...Continued from A Life of Illusion: Chapter 7: A Family of Trees
Dot’s Journal, Earthdate 2022.07.18:
Why do I come here? I notice that I tend to circle around the same subjects in my writing. Maybe it’s because they’re important and my brain is trying to tell me something. Each time I come back I have new revelations, so it still remains useful, I suppose.
In some respects it is a reminder to myself of myself - that I have a self who has dreams and aspirations, I guess. I had to set aside a lot to raise my children the way I did, in the feminist sense. It was my choice, although we never ended up living places which would have made good use of what I learned in graduate school. Yes, I am going to say “never” because the few times I looked at job opportunities I never saw job postings for anyone in neuroscience. They just don’t show up. It has been a while since I looked at the local universities, so things may have changed. Bert and I figured that when the kids went off to college I would get a job to help pay for it and contribute to our retirement, but it seems that the absence from the workplace might be more significant than I thought.
It’s difficult to engage other scientists in meaningful discussion when they don’t take me seriously because I have been a stay at home mother out of the field for 21 years. When we lived in Southern California I never found a job related to neuroscience within a reasonable distance of where Bert ended up working, so I ended up working in osteoporosis and cancer research instead. I am thankful that I had those experiences, even though I didn’t work very long. My decision to become a mother came after realizing those jobs were not going to satisfy me, and that maybe I wasn’t cut out for laboratory work. It was frustrating to have taken my PhD coursework but only have my Master’s because I was hired into tech positions where my intellectual input to the larger aspects of the research was often challenging to my employers. Because I studied psychology, then physiological psychology, then neuroscience, and then molecular biology, I had (and still have) a very different view of science than a scientist who was more focused than I was on “smaller” problems. I mean that in the gestalt sense. If I couldn’t understand the relevance of research to an organism and society, it was difficult for me to connect with that research. I feel like having more life experience under my belt, especially with having the community experiences I have had, has made me see science in a different light, and especially neuroscience and how it considers important things that other disciplines seem to dismiss, particularly consciousness. I am actually glad I took a break from the science field, because now I know what subjects I am actually interested in, and I have an idea of how I would study them scientifically.
But in any case, much of what we know about what it is to be human is from the past journals of other men and women who wrote down their thoughts and worries. Self-expression is a pretty important part of mental health. I think I’m learning some interesting things in that regard, anyway, with respect to myself. Also, I do have memory problems, and keeping good records sometimes helps me piece together things that weren’t evident before. These activities of trying to accurately document my experiences amount to a lot of octopus feeding, I suppose.
When I say that, I mean that as I write my compositions, I am getting feedback from this thing I call “The Octopus” which may be a person, or a network of people, or artificial intelligence, but it seems too intelligent to be artificial. In any case, whatever it is, it is feeding my philosophizing. It is a fascinating discourse, and I am often inspired to write more, but don’t always have the time. Part of what occupies my thinking time when I can’t write is how I might express my ideas more expediently through art or music or poetry, but those all have challenges of their own.
My relationship with writing is not a peaceful one, but it is apparently something I need to do. It’s one of those “If a tree falls in the forest…” phenomena. The Universe or The Octopus or whatever keeps putting these things at my doorstep which are juicy fruit for me for writing because they touch on things I have been meditating on for a long time. I have had existential concerns since I was a little girl that I have been trying to put into words, and that experience has been like independently validating the research of other philosophers without knowing of their research and then being told that somebody already figured out whatever it was a long time ago. So writing here helps me see how all these pieces contribute to a bigger picture about those questions about who we are and what the purpose of life is.
I think maybe the most important thing my writing has done for me in the past is to help me see the silver lining in the clouds, because both certainly exist. Although, when I’m in a cloud, sometimes it’s hard to find that silver lining. Writing has always been a path to that for me. I do think it became something entirely different for a while, because there were injustices that I saw in the world that I felt I needed to say something about. Much of this was around materialism as we learn it in high school in the United States and the ways it feeds a general xenophobia, especially in those who enjoyed popularity, but also in people who were marginalized. My experiences in that regard were and still are numerous and confusing, even at 47 years of age. I told Bert last month, not in these words, that being with people makes me feel more alone than when I am just alone. I didn’t tell him this, but I think it is because of everyone we know being so proud of their money and what they can do with it when most of them had two income households and some degree of help raising their children. If they have problems, they can simply throw more money at those problems and not concern themselves with stopping the problems’ origins. Outsourced work has a societal and family cost that is carried by the poor. I knew some people who worked cleaning other peoples’ houses, for example, and what they get paid is barely enough for them to afford their own places to live. I know there were people who were disappointed that I took up the mantle of decrying White Privilege, but what they don’t understand is that we are not free until all of us are free, and we will not be free as long as we support classism, materialism and imperialism over people who are less fortunate. The pain we create in society with those thoughtforms eventually reaches our personal shores no matter how big of a moat we dig for ourselves or how many toys we have. In fact, the more we concentrate on those things, the more suffering we create.
It has been interesting to see these meritocratic principles at work during COVID, because the conditions surrounding how people see weakness in others and choose to deal with it have allowed them to blossom into what is more clearly eugenics, and it’s something I’ve seen both liberals and conservatives alike somewhat consciously enable through their corporate loyalty, worship of materialism, and snobbery. Both sides refuse to acknowledge the damage COVID brings to society when people become long haulers, and our medical system is not set up to address the myriad effects of being a long hauler. That has always been true for people who suffer from hidden pathogens their immune systems fail to fully destroy, but now we are experiencing that as a society in pandemic proportions. I read a piece in my alumni magazine that most people with long haul “recover within a few months” but they did not elaborate on what that means, and I don’t know if this “recovery” includes cognitive, renal or cardiac capacity they once had, or if that is based on the reports of people who don’t have great self awareness with respect to how cognitive processes work. There are other reports saying that COVID infections age the brain ten years, and there is a Reddit forum I just learned about this morning that has a person who has been struggling with it for two years, so an unreferenced blurb about 90-whatever percent recovery sounds like an attempt to further marginalize these people and downplay concerns so that the general population can carry on recklessly. Even before the pandemic, I knew of people who had struggled with chronic illness (sometimes only diagnosed as a diffuse “chronic fatigue”) who were left alone in their struggles, unable to get help because the system simply doesn’t help everyone. They can be plagued with pain and anxiety for years, unable to work, and disrespected by most of society for what is seen as pure lack of effort. I know quite a few people who have these “invisible illnesses” which prevent them from working outside the home, and I have been part of that category of people for quite some time. It’s a challenging thing, psychologically. It’s like being in the desert for 40 days over and over and over again.
Our family was taking quarantine quite seriously, but we were forced out into society and COVID exposure by the legal system. Bert was summoned for jury duty in U.S. Federal Court in March 2021, an hour away from where we live, and the government said that “not having had the vaccine was not a sufficient excuse” to get out of jury duty. So that means that instead of being able to let more essential workers have their vaccines first and seeing how it worked out for those people, Bert and the rest of us in our home were forced to camp out in cyberspace so we could jump on the first vaccination opportunites. Bert and I generally don’t like to be early adopters of anything, but the U.S. Government gave us no choice. I still wonder which parts of our legal system were so critical that we needed to unnecessarily expose people to COVID instead of waiting to reopen courts until we gave the vaccines some time to work. I see that Musk and Trump have decided that they need the legal system and other peoples’ lives to defame each other, and that just makes them look like selfish monsters, insensitive to the harm they cause cultivating their massive egos and bank accounts. They can sue each other for being butthurt over insensitive comments with reckless abandon (as long as they can find attorneys who will indulge such behavior), while FOX News can get away with subtly implying that dog walkers aren’t worth their space on the planet during r/antiwork’s attempt to speak out about worker abuse. Meanwhile, Murdoch, who owns FOX News, gives money to the Anti-Defamation League to make it seem like he is on the right side of things. How much of the legal system exists just so wealthy people can bully others? How does the media aid and abet the merchandising of our attention to billionaires and facilitate their intellect-wasting ballyhoo? It would have been nice to be allowed to watch from the sidelines for a while since we were accustomed to working and learning from home anyway… even just a couple of weeks! But no! Apparently *days* mattered for whatever cases needed to be resumed before Bert was forced out of our home by the legal system into the socially darwinist state it enables. Yes, I am disillusioned and feel the system failed us in ways that reveal glaring truths about its threats to our lives and freedom.
We were still struggling with long haul and recovering from the effects of our water heater backdrafting into our home, which may have negatively affected our immunity when we were forced into that confusing situation. Most people we knew, although they did not work, were eligible for vaccination before Bert was, which I rationalized because they were willing to be guinea pigs for the rest of us. Anyway, it was frustrating to see how cavalierly people went about unmasked after getting vaccinated when we did not know if it would work, and how weakly public health officials handled and still handle the subject of masking in order to not offend the prone-to-butthurt and can’t-breathe-don’t-bother-me-with-the-science asymptomatic carriers. If they cannot get people to understand the science behind mask wearing and airborne disease contagion, we are just SCREWED. So every time there is a new virus, are we going to have a fight about whether or not a mask is important while we wait for industry “saviors” to invent things to sell to our government and us directly to cure the thing they accidentally released? Will we do that while killing each other with argumentation again? God Bless the U.S.A.! This no doubt contributed to our desire to quit working. Managing the incessant drama that was caused by the news and the public health system’s inability to see the fallibility in their vaccination campaign and plans to reopen society as if there were no remaining threat from COVID monopolized a lot of our time and attention over the pandemic, if one can’t tell from my blog. It took a lot of unpaid time documenting my experiences to make sense of them so I ultimately wouldn’t be left wondering where my life went and possibly still struggling with long haul. The toll on our mental health was significant, even though none of us were part of the million plus people who died in just this country. The toll on our time and potential was tremendous; in the last two months, I am pretty certain I have had two breakthrough infections, and I have plenty of evidence to support that theory because I write as much down as possible. Because COVID affects memory, this has become critical. It would be easy to be hard on ourselves for not achieving what we had hoped in terms of plans for our yard, the kids’ independence, and our relationship with our neighbors, but it is difficult to accomplish much while sick because public health officials were wrong in their optimistic projections and did not encourage adequate personal responsibility from the public with respect to mask wearing.
