the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Bon Voyage

Melinda is off to Italia for the summer, where she'll be doing some very important work for an NGO. I wish her many happy adventures and much gelati there. Thank you, Melinda, for doing work the world really needs. You're just the woman for the job.

More Politically Incorrect Confessions

Note: I've debated whether to post on this subject for a while, but since my last politically incorrect topic stimulated such great discussion, here we are.

I'm a little ticked off with transgender culture. I'm all for self-expression--wear what you want, act how you want (as long as it's respectful and courteous), be who you are. But don't tell me, a biological, mental, and emotional woman, that being a woman makes you want to wear dresses and do up your hair and nails, because it doesn't, necessarily.

I think some trans folk--and I'm picking on MtoF here, because I am myself female and can address what it's like to be what's accepted as a woman--are buying into cultural gender norms more than anyone else. If you want to wear a skirt, by all means wear the freakin' skirt, but unless you've known the difficulties surrounding menstruation, don't tell me you're a woman. Here's my bottom line: Clothes do not gender make. And anyway, does it matter all that much? If a MtoF wants to wear heels, more power to him-her, but wearing heels does not make you a woman, just as not wearing heels does not make you less of a woman. See what I'm saying?

Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Trees Are Greener Here

Greetings from our new hometown. After our closing, I wondered how living in this new place--a new habitat--would change my life. It's still a little early to know for sure, of course, but when G. woke up this morning, he asked, "Are the trees greener here?"

Driving home from class this afternoon, now a scenic drive that takes far less time to boot, I stopped at Arena Farms. Arena Farms! Right on a convenient state route, a big farm! With a pond and a big red barn! And tables upon tables outdoors, covered with young plants labeled by type; to name but a few categories: two tables of just roses, five or six of vegetables, three tables of herbs. I spied my friend Chamomile there. I didn't have my wallet, but I knew I had to come back for her. I continued driving west into town, past the independent bookstore, past the organic cafe we'd already visited twice, and turned north to see what lay up Main Street. Ah, the joys on Main Street! I've already told you about the arboretum and postcard-worthy town center that lies south on Main Street. To the north I found a park with its swimming beach built in the old quarry, and shiny wood changing rooms and shiny painted jungle gyms. I found the Community Gardens, where (it appears) town residents can claim their own little patch of land to plant. Somewhere farther north than I ventured was an organic farm, so said the signs, and farther northwest, a dance center. I came home and drank a deep nap, cat curled on my feet.

When G. returned from the old apartment, where he had at last turned in our keys, restoring our freedom, we enjoyed some omelet and green beans I had prepared. Then we checked out the coffeehouse across the street. A gracious, well-dressed gentleman greeted us and prepared our drinks. He appeared Middle Eastern, or of Middle Eastern descent, reminding me of the genteel hoteliers in Egypt with their ever-ready offerings of hibiscus tea. The espresso was good and the atmosphere warm and gracious. Next we drove east to claim my beloved Chamomile. At my new favorite place we purchased asparagus and tomatoes grown right on the spot, a yam and grapes on sale, and lovely lovely plants: two fragrant chamomiles, white alyssum, brightly painted marigolds, cilantro, and catnip. We returned to town and drove a bit, exploring its western ends. A sign for another farm. We ventured there, curious, and found fresh gourmet cheeses spilling over displays, mountains of every imaginable produce, stacks of teas, fresh meat, and every nut you could imagine. There was a small nursery, but food, food, food was the center of this farm. Our eyes were wide. I suppose you don't need a farmer's market--or, really, a grocery store--when surrounded by farms.

Noah, of course, fell ecstatically in love with his catnip plant. We plan to keep it out of his reach and offer him a leaf or two at a time, lest the plant die in kitty's savage maw before its time.

The thing is, I think, that our former town was convenient, but, as far as I could tell, rather souless, and so I often felt like I was living to work, because I didn't return to a place I liked much. Of course, I loved--and love--the person and cat I call roommates, but you can't spend every moment staring at them, and the TV gets old, as well. Living in a great place, well, you can work to live, because there's living to be done.

The trees are greener here.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Master of the Obvious

We talked about cones and rods in anatomy class yesterday. Rods see black-and-white and degrees of light. Cones see color and are only activated in light, which means you can’t see color in the dark.

What? You can’t?

I had never ever noticed that you can’t see color in the dark. At first I didn’t quite believe our teacher, despite his MD/PhD in neuroscience and his acupuncture degree.

After dark, at home, I looked around. Sure enough, no color. Had my mind been imposing color all along? Or had my consciousness not bothered to note something so obvious? I’ll never know; I feel like I’ve been startled out of a dream that is now half-lost forever.

Meanwhile, a woman in my class actually CAN see color in the dark. Turns out she’s a hair away from glaucoma, which means more blood pressure to the eyes, which means her cones are more sensitive.

Racists Are Stupid: Further Proof

Have you ever heard a clever racist joke? A pun, perhaps?

Neither have I.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Check out this scary Times article on kStyle and her ilk:


Cultural Icons

My guess is that you--you, dear reader--are more likely to know and understand the cultural import of the words "Guggenheim Museum" than "Robert Kiyosaki". Am I correct?

On Tuesday, my fabulous partner in crime, life, and real estate put up a simple notice in the mailroom of our former apartment complex. (Despite having moved out, we're still moving out, you see.) It began with the words FREE STUFF across the top, continued with a partial listing of the FREE STUFF available, and concluded that any takers should stop by apartment 205 at 7 PM the next day.

Last night at 7:05 two women originally from India, an adult (mid-20s?) daughter and her mother, knocked on our door. We ushered them in to the goods up for grabs. The daughter (whom I had met previously at apartment complex aerobics classes) was interested in one of our prints. She enquired as to the significance of the building, rather to my surprise. We explained that it was the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York City, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We told her about its spiral shape, how there are no corners, that the building is a great flowing spiral of art. She in turn told us that it was like India's Parliament Building, with its oval shape. I was rather surprised that I had never seen an image of that important structure. Our new friends were intrigued by the Guggenheim, I think; at any rate, they accepted the print into their home.

They rummaged around a bit more while I cleaned the fridge. As they left, mutual thanks spreading all around, G. glanced at the books they were taking, out of curiosity. "Ah...Robert Kiyosaki," he said. The daughter replied, "Yes, I really liked Rich Dad, Poor Dad."

What a strange world, I thought. Our neighbor from the other side of the planet knew the get-rich advice of a Hawaiian millionaire, to my mind a relatively obscure piece of Americana, but not the Guggenheim Museum. I hope she sees the Guggenheim, in all its glorious strangeness, someday, maybe once Kiyosaki's advice has made her wealthy. Welcome to America: It's strange, varied land.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Astrological Survey

What's your sign, baby?

(Aquarius, Pisces rising, Gemini moon)

How do you rate astrology?
a. fun, amusing
b. true
c. eerily accurate sometimes
d. hogwash
e. good, but not as good as Kabbalah

(a and c, occasionally b)

Where do you get off the New Age train?
a. herbology
b. whole foods nutrition
c. Eastern medicine
d. astrology
e. crystals
f. Wicca
g. pyramids
h. aliens
i. never got on; give me back my New Yorker

(I get off the train after astrology and before crystals, but I do enjoy The New Yorker.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Ready, Floaters?

