had someone to email with who had some idea what I was going through. Everything was so much worse during the end of my menstrual cycle and around ovulation. It was so hard to not lose my mind. For years, people hadn’t listened to me when I said I needed to rest during those times, and I paid for it.

Ultimately, it would be these factors that would lead to me purchasing Diane Richardson’s Tantric Sex and Menopause, and my husband and I learning the tantra.

I’ve been following John Green’s vlogbrothers channel, and listening to him talk about how he has managed his anxiety over the course of the pandemic. I’ve been trying to think of a way to reach out to him because of what I’ve learned about anxiety. I’ve thought of all these angles - that I began writing in the third person and it altered the course of time, that my sister is his wife’s doppelganger, and that he went to college with my brother-in-law. I mean, it’s hard to not look like a creep when I say what I need to say to people about mental health and its inverse relationship to pleasure. My way out was through the tantra. Get your game on, man! That’s what I want to say to him. Also, I want to say that even if he doesn’t think he was, he was writing in code. That’s how the unconscious works.

Wilhelm Reich was an overlooked student of Sigmund Freud who postulated that sexual energy was healing. His writings, along with those of Timothy Leary, were important in starting the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. The most controversial thing Leary wrote which threatened the religious establishment is that we are all connected by the subconscious, and that we receive simultaneous insights through it. These insights, or Starseed Signals give us guidance in how to proceed with our lives. Reich was trying to detect subtle energies that the body makes. Eastern philosophy has tried to describe these energies. Reich attempted to connect this energy with both intelligence and compassion and felt strongly that sexuality needed to be destigmatized in order to combat frigidity and violent thinking in people. His philosophy arose from being in Vienna for both World War I and World War II and being a conscientious objector.

When I was hanging out around my sculptor friend, I felt this incredible energy. I always felt relaxed around him. I could tell he had said things to put me at ease. He always seemed to know the perfect thing to say. I figured this was because he had learned transcendental meditation. He recommended a teacher to me, but ultimately, I found a different way “in” as they say. This teacher was really expensive (over USD$1000), which made no sense to me. Why does classism have to be a barrier to enlightenment? Another friend was attending yoga nidra classes, which were $15. I have another friend who is a young man (don’t get the wrong idea) who is interested in these things but could never afford that, so as I was learning, I tried to share what I could. Of course this Wilhelm Reich stuff is pretty weird, so I haven’t shared it with him. He has come along far enough in his studies that he can feel the energy, and had intuited that with enough people it could be used for healing purposes.

Before studying the tantra, I studied reiki healing. And I had been farting around with the Tarot, and took a Tarot class.

You’d think that would be where the rabbit hole would end.

I turned down working for Dr. Komisaruk on female orgasm not just because I couldn’t imagine how I would talk to people in my community about what I did, but also because when the grad student showing us around stopped at a nearby gas station in Newark, there was a man with a gun. Just a few years earlier, I had an experience at a gas station in Denver where a man drew a gun on a homeless guy who wanted to wash my windows. I knew I wanted to feel safe wherever I lived. I had been in New Orleans for three years, and had lived in central Denver for eighteen. Southeastern Ohio studying Alzheimer’s, quilting and fishing on the weekends seemed like what I needed at the time.

I feel like despite my choice back then, the Universe sort of forced me into learning about sex drive. Mine has come and gone over the years. For me, its presence is an indicator of overall wellbeing. And it totally seems to be one of those “use it or lose it” things.

One of my favorite subjects is Jeanne Calment. She lived to be 122 years old, and even met Vincent Van Gogh. She used to eat a kilogram of chocolate every week. She outlived her husband, children and grandchildren. She always lived alone, and never owned a car. The major tip that I learned from reading her biography was that she never suffered fools wisely. It is my observation that there are a lot of suffered fools out there who stay in a state of morose thinking because they deny themselves actual relaxation. When one’s life gets a little overly complicated, it’s a bit painful. The easiest way to transcend that layer of psychological mud is to make one’s existence simple. This is certainly a helluva lot easier on the environment. I don’t remember anything about Jeanne Calment’s relationship with sexual pleasure being mentioned, but I do remember that she smoked until she was 114. She stopped because her nursing home started requiring smokers to go outside.

But who really wants to live that long and be alone the whole time?

After my sculptor friend moved, I found my uncle who had been put up for adoption through DNA. We had known of his existence because we had his baby photo, but we didn’t know who or where he was. He’s an artist and he does landscapes very similar to my style. He’s also a poet and into meditation. I knew a lot of this journey, from reading Joseph Campbell, was about me more deeply understanding my role as a woman, and my family story contributed to that understanding. The Primal Wound was an important theme in our reunion; my mother, her sister and brother all discussed what it was like to grow up without family. We were all weird in similar ways. Nobody was a materialist. They were all avid readers and incredibly progressive in their thinking. My other uncle, who I hadn’t seen since I was in middle school was a huge fan of John Waters. My cousin was employed at the David Zwirner gallery. My “new” uncle was also a book reseller. They had participated in the 60’s counter culture when my mom and dad were part of the Air Force.

At another point, my cousin had informed us that her grandparents (my mother’s mother and her last husband) had been swingers. Again, this was not something that was new to me, as I learned that there is a swinger’s network in my parents’ neighborhood. I am a long time ally, so this didn’t bother me. By the time I was sitting in the hotel room listening to what my cousin had to say, I was already all too familiar with the pain of being a stay at home mother and having societal expectations to uphold. Monogamy wasn’t feeling right to me. Sometimes the problems we had felt bigger than we could handle, and we knew from having other homeschooling families as friends that we weren’t the only ones facing the problems of isolated child rearing and property ownership.

It was some time after that I started writing in the third person in order to get into my subconscious. I ended up just writing a book about my daily life in which I asked the sculptor to marry me. It’s certainly the craziest thing I have ever done in my life. I wanted to show him that I knew what was important, but that I also knew how to blend in. It came together really easily because I wrote about the struggles I had in doing it, which was mostly communication struggles I had with my husband and issues with getting my chores done which are now largely tackled.

We were just telling my daughter that being an adult means constantly feeling like you’re behind the 8-ball, and it’s doing a lot of pointless things. My kids missed out on the conditioning that the educational system provides in this regard.

This life is more than just a read through.

I wrote in my crazy novel about how my sculptor friend helped awaken my awareness of the kundalini energy. I suppose it was a little dramatic, but the point that I was trying to make was that I felt his job was important. That he was a William Blake of sorts. Understanding the energy was important. I knew that there was something about the energy between us that was special, but I didn’t know how to talk about it. I didn’t know what the energy was until I learned reiki. Ultimately, I’ve been trying to maximize that energy. When it’s flowing well, I’m calm and I feel creative and hopeful. I think meditation helps move lymph or activate analgesia or something, because it certainly helps with that vital energy. My husband is doing it, too, and we find we are much better connected than we used to be. We have been able to read each other’s minds a little bit which is amazing.

In Christopher Ryan’s TED Talk, he mentions how in humans, chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, there is one live birth for every 1,000 matings. Also, these species all give birth on average once every 3-4 years. This means the average great ape is having sex once a day. Ryan postulates that sex must serve some other function than just reproduction in these species, and that it must be to facilitate social connection. After reading the health benefits of orgasm in Dr. Komisaruk’s book, I think its function is much greater than that, and if more people knew about the health and mental health benefits of orgasm, they would pay more attention to their sexual health.

I was really open back in those days. My friends and I talked about how we managed our sexual desire. We just knew that sexual satisfaction was an important facet to our lives and wanted to give each other tips. On my end, it all felt very Grace and Frankie, so I’m hoping that nobody took it as more than that.

I mentioned that I made a couple male friends after the sculptor moved away, and one was my friend’s boyfriend. I was under the impression that it was platonic. We hung out and talked “stoner talk” which was essentially about what we saw in the A space. He had been abused and struggled with anxiety. We always had really interesting conversations. He reached out to me, but I was so sick I was unable to see anyone at that time. They have since broken up. Anyway, I mention this because I was having the kind of conversations that I had with the sculptor with him, except I didn’t feel the physical attraction. This guy came along when I was mourning that loss.

Eventually my husband was able to fill that need. And from the standpoint of most people on earth, he’s all I really need. I wish things were that simple.

By the way she looked, I should have calmed down.

Living with a disability is strange. The sculptor had asked me what had gotten in the way of me doing things. I honestly didn’t think anything had gotten in the way, and that I was simply where I was on my journey. Furthermore, I had told him that I felt ambition was evil. Then I played his little game with him by writing my books. It was fun. I wouldn’t change it. I enjoyed questioning reality with him.

I wonder if my husband will remember this time. How will we know if he did? He still swore to kill Gregor. I do hope he is not serious.

Stop calling me a dirty hoe.

In early Spring of 2020 I was having panic attacks whenever the water heater would backdraft into my studio space. I got kind of desperate. I had to lay down all the time, like Frida Kahlo. Well, not that bad. I could at least get up and go to the bathroom or spend time watching television. I’ve been on bedrest a lot. It will drive a person mad. I was doing whatever I could to combat the madness. I made a lot of art. I wrote a lot. I learned a lot about myself. I learned how my mental states correlate with my physical states, and what my basic needs are. They are really quite simple. It turns out that sexual pleasure reduces my symptoms significantly. It quiets my mind and stops the pain.