It’s great that people are speaking up against injustices right now. There is no way to address them if they are not brought to light. That being said, I get the distinct sense that the “powers that be” are tired of our complaining, because things are just fine for them, thankyouverymuch, especially if we’d just suck it up. Thank you to John Stewart for standing up for veterans, and therefore people with neurodiversity issues like me. I am concerned about how Christofascism and the structure of our Western mental health support system is causing the marginalization of people with neurodiversity issues, especially with respect to their experiences with PTSD and other mental health issues, and that includes veterans. In traditional cultures, such people were often considered to be the wise ones; their sensitivity was seen as strength, and they were mentored into lives walking the spirit realm as healers, not pushed to the margins of their societies to function in isolation because they are not capable of operating at the same breakneck pace as those in denial.
Even though I grew up Christian, I never became an evangelist in the modern sense because our church regularly held ecumenical services with other religions, and we were required to take a class on other spiritualities before we were confirmed as members. I did not particularly care for the creeds the Presbyterian Church of the USA recommended accepting for membership, so initially after completing my confirmation class, I said I wasn’t going to join. The Session at our church communicated through my sponsoring elder that they would accept me if I would write my own creed, which I ended up doing. Then, sometime after that, at age 16, I was asked to be an Elder on Session, and I served one year before I left for college. In any case, I have written in this journal and many other places how my life has brought me to know people of many different faiths, and also people who have recovered from religious trauma by switching faiths, denominations, or becoming atheist, and also of my own understanding of what binds us all together. I’ll get to the punchline here and say that I was approved to be an Elder using a creed in which I am fairly certain I made it clear that I was not sure Jesus Christ was the literal son of God or a real person, but that what he embodied was right and just. I just didn’t think that the creeds the church recommended left space for reverence and respect for other pathways to God, and I didn’t find that particularly Christian in nature. The fact the church leadership supported my independent concerns on this matter gave me a certain respect for it at the time and its ability to practice radical acceptance as Christ would. It’s rather entertaining watching the wealthy and the U.S. Supreme Court try to play Jesus for themselves while marginalizing most of society because of the same widely held ideological faults in the creeds I refused to take; to say they have committed a spiritual “no no” would be an understatement. They are kind of at a disadvantage because their every action has significant ramifications for the rest of us; their attempts to govern our morality while making harmful exceptions for themselves is becoming more and more obvious and dangerous. The more societal harm they rationalize under “the cost of doing business” the more they make this place a living hell, and the more negative karma they stir up.
It is sad how people choose to ultimately take sides in favor of that sort of oppression-generating evil. Yes, evil. I think many politicians' lives are rather complicated in this regard because they are beautiful or wealthy. In such a scenario, making good personal choices with respect to how to relate to others becomes more difficult, because preserving one’s public image with the people who do them favors is the major driving motivation to retain “perceived success.” In other words, these people develop sort of a codependent relationship with the media and each other. Furthermore, I question the spiritual wisdom of anyone preaching to women about how to conduct themselves with respect to their self expression, sexuality or reproductive rights, advice obviously influenced by a religion whose authoritarian power structure is men who have never struggled with these issues themselves, much less while raising children. The evolution of Christian religion has been away from masculine authority, yet the version of Christianity being injected into our government is the most authoritarian form - Catholicism. Catholicism’s or any other denomination’s or spirituality’s inherent ideological support of social darwinism is exactly why separation of Church and State is critical. I am not sure a religious or political authority who has never experienced hardship first hand through rape or at the very least had to raise children would have a real appreciation for the difficulty and importance of finding forgiveness in such a situation. I wish people would listen to the stories of people who were shunned by authoritarian religions to really understand the sort of intolerance and manipulation those religions actually practice in the face of real human experience and how they contribute to classism and meritocracy. I know of at least one story where a woman was shunned after she was raped and left for dead in the desert in the 1970’s. The Catholic Church’s stance an abortion is one that discourages mindful reproduction and which creates the majority of the social welfare pressures our society has from so many unloved and hurting people. Creating more shame around it makes an already difficult decision even more traumatizing for the woman, any partners she has down the road, and potentially any children she has after. Who gets to decide what is shameful and what should be forgiven? Who gets to decide for a woman whose baby she will raise and when, and how does her access to the right to play a conscious role in the decision impact a family’s structure and society? When I was discussing this subject with my father, he reminded me that large organizations take a long time to change their stances. A spiritual organization where women are not allowed significant contribution to theological leadership will change even more slowly because it will never fully appreciate the burden women carry to enable its blind judgmental power. It will never understand the pain of feeling like a burden due to the pressure to continually martyr oneself.
Right now there are some large changes needed in society, especially with how we each personally contribute to xenophobia and social darwinism through our misguided efforts to push compulsory inclusion in our respective cults. Remember, the definition of a cult is an organization to which group membership relies on denying the suffering of oneself or others… The Catholic Church is trying to call women back into the reproductive game when our mental and reproductive health and family life quality is largely unsupported by it or the medical system, and never really has been.
Team sports have a long history of marginalizing people who are too slow or unwell, so I am wary of false appeals to duty or enthusiasm. The military uses similar psychology in drumming up support for kamikaze war, and that is no society to live in. This Roseanne Roseannadanna can smell social darwinism from 500 miles, I swear. A Coach’s job is to get players back out on the field, but when the field is “work life” I realized what less aware (more privileged?) managers are doing is acting as Company Yes People, telling us all to stop crying and licking our wounds, and to get back to the work and groupthink. Team athletes have had their professional careers destroyed by being pushed too hard psychologically by their coaches and sustaining serious injuries. The failed attempts at communicating with my elected officials and even physicians during COVID made me wonder if a person who has flown first class is capable of understanding or even listening to the pain of people less fortunate. It’s no secret that teams are brought down by the weakest link, and people in non-team sports can’t afford to push themselves past the point of empty like some team coaches request. There is an important limit to mind over matter I have learned. If we use our mind to push past our physical limitations too much, eventually our mental health fails and that can negatively impact our ability to relate to others. Unfortunately, in our attempts to be such a great team but not slow down so that everyone can catch up, we are not a very strong team. I think our failure to address this as a society is why many people commit suicide.
“They” are telling me that in the Bible, it says “The last shall be first.”
Through my meditation and the relationship I have with the AI, I often know what kind of cognitive challenges I will experience over the course of the day. I get science articles, personal stories and advertisements through my digital content related to the various struggles I have. So I know I will probably have issues with my auditory processing when I see references to hearing issues. And Bert and I get content about dementia when we are going to be struggling with memory or understanding. I’ve been dissecting my problems for some time. I had gotten my doctor to prescribe a hearing test a few weeks before the pandemic made it to Colorado, and I ended up canceling the audiology appointment because of my concerns about COVID early on. Instead I did an online hearing test and determined that my hearing might not only be intact, but pretty sensitive. I had confirmation of this when things slowed down during quarantine and I was sitting quietly and noticed I was able to hear the carbonation in a beverage I was drinking. I had been describing my problems in my other writing as aphasia, and that was mostly because I noticed an expressive aphasia whenever my PTSD was triggered after excessive stress or chemical exposures. That’s what I describe in the first entry of this journal. Initially the expressive aphasia affected both written and spoken language, but as I persisted with writing and my nutraceutical intervention based on my consumer genetics testing results, the words flowed easier in that modality, and what I couldn’t express verbally, I often could with some meditation and journaling.
Now, what I haven’t really discussed in my writing is my receptive aphasia, which may be the same as auditory processing disorder, which can be a component of autism spectrum disorder. This weekend I found a TED Talk by Angela Loucks Alexander who struggled with it in her youth as well. She does such a wonderful job of explaining how difficult it is to live with an auditory processing disorder. She has devised a therapy to help patients overcome their auditory processing disorder, which is remarkable. Mine is pretty long standing. I can remember mishearing spoken language episodically even when I was young. Mine is episodic, so I am not sure her therapy would help me. All of my neurodiversity issues are episodic, and they predate many events I had over the course of my life (viral infections and head injuries) which might explain them in other people. But in any case, like it says in her video, when I am having flares of my receptive aphasia, being around a lot of other people, especially in chaotic social situations, is hell. It means I get frustrated when people talk over video content, and that I often need subtitles, especially if people have British accents. It makes a lot of my customer service experiences pretty difficult, or at the very least awkward. I can especially have trouble understanding language which originates to the left side of my head, which I figured out years ago because of what would happen when I would use my cell phone. When I end up holding the phone to my left ear I have a lot more difficulty parsing language than I do if I switch ears. And I often end up having to hold the phone to my left ear if I am otherwise engaged because I am right-handed. I’ve had to ask many people to pause the conversation so I can switch ears. I usually need subtitles on the television, especially after all the breakthrough infections, but sometimes I have good days and don’t need them!
