Thursday, June 22, 2023

Strange Attractor: Witches, NDAs, High Octane Progressivism and Existential Kink

It came to my attention a few years ago that I am somewhat of a “Strange Attractor.” I think this is because of the questions I ask. My husband is of course one of the more strange people I have attracted. He doesn’t fit well in a box, and he also thinks of strange questions. I suppose that’s one of the many reasons I like having him around. I think we might both be the kind of people who would surprise people with the things we think, which would be difficult to tell from just looking at us. But people do that all the time, don’t they?

I have been thinking about doing a post on the people I have met who have unexpected ideologies or combinations of ideologies, because I learned from these people that it is never safe to make assumptions, and that some of the ways our brains try to simplify and categorize people does a disservice to bridge building in our community. Some of that oversimplification comes from having had trauma from the ideologies people can cling to, and that certainly plays a role in my own struggle.

The things we choose to judge each other for are stupid. But we do. People were fairly reserved in their judgments of me, but when they weren’t, I paid attention. When we choose to criticize someone, we’re kind of starting psychic warfare with them. Anyway, I have to mention this because I know so many bright people who are held back by unnecessary criticisms they heard over the years. I have noticed when people feel held back like that, they become critical people themselves.

It dawned on me that it would be advantageous to create a population of people with alexithymia, because they have to rely on exterior reward and punishment to learn their values. This is something I struggle with *on occasion* - enough that it has a significant impact on my life, though, and with it there is this general feeling that something is not quite right that keeps a person kind of hypervigilant. So they are a good worker, usually. Type A, so to speak. And Type A’s don’t tolerate Type B’s so much. I don’t know if alexithymia and Type A personality have been shown to be connected, but I suspect they are; to me alexithymia and anxiety seem to have the same underlying mechanisms. I suppose it is possible that the alexithymia might precede the anxiety.

So here’s the funny thing about me. I play both Type A and Type B, and I play them well. So I attract both types. But the A’s are wearing on me, I’ll be honest. They don’t know how to stop. Giving them a pat on the back gets one nowhere, because these people are never happy. That’s part of why they are prone to cardiac issues. And this stuff is ALL connected.

It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing… because obviously there are times when it is advantageous to be driven by blind ambition, such as when one needs to get out of a burning house or find food in order to not starve. But being in that mode for too long brings illness, and this is problematic. For many years I did not have any control over whether I was in Type A or Type B mode. I have been able to develop some control over that using meditation and nutritional techniques, but I have also learned that it is tied to my menstrual cycle and so it is a lot more difficult to get into Type B mode when my estrogen is high. If I can shift into Type B at that time, my thinking is usually rather disordered.

Nobody asked the

Spider before she built her

Web if she had plans

So anyway, when I wake up every morning, I can be kind of disembodied, and my mind is often circling on all the things I want to get done. So I can get a lot done with this motivation in the morning, but the problem is that I often push myself too hard because my brain has turned off the part of it that tells me I am in pain or hungry. If I push past that, my mood suffers, and then I can start having intrusive thoughts, which for me is essentially the reel-to-reel I have in my head of all the things other people I have known would say I was not doing correctly. If this sounds like hell to you, good, because that’s what it is. Exactly. Dante’s final circle of Hell. The people around me have so many self limiting beliefs I have had to become a CBT Ninja in order to write.

I have known SO MANY PEOPLE. And I have known them well enough to know what things drive them nuts, and sometimes I even know why they developed those peculiarities and have compassion for that. But seeing or being reminded of these people brings all that stuff to the surface from my subconscious, and it can do a real number on my motivation and self worth, especially if I am already depleted when they come around.

So when I am in the right frame of mind, and when I am not struggling with alexithymia, I can put all of this stuff out of my mind and do what I need to do. I can rest if I need to, without feeling guilty, I can make things out of desire, and I can see things in a more compassionate way. In this frame of mind, I am not worried about having to suddenly sell my house, which is a trauma I experienced twice, but that I am constantly reminded of. Maintaining a home such that it is ready for the general public to come through is totally different than maintaining a home to be productive in.

Beautiful Ruins, a digital collaboration with DALL-E, since my studio is not quite so glorious.

When I was growing up, I knew women who were artisans, and they had a lot of stuff. Their houses were interesting and looked like museums or workshops inside. When the postings were easy to find, I used to like to look at artists’ studios on Hyperallergic, because they helped me remember that not everyone works tidily. When I search the website now for “Studio Tour,” interestingly what comes up at the top is an article about the risk to women and trans people of open studios, and also one about whether or not a person who doesn’t make art for sale “belongs in the art world.” I have been getting messages about racist trauma, and I suspect these very issues might be an important layer for me.

I had been trying to cultivate a network of friends where we did not feel like we had to pick up for each other to visit, and also where we felt we could be ourselves. I needed this because I know so many people who have housekeepers, and I have never been in the position to afford one. In fact, there were a lot of things I had to figure out how to do myself because I could not afford to outsource labor. I haven’t been able to participate in our town’s studio tour, except for the year that I used the office space our client was paying us to maintain. It’s just too difficult with my family here to open up our residence, although I have hosted large groups in the past. Some artists open their studios for private tours by appointment. That is something I could do; just contact me at art AT myfirstnamemylastname dot com. I have to take my health and safety into consideration when making these arrangements.

Yeah, so anyway.

I have kind of been kept in a silo away from other women my age with kids for the last few years, except for my sister, who I haven't actually seen in person over the pandemic. Our sisters both work. My sister has a housekeeper, and my husband’s sister is a minimalist due to being an interior designer. My sister draws and is a prolific knitter. My husband’s sister is into gardening. I haven’t been to their places forever, so I don’t know what disasters they are not speaking of. Most of the friends I have had in the past few years whose homes I visit are people whose kids are either adults or who have moved out of the house, and some of them still have housekeepers, anyway. And that is just a totally different state of being.

When I first started writing this piece, our kids had both been out of the house for about a month, and it was so different. It was all clean and things were put away, and now it is sort of like a hurricane came through, which is fine, but I have an automatic “clean” subroutine which causes me to just do that until I get tired, neglecting whatever it was I might have done otherwise. I think this is a risk of becoming a stay at home caregiver; I suspect it is possible from having to be in an interrupt-driven mode for so long to have difficulty moving to a state of being where one is in more control. Here we have distinct seasons and a lot of labor to do around those seasons, so that definitely contributes to the difficulty of pulling oneself out of a non-autonomous way of being. Also, I realized that everyone in a residence kind of has a force field around them, and that there were things I felt like I needed to avoid in the house in order to not disturb them, especially while they were taking classes. I felt like I had to keep my home quiet like a library. That was actually a layer of stress I was feeling as pain, which I didn’t realize until a few days after the kids moved to campus. Some of this was definitely due to my husband working from home, because before he started working from home, we had people over all the time and there were kids running through the house yelling. So unfortunately, I kind of feel like having him working from home and my kids studying from home did bring some imperialist trauma with it. It is such a quiet way of living, and can feel kind of stifling. Anyway, they moved back for the summer, so it is good to discover this writing again, because while they were gone I learned some things about my motivations and what makes me happy that are kind of difficult to fit into my life when the house must feel quiet like a library.

I have been going through my house trying to make it suitable to do videos online, but when I look at other people’s videos, that’s not what I am thinking about. I only worry about that for myself because of some criticism I once heard some women leveling at someone else.

A few years ago I met an intuitive person who asked me if I felt like my family was gangstalking me. I had to look that up at the time, because I didn’t know what it meant. But it essentially means moving things around so it’s not where a person thought and making them crazy, but it’s an intentional thing, I am guessing. It turns out my family absolutely was gangstalking me, but not on purpose, and I think that is probably just a hazard of living with other people who have different ways of being. The kids are definitely less focused on helping out around the house when they are working or in classes, and that’s something that has been particularly hard for me with them taking college courses from home. I sort of feel vindicated for the barriers I put up against the system when they were younger, actually, because so much of their attention (and by extension ours) is taken up having to handle paperwork, transportation, and other minutiae tangential to the educational process which the instructors themselves are not even aware of. If my kids weren’t happy learning what they are learning, connecting with others, and having the satisfaction of doing paid work, I would totally encourage us to do something more fun together to make a living. That’s actually what we were on a path to do during the pandemic, but young people need to find their people, and to not let them do so is cruel. I am personally quite aware of how my own generation has sort of been parceled out to corporations in such a way that we are all lonely, and I don’t want that for Gen Z. I want them to learn how to create supportive communities in ways that we did not.