The thing about hanging out with the sculptor or my husband when we have no pressure on us is that time totally stops. I think on some level we’re all looking for that person who can help us stop time. Relationships fall apart when we forget how to do it.

When I was having these panic attacks, I had to learn how to stop time for myself. I had to learn the factors that cause them, and what can prevent them. For a while, I thought they were related to blood pressure, but then I got my blood pressure under control by taking CDP choline (I feel like I can go on the record now and say that). They seem to be some sort of seizure disorder. When I get them, my mind gets super busy, and then my body gets really tense before I feel compelled to lay down and take a nap. I’ll take a nap for several hours, and then wake up feeling disoriented. My nap usually involves pretty vivid dreams. Sometimes I will be really sore. This all started during the wildfires last summer. I haven’t had a break from them long enough to seek treatment. I also haven’t had the words to characterize these episodes appropriately until just now. I’ve had to practice expressing what’s going on to my family and friends. Fortunately, there was a production about Harriett Tubman which covered the aspect of her having epilepsy from a head injury inflicted by her master. It was the visions she had during her epileptic fits which enabled her to guide slaves to freedom. I was able to share this movie with my family so they could understand what is going on with me.

I’ve had so many of these episodes that at some point I realized that the dreams I experience during sleep, the samskara I experience during meditation, the visions I have leading up to orgasm, and the near death experiences I had were all trips into the collective consciousness. I’m constantly having visions. Right now, I keep my visions to myself. But there was an article in Neuroscience News showing that about half of dreams are from the past, and the other half are anticipating the future. I am assuming they were talking about precognition. I am assuming there is going to be a mass awakening because of the combined efforts of physicists, neuroscientists, psychologists and light workers, and that more people will discover their hidden psychic gifts.

I thought it might have been diabetes causing the panic attacks because at one point my blood sugars were down in the 70s, but my blood sugar levels and HbA1c are fine. I think it had to do with the water heater and other chemical exposure, and then I just got really unlucky and figured it all out in the middle of a pandemic. In any case, my attacks have gotten much better and I am having fewer problems with word recall. My auditory processing is a bit better, too, and I have been writing and painting again. I let the house go a bit. It’s just too hard to keep up with it. I just try to keep it safe.

To get better, I had to recognize my autonomic nervous system state and be mindful to rest when I was showing early symptoms of distress. This is still hard for me to recognize because I tend to go out of body when I get stressed out and not recognize increases in my breathing rate or muscle tone until it is too late. This can happen even just doing things around the house. So, I have had to reach a place of acceptance with the level of order around here because I just can’t control everything, and I never wanted to.

I am always behind the 8-ball with housework. Sorry if I made your guitar weep. Living in Colorado is kind of like that. It is dusty here and things dry out or freeze and break. The less stuff one has to maintain, the better. One of my good homeschooling mom friends and I have talked extensively about how our job is to maintain the material world in our homes, and how much of our time it takes. We were trying to teach our kids everything, so we accumulated a lot of stuff. Now that they're older, there’s a lot they don’t need. So my friends and I are going through this collective purge as our kids head off to college. Things are rapidly simplifying because even the kids recognize the strain of the stuff. All these things need curation, which requires time and attention.

I’ve been purging my home of things. This is actually how I developed confidence in the Tarot. There were a lot of items I felt like I needed to keep out of guilt and the Tarot kind of helped show me which items those were. Additionally, it helped me to place things in my home so that my movements through it were more efficient. My home is a “Cabinet of Curiosities” as it contains things that tell a story about the world and about being human, because I am curious at heart.

I know that there is a lot of family trauma around chores and division of labor and how we divide tasks by gender, and so I have tried to be pretty relaxed and gentle about these things with my family. When I was young, I was invited to participate in whatever my parents were working on, so I often helped my father with traditionally male tasks like changing tires and oil, working on the roof, and fixing toilets. My dad sometimes cooked for our family.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

The process of writing is kind of like traveling through Dante’s Inferno. There are at least two schools of thought on how to approach it. Some people are like Stephen King and write diligently every day. Others are more like George R.R. Martin and write only when inspired. Inspiration is never a problem for me. I am comfortable traveling my planes of consciousness to see what they yield. Consequently, the Universe granted me an existence which requires a certain amount of maintenance, so I don’t have the choice of writing whenever I want. I don’t have a paying job, so instead I contribute by being the janitor around here (which is actually a big job even though I try to have relaxed standards). The same was true for my mother until she got a poorly paying job working in education so she could be home with us over the summers. In any case, the frustration of having to do as much housework as I do ends up being useful in my process. There is no gold without mud.

My process for writing involves getting into my stream of consciousness and just sitting down and recording it. It’s freewriting. It’s just that it comes together in the end so it seems like it is more organized than it really is. Anyway, I used to get really frustrated back in the day because it was so hard to get the time to do it. Writing kind of helps me take an inventory of my psychological wellbeing. It’s my self therapy. Right now I really need it because I have been ghosted by a bunch of people.

I’m no stranger to having to let people go. Writing is pretty solitary business, anyway. These friends were working women and no doubt since things are opening up again they are probably needing to focus on their businesses. Friendships should be easy. I got a lot of messages about Mean Girls over the weekend. I always think this means one thing, and then it ends up meaning something else. I always held on to this notion that we are all the same inside, but apparently Mean Girls are put here to challenge that idea.

I wrote the story below when I was a freshman in high school after getting dumped by my good friend who ended up going to astronaut training school a few years ago. She had gotten an upper class boyfriend in the cool crowd. And he was upper class in all senses of the word and she and I were not. I apologize for any misrepresentation of what it’s like to live in China. I have no way of knowing if the picture I drew was accurate.

I don’t want to be a Mean Girl. I do understand how my critique of society may have irked some people. I have always had a problem with arbitrary moral authority, and I think because we didn’t understand what the whole point of life was (just to be), we let the Universe be run by it.

My problem with arbitrary rules is so ingrained that I have difficulty staying present when I am reading the directions to board games. I am an outside the box thinker. That involves considering solutions to problems that challenge arbitrary rules. Frigidity is just such a problem. I have a whole new experience with this because of COVID. Frigidity is a real thing. Scientists have actually studied it. Every woman I know has struggled with it, but it’s some sort of dark secret. Furthermore, people vehemently defend the things that cause it - chemicals and unnecessary stress.

If I sit here and type long enough without eating or moving my body, I too will become frigid. It makes getting together with people really difficult because it is so easy to lose track of time, and then I get sick, and by “sick” I mean frigid. Yes, I lose my sense of humor. I have difficulty understanding subtleties. It’s like aging. I’ve been gauging my progress by how I am doing with getting estimates on home repairs. I am so sensitive to the unfairness of the world I need a lot of time to decompress after talking with people. Inevitably they have faced some sort of impossible situation over the past year and are broken on some level from feeling like they had been left high and dry. A lot of us were behind the 8-ball the whole time. My nervous system is still expecting an emergency to pop up at any second.


The morning I originally wrote this, I woke up feeling not so great. Like I mentioned, I had been having to wake up early to have a bowel movement, and this can happen any time from 4:30 onward. I can get back to sleep after them now, which I am thankful for, because there was a time in my life when once that happened, I would not be able to get back to sleep. That morning I woke up sometime around 5:45. I slept in the upstairs bedroom. I know it was a long time before my husband came to bed. He was up with the kids talking about our experiences with the Akashic Space. Like other psychics, we can get in and out really easily. We were kind of explaining our awakenings to them. Anyway, I got tired around 1:30 am and went to bed. If I get up too early, I’ll usually slip on some more clothes (it’s hot upstairs and cold in my studio). I am like a tropical fish these days, which is another symptom of menopause.

I was able to get in a couple more intervals of sleep, under a heat lamp in the studio, but it wasn’t very deep. Infrared light in the 660-880 nm range can help activate the cytochrome p450 complex in mitochondria, so that can help individual cells relax. Cells tend to take on extra fluid when they are under metabolic stress (which happens in darkness or under blue light). I wake up feeling rather tense. It sucks. So I spend quite a bit of time meditating in the mornings under a heat lamp and figuring out what I might eat or take to help the feeling go away. If I don’t do this, it’s not good, meaning I’m likely to have a panic attack or seizure later. This morning I changed my routine a bit with respect to what I ate and took.

It’s important to note that I have been under the care of a physician and had labs run recently and they are all normal. I have also told my doctor that I am doing most of these things. I haven’t had the energy or attention to write these things down before this time. I’ve come a really long way with respect to the expressive and receptive aphasia - my recovery is nothing short of miraculous. I had a few brief setbacks, which at the time I found really annoying, but the general progress has still been in a positive direction.

Sometimes I wake up feeling nauseated. It feels a lot like morning sickness, but I am not pregnant, just going through menopause. There is very little with respect to conventional medical advice on how to handle this. I haven’t ever thrown up, but I can get the dry heaves. Nausea is almost always caused by elevated serotonin. I have asked my physician for some ondansetron, but I don’t think she has prescribed it this way before. So instead, I started treating myself for the excess serotonin by taking charcoal before bed. After 7 or 7:30 every morning, I have a little bowl of yogurt with some honey.

