Sunday, August 11, 2013

How long have I been here?

It’s hard to keep the days straight around here. This truly is Hotel California. Speaking of, the real Hotel California is near here. It is an insane asylum in the desert. People don’t leave because there is no where to go but desert. Normally, I would call something like that a mental facility or something like that, but it really looks more like a place to get people out of the way rather than a treatment center. Not that where I am is really an asylum, but it is hard not to feel a little like I am locked up since I am under more strict controls that I ever have been. Last night I got yelled at a little for going to the bathroom without finding a staff member to come with me, and I had to really work it to find a time to take a shower when I wasn’t on observation. I should probably go outside more often, but I’ve been spending most of my free time lying on the heating pad. I’ve been asking for Tylenol, which helps my back. It was hard to sleep last night because of the backache and I had a bad headache too. This morning the headache is better but I am bloated. One of the staff talked to me about how to pick my meals to reduce the bloating. I don’t want to eat meat, but some of the meat substitutes are not sitting well with me. The fruit here is really good but the rest of the food I really don’t want any part of. We are supposed to drink two glasses of water or a glass of water and tea (except lunch is just water) with each meal and snack. Even that is hard because of the bloating and because I don’t want to have to pee and go through the whole thing of getting someone to go with me. I’m pretty fixated on how I feel physically because it is hard to ignore right now.

I am also taken with a panic of what I am missing while I’m here. Last night my co-ed hockey team had a play-off game, and my women’s hockey team played my bestie’s team on Friday night. They started their season three weeks ago and I won’t be able to come back for at least a month. I cried last night because I was so upset I couldn’t be there. I am worried about my pets and that my husband will stop loving me. I’ve been super-crabby lately and I worry he will decide he is happier without me. I felt like I was withdrawing from people for the last year, and I’m not sure if I will be able to come back into a social life, or heal enough to do that, or if I do, if my friends will let me.

This morning I noticed two references to lightning rods. I was reading the music review section in the Los Angeles Time. Amanda Shires album “Down Fell the Doves” is on Lightning Rod Records, and a review for Public Image Ltd.’s first album “First Issue” says:

“The primal scream of the post-punk era, John Lydon’s first post-Sex Pistols project is, in retrospect, as influential as his work as a lightning rod punk singer in a cartoon shock-punk band.”

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sh*t just got weird

Today is my second day in eating disorder jail. Ha, ha, treatment. I did do this to myself. I started acknowledging my eating disorder behavior in my ASCA group after other women talked about it, and decided to pursue treatment 2 or 3 months ago, and now I’m in a residential program. The biggest change is how structured it is. We eat three meals and three snacks, and the time is all structured, even the free time. I have to be on it for the free time, because the last couple of times I tried to do something, suddenly it was time for something else. I spent most of my time today lying on a heating pad because my lower back is really pissed off about something and the muscles are spasming. It started yesterday, and I didn’t sleep well because of it, so I am exhausted. Plus, it was strange to be sleeping someplace different, and I have a roommate. Every time I shifted around I was afraid I was waking her up. I miss my husband and pets intensely, and just being at home, and my hockey teams. I was in Chicago last week and I’ve been away from my women’s hockey team for the whole season. The other big thing to get used to is that two hours after eating I’m under observation, so someone has to come with me when I go to the bathroom. They wait outside the door and I count so they know I’m not up to something. It is so irritating that my biggest pleasure, after talking to my husband on the phone, is to go to the bathroom during the small window (30 minutes, usually) that is two hours after eating and before eating again. Also, it is just a lot of eating and drinking water, so I feel bloated for most of the time too. Finally, my last complaint for now, they took my cell phone and computer away, and there is a 20 minute time limit on the public computer. So I have to stop writing soon. I have a journal to write in, and I have so much to say. But I also have a sore back that wants the heating pad back. So I will stop for now.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Shrine space

Me in the Akhu shrine (blessed dead). Seshat is to my right.
It is now a new year, the year of Heru-sa-Aset (Horus). We've kissed the face of Ra, turned the dangers of the year, ate a feast of offerings, danced pseudo-belly-dancing to, get this, "Walk Like An Egyptian", had auctions, took various group photos, and ate another ton of food at a buffet. I do feel better than I did yesterday, especially after a coffee run. My hair is extra-bright today for some reason. I added stars for two people to the Akhu shrine wall to honor people who have passed to the unseen world- my friend's brother who committed suicide last year, and David Rakoff, a writer who was on NPR a lot who died of cancer. Of course my brother has a star up on the wall. I felt his presence yesterday when I was in the room. I enjoy spending time with the shrine. It includes Seshat, who is not usually considered a funerary goddess, but is triple-aspected with Nit (creatrix goddess) and Nebt-het (Nephthys). Nebt-het is the Egyptian goddess who appears when you're dying. So Nit, Seshat, and Nebt-het are like the three fates- Nit is there at the beginning of your life, Seshat measures out your life, and Nebt-het is there at the end. I am a spiritual child of Seshat, who is also the goddess of accounting and measuring the foundations of buildings, educating the king, and keeping the Kings List, which is how Ancient Egyptians recorded their history.