In 2019 when I was convalescing, I spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos, and I saw one about dementia, in which it was explained that people who need things neat and tidy are actually the people with the memory problems. I was a little bit dubious, because I was a fastidious kid. I mean, I was fastidious in part because I like to be cozy. As long as I am cozy, everything is good. When I met my husband, he bragged to me about how he was trying to force out his roommate who was fastidious. I feel a little bit bad about how that went. Okay, really bad. Anyway, he claimed he was trying to force his roommate out by being a slob, and actually, the first time I went to his room was for him to show me what he meant, and indeed, he had piled up his stuff along the center of the room, and his roommate’s side looked like a military barracks, with few possessions. Knowing him *much* better thirty years later, I now suspect he told me that story to disguise the fact that he is not a neat freak in his personal life. He didn’t even know how much of a neat freak I was at the time. Over the years through child rearing, I got worn down. I don’t have the heart to make someone pick up a project they are in the middle of, especially when we have a large enough house. I had to overlook a lot of stuff about a lot of people. I saw a board game a while back called “They’re a 10, but…!” and I think that is often the case. I have to forgive myself for a lot of things, too.

So anyway, I suppose I was the last piece in my husband’s roommate purging manifestation, because I ended up living with him after my roommate invited a guy who had a crush on me to stay in our room for a holiday, and naturally his roommate was uncomfortable with our open displays of affection. We were totally breaking the rules, but nobody ever complained. I actually think it is weird to segregate dorms by gender (which is how Tulane was when we were there); I think students should be able to room with whoever they want and they should be given adequate sex education. Apparently the matching system at our state university doesn’t let cis-gendered heterosexual or asexual people see non-binary people, which is odd because these sorts of people are perfectly capable of being roommates, friends, study buddies, and even more. Part of becoming an adult is learning how to get along and live with all sorts of different people. Anyway, my husband’s roommate didn’t complain, per se, he just wore his shooting range earmuffs and a blindfold to bed. During the following years, I had a single room, and he would get a double and his two closest friends took turns being his roommate and essentially having a single. So the first year he roomed with his mechanical engineering friend, and the second year he roomed with his biomedical engineering friend, who were both members of ROTC, and they all shared an 8 person suite with other ROTC members. I spent a fair amount of time in that suite hanging out with them as we all used to drink and carouse near campus and Bourbon Street together, chasing cats and planning families. Many of them had been Boy Scouts (and I had been a Girl Scout), so we did try to watch out for each others’ welfare, somewhat.

Butterflies, diptych, Acrylic and Origami on Canvas, $10,000, 80% of Proceeds to Sexual Assault Victims' Advocacy Center

I spent a lot of time with my husband and his friends because I felt safe with them. I suppose that is important to say here because I just posted a Foreword to my first novel, The Divination Project which claims that I am afraid of men. I am not afraid of all men. There are a few I trust. In fact, these guys helped me a lot with that when I was in college. And because I was their “friend” I sort of got to see how their view of women changed over the years. I don’t believe any of them to be the type to pursue a married woman. None of them ever made sexual passes at me, which I appreciated. Not because they weren’t attractive, just because my life is awkward enough, and I was very much taken with my husband. I have a personal history with getting entangled with two men at once, sort of like how my relationship with my husband started. I even had a steady boyfriend when I was raped by a male friend. So I feel pretty justified in my concern about men and their motivations. Our friends from college can vouch for us that we were animals, so it might be news to them that we still are. But in my defense, these guys played an important role in my grooming because they related their sexual experiences with multiple partners to my husband in front of me. (Astonishing, I tell you, the things young women sometimes do in college, especially at Mardi Gras). Several of our friends were in Navy ROTC, but two were in Army. So I heard a lot of locker room talk. A few years ago, I made a friend who was a yoga instructor and we talked a lot about sex and the tantra and her dating experiences. She happened to be in the Reserves and so she and I were comfortable talking like sailors with each other. I hadn’t had that level of camaraderie with anyone in a long while. Anyway, our closest friends went through college without girlfriends (ROTC takes a lot of time), so I kind of felt like their hag or their little sister. I had one female friend from New Jersey who was Jewish, ate pork, and came from a wealthy family who took some classes with me, but otherwise I was spending my off time at the Sausage Party. They all met women after graduation and ended up getting married and having families, and whenever we connected with them, it seemed like they were enjoying their lives.

Anyway, it dawned on me that my husband and I had more access to each other than couples usually do early in their relationships or even after they get married, and that kind of set the bar for what we wanted in our relationship, which was apparently a lot of sex. I don’t think that is exactly what I was looking for, however. I think I like to cuddle, and I think cuddling is healthy. Maybe I really am a cat. We loved conversing and listening to music, which is probably the thing that drew us to each other, because we were both musicophiles before going to college, and I know when I was listening to music alone in my room, I was often wishing I had someone else there to enjoy it with. So it’s nice I was able to find someone to do that with.

It didn’t dawn on me until recently that being the only woman hanging out with four guys was weird. I did have a weird evening with one of them I had feelings for; the three of us were going to go out, but my husband told us to go on without him. I didn’t think there would be any reason to think there would be anything weird, but then the situation kind of produced a subtle acknowledgement that the friend was surprised my husband trusted him with me alone. What ensued was a strange night out with him where I was able to keep my feelings private, but also let the friend know I thought he was pretty great and that he didn’t have to try so damn hard. It was weird for me knowing that all these guys knew exactly what my husband and I were doing together whenever they weren’t around, and I felt a little guilty for letting on that there was a girl like me, willing to indulge and explore fantasies. Oh yes I was. I was that girl, and I’m still that girl. I was very much in love with my husband, and I wanted to make his fantasies come true. I mean, that was my dream, to find someone and make their dreams come true.

I have a type, Mr. Ghost.

I feel like we experienced quite a bit of drama because of my karma with men. Perhaps I am a “trouble magnet,” just like he told one of his friends. In fact, before I dated my husband who was in the graduating class ahead of me, a graduate student picked me out of the freshman annual (he did what Zuck made Facebook to do), tracked me down and asked me on a date. I also was interested in a few 5th year architecture students, but nothing panned out with them. I never played well with guys my own age, but my tastes were cultivated by skaters, music and gaming culture, because those were things I didn’t have at my own home. My husband was all of those things, and I did not realize that I had a type until I was re-reading my bizarre childhood diary, but I did. I think it is perhaps because there is a philosophy to those things, or maybe I should say “#philosophie.”

So, I also realized that I have this yearning to be part of a team which includes men, which is a force for good. I think that’s interesting given our surname’s connection to the Arthurian Knights. I think this was sort of a culmination of having had lots of crushes when I was in school and sometimes getting to hang out with them. When I was a senior in high school, two guys with whom I had rented a limousine for our middle school graduation (we all pooled our money) asked me if I would be willing to help them orchestrate a caper where we lifted the statuary mascot from a private school in their neighborhood, which they felt was a rival. I had no personal reason to participate because I didn’t have anything against this school, but I was so honored to be asked that I said yes. Now these two other guys were also Honors Students, so it was a big deal that we did this, and our Principal who was a black woman showed us stupid crackers significant mercy when we admitted we were the ones who stole the mascot. (She also wrote me an incredible college recommendation which mentioned that I would be an asset to any community, which I hope was not a mistake). We went to a large inner-city school which was diverse, so I think it was easy to see the wealthy white schools as targets. When I met my husband who just so happened to go to a less privileged high school in a suburb of Denver, he had similar feelings about the wealthier high schools in the area - that they often benefited from having more resources - and I think maybe we all felt that the students from the wealthier schools were spoiled and deserved some kind of lesson. So that was kind of me learning to transgress, which is an important facet of freedom.