It usually takes me a while to get up and running in the morning. So this morning, instead of meditating on every little thing, I decided just to throw the kitchen sink at the problem. I keep some things down in the studio, so right away I used some topical magnesium oil, guafenesin and cimetidine. Magnesium relaxes cells similarly to infrared light. I take guafenesin because I get mucousy and it affects my breathing. I take cimetidine because it is a treatment for some types of porphyria and seems to help me a lot, not just with heartburn (which as far as I know has nothing to do with porphyria), but with my panic attacks. It actually slows the cytochrome P450 complex.

Then, I had a little bit of indica and stood at the window listening to the sounds outside for a while. This was around the time I realized I needed to try a different approach with my breakfast. I decided to take a stack of the things that have been helping me the most lately, eat my bowl of yogurt with honey, but also have warm milk with glucose, sugar, rhodiola, ashwaganda, lion’s mane and marshmallows. This is usually the drink I have in the evenings before I go to bed. I have a lot of the same genetics as my mom, and she sleeps pretty well. She has always had warm milk before bed since she was a kid. I read that most sleep problems in older people have to do with cortisol levels rising too much by 4 am or so. Having some carbohydrate before bed can suppress cortisol release. Note that my sleep problems have to do with gut motility. I had my cortisol tested for my renal workup and it was fine. Here are the supplements I took in addition to my food.


Vitamin K2

CDP choline


Calcium gluconate

Progesterone in mixed tocopherols

I take aspirin because it also relaxes the cells like magnesium. It’s also a mitochondrial uncoupler, which means it can help the mitochondria make heat without having to use ATP. Whenever I take this, I always take Vitamin K2 because aspirin can thin the blood and I am coumadin sensitive (meaning I bruise easily with blood thinners because there is a defect in my vitamin K metabolism, and I can’t convert K1 to K2). So don’t argue with me about eating kale because my body doesn’t benefit from it the way someone else’s might.

I take CDP choline because of something I discovered by accident during the pandemic. I believe that taking this has enabled me to go off my blood pressure medication. When I started taking it, I immediately noticed a decrease in the frequency of my panic attacks. I have a lot of writing on this subject which I can post later. My blood pressure is often in the 110’s/60’s and I have been off my medication since May 25, 2020. My initial excitement about this came in February, but when our dishwasher failed and spewed smoke into our home, my blood pressure went up again and I questioned whether what I was doing was working.

I wasn’t the only one who had health effects from the dishwasher incident. It produced the same kinds of effects as the water heater backdrafting, but we’re all more self aware now, so we got along a lot better. I am rather tired of hearing people say they are not chemically sensitive. The effects chemicals have on people and animals are actually pretty well studied, and people aren’t immune. It’s just that one’s genetics determines the outcome of the poisoning, and for some people, the effects are more subtle. I found this information buried in textbooks for neuropsychiatrists. This is not information that should be buried in a specialist’s textbook for fear of industry retribution. This affects every living thing on the planet.

Years ago I had this neuropathy in my feet. This is when I was trying lots of different supplements. I knew neuropathy was a feature of diabetes, and had found information that benfotiamine could be effective for that kind of neuropathy. On a whim, I took it and my neuropathy totally disappeared. This was a long time ago, so I don’t know if I had labs drawn at that time. In any case, my fasting blood sugar was a little elevated in the beginning of the year, and I thought it might have something to do with the panic attacks, so I decided to try benfotiamine again. It is definitely helping. It is a fat soluble form of Vitamin B1, or thiamine, which is critical for [nerve transmission]


Yes, that’s kind of how it goes. I had an interruption, and then the whole day went along. There was a big nap in the middle, and my husband made fried rice for dinner, and I watered the garden while he turned and moved the compost. At some point I worked on a piece of art that I made about 18 months ago when I was working with acrylic and before I had purchased air quality meters. I used hot glue on it. I got a terrible migraine after working with the hot glue.

I was trying to make something that looked like stars or a nebula and working in transparent layers incorporating Pearl-X (sparkles!). I am obsessed with incorporating shimmering elements into my art. Ultimately, I think my art is making a commentary on what is missing from the Ghost In the Machine. My approach to the layers was mimicking the CMYK process used by printers. Each work I did informed the next and they were a record of my stream of consciousness. Each one imparted a lesson to me about some quality of stoicism and perseverance. I got to understand the therapeutic quality of art on a very deep level - how healing it is to be able to have a vague vision of something and playfully shape it. What’s special about the works is that they are not reproducible with our current technologies and their qualities as they interact with the viewer’s eye and external lighting sources.

They are tools for divination. That was the whole point of the abstract impressionist movement and the work of Pollock and Rothko. I had to write a paper on Pollock and found information that he was seeing a Jungian therapist at his own insistence, and had an obsession with depth psychology. It is THE rabbit hole. They were just making their own Rorschach Tests.

I realized what “woke” really means this week. It’s the awareness that there are different planes of existence in the mind, and the understanding of the important differences between them.

I sort of gave up on that piece of art when I realized I couldn’t peel off the hot glue. I was trying to use it as a masking fluid. I should have just used masking fluid. Anyway, I found it in the garage last weekend and decided to see if the hot glue would come off, and it would with some elbow grease. I ended up leaving marks from the scraping, which I liked. It had been sitting on my drawing table for a few days in its scratched up state and I didn’t know what to do to it, so I added some lines with ink pencils.

I spend quite a bit of time perusing a major online book retailer’s offerings. I started this years ago because of homeschooling, and now it is informing my understanding of myself. Last night I found a bunch of cool books about sexuality, and also some on parapsychology. There are books on the neuroscience of religious experiences as well.

I saw that the last chapter in Dr. Komisaruk’s book was about Orgasm and Consciousness. He wondered if we would ever be able to explain the god experience orgasm brings, and he referred to the 5D. I decided to reach out to him with my story to see if he would like to talk.

I have also tried reaching out to a choline researcher.

I ended up hitting the sack pretty late again last night. My intention was to go to bed earlier, but my son came down to do a meditation and we ended up listening to a crazy playlist instead. We were both feeling really itchy and wiggly.

I think I probably took two more aspirin over the course of the day, and another choline, and I used more topical magnesium. I think I took a B6 complex around lunch time. I ate pretty consistently yesterday. I didn’t end up cooking dinner, but I did make my husband and I braunschweiger sandwiches for lunch.

There’s a whole layer of stuff going on in my life that I don’t write about, and that’s the stuff that is going on with our household discussions. We talk a lot about politics and philosophy.


My work is informed by the paranormal. That’s the best way to explain it. Like Kandinsky, I receive a lot of my messages through music. The music that I listen to creates an echo in my mind, and because I almost always have a song in my head, I’ve noticed over time that the song often relates to what I am doing or something that is about to happen. It took a while to figure out the code, but it turned out that a lot of it had to do with ways I had misheard or misunderstood lyrics over the years. That’s how I discovered I was clairaudient. It was through writing about it and slowing down and noticing. But also I had this weird thing happen where whatever was coming through Spotify was related to my thoughts or discussions. It’s not limited to Spotify.

I primarily get my ideas through meditation. I then ask myself questions about how to proceed using the Tarot. So my art is technically channeled work. I write about this in my second book as “working with Vincent” because my clairsentience is a little borked from porphyria. The Tarot helps me not interpret all the anxiety and upset stomach as warnings, so it helps me to be a bit braver in my experimentation and self-expression while also not wasting materials.

Many of my art explorations came about because I was trying to not let something go to waste, and were an exercise seeing beauty and potential in even the smallest things. Art has been a great gift which has helped me reconnect with the natural world around me and feel like myself again. These connections come from the slowing down required to create peace.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Life of Illusion: Chapter 6: A Family of Trees

For over a year now, Dot has been measuring her media consumption as not to feed her anxiety. She only logs on to her Snapoid account when she is going to share her writing or art, because it tires her emotionally. It is very much an expression of the collective consciousness, which definitely has its ups and downs. Her feed is pretty gentle; it’s just that she has a lot of other things to do, and there aren’t enough hours in the day, anyway. Social media is the quickest way to feed her monkey mind. Besides, she spent a lot of her life online before, and she kind of wishes she had that time back. She hasn’t been checking the news because Bert and the kids do; but she does like to get COVID updates from SciShow, as they seem to provide information in a responsive rather than reactionary manner. They are, as good mentors and teachers are, good at pointing out what we don’t know, and what the safest bets are with the information we do have. Dot really appreciates that as a scientist, because she was trained to work in a government Biosafety Level 4 lab engineering retroviruses. The levels go from 1 to 4, with 4 being the greatest risk. Because of this, Dot has what she considers a healthy fear of genetically engineered viruses. In the beginning of the pandemic, coronavirus was classified as Biosafety Level 4 for research.

A lot of things have changed since she originally wrote this chapter in the Spring of 2020. There are some old ideas she has decided to preserve to show how her perception has changed over the course of the pandemic, and so she has decided to engineer this writing like a conversation between her Past (April 2020) and Present (October 2020) selves. There is so much to communicate, and so much of it was painful and required a certain amount of pot valor to write, and was impossible in the first person. Initially, she was only able to write in the third person, a trick she learned which helped her process a lot of trauma. As she healed, it felt a little disingenuous, but she also had the fortunate realization that the approach served as an appropriate butt cover since a lot of her healing involved some serious questioning of the status quo with respect to classism and nutrition.