Tell us something you know for sure.

(It need not be something about which the world is unanimous, but it should be something that has been proven to you personally, something life has taught you.)

Here is what I know for sure: The words "I love you" are really a question.

Obviously this is not always true. Typically not from parent to child, for example. But I have found that, frequently, we mean it primarily as a request for someone to say it to us.

"I love you." It's a question.

I know that for sure. What do you know for sure?

Heartfelt Thanks

I am tremendously grateful to Lah, our Moral Support and Kind General, who kept our unpacking on track even as our strength and will flagged last night. Lah, you were right: It made a huge difference to have our kitchen ready-for-breakfast this morning. It made me feel sane. Wish you didn’t have to go all the way back to The Wrong Coast next week.

I am also grateful to G., who patiently counseled me through my overtired existential crisis in the wee hours. Things seem better by daylight, especially after a hearty breakfast in our now-set-up kitchen. Things will doubtless seem even better tomorrow, after a real night of sleep.

(Note on Existential Crises: for all their drama, they are a real bore. Every existential crisis is the same, and seems like most everyone has them. The Great Unifier is not God or music or children, as everyone supposes, for we humans have wildly different views on these things. The Great Unifier is the frustrated, tired, bleak Existential Crisis.)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Blades From His Throat

Music reviews are no good unless you convince people to run out immediately and buy whatever it is you're getting all hot under the collar about. Actually, that's not true; I suppose there has to be room for bad reviews and mediocre reviews and lots of ambivalence and grey areas and whatnot in most reviewers' columns. But that's because most reviewers don't get to choose what they review, right? Not so for me. Here on kStyle's mothership, I have the luxury of picking the cream of the cream, as the French say in French, and only telling you about the music I consider to be among the best the planet has to offer. That said, I hope all you Floatatious PYTs ran out and bought four copies of "In Search of the Lost Riddim" (see my last review, May 7) for each one of your loved ones, so they can each give it to three more of their loved ones. An album like that, you gotta help spread the karma.

(Can you smell the arrogance? This guy must think he has the best opinions in the world!) Ahem. Just ask kStyle. She knows what a snob I am.

This time around, it's time to talk about Baaba Maal, as promised. The man with an entire set of Ginsu steak knives in place of a voice. No shit, the man's larynx can cut through nails. And I mean that in the best possible way; I was lucky enough to catch him live last month, and all through the concert I was thinking up elaborate excuses to move to Senegal and, you know, just, like, follow him around or something, Deadhead style, minus the excessive drug consumption.

He's been around for a couple of decades now and has built a name for himself recording stuff that ranges from slick, uberproduced Afro-Pop to traditional acoustic stuff that reflects his extensive education in the tribal musics of West Africa. It's the latter category that interests me the most. I think Mr. Maal is at his absolute best without any electric or, worse yet, electronic shit going on. True, even his glitzy albums have their moments, but the popular "Firin' in Fouta" album only holds my attention for about three songs, and the more recent "Nomad Soul" probably gives Enya multiple orgasms. Yuck.

Stick to "Baayo," from 1991, and "Missing You (Mi Yeewnii)," from 2001.

"Baayo" is pretty darned minimalistic. A few acoustic guitars, a kora or two, and possibly some other stringed instruments whose names I don't know. Not a whole lot of drumming. Baaba floats above these deceptively simple ostinatos. That's just about it. (A few songs feature a synthesized patch or two buried in the backgroud...but it's done in a way that is forgivable, if not enjoyable.) But, God! We've all seen impossibly gorgeous people. You know, it's like, "Hey, hold on a second. I didn't think people could actually look like that." "Baayo" is the same way. You have to ask yourself: How was such naked, unpretentious music born so beautiful? The whole album is a heartbreaker, but if you need to be convinced quick, just listen to the song "Mariama" and you will be an instant Baaba convert. Go on, I dare you.

It turns out that the cricket sound effects on "Missing You" are not sound effects. They are crickets. This album was recorded outdoors, at night, in a village somewhere in Senegal, using a high-tech mobile studio. Like "Baayo," the album is acoustic, only this time things are much more energetic and vital. There is apparently an entire battalion of drummers, along with a full choir, backing Mr. Maal up this time, in addition to all the stringed paraphernalia. Do not let the term "acoustic" fool you. MTV Unplugged has nothing on this shit, man. "Missing You" is a steamroller; take my advice and get in its way. You will hear drumbeats you never dreamt of, sliced into ribbons by Baaba's Ginsu vocals. Wow.

Hope I've convinced you to run out and buy, buy, buy, you thriving capitalist, you. Otherwise this review has been no good, according to my own standard. Seems I've been listening to more than my share of West African music of late. Perhaps next time I show up in this space, I should broaden things out a bit and talk about, say, Moreno Veloso. (Brazil. Oh yeah.) Until then, hasta whenever.

A Flower in the Desert

The little cactus sitting on my office windowsill just opened up a beautiful yellow flower. Such a spiny little plant, squat and defensive, to produce such a bright, soft flower! Ain't nature grand.

Friday Reading Assignment

This is a fabulous web site, the best of the best of writing on a wide range of subject areas, updated daily.

The Cicada Ball

I am fascinated by these cicadas. They're so Biblical. Just yesterday I emailed some friends this great op-ed piece about them. (I'd give you my login, but I can't remember it. I'll email it to you if you like.) I've received some colorful, delightful responses I just had to share. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

From Jason:
The locusts really nail MD, and I remember when I was 9, they were everywhere. You gave up getting grossed out by the crunching noise under your feet when you walked outside because the other option was not to go outside. I'm really blown away by the the 17 year clock. Who knows what that's all about...

From Jim:
[...]don't we have cicadas every august every year? if not, what's the buzzing we hear at that time? in oklahoma we had lots of them every summer but their noise was a slow crescendo, very lazy. i associate the sound with dead dry grass, baked clay fields, hot hot breeze from the southwest, and at night the smell of the 'peanut plant' - a big mill where Spanish peanuts were sorted, packaged. Durant was once the 'Spanish peanut capital' of the US. spanish peanuts are the little red ones, not the larger yellow virginia peanuts.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Our tai ch'i teacher tells us, with a smile, "Relax. If you get lost in the form, relax more."

There's a whole universe of psychology in her simple words. How often do we relax more when we're lost or late or not getting it? Instead we intensify our efforts, a response which often causes more errors, more lateness, more lostness, if you think about it.

It's been a challenge, taking her Relax More Credo from tai ch'i into real life. Part of the difficulty lies in other people. If I relax more, they might view me poorly, even becoming angry, wrongly perceiving that I'm too cavalier, not trying hard enough, lazy. In fact, they have: Once I looked "too relaxed" in a meeting for my then-boss' liking, and for the next week she harped on the notion that I clearly didn't have enough work.