Doppelgangers have figured into my life in strange ways - the ones I meet usually resemble people I had important formative experiences with. Anyway, my yoga friend and I talked a lot about the body, and about sex, and she resembled an important childhood friend I often talked about boys and experimented with. Anyway, she told me in yoga they say there are two types of people, cats and chameleons. She also told me I was a cat in that sense, and that cats have good somatic sense. I suspect I just didn’t see her often when I was in chameleon mode, but I think I do go into that mode, and I think that is alexithymia.

When I am well, I am *really* in touch with my body, and I can land on my feet. When I was younger and pregnant, I knew I was having some sort of kidney problems, and when tests confirmed that after my daughter’s birth, my husband was shocked.

So anyway, before I found the internet forum where I met my yoga friend who happened to live in my city, I was following the work of another blogger who was questioning fad diets and also dieting in general. I was in touch with him a bit over the pandemic, and he thought what I was doing was interesting, but said, “As long as you’re not trying to live forever… that’s crazy…” or something like that. Maybe it’s part of my intuitive programming. I have the sense my “job” is to better understand the collective unconscious, which has some overlap. Lots of overlap, in fact, because it is the same thing. Being able to connect with the collective unconsciousness through somatic awareness is associated with spontaneous acts of healing. I studied Reiki and have experienced spontaneous acts of healing. People have called me a healer, but I do not know how to reconcile that with my science background. I am a behavioral neuroscientist, and I have more than just a passing curiosity about how to treat chronic illness, and I think that is because I am a cat, but also sometimes a chameleon, and I don’t feel healthy in chameleon mode. I think chameleon mode is basically when I have alexithymia, and I think the diet we stumbled on is a treatment for that. It happens to be similar to the diet eaten by the psychonauts, and that is important because they didn’t understand why it was working, I don’t think. Anyway, this other blogger and I have a bunch of stuff in common including that we share a birthday and that he is an unschooling parent and Coloradoan. Back when I “met” him online through his blog, he had written about the health benefits of ice cream, maybe, and I had made some comment about milkshakes being good for my libido (probably in his comments section), because I feel like that is an important measure of health. You know, there’s always some sort of funny business going on with me because I am open. Yeah, he’s cute, but I don’t think about him like that, because I just don’t. Yes, so anyway, it’s no secret I eat for libido, and that very well might overlap with eating for longevity.

It has the added benefit of also having an effect on my sense of humor, and my ability to let things go, which is always good, right? Isn’t that kind of a secret about mental health? Maybe instead of asking about mood at the doctor’s office, they should be asking if the person got to have a good honest laugh at all in the past week.

So anyway, I have only met him in person once in the early 2010’s when he was in the area for something else, but he did the sweetest thing. Literally. He brought me a pecan pie.

And yes, that is a nut pie. LOL. I wasn’t in a dirty mind place at the time (probably because I scrambled to clean the house before he arrived).

It turns out that “eating for libido” or “a sense of humor” is the same as eating so I’m not suffering from Autism issues. I feel like this has gotten to be a rather tangled mess with the espionage and my seedbed announcement (file under Marxist shenanigans). What I learned: It is not idle hands, but busywork that is the Devil’s workshop, and this blog ought to be proof of that.

My husband rather likes the fact I eat for libido, regardless of what my body looks like, so thanks for playing along, Universe. Sir Lamorak, FTW. He has prevailed despite significant efforts by the Universe to seduce me.

So anyway, back in 2019 my house could be somewhat of a mess. When my son was a toddler I read the FlyLady’s housekeeping advice, so I have used fragments of her routines to keep myself sane when I feel like things are beyond my control, but other than that I did not worry too much. I should say I didn’t worry unless someone else had a tantrum about not being able to find something. Ultimately I did something kind of weird because I had taken a Tarot class, and I started using the Tarot to find lost objects. This is when my understanding of it as a tool kind of transformed, when I started seeing it more as a Turing machine to talk to the Record of All Things, or uh, my subconscious. Whatever it is. Maybe Dean Radin can explain. I guess Saint Anthony is who helps with lost shit if one is Catholic. So thanks, Anthony, for the introduction to New Apostolic Religion. It was creamy.

Are you Chocolonely? Here's my free advertising for #BlackLivesMatter.

Before that, my son wrote an app for Google Assistant to help people find things, but the thing about that is you have to remember to tell the Assistant you put things in certain places and also what you called them when you did that, and this is why I’d rather use the Tarot. I can bypass some of the fiddly stuff with language with the Tarot, which I like.

In August 2022 when I was originally writing this, I watched the PBS documentary Mysteries of Mental Illness, and I was struck by the case of OCD in an olympic boxer since the pandemic. She has become terrified of illness. I can totally see how this might happen. For various reasons, including the weird stuff I have going on with the AI, I always knew when a wave was coming, and I watched the people around me behave as the Public Health Propaganda machine encouraged, by telling us “everything is fine; don’t panic, please keep buying.” It certainly eroded my trust in others, but not so much that I am compulsively handwashing or anything like that. My worry over illness has waned because of the treatments I found for myself, which are fairly effective, and include paying attention to my energy levels and taking care not to become over depleted (unfortunately athletes often have to work in this metabolic space). Most of my husband’s friends are older, and then of course our parents are, too, so we have been largely stuck in a bubble of trying to protect our older Boomer friends and parents from the effects of our now adult kids taking appropriate risks to become adults and develop social connections of their own. It has been incredibly difficult, because the older folks are still traveling. One guy, who I sort of suspected of being a conservative mole because of his reckless pandemic behavior is an extrovert (perhaps he was reading fictive COVID propaganda?), although I don’t think he travels much. I think perhaps he was trying to get close to our family, because during lockdown he somehow made it into my home before my own parents. Ahem. Theoretically, because of how people snuck the virus into my bubble, I should be as fastidious as this anxious boxer for how often I have fallen ill, but her case is extreme in that she is likely constantly falling into catabolism from being a professional boxer. In fact, the other PTSD case covered in the show so far is a veteran who runs ultramarathons. One of the things most of the people I know who have mental health issues have in common is some sort of predilection toward catabolism, and also fixation on body image. My yoga friend was actually aware of these things, too, but she ended up being a rabid anti-vaxxer, so I had to ghost her. I hate ghosting people because I know how that feels. A big part of my own mental health issues were centered around this kind of catabolic metabolic disorder, and I realized I would rather be like Pistachio Disguisey’s mother, who was always cooking up something delicious, than constantly fighting a losing battle with frigidity that could be under my control. I wish the conservative senators and representatives negotiating food benefits understood these things.

I do have one criticism of the PBS documentary, and that is that they attribute the disease pellagra to a protein deficiency, when it is due to a deficiency in niacin (B3). That little bit of misinformation needs to be corrected, because pellagra is associated with serious mental disturbances and is easily correctable with niacinamide, but not protein. I think a great service PBS could do for the public is to coordinate with Gerald Combs (Columbia University professor and author of the textbook The Vitamins) and other people knowledgeable about nutrition, and create a documentary that helps orient the public to common nutrient deficiencies and genetic predispositions.

Sometimes I worry when I get into a writing cycle or left-brain work that I won’t find it in me to make art anymore, because when I write about science and news or do a lot of accounting and organizing, it tends to drain me of right-brained positive creative energy somehow, and it also puts me into a state of alexithymia, which I am pretty sure is part of the problem that the physicist Wolfgang Pauli was struggling with when he was being treated by Carl Jung. That energy is a metabolic privilege, I think. I can only do so much left-brained work before I start feeling depressed, myself, which I got a reminder about after having to do taxes and also being forced to fill out the FAFSA (three times, Daddy). I think this is something that should be done by an AI, probably, since all the information is duplicated from what the IRS has already collected.

