Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 768 and Memory

I’ve not ever read Proust in its entirety because what am I an eternal being who exists outside of linear time? But, thanks to Wikipedia and university survey courses, I am familiar with its basic themes of memory and it’s frustrating insufficiency.

Anyways, when not pondering madeleines, I am often confronted by how resilient the mind is in protecting us from the horrors of the world. Memory is a very funny thing. As good a reason as any to maintain diaries or personal hagiography is that you’d be surprised at what you forget.

A doctor asked me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I surprised myself by saying absolutely not unless it’s an emergency life or death situation I am not doing that. And she, in sincere surprise, asked me why not.

And, because I guess therapy works, I recalled a pelvic ultrasound from maybe 10-12 years ago. I’d been referred in to a specialist as there was concern about a uterine cyst. This doctor, a gentleman over 50 in the kindly white gentleman archetype, who I did not know know, proceeds to tell me this won’t hurt.

But it does hurt. I am screaming bloody murder. It hurts so much I cannot stop. He tells me he will call security unless I quiet down. I cannot and I am in tears hysterically trying to convey the pain. I pass out.

I had utterly suppressed the memory till today. It happened to coincide with my husband mentioning a think piece in New York Magazine about women who empathized with the Clare Danes character from Fleishman Is In Trouble. There is a profoundly violating scene around reproductive health and consent.

And of course, because it’s happening to a striving insecure aspirant white bitch it totally doesn’t count right? Fucking Karens. It’s super cringe to consider where the system hurts you, because you dumb bitch, you benefit more than anyone else.

So I guess I am not surprised I had banished the experience of something bad but you know not so bad you are allowed to complain about it. And that is how the patriarchy perpetuates itself.

What I’m saying is that maybe you need to remember who it is that benefits from you not remembering the pain. Who benefits from forgetting? And trust me they are very scared when you realize that you remember.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 757 and Hunker Down

I really missed the cold and snow while I was in Prague. You might be confused. Isn’t Prague known for its cold winters? Well maybe not this winter. As it turns out, the unseasonably warm winter in Eastern Europe is good for the energy crisis on the continent, but bad for someone who prefers the cold.

Thankfully we’ve got a massive snowstorm bearing down on the Gallatin Valley that has a polar vortex of arctic air coming along as a chaser. We are expected to get a foot of fresh powder over the next 24 hours and then extreme cold (another -30 with the wind chill situation) will hit us on Sunday into Monday. Looking out on our back porch we have some accumulation but it has been melting earlier.

Several layers of snow on the back porch of our farmhouse looking out across our pasture

Alex and I have a standard storm routine that we follow that is part of our habit of preparedness. The best storm preparedness tip I’ve ever gotten was to clean your house. Wash dishes, do the laundry, take a shower, and anything else that requires power and running water. You will appreciate the clean house no matter what and it extends your ability to cope with something bad happening.

I am currently feeling very fancy as I did my Sunday grooming routine today and my skin and hair are looking fantastic. If we get socked in at least I’ll be clean and pretty. I used a hair glossing seal from BeautyPie and a Mediheal collagen mask and I recommend them both.

A shockingly long receipt from Rosaurs

I also did a massive grocery run yesterday as in addition to the storm we have a houseguest coming up. The receipt was so long I had to take a picture of it surrounded by a partial haul as it’s practically CVS length. Our guest is gluten free so I did some stocking up on options for him, along with a bunch of snacks because why not?

Categories
Homesteading Preparedness

756 and Weather Station

We live outside of town. We’ve learned that means the weather that is being reported isn’t always accurate for us as the various weather stations are mostly at the university or downtown. So what does a pair of homesteaders do? Buy our own weather station! It’s an Ecowitt 2553.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station installed on our side pasture fence to monitor our Montana weather at the homestead

In the US, Ecowitt weather stations are rebranded as Ambient Weather Stations but we were able to order from shop.ecowitt.com and buy it direct, which saved about 40% which we appreciated as it typically runs about $289.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station

The station measures wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, UV & light, temperature and humidity, as well as precipitation measurements (though that works much better with rain than snow).

The weather station feeds all the data to the display screen, which then pushes the data to our home automation system as well. Alex has quite the home automation installation so I’ll leave those details for another day but it is quite fun to know your house is heated based on the actual weather.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station Display

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 750 and Interstitial

If you have ever stayed in an airport hotel or a particularly standardized corporate hotel, you’ve encountered the grand global homogeneity of acceptable hospitality.