Really though, any negative response to my would-be relaxation is not my problem, but the problem of the person harboring the negative response. So what's my problem? It's part human self-consciousness; the need to be accepted by the pack. Mostly, however, it's that I am far too aware of Consequences. I am all too conditioned to the sort of thinking that goes, for example, "If my boss gets angry at me for being too relaxed, she might give me more work, and I'll never be able to do it all successfully, and then I'll be fired, and I won't be able to pay my student loans or rent or car payments and maybe I'll have to declare bankruptcy and then I'll become a moocher, a burden upon others, and I'll be stuck living in a Salvation Army, or worse, with my parents..." and so on. [Note: I do love my parents, but I imagine I would have more pride and freedom and less guilt at Sally's.] It's sort of a reverse-nihilism: Everything matters, and it all matters equally; if you allow the possibility of something not mattering, then it might follow that nothing matters, and then where would we be? This sort of reasoning is the same one that gets authority figures all worked up about, say, apathetic teens, and even, perhaps, the sort of reasoning that got my boss worked up about my relaxation.

What to do? What can you do?

Anchor in the breath and relax more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My Amendment

Freakin' comments won't let me comment, once again. Ergo, I shall post my answer to Ann's writing assignment.

This is a tough assignment, Ann, for all the reasons you cite, and also because I didn’t come up with it myself. I’m excited; it's good to be stretched. My initial thought was also to shorten the workweek, only--Pinko Commie that I am—I was going to make it 35 hours. You talked me right out of that. Most logical.

Next on the agenda would be to clarify the separation of church and state. To do so, we return to the roots of that separation: People were tired of being forced to pay taxes to/worship at the Anglican Communion, even if they didn’t particularly believe in it. So, we write something like:

No person shall be forced to participate in any worship of any kind; nor shall any person be prevented from any worship s/he desires, unless it breaks some other Law deemed constitutional or causes direct harm to others. [Note: I know “causes direct harm to others” is a loophole waiting to happen; any suggestions for improvement are most welcome.] Any government-sponsored place that a person would attend by mandate—including but not limited schools, prisons, and courthouses—shall be free of public worship, proselytizing for any faith, and displays of religious symbols, although its employees and the aforementioned attendees may worship or carry religious symbols privately and discreetly in said place. Religious organizations shall not pay tax dollars, nor shall they be allotted tax dollars. Likewise, no one shall use a public court to sue a religious organization, nor shall a religious organization use a public court to sue another party, unless the alleged crime allegedly violates this Constitution. [Not sure why I added the bit about courts, but it seems like it might be helpful.]

This all might get a little tricky, though. Perhaps, if we amend the Constitution of this great nation at all, we should simply add the pithy saying, “Your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins.” Then again, many people (imagination-lacking Fundamentalists of all stripes) would interpret this literally.

Wednesday Writing Assignment

Hi! I'm Ann. Normally I post on my own blog, but kStyle has graciously invited me to contribute to the Wednesday Writing Assignment, so here I am. (Goody: HTML rules with no funny brackets. Do I need to use p tags? Let's see what happens if I don't.)

So here's today's literary challenge:

Massachusetts is probably the happiest state in the country this week. So in honor of Gay Marriage Monday--congrats to all!--I'd like to know:  If you had to propose an amendment to the Constitution, what would it be?  Be as specific as possible.

The problem with this question, of course, is that America can get so complex that it might be impossible to think of just one amendment without needing a dozen others to fill in the loopholes. At first I thought, Well, in my amendment, I would make it illegal to work more than forty hours every week, and everybody would be required to take at least four weeks of vacation every year. I'm a firm believer in the importance of free time--it's essential, I think, for both mental and physical health, and it probably strengthens families more than anything except financial stability--and the fact that the only way some people can survive is to devote all their time to working in a job they probably don't even like bothers me.

But then we'd also need some living wage laws, so people wouldn't have to take three and four jobs to get by. And I'm sure there are some small, employee-owned businesses that can't afford many employees but that still have to be open for many more than forty hours a week. And we'd want universal health care. It snowballs, you see.

So that's out. Then I thought I'd like to amend the Constitution to include a suggestion by Eduardo Galeano in Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World: "[W]ritten into law shall be the crime of stupidity, committed by those who live to have or win, instead of living just to live like the bird that sings without knowing it and the child who plays unaware that he or she is playing." But that's a little vague.

So I think I'll go with media regulation. I'd ban all embedded ads in movies and TV shows; I'd eliminate billboards and other ads that encroach on private life (pasted on buses, stuffed in mailboxes, stuck to foreheads); I wouldn't get rid of commercials, but I'd probably create an advertising fund for small companies, so they can compete with the big ones, and also one for anti-materialism public service announcements. The intention would be to limit the power that money and corporate pressure has over our consumer habits.

Your ideas?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Americans in Paris

I wouldn’t say I’m a Francophile, but I find tales of Paris—specifically, of Americans in Paris—delightful. American lore is full of Parisian fantasy: from the classic Gene Kelly movie musical An American in Paris to the series finales of both Sex in the City and Friends, the American imagination is forever running off to Paris to find something the U. S. can’t offer her: style, perhaps, or romance, sensuality, even love.

For delicious tales of a real New Yorker’s time in Paris, buy yourself a copy of Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. I say “buy” because you’ll doubtless want to read and reread passages, dog-earing favorite pages and highlighting exquisite turns of phrase. Gopnik’s beautiful, witty writing style stands up to the style and allure of the Celestial City. One moment you’ll be tasting the delights of bistros with your narrator, the next, laughing out loud about French perceptions of American fitness centers. Woven through the beauty of Paris is Gopnik’s touching relationship with his young son, Luke. It’s a book about family, love, living in a foreign land, and that peculiar interface between a New Yorker and his Parisian life.

I recently rented the film Le Divorce, drawn by the shining faces of Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts below a graphic of the Eiffel Tower and the French title. It’s an intriguing film, but fails to find a consistent tone. The plot seemed cobbled together and erratic, with half-developed characters bouncing in and out of the scenes. One minute it’s witty, the next bleak; it’s a confused little bit of cinema. I came to understand, however, that this movie is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Diane Johnson. To its credit, the film Le Divorce made me want to read the book, which I assumed would smooth out the rough, confusing places in the film.

Skip the movie version and head straight for the book. It’s a perfect summer read (suitable for library check-out—you won’t need to buy your own). Although I knew where the plot was going, I couldn’t put this novel down. The characters are cleverly drawn, with a good eye towards human foibles, American and French. The plot sucks you in and the setting—well, the setting is incomparable.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Traveling without Moving

As you fabulous readers know, I've been a little stressed lately. Can anyone recommend a way to get a little hit of vacation when short on time and cash? Meditation in a park or pretty old graveyard can help a little, but what do you do for the shower-fresh vacation feeling in the middle of a packed week?

In the interest of science, I will try all suggestions.

[Post title courtesy of Jamiroquai.]

