Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Frying Pans, Fires, Bivouacs, Handwashing, and General Skullduggery

Now that I look back on it, moving “up here” (sorry, folks in the Southern Hemisphere) was a bit like leaving the frying pan in the southern Front Range of Colorado and jumping right into the fire. I was initially opposed to it because it was “almost Wyoming, FFS,” but the opportunity arose because a friend of mine from my son’s playgroup suggested my husband apply to the place her husband was working. She said it was a great place to work, and that her husband was happy there, even though the company had recently given 10 percent pay cuts to its entire workforce. To my surprise, there was a job posting that combined my husband’s various skills in an unlikely way. Even though the company had recently also had layoffs, there were postings to replace people who had gone into permanent retirement, who had amassed specialized knowledge, which happened to overlap DH’s. The chances of finding something that was such a good fit were pretty low, no matter where we chose to live. On the company’s end, it was going to be a difficult position to fill due to the demands it required and the person leaving having over 30 years of experience. DH has an unlikely set of skills that happened to overlap what was required. He applied, heard back and secured an interview in just a matter of days. It was all very fast. Things tend to happen very quickly for us when the right opportunity presents itself.

The reason we were even looking was because there were layoffs going on where he was working, and the signs were all there that his days were numbered. He had been cleaning out his desk for some time when it happened. Leading up to this we had been concerned about what we would do if he lost his job because we had two car payments and one house payment and in 2005 we were already feeling the economic downturn in our area. In Colorado Springs it was difficult to find work that wasn’t defense-oriented, and that was something he was trying to stay away from, because of the karma. He had done graduate work which was funded by the military and had thought quite a bit about how his work would be used and what he wanted to enable and what he didn’t. The work at that time ended up creating the algorithm that ended up being part of facial recognition algorithms, so being someone who is opposed to the Orwellian super-surveillance we currently experience in society, we are extra conscious of how the intelligence we generate might be used for morally reprehensible purposes. Neither of us desire to be Oppenheimers in our work, and unfortunately a lot of science and engineering amounts to the creation of some potentially deadly technology. I had personally worked on genetic engineering (and for the government), so all this stuff that has happened in the past few years was unfortunately really close to home (and helped me anticipate what the reality of the situation was, more so than public officials, even). Anyway, that stuff is really stressful and does take a toll on our bodies, and neither one of us wants to get caught up in technologies that might hurt people.

Shot glass with 3 drops of methylene blue in water - what I take after I have had exposure to excess NO2 from traffic pollution or natural gas, which I try to minimize because one cannot live safely on this stuff, and it interacts with other medications which I am not on, but my neurochemistry is like I am on them. Usually this is administered in much higher doses intravenously in a clinical setting, but in my case that would be overkill.

We considered the work he was doing in his career sort of morally neutral, because it involved the design of high speed digital cameras for industrial applications to increase efficiency and product quality, mostly in the manufacturing industry. I’ll be honest here and say that one of the reasons I am still agnostic yet convinced we are all connected and that there is something driving our destiny is that I had to do a paper on W. Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Management for my American History class back in high school, and he was concerned with what excess surveillance did to efficiency in the workplace from the standpoint of employee surveillance. He found that mindfulness at the planning stages eliminated a lot more waste than inspection did for quality management. I feel like most of the companies DH had to work with, based on what he told me and my own observations, could benefit from learning about Deming. I think education could benefit from Deming’s philosophy, since I discovered my kids learned better with less surveillance. Anyway, we did think about how these technologies might be applied, for sure. In fact, he turned down an opportunity with a local company that does surveillance because they are an important part of the surveillance police state, even though he would have gotten to work with a friend. It was easy to tell where the company’s loyalties were on the surveillance spectrum, because they illegally required income information before they would make him an offer. Some people like the idea of putting cameras everywhere, and I see how it was helpful in tracking down package bombers, but I still feel that we should not all lose our privacy because of fear of a few bad actors.

Despite what I am doing here with this writing project, we take our privacy very seriously. DH does not write down anything that amounts to intellectual property because he does not want it to be stolen, and that is unfortunately how engineers have to work because of hackers and industrial espionage. Unfortunately this level of security might not be enough, and for that reason we do not really want to work in the engineering sphere or in technology any longer. We would rather do basic research which can be open and transparent, or creative or artistic work which can be part of an open dialogue. The other way is a stressful way to live, and we are both prone to psychosomatic illness. Anyway, the genetic engineering I was doing was for gene therapy purposes. Most of my work was done shoulder to shoulder with non-US citizens, and I don’t recall being sworn to secrecy. I was doing academic and government work, which ended up being published in academic journals, but not with my name on it. Good science is transparent to the public, and I suppose yes that comment is a stab at industry and the way we handle ownership of intellectual property in that sphere. I think the most powerful way to deter the formation of monopolies is to make intellectual property open.

The purpose of using cameras for manufacturing is of course to reduce waste, so one would be tempted to consider it a morally neutral profession. But as I have argued before, checking solder joints is only one small part of reducing electronics waste, and that’s no reason for companies to give themselves pats on the back. (We got so many pats on the back…) I think that’s what the original executives sort of figured out about the complicated product DH was hired to work on “up here.” And I think that’s why, after three years, the company spun the technology off to another company and we followed it, working for ourselves for a little over a decade, while I was homeschooling our kids.

When we moved here in 2006, though, the company had laid off many people, and as new people in the community we sort of stuck out and some people indicated they thought it was not fair that the company was hiring when people they knew had lost their homes. Finding community here was strange for this reason. I met a lot of people who were experiencing hardship. I knew a family with four kids whose engineer husband had to take a second job at Walmart. They weren’t living in any sort of grandiose way. I knew another family where the dad worked for free (not really by choice, but because his project wasn’t getting funded) as a geophysical scientist and the couple did wedding photography while trying to make ends meet. One of my closest friends’ husbands was a general contractor and had to do a radical pivot in career during the economic downturn before 2010, and as soon as he got all settled running a new business, his mother fell ill and required a lot of care. Now that their kids moved out, my friend is a taxidermist. We also knew a librarian who was married to a golf professional. There was a family where the Dad started a company to process e-Waste, too. There was even one family where the Dad put himself through Engineering School while working at Whole Foods. So we did end up finding community with other people who were experiencing challenges not directly related to the company we were working for, and that is because of people we met through the homeschooling community. I cannot imagine how isolated I would have been had it not been for our homeschooling friends. I think it is important to have community so as to combat corporate abuse.

