Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 2
Updated: May 20, 2020
"Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?" -Mary Oliver
I've written and re-written this post about a dozen times in the last month, and every time it felt off. Too angry. Too full of resentment. Too much WTFing and "those people"-ing. Too stunned. Too devastated. Seems those emotions are never going away so I might as well dive in. I should warn you, I considered naming this edition "If You are Angry and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" since it's quite current-political-state centric. It also covers my usual topics so if you are here for my favorite apple juice recommendation, read on!
Resentment. So let's get real here. The post-election period for me has been totally and completely about facing my resentment. It's deep and it's pervasive and it falls into three significant areas: 1. Resentment of Narcissistic Sociopathic Asshole Men Who Always Get What They Want No Matter What Even Though They are Horrible Human Beings and Are Too Arrogant to Know They Need Daily Intelligence Briefings 2. Resentment of Women Who Betrayed Hillary Clinton 3. Resentment of People Who Allegedly Resent Me, Which is Apparently Everyone From Ohio to Montana Ok, there is one more: 4. Resentment of Kellyanne. (UGH!! That Kellyanne!!) I cannot believe how much of my energy, time, and attention has gone into this resentment over the last few weeks. I'm trying really hard to move out of this phase but, as ugly as it is, it is the truth of where I am.
What to Do Next. The one thing this election and pre-inaugural period has made me (besides angry) is outspoken. Every time I think "I should just keep this to myself", I picture Hillary Clinton in those debates -- being talked over, stalked, called names, lied about, attacked -- and I open my mouth or I write that comment or I post that article. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on. But I'm kind of just spinning -- every issue is important, everyone ever considered an "other" is vulnerable, the world is about to burn to the ground. It's like I've started an epic never-ending battle of Whack-A-Mole and never ever getting the satisfaction of connecting the giant hammer with the little orange rodent. With that said, as I shift through the debris of my hopes and dreams, I seem to be zeroing in on First Amendment issues and the Democrats' soon-to-be revealed strategy to save us all (right? that's coming? right? RIGHT??) Which leads me to ...
Doomsday Prepping. So remember when the avian flu was imminent and on our doorstep? I stockpiled food and water and supplies, created a go bag, and watched I Am Legend like it was an instruction manual. The Mr. indulged my problem and even nicknamed my little corner of the closet of just-in-case, The Chicken Kit. I've loosened up quite a bit since then, mostly because I've accepted whatever happens, happens but I find myself once again prepping that Chicken Kit.
Sleep. Until chronic pain changed my life, I was a pretty good sleeper. It's taken almost a year -- and a highly ritualized sleep routine with heating pads, ice packs, and an army of strategically placed pillows -- to get back to a fairly restful night. I do not take it for granted anymore and do whatever I can to make sleeping one of my top priorities for good health. So grateful to wake up feeling rested, albeit stiff and achy. I'll take it.
My daily routine with Stephen. For months now, I've been taking Stephen to the dog park in the middle of the day and then we go for a drive through the dunes, stopping at Herring Cove to look for whales and seals before we drive home. We see them about 40% of the time and we shout and point every single time!
Before the Flood. The science behind climate change is so advanced now that they know EXACTLY what we need to do to not destroy our planet. Some of the places Leo takes us in this documentary are horrifying. The synthetic crude oil plant and the palm oil forest destruction will make you weep. Please watch this and do whatever you can to help the cause. FIGHT, people! Otherwise, we all die.
This is Us. I've needed tissues for every one of these! I'm fascinating by the storytelling in this show and, even though I know I'm going to have my heart broken, I look forward to the next bit of the unravelling in each episode.
Eyewitness. This show is such an interesting mix of unbearable suspense, smoky ethereal visual language, and sensitive storytelling about two young boys who discover they are gay and witness a murder. Yes, watch it!
Search Party. I binged this in one sitting, torturing my husband who had no interest in this show about self-indulgent millenials who go looking for a missing person they barely knew from college. Elliott is my favorite character, naturally. And for us Gen X folks, Parker Posey is fabulous in it, also naturally.