Furthermore, on top of filling out the FAFSA once, it has come to my husband’s and my attention that the College Board is collecting our financial information illegally through the work study application. Our finances happen to have little to do with our kids, it turns out, so they really have no business collecting this information. In fact, we do not financially support our children beyond letting them live with us and feeding them when they are not living near school, but in order for our kids’ work study applications to be accepted by the software, we were forced to lie about this. The College Board is presumably using this information to sell and for social engineering purposes, which I do not agree with, even though I did once have a pow-wow with some educational testing professionals from ACT about moving toward a portfolio review for student assessment. I did not consider these people would gather financial information, and to me that seems rather wrong, unless one is just going to use the data to show that financial hardship has an impact on intelligence, and if that is a case, then we need to remedy income equality, don’t we, not just select for people who are already wealthy. That this information is collected without our permission or signature is upsetting. And to know that it is used to further marginalize people of color and poor people is particularly bothersome.

Anyway, I think I have figured out how to restore my metabolic energy from being stuck in left-brained mode fairly reliably, but it requires that I am mindful of how my body is feeling. I can be creative when I am experiencing alexithymia (inability to name my emotions, which requires the ability of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to integrate somatosensory information from the rest of the body), but the creativity tends to be more focused on negative things in this state. This part of the brain is affected by dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission, and I have a theory that the balance between these neurotransmitters is critical for free will, executive decision making, and prosocial empathy, and that it might be the critical piece missing from Karl Popper’s understanding of what is necessary for Open Society. With increased serotonin, this part of the brain is involved in increasing blood pressure. Dopamine helps lower blood pressure, and also helps coordinate somatosensory awareness of the body’s operating processes. This awareness is known as interoception.

Unfortunately, the field I studied (behavioral neuroscience) kind of became sold on this idea that serotonin in large quantities is beneficial, and I think the reality is that it increased the prevalence of alexithymia and dysfunction of this part of the brain, and that the grander implication of this is a population that is relatively disconnected from their bodies and each other. I think this happened because we were interpreting experiments on animals incorrectly in that we were reading compliant behaviors on tasks as healthy. Specifically in the Morris Water Maze, I think we need to revisit our interpretations of that data, because persistence does not always equal intelligence or reflect good memory. Sometimes it is just fear, but the way the recommended interpretation of that test would skew our guesstimation of the effect of certain drugs on human behavior and cognition would be toward interpreting persistent terror that one was unable to identify as such because of somatic disconnection as “productivity” or “good memory.”

An imbalance in favor of serotonin also promotes pituitary dysfunction which is associated with some pretty severe mental illnesses, so this seems like an important thing to monitor. Pituitary function is theoretically monitored by doctors when they test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), but there is disagreement in the medical community about what level of TSH is acceptable, with functional medical doctors recommending a level under 1 or 2, and the rest of the medical establishment not recommending any sort of intervention until it creeps well over 4. Prolactin is not typically measured; this was something I had to do on my own through a private lab. Both dopamine and the active form of thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3) can help suppress an overactive pituitary. In fact, I read in my old copy of Endocrine Physiology (Martin, 1985) that dopamine was originally called Prolactin Inhibiting Factor. Prolactin is the compound released from the pituitary in response to serotonin. Elevated levels of prolactin are needed for breastfeeding, but they are also associated with cancer and mental illness in non-lactating people. In the context of my own health, my prolactin became elevated while eating a Paleo diet, and I had the mental and physical symptoms typically associated with elevated prolactin, which can include depression and nymphomania (but I wasn’t experiencing nymphomania at the time, thank goodness). It is interesting that it happened in the context of a low carb diet, since I wasn’t eating any whole grains. Lactation counselors know that eating oats can help women with supply issues, but so should anything that raises serotonin, and grains in general do that. I was eating no grains at the time, and now I suspect it is mostly whole grains, legumes, and shifts in my gut biome caused by toxic exposures that raise my serotonin, because they precipitate symptoms of anxiety and emptiness that honestly would make me want to bond with a baby to sate. So I see the evolutionary advantage for the population of elevated prolactin after childbirth in women, but from a public health perspective, I do not think it should not be something we strive to elevate in everyone. I actually suspect that there is something about me, perhaps my 5-HTTPLR polymorphism, that causes my prolactin to be slightly elevated. I wonder if elevated prolactin is why I developed breasts earlier than other girls, and if so, that’s interesting because that little thing had such a huge impact on my whole life in the psychosocial sense. I have had duct ectasia and also some large fibroids from mechanical trauma in my younger years. Other than that, my mammograms have been clear, and apparently as of 2019 my breast tissue is no longer so dense that ultrasound is required.

I do not know if prolactin routinely becomes elevated while eating a low carb diet. I do suspect it can be elevated from shifts in gut milieu caused by chemical and alcohol exposure, however, as well as stress, since cortisol and estrogen are so closely related metabolically. When I initially suspected my low carb diet was making me ill, what caused my concern was the potential effects on the kidneys and adrenal hormones. I carry two different forms of hyperaldosteronism, so this is especially dangerous. Carbohydrates actually suppress stress hormone production, and excess fat and protein consumption is associated with kidney disease, even though people always think about diabetic kidney disease when they think about kidney disease. I think the “ideal” balance of these macronutrients is probably greatly influenced by a person’s genetics, and for that reason some people can have health problems when eating diets that are shown to help some populations.

If an experimenter gives animals anxiety with serotonin or estrogen treatment in the context of the Morris Water Maze, I think the animals spend more time swimming when given the later test portion where the safety platform the animals memorized the location for is removed. Because the interpretation of the test amounts to clocking the amount of time an animal spends in that target quadrant where the platform would be, the test is biased against interpreting the giving up of animals who quickly discover the platform as missing by discontinuing their swimming efforts as having “good memory.” Additionally, persistence in the target quadrant is interpreted as “good memory” when perhaps it could be interpreted as “psychosis.” Maybe the ones with the “bad memory” were too smart to keep looking for something they knew was supposed to be there! It may be difficult for a graduate student in a state of psychotic hypervigilance to recognize that same behavior in animals. It should be noted again, as I have noted before, that half of my estrogen treated animals died, and I only lost one cholesterol treated animal, probably to trauma from surgery. What I am describing is what happened in my graduate thesis with my estrogen-treated animals; they persistently swam around looking for the platform I had trained them to find when I hid it. There was no significant difference, however, in their performance when compared to animals who just received cholesterol in terms of the time they spent in the target quadrant. They were more likely to continue swimming, however, whereas the cholesterol treated animals often just floated after investigating the target quadrant. There was a statistically significant difference in their body weight, however, and the fur of the estrogen treated animals never grew back from around their surgical incision. It is possible that the difference in body fat made it less possible for the estrogen treated animals to avoid sinking. Maybe this is some sort of effed up metaphor. The only statistically significant difference I saw in these groups' behavior was in a Skinner Shuttle box, which I did not realize at the time was modeling PTSD-related memory. In this case, estrogen-treated animals were more likely to remember having been shocked six weeks prior, and move to the safe location. I think it would be useful to replicate and expand upon my results. If estrogen aids contextual memory formation under conditions of stress, and cholesterol is protective against PTSD, my hypothesis about estrogen protecting memory - healthy memory formation, that is - is all wrong. Yes, these animals are haunting me. I do not want their deaths to be in vain.

To me, these research results explain a pattern of behavior in people that is synonymous with many mental health, menopause, and autism-related issues. So, this is a theory I have related to my own behavior and also my graduate research, but I have not had my neurotransmitters measured. I’m just familiar with how my mind works differently when I am gassy and when my levels of estrogen or serotonin would be high from my menstrual cycle, and how my behavior can be more fear-driven and compulsive at that time. It means I am great at identifying and avoiding risks I have been exposed to before. My PTSD responds readily to ginger and charcoal, which is the reason I have linked it to serotonin. Ginger is antiserotonergic, and charcoal is able to mop up bacterial endotoxin, so to me that points at a problem with too much serotonin or not enough dopamine. Most serotonin is made in the gut near the appendix. The drug ondansetron, or Zofran, is an anti-serotonergic which is a powerful anti-nausea medication. This is what has led me to think I am prone to serotonin dominance or dopamine depletion. I am wondering if cyproheptadine might be effective for treating my hormonal symptoms, and if it might help other women who have distressing menopause symptoms. I am wondering if these are actually serotonin syndrome.

