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Preparedness

Day 498 and Safety

The reality is sinking in that my husband and I are actually moving to Montana. And it’s unleashing all kinds of powerful emotions and realizations.

Alex told me he’s much more willing to honestly look at unpleasant political realities in America. He’d been ignoring the news for fear it would distract him. But even if Trump wins another term, the populist wing of the GOP sweeps and Roe is overturned, at least we are safely in the demilitarized zone of the inter-mountain west. Want to fuck with us? You are armed. We are armed. Let’s keep it polite. Our libertarian preferences might still have a chance out here and if not it’s awfully hard to subdue gun toting mountain people.

That libertarian zone means business gets done. The important work of capitalism doesn’t stop because of conflict or silly culture wars. The companies that will do the best will be the ones that can get away with ignoring culture wars and focus on making stuff people need to keep their lives afloat.

We also feel safer about our personal resilience. We will be less reliant on failing electrical grids with backup power from both solar and fuel generators. Considering the warnings being issued for this summer’s black outs and I suspect we will be glad to be less dependent on the grid. I’ll be glad to be somewhere cool where my air conditioner won’t be going out. And in the winter I’ll have a wood burning stove. I’m excited for having a stream on the property along with a pond and a well that does 25 gallons a minute. I look forward to making it a home that has backups for any emergency.

I’m also a big believer in traditional skills. Having a close relationship to the land benefits our bodies and souls. Putting time into the natural rhythms of the planet keeps us healthier. I want my circadian cycle to be nurtured. And if I am ever so lucky to grow some of my own food not only is that good preparedness but it’s certainly next level wellness shit. I want that kind of power for me.

The kind of safety and sense of security we are accessing with a homestead will help us access our deep talents. There are no excuses anymore to ignore the instabilities in our dusky lives. The crumbles have arrived. And I’m so deeply relieved we are finally taking the right steps to live with them.

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Preparedness

Day 492 and Good on Paper

We saw a property today that was basically perfect. It’s a bit expensive but otherwise has everything we’ve said we’ve wanted. But somehow we weren’t in love with it. I found myself thinking of Sex and the City episode where “good on paper” just didn’t translate into a spark.

The property had a number of productive acres, running water that fed a pond, a layout that can accommodate an orchard, raised beds and a chicken coop, a two story workshop garage and a newly renovated farmhouse. It was a lovely home that is ideal for any discerning wealthy family looking to invest in Bozeman.

Of course, seeing what you think you want and not being immediately enthralled gives you a really opportunity for clarity. You have to assess what you are really prioritizing and why your mind isn’t aligning with your heart.

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Emotional Work

Day 487 and Grocery Stores

I love settling into a new home by going grocery shopping. I’ve had the opportunity to be in a new city for an extended period twice now this year. And each time the joy I’ve taken in going to pick up groceries is palpable. Going shopping for food is my happy place.

I’m in Bozeman with dear friends and one of them noticed just how excited I was for the grocery run. We had a mostly empty fridge and I made a beeline to the nicest grocery store in town. It was a hybrid fancy yuppie grocery wrapped inside a big box grocery store. It’s a chain local to the pacific and mountain west called Rosaurs. I highly recommend it.

A grocery store is a powerful space. I’ve written before about my love for the American grocery store. I think it’s unique in its position as a functional and emotional retail space. It needs enough structure and repeatable patterns that anyone can shop a store and have an intuitive sense of where the basics are merchandised. But grocery relies on novelty and newness as much as any other retail store for driving order size and additional Martin.

The presentation of new brands and new products is fraught. The need to display something new competes against the need for repeatability and ease of locating core items in grocery. Grocery can be seen as human nature reflecting core tensions as it balances desire and safety. We yearn to feel nurtured by food but also crave to be stimulated by new tastes.

I spent an hour and a half wandering the aisles filling out my grocery list. I had done meal planning and had specific needs for the weeks meals. But I am also an inveterate shopper looking to feel excited by what was on the shelves.

To this day that I can look at any item in the store and buy it remains a surprise to me. It’s a luxury that never fails to delight me. If I want to get something I can. There is no budget or restriction on me like I remember as a small child. And yet I still couldn’t bring myself to buy a full size Turmeric spice jar. Reflecting back childhood emotions I didn’t even realize I had. A small reminder of how much seemingly mundane acts like grocery shopping can reflect much bigger things.

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Preparedness

Day 467 and Taking Inventory

I’ve got the urge to do some spring cleaning. But not in the typical “the house is messy” way so much as I want to take inventory of my shit. I’ve got just a little bit of an unsettled feeling watching food prices creep up over the last few months. I was insulated in many ways because I buy local and I buy upfront in farm shares. But a new season means new prices and reasonably so as everything is more expensive.