Tomorrow we are having the healing baths. I was also hoping to get some Reiki from one of the women here, but I think we'll run out of time. Hopefully she can work on me after the baths. The baths are amazing. I didn't do them the first time I came to retreat. They are an extra, and some people leave early and skip them. So this will be my third. The hardest decision to make with regards to the bath has to do with the Serqet (or Serket) bath. By the way, I'm usually using the translated Egyptian name for the gods and goddesses, and including the Greek/Roman version of the name in parenthesis. Serqet is an Egyptian goddess who wears a scorpion on her head and protects against poison. In her bath, you have to chose between the reductive bath, which washes away trauma, and the additive bath, which gives you extra sight. People swear by the powers of the additive bath, and the reductive bath is another tear-jerker since trauma passes through you as it is washed out. Yet, when you've had a bad year, or decade, or life, being able to wash some of that away is huge. The first year I did the reductive bath since I've had trauma for as long as I can remember. The next year I tried the additive bath, because who doesn't want clairvoyant sight. This year, I'm going back to the reductive bath. I need a serious cleanse. My lip is still just as bad, by the way. This new year hasn't fixed that.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Hellllllo, butt crack of dawn!

Egyptian Calendar with Nut and Geb
Tomorrow we are getting up before dawn, so we can be ready at dawn to celebrate the new year starting tomorrow. It will be a fun day. We will great the new year, clear out the energies from the old year, make music, make offerings, and have a big breakfast feast together. Later will be an auction and raffle. We usually laugh our way through the auction. It can be a competitive crowd, so some of the bidding gets fierce, and the fierceness is entertaining. I probably won't do a lot of bidding, since I have no money. I did make some sales of my own though, so maybe I'll look for bargains. I have some books from previous years that went for very affordable prices. Tonight we can hear fireworks. I don't know why there would be fireworks tonight, but it is appropriate for us since it is New Years Eve.

Today I bawled like a baby in the ritual. I don't usually cry that much, but it is completely normal for people to have big emotional releases. Often I'm jealous because I imagine they feel a big cathartic release and they are getting to a higher level of connection. Having lost my composure, I most feel tired right now. It might feel better later. I might feel like I can let more go. I got more acknowledgement today that it was a hard year, and that this coming year will not be so difficult for me. I know that is a relief, but I don't feel it yet. It was such a difficult year that I still feel exhausted by everything that happened. Maybe tomorrow I'll start to feel the hopefulness and joy of a new, better year. Maybe I will feel it when things start to happen in my life that make me feel more in control of my life, and that I can move on from the intense disappointment I still feel at being forced out of a job I worked so hard for and put so much of myself into, the disappointment of being bullied in hockey and in ASCA and not getting the support I thought I should have, and the constant drumbeat of social and political events in this country that highlighted the injustice we live with and perpetuate. This last year it's felt like I couldn't accomplish anything, move forward with anything, change anything. I'm hoping this year I'll see the support I have more clearly, and that will give me the courage to go back into battle. Onward!

Even if I don't feel better tomorrow, I see it coming. I developed a cold sore on my lip last night, and it keeps getting big despite the time I'm spending trying to be at a higher level of consciousness that the level that cold sores live on. The timing is interesting. I keep having intensifications of the physical discomforts I'm having like dizziness, headaches, sore throat, muscle cramping, nausea, followed by a dramatic alleviation of the symptoms. Then they return. The cold sore hurts! A lot! My left ankle has felt all day like I twisted it, but I don't remember doing anything to it. I've been poring "special" purified water on my lip, and we have the Sekhmet healing baths on Sunday, but I have a feeling my detox period will be longer than a few days of retreat.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The best defense is a good offense.

Sekhmet, Eye of Ra
I got some good messages today. It's been a great retreat week because the doors seem to open. I was told to be fierce! I was told to keep fighting. I was also told my brother is doing well but misses me. We, the general retreat audience, were told to fight for justice. I like it! Just what I am ready for. I am ready to get out of my head. Tomorrow should be a good day too.