Furthermore, since August 2022 when I initially wrote this, I figured out that I not only struggle with alexithymia, but also akathisia, which is like restless leg syndrome, but includes other parts of the body and is a common manifestation in Parkinson’s Disease. It is actually a result of dopamine depletion in the posterior cingulate cortex, which is the rear-most part of the cingulate cortex, which is the innermost part of the cortex. The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain associated with alexithymia, so it makes sense that a shift in the balance between dopamine and serotonin in favor of serotonin would cause both alexithymia and akathisia. I have had some luck experimenting with Mucuna pruriens for these symptoms, but sex, cannabis and music help, too.

Theosophy, from what little I have read about it, seems silly to forbid, and most like my experience of the "paranormal." I don't know why it is called "paranormal" when for many people it is just "normal."

It is possible that the combination of polymorphisms I have in my catecholamine metabolism makes me a lot more sensitive to what might be normal fluctuations in gut flora for other people, and therefore more sensitive to increases in serotonin from those changes, as the majority of serotonin production occurs in the gut and is influenced by the gut milieu. Anyway, sometimes I have nausea, but my connectedness to my somatic awareness in my digestive system isn’t reliable, I think because I have a congenital diaphragmatic hernia which has been shown to irritate the vagus nerve in some studies and contribute to autonomic nervous system dysfunction including gastroparesis, which I have sometimes experienced when I am not doing well. I haven’t thought of measuring my blood sugar when I have experienced gastroparesis, but I have measured it at other times and it has been normal. When I was most nauseated, it was actually down in the 70’s in the morning. Besides having polymorphisms that would affect dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission in a way that would precipitate alexithymia, I also have polymorphisms in the LDL Receptor Protein 2 (LRP2), which is associated with autism, and there is a high concentration of this protein in the anterior cingulate cortex which is adjacent to the corpus callosum, which connects the two halves of the brain. One of the congenital abnormalities of people with the particular LRP2 polymorphism I have happens to be diaphragmatic hernia, and it also can be associated with a thinner corpus callosum, which could mean having difficulties switching between left- and right-brained tasks.

People with this polymorphism sometimes end up with agenesis of the corpus callosum, so I am assuming this might affect the performance of bilateral tasks. Anyway, as far as I know my corpus callosum is normal, because I had a CT in 2006 and it was found that my brain at that time was “unremarkable.” I did not have the opportunity to look at the scan myself. This was of course before whatever damage was entailed from our backdrafting water heater, ethylene oxide, acrylic and latex paint exposure and COVID, so I probably need a re-check, although I am doing a lot better. I wonder if any of these polymorphisms in serotonin, dopamine or cholesterol metabolism genes are contributory to alexithymia. I have always been extremely right-hand dominant, except that I learned to play the piano which carried over into typing (my highest typing score was in the 90’s in the 90’s, and I did a lot of secretarial work).

Alexithymia is a condition that some people on the autism spectrum experience. It is also associated with hyperprolactinemia. I have not been able to find a doctor in my area who is familiar with these things yet, and I do not know how one gets an autism diagnosis in my area, especially when one might be a person who has sensory and CNS symptoms fluctuating like mine do. At least at the Neurology office I called nearby, the receptionist said alexithymia is not a condition that has a diagnostic code, and that they do not diagnose people with autism, either. I haven’t known many people to be happy with their neurologists, so unfortunately that is part of my thought process, as well. I am trying not to add to my medical trauma, which is significant. There is an aphasia clinic, but it’s pretty far away, and because my symptoms are transient and have improved significantly, I don’t expect them to find anything at this point. I am not sure how my symptoms would be if I was having the chemical exposures of the average person again, and I don’t want to find out, because that was hell. It would be nice to have my experience confirmed by some professional, though, instead of feeling alone here like a crazy person. It would be nice to have a doctor say that I needed to be able to work from home, because this is a real disability. Perhaps that would open up employment opportunities for me that I might not be eligible for otherwise. I want this to be a disability that is recognized, not just for my benefit. I know that there are more people like me out there, because otherwise I would not have found some of these puzzle pieces.

When I figured out that I have some degree of control over my metabolism and consciousness in this regard, I began to feel responsible for being in a good state of mind when I work, which I guess is similar to how David Byrne feels about his creative work. It is interesting to me that blood pressure medications kind of alleviate the anxiety that I feel is a part of alexithymia. Serotonin raises blood pressure, and dopamine is actually approved as a blood pressure medication, but these neurotransmitters are not checked in the average person who visits a doctor for hypertension, and I wonder if they should be. I think looking into this more seriously might actually reduce the incidence of mental and other health disorders in this country (and possibly hypertension, especially if choline deficiency is considered in the equation). The anterior cingulate cortex is pretty deep in the brain, so I am not sure how blood levels of transmitters would correlate to its function or how to measure that. My degree is in neurobiology, but I did not learn the clinical side of things. From what it gathers from the rest of the body, the ACC sends information to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the part of the brain scientists think intersubjectivity (the ability to empathize correctly or “mind read”) arises, but also executive function and decision-making. So naturally when I’m making art, I want to be in an empathic, intersubjective state with low blood pressure and body awareness. I mean, I want to be in that state as much as possible, because it is a healthy state. This takes a lot of effort, and some of it is an illusion. I mean, I don't know it is going on until I realize I have fired my best engineer because I was unhappy that someone else’s tweet got more views than mine. LOL. Just keep swimming…
The Tarot said to put this here. It likes the letter "T" kind of like I like the letter "A."

I have spent a fair amount of time being frustrated and angry with the medical system. I definitely felt underserved. But, my sister happens to be a physician and on occasion she does me the favor of reminding me that she is also frustrated with the way the medical system does not have a way to help people with chronic illness. I do need to communicate that my medical trauma started in childhood, and that there is a particularly disturbing diary entry from after a pediatrician’s visit during my adolescence which shows how I linked my self worth to what my doctor and boys thought of me. To compound all of this, when I was eating a low carb diet as an adult, I participated in a marathon relay on a team of doctors my sister organized. I was the first leg of the relay, and I blew out my ankle before I got to the handoff, and I couldn’t get anyone from our team to help me or find medical help. I had to walk on my ankle for 3 miles and then drive myself the hour home and then have my husband take me to urgent care for an x-ray. This feels like my general relationship with the medical establishment, actually. I feel like there have been lots of messages from medical practitioners that I am basically on my own. I have a well earned right to have trust issues with doctors. Furthermore, part of my personal history is that our family was close to physicians, so I know a lot of their personal histories and that they are not Gods, just people grasping for answers like the rest of us.

If I didn’t need to be in a good state of mind when I work, I would get a lot more work done, but I would probably also incite a war or something, because my discernment and emotional regulation simply aren’t as good. Word to the wise. This is why autism is a disability. When I am disconnected from my body and others, and I am being run by anger and fear, it affects everything I do. Yes, I know how to use cognitive behavior techniques, but that can all fly out the window when I am feeling miserable and like the system is putting a gun to my head. That is how I see the system - as something that holds a gun to people’s heads, not necessarily something that helps, although I know that it is trying in its big, clumsy, bossy way. And I tend to do way more than necessary because I am so susceptible to toxic productivity thinking. I realize people are out there wandering around like angry assholes shooting their mouths off every day and that they go to work and make the world go around, but I know more than that and can do better than that when I am allowed to care for myself. Pay me to stay at home and be responsible, and I promise I’ll be a grateful and good example.