When we lived two hours south of here, our friends consisted of people we met through my husband’s two jobs, and some of them also attended the mommy groups I was part of. The people who lived closest to me happened to be breastfeeding moms practicing attachment parenting. I think maybe we met each other because breastfeeding is rarely as easy as one thinks it would be considering it is “natural” and those of us who make it work do so by finding other people trying to do so. It can take a lot of effort, and there are lots of reasons to give up. When my kids were born, it felt like I was surrounded by authoritarian parenting practices, and I learned that they were espoused by a large conservative religious organization in the area which I won’t name here, which advocated corporal punishment and crying it out, and had a lot of influence over local churches, and thus parenting in the area. I noticed that children whose mothers were more punitive were more aggressive. Anyway, I thought I knew “crunchy” mothers down there, because I knew people who were involved in food co-ops, but when I moved up here, I learned I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire in terms of granola-making. It was a lot for me, having been a child of the big city.

The happy idiots in question. Business casual. 2023

When we moved here, my son was turning 5, and we had decided to homeschool, at least for kindergarten, which is legal (unlike in many other countries and some states). To become a La Leche League Leader, I had to read a certain number of parenting books, many of which were also part of the Attachment Parenting International library. Because I had to read all these books, I became the group librarian and kept the books I read in a suitcase which I took to meetings with me. I was meditating on it recently, and I think this is what initially got me collecting books and sharing my collection with others, although my grandmother was a book binder, and I also volunteered in the church library as a child with Sandra Dallas’ mother, Harriett. Anyway, it was in one of these books I read for La Leche League, Playful Learning: An Alternate Approach to Preschool by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan, that I learned about school not starting until age 7 in Russia, and at the same time I also learned about the fight for Universal Preschool in California. I believe I have covered preschool in other writing, but the takeaway would probably be that compulsory education is not the best choice for all children, but that every child needs reliable and compassionate care providers at home regardless of if they attend preschool, and to have stories read to them and access to nature, and it doesn’t have to take preschool to do that. Most preschool programs are only a few hours a few times a week, so they don’t really take the place of childcare for a working person, anyway. Some sort of free, safe drop-in childcare for EVERYONE for kids aged 3-18 could solve a lot of problems in communities; I don’t understand why we have to add a stipulation that it is compulsory. That’s what turns something helpful into something awful, I think. I don’t think preschool teachers should have to handle more than 4-5 children each, and that would help it feel more like a family to the children, the teachers, and the childrens’ parents. I think making it drop in and self-directed would improve mental and physical health for students, parents and teachers.

When I moved up here and found a community, it happened to have a strange intersection of occult practitioners and people educated in science and education, and of course they had an influence on me, because they were all very intelligent. A wonderful influence, I think, even though I have had some frustrations with certain individuals. I sort of think that is part of the reason my best friend up here is someone whose son isn’t that close to my kids. She is the person I feel I can be most open with and we experience weird synchronicities around our health and community that we learn a lot from discussing. Anyway, I have known her for a long time, and the reason our kids weren’t close is that the kids my kids hung out with were younger. Anyway, we parent similarly and read similar parenting books, and both used nutritional interventions for chronic health issues for ourselves. Our kids not being close removes a lot of pressure on our relationship, I think, but they have a ton in common. I met her online long before I met her when we moved up here, so she is technically the person I knew the longest and who probably knows us the best. She wasn’t homeschooling when I moved up here.

My first homeschooling friends included a woman who practiced Wicca, wrote editorials for a local paper, volunteered for the library, and was a credentialed Gifted and Talented teacher who was also studying genealogy. She was a huge influence on me, and I wonder what she is doing these days. We had another friend who was also so inclined, but who ended up studying energy medicine, and another who became a yogi and was married to an air traffic controller. So many people I knew kept gardens, so I learned a lot from talking with them. Down south, it was not unusual for people to put out multiple trash cans weekly, and there was no recycling service. Up here, the city has won multiple awards for its recycling program, which dates back to the 1970s. One of my oldest friends up here was able to make so little trash that their household didn’t sign up for trash service and instead saved it up and took it to the dump themselves. She grew up in the mountains, and was probably the most resilient and productive person I know. She’s the person I spoke with the most about sex positivity. While it seemed like everyone was gardening up here, down there most people I knew (including us) were dealing with just trying to landscape our postage-stamp lots, and we were not far enough along to garden.

I met quite a few people who were Waldorf enthusiasts, and were generally critical of using technology in education, which is not a surprise if you are in tune with Colorado, and realize how close we are to Boulder (both a tech center, and a bastion of hippie bohemian farm culture). Waldorf pedagogy places value on time in nature, and moving the body, and it is thought that teaching a child to read too young (before age 8) causes psychological problems. My professional opinion is that it is not the age at which it is taught, but that it is the stress that is damaging; if a child wants to learn earlier and leads the process, I do not think that would lead to psychological problems. That being said, myopia is certainly a risk, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time outdoors in infrared light looking into the distance and spend more time looking close up at print or monitors emitting blue light. I did not use the Waldorf pedagogy, but did consider its emphasis on play and psychology. Before I moved up here I knew a woman with a child two years older than my son who used The Well Trained Mind, so that’s what I was using at the time, but I was not dogmatic about it at all because I was aware of the effect of cortisol on memory.

We did spend a lot more time outside than we would have, I think, because of the friends we made. I feel like I learned a lot about the benefits and drawbacks of different educational paradigms through these friendships. My own approach ended up being to “let go, but subtly influence.” It takes a tremendously light touch to preserve the inborn love of learning, I think. My dad used to say I “got out of the way,” but it was more than that, because I was always learning myself and we were always discussing the things we learned together and it was a beautiful dialogue. It was not a process where I asked my kids to open their heads up like Pez dispensers and I came by with a shoehorn and crammed information in. Hell no. I am a victim of that approach. Yes, a victim. I had a “perfect” education, and it harmed my psyche. I really did have some of the best teachers, though, and I don’t fault them for the crummy system they were forced to work within. They were able to do what they did for me *despite* the system because they were resilient and exceptional human beings.