It's been a little difficult to write because I have too much to write about and I'm having a hard time focusing. It's better than having writer's block though. I have writer's overwhelm. Then, when I sit down to write, I'm flitting around and not settling down on what I'm talking about specifically, so I'm also afraid I'm not being clear. So maybe I should say, in the interest of clarity, I'm at a religious retreat, and we are doing rituals and workshops. Today we made Sekhmet healing amulets. We had a lecture. Then we had a ceremony. In between, we talk, eat, and have a marketplace. I brought jewelry and scarves to sell. I've made some money to help pay for the hotel bill, and I also traded for some cool things that I didn't have to money to buy. I was actually just talking to someone here about her doing some reiki on me, which I really need. Tomorrow, we have a long ritual. It's about 6 hours. I should go to bed soon. My roommate is asleep already, and our friend is in here re-beading her necklace. I'm in my pajamas and chilling on my bed. We have a mellow, go to bed early room. We're chatting but we'll go to bed soon.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

She Who Has Had Enough of This Crap

I'm annoyed because I've been trying to get to a screen where I can actually write for the last 40 minutes instead of screwing around with websites and browsers and internet connections. Such is the pain in the ass world of writing online instead of by pen and paper, or even typewriter (unless you have an electric typewriter that craps out on you). I have my cute little netbook with me, that unfortunately is full of ridiculousness from Best Buy. I will never buy a computer from Best Buy again. I used to be fairly self-sufficient with a computer. I could do my own troubleshooting, clean up my drives, clear my browser, install my own memory, all that good stuff. Now I can't even remove the worthless garbage Best Buy molests my computer with before I even buy it without crashing the system. I tried to download the Firefox browser today so I wasn't stuck with Microsoft "an IT person would never use because you can fly a Dreamliner through it's security holes" Explorer, but Firefox dumped a bunch of spyware on my computer without actually installing the browser, and now I can't get rid of that crap either. Computers have gone from freedom to bondage, from moving us forward to getting us good and stuck in the mud. I'm not even websurfing or Facebooking and I'm struggling to get anything done.

Today we found out the God of the Year is Heru-sa-Aset (Horus, son of Isis). My biggest interest in Heru-sa-Aset is his focus on JUSTICE. I like justice. I don't feel like I've had a lot of it in the last year. Not only is a lack of justice a big concern for my personal/professional life, but the news of the world is a big part of my world. With Bradley Manning, Trayvon Martin, Bob Filner, Wendy Davis, Huma Abedin, all the nameless faceless rape victims, fast food workers, Moral Monday filling my head from just the last 3 days alone, justice is what I don't see. Last year, our God of the Year was Nut, who was about balance and self-sacrifice. I don't think I was the only one who had a rough year. Nut does not have it easy. She is the sky, and she balances there apart from her brother and consort Geb, the earth. For me, her year was about dealing with weaknesses in my foundation. It was important work, but painful, and Nut holding herself up off the earth is necessary, but painful. Ever try to hold the same position for longer than a few seconds? It's rough, especially if your spine is all out of alignment. My metaphorical spine has been out of alignment all year.

We did some heka today. Heka is magic, but not just magic. Magic sounds like a ritual, but heka is intention. Heka is what you do, what you say, what you think. It is the results of what you put out in the world through your words, your deeds, and the thoughts you manifest in yourself. The heka we did was to bind the negatives in our lives so they won't hold us back in the next year. We bound things like blocks to our creativity, force used against us, and difficulties in relationships. I had an epiphany while we did the heka. One of the reasons Ancient Egyptian religion works for me is that it don't try to sugar coat the difficult stuff. Difficult stuff is a huge part of life, and a religion that goes silent when it comes to grief, anger, injustice, and pain is not a religion that works for me. I can't abide by people telling me to get over my anger and let go of my grief, especially while the causes of my anger and grief continue uncontested. For me, it is not healthy to accept injustice and move on. It is not proper to praise a bird in a cage while a free bird lies dying in front of you. But it is a heavy burden to feel the pain of everything around you. It is not so heavy I'm willing to drop it so I can lie to myself about who I am and who people around me are, and lead a make-belief life. Fighting back against corruption and lies is worth suffering for because I chose to fight back. But I don't need to let the fighting happen within myself. I can push it out into the world where it belongs. I imagined trapping the bad feelings within myself in the heka object. This heka is meant to rile the gods up so they will help you fight and bind these bad things. The gods get angry. We got angry. This is bad stuff and we want to be good and angry when we fight it. Anger can be appropriate. It can be motivating. It can drive you to change things that are unjust.