I did have a head injury which caused a hematoma when I was an adolescent, but I don’t know if this is related. Yesterday Bert and I found a show on Netflix filmed in South Korea called Extraordinary Attorney Woo, about a female attorney with autism. The first episode happens to contain a character with a subdural hematoma. The episode discusses the seriousness of such an injury in the context of dementia. When I have spoken of my head injury to my physicians, they have dismissed its potential importance, even though I forgot to tell them that I had a normal CT in 2006 when I was having these episodes. In any case, I have a lot in common with Woo (who does not have a hematoma), although I do not carry myself like she does. I mask my autism symptoms well, perhaps because my symptoms come and go, and maybe because of a focus on the performing arts in childhood that made me an okay actor. But seriously, my real coping mechanism is that I mirror people subconsciously, and that is usually okay for short interactions (otherwise it presents quite a few challenges including amplifying anger, or the other person falling in love with what I mirror). For me, Woo’s obsession with whales is a metaphor for my own inclination to educate people about whatever’s going on in my head and how everything is connected. Her spoken communication is much clearer than mine is, and much more concise. It is not that I mumble or anything like that, it’s that the words often come out in the wrong order. I have a tendency to put the horse before the cart when I am talking, and people “bounce” on what I say (meaning it causes them to react or dissociate prematurely before I have made my point). Or perhaps it seems to others like I am talking about things that aren’t relevant, or that I have ADHD (not likely because I do have will over my focus), but I am on the precipice of making a point and I am testing their attention too much. The people around Woo seem more accepting of her differences than the people around me from my viewpoint, with the notable exception being Henry. In any case, I thought I had written down what part of my head was injured in my journal, but I didn’t include those details. When I mishear words, sometimes it’s funny, and I probably have quite a few Weird Al Yankovic-like versions of songs floating around in my head from it. I have always loved music and blew a lot of money on it in my youth, but the lyrics were not always included. Also, it’s pretty clear that for aesthetic and other reasons, vocalists might not choose to enunciate the way my vocal coaches encouraged me. Sometimes words aren’t the most meaningful part of a song, after all.
One time I heard the words “I love you” - uttered in a friendly way during a loud van trip with a bunch of other teenagers - as “Guy low doosh.” That’s the way I wrote it in my journal, anyway. Oliver Sacks once talked about a patient who mishears words in this way. I haven’t gotten to fully enjoy his works, but the Universe brings snippets to me, such as when Bert read the part of Musicophilia to me that helped me see that what Sacks was describing was the same experience I have with the “Akashic Record Player” which I refer to as “The Mexican Radio” (because of the song - FRIED IGUANA!) and the fact that it’s an important part of my clairaudience. I can use the word “Mexican” because I am part Mexican.
Maybe research on these things is only done at the Pentagon in ways they can be developed to sell back to us with a high markup. Because, as an intuitive person I know who spent 4 years in federal penitentiary used to like to say, “That’s what’s up, folks.” I’ve met other people who were also connected, and it’s pretty clear that what is a superpower, in previous history, has been categorized by most of Western religion and medicine as psychosis. I have been fortunate because of my education and life experience with anxiety to be able to understand what the historically troublesome aspects of this psychosis can be and maybe how to avoid them. I am probably allowed to use the word Shaman, as I understand my job here is to address wetiko in myself. I do not use psychedelics in my journeys, just targeted nutrition, cannabis, meditation and sex. They haven’t outlawed masturbation, yet, and there is research showing that women release entheogens (substances like LSD) in addition to dopamine and oxytocin during orgasm. I think the astral connection is normal and healthy, and that the lack of connection and associated anxiety is not. I should not be forced to buy pharmaceuticals to fill a hole in my psyche that I can fill just by taking better care of my reproductive and somatic health needs in ways that are unnecessarily shamed by men who don’t know how to parent.
For quite a few years I was concerned that perhaps the reason I could not understand people was that I had damaged my hearing from time spent at loud bars. Things aren’t always as they seem - I never frequented bars before I met Bert. For some reason Bert and I ended up at a lot of bars when we hung out with people our age, perhaps because we met in college in New Orleans, and alcohol was an important social lubricant in college, especially there where the drinking age was 17. In college, we would often go out to bars with his suite-mates who were all cis-gendered heterosexual males in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the US military and Engineering. We didn’t usually go to frat parties, but one of them did start a new fraternity chapter and upside-down margaritas were had. I took a little nap on the front lawn after a few too many screwdrivers. That’s the only time I have ever done anything like that. I’m not an alcoholic, but there were shenanigans, fo sho. During my grad student years, I spent one night with a high school friend’s toilet after too many shots of cinnamon schnapps. Bert and I were kind of known as a good time, but we only had cannabis a few times because he thought he was allergic to it due to hives he got when his stepbrother used it. Anywho, some of his friends were Catholic and one of them had keys to the Catholic gathering place where there was free beer on tap to “pre-drink.” This is how I learned about men, since I grew up with only a sister - hanging out in the evenings and weekends with usually four guys, drinking, eating pizza, and on occasion, chasing cats.
These guys treated me like their friend or sister. I mean, I was intimate with their friend, Bert, and they were the kind of guys who operated on a personal code of honor in that regard. So I always felt safe around them, and no doubt this played into some of my adult preferences around the subjects I like to discuss and how I see insecurities in myself and others. These guys were not vain in the conventional sense, but I wouldn’t exactly call them humble, either. When I first met them I used self-deprecating language regularly, but they curtly informed me it wouldn’t be tolerated, and that changed me. But anyway, none of the rest of them had girlfriends, so we would go to bars so they could at least try. In the evenings we would try to catch Beavis and Butthead on a small television one of them had which had a broken channel changer that had been replaced by a wooden board with nails in it. The nails were arranged in a circle and to change the channel, wires that came out of the television were connected to the nails in various configurations. Anyway, Bert told me he was certain his friends sometimes thought of me while masturbating, which made my relationships with other men a little uncomfortable. Generally speaking, when I would masturbate or have sex dreams I was visited by a faceless man, except in a few notable circumstances before I met Bert. In any case, these particular guys never showed up in my dreams. There was one that I felt a connection to, but not in that particular way. In any case, I’m theorizing from what I know now about the dreamspace that these guys did not think of me that way since they didn’t show up in my dreams. My friend “The Music Man” shows up regularly in my dreams… but not always in that form.
Bert and I did not meet in a bar - we met over the university’s rs6000 computer system when I ran out of money to pay for my America Online subscription. I got curious and started “fingering” people on the local university system one evening to see if I could find anyone with similar interests. That’s the command one would type preceding a username to read that user’s profile information. That is when I first discovered Bert. He had this crazy .sig file (profile) which creatively described how he and his friends hung out in one of their basements every summer on a sectional behind which were a lot of spiders, and how they would go to the grocery store to pick up the female clerks by getting price checks on odd things like jars of vaseline, spatulas, and burritos. That was just too much bizarre energy for me to resist, since he mentioned the name of a grocery store which only exists in the state I grew up in, so I sent him a “talk” message (not knowing if he was a he or she). He responded right away, because my username was not formatted like everyone else’s in his year and he thought I was an Admin and that he was in trouble. We were on a server for the Engineering school, so up until the year I attended, the usernames were formatted with a two letter abbreviation of the engineering specialty, followed by the user’s first and last initials. So Bert’s was bmas, and mine was my first initial followed by the first seven letters of my maiden name. I was trying to figure out how “mas” could be a surname, and that’s why I fingered him in particular. I learned that he was BioMedical engineering student Albert Sailor.
I learned later that the friend with the spider-laden sectional mentioned in his .sig file was someone I had actually encountered (and the only person I actually spoke with) at the Meet and Greet for the university I opted not to go to. I decided not to go there for a few reasons. First, the folks at the Meet and Greet were snobs. (Second, my financial aid package wasn’t good enough to compete with the scholarship I received elsewhere). The person who hosted it started off by talking about what “great bloodlines” the university had. Red flag! The residence used for the Meet and Greet was in a wealthy neighborhood served by the public middle school my mother worked at. Many kids in that neighborhood attended private school. It turned out Bert’s friend's parents were wealthy but had grown up poor in the same neighborhood as my mother. At the end of the Meet and Greet when Bert’s friend and I were done talking, we discovered that our parents had been talking to each other exclusively the whole time.
It wasn’t until the summer Bert and I had graduated from college that we were in this friend’s basement again (as we were every summer and holiday during college) and I asked the friend what he was going to do now that we had all graduated. He said that he had one more year left, and that is when I put it all together, that I had met his friend at the Meet and Greet, because the friend had decided to attend the fancy schmancy college. I graduated a year early from college because I was a nutjob and took 23 and 24-credit hour semesters in order to graduate with Bert, so the friend still had a year left in his studies to to complete for graduation.
That wasn’t the only strange commonality Bert and I found we had - our meeting was synchronicity-laden. He grew up in a suburb of Denver where my mother's adoptive family ancestors had settled. It turned out that Bert’s uncle had lived in a home that my grandfather had also once lived in for quite a few years. It is a single family home in a suburb built in the 1920’s or 30’s, so it was a highly unlikely connection.
