Sickness in the First World

It’s the end of January and about a third of the people I know are ill in some way. This includes myself; my sinuses have been iffy for several days. One of my good friends has pneumonia, two others have migraines and another has a cyct on her thyroid. (21st century first world, where we know details on the health concerns of friends we see maybe twice a year?)

I’m at home after dinner, drinking boxed wine and sitting in a warm, dry, comfortable house. I am rich. My life is the epitome of comfort. I and my fellow Americans are proof that comfort does not equal happiness. I have clean water, clothes and shoes, a warm bed to sleep in and enough food in my pantry to last a week. (More, if you aren’t a picky eater.) Comfort doesn’t create happiness and neither does money, unless you are missing the basic needs of life. Excuse me while I go eat some more gluten free pretzels.

Last week, we lived thru a rare winter storm with no loss of comfort. Hot coffee and plenty of food to eat. It was a commone, modern miracle of engineering (and moderate planning on my part). I find this fact to be amazing. 3 days we were basically stuck at home and it was nothing more than a bother. These facts amaze me.

Maybe I starved in a previous life. Or several. It’s a common thing outside of the modern first world. Whatever the reason, I put “donation” on my grocery list today and dropped a can of tomato sauce and a jar of minced garlic into the Food Bank box when I left the grocery store today.

But during all that cold weather, our heating system blew hot, dry air at us for some 72 hours without a break. It’s cold, our bodies know this, but the air is hot and dry. My sinuses could not handle this and I became ill.

First worlders get sick at an astonishing rate. Most of the people I know are sick many times a year. We suffer from smoking, from diets full of fat, salt and sugar, from inactivity, from isolation, from the thousands of doses of mild poison.

No matter where you are or what your circumstance, you suffer pain. If rude server was the worst event of your day, or if the worst of your day was a beating and threat upon the lives of your beloved family, you are in pain. The richest nation on Earth at this time is rife with illness.

Everyone, everywhere, is in pain.

What gives you comfort? I’m not asking about what makes you comfortable, because we already know that being comfortable doesn’t really solve problems. What gives you comfort? What is the act that eases your pain? Whatever it is, track it down and learn it well. Then learn how to do it for other people. Because there are other people in this world who will need it. Not all the people, but some. When you learn how to comfort, the people who need you will find you. If you can grow yourself and your world to include these people, you too will be rich.

The File Pile

If you have ever faced an 18 inch thick pile of paper that needed filing, you already know what a pain in the arse it can be. I have attacked just such a pile two evenings this week, and am almost…ALMOST done.

I call it “the File Pile.” It looks innocent, accumulates slowly, and is both virtually inane and vitally important. It grows in small monthly increments that make it seem harmless. To illustrate the sneaky nature of the pile, I thought it was about a year and a half old at the most. It was 4 years old.

I keep records for 3 years. When it came time to start on the Pile, I thought I would have to sort some of my old files and add to them. Instead, I EMPTIED the old files and just began anew. Which kind of made things easier, to tell the truth.

Filing at work is exacting; at home it is an approximate practice. I have a file named “Medical” and another named “Insurance – Other”. Some of my medical records wind up under insurance, sometimes my home insurance winds up there, sometimes there are extended warranties for home appliances in it. Since my filing is limited to one box, which holds about half a drawer’s worth, I figure it doesn’t matter too much where anything lands. If it is needed, it can be found.

I also have a file folder full of bank account check registers. It’s my fail-safe: a record of every check I’ve written in the last 12 years. I imagine some villain accusing me of non-payment and turning to this file, say “Oh, you think I didn’t pay that? Well HERE IS PROOF.” I know it’s impractical but it makes me feel better.

So there’s my official history in one box; cell phone agreements, payments on utilities, various proofs of insurance. All the things you’re supposed to have as an adult. The file box is evidence that I’m a “grown up”. Filing is not as intimidating as I thought it would be when I was a lost and lonely, angst-filled teenager. The box is mine, and it’s set up my way, ensuring (among other things) that no one else will ever make sense of it.

Anyway, with tax season approaching, it’s good to have tackled and mostly defeated the File Pile. Only 4 more years until I have to do it again.

RIP David Bowie

I first saw David Bowie in his holiday video with Bing Crosby and then his own Blue Jean video. I liked some his songs in the 1980’s, and especially “Let’s Dance”. He intrigued and frightened me as the Goblin King.

I am torn up about David Bowie passing. I’m baffled by this emotion; I was not a huge fan, I never purchased his albums, posters, or even a button of his.

But it’s everyone. Bowie was loved all over the world. He wasn’t mine, he was OURS.

