Politics Travel

Day 551 and Enjoy The Decline

I didn’t celebrate Independence Day yesterday. At least not in any meaningful sense. Typically I like to watch Roland Emmerich’s classic film Independence Day and cheer on American exceptionalism with explosions and hamburgers.

Instead I’m abroad and trapped in a small Airbnb that has me tethered to the nearest air conditioner. Pollution and climate change isn’t very good for enjoying time outside. 100 degree heat and a lack of EPA pollution standards are not a great combination so best of luck to my friends in Texas.

Nothing breeds appreciation for capitalism quite like spending time somewhere it hasn’t existed for long. Even at the end of the empire, American capitalism is so effective, our living standards still eclipse eastern block countries and other experiments in strongman style socialism. There is a reason people want to come to America and it’s not because we make it easy on immigrants or offer a strong social safety net.

It will be better to live in America for another fifty years or so than nearly anywhere else. Even with all our problems and bullshit, America at its worst is better than most of the planet. Entropy is a bitch though so you may you may as well enjoy the decline as eventually our lack of infrastructure and crumbling institutional capacity will destroy us.

Eventually “the crumbles” and the “Jankening” will eat away at our quality of life lead over the rest of the world. And let me tell you having been reminded of how much it sucks to live without the comforts of modernity, life this life to the fullest while you can. You are not going to enjoy the average lifestyle of a Balkan or Baltic state.

Which might be optimistic given some of the reactionary types striving to be the next Victor Orban. So might I recommend going out to eat at some fine fast casual restaurant and then making a Target run for things you don’t need. It won’t be around forever.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 550 and Boundaries

I don’t maintain boundaries well. I am embarrassed by my needs. Ashamed even. I’m afraid if I maintain the boundaries I actually need I’ll doom myself to a life of loneliness. No one is going to go out of their way to hang out with someone who can’t do fun shit right?

And so I let my own needs slip. I agree to do things. I tell people sure I’ll meet up. I’ll agree to go to a meal together. I pretend to be excited about going somewhere. I yield to the expectations of a normal life. And then I hold myself together as long as I can. I’ll get some enjoyment out of my time with loved once. But after a few days if I don’t get rest and recovery I will be in a rough spot.

It always ends in a crash. When I know I could simply draw firmer boundaries and take time before it becomes a crisis. My loved ones are confused by how I continue this cycle. Why didn’t you say something? Why did I agree. And I honestly don’t know sometimes. Because I’d never agree to do anything ever if I had my way.

And I’ll admit I’m afraid that if I never do anything eventually I’ll be forgotten. That no one will go out of their way to be with me. I can tell myself that this isn’t logical. That this is just the scared inner child who experienced being left alone when she was small. That reality doesn’t reflect reality any more. But I’m not so sure. Maybe my nearest and dearest will still come out for me. But I do think we live in a harsh world where we mostly don’t care if others disappear into their homes forever.


Day 549 and Rekt Travel

One more institutional bit of trust has frayed and snapped for me. I don’t trust travel any longer. Maybe I trust the big airlines and well traveled routes but off the beaten path travel isn’t for me any longer.

Someone didn’t fully understand my limits and I found myself struggling in a situation well beyond my physical means. The trust was so broken I don’t know how to even begin putting back the pieces from it. I’m exhausted yes, but the worst part is the fear I feel from being put in a bad situation and seeing just how incapable I was of fixing it myself. I’m not independent anymore. And I’m scared and angry about it.

I envy people who can have a situation change and have it’s impacts be immaterial on their day. Oh it’s inconvenient if the travel estimates were three times longer than planned. Oh it’s annoying that there is no air conditioning. Oh it’s frustrating that all these minor details are annoyances for you and intense health risks for me.

I fear I’ll come out of this experience paranoid and much much sadder. I feel stupid I couldn’t protect myself. I feel gullible that I let someone else handle the details. People tease me that I prepare for travel so aggressively. That it’s eccentric and odd and a sign of being a crazy woman.

But when the consequences are so expensive; a thousand dollars gone in a hotel scam, a fortune in gas, an extra thousand to weekend hour doctors to stabilize. I think it’s sensible to be extremely prepared. Nothing black pills you faster than being sick. I tried to act like I could be a normal person and just got rekt.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 548 and Shame

I’ve got a pit in my stomach. My throat has the constricted feeling of embarrassment that gets trapped in your gullet. I failed and lost money on something stupid. I tried to do a pleasant vacation sort of choice over a long weekend. A “nearby” Riviera town was supposedly within driving distance. I thought what could go wrong. Let’s go to the Ionian Sea! I briefly thought I could enjoy something like a regular person.