Sunday, May 16, 2004

God Bless Garrett

Not only was Garrett there to block my credit/debit card at 1 AM, he sounded cheerful about it. Ah, the travails of lost or missing cards. The silver lining: my car got a good clean-out. Now I can vacuum it tomorrow.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Keys Make It Real

We met with our realtor this morning for the walk-through. We saw the place again, but it still felt like, OK, we're seeing the place again. Then we endured a surreal netherworld of initialing and signing, initialing and more signing. I considered it bad luck that the papers were drawn up without my middle initial, which has always anchored my name. I had to train myself to sign and initial, sign and initial without that balancing "C". In the room with us were Frances, our lovely, competent English realtor; the sellers, a nice enough, mismatched-looking middle aged couple (she artsy, he rugged); their flighty realtor; and a humorless assistant lawyer.

But when it was all done--I was yawning by the end--we were given keys. All the paper-signing was so disconnected from the actual condo in my mind that I was almost confused: What were these keys for? The wonderful Frances gave us a card and a gift of candles. You'd like her--If you want to move to the area, I'll give you her number. We're going to send her some flowers.

We stopped for some mediocre pizza and then trooped into our new home. It was very humbling, owning these light-filled rooms. We smiled a lot. Then we drove through this lovely town to its arboretum and went for a walk, enjoying the sunshine and green smells. After driving to and browsing through a discount furniture store, we returned to our apartment completely exhausted and dropped into intense naps.

I wonder how life will feel different, if at all, once we move. First, we'll own our residence. But also, our new town is beautiful, full of lilacs (Carla and Ann), conservation areas, and gorgeous sprawling old colonials. Our current apartment is on a big ole highway (crowded with SUVs driving too fast) lined with strip malls, though there's a reservoir directly across from us. I mostly wonder how the little things will change the feel of day-to-day life: the prettiness of our new surroundings, the little bit of extra room in our living space, even shopping at different markets. We shall see.

Now, I'm off again for studying and packing, leaving you in Eric's capable typing hands.

P.S. Heartfelt congratulations to Charlie, who will become an Educator this weekend. Perhaps he'll treat us to a few reflections on his new vocation.


Hi, folks. The over-extenuated Karen has asked me to watch over her pet world for a day or two until she returns, better than before. I think you'll find that the ship I run is tight but fair. As long as there's no gum chewing or talking back, we'll get along fine.

Now: as it is nearly one a.m. EDT, and I have just gotten home from a very very long day, I'm not sure I'm any more capable than kStyle of putting something out there for all of us to chew on. But I promised her, and so I shall try.

Here's a question for y'all: what is your favorite thing hanging on any of your walls? Walls at home, that is. Poster, painting, or anything else. The thing that's hanging there that makes it Home.

Mine is a kite in the shape of winged frog. An ex-girlfriend, now a friend, gave it to me for our one-year anniversary, way back when, and now it hangs across my living room windows, its wingspan covering their width entirely. I do believe it watches over me as I sleep. The frog has a name, given it by my friend, but I can't tell you what it is. If I did, he would have to kill me.

Okay, class: it's sharing time.


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Float Kids, I am one overwhelmed chica. Mind if I vent a smidgen? Thanks. So, G. and I are buying our first condo, first of all, and the closing is tomorrow. Then we have to pack everything and move over the next two weeks. This should be happy and joyous, but I am instead anxious. I am especially anxious because I have a Big Anatomy Exam coming up on Thursday and a Shiatsu quiz on Tuesday. And the pace at work is picking up again, even though my days were already perfectly full. This morning I inherited two books that have been in production for a MONTH but no one has done anything on them; one is supposed to ship on June 16. For those unfamiliar with the minefields of publishing, that's not enough time. The other has to be completed by July 15. I already had a giant 4-color book on a one month schedule, another 4/c going to press July 1, and the giantest 4/c book is being handed to me next week. Not to mention that a colleague is going on vakay next week, so I get to handle her giant 4/c project while she's away. I just don't know how I'm going to get everything done.

Does anyone have a different job to offer me? Seriously. This is insane. I'm very bright and competent.

The Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal; Or, Amasake to Me

After some trial and error, I landed upon the perfect bowl of oatmeal this morning. You have to use the 5-minute cooking oats--The instant packets have little texture or flavor and aren't as filling.

For one serving:

1. Bring 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil.
2. Stir in 1/2 cup oatmeal and a little maple syrup. REAL maple syrup, from actual trees; not that Vermont Cabin Log Maid crap.
3. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring now and again.
4. When the oatmeal is cooked, pour on some amasake.
5. Enjoy with a cup of Twinings Jasmine Green Tea with a little dandelion tincture stirred in.

What is this amasake, you ask? (Of course, Lah and Charlie aren't asking. I'm sure they knew about this nectar of the gods long before I did.) Amasake is a cultured beverage made of brown rice, beloved of macrobiotics everywhere. It has a delightful milky consistency without the heaviness of milk or soy milk. Here, read for yourself.

On a related note, our precocious honors-student kitty, who normally turns up his little pink nose at all people food, will lick clean the leftover amasake out of my bowl. Who knew Noah was a macrobiotic feline.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Wednesday Reading Assignment

Don't neglect your weekly horoscopes, baked fresh every Wednesday by Rob Brezny, modern sage-poet. Really, you'll like them. They're subversive.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Wednesday Writing Assignment

We fall in love a million times during our lives. There are the big, whomp-you-through-the-heart loves, like a lover or new child. Then there are the little, poignant ones, moments that steal a tiny splinter of your heart. Moments like these are cherished for their incompleteness--a question partially answered. You can love many things: a tree, a person seen in the crowd, a sound, a scent, a play of sunlight and shadow. Tell me about one, about a small love. Feel free to fictionalize.

I shall now complete my own assignment:

We lingered chatting in the parking lot that night. There were four of us, relatively new friends already bonded deeply, as if by a connection through many lifetimes, if you believe in that sort of thing. The sky looked milky. "The air smells so sweet," I noted, "If every night were a sweet spring night like this one, no one would ever want to die." A pause. One friend, the eldest, replied, "It would be a good night to die, though." We paused longer, the wisdom of his comment seeping in. Nothing left to say, we bade each other goodnight and parted. I fell in love a little that night, with the sweet spring air and with my three friends who shared it.

Discussion Question

I wanted to pull Ann's discussion question out from the ADD thread comments. I must paraphrase, because now the Comments won't even show me their shy faces. Have at it:

Do you think about depression along the same lines you think about ADD? A societal symptom, victim mentality, and so on?

I've been trying to write my thoughts in the Comments, but they're still behaving petulantly. Some thoughts have made it up; some haven't. So I will look for a new and better way to do comments, but in the meantime, here all my thoughts:

Here's the thing from a Shiatsu viewpoint--or I should say, from my Shiatsu-informed viewpoint. Dis-ease always has an energetic component. To go back to ADD for a moment, one of my macrobiotics teachers thinks that ADD relates to diet adversely affecting Lung and Large Intestine meridians. Put another way, people eat too much dairy and not enough fiber, it stuffs up their noses and bowels, and then they have trouble concentrating because they can't breathe or poo. These meridians that rule letting go also rule taking in; these folks who can't eliminate waste can't take in anything new, including information. But, as I said before, I think that taking care of oneself and a bit of self-discipline can go a loooong way to treating it.