Then there is grief. We may not want to think of the people we've lost and feel their absence, but the alternative is to go numb to your feelings and forget about who we love, and forget about that part of ourselves. So we remember, and cry, and keep them in our hearts. Just like we open our eyes to injustice, get angry, and we change the world. We are angry and we don't forget.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I iz in Chicago.

Hotel shrine- Seshat, Seshat, Set, Seshat, Ma'autseshat (me!)

I arrived in Chicago yesterday. I'm here for Kemetic (Ancient Egypt) New Year. We have convention every year to celebrate, which I have attended for the last four years. Festivities begin tomorrow morning, but people have been arriving for the last couple of days. Most of our activities are at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Joliet (suburb south of Chicago), which is where most of us stay for the week. Those of us who have arrived have been running around the hotel, meeting for meals, and are currently enjoying "Sharknado" with coconut tequila and rum. We suspect that the tequila and rum are critical to really appreciating "Sharknado", although the acting of Ian Ziering and Tara Reid is delightful as usual. We've actually decided the character Nova, played by Cassie Scerbo, is the most competent and sympathetic so far. I could talk sharknado all night. I am convinced that some executive at SyFy has been pushing these fantastical disaster movies since the days when SyFy was actually the Science Fiction channel. He was reaching the point where everyone at the network thought he was crazy for supporting these movies, which he considers visionary but are usually consumed in the form of clips on "The Soup", but "Sharknado" has brought him the recognition that has so far eluded him. Good for him. His persistence has brought us the most enjoyable "wishes it was good enough to be a B movie" movie ever on SyFy, maybe even in the history of cable TV.

I was hoping to start blogging my adventures yesterday, but my travel itinerary was rough. I took Southwest because you can check two bags for free, but I was trying to fit everything into one suitcase. It exceeded the weight limit, so after packing all night I repacked the suitcase three times and then finally transferred everything to two smaller suitcases. Ergo, I was late leaving for the airport and late checking the bags in. I was warned that they might not make the flight. I then discovered the security line was out the door and down the sidewalk to the next terminal. I was so convinced I wouldn't make the flight I called my husband to alert him to turn around and come get me. The line was MOVING though, and I made it to the gate before my check-in group had even started boarding. I made it on the plane in plenty of time, although there were no aisle seats left. I have been insanely nauseous for the last couple days, so I was hoping to be a quick lunge to the bathroom. I ended up between two teenage young women and behind two screaming babies and in front of an occasionally screaming toddler. I picked that seat both for me and the young women since I didn't want to end up next to someone creepy and talkative, and I imagined they didn't want that either. I only had to crawl over the woman on the aisle to stumble to the bathroom once, for privacy to moan over abdominal cramps. Plus, I had a piercing migraine, wicked acid reflux, and was dizzy, so I spent most of the flight lying on the seatback tray trying to sleep. If I turned my head a certain way and kept perfectly still I could drift off for 10 minutes at a time. It got bad when the plane started to descend. The nausea hit me like a bus. I dug the air sickness bag out of the seat pocket and carefully positioned it so I could projectile directly into it. The teenagers looked horrified.

Disturbingly, this kind of illness mitigation is pretty normal for me. I have lots of experience with situations and physical conditions that cannot be escaped and only managed. I was also anticipating a long day of managing- bags that may or may not arrive, taking a number of buses for almost three hours to the hotel, and trying to find something to eat that wouldn't make my symptoms dramatically worse. I made it off the plane without hurling, ran to the first store I saw to get acid reflux medication and water (safe liquid), and, hooray! my bags made it. Little victories. The rest of the day I averted major disaster- after an hour on the first bus, I was unable to find the bus stop for my connection. My cell phone died, but just before I wrote down my friend and retreat roommate's cell number and called her from a bank. She drove to retreat and was able to find me even though her phone was about to die and I was in some strange suburb 20 miles from Joliet that neither of us had ever heard of. She was driving around getting supplies when I called, and after she rescued me we got fruit and other food gentle for my stomach. So I survived, but when I got back to the hotel I was ready to lie down for the rest of the day.

Bottom line is that I survived, and I am now sipping coconut tequila, laughing at the greatest TV movie ever and the commentary from a room full of new sharknado enthusiasts, and enjoying the company of people I see only once a year if that, but feel like know me better than most people who see me far often. I am hoping that the rest of the week continues to rise above mere survival.