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Biohacking Emotional Work

290 and Self Care

I’ve feel like I should have an entire category on the blog dedicated to “maintenance” as I’ve got loads of posts on my struggles to balance the activities of staying alive with well, the rest of my life.

All of the activities that go into keeping a human alive and functional are so damn time consuming. How does anyone ever get anything done when so much of life is dedicated to keeping our meat sacks from spiraling out? I’m pretty sure these are the things that actually make up life and I’m supposed to treasure this time in my body. But until I become as enlightened as the Buddha, I feel like this whole embodiment thing is just getting in the way of what I should be doing. My therapist likes to call this “human doing” instead of “human being” and I don’t love the joke.

I had a terrific day of doing things this Sunday. I woke up at 7am and didn’t finish all of the various routines and self care activities till 1pm. I went for an hour long walk (which is pleasurable since sunshine and mountain air but also low impact cardiovascular activity) I lifted weights (alright fine, I love squats). I meditated (mindfulness doesn’t count when you quantify it). I showered, shaved & washed my hair. I did the grocery shopping and meal planning for the week. I did three loads of laundry. I made lunch. I cleaned up. I juggled supplements (I’ve got a spreadsheet to track them all with 8am, 10am & 11am slots) which are completely separate from my medications (I have 7am and noon spots for those). And only then at 1pm did I finally get a chance to settle into work. There was so much work just to get to work.

And while I know all of those things that keep me balanced and healthy are the stuff of life, I also resent their necessity. I have elaborate fantasies about what other people get done with their time. Other people don’t need to exercise, meditate, take vitamins, or watch their nutrition right? Well alright I said it was a fantasy. If you also spent your Sunday doing chores and self care it would make me feel better to know that.

Categories
Chronic Disease Preparedness

Day 286 and Appointments

I’ve been going to a bunch of appointments in the past week or so. And I’ve got a bunch more lined up in the coming weeks. My calendar is a mess of obligations; optometrist, dentist, gynecologist, and the hair salon for starters. I feel like I’m drowning in appointments.

I made the mistake of not capitalizing on the last dip in case numbers in the late spring and early summer and missed the pandemic window before delta. I didn’t want to make that mistake again so I’ve been hustling to have the appointments that I’ve been putting off for the last 19 months. Check my eyes, check my teeth, check my fiddly bits. And yes cut my hair. God is my hair long.

There is so much maintenance work that has been piling up that I wonder how I’ve made it through the entire pandemic putting all of these life chores off. Has everyone been putting off their appointments? Was it just me? Or is it just people who are still trying to limit their exposure to infection?

I grant I’ve got a very different risk profile than the average American but I feel like it’s probably not unusual to put off stuff you are supposed to do but can probably live life without. But should you? So far no one has found anything wrong but maybe it’s just luck that I could go for two years without someone checking my tits or my teeth.

I didn’t put off any of my truly crucial health appointments over the pandemic but I am sure other people did. The eye doctor is something I tell myself I can put off for two years but maybe that’s a rationalization. Did others do that with annual physicals? With breast exams? What else have we been putting off in our appointments. It feels like I put off my entire life. And now I’m scrambling to fit it all in before something else has happens.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 284 and My Birthday

I’ve not enjoyed celebrating my birthday the past few years. There hasn’t felt like a lot of joy to go around which hinders my appetite for celebrating. I was struggling with my health and then the planet was struggling with a pandemic, and frankly I was just too sad to see my way into being happy about a birthday.

Not that I’ve traditionally been a big believer in birthdays. Some people love them and I find that lovely. I think it’s nice to celebrate another turn around the sun but it’s not generally been the mile marker for my own life. I’ve looked to other markers like the new year or the start of a new project. This post is title day 284 because on New Years Day I committed to write on essay every single day. But I don’t entirely write off birthdays. I do have little rituals that I enjoy for my birthday, and I was relieved that they felt joyful again this year.

I like to call my mother at precisely 7:14am California time as that was when I was born. I have always felt like my birthday was as much about her as it was about me. She brought me into this world, so taking a beat for the exact moment of my birth with my mother has felt like the most important ritual.

We were texting before the clock turned as we are on mountain time now. But at 8:14 MTN, I turned the text into a call and we got to enjoy the moment together.

It’s been hard to find the right ways to spend time with people as the various worries of the pandemic added rules and concerns to interactions. But today we just celebrated. I had lunch with my mother and my husband. We got an enormous sushi lunch. And then a surprise chocolate cake. And while this was all decadent it was also normal. It was normal to have a fancy meal and cake on your birthday with your family. I’d like to have more normal because that means more joy. And that’s my wish on my birthday. That we all have more normal joys.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 280 and Scooping

I first started blogging in college because a friend of mine pointed out that I needed to own my digital identity. I had written something about designer jeans in the lesser school newspaper and another student was dunking on me in her personal blog.