Similarly, depression has an energetic component. The Liver meridian is in charge of ensuring smooth flow of ch'i and emotions. Depression can be seen as getting "stuck" in an emotional state, not cycling through emotions as one should. Then inertia sets in, and it becomes harder and harder to cycle out of depression. But there are ways to do it. Exercise helps, for one. Stabilizing blood sugar, cultivating good relationships…I think the key to combating depression, though, lies in accepting one’s emotions and allowing oneself to experience emotions without judgment. Have a good cry or a crazed laugh or go yell at a lamppost (but please, not at work!). Then the emotions might cycle through properly.

I have to say, though, that I go easier on the depressed than the ADD-ed. Perhaps it’s hypocritical. For one thing, I have experienced bouts of depression (particularly in, oh, January). For another, I haven’t encountered people using depression as an excuse or a crutch the way I have ADD. Most people with depression, in my experience, are bravely trying to soldier through it, rather than blaming everything on it.

So We Can Continue the Bush Thread

There's a good discussion going on the Bush thread, but it seems to be growing to large to accomodate further comments. Hence, this post.

Because I Can

OK, the comments are peeving me, still not letting me add mine. But hell, this is my site, right? So I'm just gonna post the damn comment. Here it is:

"Believe me, I understand the feeling and find myself given over to it too, but (a) it plays right into conservatives' hands ("Those liberals hate America!") and (b), when things get worse, real people suffer..."

Excellent point, Eric.

I have to argue with, however, with those of you who are despairing completely about the state of affairs. It’s crucial we keep our sense of humor, however tragic things get. Has anyone else seen Lewis Black’s post-9/11 routine? It’s on Comedy Central a lot (usually Friday nights). Towards the end, he states how crucial it is that we are able to laugh, because otherwise we start taking ourselves to seriously, and then we just---blllooooghg—Snap. Look at our enemy, he said. (He was referring to Al Quaeda, but it could easily be the Bush administration today.) There’s a people who have lost their sense of humor and cracked. Look what it did to them.

Blame Is the Cure
Cure Everything
Throw the Rudder Down
Throw the Rudder Down

So why, why this lack of responsibility in our culture? I'm going to get out of the way and quote from Recipes for Self-Healing by Daverick Leggett.

Finding out that they can be responsible for the creation of their health leads some people to feel that they are to blame. There is a kind of compassionless view within the 'new age' that confuses responsibility with blame. We have made the best choices we could at the time; it is useless to be angry or blaming towards ourselves once we see the ways that we have helped create our own problems. Personal responsibility has nothing to do with blame. On the contrary, the realisation of responsibility is the means by which we make the shift from victimhood to self-empowerment.

[Post title courtesy of Soul Coughing.]

Monday, May 10, 2004

Politically Incorrect Confessions

I'm sick of ADD. I am sick and tired of hearing about it. To be totally, politically incorrectly honest, I'm not sure I even believe in it. I have trouble concentrating sometimes, you have trouble concentrating sometimes, we ALL have trouble concentrating sometimes. A little self-discipline goes a long way, though, as does regular physical exercise.

It was a hot and sticky summer at camp. I was the counselor in charge of a rambunctious tribe of 8-year-olds, half of whom had not only ADD, but its heinous cousin ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I spent most of that heinous summer trying to keep little boys from beating the crap out of each other.

A sweet boy named Timmy cursed like a sailor at all times. I asked him to stop, explained that swear words were against camp rules, told him to stop, and tried to discipline him. Nothing worked. Finally one day I sat with him on a low stone wall away from the other kids. I gently asked him why he cursed. "I can't help it," he replied, "I have ADD." Surprised, I took a moment to process this information. Not knowing much about ADD, I weighed my options and the risks, and hazarded, "Timmy, I know a little about ADD. It might make it hard to pay attention, but it doesn't make you swear." Now it was Timmy's turn to process. A pause. "It doesn't?" he asked, giving me a gaptoothed smile, seeming somewhat relieved. He never swore again at camp.

I work with two very nice people who have terrible memories. They forget entire conversations we have. They complain continually about their bad memories: Damn ADD!, they proclaim. I surprised both of them a great book, The Memory Book , which has improved my memory considerably. One said, "But it won't help--it's because of my ADD." I wanted to punch him. Instead I said, "It's a gift; accept it graciously." I once invited the other to meditate with me before I knew she had ADD. She couldn't meditate, she said, because she didn't have the attention span. I explained that meditation done in gradually increasing increments could perhaps improve her focus, the way aerobic activity done in gradually increasing increments can strengthen the heart. No no, she said, you have the temperament for meditation; I have ADD. To my knowledge, neither has cracked open the book.

My former boss also complained of ADD. She had trouble paying attention in meetings and also had a terrible memory--and then blamed myself and the other people she supervised for making mistakes that she had made, often because she forgot things and wasn't organized enough to keep good notes. She had ADD, she said, and it affected her memory and attention span, but boy! could she remember a grudge.

A former roommate of mine, who granted had some serious emotional problems, kept getting into terrible car accidents--the kind where you sail through the windshield and break both scapulae--and blaming it on ADD. How irresponsible can a person get. (She also blamed her teeth literally falling out of her head on bad tooth genes rather than the TUB of Mountain Dew she drank daily.)

Listen, ADD sufferers, it's time to empower yourselves. Stop using your illness as a crutch and an excuse. Stop griping to me about it and inconveniencing me because you refuse to do any work on yourselves. No one is born with perfect concentration, memory, and organizational skills. Many of us actively work to improve those aspects of ourselves. Knock off the victim mentality. It tires me, and more importantly, keeps you from reaching your full potential.

Bemused Musings on Bush and Co.

A lot of really bad stuff has come out about the Bush administration. You know it, I know it, let's not bore ourselves with details. Here's the interesting thing.

1. Bush & co are doing a lot more bad stuff than other administrations. They're above-average at evil.

2. Bush & co aren't really doing any more nasty stuff than other administrations. They're below-average at hiding it.

Let's examine proposition 2 for a minute, because it amuses me. I mean, no WONDER we can't find Osama, right, if no one in this administration can keep a secret. Everything they do makes them look like assholes--and they always get caught.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Hug Your Mother

The very idea of giving birth freaks me out, and that's just the beginning of motherhood. I salute all the mothers out there. I thank Mamma Earth. Mamma Katz. Momma Rose.

Yes, Mother's Day is rather contrived and Hallmarky, not a real holiday so much as a way to boost card and gift sales in a slow season. It's a good day nonetheless, a moment to give pause and remember where we came from. Our mothers have done the best they could to nourish us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was one of the lucky ones, who got a mom very capable of nourishment. Some people weren't so lucky, but I think that mothers are humans attempting superhuman tasks, and they do the best they can, whatever that may be. So thanks, Mom and all moms. We...Well, we wouldn't be here without you. Put your feet up and let us nourish you for a day--as best we can.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Jamaica + Senegal = Hell Yes!

Uncle Charlie, here. I like how this site is really hoppin'! Hopefully all you PYT's in kStyle's new cyberniche will take my advice and check out the first of my musical offerings: In Search of the Lost Riddim, by Ernest Ranglin and co.