This inquiry became intensely personal for me as a mother because I was exploited by a Psychology professor as an undergraduate, and she was a student of B. F. Skinner at Stanford University. I was especially aware of the elements of behavioral control because this professor subconsciously unwrapped them for me with her actions, and I still wonder if she knew what she was doing by pushing my boundaries in the ways she did, or if she really was taking advantage of students, which I heard from others. I was a behaviorist, too, until my kids and community taught me about humanism. This professor has passed away, but in looking back at her, I see that she and her husband who was in the sociology department were also concerned with how learning happens, much like my own husband and I are. Her own work was on trying to replicate the forgetting curves of Ebbinghaus, which explains why in my cognitive psychology class we learned zero cognitive psychology, but she taught us matrix math so we could calculate the forgetting curves ourselves. Ebbinghaus used to have subjects memorize lists of nonsense syllables and see how long they could be remembered, and apparently nobody was able to replicate his work for a very long time. I of course see this as a metaphor for all the wrong and repetitive information the educational system tries to cram into our heads before we are receptive to it. I have always been the kind of person to say “yes” to new opportunities, so when she solicited students for Honors Thesis projects related to her work, I agreed. Initially my job was to work with undergraduate research subjects, giving them lists of nonsense syllables and then recording how many they remembered. Apparently she was happy with my work because she suggested I help her with a project she wanted to do for a long time, which was to catalog all of the research ever done on Cancer, from the Journal Cancer, which she had hard bound copies of in her office, on index cards with a typewriter. I wish I was kidding.

This seems like an important thing to learn when one is young. Credit Christina Furnival and Katie Dwyer.

Before that, as a high schooler, I had a job typing in research abstracts for Dr. Charles McHenry of the Molecular Biology Department at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. I typed those into a database; this was in the days before PubMed existed in its current state. So I read a lot of things that I didn’t understand in high school and surprised myself by ending up a graduate student in Molecular Biology at another University, able to understand all the gibberish I had once entered into a database just a few years before. I had multiple jobs aggregating data into databases, and so I couldn’t bear to see my valuable student learning time wasted on index cards. I pushed back gently; I offered to enter the abstracts on the computer so I could print them out on the University’s rs6000 system and paste them onto index cards. I printed out two reams of paper, put them on her desk one day, and suggested she might be able to find someone else to paste them onto the cards. I believe she had a temper tantrum at some point, because I ended up having to file a formal complaint with the Department Chair, who took pity on me because I was not the first student to complain about this professor. All this trouble was over a one credit hour assistantship, but it taught me that I would not allow someone in a position of power to exploit me.

I learn things quickly, and so does my husband, so neither of us particularly like “busywork.” It is not that we do not see the value in practice; it is that we do not need as much when we do it mindfully (in other words, when one is rested and fueled). Our daughter took an accelerated 4-week college course in Calculus this summer, and she reported to us that the homework was more reasonable. I have always felt that education’s excessive reliance on homework undermined the love of learning. If you’re a Golden Retriever like I mostly was in school, you’ll do anything for a gold star, however, including letting people waste your intellect with a bunch of busywork. Idle hands are not the Devil’s Workshop; Busy Work is the Devil’s Workshop! You heard it here first! If you’re reading this and you once were my teacher and spoke disparagingly of unicorn chasing, I still find that funny. What if you were The Unicorn?

With respect to busywork, my 7th grade science teacher, who taught me that Kansas People Can Offer Fairly Good Service (which I do try to remember when I am reading about Sundown Towns), gave us a mimeographed frog coloring book to do for a huge part of our grade. I am not sure if this was before or after he “ran out of” 7th grade IOWA Tests of Basic Skills and he asked me if I would be willing to take an 8th grade test instead. I still ended up scoring over the 90th percentile. I felt insulted by the frog packet, regardless of what I knew about my scientific ability at the time he gave it. The other thing is it was a coloring packet, and by that time, I had 7 years of private art instruction under my belt. So I turned in my packet uncolored, maybe with only a crossword or other learning activity completed, and I got a D for that trimester. It was the lowest grade I ever got on a report card, because the coloring packet was worth so much of our grade. Anyway, I lost a lot of respect for that teacher for that, and it made me think his class was a waste of my time, but I suppose he was trying to cater to the lowest common denominator. In his defense, he wrote something nice in my yearbook even though I definitely had a bad attitude toward him in my own mind. A few years later, I had the legendary Mr. Harbaugh at East High School, who kindled my fascination with biology, and who had photography published in National Geographic. It was because of him that I became interested in medicine, and why I ended up attending a summer program for Pre-Med students at the University of Colorado where I won the award for “Best Anatomy” (I have an artifact to prove it) and was turned down for an NIH grant because I didn’t know how much Native American ancestry I had at the time (it’s a lot) since my mother was adopted. At the end of Freshman biology, the top students from each section of Mr. Harbaugh’s class got to go on a field trip to the slaughterhouse, and the rest of the class got to see a slide show of the slaughterhouse. He was a teacher who left a definite impression, and kept his assignments efficient and meaningful, at least for a learner like me. I actually was eligible to go on the trip, but I probably had a conflict. I was overscheduled as a youth, first by my well-meaning mother, and then by myself. That makes it difficult to care for oneself fully. Anyway, I don’t think my 7th grade science teacher was meaning to play mind games with me, unlike perhaps that professor (?), but these two experiences when compared to the ones I had with my more effective teachers showed me some important things about what undermines education and trust in teachers, especially when their evaluations of student performance determine future opportunities. (Am I getting better at dog shaming?)

As someone who is interested in what causes income inequality, I also want to understand how social engineering is accomplished by our educational system, and what role “busywork” plays in selecting certain personality traits in the working world. Collegiate level work actually involves very little busywork, but it seems that the K-12 educational system believes it is necessary.

The woman I met when I lived south of here who was using The Well Trained Mind was an engineer and her son was abnormally intelligent. There was another mom in our group who also homeschooled, and she is the one who recommended my husband apply to the job which brought us “up here.” The Wiccan lady I met up here left a real impression on me because she worked in a “good school district” with gifted kids, and had many criticisms of the educational system. She is still one of the most educated, well-spoken and confident people I have ever met. She told me that most of her teaching education was learning how to manage classroom chaos, and that education was a lot easier without that part. I believe that she borrowed from Waldorf, but did not keep her child from reading like some other parents did. I’m writing elsewhere about more detailed aspects of what my kids’ learning was like, but the resources we had access to cost less than it would have cost the taxpayers to educate them in the public education system! That is kind of the upsetting thing - the cost of maintaining an educational “system” is a lot more than the cost of actually educating people because of all of the labor, property and real estate involved to house children during the working day.

Furthermore, I feel like I should mention that some employees of the educational system do not make a living wage, or at least that was true when my mother was working. I sort of feel that the educational system exploits the labor of women with children in this way. They kind of dangle this job that allows one to still be present for one’s kids outside of the school day in front of mothers, and then don’t pay a living wage.