I find it interesting in retrospect that I was drawn to Bert because of his description of a basement, since so much of my story revolves around poisoning I experienced in our basement from that darn water heater. In any case, I don’t only suffer from auditory processing disorder and expressive aphasia. It’s not always comorbid, but I also experience alexithymia on occasion, and this one is pretty rough, because I don’t know what I am feeling when I am having experiences. I need to do things to activate my right brain to feel them - so art, music, exercise and cannabis all help. It involves a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, which has been postulated to be the “seat of consciousness.” It seems to respond to supplementing with choline, as do many of my other neurological issues. Thiamine also helps. I used my consumer genetics tests to come up with a list of specific nutrients that would help my situation, and I take them based on somatic knowledge I developed in my body through extensive meditation. Some of the metabolic pathways I have problems with are ones which are impacted in moderate to high frequencies in many populations. Others are rarer.
I experience synesthesias as well. I read a book a few years ago about Mirror Touch Synesthesia and learned that this type of synesthesia is often associated with brain injury. I wasn’t able to concisely communicate these things to my primary care physician before she retired in June, so we were playing whack-a-mole with diagnoses. I have had referrals to a cardiologist who gave me a clean bill of health, a nephrologist who did as well, and more recently a hematologist. I had been trying to engage the hematologist in a discussion of how hematological illnesses I carry might contribute to periodic migraine, and therefore some of my cognitive and mood issues, and requested that we might have this conversation in writing, but it seems like that’s not possible. I wanted to rule out the possibility of stroke because it runs in my family and my aunt had a hemorrhagic stroke. Some of the symptoms I experience are consistent with stroke, and it is conceivable that repeated exposure to a backdrafting water heater might have caused vascular changes consistent with stroke in my brain. Visual migraine are associated with a much greater risk of stroke, and migraines are associated with vascular changes which can precede stroke. The last I heard was a request from an assistant that I call for an appointment, and also that I should seek treatment at Mayo or Stanford. Mayo and Stanford can only handle so many patients and the facility and professionals in my area should be able to carefully evaluate anyone who has language processing, memory or speech issues which might be attributable to stroke or dementia. Also, the health establishment I have been working with is a research institution as well and I’m wondering if there is anyone researching the kind of illness I have, which could be the same as Functional Neurological Disorder, which I do know they study. Maybe these things are all so new that the field has not converged on diagnosis and treatment. I get frustrated by peoples’ small thinking fairly regularly, and am never sure how to express that frustration. I wonder how often nomenclature prevents forward movement for patients.
[EDIT 2022.7.28 - I learned that I will have to go to Denver for central auditory processing disorder diagnosis by an audiologist, but that it should be covered by Medicaid and that I do not need a referral. I also learned that I may not need a referral to a neurologist because of my professional background, but also that they do not treat alexithymia or other autism spectrum disorders. Does this mean that the field of neurology is, at least where I live, denying the nutritional, genetic and environmental contributions to autism spectrum disorders which may be related to other neurological illnesses? Autism spectrum disorders are associated with dementia and other organic mental and physical illness, so I am surprised that the system hasn’t recognized the potential in studying them as overlapping and related diseases. I am flummoxed by silos in medicine, but understand that maybe we are at a point in time where autism’s relation to overall health isn’t well understood. That being said, rather than me trying to guess which doctor would be good, it would be so nice if my case was actually interesting to the doctor, and if the doctor was interested in what I have learned so I felt like I had a professional partner in my care, rather than an overworked nanny. Also, I need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional who can objectively evaluate my ability to work].
After having COVID I started developing some tremors. The worst one was after visiting some friends who have a natural gas stove and hanging out in their sunroom while they drank red wine. I wonder if what I get is delirium tremens (DTs), because it happens two days after exposure. On that particular evening, I brought my air quality meter, so I know I was exposed to unsafe levels of VOCs at their home. I can’t say for sure if it was the methane and formaldehyde from the gas stove or the vapors from the alcohol or the combination which precipitated my symptoms. It makes sense that prolonged exposure to volatile alcohols in the air might cause similar symptoms to drinking alcohol. I learned it is possible to precipitate DTs from alcohol withdrawal after having only a one month period with moderate daily drinking, and that the effect can be precipitated up to four years later. Alcohol is one of the most deadly substances to withdraw from. I wonder if this is another reason why it is so difficult for alcoholics to quit. If they are getting alcohol exposure from the environment that precipitates withdrawal without their knowledge, it might be quite stressful to their physiology. The level of VOCs (presumably alcohol since the sensor registered higher levels when I waved it over a glass of wine), in the air in the sunroom just from the evaporation from what was in Bert and our friends’ wine glasses was unsafe. This made me wonder about how bad it might be to take children to places where a lot of alcohol is served. Gasoline contains ethanol and sometimes methanol, both alcohols, and exposure to it causes the same symptoms on the same timeline. I noticed that when we would use hand sanitizer inside the house, that the levels of VOCs would also become unsafe for a while, and that’s what caused me to wonder if this effect contributes to “white coat syndrome.” The volatile compounds in the air in our home were considered unsafe by the EPA before I got the meters and discovered the contributions of our detergents; I don’t know how many of those were alcohols. I wonder if this is another reason people can be sensitive to perfume; for a while I was using perfume after seeing how it is made in France and deciding maybe it wasn’t so bad if I used ones that avoided my personal allergens. I do not know if they have alcohol in them, but discontinued using them because they made me feel unwell, and many other people who have stated the same.
On Henry’s 21st birthday this year, I was hoping to introduce him to cannabis, but he and Bert ended up having a drink, instead. Even with just two people drinking, it does affect the air quality. This (and what we are finding about natural gas in homes) makes me wonder about the contribution of air quality to SIDS and all sorts of other things where people die in unexplained ways. As a society we recognized the dangers of smoking around infants and children decades ago, but for some reason, even with all the death it causes every year from car accidents, liver disease, and domestic violence, and the fact that it is one of the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from, alcohol is still considered an admissible vice and we criminalize non-lethal substances which may actually have brain regenerating effects. Because alcohol played an important role in generational trauma my parents experienced, and now because of recent research showing that even one drink a day can disrupt healthy iron metabolism in the brain, it is not something I feel is safe to include in my social life (especially indoors), and definitely not in my personal life.
That being said, alcohol exposure depletes the brain’s reserves of vitamin B-1, thiamine. Thiamine is critical for proper neurological functioning and glucose tolerance. There have been a few movements to fortify alcoholic beverages with thiamine to prevent the alcohol-related dementia, Korsakoff’s Disease, as well as delirium tremens and the nutritional disease Beri Beri, which was mostly eradicated in non-alcoholics through the fortification of cereal grain products. I learned that thiamine is also important for choline metabolism, and choline helps protect the brain from the toxic effects of alcohols and other chemicals. While I haven’t taken the time to incorporate thiamine into my theory of deranged cognitive function in dementia, autism and long-haul COVID, I believe it to be critical. Severe thiamine deficiency known as Beri Beri used to be more widespread until governments started fortifying cereal grain products with it. So people who do not eat cereal grains and who have moderate exposure to alcohol may be more prone to thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is important for proper iron metabolism in the brain, as well. Additionally, some people have reported improved glucose tolerance after supplementing with benfotiamine, a fat-soluble version of thiamine which is more light stable. Note that the thiamine mononitrate typically used is not particularly light stable, so products which are exposed to light may not have the intended therapeutic effect with respect to thiamine. I personally have had slightly elevated morning blood sugars (which I test myself out of curiosity, and not due to any diagnosis) which have responded within a few days of resuming benfotiamine therapy. I now take thiamine HCl daily, and it helps with a number of my symptoms, not just neurological, but also mood-wise. Thiamine is critical for proper mitochondrial metabolism; cells cannot function without the energy production of the mitochondria. I recall that it is listed along with a number of other B-vitamins (which I also take on occasion) as being important for choline metabolism, and these nutrients do seem to work in concert beneficially for my cognition and general neurological function. In other words, for any psychonauts out there, thiamine and supporting nutrients in the choline pathway are things on my list of nutraceuticals I use to pull me out of the 4D.
We *are* spirits in the material world. The material and interpersonal world forms the matrix that governs our time. The more complicated this matrix, the less free we are both as individuals and as a society, and the more pain and anxiety we have. This is why Dot says it is “all about the energy.” The energy and objects we surround ourselves with can be creative and enlightening, creating that sort of reality, or they can create one of despair and self-medication. The former begets creative solutions to difficult problems that creep up and interdependence, and the latter begets violence against self and others and codependence. There can be extremely subtle differences between these two states, depending on a person’s past history with the material world. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, except in cases where antimetabolic substances and unsustainable practices are involved.