Airwave bedroom at a Marriot in Prague

This aesthetic owes a debt to Silicon Valley and the way we’ve sanded off peculiar edges and smoothed over individual characters to make the real world’s brand book as consistent as our virtual ones. It’s called Airwave.

If you enjoyed the silky sameness of a WeWork or a perfect Airbnb or the reclaimed wood counter at a third wave coffee shop in Prague or Frankfurt, you’ve enjoyed Airwave.

If you travel enough, you find the aesthetics comforting eventually. As if your entire palette or taste profile was subtly sifted into the window of preferences set by an art director at an advertising agency in Brooklyn or Amsterdam.

Soothing sameness

Sure you seek out newness and novelty, but also you are glad for the suite at the just nice enough Marriot which delivers you a club sandwich with a request to room service. Remember when Jonny Mnemonic screamed for room service? If you are of a certain age I bet you do.

Ah the height of luxury for a data currier criminal of cyberpunk legend is now the expected outcome for the rootless cosmopolitans. Who is to stay which of us as a worse dystopia?

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 746 and Control

When I feel afraid I seek control. I have rituals and rhythms that help sooth the fears of my inner child.

This morning I was in my least favorite fear control pattern. I had to leave a temporary hotel for a new Airbnb as a mold issue destabilized my first week. Hives and prednisone and such. I hate packing and I hate the logistics of it. It reminds me of my childhood nightmares.

I set my alarm early enough to get breakfast and packing in before the slightly too early checkout. I was racked with anxiety I couldn’t repack everything as I’d acquired new items meant for an apartment stay and my suitcase overflowed.

I had vitamins and medicine to take but I couldn’t do more than choke down a croissant. I ordered fruit and cheese and than was too worked up to eat it. I hate wasting food so I wasn’t thrilled. I beat myself up for being a bad person who can’t take care of herself.

As soon as realized how had it was getting I took an Ativan. Joke all you want about benzodiazepines but occasionally they are the barrier between a traumatized woman and the history of her fears. Probably why it’s such a cliche. Just the sort of thing you learn as you are alone in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.

I felt so rushed by the need to be out at a certain time. Each knock on the door a reminder of my failures. Each internal call to calm down a criticism I recalled from my father, my coaches, my bosses and my lovers. A hysterical woman is a shameful thing.

Each “hurry up” a reminder that I am someone who is policed and polite and controlled for other people’s convenience. I am not allowed to be scared or cry or reactive. A hysterical woman woman is, again, a shameful thing.

Finally after the tension and anger and shame bubbled up, I threw the first thing I could get my hands on to release the tension. Better than hurting myself a dim quiet voice said. I cracked my watch face. And immediately felt better. And so embarrassed I’d boiled over.

I’d only needed five more minutes to get myself together. Just a moment. Give me a second. Please just let me be. And each time my preferences had to accommodate someone else I lost more of myself.

I was able to exert the seamless self control over my emotions eventually. I checked out. I tipped. I’m swanned over to my new digs. I executed exactly what I needed and got on with my workday. But the shame stung and the control soothed it like a cold aloe gel.

Categories
Travel

Day 745 and Restless Travelers Scrolling

Coming of age in the golden era of digital hospitality had an enormous effect on my expectations for flexibility on the road. I rarely book ahead, I never worry about finding a place to stay, I overpack luxuries and I am always uncomfortably on the hunt for my personal totemic signifiers of safety. You need things on the road to keep your rituals intact so you don’t drift.

I know how to search for a place to rest and I restlessly pursue it on the road. Singles browse dating apps like I browse Airbnb. I spot red flags on apartment listings like a woman who has been on one too many bad dates.

I spent much of my childhood traveling. My most potent recurring nightmare is packing for a trip that never arrives. I have lived in a perpetual state of readiness to get up and leave. I bring endless tiny compacts and one singular pair of high heeled shoes for a night out I never go on. I am ready for glamour on the road but all I find is the anxiety of instability.

It’s this perpetual readiness to flee that has made me an exceptionally good picker of hotels, rental units, vacation homes and other short term stays. I couldn’t afford a deposit for an apartment in New York for so long that I could find an under-market illegal sublet on Craigslist on a moment’s notice. It’s a handy skill set.