This is all to the end of elders forcing youth to learn on an unnatural schedule, when learning might be more efficient if we create good enough and sustainable environments for learning and let it happen. It is not the education itself that is expensive. I think the travel we did was the thing that put their experience over the top. One might think that is out of reach for most kids, but what we spent on that and other materials was a lot less than the government gives a school per pupil for funding annually. That would have been true even if we had purchased a new computer for them every year. The real cost was having ME at home, and once upon a time having a stay at home mother was not a “sacrifice” a family had to make, unlike it is now because of the new cost of the gilded cage. To me, whether a family has access to an available caregiver and task/paperwork/property manager seems to be an overlooked component in economic inequity. After that, I would say it is the ability to afford services like housekeeping and other property maintenance services and alternative healthcare while still being able to retire, and this was the squeeze we felt. Eating at restaurants ate up a lot of our financial resources, and that is a big reason I avoid them.

The women I met were all feminists, and I think we were rather hurt by the insinuation that putting our families ahead of our careers was kowtowing to the patriarchy. In fact, what we were doing by living the way we were was defending the right to freedom from corporate and systemic exploitation, and the right to have a relationship with our children. I can credit one of my old bosses, Dr. Elaine Benaksas, for the story I often retell about how she figured out that she needed to leave work in time to pick her kids up from school or she missed the opportunity to hear them talk about what was going on in their lives while they still felt like talking. That was a brilliant observation. It is difficult to maintain an emotional connection with kids when they are doing homework, and the chances to connect with them get less frequent as they get older. When my kids were elementary school aged, I read Drs. Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate’s book Hold On To Your Kids, which is about practicing attachment parenting throughout childhood. Dr. Mate has many overlapping interests with me, including caregiving and dementia, psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, and the study of addiction. He is also interested in breaking generational trauma, and is someone who has spoken about the Native American concept of wetiko, which I see as analogous to fascist shadow behavior and xenophobia which is a result of neurodegeneration. But I digress…

In a fair system, no household would need more than one income. I am not saying that going to work is supporting corporate and systemic exploitation; I know women who found work fighting the system from within, or at least supporting the necessary parts. We have been wondering if our kids would choose to homeschool their own kids, knowing what they know from having met schooled kids in college. I would like to give them more time to think about it. I wonder what their schooled friends' perspectives are. I think it is sort of like apples and oranges, but the two approaches do cause the brain to work differently, and I wish mine worked more like my kids’. My brain is a bit overwhelmed from all the “shoulds” I learned. There were drawbacks to doing what we did, but mostly they were that more people weren’t doing it, so we had to drive a lot to meet up with others, and that wasn’t sustainable. A lot of this blog is about trying to learn to become a productive member of society, and also a member of a community, and our struggle with our social and family lives getting in the way of making a living or individuating in such a way as to become a sole unit of production. That wouldn’t be necessary if there were some sort of economic cooperation in our community, of course.

We don’t really care for the use of the word “lazy” as it is just a word to show that someone hasn’t taken the time to understand another person.

It is not possible to understand what it is like on the other side of the rug.

My kids were the type to kind of sit back and observe before joining in, and I know that some other mothers took that to mean they were “shy.” There is nothing wrong with being careful. Perhaps we should not judge others for lacking Knievl blood. I think they were just wise. I learned a lot from my kids about how I could be more mindful, in fact, and not just jump in and follow the lemmings off the cliff. There were a lot of groups devoted to sustainability, parenting and nutrition on Yahoo! Groups back in the 2000s, and I was on several of them and even moderated some. I was on several that were about nutritional interventions for autism. None of us had autism diagnoses, but we had sensory integration issues which were aggravated by food sensitivities, and my parenting life has sort of revolved around dissecting that phenomenon in ourselves in order to better enjoy life. The real issue with autism for me is the sensory integration, GI and anxiety issues, and when those are managed well, having autism is not that different than being smart.

The traditional medical establishment was really difficult to work with and left me feeling like I was dealing with covert white supremacy, and my doctor experiences didn’t help. The Waldorf stuff actually concerned me as being potentially connected to white supremacy (it has been), as did some of the Weston A. Price Foundation fixation on bone structure. Felt like touching a third rail, for sure.

I wish philanthropy would consider this reality, instead of seeing lack of industrialization and colonization of women and people of color and our bodies as a problem. Is it possible that there is a reality where employ-ability and freedom are at odds with each other?

With respect to nutrition and the work of Weston A. Price and Francis Pottenger, I personally have a very small palate and airway and needed orthodontic work as a teenager, so I was curious if the approaches espoused by the locavore movement would prevent my kids from needing orthodontic work. Alas, the verdict is in that they are in a much better position than either my husband and I were. So I think there really is something to what the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying. They may still have to have their wisdom teeth removed. Even when I couldn’t keep up with all the seed sprouting, fermenting, and farm visits, we still ate a diet low in polyunsaturated fatty acids. I am actually not sure why so much effort is being put into making meat substitutes, especially when they lack the important nutrients vitamin A/retinol, methylcobalamin/B-12, K2 (a selection of quinones resulting from the conversion of phylloquinone/K1), free choline, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, animal forms of vitamins that would be immediately bioavailable for the many people who have genetic inability to use various nutrients in plant form.

Anyway, some of the people I met were energy medicine practitioners or were using energy medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, or practicing yoga. Seeing an acupuncturist or chiropractor seemed common. I had been helped greatly with chiropractic care which was covered by my insurance when I was pregnant with my daughter, so I approached learning from the members of my community with an open mind. Now we know a lot more about how things like acupuncture and medicine are beneficial for health, but when I did it, it was considered “woo.” Most things weren’t covered by insurance, even though they helped. So what I kind of noticed is that there was a system of inequality set up where wealthy people on the autism and chronic health spectrum could afford alternative medical treatments, and poor and middle income people were subject to struggling more because neither public nor private health insurance covers those treatments.

I have felt that socialized medicine doesn’t have more support from conservatives because they recognize the authoritarian nature of the medical system. I understand that they do not feel that they personally should have to pay into a system which enables people to waste or “be lazy.” It is easy to think that way about others when one martyrs oneself for capitalism, though. That perspective would really scare them if they read Edith Sheffer’s book Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna and learned what was at the root of their ethnic cleansing efforts with respect to how societies should handle disabled people. I know a lot of conservative people are concerned about sex trafficking, and these disability and marginalization issues are unfortunately intimately tied to the reasons people turn to sex work to make a living. What was done by the Nazis in their quest for a superior German is similar to what we do here in America today with our medical and educational systems because today we exploit people who cannot defend themselves or make a reliable living with menial labor like restaurant and janitorial work that often poisons them and doesn’t pay well. Unfortunately, the aim of the traditional medical system isn’t as focused on consciousness as it could be. The only exception to this that I can think of is that a mental health counselor cannot recommend to a client that they do something that will harm them, which may end up with them encouraging their client to stop participating in the working system of exploitation in ways that primarily benefit narcissists and destroy the environment. What if poor people were to learn from therapy that enabling the bourgeoisie or imitating the bourgeoisie actually hurts them, their families and their communities?