He represented the strange and misunderstood, and turned weirdness into fashion. He stood up for the helpless and gently mocked the wealthy.

He introduced us to tremendous style in a display of constant, shifting performances. 10 and 20 years later, those styles continued to pervade the mundane world, whether it was red hair dye or boldly patterned tights.

He worked at his art when young, when rich, when middle aged, and when ill. He was our Mozart, our muse, our wildest dreams come true.

Safe travels, Star Man, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, Jareth, David.

Zombies Don’t Eat Carrot Sticks

America is caught up in the strangest epidemic humanity has ever seen: obesity. It’s mind-boggling. After millions of years of struggling alongside our fellow animals, suddenly we have such an abundance of calories that we are struggling to LOSE weight. I am not an expert but am fairly certain that no generation in the history of Earth has this been a concern.

Like most human problems, it’s being used by the heartless to mock its victims.

This epidemic won’t last very long. The Earth’s atmosphere is warming faster than any natural climate change that has every occurred in the history of life. Only giant meteors have changed our climate faster than it’s happening now. Coastal cities are being inundated and breadbaskets are turning to deserts. Food shortages are intensifying wars in the Middle East.

The Middle East used to be one of the most fertile places on this planet. Its descent into desert is also a man-made disaster. Farmers plowing causes just a little soil to rinse away every year, soil that was built by forests. No farmer is willing to turn their fields back over to woods; it would be the end of their living.

Modern farming has sped soil loss and degradation. Farms that were perfectly fertile just two generations ago are now salted wastelands.

In 50 years, we won’t have an obesity epidemic anymore. Writers will compare worldwide famines with the zombie literature of the 2000’s and 2010’s. Hoards of starving people will come after the well-fed. Desperate to live, they will thoughtlessly steal food from people who have worked hard to survive their own disasters.

Or, we can change. Permaculturists, local foodists, all the people who value conservative agriculture that preserves ante-industrial methods of maintaining fertile soil, these people might save us all.

In 50 years, I will either be 96 years old or dead. If I’m alive, I hope I will also be well and kept my wits. And I hope I’ll have decades of helping people develop their suburban plots, their grandmother’s old gardens, their potted plants into sources of food and medicine.

Tea Time Wine and Pretzels

According to an on-line test, I drink about like a Portuguese person. In celebration of my newfound status, I had gluten free pretzels and wine as a snack when I got home from work. (4:48pm if you’re curious). Not sure what the British would think of my “tea time” choices.

The Myers-Briggs test has been making rounds on FaceBook again. I took it. Again. INTJ. Again. And always. I love debating with people about it, especially when the topic of Introversion is raised. Breaking bad stereotypes is one of my favorite things to do, ever, forever. It’s like finding a huge scabby crust on the bottom of your oven door and flaking that shit off. So rewarding!

Speaking of cleaning things, I was supposed to do laundry yesterday. Having Monday off work was a blast but the rest of my week has been set on its ear. I can accomplish normal care things only if they are regular habit. Other things become a mythical, floating wish upon the backs of technical details I just can’t easily grasp.

In other news, the days are getting longer and I anticipate afternoon runs in the near future. ::squeee::

OK, gotta go. Dirty clothes are whispering nasty things in my subconcsious. Because they’re DIRTY.

Id Cider

Carrots do not go with cider. Especially when it’s a dry cider. Blech.

Best friend Mary told me today about a grown man who would not walk his dogs, would not take his children to daycare or pick them up, who works from home but who in fact relies on his _customers_ to do most of his work for him. Mary is one of his customers, and any request she sends him is ignored or thrown back on her. Apparently he spends most of his time playing golf.

Lazy people confound me. Lazy people who are content, not resigned, but content to spend all of their free time playing games or absorbing media, who won’t care for their own pets or children, who refuse to take care of the details of their lives. How can they be alive? Doesn’t their brain drive them nuts? Can dreamless humans really exist?

I feel more calm about writing now. Boyfran explained to me last week that a lot of Americans suffer from “movie syndrome”. We believe every moment of our lives should be entertaining, as tho movies were how life should really be lived.

Consciously we know better, but the subconscious (Id) rules us. Id does not differentiate movie fantasy from living life. And to be honest, I think a lot of people do not have a conscious (Ego) mind at all; they live entirely at the whim of their Id, moving thoughtlessly from notion to notion. If you tell them NOT to do something, they will do it because they only hear the idea, not the warning. You know people like this: they are adult aged but still act like children. “Don’t touch that.” ::touch:: “Why did you touch it? I said not to.” “Yeah, I just…”

So if you have a notion to try carrots and cider right now, you are dealing with your Id. But seriously, don’t eat them together, it’s awful.