Unless I acted swiftly, Google results would be tainted forever he assured me. So I started blogging. Not because I necessarily felt like I was meant to be a writer but because I didn’t want this other girl to scoop my life story. I didn’t want to get “Bad Art Friended” by letting someone else tell my story.

I’m pretty grateful to both my friend James and the “mean girl” Phoebe for launching my social media habits. Every big break I’ve ever had has come from the connections I made on the Internet. If I hadn’t been petty enough to want to own my own digital identity I might have missed out.

Rather like the “Bad Art Friend” piece where one writer uses details from another’s life for her art, whoever is able to own the narrative is the default winner. It’s not terribly fair but it could have been someone else telling my story had I not chosen to write. If the victors write history then there is an incentive to be the one whose narrative wins. And the only way to win in our social media saturated works is to be sure you’ve got the scoop on your own life.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 278 and Overshooting

I have been feeling terrific. That means I’ve been able to do a lot more. But it’s also one of my tendencies to overshoot my capacity. Workaholism, like any addiction, is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. Being in recovery for it means recognizing I could relapse.

I feel a bit of that overextended twitchy feeling at the moment. That jittery adrenaline fueled vibe that proceeds a crash isn’t something I’ve allowed myself to feel for several years as frankly I was worried I’d go on a bender. A bender for me is perceived as societally approved. Look at that work ethic!

So this is me recognizing that I feel like I could go over the edge and I’m not going to do it. The temptation I had to find something to prolong the adrenaline of my winning work streak is heavy. I have a number of topics I’d like to write about today. I’ve got to do lists with tempting targets. But I’m not going to overshoot. I’ve written my paragraphs. I’ll tag it. I’ll send it out into social media and then I’m going to watch some trashy tv. Hold

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 259 and Easing into Habits

Considering I’ve been writing every single day for two hundred and fifty nine straight days you’d think I’d have encountered more writer’s block. But I generally find myself capable of putting the proverbial pen to paper. Well in this case it is thumbs to mobile application layer but that doesn’t sound as evocative.

Even today when I had no discernible topic at the ready I am finding that words will spill out so long as I make the effort to form a thought and codify it to written form. While I had the notion that I had little to say today I am still able to say something. I am saying something about having nothing to say but it’s the act that counts.

It’s not that it’s necessarily a worthy entry, but rather a reminder to myself that the act of doing forces it’s own discipline. It’s practice. I am learning that doing something can be easy as long as I let myself relax into the momentum of doing it without expectations or pressure. This must be what all those sports speeches about practice are on about.

Seeing writing as a habit rather than an inspiration or performance likely helps. I’ve come to view the activity as similar to exercise, taking vitamins or brushing my teeth. Perhaps it’s more cognitively demanding but it’s no less part of the daily rhythm.

I’d like that to be true of more of the activities in my life. Being able to view professional necessities as habits is a sure way to see them not as exhausting “to do” lists but rather enjoyable easy daily practices. Sure it will start out harder but eventually it will become easier.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 258 and Snacks

I’ve never been much of a snacker. I eat at mealtimes, and for many years that only included lunch and dinner as I practiced intermittent fasting. I like to eat bigger portions and a bunch of different things in one sitting. For whatever reason, I am a meal person.

My husband on the other hand is dedicated to grazing. Unless I specifically tell him to leave food for me it will disappear. Not because he sneaks my food, but rather I just don’t get to things fast enough. I’ll ask what happened to some treat and Alex will sigh and say “you bought that six weeks ago!” If I don’t plan to eat something it gets forfeit.

But occasionally I’ll get it into my head that I should buy some snacks. I tell myself it would be nice to have something salty in the house. Or I think I’d enjoy some fruit snacks (the one item I truly coveted as a child but was not allowed to eat). So today when I went to pick up my weekly vegetable allotment from the community farm share I decided I’d stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home. Man cannot live on lettuce and fancy tomatoes alone!

I instantly felt overwhelmed as I set foot in the store. The shelves were packed with all kinds of items I had no idea what to do with. Pumpkin spice products galore! I wandered the isles trying to imagine what would be helpful to have on hand. Maybe I could pick up some items that would make cooking easier or a few ready made meals. That’s a thing people do right?

I couldn’t bring myself to actually get anything. I felt myself panicking as the minutes ticked on. I didn’t want to be inside around a bunch of people for very long but I couldn’t figure out what kind of prepackaged foods seemed appealing. I had fantasies about grabbing a frozen meal or a prepared lunch but nothing seemed particularly good. Eventually I found myself panicking and saying “fuck it” and I just grabbed a bunch of novelty items.