We didn’t end up having to go without pay when we moved up here because due to my friend’s recommendation for the job, he had already received an offer when he was laid off, and in fact, we had two weeks of severance which overlapped with the new job. That is the silver lining with these tech jobs; while a person might be lucky to stay in the same position for 5 years, when the layoffs happen, there is usually a decent severance package. Some companies have dirtier ways of forcing people out. I suppose that is what took the place of the old-timey pension (kind of a lousy replacement for loyalty if you ask me, but I know I am just a GenX Slacker Complainer, who didn’t have to work when I went to college because my generation was “able to” take out enormous loans for the bloated tuition payments since the cost exceeded anything we could be paid at that time). Anyway, I did not benefit from those things in my industry, and in fact at my last job, we were never sure if we were going to get paid at all, which was just stupid. I have never been laid off, but I often have to spend a fair amount of time devising exit strategies from painful situations. I think that’s why I liked temp work; it had a defined beginning and end, and when things got uncomfortable it was possible to grin and bear it because I knew there would be an end. I don’t know why I put up with the threat of not being paid, except I felt like I was contributing to something, and there weren’t a lot of job postings nearby (a problem when one’s education is very specialized). I wasn’t convinced it was the most important work at the time, but in the end what I learned about virology, vitamin E metabolism and NSAIDS was important for my understanding of my own health later in adulthood.

If you really need to know, this is how it works for me.

I try to concentrate on approaches backed by scientific publications, even though I have plenty of good experience with energy medicine and am a Certified Master Reiki Healer. I studied with Sarina Baptista who is someone I sort of knew from homeschooling and the project we did with the school district before I learned she was a Psychic. Also, my childhood art teacher used to get Reiki treatments, apparently. Since I learned Reiki, I think a certain awareness of one’s own somatic system is necessary for one to understand energy medicine, and I think this is why energy medicine has been so difficult for some people to understand. I think the people most resistant to entertaining it are out of touch with their bodies. To put that in terms a behavioral neuroscientist might understand, I think when a person has alexithymia they are incapable of understanding why somatic awareness is helpful or important. It’s like trying to explain the color green to someone who is red/green color blind. I am not saying that people with alexithymia are dead inside, although it can be accompanied by anhedonia, and when I am experiencing it, I often feel “dead inside.” I think alexithymia is way more common than people know, and I suspect it is often comorbid with hypertension and other symptoms of serotonin syndrome because it and hypertension are both a result of increased serotonin with respect to dopamine in the anterior cingulate cortex, and both hypertension and alexithymia respond to dopamine, which is a culturally stigmatized neurotransmitter.

My husband loved his job up here, and he loved what he did and he was good at it. He ended up with a wonderful boss, which he really needed after his other experiences. So he’s always had it in his head that he would consider going back and working there if he got tired of freelancing. I know there are people in technology who are living lives that aren’t bourgeois or oppressive of self and other, so working in tech doesn’t have to mean one is greedy. It would be nice for him to use more right brain in his work for his mental and emotional health, but after going through the interview process, it seems that this corporation has divided up their work so that opportunities for creative contribution are limited, which is a pity. We think that maybe companies do this to make themselves less vulnerable to espionage, but it makes for a less interesting work experience. For some people, including me, this is a real issue. I probably need right-brained activities to facilitate cognitive efficiency and emotional processing in my day, and I suspect that is common among engineers and scientists, given what I have learned about how emotions are processed and how ignoring the right brain leads to lowered emotional intelligence and processing. They actually recognized this in STEM education, and changed it to STEAM by adding art… it would be nice if our corporations followed suit. Or, I think maybe they could put non-toxic art studios and music recording studios in the workplace which could be used for employees to get in touch with their emotions. In any case, no matter how left-brained he was forced to exist, when he was working there, it was a happy time in our lives, I think because he liked the people he was working with and got to talk a lot and be involved in creative decisions.

We did find a community of other homeschooling friends, and we got together and did things like cook, garden, landscape, hike and play games with other families. We played lots of board games, and parents hosted educational events in their homes. Our homeschooling group held parties for holidays, did crafts together, and coordinated field trips to museums, factories and interpretive sites. We also coordinated to get discounts during the week on things like lessons in archery, acting, and visual arts. Those things were all great, but what was most important, I think, is that our kids had oodles of unstructured play time with kids from all over the area of all ages, too, so they could learn to get along with each other and collaborate when no authority was directing them. I was often complimented on my kids’ behavior by volunteers and professionals, and I think that is because my kids had lots of unstructured time. Brains simply need time to wander, think, so that they can pay attention when things actually matter. If everything “matters” then the brain never gets time to sort it out or prioritize the information so that use can be made of it.

We did consume raw milk for several years, and so did some other families we knew, but not without me reading everything I could about it, first. We even visited multiple farms producing raw dairy (but not the one I ended up getting dairy from eventually which had a more convenient delivery location at the local bison butcher I already knew). I decided to try it because at the time we were eating a casein-free diet due to intolerance. Dairy used to cause diaper rash and reflux for my kids, and I wanted to see if we could tolerate raw milk. We were able to tolerate raw milk, although it wasn’t the first casein-containing food I added. I kind of inched us toward raw milk by first adding back butter, then hard higher fat cheeses and yogurt. We had also been avoiding gluten, egg and soy for some time, and we also got tested for celiac, and saw a traditional allergist and all that good stuff, so being able to add back dairy was really freeing, even though it meant having to go another place every week to pick up our order. We were able to add back gluten, but I had to stay away from whole grains, even when they were sprouted. I do have the DQ8 polymorphism associated with celiac, and another allele associated with gluten sensitivity, but whenever I have been tested, I have not been positive for anti-transglutaminase antibodies. I did learn that celiac is almost always comorbid with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it turns out non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible with choline administration, so I think the fact we were eating high choline foods may have helped. We did know some other people navigating the nightmare of food sensitivity, but it was still rather socially isolating pre-2010. We still don’t eat much soy except soy sauce, but we eat a lot of eggs. I won’t turn down tofu, but I won’t make it a staple because it is goitrogenic and I am not sure I convert T4 to T3 very well (I have a polymorphism associated with slow conversion, and I benefit from sporadic T3 supplementation).

I think it is important to say here that not everyone we knew went down the food sensitivity rabbit hole. It wasn’t possible to tell who was making what health decisions based on how they ate or what educational pedagogy they chose. Heck, one family which was not vaccinating had a father who was working for the CDC. So, having all sorts of stereotypes challenged by my reality, I have learned not to make assumptions about how people might behave, and also to be open to people’s viewpoints and listen to their experiences and reasoning. This was all part of my neurodiversity journey. I learned so much from all the people we met, and I am very thankful for all those experiences, but I do think it was a little overwhelming for my mind to know so many people.