My niece's annual advent bag. If you've been following my blog for a bit, you know I put together an "advent" bag of 24 goodies for my niece to open each day of December leading to Christmas day. I spend all year looking for little presents to include. This year's is pretty good, I have to say!
A personal experience guide to chronic pain. When I first started having pain symptoms I had a lot of trouble finding any practical information on the internet. Most of it was either "it will go away in 6 weeks without doing anything at all" or "I've had it for years and my life has been forever damaged by it and nothing helps so you're doomed." There are so many things I wish I knew and so many things I learned the hard way (and seem to keep learning, the hard way.) I'll be putting this information up in a separate section here on Juniper Disco for those of you who may find it useful.
Dan Rather on Facebook. I always liked Dan Rather, maybe because he looks a bit like my dad. I find him insightful, intelligent, and strangely calming. So glad he decided to join Facebook recently and share his thoughts and information with us during this awful time. We need our Fourth Estate veterans.
Latterly and Quartz. I've found these two alternative news outlets to be a great foil to the weak reporting we're seeing most places (except The Washington Post, they are killing it!).
Upstream by Mary Oliver. It's been hard for me to focus on longwriting these days (see the election.) Mary Oliver's latest book of essays has been just the thing. My favorite? Her essay, Provincetown, of course!
The Seasoned Year. I found this web site late in the summer and have been loving her writing ever since. I find myself drawn to the in between spaces of the changing seasons and she is so good at capturing the feeling. From October's Letter from the Land: "I love these in between times because they’re so unique; paying attention feels most rewarding right now. Autumn is unique to time and place; change depends on the minutest variations in temperature and atmosphere." For more on seasonal shifts check out these resources: How to Nourish Yourself During Autumn and Staying Healthy with the Seasons.
Also, here are more of my favorite newsletters that I forgot to mention in the last post! With Love and Squalor, Reading My Tea Leaves, Be More with Less, Daily Worth, and Hitha on the Go.
In the Dark podcast. While the podcasters were researching this cold case story of a missing boy, the perpetrator came forward and confessed. How they tell the story knowing now what happened is really intriguing -- the focus is on what was missed, rather than who did it.
I am LOVING the music on Scream Queens this season. All that fantastic 80s music that we forgot about it. Like "Dancing in Heaven" by QFeel. And Echo & The Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon." And one of my all time favorite songs, "Only You" by Yaz.
This "Black Beatles" song almost cost us the trivia night championship title. I'm obsessed with it and have it on repeat in the car as Stephen and I drive through the dunes every afternoon. Stephen likes to yell "Black Beatles, bitch, me and Paul McCartney related!"
Eating + Drinking:
Red Jacket Fuji Apple Cold-pressed Juice. This is the best-tasting apple juice! If you ever come to my house to visit, just bring me some of this juice and we'll be friends for life. You can get it at Whole Foods.
Ginger and Turmeric Tea from Trader Joe's. I recently read that researchers were looking into the possibility that nerve pain like mine may actually be caused by bacteria. Interesting concept and reason enough to drink anti-inflammatory teas like this one. Warning: it's yellow and does stain if you aren't careful.
The Mr.'s new holiday recipes. Every year the Mr. adds new items to our holiday feast and he makes everything new in advance so he can tweak it for the big day. Luckily, my moms are helping with the tasting so I'm not the only one consuming the calories. So far, he's hit it out of the park! I'll see if he'll let me share the new recipes here next time.
Spanish on Duolingo. The Mr. and I decided some time ago that we would spend the later part of our years somewhere warm. We both took Spanish in high school and are using this app to brush up on our language skills, should we need to accelerate that evacuation plan.
Adding extra blankets to the bed.
Digging out the hats, scarves, and mittens and putting them in a basket by the front door.
Wearing this fuzzy sherpa fleece. One of the first things you'll see when you step into my home is the blinding glare of light reflecting off 1,000 disco balls. Next thing you'll notice are the flokatis and fuzzy sheep's wool pillows, foot stools, rugs, throw blankets. This fabulous find is like wearing my own personal flokati.