Naturally I’ve come to take this talent for granted as I’ve cultivated it. I’m confident that I’ll pick a decent rental because I can spot issues from miles away. I admit I’ve looked down on complaints about how bad Airbnb has become. I thought I’d avoid the quality control issues. It’s no longer a better value than hotels generally speaking but the real crime is that it’s troubles are not worth the hassle for many. It’s not seamless like a branded hotel.

I felt the hassle was worth it for the comforts of home on the road. But I think I’ve crossed my personal Rubicon on Airbnb in Prague. I won’t default to it any longer. The costs are now basically identical. You’ve got to weigh the costs of friction against having your life a bit disturbed. Hotels specialize in hospitality. It’s probably worth remembering.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 742 and Careful Balance

I don’t think I’ll be getting my best writing out today. I’m plugging through my work while balancing out my personal chemistry against my obligations.

I am a bit scared to find myself balancing a delicate body chemistry in a foreign country. I don’t care much for taking a steroid like prednisone but when it’s a choice between hives and yellow weeping eyes or a modicum of comfort, you pick comfort.

It’s of course not without its side effects. Steroids make you feel great till they make you feel a bit crazy. They are very good at tamping down every reaction your body has which can ironically give you some autonomic issues. For me it can feel like I’m in fight or flight.

I left my Airbnb as the more I tapered the steroid dose the worse my symptoms got. I’m a little concerned about fighting Airbnb for a refund but better to lose a few hundred dollars than need steroids. I did find a very nice and crucially clean hotel that will do the trick for now.

Categories
Biohacking Travel

Day 741 and Physical Safety

The last four days have been a bit messy for me. I flew to Prague for yet another failed effort to secure a visa for a family friend. My second time in a year to have failed to make any progress with our state department. I am not used to losing.

I very much want to give up on fighting this behemoth. Frankly my body has gotten the memo and decided to force a breather. As soon as it was clear my mission has failed, my body felt safe enough to get on with the business of its rhythms and routines.

My period has been a bit late but it’s here with a vengeance today. I appreciated it if I’m honest. Today I am wrecked with cramps and bloating. I had already caved to a emergency dose of steroids for an allergic reaction over the weekend. So why not add cranks to the experience.

Bodies are pretty smart about figuring out when you can afford a physical issue. They keep you safe through hormone boosts like cortisol and adrenaline. But they are not permanent states you can maintain forever. And now that I’ve been through the gauntlet of the embassy and failed there is no point is holding it all together.

I’ll rest and work today. Any ambition I had to see Prague is probably gone for the time being. I’d hoped to do some tourism before the American work hours in the late afternoon and evening. But I’ll be on my laptop in the Airbnb working and taking Midol instead. My body wants physical safety so I’ll give it to her.

Categories
Travel

Day 736 and Liminal Civilization

It must have been somewhere in the late nineties or early aughts that I first learned about the concept of liminal spaces. I’m fairly certain I got it from William Gibson. I’ve associated it with travel and the in-between spaces like corridors, escalators to nowhere and empty lounges. But it really means any in-between space that is not clearly claimed as one type of space or another. The rules of the space are unclear as it doesn’t have an identity.

After my most recent flight to Germany last night, I am wondering if manners and social contracts can be liminal too. Between the spaces where rules and social probity apply, and where we believe we can we can engage in bad behavior, is liminal civilization.

You are not quite bounded by the rules of your friends and countrymen nor are you fully bound by agreed upon civilizational manners when traveling. And nowhere is this truer than traveling when sick.

On the first leg of my flight a white twenty something gentleman sat next to me. He had an awful cough. He would sniffle, hack and then snurg up a ball of snot and swallow it down on repeat. I hadn’t put on a mask as the airport was mostly empty and so was the flight.

But I was next to a gentleman who was clearly in the grips of some type of viral infection. I put on a KN95 and didn’t remove it. He stated daggers at me. Like I was the rude one. But frankly I had no intention of getting his cold.

On my second flight I encountered a couple even further removed from decent manners and leaning full into liminal incivility. United had a huge fuck up on my flight which had them scrambling to reseat me after they gave away my seat when their own flight didn’t make it to Denver. I had bought another ticket on another flight and checked in at the lounge and has my husband call to confirm but alas I almost didn’t make it onto my flight. After pleading, I was reseated next to these two chumps.