I said yes as everyone was so excited by the fresh air and the beaches. It will be healthy and fun! I was worried it would be without the basics I need to keep standing upright but I wanted to try anyway. Consistent air conditioning is really important to keeping the rest of my bodily system’s functioning. It’s a very Marie Antoinette need, but once my spine swells it can go very wrong very fast. Summers are hard for me.

My system begins to cascade within a pretty short window. About half a day. Eight hours without being able to lay flat for a break ended up fucking me up badly in this case. The “oh it’s close, just a three hour drive” ended up being a ten hour ordeal over badly maintained roads. I was sick to my stomach and in pain as we took hairpin turns and popped over potholes. I was in so much pain it was over a 10. It was “lose consciousness” levels of pain as my body knew I shouldn’t be awake for it. I was afraid it would get so bad I’d need a hospital. Instead I settled for opioids. Keeping out of the hospital was probably wise.

I hate needing those kind of drugs. The “your pain is a 10” drugs push me off the plane of reality by a few ecliptic degrees, and suddenly I can tolerate the pain and discomfort again. I understand how addicts get made now. It’s not real comfort. It’s synthetic but most people can’t tell just by watching. The fake relief looks real.

I’ve never felt tempted to take pain medicine recreationally. It’s usually only when a pain is too big for my reality that I tap out in defeat and take an opioid. It’s when reality crushes my soul as one variable starts to degrade the whole machine. I only use it to stave off collapse. And I was very close to collapse.

What is fucked up is that people like me off the axis of reality. The hazy hyper vibe’d unreal “reality” of encroaching nihilism is bop. Dystopia seems cool and consumable.

But it’s not an adventure for me. Living when sick is a daily dance with the devil who could use any chance encounter to end it all for you. The kind thing might be to stop fighting. But I rarely give up so I must enjoy the sticky Sisyphean crawl towards towards reality and the search for my own dignity.

I’m ashamed because I couldn’t make good decisions in that kind of pain. When the first hotel turned out to be a scam I happily laid down a card to stay till Monday at another hotel. Anything to get me relief. I just needed a safe cold place to heal.

It was a bad decision. The air conditioner didn’t work. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was sleeping in a dark sort of cold room as I couldn’t work up energy to go to the beach or even see the rest of the hotel. Not that it mattered as none of it was air conditioned anyway. I decided to go home after I had built up energy reserves back from sleeping for hours. I couldn’t tell you how long I passed out for but it might have been close to a whole day.

Alas I was again scammed for my efforts. The hotel clerk says no you paid for four days so you cannot get a refund even if you leave early. No refunds ever. No early checkout. No one cares if you are sick. Fuck her but I said hotel California for me. I was sick and needed safety.

I made some efforts to get receipts and documentation. I asked a receipt attesting that they wouldn’t let you cancel for any circumstance and that I was sick but it made no difference. Maybe I can take to the credit card or even the health insurance to show that I crashed. I’ll work it out on the backend.

I often wonder why I need special care. Surely I can try to do regular things like drive to the beach. But I couldn’t. I lost 48 hours to driving and bad air conditioning and pain. I didn’t have the health to stay at the beach. I needed to go back to the city with air conditioning.

I felt so stupid. I tried to fight to hold space that maybe I was a person that could do a vacation. That I was normal. And it was firmly corrected by reality. And then you think this is why I don’t go on vacation. The additional friction makes it a hell. It’s not a joy it’s a visit to hell.

I cut bait quickly this time.I’m ashamed at now much I must firmly maintain the no. No I don’t want to go to the beach. No I don’t have the energy got a full day road-trip. And definitely no on an empty stomach.

I feel like I’m not fun. That being friends with me is joyless because I can’t agree to fun things like a weekend at a beach. I find myself in tears having failed again at trying to do a nice normal fun thing. I ruined the weekend for myself and everyone around me.

Fun with me is being in a dark room. We watch television. Or maybe a movie. We make fun of a plot hole or bad casting. We sleep a lot. If we are at my home we do the chores. We keep up with the farm. There is no reason to turn consumption of recreation into a thing. It just hurts me. No cheap facsimile of an American vacation in a resort in a cheaper country.

That hideous example of colonial expectations of western domestic standards turn out to be required for a disabled woman. Air conditioning and short trips keep me alive. And at quite a cost. Since no one will refund me any of these damned scam hotels. I should have known better. It will probably take me a week or so to recover. And I’m so ashamed.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 547 and Cruel Summer

The cruel summer is the season after silent spring. It’s hot out. Unnaturally and unseasonably so.