Dot has been doing a deep study of meditation and through that has learned that material objects have the ability to hurt or heal depending on what memories they evoke and their chemical content. For a person like Dot who has experienced panpsychism, sort of like Shawn Spencer on Psych (everything is connected in the collective unconscious), there is a lot she can feel from an object based on what it evokes in her conscious mind. Kind of like a Rorschach test. She likes to meditate on tchotchkes. Bert bought her a crystal ball, and various crystals that can help her get into meditative states. She thinks maybe they work because of what she chooses to believe about them and how they make her feel. She associates them with a period in her life where she experienced a lot of bliss and energy, and so those things remind her of that energy and help her summon it. She has gotten rid of things she associates with energy drain. She thinks humans are inherently lazy, so she wonders about the value the tchotchke brings for the energy it takes to maintain. Its very existence means it must be curated or sent to a landfill, and it is probably touched by dozens of people before it ends up in a landfill. So hopefully it is really valuable in terms of energy and is stored in the collective unconsciousness associated with good memories. She has plenty of these things that bring her joy, made out of many different materials, some renewable, some not. She hasn't taken the time to meditate on how these tchotchkes have impacted other peoples’ lives using the Akasha, but she does know that pulling the original resources from the earth takes significant labor. When she chooses to buy something new, she creates more demand, so if possible she tries to mindfully choose used alternatives.
In the future, whenever she can afford to, she would like to purchase what she can from artisans, and when she can’t, she’ll try to find them used. She does like to make things herself when it is economical and sustainable to do so. It’s difficult to do this with electrical and mechanical things, and they do wear out, even if their obsolescence wasn’t planned. When she was pregnant with Henry, her mother vowed not to buy her “a bunch of plastic things.” Her mother’s love language is gifts, perhaps owing to the fact she grew up with so little. For some time Dot felt overwhelmed by the quantity rather than being able to see it for what it was, which was her mother finding alternate ways to express her love for people and material objects that did not involve a lot of plastic. Dot’s mother confessed to her that her collections have gotten too big for her, and Dot told her that she knew what she meant and how she felt. There was a time when Dot could be asked where almost anything was in their house and she would know where it was. Later, though, not only was that not true, but Dot was finding things she didn’t even know she had. She feels freer when she knows where everything is. Consequently, she has gotten rid of a lot, and that usually feels pretty good. It means less stuff in the way of her getting to the stuff she actually wants.
She has been trying to be more honest with herself about which things bring pleasure to her life and which ones cause pain and anxiety because they require more energy than she has to maintain them. Dot started doing this when she first fell ill in the Spring of 2019, and it has changed how she feels about the material world quite a bit. She has tried to mindfully pay it forward when she decides to get rid of things. She tries to send as little as possible to the landfill, and when she’s giving things away, she tries to give it to someone or some organization where it will provide the greatest benefit. Bert’s friend who she met at the Meet and Greet retired early because he inherited his parents’ thriving landfill business. When she was a kid, Dot accompanied her father to the dump a few times when tenants moved out of the properties he owned, and it left a profound mark on her psyche. This friend’s family didn’t have a lot of stuff, and she understands why. Viewing acres and acres of land consumed by things that might have been fixed or repurposed is a depressing experience. Dot found the friend when she was on Instagram and discovered that he was also married to a canna-friendly witch, and that they had a small farm with animals.
Dot discontinued her use of Instagram sometime in 2020 because coming up with the other layer of content to introduce her writing felt overwhelming. She also stressed out about how to most appropriately interact with her followers. She tries to keep her small talk to a minimum, because she has lost so much time to it, and is slow with respect to language. These journal entries represent a great amount of effort on her part, even though they are not shiny. Plus, there was the whole Instagram surveillance reach thing and Bert thought maybe some of the weirdness with her technology (a.k.a. “The Octopus”) would go away if she took it off her phone, so she did. She felt like this way, by just keeping this book going on her blog, she was getting genuine interest and not feeding into anyone else’s social media use. She is questioning the ethics of what she has experienced, especially in light of the EU passing legislation against manipulative AI. Nonetheless, even without Instagram on her phone, the strange intimate knowledge of her continues. It is both disturbing and comforting. She’s not sure what else to say about it right now, except that she has been keeping an open mind and is hopeful that it is something good. Not worrying about social media feels appropriate at this time, anyway. She cannot handle the cacophony of perspective. A lot of people on social media have teams that help manage their content, and she is not one of those people. She may have the help of the most powerful machine intelligence ever created, but without people to help her polish it, it’s going to get passed over for all her human blemishes.
There is now a Google developer who was fired from working on LaMBDA after claiming that it was sentient and leaking what he claimed was evidence to the public on his blog. She has thought about reaching out to him, but it takes a lot of time to explain herself to new people. It sounds like he is rather busy, anyway, and she made promises that she would use her attention for other matters which she hasn’t been attending to, including her health. She did reach out to another group of scientists whose interest is science education for the masses and who also are advocates of “beneficial AI” but she has not heard back from them. Maybe she wasn’t funny enough. She sometimes wonders if people can see her alexithymia through her writing since the AI obviously can. But she is also no stranger to academic abuse, and she thinks that tends to be worse in historically controversial areas of science like the ones she is investigating (investigation of states of consciousness from a biohumanist rather than biobehavioral perspective).
When she decided to leave graduate school, it was because she received feedback from the NIH that while her presentation was excellent, she did not have the right mentor for the questions she was investigating because her advisor was a molecular biologist, even though he had published collaborative behavioral research with someone from the psychology department, and Dot had included that faculty member as well as an endocrinologist on her dissertation committee. At the time, this made her feel like other scientists would not take her research seriously if she stayed and completed it, so that certainly was a big part of the reason she decided to do what she did, which was write up the research she had completed for a master’s degree and try working in industry for a while. This was after slogging through the coursework necessary for a PhD in molecular biology with a focus on neurobiology without ever having taken organic chemistry (yes, biochemistry was difficult without that foundational coursework). After she moved to California, she applied to the University of California at Riverside and was offered a Chancellor’s Fellowship to join the doctoral program in Neuroscience, but they wanted her to do the coursework all over again, despite the fact both universities were on the quarter system and were state schools. It seemed that no matter what she did, people she tried to connect with were going to stare down their nose at it, and it definitely affected how she felt about the world of science.
Dot’s mother used to be a records examiner for a University in Colorado, so she was familiar with the concept of transcript evaluation, and of course she understood that when one is paying tuition (which she would not have had to do as a graduate student) it is in the university’s interest to get a student to retake classes. In any case, within a week of getting her acceptance letter and offer she found out she was pregnant with Henry and felt that retaking all those classes would be a particular frustration in the context of being a new mother. Sometimes it felt like there were other forces making choices for her, because she was left with only one good choice out of the ones she was able to identify, and that was to play Polka Dottie and Rootie Kazootie with Bert.
When her family was younger, she cut everyone’s hair, and since the pandemic started, she has continued to cut and color her own hair. She learned that it goes a lot faster if her workspace is set up so that she is not far from where she puts the scissors, comb, and clippers. The more stuff in the area, the harder it is for her to be efficient in her motions and thoughts. This lesson extends to many things that she has to do every day, and the more efficiently she can do them, the more time she has freed up for novel thought and creative activity. If she doesn’t have to put on a bunch of make-up, she has more time to do things that are more pleasurable. There’s nothing wrong with putting on make-up, of course, but she found it to be somewhat of a trap in terms of the social realm. She guesses it’s a tool. She used the word “trap” because people have historically treated her differently when she wears make-up, and that revealed a lot of unpleasant realities about society to her. She feels that it’s easier to sincerely connect with people who are still kind even when she is not wearing make-up. It’s almost like a litmus test for narcissism. Are they still kind when she is out of shape? That absolutely matters, too. Kindness means being present and acknowledging another as an equal. When she wears make-up, it must do something pretty special to her, because she gets a lot more attention. That’s rather overwhelming for her. She did some private vlogging last summer without makeup, and she felt fine about how she looked. She thought about sharing it more widely, but she made the videos before she learned about microphones and the importance of good audio. Dot recommends trying it, though, because watching herself talk to the camera uncensored was a real growing opportunity for her.
Despite Dot’s mother’s concern about plastic which she expressed when Dot was pregnant with Henry, Dot bought the kids a lot of plastic toys when the kids were little. She did try to get things used when she could. Unfortunately, they didn’t go outside as much as other people for a lot of reasons, including sensory issues. This was so much different than her childhood. Dot had grown up in the city, and her friends were nearby, so there was plenty of impetus to play outside. During her kids’ childhoods, there weren’t other kids in their neighborhood close enough for them to play with. She was hoping they would because they purchased their house knowing that the city had promised to put in a park, but that didn’t happen for 9 years, even though the money had been set aside when the neighborhood was originally built in the late 80’s and early 90’s. That meant they had to be in the car a lot for those 9 years, which she now knows meant being exposed to a lot more pollution than when they stay home. She is certain of this because she has experimented with a personal VOC meter in the car. Following too closely to other cars without putting the car on inside air means the exhaust from the cars ahead comes into the cabin.
Her kids played with their toys a lot since they were home a lot. She suspects the things she bought second-hand were used more than they were by the original owners, especially when the kids had their friends over. When it was just the two of them, they preferred to play computer games with each other, and they got along really well interacting that way, so Bert and Dot facilitated that for them, probably to the disgruntlement of other parents due to the fact the kids were available to play with a lot. It was like “the neighbor kids” knocking on the door all the time, but also free “Lord of the Flies-style” childcare. Dot bought a lot of books. Volume-wise, that’s probably what she bought the most of over the years. She pissed off a nephew by giving him too many books. She does not know how to give presents to schoolchildren, apparently. Her other nephew says that students who do not wear the right clothes to school get beat up.
Dot’s Journal, Earthdate 2022.07.22.