She feels all these things very deeply - deep enough that writing causes her physical pain because she sees these things as the root of all the pain and suffering in the world - pain and suffering we all bear. Much of this is due to most people being blind to the energetic results of their own actions. There is a belief in Gnosticism that life was joyful until the creation of a demiurge by the gods on accident, and they have been trying to identify the demiurge to fight it ever since. Dot thinks the demiurge is the belief that we have to earn our right to space in this world, and that this demiurge is the root of much of the pain and trauma, because it causes people to not know how to just be, or even allow others to just be. She thinks chemical exposures, problems with food quality, and systemic race-based trauma all feed the demiurge. She still has to battle this demiurge daily, because as a mother in isolation, it's hard to know when it is okay to slack off. The demiurge has thrived on the sort of moral authoritarianism rampant in societal child-rearing advice, so it's hard to know when it is okay to relax. Consequently sometimes it is hard to know what activities constitute a waste of energy and resources due to being fully egoic pursuits created by the demiurge.

April 2020: I used the rest of some old bags of frozen fruit to make a smoothie. Well, by this time, because of the rationing I am doing, it is more like milk with a little fruit in it, but knowing that this might be the last frozen fruit we may have makes me panic about being able to get produce of any sort in the future. Not that we were ever much good at eating fresh produce, anyway. I have lost count of how many times I have had to sop up moist slipperiness from the inside of the crisper drawers. Sometimes I just put the fruit in the middle of the fridge so Bert and the kids will remember it is there, but mostly that serves to remind them that the guinea pig needs a treat. Poppy the Guinea Pig’s dwelling is within earshot of the refrigerator, and whenever she hears the rustling of plastic packaging, she eagerly bites at the wire enclosure, hoping for a treat.

October 2020: Poppy passed away one day in June. I had noticed her slowing down over the years, and she would have periods in her last 6 months where she became extremely lethargic. I gave her extra Vitamin C for a while, and this always seemed to perk her up. But one day, we all had this feeling of dread - it was after I had discovered the VOC issue in the house and that it was somehow tied to the depressurization. We may have had a big plume come through the house in the days prior; that was a frequent occurrence back then before we discovered all the sources of volatile compounds we have found so far in our home. During a plume we would often feel elated, and then two days later, we would have a crash. We were all clearly having a crash that day. I had the distinct sense that death was near; I don’t know how to explain it other than I had a dream that morning where I saw Bert, the kids and I like we were posed for a family photo, and we all faded away and were replaced by a skull and crossbones. I don’t usually have bad dreams. I used to think they were caused by gut serotonin, because if I got them, it was usually after eating something like beans. I actually didn’t dream much at all in the past, or think about dreams much. But after what happened that day with Poppy, I pay attention to my dreams, and I make sure to listen to Bert’s, Henry’s and Lily’s dreams, too. I now know when I see things like that in my dreams, it is more about subtle than large energies. Visions involving symbols of death just mean some sort of transformation is coming and, except in the case of Poppy's passing, have been good omens.

Our dreams often end up predicting what happens to us over the course of the day. I realize this is a strange thing for a scientist to say, but it has been going on long enough that I feel confident I can say it. This time alone has also helped me see how other precognitive dreams I have had in my life were significant still to this day. I had to get deep into Jungian psychology to be able to decode the symbolism in the dreams, which was mostly fun. The only times it wasn’t fun were times when the poisoning was an issue. This usually meant health problems in the form of neurological or digestive issues, or mental health problems in the form of difficulties with attention, memory, communication, sleep, fear or anxiety, which could include several of us at once, and often two of our pets whose digestive problems were so bad they would stop eating. I can’t remember who had it, but either Henry or Bert had a vivid dream about death that evening as well.

Just before Poppy’s death, I had been having a disagreement with Lily over her desire to go grocery shopping. She was frustrated with me that I was doing it all myself, which I was doing because I couldn't handle the complication of including another person due to my vebal aphasia. She wanted more responsibility, it turns out. I, who was pretty tired of having to be responsible for food all the time, couldn’t understand why she would want to risk her life for that particular responsibility if she had a choice, and didn't know how to express this in a way to her that didn't cause her unreasonable fear. It seemed like one of the most important things I do for the family to keep them safe. She was feeling like life was passing her by, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get through to her that grocery shopping does not make a meaningful life, and can be the basis of a woman’s enslavement.


I was feeling enslaved by the circumstances created by the pandemic around food in a stronger way than I ever had been before. Before we got a health food store in our town, which was opened by another unschooling family, I used to have to travel to two farms and a health food store in another city to get us safe food when she was a small child. I often timed these trips so she would nap in the car, and it turns out that she does not remember this. That’s how much work I had to do each week to escape the American industrialized food system which creates illness through the additives, inexpensive industrial seed oils high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and pesticides used to increase profit margins. Being able to have safe food delivered to my doorstep during this time has been nothing short of a miracle. I just wish I didn't have to scrub my chips! I am so thankful for the people who are working in the grocery industry, and I am thankful to all the people over the years who created healthy cottage industry convenience food products to light the way for change and free women from the kitchen. I am thankful for the hive mind which is obviously still battling out what the best fuel is, although sometimes I feel it can be hyperfocused on achieving superhuman wellness for the privileged,rather than healing the sick, who may not be imbued with the same privilege, genetic or material.

Poppy the Pig is buried in the garden where I plan to put in potatoes. If I remember correctly, in addition to the strange dreams we had the night before she died, and also the disagreement with Lily over grocery shopping, I had not slept well. I remember thinking that I didn’t have confidence I would be able to keep myself together emotionally for the rest of the family or even myself if I lost another night of sleep. While I haven't hit rock bottom since I stopped going to Bert's parents' house, the parts of me which remember those episodes are terrified of them happening again. I think the cruelty is a really important facet, so I don't have contact with them anymore, which my therapist had recommended in 2017. It helps a lot, and while it may have nearly cost me my life to stay in contact with them, I am glad I did it the way I did because I may have never learned everything I learned about the chemicals. I did use the word "No" a lot more often with them, but that would be punished later somehow through a power grab, which Bert was particularly weak to because of how he had been conditioned by them growing up. It hurt how his family ignored my requests for better collaboration as if they wanted me to disappear, and it hurt that Bert didn't know what to do because they kept putting him in the middle. He always advised me to ignore them over the years, but they were too close for that to be practical. I just knew something was really wrong, but didn't have the words to communicate what it was in a way he could understand. They made him really angry through their entitlement to his time and energy. They were able to stoke an ire in him with their classism and ablism which lately he has been trying to communicate to them in more direct ways in their limited dealings. Some of our marriage problems over the years had to do with him believing I was of the same controlling mind as them, and some of that is my fault for long time I tried to gain their approval. If I came up with ideas to improve our home life, he assumed he had no choice in the matter, just as they never gave him choices or listened to him. He kept forgetting that I grew up in an old bungalow with peeling paint and an accidental torch burn on the kitchen cabinet from when my dad installed the dishwasher by himself, and that none of that ever bothered me. My parents were always at odds about where my father could do messy projects, which made me feel badly for him. I don't want my own house to be a place that is too pristine for creativity. In this vein, the room Poppy was in often had guinea pig turds on the floor because we weren't very good about vacuuming in there when we cleaned her cage. If the dogs hadn't been so obviously bloodthirsty, we could have taken down the baby gate that kept them out, and they probably would have been happy to provide vacuuming services. It's strange to not have to straddle that gate anymore, or the other one.


Poppy had been spending more time sleeping, and in the weeks leading up to her death, I got the sense that I needed to keep a close eye on her. I think Lily told me that day that something wasn’t right with Poppy, and I thought maybe she needed her nails clipped. I had fallen behind on a lot of things during that time due to figuring out how to operate in a pandemic. When I cut her nails, she did not behave normally at all. She really didn't want me cutting her nails, but simultaneously also seemed like she wanted to be held, which was never something she wanted. When I put her down on the carpeted floor, she turned back toward me wanting to be picked up again. When she had been in her cage, she was laying very still with her head jammed into the corner, which is kind of how I have felt most comfortable when I have been at my lowest points. Thankfully, I have not felt this badly in the last two years since I confirmed that my own depression was actually metabolic and maybe life threatening and not due to poor mental habits. An important key to this understanding was that Bert could often pull me out of my catatonia or sorrow with some food, which made me wonder if suicidal ideation was inherently metabolic in all people. The food in my house, specifically carbohydrates, changes the tone of my inner dialogue for the better every time, despite me never having blood sugar abnormalities through my doctor's testing, or the home testing I have done. I knew from having spent time with other pets during their passing and their similar behaviors to try to find comfort that Poppy probably wouldn’t make it through the night, and I was pretty sure a cookie wasn't going to help her, since she wouldn't take the lettuce we offered her.

I explained this to the family as we all sat on the floor in the “dining room” which is our makeshift gym and was also Poppy’s residence. It dawned on me that the most meaningful experiences I had in my adult life had to do with bearing witness to the processes of birth and death. With the recent grocery store discussion in mind, I let Lily know that having been witness to the births of humans and the deaths of animals I had cared for taught me something important about what it means to be alive and how magical life is.
I’m not a doula but sort of was one for two births, which almost became c-sections until I pleaded to let the mothers change positions and get on all fours. One baby was almost 10 pounds, and the other 11, and the women were not related. I asked Lily if she would like to stay with Poppy in the night, as I had done with two of my closest pets.