Samorost 3. I'm not a gamer by any stretch, but I loved the original Samorost. It is so visually unusual and the nonverbal, nontextual action is magically weird. I can't wait to explore more of it's fantastic worlds. Also, I am TERRIBLE at it.
My ceramic tea travel mug and my knit travel mug cozy.
Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Lip Balm. I am one of those people who tries every lip balm out there. I have a giant jar filled with them. This is my favorite and is really effective if you have a dog that is licking the moisture off your face 24/7.
The Challenge + The Real World. I have watched every single episode of both The Challenge and The Real World (and Road Rules, for that matter). 28 seasons of The Challenge. 31 seasons of The Real World. Since 1992. That's 24 YEARS! But I am giving them up on principle. The last few seasons have truly angered me -- Bananas' psychological abuse of women and people he perceives as weaker than him, the reckless exploitation of Cara Maria's volatile (and quite frankly frightening) relationship with crazy abusive Abram, and the deliberate selection of a racist-seeming housemate and the production's manipulation of the other cast members, which turned into collective bullying. Talk about deplorable. I'm glad some of the cast members have decided to break the silence and voice some of their frustration (see Susie Meister and Sarah Rice's Brain Candy podcast. Susie is also writing a book on the topic.) This article is pretty good, in case you are interested. (NOTE: Rumor has it that CT AND DEREK will be on the next Challenge which, UGH!!!, means I will watch one more. But then I am out!!
Unfriending. Time to get real again. I unfriended six people. Unfriended and blocked. Some people think this is bad form, cuts off communication with people you might be able to influence, and provides you with information that you might not hear otherwise. Bullpocky. I cut those six because they each posted something I found ridiculously offensive. My feed, my decisions. I was certain all my rah-rah Hillary stuff would push some people away but it never happened. Until she lost. Then I was unfriended by three people. One of them is someone I know from college who owns a gun and lives in a state that has terrible laws. One was another college acquaintance who lives in my home state. The other is a high school friend who actually was in my close circle of friends. He never posts to Facebook so I was surprised. Their feed, their decisions. Guess you are wondering how I identified them? My secret. But they also were blocked. I started my policy of blocking people after I had someone I knew from high school unfriend me and THEN contact me to see if I would help her husband get a job at Harvard. Yeah, no.
My meditation routine. When my pain was at it's worst this past summer I turned to the You are Not Your Pain guided meditation program. Chronic pain changes your brain patterns so that you experience it differently than you did before -- your system is primed to feel pain (of any kind) more quickly and more intensely. This particular program works to create neural pathways that counteract those negative changes. I did it every day for a while and often would have it on repeat throughout the night as I drifted in and out of sleep. I never made it a habit, though, and am working on getting to that point.
My extreme self-care plan. (Again, see election.) I've added daily spoonfuls of black elderberry syrup. More hot tea. More water. Extra epsom salt soaks. Lots of warm and fuzzy doggie snuggles. Short naps. And, most importantly, I'm starting to monitor what my brain and eyes consume. It's so hard because I really want to read everything!
Planning + Organizing:
Our return to Jamaica! I shared last time that we were cancelling our Cabo trip and postponing our Costa Rica trip. We still wanted to go away in March so I had to do some super sleuthing. I found an IDEAL vacation scenario that limits all the things that can make my nerve pain flare-up: 1. direct flights no longer than 4 hours with extra leg room and aisle seats (sitting in one place is the kiss of death for me and I have to stretch a lot and get up and move around) 2. flight times that allow me to do my critical morning routine (we usually take the first flight out to maximize our vacation time but these leave later in the day) 3. a short transfer time to the resort (no bumpy 2 hour rides) 4. flat landscape with few stairs at a small resort (last time we went to Mexico, the resort was huge and I was in pain from walking in cute but non-supportive shoes) 5. a decent price -- it's a brand new resort in Montego Bay and we got a pre-opening special I've been following the resort Facebook group and the reports seems to be really good now that they've been open a few weeks. We're both looking forward to returning to our favorite island! Yeah mon!
Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!