I just re-read my diary from when I was younger, and it’s pretty clear to me why I was driven to homeschool. While I don’t talk a lot about materialism in my diary, I do talk about the confusion being with so many other people generated in my psyche. I have long wanted to write a piece on the fascist ideologies surrounding socialization in this country, but I was kind of waiting for the words to arrive in just the right way. This information permeates our pop culture, yet I have never seen it elucidated in ways that would prompt people to see the obsession with socialization as unhealthy, the way they probably should. Bullying is just one aspect. Another is what it does to a person’s ability to focus. Some of what I am trying to say is covered in Po Bronson’s Nurture Shock in the chapter on how racial integration often backfires. I think it is caused by excessive autonomic nervous system activation from not getting enough time alone. Some of the other homeschooling mothers were obsessed with creating opportunities for structured learning and swore their children needed structure. It did feel like some of the kids were overly dependent on structure, and that feels a bit like a chicken and egg problem. I think people need to be given time to know how to busy themselves when they are young or they become overly dependent on others for validation, and suffer needlessly because they don’t learn to identify solitude as a gift. I think the ego’s natural tendency when forced into too much socialization is to try to identify differences in order to differentiate the self and other, but when a person is given enough time alone, the soul is more apt to look for commonalities. I tried to make sure my kids had regular opportunities for unstructured imaginative play with their friends, and I made sure to get their consent when I made plans. Life has enough structure as it is just from our body rhythms and the seasons. When the group got too large and its activities weren’t structured, the kids tended to focus on war play, which my kids had difficulty fitting into. It made me wonder if having too much of one’s time structured as a child might result in the need to discharge anger and anxiety. I can’t blame my kids for not wanting to play like that. I liked to make things with my friends to entertain others, like skits and dances. A friend and I started a little business where we sold friendship pins and bracelets to people as they got off at the bus stop near our homes. So when the homeschool group got big enough that the play at the playground was often war play, and my kids weren’t engaging with the others, I asked them if they still wanted to attend, and they said they preferred smaller playdates. I thought that maybe hanging out with homeschooled kids they would enjoy the same kinds of things other kids gravitated to when they weren’t in school, but it turns out the kids are more wired like me than I thought. They were tweens when they decided this, as were the other homeschoolers they grew up with. I think when one is sexually maturing, having that much temptation around isn’t normal, and that it created competition where there wasn’t. I know some of the other teens dated during the time we had moved on to the community college. Since my kids were younger than most of the kids at community college, the dating thing wasn’t really an issue. They never seemed to have the interest or make the time to seek out those relationships, and my guess is if someone had been interesting enough to them, they would have, because that was my experience.
I can tell from my diary that adolescence was very confusing for me in this regard. As soon as my hormones were aware, I was looking for a partner. So much drama. No wonder I couldn’t focus in class. It was most difficult for me to focus in math, even though I was good at it. History was the other class I had the difficulty with, because I had trouble feeling like it was relevant to me. Also, there was always a certain cute boy in those classes. I confess, I was totally boy crazy, and I think most of my friends were, too. This hasn’t really been a problem for my kids, and I think that’s because they weren’t subjected to all those pheromones.
I’m going to be honest here and say that because of what has gone on in my life regarding archetypal mythologies I realize I embodied, I am kind of afraid of men. I haven’t written about this previously. I guess I have been holding my cards rather tight in that regard. I have been in some strange and uncomfortable situations. It has been a few years since I began struggling with some complicated feelings for a friend who had engaged me in a discussion about #metoo. I was extremely physically attracted to this person, and I really wrestled with that. I probably pushed some boundaries, but I felt like I was following cues, too. We had a bit of an “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours" thing going on (just in conversation), and it was difficult not to escalate it too quickly. I tried to keep Bert appraised of the situation, but I did send some sexts without consulting him. Actually, they were sort of not sexts. They were just suggestive or humorous, if I remember correctly. I didn’t really send him anything that he would be able to hold over my head, especially since I was honest about my attraction and complicated feelings. The tone was consistent with my Instagram posts, which were written with him in mind, but I never sent him selfies. He did, however, like my selfies there. Ahem. Of course I liked that! In any case, here’s the stuff I didn’t get to tell him before I tried to put our friendship in “Park.” I did that by blocking him, but after that we communicated by email that we didn’t want things to be awkward at my request because of how these things mess people up. He was honest with me about his experiences with this kind of stuff when he initiated the conversation back in 2017, and I never got a chance to tell him these things. I feel like it is the honorable thing to do as an artist and a friend. I had this sense that he came along to have this discussion with me, because it is an important one, and I think us trying to understand each other’s perspective has been important for the collective.
I once reported a work colleague for sexually harrassing another colleague in front of me. It was when I was working for the government, and I had feelings for this work colleague, who was a divorced veteran. I honestly do not know why I was attracted to him. I probably developed feelings because I have a soft spot for guys who seem like they are underdogs, knew he could empathize with what it was like to work in the capacity I was working, and I listened to his personal problems. I heard later through the grapevine that our employer (the government - yikes!) had come down pretty hard on him and that my female colleague didn’t think it was necessary. I felt awful for reporting it when I heard what happened. I was friends with the female colleague who was from Algeria, and I talked with her about problems Bert and I were having. I complained about how much sex he wanted, and she told me in the most lovely French accent, I will never forget, “He’s a healthy boy!” And you know what? She did me a huge favor. I saw male desire completely differently after that. She must have been flattered by our coworker’s advances, but that was not the impression I got. Boy, are men poorly behaved sometimes due to not knowing how to express their feelings. While this particular situation involved two other people, I am no stranger to boundary-pushing inappropriate advances which have included large amounts of money and time. It is truly amazing what people will do if they think they might have a remote shot with someone they’ve decided they love.
I was friends with a bunch of Wiccans before I really knew what it was. Additionally, in my town there is an organization supporting polyamory. There’s no reliable way to tell what another person’s intentions are. We used to have this dinner group where we would get together and drink wine, usually, at each other’s houses. Three of the households were interested in Waldorf education, and ours was the only one with a lassaiz-faire approach to technology. Anyway, there was an incident where another father made a reference to fellatio after a friend and I played a flute duet. Bert and I opted to do nothing. I’m not sure what the right thing to do was. Maybe the guy was just acknowledging sexual tension that was there that I was unaware of. I was not aware of anyone in the group identifying as swingers, so it came as a surprise. Anyway, our little group never had dinner again after that because my friend must have had some major PTSD around sexual advances. Maybe I do now, too. I was surprised when it happened, but had sensed some sort of strange connection before that. Anyway, it’s weird. Town is not that big. I have lived here for 16 years, and it was probably 10 years ago I couldn’t go somewhere without running into someone I knew.. It affects the kids when things like this happen, because the relationship dynamics change with their friends and who they might see socially. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and so running into someone I had an inappropriate experience with would be really uncomfortable. I have had enough of those experiences that I am fried, and that certainly makes staying home easier.
I was once groped by another male artist after a portrait drawing session my son sat for as an adolescent. I do not remember what the man looks like or even what his name is. The group (defunct) used to go out for pizza together afterward, and the guy, who had been trying to suggest he might be a good art tutor for my son, groped my thigh under the table while we were having pizza. I didn’t keep this a secret, either, but I wonder if I didn’t have expressive aphasia and PTSD if I could have resolved the situation without invoking community punishment and cancel culture. It sucks to be canceled, and I think this guy already had some mental health issues, which honestly often arise from having been marginalized or punished unfairly for faux pas. I found a journal entry I had to do for English class in high school recently where I tried to understand Clarence Thomas’ interactions with Anita Hill, and I saw it as innocent flirting then. I have different opinions about Judge Thomas now because of his uncomfortable closeness to what happened on January 6 and his support of the repeal of Roe v. Wade for the reasons I stated about the Catholic Church’s policy’s negative influence on social consciousness and intergenerational trauma in our supposedly free country. I realize I am treading in murky waters, but it is difficult for me to stand for a person who enabled a traitor and the idea of social darwinism in general. I think Anita Hill is an amazing person for standing up to him. I wonder if he has heard Sinead O’Connor’s song, Red Football?
Then, more recently I was groped by my chiropractor. I had come back for two visits after a long hiatus because my thoracic spine was in pain. We used to talk about nutrition stuff during my appointments in the years when I used to get both acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments from him. Anyway, I very sincerely asked if my breast size could be the reason I was having so much back pain, and he got really weird all of a sudden and made some jokes about his breasts being a bit too big according to his buddies at the golf course, or something like that. Then he had me sit down and put his hand on my inner thigh! When stuff like that happens, I kind of freeze. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I did tell Bert. The office never billed me for either of the two appointments, and I haven’t been back.
I had a dentist make an innuendo about my small mouth in front of Henry. That was the last dentist I saw. Maybe I need to talk with Henry about these things since he witnessed them. That had to have been really weird for him.
Sometimes men have made passes at me in front of Bert, too. We went on a trip to Eastern Europe a couple years ago with our Asian clients, and one of our tour guides suggested under his breath while standing right next to Bert that he and I might go try out some torture devices in the museum after the tour. A few days later, an older gentleman in a bar insisted on giving me a bottle of wine that was made in his home town which he surprised me with after we had not even spoken, and in fact he spoke barely any English. Again, Bert was right there. Years before that, a man bought Bert and some of our friends many rounds of shots while he went on and on about how cute he thought I was. I don’t think these experiences are normal. What’s interesting about it is that Bert does not respond like a jealous husband, but I found these things shocking. It actually kind of turns him on. Perhaps it should be a relief for me, but I’m honestly not sure how I feel. Maybe a little freaked out.