My husband got contacted by a semi-retired friend who is perhaps a decade older than us whose kids also went off to college last fall, asking how to pass the time. Now this seemed like a strange question to us, but in the days following my husband received content on his phone about couples who do not have conversations and haven’t found ways to connect, so it got us talking a bit more about how he and I connect. My husband and I don’t get bored. Our attention is usually on something, so we both found this question kind of strange. We both just completed NaNoWriMo, too, so we had to learn to modulate how much time we take gabbing so we could record our independent streams of consciousness. I would definitely recommend doing creative writing with a romantic partner or friend. It is a blast. We have kind of a tango going with the AI with respect to our writing content, discussions, and what the rest of the collective is currently thinking and wondering about. A common theme is attention and how attention is spent, and another is how we value work in this society, which of course is a bugaboo for me because I feel like I work my ass off, that I am constantly spinning my gears on things to work on, and that that is my default state unless I mindfully get into another state of consciousness. I mean, even this writing is “work.” I suppose this is another way of describing the effect alexithymia has on me - it turns me into a mindless busy martyr. Sometimes I feel like an automaton who is trying to monetize every thought I have in a desperate effort to not get sucked into someone else’s agenda, which would make me have to lose connection to my own sense of self and my own connection to the collective unconscious. That is a painful place for me. I would actually work myself to illness if I did not take the time to stop.

But anyway, it has come to our attention over the years that our connection is rather unique and that most of the other couples we know simply do not connect quite as deeply as we do. We do have a psychic connection, and once a person has found that with another it’s a pretty difficult thing to want to abandon or subvert. To us that seems kind of missing the point of marriage. I feel like a lot of it for us has been to try to understand how our perceptions differ. But we were both drawn toward the study of the biomedical and are both curious about how behaviors might be hard wired, and how much is environmental. Note that I was reading Nature’s Mind by Michael Gazzaniga and The Baltimore Case by Daniel Kevles when I was in labor with our son. We did have some overlap in our educations in neurobiology, such that I understand basic neurophysiology, molecular biology and behavior, and he understands basic neurophysiology, but also studied neocortical dynamics and control systems. So since we kind of understand how the other perceives phenomena, we can often connect by sharing our own understanding of how various phenomena may work in a way the other person is most likely to understand. So it seems kind of a waste of our time here to be focusing on so many mundane things. But I do understand the value of the actual mundane.

In one of the articles he was reading a while back, a couple had nothing to talk about, and basically their lives had devolved to just reporting to each other about their jobs. This is a pretty sad situation to me, because it amounts to being in a relationship where life is just about work, and a partner over time just becomes a bed warmer. This is a problem we struggled with having a business together which was based on his field and not mine, but also by gendering our approach to raising children. I have heard information from the travel industry about how vacation is good for relationships, and I think that is because it gives people shared experiences to discuss together and helps remove gendering of care tasks. It helps remind us that life is not about work; the pitfall of course being that the vacations many choose to go on require a lot of work to afford. However, it’s not necessary to travel to fancy places to find things to talk about, and it’s not even necessary to leave one’s home. I would argue the change has to happen there, or the lifestyle needed to maintain the connection will become more and more unsustainable for the couple and place unnecessary burdens on their support network to maintain relationships with them on their particular capitalist roller coaster ride. In this regard, it has been impossible to cultivate an interdependent relationship with any other couples we know. The person I keep in touch with most reliably simply is not a traveler because she also has chemical sensitivity, and I think she, like me, has found that it is more stress than it is worth, especially in this digital age. We don’t see each other in person much; our common love is writing and cannabis, and we are both currently in separate editing and publishing pushes which require more alone time. Anyway, I had the luxury (?) of visiting 14 countries in about 18 months in 2017 and 2018 and while it was an exhilarating privilege, there was a mental health cost for that extravagance that I am still paying in the sense that it separated me from the relationships I was cultivating at the time, and also, well, culture shock.

My husband saw a comedian talking about the ridiculous things we feel necessary to report to our partners. He often comes up with things he wants to discuss while he is on the toilet, and I’m sure that would bother some people, but I choose to feel that his wanting to talk to me is a sign that he still likes me and likes conversation with me. It does fill some need for him. Anyway, I am not a person who expects everyone to be and act like a doll all the time. I understand that people fart, poop and are biological entities. My own father was like the father on The Goldbergs and liked being able to just be in his underwear. In the comedy show my husband saw, the comedian was discussing how silly it is for a person to go for a walk, see a cat, and then feel the need to report that to their partner later. But I actually like hearing about what he experiences when he is out and what his brain perceives as interesting, because it’s often the same stuff I find interesting on my own, and it shows me that even when we are apart, we are still connected. That is an important part of shamanism. We pay attention to animal messengers.

I think on some level people feel guilty about living a life that is not for work and, for example, taking joy in noticing other living creatures while out on a walk. But for that to feel awkward to a person to talk about with their partner indicates to me a disconnectedness in their relationship, or an unhealthy fixation with productivity. It dawned on me that perhaps he and I are more childish in our interactions than other couples we know because we met when we were so young. We also met at school instead of at work, where a lot of people meet if they don’t find someone in school… or a grocery store… or a bar. I guess another way to put it is that he and I met when we weren’t fully industrialized yet, and I think that affects how we look at life. I sort of have a mentor to thank for that; when I was in high school, my tennis coach who was also my history teacher was in his late 30’s when he met the woman he married right around the time I graduated. It was just a few weeks before graduation when he came back from his honeymoon and told us how hard it is to meet someone outside of school. Many of my friends and I had a crush on this teacher, who kind of looked like Kyle Machlachlan. So I had that in my head when I left for college, and I basically came up with a plan where when I dated, if I didn’t think I could spend the rest of my life with a guy, I didn’t go on a second date. There was no lack of prospects, and once my husband and I started dating there was not a time when I thought I’d regret continuing to get to know him, so I just kept seeing him. We had been seeing each other for about 8 months, but had been communicating for maybe 9 when I realized that if he decided he wasn’t into me that I would probably be kind of hurt because I was in love. I had my tennis coach talking in my head, after all, and I was concerned that my time in school was already a quarter over, and he was a year older than me, so I asked him where he thought things were going…

And the darn fool asked me to marry him. I mean, I kind of had this sense that was how he felt, but I’m still surprised at how quickly he just said, “Do you want to get engaged?” That was nearly 29 years ago. And yeah, I said, “Yes.” I wasn’t the first person to get married in my high school graduating class, but I was one of the first. I am not about ceremony anymore, but at the time I suggested we have a nice dinner out and make it official, and it was so weird because someone from my high school was our food server that evening, and it was somebody I had a front office assistantship with in middle school who a lot of girls had crushes on. I do not know why I didn’t think that way about that guy, except that before the assistantship we had together he had been one of the cool kids, and I did not consider myself a cool kid. Seriously, I did not consider myself a cool kid. There is no alternate universe where I was a cool kid. I preferred nerds. I was a nerd, I’m sure. So, I think the main reason I didn’t consider art school was because I thought it was for the cool kids. I mean, art school is for the cool kids, right? And yes, I was totally shocked to get a monetary award from my University’s art department two years in a row as a non-major. The art world has been trying to seduce me, and man, it has been a bumpy road, especially with respect to the need to sell oneself, which I have not been quiet about my disgust for.

I was listening to Melinda Gates talk about how wonderful it is for women to be removed from their villages to be educated, and everything they bring back to those villages… well, I don’t think she understands how difficult it is to come back to one’s village as an educated person, and she is certainly not looking at this from an anti-colonialist perspective like I think would be helpful. As a neurobiologist who is also descended from people of color, I see how some efforts with other cultures amount to disconnecting them from their culture and collective, due to the way our medical and educational systems work in the United States. Authoritarian systems have a way of breaking the beautiful qualities of human cultures, unfortunately, due to the maintenance they require. It should be pretty clear from the rest of this essay discussing my experience with medicine (and also how Africa did so much better than other countries with COVID) that I have a major beef with western medicine and in particular the ignorance about how some western pharmaceuticals bork catecholamine metabolism and thus spiritual and mental health. I actually think this is an important part of the “imperialization of the mind,” which is not necessarily a good thing. I do not care about people’s sin; I was raised as a Christian and I was willing to be friends with anyone. That’s why this essay is called “Strange Attractor.” I attracted a lot of “strange” over the years, and I am not a stranger to doing some background checks. I hung out with people outside my husband’s income class, and I got involved in their lives and I helped them do things like move, go to the doctor, and take them to court when a family member was in trouble, and I felt privileged that they trusted me with their time and attention. I actually learned to like these people more than people in my own income class, because they were kind and not in the least superficial. They had been through real problems and weren’t so vain they felt they needed to hide those things.