I felt badly doing this to Poppy as she had come to me, and I had been willing to physically comfort other dying pets. I did not tell Lily how to comfort her because I wanted her to have her own unique experience with compassion for Poppy. Lily is extremely intuitive, especially with respect to animals, and quite a few of us have felt that she may have a future in healing animals someday. She has had a natural proclivity toward expressing emotions in the animals she draws from six or seven years of age, maybe from the close relationship she has with our dogs. She decided she wanted to do this, and although she sensed and confirmed Poppy’s passing in the early morning, she did not come to me to tell me until a more reasonable time. She told me in a very matter of fact way, demonstrating that she had somewhat wrestled with the gravity of the situation already. We figured out Poppy was at least 7 years old. I still wonder, though, if Poppy would have made it longer had it not been for the water heater backdrafting. Her tired spells definitely seemed to correlate with my own, and also with some of the other wellness struggles we had in our home, including life-threatening digestive issues that plagued our smaller dog and rabbit in a cyclical fashion despite no changes in their food or living situations. These have also been resolved since we got rid of the gas water heater and replaced it with electric. Bert had said before that when he was in engineering school, he learned that gas water heaters are the most dangerous thing in a home, and didn’t like having one in ours.

Despite everyone’s bravado, and even my own, I don’t know many truly healthy people. Everyone has some sort of major health thing they deal with that they otherwise keep quiet about, but impacts their daily lives, or they are caring for someone with a health struggle. For some reason, people tell me everything, and it has enabled me to see how everything is connected to the pain we all endure. Many people struggle with mental health issues and do not see them as being connected to their diet or environment. Society likes to use exercise as a classist and ablist band-aid for these problems. My great-great grandmother who lived to be 96 likely never went to a gym or had to have a daily run in order to function. There are clearly factors in living present now which affect wellness that she didn't have to deal with in her day. She was already 68 years old when World War II ended, which is about the time man-made volatile compounds really started to impact daily life for Americans.


I suppose I could say that I discovered without a doubt that We’re All Mad Here, and it’s a strange thing to understand so personally. There are very few mothers I have known who have not been on some medication for anxiety or depression. I have wondered if my doctor really understands the societal significance of this problem. My own sister is a doctor, and I am pretty sure she didn’t have to learn enough psychology to be able to identify when a person is not themselves. Learning to be able to identify this in my own self took a lot of investigation. I have never felt like this for long periods of time, and it doesn't happen often, but the excessive amount of exposure to chemicals, stress and vegetable oils I was exposed to over the last few years being so close to my in-laws and trying to be social with others triggered a state in me that is a lot like what this veteran has been experiencing. I think a lot about how many people are out there with untreated mental illness, and also how the psychiatric system actually makes people worse through forced hospitalization and reliance on pharmaceuticals, rather than helping people reach their full potential as divine beings of light by freeing them from the toxicity of white classism.

I was in the uncomfortable position of having to try to explain to another (much older white male) scientist that my “mental illness” is precisely the reason I was able to figure out we were being poisoned. I was rather irritable when I was trying to explain that things that make me irritable are not good for me, and that figuring that out is an important part of intuition and knowing what is good for one’s own health. There are people who are so out of touch with their bodies because of antimetabolic factors that they can’t even feel a fly on their foreheads. They can’t feel with their hearts at all, either. To explain to someone who can’t feel that space what they are missing is an impossible task.


Having felt that emptiness and need for some authority to comfort me, and knowing how to fill it back up reliably due to everything I have experienced healing from environmental exposures, I feel responsible to share what I have learned. I am still healing; I still have my ups and downs because of hormones, mostly. Chemicals suppress thyroid function and have estrogenic effects, so it makes sense that a higher body burden would mean tougher hormonal cycles. Each nadir in my estrogen has been easier since removing the water heater, so my body burden must be lessening. It would be nice if doctors understood this better, because there are therapeutic approaches they could use with their menstruating female patients that would probably have a great societal effect, like more minor and intuitive approaches to thyroid support that honor the woman as a cyclic being, rather than a picture of a thyroid test once a year.

I was just thinking last night about what “normal” was for us a few years ago when we were 3D printing with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic in the garage without proper ventilation, had the collection of construction adhesives and paints from old house projects, and a gas mower and trimmer in there as well. I learned using the first VOC meter I purchased that in the summer when the sun would hit that corner of the house that the garage would warm up, all of these things would offgas, and the resulting plume could enter our home easily via passive diffusion through the walls. This was something I had read about years ago, and had been warned about by a retired EPA scientist who is a friend of the family. But when I couldn’t see these things, it was so hard to believe they were a big deal. By paying attention to how I felt and how the people around me were behaving, I was able to find a clear correlation with plumes of volatile organic compounds in our home through investigation with an inexpensive handheld personal meter. At the time we were also using All Free and Clear laundry detergent, Dawn dish soap, Finish dishwasher tabs, bleach, Meyer’s products, Method products, Windex, Nature’s Miracle and other cleaning chemicals I assumed were safe, but discovered to be large sources of both VOCs and formaldehyde. I learned that the retired scientist, who suffers from similar health issues to my own, made the very same assumptions about the very same products for the same reasons. What is most upsetting is that these things were impacting our mental health in extremely subtle yet significant ways that were affecting our relations with each other. Luckily, I have a wonderful friend who struggles with similar health problems who was able to corroborate these findings in her own home. That was very helpful.

I feel like it was about a year or two ago that Bert read somewhere that many people walk through life in a fugue-like state. Having recognized when that was happening to me, I have wondered if people who live alone know when they are overly dissociated. I believe I spent a lot of time in dissociated states before. I often didn’t know until I had an interaction with someone else that I was having difficulty with some of my higher cognitive functions. Some of my communications with my single friends have shown me that we don’t always know when we are in that state. People I have previously known to be rational can suddenly be distrustful and fear-driven, and then not remember it later. I have certainly done this, too. It’s like being a scared child. Three years ago, I learned that not everyone remembers what they say. And also, that people say a lot of stuff to fill the space out of nervousness. It’s not always good or productive stuff, and thus I think the ego can sometimes block the memory of what was said. I think people who are good speakers have cultivated a calmness and really are able to tap into the parts of the brain required for listening, talking, and memory. Chemicals are clearly a challenge to that ability, I see. It took me a while to see that even I would say unproductive things just to fill the space when I was nervous. It makes me appreciate the written word even more, because I’d like to think that people put more thought into what they write, but I suppose not everyone edits what they write. As a writer, I know I can feel pressure to release something just because it is timely or relevant, but good writing withstands the test of time, so revision is never a bad idea.

Since we removed the backdrafting water heater and all the other chemicals we could find from our home, we are all much better at remembering what we say. The differences are subtle within each of us, but profound in our relationships together. We are remembering to do things we say we will do, and not taking on more than we can handle. This is making life easier for all of us, and everyone is a lot less anxious. I can still do too much, but the attacks I have now are not panicky in nature, and I don't ever feel like I need to question my worth as an individual anymore, like I often did after being exposed to construction chemicals. The water heater certainly made me tired, panicky and grouchy, but it never made me feel like hurting myself. There are clearly compounds in paints and adhesives that I react to even more strongly than a backdrafting water heater or detergents. Perhaps that was because it was paired with so much trauma.


Doing too much now just means I end up having to nap more. This is why it can still take me a while to answer people's messages. A few years ago when I was active on social media, I hit the wall health-wise and ceremoniously posted a video of waving a pink flag as surrender. I have written quite a few chapters beyond this one, and I had to write a surrender of this sort in a future chapter in June around the time Poppy died. I'd like to preserve it, because although I may never feel without words again, it was a sort of magical moment. I have developed an even deeper appreciation for the psychic works of artists, writers and musicians during this time, and the eloquent way they make use of dissociative states for channeling healing messages. It has been a gift to experience and understand this style of communication from the inside.

We are still throwing away produce I get at the grocery store. But at the same time, I also had my most successful gardening year, and we have a constant stream of ripe tomatoes in the kitchen without having had to put anything up yet. It occurs to me that we would probably waste less if we were growing most of the produce ourselves, because for the most part, things can be left on the vine, especially in covered rows. I’m hoping if I can get a little more investment in the garden from the others now that things have calmed down that we can improve our eating habits and consumption so as to take some pressure off the food system for those who don’t have time or land to garden. If my family doesn’t have time, and I am low on energy, I am still just going to throw a bunch of seeds in the ground next Spring to see what happens.

April 2020: I have never been much for yard work, but I still decided to plant a garden this year, due to wanting to reduce my burden on the system. It’s not like I have never done yardwork or that I couldn’t do it well. It makes Vincent come out. Only, I didn’t recognize him at the time. When Bert had lost his job 11 years ago during the massive layoffs that swept the tech company in our town, I could no longer afford the $500 community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) share fee. I knew plenty of gardeners, and decided it would be better to put that money toward building some raised beds and bringing in some 3-way topsoil, and seeds. So, that’s what I did. Every year for the next 3 years, I would put seeds into the garden and enjoy the early parts of the growth cycle. But, as I explained to my neighbor who gardens next door, every summer I struggled with my health, especially right around harvest season. So, I wouldn’t get out to water, and I definitely didn’t weed.