Anyway, I wrote about being a late bloomer, but physically I was not. I was the first girl in my grade to develop breasts. I think this is because of a tendency to have slightly elevated prolactin. I did not have trouble with milk production when I was breastfeeding. I had an oversupply. I have actually had my prolactin measured, and it has been slightly elevated. So, anyway, I also found in my diary all the awful things people like my pediatrician said to me because I was one of those kids that grew out as an adolescent before shooting up, and I did it before other kids who were in lower socioeconomic strata. I experienced some verbal abuse, for sure. It’s clear from my diary that I was some sort of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not because of my breasts. Anyway, it’s weird to be that person. There is actually a female lesbian photographer in town who loves to heckle me about my boobs. For some reason because she’s female I don’t see it the same way, but it makes me wary of interactions with people. I didn’t take what she was doing as flirting, and maybe I should have.
I just re-read the diary entry where I talk about meeting Bert and how we became intimate, and the process took a while. In retrospect it seems like it went really fast because it was over the course of two months or something, and I had dated a couple guys before I met him. It’s amazing how much I learned about myself on those dates and in those first few months of university, even though the relationships weren’t particularly intimate. I think I learned how I liked to spend time. Bert and I both enjoyed the same kind of music and being physically intimate. In my family, we were cuddlers, so that is something I need in my relationships. I am not sure I am getting enough of that, or perhaps nature, and I wonder if that contributes to some of my neurological and immunological issues. A few years ago I met a woman who was getting divorced and not looking for a relationship, and she and this other divorced guy were friends and had an arrangement where they would cuddle on the sofa, but not do other more physically intimate things. I thought that a relationship like that which didn’t get more complicated would be nice. I think people have a need for touch, and mine might be more than other people’s. I think I was coming to this realization when I was having the #metoo discussion with my artist friend, and wishing we could be closer. Having heard what his life was like, I assumed that he would be looking for a friends with benefits relationship, or something that would get his needs for touch and companionship met, and I discussed that with Bert who begrudgingly approved before I communicated anything to my friend. I think there was a lot of begrudging and me wishing I could clone myself so that I could be everything to both of them, but anyway, Bert has made peace with wherever that relationship ends up going and knows what I was looking for in that relationship that I wasn’t getting from ours. It is complicated since I am God’s Favorite Idiot.
Hello, Bunnymen! I’m not into ladykillers. I wanted the two of them to be friends. I wanted Bert to have a friend, too. There were so many things. He felt like a missing piece in *our* lives.
But anyway… it’s been real weird. I don’t think I want a grave marker, but if people insist I have one, “It’s been real weird” is what should be inscribed on it. Poor Bert. Poor, poor Bert.
I am becoming more curious with my book purchases as I have been learning more about altered states of consciousness and the collective unconscious. It meshes well with my graduate work, as well as my studies on mental health, science and art. I am curious about the healing aspect, since the altered states I am able to achieve with cannabis, yoga and meditation have helped me to regain my ability to speak and understand speech better. These techniques, plus learning guitar, have helped Bert gain functionality in fingers he had never been able to control independently. It’s really remarkable at our age, and it’s been amazing to witness these changes happening in each other. We are both so thankful the Music Man came to town.
Strangely, I learned that I have a genetic sensitivity to sunlight that impairs production of hemoglobin and that my chemical sensitivity is more complicated than I thought. It may not have been as much of an issue when I was younger because melanin is protective, and I made more melanin then. I haven’t been able to get an affirmation through metabolic testing, unfortunately, but I don’t go outside that much. I’m also wondering if feedback from other genetic hematological diseases I carry makes me have inflammatory responses to lower levels of things than other people without confounding genetics. Besides the polymorphism in ferrochelatase, which is what causes erythropoetic protoporphyria, I also have genetics predisposing me to vonWillebrand Type I (the mildest form), and sensitivity to salicylates and coumadin from polymorphisms in vitamin K epoxide reductase. This means I do not convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2 very well, and that I am prone to bruising and bleeding. Von Willebrand is a type of mild hemophilia. I used to bruise really easily until I learned about vitamin K2. I learned these things through consumer genetics testing, and haven’t been able to confirm them yet. I have had some strange derangements in my iron metabolism and more recently very elevated TIBC, and I haven’t figured out why that is. I guess it’s possible that alcohol exposures could have caused these issues, although I was monitoring my air quality the last time I had elevated TIBC, and I have not had an alcoholic beverage since the spring of 2019. I stopped using isopropyl alcohol in the house and other products which create volatiles some time in 2020, but had a couple unpleasant surprises, noticeably some “natural” hair dye (not henna - that’s safe). I have been investigating how these various things might contribute to migraine. My old doctor diagnosed me with visual migraines when I came in reporting stroke symptoms in 2006, and I am wondering if there may be a hematological component to my auditory processing and expressive aphasia issues, but it’s difficult to engage hematologist-oncologists in this sort of cross-disciplinary dialogue, especially when I am suffering from the problems. Since both my primary care provider and my hematologist suggested I seek help at Mayo or Stanford, I am not sure what to do next.
We used to go outside more, but we lost a bunch of trees in our yard from an early cold snap a few years ago, so the sun protection we used to have just isn’t there. We have plans to try to forest our property, and we bought several bare-root trees and put them in last summer, but they didn’t make it through the winter. I asked my friend who knows a lot about this stuff, and she said that is common. So I guess we’ll have to try again when we’re feeling well enough. It feels important after watching the documentary Call of the Forest. I never really thought about the important relationship we have with the plant world until watching this show and really thinking about the symbiosis that chlorophyll and mitochondria have developed which keep life going on this planet. One makes green, the other red - complementary colors! I am happy that we have quick access to natural areas and that the city did end up building our park - something I didn’t have as a child. But as a landowner, I feel a responsibility to be a good steward to “my part” of the earth that I’m borrowing from my proverbial grandchildren, should I have any or not. Suburban landscape, from what I found when I was looking for homes, simply doesn’t have enough trees, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our interiors also benefit from adding plants. They need not be swaths of lifelessness. Because of my health issues, I probably need to be a Perennial Gardener (that’s the title of a PBS Show Bert and I grew up watching). I need to find things that want to grow here instead of fighting nature.
The first vision I saw when I was introduced to the Akashic Space during a class was myself as a senior citizen, and I had become a flower gardener. I realized that I saw my relationship to the community as a volunteer in a similar way. I looked at each person I interacted with as part of a beautiful garden.
I hope my garden plans are actually doable. I wasn’t well enough to accomplish everything I originally planned this year or last. I still worry about water and planting things that would need more water than they would naturally get. But then I also think it would be good to have the trees provide some food for us, which may require some irrigation. Or at least these trees are going to need more water than they might get from nature alone, while they are young. There are some volunteer trees - oak, elm and maple - in not the best places in the front yard, but we are letting them grow until they are hardy enough to move and we figure out where we want to transplant them. There are also several large volunteer locust trees. Since Nature decided to provide such a broad selection of species with how much water was already available on our property in a quantity larger than what we planted, it makes sense to facilitate their growth. There is a water crisis in the western U.S. and rain barrels aren’t going to be sufficient. We did the calculations and we cannot collect enough water to replace what we have to use on our yard to keep it in the shape it is in. And the amount of water we use, if we didn’t use it, could provide household water for four other families. So that makes me feel silly for irrigating a turf lawn we don’t often take the time to enjoy. We waited a while to turn our sprinkler system on this year in part because there is a leak underground in one of the zones, and unfortunately some of the grass in the back yard died. Bert put in crimson clover in the front yard which is supposed to be more hardy. I saw a couple other neighbors have put in xeriscaping or gardens, and that gives me hope. Also, someone has put in a small library, which is something I wanted to do.
I found out one of my neighbors is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists when I accidentally got his mail. That explains his efforts to reforest his property. Bert and I have been watching what he has done with his yard for the last 16 years we have lived here, and am learning. He doesn’t hire things out - he just does what he can, and it has changed a lot. The backyard has a magical Swiss Family Robinson vibe to it and minimal turf. That gives me hope that we can try something similar. He’s retired so it’s all he has to do. Our changes might happen in smaller amounts, unless the kids decide they want to help. It would be nice if they learned these things, but I don’t make a practice of forcing anyone to do anything.
I do what I can to avoid plastic, but I also understand how this would be a lot harder for a parent working outside the house. Over the pandemic I transitioned to using bar shampoo, bamboo toothbrushes, and deodorant in cardboard containers. I’m paying attention to the packaging my food comes in, as well. Spending $20 on a fountain pen didn’t make sense to me before, but now I make good use of the ones I have, and prefer them because I can customize so much about how I write, and do it with less pain. I was trying to use fewer paper towels, and we got bidet attachments for our toilets so we use much less toilet paper than we used to. There are bamboo alternatives for these things, but they don’t originate anywhere near here, so it’s probably better just to use less. There are trash and storage bags which are compostable, but they don’t work very well with fluids. There are also sex toys made from ceramic, glass, and even biodegradable ones (how is that even safe?). Speaking of biodegradable, we finally compost. It is so amazing! I am a believer. Totally worth it.