"Who?" you ask, perchance. My hat's off if you already know about el señor Ranglin, the man who taught Bob Marley how to play the guitar. If Ranglin is news to you (as he was to me until a few months back), let me assure you that he's one of the classiest guitarists you never hoid of. Been on the scene in Jamaica for some obscene number of decades. A vet. Seasoned. The story behind this album is that ever since he toured Senegal with Jimmy Cliff in the 70's, he'd been fiending to get back there and record with some of the musicians he met there--including a cat by the name of Baaba Maal, who will be the subject of my next glowing review on this page. Flash forward to the late 90's; el señor gets his chance, finally.

This is essentially an album of jams recorded, as I am given to understand, in Mr. Maal's home, fronted by Ranglin and backed by Baaba's incredible band. So you get this West-Africa-meets-the-Carribean feel that is...

Nice. The tunes on this record will make you feel about as nice as music can make you feel. And I'm not talkin' that smooth, wallpaper, Enya kind of nice. You will be shaking that ass, but the ass-shaking is...nice.

Get this record. Everyone I've played it for has demanded I burn it for them. We'll talk about Baaba Maal the next time Uncle Charlie pays a visit.

Ann God

The fabulous Ann has completed this week's Wednesday Writing Assignment most cleverly. You can find it on her own delicious site. Make sure to check out some poetry while you're there.

The Innocence of Plants

I went for a nice, long walk today, through the repectable streets of the wealthy, wooded suburb that my company calls home. Lovely colonials were surrounded by sunny little gardens sporting bright tulips and daffodils. Flowering trees and lilacs gave off a heady scent. Tender little leaves of a tentative yellow-green shaded the sidewalks.

And there--there, one lot away from the middle school--a scrappy little plant grew by a fine, tall fence. This plant was unaware of its own primitiveness, of its spiky, dark-green leaves unfurled in a telltale pattern. Blissfully innocent of its own illicit nature, it assumed it had as much right to sun and soil as its refined cousins.

The cops might beg to differ.

Second attempt to get specific banner ads:

You know what I love even more than cookies? Viagra. I really wish I had the opportunity to buy some Viagra over the internet. If only some ad would pop up, offering me the chance to GET VIAGRA NOW. That's the kind of thing I could really go for. Whither thou, Viagra ads?

Sometimes when giraffes eat cookies, they turn into a cookie. A big giraffe-shaped cookie shaped like a giraffe. Except giraffes aren't supposed to eat cookies, and if you give them cookies at the zoo, you will get thrown out of the zoo and asked never to return, which I found out the hard way.

The only thing better than a giraffe-shaped cookie is a cookie-shaped giraffe. Bit of a round giraffe, though.

Playing with Banner Ads: Giraffes

So I've noticed that the banner ads on this site are for herbal remedies. I've likewise noticed that other BlogSpot banner ads are themed to the blogs. Let's play with this. Let's get banners ads about...giraffes. Or cookies. Here we go.

I adore the zoo. My favorite animals are the giraffes. I also like to eat giraffe animal crackers. Really, any cookie will do. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, macademia nut...does anyone know a good recipe for giraffe cookies? Do they sell giraffe cookies at the zoo?

Carla the Goddess

Carla has also done an admirable job with the Wednesday Writing Assignment. Her work was buried beneath 20+ other comments...As the Bible says, Don't hide your light under a bushel. Without further ado:

Every day is the Sabbath around here--or, anyway, it can be; the goddess is particularly fond of pleasant surprises, and she rewards any effort to please her, without regard to the day or season. Raspberries, chocolate, and/or sex are definitely among the best ways to please her (especially when combined in artful ways), but a good game of handball will suffice. (although she doesn't have to win all the tiime, unsportspersonlike conduct is a good way to get a smite, or at least a little hipcheck.) Gifts of wine and honey (especially local honey, and especially buckwheat honey) are always welcome.

Books are good, too, but, since she doubts the ability of her followers to choose them carefully (even though she writes down the titles and authors of the ones she wants in a little notebook that her followers could find if they really looked for it), she's happy if they just go to the bookstore or library for her. Tickets to a baseball game are always welcome, especially when the Phillies are in town. She is perfectly content if her followers dvide up the tasks of propitiating her according to their various talents. There is a special place at the altar for worshippers who are willing to do the laundry and clean the bathroom. There is a special place in hell for people who talk on the phone while driving and people who go through red lights. (No, it was NOT yellow; it turned red a half a block before you got to the intersection.)

Like Eric, the goddes does not like bad grammar, conservative politics, or smoking, but she has compassion for smokers (as long as they keep their nasty smells away from her) because she used to be one, when she was only a goddess-in-training. Because of her red hair, she is the patron saint of all things with beta-carotene in them, especially pumpkins, butternut squash, and sweet potatos. (Except cantaloupe. Cantaloupe is nasty and if you try to give her any she'll throw it at your head. She also doesn't like cucumbers or bell peppers, and she really hates mint, so take that mint-chocolate-chip ice cream AWAY, even if you do have raspberry sauce for it. Just bring her the sauce. Really.) She knows that her hair is getting very grey, but, trust me, that hasn't diminished her powers one little bit.

Care Packages for Iraq

American soldiers' treatment of Iraqi prisoners is pure evil. I had a visceral reaction when I first heard a few days ago. And I still feel sick whenever I hear a new detail.

I really, really wish we could send LETTERS OF APOLOGY and care packages from American civilians to Iraqi civilians. These people have been through hell and back. Dare I suggest they might need soap and food and fresh clothes even more than American soldiers? Perhaps there's a group already doing this. I mean, I don't know Farsi or Arabic; I don't even know how to get the packages to Iraq. I'll do some research and let you know.

On a related note, the pundits have been saying that Kerry needs to spend more dinero on attacking Bush rather than defending himself. The Dem needs to take the offensive. Seems to me, though, that the Bush camp is doing a laudable job of self-destruction. Maybe Kerry just has to wait it out.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

As the weekend is nearing, I am acceding to Karen's request that I recommend a movie for her readers. As such I will tell you this, and I apologize for not displaying quite the level of sophistication Karen may have expected of me:

Three times during "Mean Girls," I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants.

(I'm no Ebert, but alas I will have to do.)

In all seriousness, though, this film, written by Tina Fey and directed by Mark Waters, is a smart and knowing and surprisingly moving comedy about the peculiarities of teenage cruelty. It's a fine movie through and through. And I hadn't nearly peed my pants at a movie in about six years.

See "Mean Girls." Enjoy!

It is often said that the most powerful ignition of memory comes not from sight or sound but from smell. This is probably true, but today I thought of another one: weather. It's a warm day today, warm and sunny and blue, and this afternoon I was walloped by something pretty powerful. Last year at this time I was falling in love, and I don't know, something about short-sleeve shirts and mild temperatures must have wormed its way into my subconscious somehow. I'm no longer in touch with this woman but I suddenly want to call her. The last time the weather was warm, the last day we had like this, I went home from work and we talked all night.