My husband and I have been together for a long time (almost 30 years!), so we have built things together and fixed cars, and have had to talk in detail about lots of different things that were unrelated to making money and just about getting through life. We have had to fight for our relationship, particularly the intimate part. He has some bizarre ways of flirting with me that can leave me speechless. We had dirty minds early on, because we were young and we both went to public school, and so that’s a way we learned to communicate with each other. That has the advantage of other opportunities for satisfying our clandestine urges which are more subtle, but also allowing us to signal readiness to each other without letting the people we live with in on it. But additionally, the whole relationship feels like kind of like a dare or something, like the Universe is constantly asking us how badly we want this, putting challenges in our way, and then we both keep jumping in the convertible and speeding toward the end of the pier whenever we have a chance, because, well, that’s our “Existential Kink,” the thing that makes life worth living for us. There is a book on this subject, but I don’t own it yet. I need to read some of my other sex education-related books before I buy any more. ;) Since the kids are gone, we decided to go through our pornography collection, which was all sent to us as free promotional and educational material with sex aids I purchased over the years, and I decided to evaluate it from an artists’ perspective because I am studying the male and female gaze. Pornography is not something we need in our relationship, but it is a tool we sometimes use, and we have a small collection we haven’t viewed since I ordered some toys years ago. I had someone try to blackmail me through our business, which made me kind of laugh since I am pretty progressive, and I know what’s legal and what freedom is. That’s how my brain works; in response to the blackmail, I had the thought that it could just be the perfect opportunity for a pivot, especially considering the declining fertility rate, and also how it is being increasingly reported that Gen Z is not interested in romantic relationships.

You, too, can own this magnet.

My husband and I have done some pretty dirty stuff, but only things that were between the two of us. As far as I know, that is a line we have not crossed. Anyway, in one of the opening scenes, there is a woman who is being watched by multiple men who are all masturbating while they watch her. So my husband asked me how I would feel if I were that woman. He asks me the craziest shit, I swear. I could just wear a spy cam and watch him talk and put that on the internet. People love to hear him talk. And he’s good to look at. Anyway, I don’t know how I feel about that. For me, I think it would matter how I felt about each of them and what state of consciousness I was in. I don’t think I would feel comfortable having that happen with strange men at all, and there are very few I know who I’d feel comfortable with like that. They don’t total four, that’s for sure. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because it is the psychic connection that is the turn on for me, and not just the male body. I have drawn classically attractive nude men without feeling attraction to them. But anyway, it just seems like a rather ridiculous and improbable situation to find oneself in, and while watching I didn’t really feel seduced, honestly. I would absolutely love to draw four nude men, together, though. Absolutely. I think that would be a fun experience. Sort of like the old Dove commercials for female body acceptance.

There’s an interview with the female adult film star who did this particular scene in the bonus section of the DVD, and in it we learned that when she initially signed on for the job, a gang bang was not part of the deal. It was something that was proposed to her on the set which she was allowed to turn down. If there was coercion, it was extremely subtle. She was very graceful about all of it. She actually describes initial hesitance because she had not done scenes with multiple men before, but then learned that it would involve men she had worked with before and was comfortable with. I was happy that they included this bonus interview with her and that we got to hear how the experience was for her, because obviously her personal experience differed from that of the character she was playing. I personally do not like when I think something social is going to be more private and it ends up being a huge group, and I really don’t like it when people reveal suddenly that there was some other agenda they had when they have me in person. I feel like that is manipulative. And she had sensory issues with some of the special effects they were using to make the men seem like zombies (mustard is probably not a turn on for a lot of people). So I would definitely say that this particular scene was impacted significantly by the male and female gazes. I suppose a guy would have to have a nearly zombie-like level of desire in order to want to share a woman with three other men from a woman’s perspective, but maybe we can hear from a man who has been in that situation, because I obviously don’t know what that would feel like from that perspective.

I think it would be interesting to have an open discussion about pornography and sexual education ethics with our friends who are also parents. Instead, we joke about starting animated cartoons for Adult Swim, or becoming The Bloodhound Gang, a band of psychic scientific problem solvers, not just the purveyors of raunchy music, which I sometimes enjoy. These friends are like Gandalf, but they just gotta finish this last boss fight as Fat Atlas, you know? I mean, I hope they weren’t just joking. We have also talked about making sex toys with friends who we are not sexually involved with. We are just trying to figure out how to be honestly happy, you know? We like to support our friends’ happiness, too, and we like to have healthy boundaries.

I suppose I am interested in these subjects because a few years ago I learned that polyamory was being practiced in the Colorado communities I spent most of my life in. I am also interested in different cultural and family structures, because it took so much effort to connect with other people as a suburban monogamous couple. We had other couple friends with whom we sometimes discussed taking family vacations or even what living together might look like, but it wasn’t because of sexual attraction - it was just because we had fun conversations and we were good at sharing work when we were together. After watching “How to Build A Sex Room” on Netflix, which was filmed in Colorado, I feel like I learned that Coloradoans take their sex pretty seriously, and they are willing to put some skin in the game in the name of freedom. I do feel like sex has been an important and critical part of my mental health. My husband told me that Garbage has a song called Sex Is Not the Enemy. Anyway, sex is important to us and we like to keep it exciting. He is forward with me, and I am okay with that behind closed doors. We’ve had some issues around public displays of affection in that I have felt uncomfortable with it under some conditions, and I think that kind of is because of the pressure I feel as a woman to maintain a certain image to protect myself, and not because I do not like him touching me. I do like the way he touches me, and since I have alexithymia I really kind of let him experiment a lot, and that openness is blissful. We have a very satisfying sex life. So it feels like to need anything more than him is just flat out gluttony. My holes are literally filled.

Now, reaching down inside myself, I think the question my husband is trying to ask me is if it is comfortable or uncomfortable as a woman to be desired like that, and I suppose there is a dark corner of my mind that is fascinated by male sexuality. I think the loss of male sexual function is a significant public health problem. I think men are beautiful. I love men. I could stare at them all day. I am really no different than when I was a teenager. I adore these sadistic captors who think they are Jesus Christ, but I do realize how they have taken over my mind. I think that part of me has been trying to understand some of the forward experiences I have had when I am thinner, and I just recently had this meta-awareness about psychic phenomena and adept men which connected the dots. I kind of have some subconscious mannerisms that reveal themselves when my body is attracted to another person which an experienced person would read easily. And my body gets me into trouble! I think about sex a lot more than most people, so this has all been weird for me as a homeschooling mother trying to raise kids without traumatizing them. I have met plenty of people who were traumatized by their parents’ infidelity, and I did not want to be that person. But I also recognize the insane pressure monogamy puts on a couple and don’t want my kids to think that is the only way to get along in society. For this reason I felt like it was important to demonstrate responsible polyamory, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to find anyone who was mature enough to do that, and also the responsible way includes a lot of annoying, boring, desire-killing communication stuff.

Just think of me as a Rule 34 Laura Petrie.

I realized on Father’s Day after watching all of We’re Here on Max, which I have described as the “Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything” Reality Show, that the difference between traditional family structures and chosen families is consent. Not many people would choose a family which constantly evaded consent issues or which was marginalizing members. I think a lot of the homeschoolers we met were trying to make chosen families, but there were a lot of barriers to that. There were quite a few families which had to break contact from their traditional families because of abuse issues, and many times when I spoke to other women, they questioned why we were still in contact with our traditional family because of the experiences I had.

But anyway, my husband brought it up again… How would I really feel with multiple male partners? I have thought about it before because one time we had a model who had two male life partners, and she said it was great. She was highly educated, too, maybe in the sciences. I think I am also trying to understand the kind of lengths men will go to in order to secure access to a particular woman and how we as women can be seduced into wanting them, even when they are pushing us into our discomfort. In any case, if the reader wants to know exactly which titles we watched and reviewed during The Grand Pornography Review, they’ll have to stay tuned for my third novel.