There were other things that happened that made gardening difficult, even though there was never a plague of locusts. Irrigation was a problem the first few years, and then I put in a drip line. The sprinkler system valves froze the next year and it took us a few months to get the parts that would fit inside the box without redoing the whole thing. I seem to get enough birds to keep the pests down. Every year I gardened I learned more about what to do and what not to do, so that I felt if I were ever to start gardening again after stopping in 2013, I might have a better go at it. For one thing, I wouldn’t put too much effort into things that require a lot of water and don’t have a significant caloric or taste payback. I'm looking at you, summer squash and eggplant! I am really inspired by what the Netherlands has done to increase their food yield such that they are the number two food producer in the world, despite being one of the tiniest countries size-wise. I don’t necessarily want to have to use so much technology, though. It takes too much thought.

Because planting season was right at the beginning of the stay at home order, and most of the online seed stock had been purchased already, Bert and I decided to see what we could grow from seeds in the produce we had in our refrigerator. I knew from previous years that gardeners often plan for the next year and purchase their seed stock in the fall, so much of it is gone by March. It turned out a lot of seeds that I have kept for years and also seeds in the produce in our refrigerator from cantaloupe, tomato and peppers are viable, which I was able to determine by sprouting them in wet folded paper towels in the refrigerator. Bert participated, too, by harvesting the seeds, cleaning them, and putting them in soil in egg cartons we saved. We had hundreds of seedlings between our efforts, which I recently transplanted into the garden. I don't normally grow tomato from seed, and my understanding has been that in Colorado it is difficult to do. I didn't bother hardening them off because I am tired and there are so many of them. We'll just see which ones are the strongest. If this process goes well, maybe next year I can share with my friends and neighbors. My friends have shared some edible perennials (onions, tarragon) that are still well established in my yard, and for which I am grateful. I’m not sure all our effort was worth it this year, but I’m glad I know how to do these things and that I’m getting better at them. Would my time be better spent doing something else, though? Everything feels like life and death right now.

One of the reasons Bert and I had purchased the house was for the trees. Over the course of the 14 years we have lived here, we have lost one Japanese maple tree, two gigantic willow trees, and about 5 giant aspen trees because of global warming. Our once sheltered yard is now pretty hot in the summer. So, none of us spend as much time outdoors as we used to.

I learned many things about gardening, and even how to put up different vegetables in different ways through the experimentation I had done with Bert’s mom before they moved back. My favorite method was dehydration because it doesn't require many hours over a hot stove. The gardening project was more than I could handle on my own with everything else, though, and Bert’s mom was busy with her own garden when she moved back in 2012. She brought in new dirt every year, and often borrowed our wheelbarrow. So when I had time and energy, I didn’t have a wheelbarrow. They aren’t neighbors, so getting it back isn’t as easy as it would be if I was sharing it with a neighbor. One of Bert’s favorite stories is how his dad called up to inform Bert that they had a dirt delivery, and that Bert, the kids and I needed to get over there right away to help move it. It was right in the middle of the week, and we had no notice!


What I remember most about this strange experience is that while we were moving the dirt, Bert’s dad kept sweeping the driveway at the base of the pile after every single shovel full was removed. I had never barked at Bert’s Dad before, but I did that time, because he was making no sense (not in a good way) and making the process take much longer than necessary. But that’s exactly the kind of “making no sense” that we have noticed about his family. Even while moving dirt, it had to look perfect! There was a time when they owned several acres in Oklahoma and his father was intent on keeping all five forested acres perfectly manicured. Or the acreage in Florida which had to have every palm tree trimmed every year, and every single fire ant eradicated.


They appeared quite snobbish, even though they considered themselves down to earth. Everything was so sterile. As people age, they can have difficulty with complications in their environments, and ever since they had built their first house right after I met Bert in 1993, they were obsessed with keeping their home looking like a model. Bert’s Dad became notorious for repainting the baseboards if he was unhappy with their whiteness, and I now recognize this sort of behavior as an important part of the fugue state. It was like “We’re painting the roses red” all the time with them. And they were really painting something some color all the time. Every time I would drive by Sherwin Williams and see the logo indicating the desire to "Cover the World" I wondered if Bert's parents were hypnotized by it. It was like “Live by the Pantone, Die by the Pantone,” and yikes if that isn’t materialistic snobbery. Bert’s mom had explained to me years ago that she was concerned about his Dad developing Alzheimer’s, and I see now that maybe these were signs of risk in both of them. I'm pretty sure they never looked up the MSDS sheets for the products they were using, or they would have at least used proper personal protective equipment during their frequent applications. Or, they would have seen that the products were clearly found to have been connected to cancer, which Bert's mother suffered with several times.


Specifically, it was she who expressed to me that she thought it was normal that people forget what they say, so clearly she had a lot of experience with it. I had a specific experience with her where she suddenly changed personality and told me, “You know your daughter isn’t going to like you forever.” I suspect she doesn’t remember saying that. Everything was a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with them, but nobody ever remembered themselves having been Dr. Jekyll. And of course, to be fair, I didn’t always remember being Vincent. Such was life with chemicals. By being so focused on having the perfect home, they had mortgaged their souls.

Bringing new dirt in every year is ridiculous, regardless of dementia. I’m not even a person who composts. Nonetheless, I had to bring in new dirt because much of what was in the beds had blown away. I plan to try to make this dirt last. What was there when I investigated still had a lot of wonderful worms and other bugs beneath the top two inches, and that was after seven years of letting it go fallow. I am thankful for the friend who warned me about the hazards of tilling so many years ago. I had started these beds with the lasagna approach, and that was how I intended to keep it.

October 2020:
I have a totally different view of gardening now, evolved even from the days when I was a CSA advocate and hosted a pickup location. The effort was clearly worthwhile because gardening was way less discouraging this year. I know from previous experience it is a learning curve, so it is nice to have not gone backward despite the long hiatus. I had tried desperately to find a last minute CSA share in the Spring, and even reached out to a friend who I had purchased lamb from in the past, but none of my requests went answered. I tried to explain about the discovery of my erythropoetic protoporphyria and how I have to avoid excessive sun exposure to my friend and the farms I contacted. I got a real schooling trying to get help getting my family food from the local foodshed which I had spent so many years supporting. I got absolutely no support, except for our local dairy, which I see as nothing less than a heroic operation. I really didn’t have a lot of reason to believe in people early on in the pandemic because of this and some other things. I understand now nobody knew what to do, and everyone was overwhelmed, and that is still going on for a lot of people. Grocery delivery services really came through for me, though, and I am very grateful for the corporations that worked to organize this useful service on society’s behalf. There are still many things I can't grow that we need to eat to be healthy, and veganism is not an option for us because of many genetic factors. Our grassroots systems, while good in theory, are just still not up to providing high quality food to the people who probably need it the most, and so I am sorry to say but I think they have a long way to go. Or that’s my experience, anyway. On some level, it feels like trying to buy concert tickets. That is also something I don’t do, because the lemming mentality seems to beget a scarcity mentality.

I had been eating a lot of traditional foods in the years leading up to 2013 when the local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter became active. I had been a volunteer for the organization on the internet before the local chapter got very big. As it did, suddenly foods that had been affordable like organ meats became harder to find and more expensive. It's interesting how white people can do that so quickly. I suppose one might say that white people are the invisible hand. I wonder if there were people who were relying on these foods for health who may have had to give them up like I did. Organ meats have been important keys to healing for me, and up until they were popularized, most people didn't want to eat them because they sounded gross. I'm not sure they actually need to be eaten as often as the organization made people think.

What I used to do to get us high quality food when the kids were young was drive to two farms and a health food store in a different city every week. This took an incredible amount of time and fuel, but we learned a lot in the process. For instance, I know such trivium as the reason the grassfed milk tastes awful right now is because there are likely noxious weeds growing in the pastures where the cows are grazing. Milk from grain-supplemented grassfed cows like at our local farm which delivers is not as prone to off taste at this time of year. Yes, the fatty acid profile, animal health and environmental impact is better in pastured animals. Grasslands are incredible carbon sinks. But disabled people and people who have to work can’t necessarily put that much effort into procuring special food. I can’t do that now, and it doesn't make sense to import bad-tasting UHT pasteurized grassfed milk from the east coast when our state is such a big player in the dairy industry, anyway. We have to live with the environmental outcome of feedlots already due to the fact that dairy farmers often don't have enough land to graze their cattle. Additionally, another problem I see with the grassroots food movement is that requiring people to all come to the farm to pick up food uses much more fuel than an efficient delivery route. I understand a lot of these operations run on member labor, and so the liability involved with delivery may be financially unfeasable. Perhaps the government should consider subsidizing farmers whose talents extend beyond monocrops, and maybe these problems will resolve.

Honestly, I didn’t realize how much of my time feeding my family took until I believed I had to disinfect every single thing that came into my home and I recognized the lack of creative time and energy I had left after all my homemaking. Despite not having to go anywhere, it was taking a lot of my time over the last 6 months to clean the items that came into our home, and I was reminded of the days of driving all over Northern Colorado just to get milk to treat our "dairy intolerance" which was likely just a reaction to additives. So much of my efforts over the years were way more than necessary. My fuel costs have dwindled down to near nothing, but just having the groceries delivered, it is still a big effort to get enough food to feed us. But, if I don’t have to disinfect everything, I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands, which is everyone’s dream, right?