So anyway, I would say that my kids’ academic success is probably achievable for others, but we had to be pretty brave to do what we did. One of the things that was frustrating was that someone in our family is an interior designer and she looked down on people who weren’t wearing brand names or driving new cars, and those are things that just have to fall by the wayside to live on one income and become less dependent on capitalism. I think that’s what is saddest about designer culture; the people who most need things to be brand-named are the least secure with who they are, and the least likely to speak up against exploitation in the name of a brand. I wonder how often journalists’ copy is biased toward capitalism due to the need to advertise. I am fortunate that Google provides a free space to speak freely. I do not mind not being more popular. It’s not about that for me, even though I like people. Complicit support of the meritocracy upsets my stomach; it is inhumane. I sometimes wonder if we did things as we did as a reaction to having people close to us pushing their status quo values on us. I figured out that I do not trust “normal” people for this reason; that being said, I have always like the saying that “normal” is just a “setting on the dryer.” I suppose that was the real paradise of homeschooling is that we did not judge each other for having and not having things, and we also didn’t guilt each other for not taking vacations or force ourselves on others right after returning from a vacation, because we became aware that people often return from vacations sick.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that we not only vote with our purchases, but we do so with our attention, too. I have known parents who were concerned enough about media that they either did not have a television or they severely limited their kids’ access to television. I did have a rule in our house that we did not turn on the television until after 3PM when school would be let out if they were attending. My kids had unfettered access to computers and the internet. So they know different corners of the internet better than I do. And their brains are wired differently than mine, which is fine because I don’t think people should be mere copies of each other. I think that would be a really boring world.

Now, what we did was we limited the amount of advertising our children saw, and we went to great lengths to do this. I mean great lengths! I didn’t blindfold them when driving through town, or anything like that, but my husband and son did build a system that would strip advertisements from live television, which we had at our house when we first cut the cord. We also have a Raspberry Pi Hole setup to block advertisements to our devices, and we always use Adblock software. We did not sell the software to anyone; we just used it in our home to record television for our own pleasure, much like we had a VCR. It was actually a great learning experience for my son and husband. They work incredibly well together. My son had to maintain the system and take care of a lot of data storage, and troubleshoot it. We used it primarily to record ABC Family content we were watching at the time, and also Seinfeld. I think my kids have an encyclopedic knowledge of Seinfeld because of our exercise. We are big fans of dark comedy and have watched Arrested Development more than once. Perhaps Seinfeld isn’t really dark comedy. (I also do not want to have to spend time explaining to someone why Curb Your Enthusiasm is funny). Anyway, while we were able to protect ourselves from excess advertising, we still weren’t able to protect ourselves from surveillance by the deep state.

Dance like nobody’s watching!

I have this weird relationship with digital content so my life is some sort of unit study which corresponds to what is going on in the collective unconscious, which is kind of fun, but it’s something I need to be able to turn into some sort of income, while standing on the shoulders of giants. I suppose I try to recognize the giants as I learn about them. I try to tell my readers who is relevant, like Mel Brooks seems relevant right now. I suspect any Mel Brooks movie will suffice, but I would recommend Young Frankenstein. I also really enjoy Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I grew up on Star Trek.

When I was a child, our Presbyterian church did a presentation of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” where the children’s choir sang about what happened at Terezin/Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic during the Holocaust. We did a lot of challenging music, and actually we did musicals, and our director was Dr. John Kuzma who was once director of The American Boys' Choir (and who was raised with Catholicism and studied Jung), so I have had pretty rigorous training as a vocalist. I spent a lot of time with John, and while I gripe about music education, I do appreciate the strong foundation I got studying with John and feeling like I was in something bigger than myself. He was very good at cultivating that feeling in choir. Our church also had ecumenical services with other faiths in the area to combat xenophobia and we hosted the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. Also, one of our pastors was Rev. Alan Maruyama, who was born to Japanese immigrants in 1926 and served in WWII for the Allies, and told us about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the internment camps. Furthermore, as a child I had pen pals in Germany and Hawaii. I loved having pen pals. I have always loved having opportunities to learn from other people. I want to mention this because I once had a homeschooling mom friend who was opposed to teaching her children about the Holocaust, which I had difficulty understanding, particularly in the context of her being one of the more outspoken moms I knew on vaccination. But it turns out there is a group of Jewish people also upset about vaccination, so… anti-semitism is a messy subject, and it is not safe to make any assumptions about what someone else believes is humane. I think all people deserve safety and love, regardless of their beliefs, skin color or gender identity, and I think it is possible to be part of a marginalized group and not “see” other marginalized people. I had a very difficult time understanding her perspective on this matter, because I think that it is true that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I have been watching history repeat itself, I feel, and the themes from the Holocaust also included intolerance of people with neurodiversity issues and whose gender identity was fluid, which is people like me. I rather identify with Hannah Arendt and Marlene Dietrich, myself, and these women fought fascism by being unapologetically themselves, which I intend to do, too.

The red light is mitochondrial therapy. Really, that’s all it is. Rocky Mountain High, 2023.

Sometimes I worry that I did not teach my kids enough about history, and then they usually surprise me with knowledge I did not even have. I learned about Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld from my kids, for example, during the time when I was reading about Sabina Spielrein. Sometimes when I am comparing us to families who used the public school system I equate learning history to sitting in a classroom, rather than recognizing that our traveling, museum visits, reading and media consumption covered a lot of the basics and then some. The meaning in those contexts was made more relevant, I feel, than it was for me in my high school history classes. And I had a fondness for my history teachers, I just couldn’t learn history in a way where it stuck in a classroom. It is much more meaningful to me to learn about my own place in history by studying the forces that created my reality through influences on my ancestors and their communities. I learned we were related to some interesting historical figures, including Betsy Ross and Dalton Trumbo (who was targeted by Senator Joe McCarthy and the FBI for being un-American in the 50’s). In fact, Les Claypool of the band Primus is also related to Betsy Ross. The day I found out about my Claypool relationship to Betsy Ross, I had to leave the house and with that knowledge fresh in my head, I ended up right behind a car with a “Les Claypool for President” bumper sticker, and within a few days I met another Claypool descendant at a social gathering of people from the community college who told me about Betsy Ross. The synchronicities I experience are often that crazy, and they were even more so at the community college. I also learned that one of my ancestors was George Washington’s farrier, but I have lost track of who that was, and some people claim that he didn’t have one. That must have been an interesting job. I am also related to Sir Francis Drake, which I now see as especially funny after watching Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets, and learning about his role in the “sinking of the Spanish Armada” which was propaganda spread by the British.