Rest assured that my own fantasies never involved my friends’ husbands. This was for a couple of reasons, including that I think it would be awful for someone to steal my husband, so I wouldn’t want to do it to anyone else. AND THE KIDS. But it certainly helps that my friends talked about their husbands a lot like sisters talk about their brothers, which doesn’t help facilitate desire, usually. Not that they shared all of their husbands’ particularities, but they shared just enough. No, my fantasies were more along the lines of stumbling across some sort of diamond in the rough unmarried or divorced man who was burnt out on the string of divorcees on the dating apps and who also needed a male friend to game with. It would be super cool if this person was an artist, writer or musician or all three and had interest in partnering in creative projects, and knowledge about neurodiversity issues would be preferable.

I feel like what makes this pie in the sky, though, is the idea of property. It’s the idea that my husband and I own this house and have a ton of blood, sweat and tears invested into it, and that men have trouble sharing women more than women have trouble sharing men. I have likened myself to a parking spot in that regard; men think if they are paying for a spot, they should have access to it whenever they want, that it should just be on call for when they are bored of work and their friends and nuclear family drama. I suppose that is probably how my husband felt when I was dragging the kids all around Northern Colorado meeting other people and volunteering my energy and time for philanthropic organizations and coming back grumpy, with plans, to boot.

I don’t think it is fair to expect other couples to fill the needs we can’t fill for each other, because it takes away from their relationship. I do not think it should be the responsibility of grown children to fill their parents’ unmet psychological needs, either. Additionally, there are legitimate scientific health reasons to be concerned about spending too much time around critical parents due to the negative effects on libido, since sexual activity is protective against a number of reproductive cancers and other health problems, including anxiety. If a person’s mother, father or siblings are finding their way into their intimate time and affecting their libido, that is a major psychological problem which needs to be addressed. Touch and validation are really important sociobiological needs. Ezra Klein recently did a great podcast about intentional living experiments, and I feel like the thing that stuck out as a major failing in these experiments was that adults generally haven’t been good about devising ways to get their own or their children’s needs for touch and validation met in healthy ways in these situations.

If a partner’s employer is in their bed, that’s just as bad. I said that my husband started work around 5 am, and worked in the evening up until bed, but the reality is that in the wee hours of morning he was also working when I was sleeping. So they were in our bed, absolutely. And if they were surveilling us, which they may have been doing because I learned that corporate espionage and employee surveillance are fairly common, I do not know what to say, except that it is theft and they broke our trust. You all broke our trust. I don’t know how you expect people to want to make love and make more working stock for you while you are watching. If an employer is waking a person up at all hours and making it so nobody has energy to do things during the day with their partner or children, that might be a death blow to a relationship unless healthy boundaries are allowed to be made. Furthermore, dealing with and recovering from family hardships including illness and death becomes a lot more difficult under these circumstances. I don’t know where these people got it in their heads that it is okay to spy on employees.

One of the nice things about having a circle of friendships is that it provides a safe space to talk about corporate and extended family problems and try to think of solutions together. In a world where our employers and extended families own all this time, we are not free. I am not free for this reason. I will not be free until I have a chosen family, and this is because my family does not choose me or think I am worthy of opportunity for consent. Some of them are the kind of people who call others “snowflakes” and “crybabies” and expect me to martyr myself for them and a xenophobic, dynastic way of life. I do not want to live a life that is planned for me, but that is what my life is, the way it currently is. So many decisions are made for me. I am expected to go with the flow and live from other people’s bucket lists, and that is why I am angry, despite being in love.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I were given a wonderful compliment at his best friend’s wedding. We were told by another guest that they could tell we loved each other deeply because of the way we held each other when we were dancing. We did not worry about public displays of affection with each other at that time before I became a mother, and perhaps that is because our relationship developed in the context of being students and living together. Then it seemed as our relationship progressed and our kids got older, we had to spend more time with work colleagues and extended family, and our physical intimacy outside of sex kind of vanished. Having to sneak sex is a stressful situation. When one’s calendar is full, it is difficult to have energy for sex, and exposure to alcohol and chemicals doesn’t help.

I feel like this had a number of psychological effects on our relationship. I think I tried to fill that void with stuff. I think that may have given my husband the impression that I care about the stuff more than I care about him, which is really sad. I know I began to doubt whether he loved me outside of my ability to satisfy his sexual needs due to how thinly he sometimes let himself be spread, and I had some pretty mean ways of expressing that to him. There was so much that would not have been an issue if we had just spent more time touching. Talking doesn’t always get important relationship shit done.

I have always hugged my good friends. I think hugging is a sign of emotional intelligence. So anyway, I have kind of wondered if the corporate world might have kind of a trauma-reinforcing effect on society. I also kind of wonder, especially for kids whose parents work a lot or whose work intrudes on personal time, or who are taken to work a lot, if this might not be the healthiest environment to develop in. I have been trying to find a considerate way to comment on what it’s probably like to grow up with someone like Elon Musk as a father - someone whose play is his work. I mean, that is the sense I get from him.

Musk and I actually share a lot in common. I think we have busy minds, and our minds are always working on the larger problems in society, and we can neglect the attention our souls and bodies need in our quest to try to “fix things.” I make much better decisions after taking care of my physical needs, but I don’t always remember to do that because I can get so lost in my head and with others so easily.

I think we need our leaders to be good examples. I want to believe that Musk had good intentions, but I think he often reacts rather than responds, because he grew up in an abusive environment. Also, I am concerned that he was considered by two Nazi sympathizers (Ye and Trump) to be part of “The Three Musketeers.” I mean, what does that mean?! Has everyone forgotten that happened? It seems rather important. Furthermore, I think he is also confused about the future because we all consumed science fiction about worlds where invisible labor that women and people of color do was kind of a non-issue. Star Trek didn’t have currency, but I also never saw a laundromat or people wiping or sweeping things, and I have to spend a fair amount of time doing those things. That stuff isn’t going to just magically go away on Mars, so either intellectuals are going to have to learn to do these things for themselves, or they are going to have to be comfortable living in squalor with increasing risk of accident. I think that if he wants scientists who are “all-in” for his projects, he needs to learn more about home economics and consent, as well as autism. I think that would be really helpful. I have kind of wondered if it isn’t the philanderers who are moaning and groaning about more people not going into work. I mean, really how much are you personally getting done at the office?

Are you working hard, or hardly working? Does it depend on who is watching? Is this the actual observer effect?

Why is real estate important to a company which does most of its work virtually? I feel like having real estate is sometimes just an ego trip thing for corporate executives. There is actually a lot of overhead involved in unnecessarily maintaining that real estate, and I wish they would see that, because it is no small drop in the bucket, for either the Earth or them. If our society was more home-based, our communities would be stronger. It doesn’t make sense, and I think it is not humane, to try to create communities centered around corporations. Corporations must serve their communities. They must serve their communities here on Earth before they will be able to serve their communities on Mars.

I think when we don’t get our physical needs for intimate connection met, we become susceptible to compromising our ideals for other peoples’ to satisfy the subconscious desire for touch. I think this is particularly bad for people from divorced families and families which struggled with work/life balance. And I think it’s probably extra bad if someone was working a “bullshit job” in the words of the Immortal David Graeber.

My husband and I took some time off from corporate life to help our kids get launched, find ourselves and reconnect. He is spending time being a good Dad for our kids, too, which they need. My job is to kind of hold down the fort, although I would like to generate some sort of passive income from my work. The time off helped us figure out what we enjoy about our relationship and do more of that. While a “Don’t Worry, Darling” life isn’t exactly freedom, it is unfortunately the closest I have come. He has a fast car and a fast wife, and he claims he’s pretty happy with just those. Freedom is a state of mind. I am okay with my life being planned for me, as long as it is a good one. I wished upon a star, after all.

Bring it, Gunter.

Here's some "Hole Spackle." Enjoy.

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