I was confused this week when I heard the CDC said that there was no need to disinfect mail or groceries. I, like a lot of people, had developed strategies for trying to keep my family safe from COVID, which I felt were important due to my experience as a scientist and being a cystic fibrosis carrier, who, when not well, can catch things pretty easily. Thankfully, it’s looking like the situation for people with full blown cystic fibrosis might not be worse than the rest of the population! Some of these were a real burden on me. I sure hope the CDC is right. Early on, we were told how long the COVID could live on different surfaces, but now we are expected to believe that it’s safe to bring any surface into our homes without decontamination. Certainly the inherent physical properties of the virus haven’t changed. Many of the other things I have predicted happening have come true, so their revised recommendations give me pause. I can think of a lot of reasons our leaders might tell us not to worry right now, which might not be in everyone’s best interest, especially those of us with chronic health issues.

I am glad I persisted with gardening, even though it was really hard at times to balance with the other things I had to do and the other problems we had going on. I got an inside view of ablism and discrimination with respect to my health over the course of my life, especially from my close family who are fairly authoritarian in their approaches due to being part of the medical establishment on my side of the family, or having generations of body shame on Bert's. Living in Colorado is particularly bad because people pride themselves on the illusion of health, an illusion which has very little to do with actual mental wellbeing. Nutritionism, while also a helpful labyrinth, has highlighted a great darkness that I see in society where we expect people, who have no choice about their birth, to live in a merciless moral authoritarian prison state which fosters dog-eat-dog thinking about everything, even down to our basic needs, especially food and exercise. The strata in food quality are greatly responsible for the disparity in socioeconomics and intelligence among the classes. This is not the future I envisioned as a kid; I did not know what nutrition was, and still I was classified as gifted, which has made me question the motivations of many mothers I know whose children suffer from attention and behavioral issues despite being fed “perfect” diets and getting “enough exercise.”


My great-great-grandmother lived to be 96 and likely never stepped foot in a gym or worried about eating a little cake. Born in 1877, she lived through the tragic death of her husband who fell from scaffolding painting the interior of the Paramount Theater in Denver, and the suicide of her son-in-law by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head while she was watching his daughter in the kitchen of the same house. She lived through the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and the Great Depression, which is when those tragedies both happened. Maybe she knew the value of rest, in addition to having a lower body burden of things like formaldehyde and plasticizers. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that these days. They don’t see how their approaches miss the forest for the trees. When I have had lower chemical exposure and less stress in my life, my digestive and neurological issues are greatly reduced. This is why, in the past, gardening and even exercise could be counterproductive to my healing. I think people don’t get enough rest, fresh air, or joy in their lives. For some people, this is legitimately gardening, though!


While I had a major failure in one garden bed because one of the irrigation hoses came undone and so the bell pepper seedlings all died, our tomato, cucumber, scallion, leek, tarragon and carrot harvest was the best I have been able to achieve. I did have to make an emergency cover out of the insulated bags I got from the grocery deliveries for the tomatoes when the cold snap hit in mid September, and it worked quite well to allow ripening. I was a little late transplanting the tomatoes, so they are not as ripe as they might otherwise be, but Bert devised a system with paper grocery bags that keeps a fresh stream of ripe tomatoes coming through our house weekly. They don’t taste that much different than store bought tomatoes, but we are enjoying them and I have purchased some heirloom seeds for next year.

I am now more interested in becoming part of the seed bank system and seeing what I can get to grow on our little parcel of earth. I am interested in studying permaculture on my own land, and am going to maintain my status on the State of Colorado Pesticide Sensitive Registry. I am still not sure how careful I have to be about my sun exposure, or if I will have to be more careful as I age. In hindsight, I remember quite a few times when I had been plein air painting or we had been hiking with friends, which knocked me out for a couple days. I specifically remember a time when I painted up at Pingree Park during a paintout for water conservation, and feeling like I had heat exhaustion the next few days. It felt a little bit like having the flu, and I could have trouble with sleepiness, which I now know are non-cutaneous manifestations of certain porphyrias. I also get swelling and hives when I am in the sun too long. I have a lot (~12%) of Native American DNA owing to my grandfather being Chicano, and I think that must have protected me from many EPP reactions in my youth. Or maybe I just had them and was forced to suck it up because the adult world had to go on. I did get itchy outside a lot, which we thought was allergies. I didn't learn about the EPP until last year when I decided to go spelunking in my DNA with Promethease again, and discovered my mother had two copies which explained a cutaneous reaction she was having from gelatin due to its high glycine content. Glycine is the parent molecule for heme, and so an increase in glycine leads to more unformed and toxic porphyrin intermediates, which could cause itching in a person with EPP. When I learned this, I discontinued using gelatin. I am using it again, but more moderately. In any case, melanin is known to protect people with EPP from reactions and last I looked, the FDA was exploring its use as a treatment for the disease. Unfortunately, one of the effects of aging is making less melanin. That’s why hair turns grey - and in the last few years I have gotten a lot of grey hair.

I think it is possible that my sun reactions may have been made worse due to the environmental poisoning because VOCs can have important effects on the production of heme through interaction with cytochrome P450 in mitochondria in anyone. Having a gene for porphyria just means the volume gets turned up. Ultraviolet light is the problematic component of the sun for people with EPP, but UV light and fluorescent light are not healthy for anyone. With the mutation I have, people are usually much sicker than I have been. I feel like I have gone up and down with my sun tolerance over the course of my life, so I am wondering if maybe I can increase my tolerance again some day as I recover from the water heater backdrafting. I am having to do a lot of work to replace other things I would get from the sun (Vitamin D and infrared light), and I notice my eyesight changing from not having been outside as much as I used to be.


Currently I have a lot of joint pain and some muscle fatigue, but it is so much better than it was during my last ovulation. Oh, wow, I just realized that February and August I always had an anovulatory cycle which would make it so I would ovulate with the full moon from September to January, and with the new moon from February through August. It is like clockwork. I wonder if those anovulatory cycles were due to the water heater backdrafting, and if I will have a normal cycle next February. I also wonder if this is why I would have trouble during harvest season.

To heal and manage my pain and symptoms from both porphyria and the CF, I have been taking some unconventional approaches. I have been using a combination of these things over the course of my life. Because I am prone to mucous (cystic fibrosis was originally called mucoviscoidosis because of the thick mucous secretions which can make breathing difficult), I take guafenesin. This actually can help my breathing a great deal. I don’t know if guafenesin is contraindicated in porphyria, but I have had life-threatening reactions to ibuprofen as an adult and benadryl as a child. This was quite difficult to communicate to Bert when I put all these pieces together, but he gets it now. I was writing with a woman from his networking group who has a graduate degree in Biochemistry and is also a nurse, and she acknowledged that I am likely extremely genetically rare, and also a sort of “early warning system” for the environment.


Because of this, the approaches I have to take with my healing are extremely gentle. I use aspirin, CBD and cannabis for pain. I have been trying to find something other than cannabis flower for the pain, because there is a pronounced difference in my breathing when I vape or dab instead of using a bong. The cannabis helps with the CF quite a bit; it has been postulated that CF patients are deficient in endocannabinoids, and I kind of wonder if this feeds back into my porphyria somehow. I seem to do a lot better with it than without it, and I know a lot of other people who would also say that. I take Vitamin K2, and that was an important part of treating my childrens’ hypersensitivity to salicylates when they were younger. It turns out I have multiple polymorphysisms in the VKORC and GGX genes which are important for turning the plant form of Vitamin K (K1) into Vitamin K2 which is important for clotting. I had a lot of bloody noses as a child, and naturally turned away from high salicylate foods. When I am deficient in K2, I can bruise easily. I have to avoid using Saigon cinnamon because it makes my head feel funny, and it contains coumarin, which is an analog of coumadin, which is a blood thinner that blocks VKORC. Instead I have to use Ceylon cinnamon. If I eat too many high salicylate foods (like a lot of curries, which I love), my head can feel funny. This is one important reason I cannot be a vegan, and the others have to do with B-vitamins. Bert has a polymorphism in several genes important for the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A such that he needs the animal form of vitamin A. Being vegan could easily cause him to go blind.

The sauna or a chicken light does miracles for my mood, and I often use them, or when my bathtub was working, a hot bath in epsom salts, to get infrared energy, which greatly assists my prana, which is the Indian way of describing life force. The Chinese call it chi. I actually have a scientific way to measure the effects of these interventions, and that is through taking basal body temperature. I have a "pseudoscientific" way of measuring it, too, which is through mindfulness. This is the easiest way to measure it; just slowing down and paying attention to how I feel. Sure signs that it is low is a feeling of anxiety, techiness, or cold extremities. I suppose you could say I turn frigid. Most people who know me outside of my home probably don't think I am the frigid sort, or anxious, because I tend to stay home when I feel this way. I always felt it was best for everyone that I do that maybe because I never received mercy or understanding when I was feeling this way. I wonder if other women do. When I was young, anytime a woman was unhappy, it was always chalked up to a woman "being on the rag" which was rather cruel. I think this made woman feel unnecessary shame around menstruation and overcompensate, rather than learning how to be honest about needing rest. We all need rest from time to time, and some women may need more. In a fair world, this wouldn't be a shameful thing. I feel like it would help society and the earth a lot.