I often wonder if I have so many voices in my head because it’s all my ancestors battling each other, still. I have a pretty diverse background, so I had ancestors all over the world. No doubt one of my “New Amsterdam” ancestors slaughtered one of my Algonquin ancestors. No doubt one of my Spanish ancestors slaughtered my Mayan ancestors. Or vice versa! I’ll probably find more examples as I investigate my Eastern European heritage. The United States’ Southwestern diaspora basically exists because of the Inquisition driving the Sephardim out of Spain. I know most of us are probably related to the Native American peoples AND the Spanish who attempted to colonize them. I actually think that’s a reason why I usually connect with people easily. It’s easy for me to focus on commonalities, because I certainly have something in common with anyone I meet.

I haven’t fallen out with a lot of people, even though I have known so many people. I feel lucky about that. In most cases, I feel like life just took people in different directions. I have unfortunately had to be very selective about how I spend my time, so I have lost touch with a lot of people. I seem to be doing a little bit better with chemical exposures, perhaps since I started taking zinc again. Most people don’t know this, but it is difficult to get enough zinc from food alone, unless one eats oysters regularly, which is more difficult when one is landlocked. Through my kids’ childhood, we ate canned oysters. I stopped doing that as much because of the oil, which I wasn’t sure was pure olive oil, but that unfortunately meant that I needed to take a zinc supplement. I can be kind of stubborn about buying things I already own, and since I had a bunch of zinc sulfate powder, I wanted to use that up before I purchased the (relatively very inexpensive) premade capsules. Unfortunately, as I was working out the calculations to make capsules in September 2021 I had some cognitive issues and didn’t feel confident in my ability to make them and not poison myself. Then, it totally fell off my radar. Now what is interesting is that my parents didn’t seem to get COVID, and besides social distancing and wearing masks, I think all they did extra was take zinc, because my Dad was following Dr. John Campbell on YouTube who shared a study about zinc. Hopefully memory serves. Anyway, zinc is a very important cofactor for so many metabolic processes. I didn’t have any lines in my fingernails, which can sometimes be a sign of deficiency, but I really was not consuming much zinc. Well, I finally felt like I was cognitively “with it” enough to make the capsules a few months ago, and since I started taking them I have been feeling steadily better. In fact, my levels of inflammation are a lot less after bug bites and whatnot than they ever were. Anyway, the point here is that maybe I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just spent $5 on some zinc capsules instead of feeling guilty for not using the powder. I do have a lot of guilt about wasting things.

Zinc is a natural antihistamine, so I wonder if histamine has been an important part of my puzzle. There was a time when I was reading quite a bit about mast cell disorders, and I even attended a talk with a Tufts University mast cell researcher at National Jewish Hospital by Dr. Theo Theoharides who wanted me to stay in touch. It sucks having hypersensitivity reactions - according to what I read in my toxicology text, that is essentially what I have. I think I’m figuring it out, though. It seems like it, anyway. I could certainly stand to exercise more, but the trail has been muddy and I prefer it to walking around my neighborhood where there are vehicles, dryer sheets, herbicides, mowers, and whatnot. Also the ozone from all the fuel consumption is a real health issue for some of us. I see why people move to cabins in the woods, but it’s not the people that are the problem for me, it’s the fact they use that other stuff so much.

Otter, 8”x8” Encaustic, private owner

Anyway, with the various friends I have had over the years, we have done limited discussion of our monogamous sex lives, some of which was for the purpose of understanding what “normal” was. Some of it was also for the purposes of comparing notes on how to approach sex education with our kids. It felt a bit like being a sociologist, and so I am trying to write about my experiences and what I learned like that, even though sometimes people tested boundaries.

I was on some attachment parenting lists where we talked about all sorts of things like how long we let our children bathe together (which was until one of them makes the other feel badly for being different, which happens fairly young due to how penises are weird and sometimes do their own things), and how to maintain a sex life without getting caught by kids, and how various cultures around the world accommodate married relations in ways that prevent childhood trauma. Something I unfortunately failed at more than once. Thank goodness the kids are older now, and they have some sense how to live with other people and honor their privacy. But anyway, these were funny stories to share at dinner parties… The time my daughter thought I was being murdered… LOL. (Sorry.)

I think the media I would recommend right now about tolerance, combating hatred, and examining American culture’s relationship to intolerance would be the shows Transatlantic, El Dorado, American Born Chinese, and Taylor Mac’s 24-Hour History of Pop Music. I would love it if my community would watch these things and talk about them!

One of the things I should probably talk about here is what I noticed about how families use alcohol, because when one is homeschooling, what one does in one’s home does affect the other inhabitants of that home. DH and I collected a lot of alcohol for entertaining, but it was not something we tended to use when it was just the two of us here, and we didn’t have people over very often. Neither of us were prone to drink alone, and we did not drink wine with every meal or anything like that. It was a special occasion to have alcohol. I saw that the New York Times mentioned that middle aged people are doing a lot more binge-drinking and using cannabis, and that is why I feel the need to comment. I did have friends who drank daily; this area has a lot of breweries and so there is no stigma against having a daily beer or glass of wine to wind down after a long day, and one wouldn’t think to think anything of that.

Early on there was a couple we used to bar hop with on special occasions (birthdays), but we sort of had a falling out with them, and in retrospect I actually think it was because of the effects of alcohol on our cognition, because it makes me grouchy and depressed two days later, which our drinking buddies would not have known. I also don’t know how it affected them two days later. From drinking in college, I sort of learned that there are three types of drunk - the happy drunk, the angry drunk, and the sleepy drunk, but I never thought about how what happens two days after drinking might be something people don’t connect to drinking. It’s easy to think that drinking is not harmful if one is hanging out with happy drunks, I think, especially if one does not consider the withdrawal two days later. We had a lot of fun with our friends; I’ll be honest. We were legendary partiers when we did it, and there are some stories.

Someone mentioned to me that their husband was struggling with sinoventricular tachycardia after drinking red wine years ago, and a few years later, it happened to me. So at that point, I discontinued drinking red wine and switched to white wine. I sort of learned that having enough carbohydrate (sugar, specifically) with alcohol was necessary to minimize hangover. So eventually I switched to mixed drinks which had enough sugar, and that also helped. Then, later on after cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2013, I discovered that cannabis also helped ameliorate the hangover effect of alcohol. Then, even further down the road in 2020, I discovered that cannabis was helpful in preventing the cognitive effects caused by the air quality issues in my home.