I noticed the wife coughing first. A polite hem hem cough sniffle sniffle. She asked the flight attendant for a tissue. But her companion was far sicker. He coughed every 8-10 seconds while he was awake. A wracking hacking wet cough. And neither one of them had masks. A passenger with a baby asked if they would consider one. I said I had masks still in their wraps and NyQuil if it might help.

Whatever liminal edge of society in which they live, it is clearly one where the politics of masking has taken them so far beyond the bounds of basic decency, no one on the flight could convince them to cover up. Not even while the flight circulator was off during take-off, landing and taxi. These were visibly sick people. It wasn’t Covid paranoia. It was simply please keep your germs contained.

The gentleman thought it was so rude. Unless someone has cancer or another immune disease it was ridiculous for anyone to wear a mask. He explained has anti-bodies so it was clear he couldn’t get any of us sick. That’s how antibodies worked he explained. We stated incredulously. His argument was because he has had“it” before his immune system was fine. He couldn’t get us sick. In fact he wasn’t even sick really, just showing symptoms right? Needless to say this isn’t how infection works.

Furthermore, if he could get any of us sick from these coughing fits, it was because we were weak. I told him I took immune suppressants for a spinal condition and an infant was one seat away from him. The parents of the child and I both wanted to avoid a cold or flu if possible. He just laughed and said we were idiots.

I can’t really fathom living this far out of basic civilizational norms. It used to be impolite to cough in people’s faces. You were encouraged not to travel when ill. Other cultures introduced masks so the ill wouldn’t infect the rest of us. But since COVID’s disastrously overdone masking policies, we’ve now lost a basic tool of hygiene and human decency to keep those infected from harming others.

One reason I identify as a doomer is because of how often I see people like these three travelers completely ignore the needs, wants, desires and safety of others. It’s like they have their own bubble and fuck any of us with our needs and boundaries my desire to not get sick is just my opinion man. And it’s rude of me to ask.

I ended up masking till the air circulators came on. I slept without one. I hope the baby managed. If I were their parents I’d be furious some asshole decided his right to engage in society when sick was so much more important than theirs. Travel might be full of liminal cultural spaces where the rules of civilization no longer matter. Covid broke everyone’s brains.

Categories
Travel

Day 735 and Detail Oriented

Packing is one of my most consistent niche subtopics on this experimental “write every single day” habit. I’m fact, I’ve written 23 times about packing over the last seven hundred and some days. It would have been more but the pandemic kept me at home more which also eroded my packing skills.

I’ve written about my recurring packing nightmare in which the anxiety my inner child feels about travel & packing in my childhood looms large. I’ll be trying to locate a key item as a countdown clock ticks down. I never find the item & I miss the trip.

We moved every two years from house to house. We also traveled constantly for my father’s work. The dream so clearly represents abandonment it’s barely worth invoking psychology.

Now as an an adult I loathe packing. It brings back all my childhood memories of never feeling stable. Boxes and suitcases take me back.

Day 222 and Recurring Nightmares

To overcome this lingering childhood fear, I am a very detail oriented packed. I’ve got lists. I’ve got a whole triage program to be sure I have all of my medicine and vitamins in their original prescription bottles so the security folks don’t fuck me. I do doubles so if I get separated from a bag I can manage 24-48 hours without it. And I never let my core prescriptions leave my backpack which never leaves my sight line.

A grey Muji overhead suitcase and an Aer backpack

I’m a very light packer when it comes to clothing. I’m a two shirts, two pants, one dress and six undergarments type for a two week trip. With some winter sweaters taking too much space. I do them in cubes that zip down for less space and then I label them.

Packing cubes with labels

I try to label everything in my packing cubes and match them back against my master Notion document for packing necessities. I think do another hand written list in my notebook as well.

I have to take a number of medicines and vitamins with me to manage my ankylosis which takes up a third of my suitcase. I could be a much lighter packer if the TSA and other security institutions didn’t insist on me carrying drugs in their original prescription bottle and a file with my prescriptions printed out. I’m not a detail oriented person without focus but nothing forced focused quite like the prospect of falling ill overseas.