If I’m totally candid even a tripling of food prices wouldn’t really hurt us. We’d absorb it and have been absorbing it in our expensive takeout habit. Our local BBQ joint has been slowly upping the prices on our favorites. Even the burger has gone from a fancy $14 affair to $17 over the last six months.

It’s not that I haven’t encountered the dreaded $20 burger plenty in Manhattan but there is something surreal about having ground chuck basics be that expensive in Colorado. It’s just so clear that life is getting more expensive and it’s doing so rapidly.

I’m not a total doomer about rising fertilizer costs and the knock on effects of the war in Ukraine. I’m not anticipating famine in America. But I also feel like I need to take stock and do better planning around my food supply.

Categories
Chronicle Preparedness

Day 451 and Takeout

I’m a little embarrassed that this is the second time I’ve written about takeout on my daily essay series but fuck it I am owning my love of outsourcing food. My fridge has absolutely nothing in it but leftover boxes of takeout right now and I’ve used Wolt every single day this week. I highly recommend if you find yourself in Germany.

When I get tired or overwhelmed or otherwise struggle to manage life food has always been one of my bigger struggles. I just have no affinity for cooking. The people who find it relaxing or enjoyable seem insane to me. My husband is one of those people. He’s a talented cook. I on the other hand have been known to hyperventilate because I set the microwave on fire because I didn’t know you couldn’t put tinfoil in it. Also this is the second day in a row where I’ve admitted to setting shit on fire. I wonder what that is about.

As much as I love traditional skills and think preparedness and homesteading are worthy and even vital pursuits, cooking is just not the skill for me. I’ll garden and handle the animals but please don’t ask me to make a meal. I can’t handle planning an hour ahead of time. My timing horizons are one year or ten years.

This affinity for long term planning is probably why I like planting and venture capital. I’ll happily work towards a long term goal but if I have to pressure myself into a task on a specific day well frankly I’d probably rather set something on fire. I just can’t predict how I’ll be on any given day. And I’ve only got so much energy so why would I use it on anything that’s not crucial or enjoyable.

So fuck feeling bad about it and my Wolt bills from this month. It’s who I am and everyone in my life who is affected by this habit seems fine with it. Well except maybe the recycling and trash bin guys. They’ve got to be thinking “this bitch needs to chill on the takeout boxes!” But also look at this amazing piece of packaging and tell me it wasn’t all with it.

A bison burger in a takeout box
The magic of good recycled packaging

Categories
Travel

Day 445 and Traditional American Meal

When I was fifteen I lived in France as part of an exchange program. The family I stayed with asked me to prepare a traditional American meal. Because I’m from Colorado I made fajitas. This did not amused my host family very much as it was a real pain in the ass to locate things like jalapeños & avocados in the middle of Normandy. But also because I think they expected me to make hamburger helper or tuna casserole.

As I head into my forth week in Europe I’m starting to miss “American” food. So I ordered Mexican for dinner. In a testament to the strange truth that big cities have more in common with each other than actual countries do, I got some of the best pork tacos I’ve ever had. Just absolutely perfect Cochinita Pibil in Frankfurt.

Maybe it’s my imagination but between delivery apps and Netflix and the expectations of urban living cities have become a kind of default global standard of cosmopolitanism. I suspect this is why the digital nomad has become a thing. It’s not that young urban professionals are actually willing to become immersed in other cultures. It’s that we’ve formed our own culture that is portable to any city of a certain density. Frankfurt and Denver are basically interchangeable when it comes to amenities.

So we bounce from one Airbnb to another with our iPhones and Apple Air computers and we expect a certain standard of cuisine and service and global sameness. It used to be that if you were an American you’d end up at a McDonalds because you were homesick and wanted something that tastes like home. Now I expect to be able to get absolutely authentic Mexican food no matter where I am.

So I guess in that sense I did serve my French host family a traditional American meal. Americans pushed the neoliberal cosmopolitan smoothed edge sameness on the world. And I’m glad I could get good tacos to be honest. But also damn it’s going to be weird when we export cosmopolitan yuppie culture as a traditional Earth meal to the aliens when we finally have first contact. Hopefully they will be less disappointed than my French family was.

Categories
Travel

Day 442 and Salt

I’ve got low blood pressure. It’s not so bad that I notice it on a daily basis but enough that my doctors encourage me to include a bit more salt in my diet to raise it.

It was initially tricky to diagnose as I tend towards tachycardia because of the chronic pain from my ankylosing spondylitis. Pain, and the stress that it can cause my system, can often raise my blood pressure to “normal” levels so it got missed for a few years. But nevertheless a smart doctor noticed the trend and encouraged me to keep salty snacks on hand.