I have fallen in love twice in my life, and both relationships began in the second week of June. Karen might have some kind of astrological insight into that (I think it was just a coincidence, myself), but there's some connection that's been forged from that for me. Soon the days will be even warmer, in the eighties and then the nineties; the evenings will go on and on, and I'll look around and wonder where these people went. Somehow it just doesn't seem right to enjoy these things alone, these things of summer; this air conditioning, these blockbuster movies, and squinting into the sun.


Ladies and gentleman, please extend a warm welcome to Uncle Charlie and his musical stylings. He and the God of Writers and Reality TV, Editor Eric, will be our critics-in-residence.

Our Cat Is an Honors Student

I present the following as proof of his genius: He's working on impressions of other animals. He dresses like a penguin, first of all (very cagey if you need Antarctic camoflage). In response to my greeting this morning, he said, "Meo-QUACK!" in a nearly perfect duck imitation. He then delighted me with mouse sounds: "Screechscreech-meow!" His English continually improves as well, but we're still trying to polish that grammar.

(kStyle, you think, you said you were too busy and tired to post! Yeah well, I'm waiting for docs to print.)

kStyle! I'd be honored to drop the occasional--ahem--pearl of, er, wisdom *cough, cough* on Float. Thanks for the invitation. I confess that this does feel a bit like treading through someone else's garden, though.

So it's music reviews you want from Uncle Charlie, hmm? Then music reviews you shall have...after I get this damned teaching credential, at least.

Candle Burning Low

As I embark upon my third consecutive 12-hour day, I'm feeling both tense and tired, like I either need to go for a long run or take a long nap. I need to conserve energy today---and the weekend promises to be just as busy--so I'm going to lie low on the journal front for a day or so.

In the meantime, here's a preview of what's to come:
* Editor Eric will offer the world his observations. As the god of writers and film, he will offer us semi-regular Monday at the Movies and whatever other well-written thoughts are floating through his brain.
* Lots of information on maximizing spring health through food
* Bemused musings on the Bush administration

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Writing Assignment: Too Good To Relegate to the Comments

By Eric:

This writing assignment is fairly easy for me, since I happen actually to BE an olympian god. The only Jewish one, as a matter of fact. These are the required rituals: Friday is the Sabbath, the day on which movies are released nationwide. Supplicants should reserve the theater a week in advance, and only I may attend, with occasional exceptions for particularly devoted followers who promise to be QUIET throughout and agree with me about everything afterward. No food may be eaten nor beverage consumed during the show, as even we immortals cannot fully concentrate on a film while we eat.

Stories are read aloud to me nightly, with extra credit for those readers who edit the stories beforehand, eliminating adverbs and other such nasty bits of bad prose. Speaking of nasty bits, and as a previous poster mentioned chocolate and sex, worshippers are required to keep on hand at all times a supply of Hershey's Pretzel Bites, milk chocolate variety of course, as they taste as though they were actually invented by God himself. As in, the real one. Not just we Olympian fakers.

As for sex, well, as a Wesleyan alumnus I have a pretty liberal attitude toward these things, and would never be so chauvinist as to suggest that there are heavenly rewards for women who are ready to fulfill my every whim and desire, but I will say this: there are absolutely heavenly rewards for women who are ready to fulfill my every whim and desire. Interested in immortal life? Come up to my mountain on the cloud, and bring some scented oils.

Finally, a few items never tolerated under any circumstance: smoking, conservative politics, and bad grammar. Always welcome: wit, smart remarks of any stripe, and the ability to make a good margarita. Any of those will win you a place by my throne. The view is good here.

This god controls rain, reality television (Fantasia's going to win "Idol," folks), and hair growth. Karen took all the good stuff. Meanwhile, he is the patron of writers, great and small, as well as celery growers worldwide. He rules over primetime, and thus should not be bothered during the "Friends" finale. His favorite Queer Eye is Ted, who should be stopping by with a good cabernet any minute now.

Wednesday Reading Assignment

Today I Am a Winner

Congratulations--you've won our "Free Stuff" newsletter contest that
you entered on 4/19! You'll receive your prize around the time that the
next newsletter gets mailed out.

I hope this news brightens up your Wednesday. : ) Thanks again for
participating in our contest!

Well, it does brighten my Wednesday. As does this:

Pls thank proofreader. On new editions I give $1.00 to any student who first reports a typo, and so the proofreader is saving me a bundle! (And you should see how closely students read the book!)

Psychic--Or Shiatsu Student: Addendum

If you read the list of common springtime ailments below and thought, Yes! That's ME!, never fear. Tomorrow I should be able to offer some nutritonal tips to soothe your Wood Qi woes.

Lady Luna

The moon was so full and powerful last night that I could only speak of her in whispers. A friend tells me that yesterday was the birthday of the Buddha and also the day he attained enlightenment. The moon must have been paying tribute.

Wednesday Writing Assignment

If you were a goddess (or god), Olympian-Style, how would you be worshipped? What would you require of your followers? Remember: you're arbitrary, capricious, and definitely not omnipotent. No world peace or crap like that. Bonus: create your divine name and powers.

I shall now tackle my own assignment:

Bring the goddess (me) baskets of chocolate and olives (in SEPARATE baskets, lest ye be smoted) and place them on a decadent altar of flowers and ripe fruit. Make great steaming baths of tea over fires colored with minerals (I want green, orange, blue, red, and purple flames) to send a fragrant incense heavenward.

Every third full moon shall be a festival day with dancing and singing and wonderful tales told around colored fires. (Followers may have a smaller, noncolored fire for toasting S'Mores.) These festivals must begin in the morning and continue late into the night, in a tree-dotted meadow by the side of a river. The goddess loves cats, so be very kind to felines (she often takes their form). At all times, all followers must really laugh if they are laughing and really cry if they are crying, or the goddess will throw them into a terrible place where the sky is always gray and people always bland; a place without smells or tastes or color, a permanent February in Massachusetts.

If you please the goddess, she will reward you with bountiful gardens and the artistic talent of your choice. She also grants subversive, dry humor to her most beloved devotees.

This goddess controls the winds and reveals the stars to sailors to return them home safely. She is the patron of felines, great and small. She rules over nap time, granting sweet dreams to the troubled and inspiring dreams to the jaded.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Pirate's Life for Me

I doubt many people sing, "Yo ho ho, the corp'rate life for me!" Maybe that's why CEOs have taken to acting like pirates lately (the bad kind), commandeering smaller companies, pillaging shareholders, raping consumers.

Ice belongs in cubes. Humans don't. Won't someone give me a farm? I'm a free range animal.

Rituals, Coffee, and Coffee

Humans need rituals. Some have Mass; some have morning coffee. One person I especially love brushes his teeth every morning before having his coffee, so that the coffee won’t stick to his teeth. His coffee must have a specific creamer and no sugar.

I dislike mornings; they’re chaotic and I’m groggy. I always oversleep and then, in a fog, need to plan how to best get ready in the allotted time, whatever it may be. There are constants: Putting on clothes, gathering the things I need for the day, feeding the cat. Then there are the variables: Do I eat a hurried breakfast standing at the counter or pack one to take with me? Do I brush my teeth at home or at work? Do I have time for some yoga or qi gong? Should I bother with hair and makeup, or slap my face a couple of times and smooth down the bedhead with my palms?