I do also have to make sure I get enough sugar and protein and not too much fat because ketosis is bad news for me. This is yet another reason I cannot be vegan. I have to eat things that are easy on my digestion because with the CF it is easy for me to have reflux (that is the most common symptom in carriers) and I have had symptoms of gastroparesis around ovulation and the end of my cycle. I take a lot of magnesium and charcoal to manage my digestive symptoms. The porphyrins are removed in bile and can cause me to have digestive problems, which I can quell by eating ginger, carrots or charcoal. Ginger is good for nausea because it blocks serotonin receptors in the gut. The fiber in carrots is naturally antibiotic, so carrots can be good for dysbiosis. Charcoal helps bind toxins (some pilots never leave without it). The lower digestive issues could be from CF, too, so sometimes I take over the counter enzymes. I do not think these are the same enzymes given to CF patients. The magnesium helps a lot when I am feeling constipated, or anxious, or having trouble sleeping. Calcium helps, too, but I don’t generally take it in the commonly prepared antacid forms because they contain talc or silicates which are known to be both carcinogenic and an important trigger of autoimmune disease. For these same reasons, I am very careful about what dry shampoo I use.


When I have a respiratory illness, loratadine becomes a necessity because I can have some pretty intense histamine reactions. When I was a kid I had some “mystery allergies” and a prescription for hydroxyzine HCl, which is similar to ranitidine. Ranitidine is too expensive, though. Sort of related, I had an acute attack in college which involved serious depression and reflux, probably after my room was sprayed with pesticides, and the clinic recommended I take cimetidine, which is an antihistamine, but is used for heartburn relief. It had the strange effect of completely reversing my depression, which I still remember to this day. Last summer I learned that cimetidine is a known treatment for a type of porphyria that is responsive to supplementation with vitamin B6, but was not tested by 23andMe or AncestryDNA when I was tested. The coenzymated form of B6, P5P, has been extremely important in my wellness.

I have thought about asking for a few things from my doctor that could greatly aid my ability to recover from exposures and hormonal cycling. The first thing I would ask for is an ondansetron prescription, because I can get pretty terrible nausea that impacts my willingness to eat at the end of my cycle, and can make my porphyria and digestive symptoms worse. Sometimes the ginger and charcoal aren't enough. The other thing I am pretty sure I need, even though my first porphyrin test came back negative, is a standing prescription for synthetic hematin in case I ever have a significant seizure or loss of consciousness. There have been times I have been overtaken by sleep, almost like I had narcolepsy. I can always get myself somewhere safe, but if I am somewhere safe already, I typically cannot fight the sleep. It is like when I am slightly tired and smoke a lot of indica, except I awaken groggy and disoriented. Often my body feels strange like I ran a marathon. I think these may have been seizures, and I have had them off and on my whole life. I had this feeling daily when we lived in our new house from 2002-2006, and when I visited my in-laws in Florida in their newly remodeled home. During that trip, I developed terrible back pain, which I thought was from sleeping on a blow-up mattress, and also my hair ended up all over the bathroom, which had been a daily occurrence in our new home. I now realize that the majority of my adult history with more persistent back pain has been related to chronic chemical exposures to construction chemicals. I only connected them conclusively to chemical exposure in the last year through use of my VOC meters. I'm not sure the hematin will help; I just want to know that porphyria will be considered in my diagnosis, because if it is not, I could easily die from improper treatment. I used glucose or dextrose and electrolytes when I was experiencing an acute panic reaction from the water heater backdrafting, and those were very effective for the tachycardia which had been going on the better part of a day until I thought to take them, but I was still left struggling with energy for a long time afterward. I have been wondering if hematin could get me back on my feet sooner, but for now I see no harm in just slowing down.

I take more of other B-vitamins, too. I take niacinamide which helps a lot when I get brain fog. I think this is because of the way it helps with electron transport during ketosis. The brain fog usually sets in quite some time after I have eaten. I take a coenzymated B-complex because I have polymoprphisms in a couple different genes related to B-vitamin metabolism which have important disease manifestations that run on my father’s side of the family, specifically gout. I am prone to gout, and for a while I thought pseudogout, but now I am wondering if that was porphyria. It’s hard to know what causes what because it’s all connected and all worsened by stress, hormones, polyunsaturated fats, and chemicals.

I feel like it is important for me to underscore how significant the impact of the chemicals, specifically, were on our health. They impacted our sleep, memory, mood, consciousness, digestion and respiratory health significantly, and my husband and I do not share genetic risks. There were times when I wanted to give up, but figuring out that the version of me who wanted to give up was having a reaction to chemicals and stress put a lot of power back in my hands, and made life worth living again. I truly have a great life to have the freedom to sort all this stuff out!

Despite the intense focus I have had to keep on my health, many wonderful things have happened here. I was a musician growing up, and I didn’t realize how important that was for my mental health. I mean, I’ve said the words, but sometimes when I say things, I don’t really get the significance. I was introduced to some of the healing properties of music through my experiences with energy work, but it has become clear to me that playing music can be even more healing than just listening. Most of his life, Bert didn’t have good fine motor control of his pinky or ring fingers on either of his hands, but he has now gained better control over them through learning to play the guitar. Early in the pandemic, I started singing again. It has been interesting to see how my lung capacity has grown, despite using cannabis, the dangerous levels of particulate we had from the wildfire smoke, and the water heater backdrafting. I don’t remember to practice my flute often, but when I do, I am surprised at how my ability to accomplish longer phrasing grows each session. I am preferring this approach to more simple forms of breathwork, because in the past I had to spend so much time in silence, and it can be deafening. My ability to communicate is so much better than it was a year ago, and I have been able to use my left hand better than ever before. There is clearly great healing going on here, nothing short of miraculous. I have done it before; I can do it again.

Both of the kids have learned to play new instruments, and Henry is sounding things out on the piano. We have all taken an interest in ceramics. I find this all so interesting because my mother was a potter and my Dad was a musician, and having these influences around me is helping my home feel more like a home to me. We are all getting back to the best parts of my roots. Henry was playing some very introductory piano the other day while I was making dinner, and I remembered myself doing the same thing when my mom would cook dinner. He was using one of my old piano primers, and he would get caught up on the very same notes I did when I was learning. I remember feeling bad about messing up as a child, but now being on the other side of the equation, I see it so differently. I see how music imparts a certain lesson about muddling through, persistence and growth that is constantly rewarding when it is given time to happen.


For a long time he wouldn’t play the piano because he couldn’t find his earbuds, and I thought this odd, so I am glad he felt brave enough to do it, finally. I feel like I was encouraged to make music when I was growing up, so I am sad that he was afraid. I don’t know why he would be afraid like that except we often had to ask the kids to be quiet in the evenings for Bert’s meetings since he works from home. Sometimes those can be during the day, too, so maybe that’s why. Also, over the years the boys’ sleeping has been extremely abnormal, so sometimes they might take a nap in the living room in the middle of the day. In recent months, I noticed the night waking to be correlated to problems with air quality and the water heater backdrafting in particular. In fact, I feel pretty confident that awakening groggy has more to do with chemical exposure than anything else. My own sleep has improved greatly since we had it removed, and Henry seems a lot more alert. Bert is in much better spirits and says he feels much better all around.

All of these changes continued to evolve despite having to keep a close eye on our air quality during the wildfires, and taking on a very ambitious 3D printing and soldering project for Lily, which highlighted problems we have with ventilation in our garage, which is our primary space for dealing with hazardous materials used in making. Lily was less aware of the neurological impact of a lot of the things we were using in our projects from when we weren’t taking better precautions. For instance, we have determined we can’t use spray paint in the garage because then it goes into our house, but because of the weather, the spray paint doesn’t necessarily apply properly outside. She didn’t understand that it wasn’t safe to work on her project when it was too smoky or cold outside. I honestly never would have thought to use spray paint in the garage, or without a respirator, but these were important things we had to talk to her about. I am really thankful I had the OSHA training I did in graduate school and in the workplace. I am glad that Bert did, too, and that we both have experience responding to accidents in the workplace in a professional manner. I am pretty sure I have known people who have lost their lives to their hobbies, and I am certain I know many people whose health has been greatly compromised. I, for one, will never be using acrylic paint inside my home again, and I will never again use any sort of mineral spirits in my oil painting. 

We used to print exclusively with ABS plastic. It turns out the neurological and carcinogenic effects of styrene are well documented and so we have tried to move to printing with mostly PLA, which is a plant-derived plastic. PLA still has its problems, though. Our air quality meters indicate that we still need to make sure the garage is well ventilated when we print with it, and that the fume extractor and enclosure are insufficient methods to control the plume of VOCs generated when using PLA. For now, Lily’s big project is finished, and I am excited about how much we all learned in the process. Lily learned such things as how to wire a breadboard and program an Arduino from Henry and Bert. It was fun to see them all work together, and how they dealt with their own and each others’ perfectionism during the process. While there were times I thought the project might drive us apart, in the end, it brought us all a lot closer together, and I am glad we took the risk in helping Lily’s dream come true during an otherwise difficult time.