Salted macadamia nuts, chocolate wafer cookies, yogurt pretzels, and three packages of licorice. I’ve got no idea I’d I will actually eat any of these snacks but at least I can rely on Alex. Chances are good that I’ll forget about the snacks and in October I’ll go foraging for only to discover that “hon you bought those six weeks ago.” So somebody please remind me to open up the snack drawer before then alright?

Categories
Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 248 and Trusting Nothing

I am learning to appreciate the value of doing nothing. I have always struggled with the human “being” part of the equation. I would prefer if we had been called human doings. But I’m slowly being convinced that’s just ego talking.

I feel terrific if I do nothing. I don’t even mean doing things you might consider recreation. I mean I don’t do a damn thing but still in bed flat on my back. I let my mind wander. I’ve learned that leisure isn’t my style. I can’t do something and experience it as nothing.

Maybe I’ve got some kind of struggle with getting and staying in a parasympathetic state. Maybe I prefer the fight or flight. But it is in the rest and digest state of laying down that I finally feel at ease. It’s from where I bring myself back. It would be nice if I fully relaxed when doing my nails or hanging out with other people.

But as the only thing that truly gets me into parasympathetic is stillness I will trust that nothing. I’ll remind myself I need to do it. Maybe I’ll even be on of those people that calendar it. Sorry I’m out of office as I need to lay flat for the day. Come back tomorrow!

Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 229 and Under the Anger

They teach you in various therapy and 12 step programs that anger isn’t a real emotion. Anger is steam rising from true emotions like hurt and sadness. It’s easier to feel anger than to plumb the depths of our deeper vulnerabilities. It takes courage to admit we’ve been hurt.

I’ve experienced anger over the entire covid pandemic as it turns endemic. I’ve avoided looking too closely at what is underneath the anger all year. It turns out it was hurt. I feel abandoned by my fellow Americans. I’m hurt you didn’t make the choices to protect me. I’m hurt you chose you over me. Even though I recognize and believe in your God given right to do so. I’m still hurt.

Reconciling my hurt with my belief in freedom has been an exercise in faith. I’m a Calvinist. I basically believe that God is the set of all sets. I do believe in predestination, in that there exists the possibility that something, we can call it God, can and does know all possible outcomes. The infinity of choices is knowable to God.

A number of people find this fatalist. We have no free will if all possible outcomes have been seen. I don’t see it that way. We chose every moment in our infinite outcomes. It only looks fatalistic because humans live forward in linear time. God does not. God lives in all instants all at once. I alas and living each choice forward in time. I experience causality. God does not. Time isn’t real, it just feels real to humans.

Let me try to explain. I ate a ham and cheese croissant instead of yogurt this morning. I had a latte instead of an espresso. I’ll never know what the other me who had a different breakfast got up to but it’s possible to know. That’s God to me. Knower of all outcomes.

We literally have infinite choices and are ever in the process of refining our paths. This does not contradict that God has already seen every version of me. It is my responsibility to make the version I want. I believe we can make better choices. Turn ourselves into the person we wish.

Or we can hate ourselves for poor choices. We can chose to be victims to ourselves. At any moment we can make a new choice and branch into infinity again. That’s free will to me. Calvinism accepts that we live in linear time but God does not.

I’m also a libertarian because I believe each of those choices to be a sacred individual responsibility. It’s up to us to make a good choice. We own our failures. We own our successes. But that isn’t the narcissism of a childhood ego assuming everything is our fault (or our doing) but rather everything is our responsibility. We don’t chose the forces that act on us, but we do chose our response to it. We make every choice in freedom even if we perceive ourselves to be bound by forces outside our control.

The moment we lose sight that we own all our actions and decisions, we give up our free will. We abandon the project of becoming our infinite selves. This is why I am reticent to have prescriptive rules for our behavior.

Legislating behavior is fucking Old Testament nonsense. Jesus did not die for our sins so we could continue to feel guilt over a rule book about hygiene and how to prepare pork. He freed us to own how disgusting and sinful we are and how we can continually chose to overcome it.

As a Calvinist and a libertarian, I think we must chose to do the right things. We’ve been freed from rules, which in turn makes the freedom to chose better all the more crucial. Every mandate from an outside authority is just an excuse for us to victimize ourselves and abdicate the freedom we’ve been given to pursue infinity. We don’t need rules to behave well.

This means I get fucking pissed when societies need laws and mandates for basics civility be enforced. American shouldn’t be a Hobbesian war of all against all. I think shit like vaccine mandates and masking rules shouldn’t need to exist. You should be capable of choosing how you want to balance your responsibilities to the community and your freedom to make infinitely bad choices. Our society has given you the freedom to make those choices yourself. Our civilization is meant to be an experiment in free will and democratic society.