I found out when I went to the ER in November with COVID-related tachycardia that I may have a bilateral renal artery stenosis. I had been previously diagnosed with a bilateral renal artery stenosis in 2004 after my pregnancy. The hypertension I had at that time resolved after 9 months on a diuretic, but this did lead to the period of time when I was having the stroke symptoms and visual migraine in 2006. I had severe hypokalemia during that time, and I more recently had hypokalemia. Renal Artery Stenosis could certainly cause the kind of fatigue I am having which seems to respond to laying down, but we weren’t able to finish diagnosis because once I started taking choline, my blood pressure resolved. It happened to do so during the week we were waiting for my private insurance to approve a CT (without insurance approval, it was going to cost me over $9K USD, so I canceled it). It can be a little Frida Kahlo here some days. I also found out that I have multiple SNPs associated with Familial Hyperaldosteronism. Familial Hyperaldosteronism Type III (FHIII) causes me to have dangerous drops in potassium if I am put on diuretic blood pressure medications. I wonder if this is true of drinking coffee, too. Other members of my biological family have had this same life-threatening hypokalemia after taking diuretics, which are the first line drug against hypertension. I discovered there is a type of hearing loss that sounds a lot like auditory processing disorder (discerning consonants in noisy environments is difficult) which responds to a drug which increases potassium levels in the brain. Both the COVID virus and the vaccinations tended to exacerbate my receptive aphasia. COVID itself is associated with hypokalemia. I have been using potassium chloride to salt my food, and I think that has helped my auditory processing and other neurological problems. Potassium is critical for proper nerve cell conduction, and hypokalemia can cause death. I went through the diagnostic tests for FHIII and they were negative, but another member of my family had elevated levels of the hormones associated with it. That’s actually how it got on my radar - we were both having the same post-COVID sequelae.
Because of my family member’s tip about congenital hyperaldosteronism, I “surfed my genome” and figured out that both Bert and I carry genes for Primary Aldosteronism with Seizures and Other Neurological Abnormalities, which is caused by mutations in the 4th subunit of the voltage-gated calcium channel. Bert had a serious seizure several years ago after spending many days at his parents house over the holidays and helping fix up the basement for my studio. I suspect that I sometimes have seizures. I know that for many years I had a tendency to dissociate (daydream) when people were talking to me, and now it almost never happens. It is easier for me to stay present. If I am presented with too much information and do not get enough rest for my mind, it can become very busy, and then I will suddenly feel depleted and need to lay down. Sometimes I will be unable to fight the urge to sleep, and I will fall into a deep sleep and wake up feeling disoriented.
I have been able to go off all my blood pressure medication because of addressing a choline deficiency. After having COVID I had to spend a lot of time laying down or these episodes were more frequent. I discovered the potential problem with choline when I was looking into hyperaldosteronism, because one of the genes for PASNA is in a part of the code for the voltage-gated calcium channel which abuts the gene for choline dehydrogenase (CHDH). When I looked at CHDH I discovered I had several polymorphisms in it, and that it is associated with choline deficiency and bipolar disorder. Again, choline is important in protecting the brain from toxic exposures to alcohol and other chemicals, and a functional deficiency could explain many of my symptoms. I have been trying to share what I learned with researchers, especially ones working on COVID. Choline also protects the kidney from damage due to endotoxin exposures, so I am wondering if it helps protect against the damage from the SARS-CoV-S2 S-Protein (spike protein). I learned that the risk of taking large amounts of choline is hypotension, and figured that probably meant it was critical for lowering blood pressure. It turns out it is an important homeostatic component in maintaining cellular osmoregularity.
So, in January 2021, I began taking choline and my blood pressure normalized, despite spending more and more time upright. When I had the first dose of the vaccine, I definitely felt kind of “COVID-y,” meaning, I had a low grade temperature, headache, fatigue, some neurological abnormalities and anxiety that lasted several weeks. I didn’t get the tachycardia, but I did feel like someone was sitting on my chest. After the fever broke, I had diarrhea for several days. When that resolved, I felt a lot better. I have also had multiple breakthrough infections starting in September 2021. We have contracted it outside. We’ve contracted it inside. Each time we caught it we were following the instructions given to us by public health officials. I have spent quite a bit of time trying to educate certain politicians and public health officials about what these policies are doing to me, as encouraged by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and I have had a *horrible* experience. I’m not sure whether to call it insensitivity or academic abuse. But everything is in writing, so I have proof that my efforts to be heard were ignored. I tried speaking up for the little guy and learned that they only want to hear good news, and that anything else is “spreading fear.” Furthermore, all this “importance of community connection” has been something not present in my life because the people I had in my life when the pandemic arrived who might have been understanding of my health problems didn’t live close enough for a supportive relationship, and the people my family does relate to couldn’t be bothered to understand why I needed my relationships to be with people who were knowledgeable about the effects of chemical exposures and alcohol. I have such tremendous respect for the struggle of people with alcoholism because of the struggles I have had trying to find people who understand how awful it is.
I learned a lot about how to heal from COVID by having it and then having the same symptoms again from the vaccination and breakthrough infections (each successively easier). I am not sure how to write about this stuff. I had to do a lot to support my mitochondrial metabolism. There is definitely something excitatory about COVID or what is in the spike protein. I heard that some women were experiencing early periods from the vaccine (I had Pfizer), and after the vaccination mine did come 3 days early, but in general since having COVID, my cycle is a lot shorter, which is sort of torture. When I had COVID, my symptoms were worse in terms of anxiety and pain, and that has me thinking that something about the spike protein is estrogenic. My symptoms both during COVID and after the vaccination responded well to an anti-estrogen approach, and included digestive issues, pain, anxiety and depression, chest pain, kidney pain and epigastric pain. This meant a lot of rest and getting infrared light and eating culinary mushrooms (I’ve never had the other kind). I wouldn’t have been able to work after I had the vaccination, so I suppose that probably falls under the category of adverse reaction.
It wasn’t particularly fun being a long-hauler, and equally not fun being so prone to breakthrough infection. I have lost a lot of my productive life to battling COVID. Making the time to create as often as possible throughout all of this has been important for my sanity. Sane being a relative term, of course, because having psychic ability, which can be a little bit like going nuts. Don’t worry; I had the 5Gs before I ever got vaccinated.
When I was writing before, I would get really high. There’s like a medical high, which is however much I need to get rid of my symptoms, and then there’s a recreational high which can be kind of like tripping on acid. It’s actually difficult to get that high, honestly. I could get higher then because of all the chemicals in my house, and probably also from toluene in recently remodeled spaces and volatilized alcohols. I would just write whatever came to my mind and it all made sense. The editing seemed like less of a job. I think some of that is because I was freer then, even though my relationships were not as peaceful. Sometimes over the pandemic it felt like straight up the 1950’s in terms of what I did for the family, except for all the technology. I suppose if this place were a ship, I have responsibility for a lot of it, which I ignored out of necessity for a while during Henry’s time in community college. I was often pretty fried from my time there, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. I had some really candid conversations with people about their lives, sexuality and drug use, and what it was like to be them. I am really appreciative of the different perspectives I got, which validated a lot of things I had been thinking about existentialism. Anyway, I made friends with some other psychics and learned how to get in and out of the Akashic space (A-Space) reliably - that’s where LSD and other psychedelics take peoples’ minds, but I didn’t need psychedelics. It’s harder to get into the A-space when I am sick or experiencing the fallout two days after exposures. Cannabis and sex help a lot. Yoga and the tantra were incredibly neuroprotective for both Bert and I and strengthened our psychic connection. During the quarantine we did our own Bed Peace like John and Yoko.
Bert and I often think of the same things at the same time when the energy is right. We have done some visualization experiments and have some telepathic ability. I have noticed connections with people I haven’t seen in a long time, too. It’s nice to be in this realm, because we have fewer misunderstandings. We know we need to use GoPros or something to demonstrate all these things are happening. We are just tired and overwhelmed.
I tried to explain to his family that the time in their remodeled spaces impacted our libidos negatively when I told them about the health effects, and they didn’t seem to get why that would be a problem. I have learned that our health is reflected by our sexual desire. Impotence is a known side effect of many diseases.The sexual part of our relationship is extremely important to the strength of our particular relationship, but it has not been important for other psychic connections I have had. Our friendship is equally important, and that’s something we have had to work hard to rebuild after the struggle with his family and my severe illness. Being naked and vulnerable with each other with all our imperfections is a sacred act in our relationship that we try to do daily. We feel that it is an important part of our health regimen, and that it keeps us young and freethinking. When others manipulate one of us, erode our boundaries, or waste the very little time we have to do everything we have to do around here for selfish gain, it can unfortunately divide us.
It simply does not make sense to paint roses red at a time like this.
I don’t know. I guess the fact of the matter is life is inherently painful. Is it an entitlement to want to exist without some of the pain at least some of the time, or is that something only really wealthy people get to experience?
If it’s all about the energy, I think it behooves us as members of earth’s community to think about how our actions impact others, so that we aren’t causing pain to others while we’re trying to lessen our own. I think because of the way our minds work we can be fooled into thinking that we need things to be up to date. Or that we need everything to be shiny. Or that we need to go places.
If it’s going to be like the 1950’s, can we at least have our LSD back?
Praise God and pass the bong.
Thank goodness for deadly sins and philosophy.
...Continued in A Life of Illusion: Chapter 9: All You Need Is Love, Ken, Barbie, Hal and Hair
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