And people aren’t really prepared for it. Whole countries haven’t invested in air conditioning yet. I made the mistake of being outside during high noon. I was under shade and there were fans but I let my insides get simmered a bit while I ate lunch.

The exhaustion that overcame me was enough for ten siestas. A dozen forced naps would easily overcome even the most fervent consciousness. I’d simple done too much by existing and eating at the height of the day. What a foolish hubristic nature this mortal has.

What little defense the air conditioner has against the full force of noon will have to be enough. Sleep will find me if I can find an even small restorative space. One I know will disappear the second the key card is lifted from the auto electricity system.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 546 and Evil Empire

Sometimes it pays to get a little distance. Sometimes a little distance makes you feel crazy and alone. I am not entirely sure where my mind and body will find themselves this week. But it will be distant.

I’m a bit off the beaten path of my usual life. I’m on a Mediterranean Sea I haven’t considered since I was studying Attic Greek. It’s hot and humid and the air conditioning can barely push back the natural heat. Fuck linen weather.

The car uses natural gas and some gas stations without underground tanks are struggling to fuel as it’s too hot to pump. The gas expands. You think you are pumping but it’s actually just air. That’s a first for me. A little bit of climate dystopia today.

I push off into rolling hills. There is probably some ancient tribe with greater claims to democracy than a thousand generations of my ancestors. It’s like driving though a Maxfield Parrish painting. It’s misty and ancient and old country all while I listen to eighties tunes. It’s Evil Empire somewhere sometime somehow. The sun never sets on Bakersfield California or under the Tuscan Sun. It’s enough to make you miss Reagan.


Day 545 and Stretched Time

Time has never acted like it is linear in my observation. It extends and stretches when you wish it could speed by. And it slows and circles back when you would most prefer it go quickly. Time is relative is a good joke, but also might be more related to a curse.

As I was waiting for a food delivery order today I could feel time unspooling. It stretched on into two episodes of some engaging but fundamentally disinteresting Netflix show. My head began to hurt. I remember taking an aspirin and getting a snack. I recall a phone call made to the delivery service order. And then my sense of linearity starts to fray. I’m not sure what happened next or in what order.

I think it was clear a migraine was coming on in the middle of this first act of swollen stretching time. But I couldn’t tell you for sure. Once pain hooks up with time it requires a Buddha or someone enlightened on the ways of Jhana. Still I tried to push myself out of the path of this time. Why not ordered a pizza as a replacement meal. That might be quick? I blamed the blooming migraine and it’s sister nausea on a lack of food. But in reality I was past the point of being helped. I was simply trying to avoid the oncoming path of the migraine.

I recall a pizza arriving but not the original delivery order. I made an attempt to eat. But I was in the grips of the time expanding migraine now. I took an Imitrax. I had some CBD. Perhaps terrapins and triptans could convince my mind that the moments of pain were short and fleeting. That was my best hope for experiencing the migraine in a positive way.

I put on a face mask. I sunk into a mindfulness practice. I noticed and turned over the kinds of discomforts I found myself in one by one. The emotional fears that I wanted distance rose up. The pain that bubbled around my body tightened, giving me a rationale for not wanting to being touched. A mind that wanted to drift far from others overlapped with my normal mind, this mind wasn’t forced to endure the noisy input from the world. All those experiences rose and burst forth and dissipated. Pain, distance, and fear came and went.

Consciousness seemed possible again. I had the sense that I could articulate some of what happened to me over the past three hours. That perhaps I could codify it in writing. It wouldn’t be as vivid but it would be there. The fear and failure and disprovals still existed but less acutely. The pressure on my mind had become less swollen. Time wasn’t threatening to extend out any other direction but forward. And maybe I could finally enjoy a bite to eat again. It has been five hours total since the migraine began.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 544 and Want of A Nail

I let something cascade over the past thirty six hours. I knew it would have an expensive energy budget but I wanted to try it anyway. I feel basically fine having made it through the entire experience, but now all I want is to sleep. And thank goodness as the consequences could have been worse than just needing more sleep. And I am reminded of the grief that comes from small consequences.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

For want of a nail

I had a bout of perhaps food poisoning yesterday. It was unclear what the source might have been. Bad dairy seems likely. My whole body cascaded into responses. I was itchy and in pain and a range of histamine and emotional responses as the stress cleared through my system.

It’s always an exercise in frustration finding what little mistake or miscalculation sets off a disaster. Something so small can have massive consequences. I suspect it’s more about the power of the compounding effect. Or maybe it’s that giant domino meme. Sourcing backing to one silly little catalyst always shows you the fragility of your own life and circumstances.