I’m not saying law isn’t important nor that humans won’t fail to live up to our higher selves. We fail at this every second of every day. We are sinners after all. It is easier to be a victim than to cope with the burden of freedom and responsibility. So sometimes we grasp at burden of free will and become nihilist. It becomes too much.

Fuck Jesus for freeing us. Fuck God for knowing that we could chose to toss back our free will. Fuck everyone for seeing our frailty. We have a God given right to be a an indulgent irresponsible baby that takes no responsibility. A lot of us are spending time coping with our freedom to make an infinity of bad choices. We’ve all got coping mechanisms. But we’ve got to stop acting like free will means there are no consequences.

You want to know what happens when you fail to live in civilization? Your neighbors lose faith in you. I feel abandoned by society. And I have abandoned society too. We offered ourselves complete freedom in liberal society, we left behind Old Testament thinking of rules & regulations and now we are struggling with that freedom. Instead of rising up to our freedom from rules we are sinking. And maybe that is our karma for this lifetime. To discover the full extent of our frailty. To live as a sinner. Only God can judge. But we all have a right to our feelings about how the bad choices of others impact us. And I am sometimes hurt by it.

I’m struggling to see how many of us have choices and don’t live up to that freedom. How shameful of us. How human. To be human is to hurt. I know that is the cost of freedom. That is salvation.

But I’m having a hard time forgiving my fellow citizens for making bad choices. I know we are all sinners. I am too. But good fucking Christ I want you to own that. Be truthful that you chose yourself over me. We gave each other that freedom. In the balancing act of human being versus citizen we chose the individual. What progress we’ve made that this was a choice. But own your fucking choice.

And even though this all sounds very philosophical. I’ve laid out my entire theology and political foundation which I’m sure will be handy in the future. But it’s important to note that this is all my stuff. I’m reactive because it’s my trauma. The feelings of hurt are grounded in my own childhood. I only explored this philosophy of freedom as my inner child remains angry my father chose his individual path over the community of his family. I wanted him to chose me.

And when he didn’t, I felt abandoned. Because even if he had chosen me, my little child knew he didn’t want to chose me in freedom. He chose himself over the family.

I’ll forever carry that wound to my inner child. In his infinite choices, my father needed to chose the individual over the community of his family. And that was his call. And I am not a victim to his freedom. I forgive him. I chose to believe there is a reason he was my father and I needed the lesson that sometimes others chose themselves over you.

I want you to chose the better infinity for us. But I cannot prescribe it or mandate it. You must choose it in freedom. The grace of God has given us that right. Anything less isn’t human. Anything less is making us a victim to infinity.

This is why I don’t believe that a flourishing human society should mandate our choices. It stunts our branching to infinite Godhead. It throws away the freedom to chose to be better even though at every single turn we could chose to be worse and that God has seen that we have. But we don’t. Even in the face of predestination of all possible choices we don’t give up on our responsibility. We continually, in every moment, work to own every choice we make, good or bad.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 215 and Leisure

I’ve got a bad relationship with work. Since I was a teenager I’ve been compulsive about the idea of hard work. I don’t know how I got to have a problem with the Protestant Work Ethic but it seems likely I developed it long before I read Max Weber and found it’s comforting rationalizations about work’s inherent morality.

I’m fascinated by things like commodity aesthetics, the history of consumption, and theories of leisure & status. Partially because I got a kick out of supposing I was a better person than those wretched lazy types. I wasn’t so sophisticated to sneer “rentier” class as kid but I was well on my way to veneration of hard work and productive capital. An economics degree finished the job.

This was compounded by growing up in a family that worshipped the culture of Silicon Valley. The innovation of computers and the people that worked all hours to bring their creativity to the world were the most important people on the planet. They hadn’t quite crossed the cultural rubicon of power that the tech industry has now, but the power of making the future was hard work and heady stuff even before it captured the mainstream. I wanted to change the world like the people my father admired

There was a time when computing and automation raised questions of a new era of leisure. If we could move all of the work we’d previously done manually to automated systems perhaps humans could ascend to The Culture of Ian M Bank’s novels. In a distant future of abundance, sentient AIs run industry and production, so humanity can do, well, whatever it likes.

But we haven’t achieved a post scarcity world. If anything accumulating resources and showing you’ve done it by the rules of the meritocracy makes hard work even more crucial. You’ve got to play and win two games. You’ve got to make the money and show you’ve demonstrated the proper status while doing it. It seems like leisure is losing the battle quite soundly.

I’ve been pushing all year to get back to hard work. I’ve worked hard at my health. I’ve committed myself to biohacking. But really what if the obsession with working myself to the bone is killing me? I’ve been completely relaxed as I prepared for a medical procedure this week. I’ve never felt better. Which forced me to ask myself if maybe I better come to live leisure like the way I have loved work. It might be a much better life for me. The future sentient AIs might approve as well.