I say this because Germans appear to dislike salt in their cuisine. My first clue was that my Airbnb didn’t have any salt in the kitchen. There was a tiny shaker of it but it appeared to have about one meal’s worth of it in the shaker. It was so small I suspect it was from a travel set.

Meanwhile there was a full size battery operated pepper grinder next to it. The grocery store nearby has one of the most impressive spice selections I’ve ever seen but offered only one box of salt. There was no kosher salt or sea salt or flakes. Just a box with a little spout of salt that honestly tastes a bit artificial. It might be but I can’t totally tell.

Virtually all of the takeout and delivery I’ve had has been under-salted to my admittedly very America palette. I get it. We eat too much salt. But for me the American standard keeps my blood pressure up so not only am I used to it but it’s crucial to my health.

But everything from the schnitzel to the Thai and Ethiopian takeaway feels like it would benefit from salt. And all I’ve got is some crappy boxes maybe synthetic salt to sprinkle on it.

Tonight I went to the pedestrian mall that seems to be the main gathering spot for nightlife here. I happened upon a pomme frites stand. I thought hell yes it’s Friday night let’s get some French fries and people watch. I forked over a few euros for an order. It was absolutely perfectly fried. But god damn it if it wasn’t kind of mediocre because it didn’t have enough salt.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 368 and Eating Disorder Season

Warning! Before you go any further this post will discuss food, emotional relationships with food, disordered eating, diets and diet culture.

Today is the first Monday of the New Year. That means it is weight loss season online. Despite me having many positive healthy habits including walking, weight lifting, meditation, supplements, sleep hygiene and a moderately nutritious eating routine I found myself upgrading my wellness applications and panicking at stepping on a scale. January is the month where the “wellness” industrial complex gets you. Even though I spend a small fortune on my health even I am vulnerable to the season’s exhortations.

December was a little rough for me so I put on some fat and lost muscle mass. I had an injury that kept me off my feet and then I had Covid. So my routines got a little fucked. Also two towns next door completely burned down in a terrifying urban firestorm. So like it was ok that I lost some progress.

But rather than reintroduce slowly and moderately my good habits, I’m finding myself desperately tempted to go over board on January changes. I spent $199 upgrading Gyroscope to get their nutrition tracking and a health coach. Despite knowing full well what I need to do in order eat better. The trouble is that I fucking hate doing it. So I thought let’s try a health coach why not!

I’ve had a mixed relationship to food my entire life. One of the defining traumas of my childhood was my pediatrician telling my mother I needed to eat more dairy. I hated the stuff and refused milk & yogurt as small child. My doctor’s solution (and I am not making this up sadly) was to not allow me any food till I ate dairy.

My mother attempted to follow his instructions but was stymied by the fact that I wouldn’t budge. I was a stubborn child. I didn’t care that I would be allowed to eat if I just had a spoonful of yogurt or a sip of milk apparently. I went on a full hunger strike. Fearing the worst as her daughter went days without eating, my mother eventually caved but the damage was done. Baby’s first eating disorder!

I continue to have all or nothing attitudes on food. I love to fast because it’s a total solution. I feel in control. My inner child continues to see it as an act of setting emotional and physical boundaries when the adults around me overwhelmed mine. Is also happen to hate running kind of caloric deficit. I’ve got health challenges that do better if I’m at maintenance calories.

Now I’ve successfully managed to heal an out of control immune system and I’ve overcome a significant rheumatoid condition so you’d think “being fat” wouldn’t be a worry of mine. I am proudly an avid biohacker. I actually enjoy taking care of my body these days. But it’s so very easy to slip up in a culture where we treat our bodies as moral failures. Just take a look at Covid discourse and you will see America’s obsession with categorizing each other’s health decisions as “good” and “bad”!

So I urge you to be gentle with yourself in this environment. I’ve written extensively about how to slowly introduce healthier habits in ways that are measurable and kind to yourself. Because I know how hard it is to do so. There is a joke in fitness communities that you should only ever trust a former fatty because the naturally slim just don’t get it. It’s insulting and moralizing in its own way, but it’s also a bit true. Trust your health to the chronically ill as they know how to survive the system.

January can feel like eating disorder season (or at least the first two weeks or so) and it’s alright to participate in your own wellness experiments just as it’s alright to do nothing at all. Be gentle with yourself. I know it’s a tall order. I just spent $200 in a panic about being fat so I know of which I speak. Good habits and a healthy body aren’t made in the first week of the year. That actually takes a lifetime.