As our kids got older, some of my mom friends were letting themselves drink earlier in the day, and in retrospect I think that might have to do with some of the problems we were experiencing in general in our lives with respect to chemical exposures and stress. It does really amount to quite a bit of pain, and the brain shuts that off after some time.

As I cleaned up the air quality in my home, I learned that a lot of the negative effects professionals had attributed to cannabis including fatigue, confusion, and hyperemesis syndrome were actually due to concomitant exposure to alcohols and other substances that would register as volatile organic compounds on my air quality meters. Furthermore, I learned in 2021 when I took air quality meters to a friend’s house to check their gas stove emissions that open glasses of wine significantly affect the air quality, and that I do not have to drink alcohol to experience the effects of it two days later. So that makes me wonder about kids who grow up in homes where parents drink with their meals. Is the reason my kids and I did so well in school that we were not exposed to volatilized alcohol in our homes?

Somehow I knew right where the baby was in the king cake. Mardi Gras, 1994.

Anyway, I took my last drink of alcohol in June 2019. I still use cannabis, and I only experience fatigue, confusion and nausea when I am exposed to alcohols, aldehydes, and other substances in the environment, or too much sun without protection (because I carry erythropoetic protoporphyria). Cannabis has been an important tool for me to connect with my somatosensory awareness. I honestly think it has gotten a bad rap because it sort of amplifies one’s awareness of the negative effects of other compounds. But if one is skilled in using it as a tool for wellness, one can pay attention to and learn what causes fatigue, confusion and nausea and treat those conditions, making use of the amplifying effect of the cannabis. It is not really an “amplifying effect” so much as it is increasing one’s awareness of a phenomenon that is already happening which one’s brain otherwise blocks out of its awareness. That is my theory, and the only thing that makes sense, given how I have been able to use it while treating my aphasia. I feel like I have demonstrated that cannabis may be neuroprotective, or at the very least that smoking it is not nearly as dangerous as exposure to alcohols, aldehydes, pesticides, ethylene oxide, and vinyl acetate emulsions we are exposed to ubiquitously in our environments.

That is the process I used to unwind my issues with aphasia and akathisia - using cannabis to help me connect with my self (somatosensory) awareness. Unfortunately, alcohol numbs our somatosensory awareness, removing valuable information. So the desire to numb oneself with alcohol in order to relax, rather than to treat the associated inflammation (as cannabis does), can contribute to cumulative decline, I believe. I think cannabis has been wrongly implicated for a lot of effects that should actually be attributed to alcohol, environmental toxins, and other drugs that are more dangerous. I think people intuitively reach for cannabis, too, because it helps counteract some of these other effects, just as I did when I figured out that it helped reduce my hangovers.

Furthermore, I have noticed that after exposure to alcohols and aldehydes, a person exhales more volatile compounds in their breath. I think this will be rather easy to replicate under experimental conditions, and that it is important to do so. What this means is that drinkers and people exposed to alcohols and aldehydes may exhale these compounds onto the people around them. For years, I was trying to figure out why I was so exhausted after social occasions, and I think it was because most people are walking around in a declining state of metabolism, expiring more and more of these toxins. Some people practice forms of fasting, and that makes it worse. Like I said earlier, I think not everyone’s mood is affected right away, and that exposure might even “feel good” subconsciously, but like with some other addictive substances people use more purposefully, one gets dropped on their head two days later from withdrawal. Does this mean people were meant to operate on volatile compounds as when one is in ketosis? I do not think so, and the reason is because ketosis is a natural byproduct of lowered metabolic states, including diabetes and cancer, where simple sugars are misused by the body. I think this VOC exposure actually contributes to the inability to use carbohydrates for fuel, and that if a person paid attention to their air quality, it might have an effect on their ability to use sugar as fuel, potentially reducing diabetes, especially if strength training focused on building Type 2 muscle fibers (which helps increase insulin sensitivity) were done. But note that exercise intolerance is a symptom of chemical exposure and exercise can worsen mental health if done in a depleted state, especially in the context of chemical exposure. It just doesn’t make sense to starve oneself; one should eat and try to stay in an anabolic mode, strengthening one’s body in order to not lose that strength. Starving oneself simply doesn’t make sense from a neurological standpoint; the brain is made of fat, and I think dieters don’t consider that at all. Ozempic is going to be BAD NEWS for mental health. Now, if someone could treat aphasia using ketosis, maybe I would change my tune, but I’ll be quite honest that I had to use simple carbohydrates in the treatment of my neurological problems, and I had to pay attention to what nutrients are necessary to use those carbohydrates and replenish them regularly. Starving myself makes my sensitivity a lot worse.

Loving oneself means eating.

Loving others means paying attention to air quality.

Another thing I have noticed about myself since I removed alcohol is that I don’t feel the need to flee my home for respite by going on vacation. I have been on a lot of vacations, and what I noticed while on those is that it was nice to get away from all the *things* around here that leave me with a sense of guilt for not being more active. I think that my alcohol-adapted mind sees the world differently; it sees the world as a collection of stuff to battle or run away from, rather than just seeing them as things. Now that my mind is not alcohol adapted any longer, when I start feeling like I need to run away, I have discovered that sometimes the best thing to do is identify what is making me feel like that and just handle it, rather than blowing a bunch of money on a vacation to a tourist destination in a place which is feeling the environmental burden of tourism. Colorado is one of those places, and many days here the air quality is not safe for sensitive populations. This is yet another reason why I have tried to reduce unnecessary trips from my home. But anyway, tackling that odd desire to run away with the awareness that it does not address what caused me to want to run away in the first place has helped me enjoy my home more.

This is not my home, but I dig what flannmoriath did with the place.

I do wonder if psilocybin would help my brain regrow the neurons I may have lost when our water heater was broken and people around me were addicted to construction, potentially helping me tolerate exposures better, but I do not have access to it because of where I live. I do not think psilocybin will “fix” my metabolism of volatile compounds or other toxins, however, and thus will do very little to change the effect these compounds have on my heart, kidneys, muscles or joints. But it could leave me less anxious and depressed, and for someone with porphyria who does not tolerate pharmaceuticals well, that is promising.

Also, I totally understand why people would want to support Walmart and Target to prevent a monopoly by Amazon. I think it would be great if these stores would boycott products with ethoxylated alcohols, though, due to their endocrine disrupting effects and how their processing creates environmentally racist “sacrifice zones.” They would need to provide safe replacements or the ingredients or safe replacements, though. I would especially like it if they would stop using these products to clean their stores. That goes for most retailers. Now, let’s talk about Safe Spaces, shall we?

P.S. You make me feel like Moonbeam McSwine, Abner. Who wants to swipe right on somebody with that many connections?

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