I can’t tell if I find this reassuring and devastating. If the biggest life events always come from something small how can we event expect to impact an outcome. Or perhaps that is freeing. If everything comes from some unknown small then of events then we can simply life our lives unbothered by preparations and foresight. Something random is bound to knock life off track.

I think I’ll take the sanguine view. How could I possibly let myself worry when a little detail like a boot of nausea can set off a whole day. It’s a Franz Ferdinand approach to life. Sometimes a spot of political trouble in the Balkans sets off the whole world. It’s always going to be something.


Day 543 and Complicated Country

America has always been a complicated country. We’ve perpetrated some of history’s great evils. And at the same time we’ve achieved the greatest set of freedom ever known. Dickins didn’t fucking know best and worst of times. That’s always been the great American novel’s thing. The remix is better sometimes.

And I am feeling this tension in my body this week. To have always believed in the forward progress of this nation. Even when one grew up, perhaps most uniquely among generations, aware of the sins. We had Adbuster’s and Zinn’s People’s History and every politically aware piece of Hollywood awards bait.

You know how weird it feels to be optimistic about capitalism and the mess of democracy when you know it’s fucking blood magic that bought its riches? Everything has a cost. But who am I to know the cost. And would I bear it myself if I thought I could enjoy it’s fruits only? I doubt it. Everyone loves a fucking deal. And white people love the meritocracy. Because it means we’ve got merit by being winners. Whatever your ego needs.

It’s no wonder we love horror movies in America. We like a nightmare on Elm Street. And we love our monsters. What if racism was the monster all along we laugh. Our art has always recognized the victims in the system. It was only very occasionally that our laws did anything to protect anyone though. Amendments were hard fought and fiercely opposed. Reconstruction of what exactly? Did we even try?

So I’m not surprised that my body is on the line. Because someone in my lineage knew the cost. They came to America willingly. The freedoms we bought for ourselves as immigrants. We knew they weren’t free. But maybe we misunderstood the cost. Didn’t pay the bill in full.

But if the promise isn’t worth it. If the dream cannot be attained? Then what happens. Who pulls back from contributing our best. Who gives up a little on working harder. And how do we slowly decay just a little bit over time. Slowly at first. And how does that compound. What little failures add up to the final cynical calculation that anyone who has lived under an authoritarian can smell.

It dawns on me that we should have been fighting my entire lifetime to secure every inch of freedoms we could. That every single instance would matter because we’d be losing ground the moment we stopped. Because shame is unrelenting. And we must hold our ground against it every day. Ever vigilant.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 542 and Energy Budgets

I’m not much for active time off. Or being active at all really. I have a limited energy budget so I watch my energy expenditure carefully. Other people budget their money. I budget my energy.

I’ll often find myself jealous of other people who enjoy active hobbies. My husband plays tennis and shoots competitively. Every weekend he is off doing fun shit outside. He could easily play a sport, socialize afterwards and still have the energy to go out for dinner.

Meanwhile I’m probably in bed. I have plenty of fun, lower energy usage hobbies. I read a ton of fiction. I play games. I am working on my foreign language skills (be my friend in Duolingo), and of course I’m a notoriously active Twitter shitposter. All things that can be done while laying down!

And while I love all of those activities I wish that I didn’t have to run the math on how much a coffee with friends would set back my energy budget. I long for the opportunity to simply throw on clothing and head out the door without fear of how that might impact the rest of my day or even my week. But I run on the spoon theory just like your average disabled person.

My fear is that my energy poverty is isolating me. I struggle to explain that I’d love to spend more time with people but I need them to commit to cheaper energy expenditure options. But even the energy required to explain how friends and family can accommodate me is a challenge. It embarrasses me there I need everyone to work around my needs. And I’m often too scared to be demanding about what would work for me. So instead I just spend my time and energy alone.

If you are interested in learning how to make the effort to spend time with someone with energy poverty I hope this post helps. For instance instead of playing a round of tennis, perhaps you could come visit me at home and we could quietly chat on the couch. Instead of going out to dinner we could order in takeout. And no I don’t mean cook at home because then I’d need to plan, shop, cook and clean up afterwards. I very much mean order food on disposable plates so it’s minimal energy outlay. Disability accommodations are not very eco-friendly. It’s a different calculus of resources.

You may have to do a lot more work to be friends with someone managing a disability or a medical condition. If they don’t respond it’s not because they don’t want to see you necessarily. It could just be that you messaged on a bad day and it slipped through the cracks. We need you to actively work to be present for us. It’s a big ask but it is appreciated.