This morning I had some coffee. I almost never drink coffee, though I enjoy it when I do. (Sometimes it makes me a little jumpy and—to be honest—I don’t know how to use the coffee maker.) The coffee helped wake me up and added something special to the morning. It’s a very powerful drink. The deep ancestral part of my psyche thought, Coffee should be used in a ritual to honor some warm but mercurial god. Then I realized--It is. It’s a secular ritual, on its surface, but it is a ritual, and it’s devoted to those turbulent gods of morning and light.

Speaking of coffee, Whole Foods is carrying a fabulous, fabulous line of skin care products called Body Coffee. I treated myself to a bottle of moisturizer. Smells like heaven and feels like silk.

O, What a Beautiful Mornin’

Honey-colored sunlight plays against gold-green leaves (“Nature’s first green is gold…”). Puffy white sheep-clouds run across the bright blue sky, herded by a cool, gusty wind carrying the sweet after-rain spring scents. I think I’ll stay here for a while.

Recommended soundtrack: Traveling Without Moving by Jamiroquai.

Monday, May 03, 2004

A Bad Week for Grandmas

(Ah yes, Blog and I are in the honeymoon phase, the phase when I post a lot.)

Two of my friend-coworkers' grandmothers died in one week. I gave both mourners flowers and a card. It's so lame, really: Your grandmother was a unique and beautiful person...Here, have some flowers.

But maybe the point of giving flowers is the overwhelming nature of death. Anything we do is so small before it. The flowers, so beautiful and alive, will themselves die in a few days. They are beautiful and perishable, reflecting the nature of human life. Perhaps the parallel comforts us on a subconscious level.

Psychic--Or Shiatsu Student?

If you're reading this in the Northern Hemisphere, it's likely you've been experiencing one or more of the following symptoms something fierce of late:

craving sour foods
colorful dreams
waking up between 1 and 3 AM
headache behind the eyes and on the sides of the head
irritability, restlessness, and/or depression
muscle soreness
shooting pain, especially around the ribs
eye trouble: itchy eyes or floaters

The good news is, you're likely also experiencing a renewed vision for the future and an increased drive. Spring is the time of growth, baby. Eat more greens and be happy.

What's in Your Grocery Cart?

I saw a peculiar TV commercial recently, for Hidden Valley Ranch, I believe, or perhaps some other salad dressing. First, a woman assembled a casserole of chicken and vegetables and maybe potatoes and a TON of ranch dressing. These and other salad-dressing inspired, quick-and-easy recipes are available online, the ad informed me. Then a bunch of people stood before rolling green hills, professing their devotion to this salad dressing. "It's simply the best brand out there," they said, smiling brightly.

Is this how most people eat, I wondered, or how food companies want us to eat? It didn't occur to me to think of food in terms of "brands". The boyfriend and I don't purchase many pre-prepared foods, which usually cost too much and don't save that much time, anyway. (Want salad dressing? Mix olive oil and balsamic or tahini, water, and lemon juice.) Our grocery purchases for the week looked something like this:

beer, 2 limes, 2 potatoes, dandelion greens, 1 leek, 1 tomato, okra, 2 artichokes, 1 cantaloupe, 1 orange, 2 pears, fresh thyme, bay leaves, fresh savory, mint tea, 6 (free range) eggs, yeast, imported Genoa salami (oh my god, it's expensive but so good), ham, a little bacon, 2 steaks, 1 can adzuki beans, 1 can black beans, tortillas, burrito sauce, tofu (for miso soup), 2 shitake mushrooms, a little bulk granola for a treat, and (OK, brand name) mocha Soy Dream sandwiches.

I realized yesterday, comparing our grocery cart to others, that perhaps our diet has veered pretty far from the typical American diet. It was a gradual process, though, and swear to God, we still eat frozen pizzas. It shifted mostly from my impetus; all those classes on healing foods are having their effect! It began innocently enough, with sea salt and a couple strips of seaweed (for the minerals), and insidiously progressed into the hard stuff: a distrust of microwaves (studies have found they alter the antibiotic properties of breast milk) and whole new worlds of vegetables. I can see how people wake up one day and realize they've become raw foodists, or vegans, or full macrobiotics, quite without plan.

Recommended reading: Recipes for Self-Healing by Daverick Leggett.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Why "float"?

I reached a bad place late last summer. The heat and my unreasonable workplace were oppressing me. Every day after work, I returned to my apartment complex and swam and swam in that rectangular pool, frantic to escape heat and gravity and to burn off caged energy. I was having panic attacks as regularly as meals.

Heedless people jostled me in the pool. There was no lap swim time, so I had to dodge clueless ladies who puttered across the short end of the pool through the lanes. Children jumped off the edge into me, bony calcaneus into my side. I felt the same way at work, at all of life, frantically swimming laps, going nowhere, dodging around rude people who would never get out of my way.

All I wanted was a windy, bluegreen river where I could float, alone save for silvery fish meandering along the sandy bottom. I wanted to drift, no one in my way, freed from pointless exertion, free to move at my whim rather than someone else's. Cool water, unchlorinated and sweet, lapping at my ribs. That's all. To float.

I've since washed off panic somewhere between therapy and tai ch'i. I gave a few people a polite but firm shove back, left their cage-pool mentality, and restored that deep river in my psyche. I'm safe and supported by my river, floating again.

Welcome to Float, a look at kStyle's float through life. You won't find in-depth politics here--many blogs are already doing that so well, and I don't want to glut the form. Let's just dive in and see what we get.

Herbology: The Hidden Feminism

Seems Feminist discussions keep returning to the same topics: media, Roe v. Wade, unreasonable standards of beauty. These are important topics to be sure, but we keep looking at feminism negatively. I'm sure that many rejoice in the power of women and celebrate all the things that women can do, but seems I keep encountering battles over what women should and shouldn't do, anger over what women haven't been allowed to do, and so on. Meanwhile, we've neglected some of our most precious and valuable knowledge.

Plants. Those lovely green lungs of our planet traditionally have been women's domain. Many of the women killed for witchcraft throughout history were, in fact, accomplished healers. Potions? Those were herbal remedies.

I took a workshop on herbs recently, hoping to establish connection to this tradition of women healers, to somehow become more a woman through plants. Did I resonate with the herbs? Yes, I certainly did. I felt more whole after the workshop, like I'd found or claimed something that was rightfully mine all along, some forgotten part of my blood and bones. When I've finished my Shiatsu schooling and established my own practice, I'll delve deeper into this tradition, perhaps through a full apprenticeship program. Not surprisingly, many of the herbs we discussed that day were excellent for PMS, menopause, depression, and anxiety, common complaints of women. I learned that early female European settlers of the Americas saw that the Native American women had much easier childbirth than they and so learned about local herbs from their sisters.

Recommended reading: The Sweet Breathing of Plants:Women Writing on the Green World, Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson, eds.