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Author: switchknitter

Re-learning to skate

Posted in exercise log

I’ve been wanted to roller skate or rollerblade for years now. I started thinking about it seriously when a friend married a roller derby player, but then the pandemic hit… Two weeks ago I was chatting with the massage therapist at physical therapy, and mentioned it. He encouraged me to go for it. So I researched rollerblades and found a pair that would hold my not-inconsiderable weight. (I’m six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and not exactly stick-thin. Heavy duty skates are a must.)

The skates arrived a few days ago. I asked around to find skating buddies; one person I don’t know stepped up, as well as a new friend of mine. Both do derby. So I have people to skate with. But first I need to learn to do it again. I’m in my mid-forties, and it’s been more than twenty years since I last strapped on a set of rollerblades. (I did a ton of quad skating as a little kid, and changed up to rollerblading outdoors in my late teens.) So I decided to go to the local skating rink for a lesson.

The lesson was this morning. I own a full set of protective gear for when I start skating outside again, but for indoors I just went with my elbow pads and wrist braces. I’m awfully glad I did, because less than two seconds after I put the skates on I fell backwards. On the rink’s carpet, thankfully. I landed on the left side of my back, with my butt cheek and my elbow taking most of the fall. I’m really, really glad I wore the elbow pads. The elbow doesn’t hurt at all, but has a bit of a friction rash where the sleeve dug in. If I hadn’t had the pads on, it would have done some damage.

I laughed off the fall, though, got back up, and tried again. It was supposed to be a half-hour lesson, but after 15 minutes my legs informed me that they were Done and that I’d be keeling over again if I didn’t stop. So I called it quits. I never left the carpet, because I’m super wobbly, but I’m fine with that. Not falling a second time was victory enough.

My teacher is this very nice kid who’s very wise at 21 and wants me to come back for more lessons. I think this is a brilliant idea. I need to get way better before I start skating outdoors. S: Saturday morning lessons, and he told me the best times during the week to come if I want to practice without being run over by small children. So I will go to Adult Night on Wednesday, and stick to the carpet again. Saturday I will do another lesson. Thankfully admission to the rink and the lessons are very cheap.

Once I get some confidence I definitely want to go outdoors, but right now I’m pretty sure I’d kill myself if I tried, even with protective gear…

I am going to ask the derby friends if they can recommend exercises to build up/strengthen skating muscles. I suspect the best way is just “more skating”, but I’d like to help that along if I can.

I actually had a really good time at the lesson, despite my fall. (My teacher says to just accept that I will fall, because trying not to will just make me do it more. He’s probably right.) Skating is fun, even if I’m bad at it right now. And I remember how much fun I used to have rollerblading outdoors. I’ve missed it for years. And I want it back. it’s worth working towards.

Right now, though, I’m going to take some Aleve and relax for a while. I’m gonna hurt later. Worth it.

Magickal focus

Posted in magick

My friend Rorie Kelly has a podcast about witchy stuff. I suggested her last topic: finding the practice that’s right for you. She did a great show on it.

She also posted the list of things to consider to her Patreon (the post is free to the public).

I just did the ten-question exercise, as I’ve been feeling spiritually stymied as of late. I really feel a strong need to work with ties to the past. Not my past, but humanity’s in general. I feel the most connected to the world when I’m doing something people have been doing for hundreds if not thousands of years.

I’m thinking folk magick. Even though a particular practice might have evolved, people have been doing certain types of basic things since the beginning of human consciousness.

Also, animism. Get in touch with the genus locii. Not so much the spirit of the city, but that of the land, and of the myriad of ancient live oak trees that are everywhere here (including right outside my apartment; there’s a massive one that they left alone when they build the apartment complex). Take some nature walks. (I do love hiking, anyway.)

I’ll try it and see how it feels. I am, at heart, an existentialist, and I don’t believe life has any overarching meaning or purpose beyond what we make it. I can’t believe in all-powerful deities, either. So maybe small magicks are the way to go for now. Feeling connected to humanity at large is as holy as I ever feel, and I should work with it.

Where I went

Posted in random updates, and School

Okay, so today is the first day I’ve blogged since last June. Hi. I’ve been busy, basically. I haven’t been writing much of anything besides Facebook updates. I got a part-time job for a while, and right now I’m doing small bits of part-time work (just a couple of hours a week) while taking a math class at the community college. Once again, I’m on the path to learning calculus. No, I haven’t given up on that yet. I’m determined to make it through trigonometry this semester. It’s half over and I have a B in the class so far. A low B, but hey, I’ll take it.

I met with my prof yesterday, as I did badly on the last major test (which I took this last Wednesday). He’s fantastic. When I told him I remember math stuff visually, he immediately had the idea for me to memorize the unit circle as it looks on the graph of the sine function (which I have down cold already). So I’m going to work on that. He also drew some parallels between how I think about coding and how to use that when thinking about math. Great guy.

I’ve been depressed and stressed enough lately that it’s affecting my health, but I’m working on it. I’ve barely been crafting, and I haven’t written any new fanfic in ages. Sigh. But hey, I’m still alive. And I’m doing something besides sitting at home brooding. I have a social life (shocking) with many people in it (even more shocking). So it’s not all bad. Just difficult sometimes.

Why am I not in a cult?

Posted in Miscellany

I’ve been asking myself this question lately, thanks to binge-listening to the podcast A Little Bit Culty. It’s interesting, even if the hosts probably aren’t people I’d be friends with (they seem nice enough, but we wouldn’t have much in common). They’re former members of the NXIVM cult who are doing the show to help other escapees from cults. There’s a lot about the psychology of how people get indoctrinated and how cult leaders control their followers.

I think the reason I never joined one is sheer luck. I’ve tried to join groups based on spiritual ideologies, from the Unitarian Universalists to The Satanic Temple, but nothing ever stuck. I eventually realized that I’m better off just talking to my friends about shit and avoiding groups.

However, I think it would be pretty easy to indoctrinate me into something. (That’s not an offer.) I’m easily influenced. I may not have been in a cult, but I have been prey to charismatic yet manipulative people. Most of my serious romantic relationships were with abusers (the reason why I don’t date anymore), so I know I’m good at ignoring red flags and falling prey to what the cultiverse calls “love-bombing.” I know that I stayed in those relationships until I felt replaced (the abusers all used polyamory against me), when the abuse should have driven me away years before.

So yeah. I would have been a great cult member. My ex-partners just got to me first. Now I avoid romance and groups that are ideology-driven. (I’m active in a crafting guild and in a medieval reenactment group, and both feel pretty safe.) Let’s hope I’m never a victim of either.

May Misery (with a happy ending)

Posted in health

Content Warning: graphic description of a dental procedure

May was pretty horrible, in that I was in constant pain for four weeks. It started with a tooth on the bottom right side of my mouth, a pre-molar. I had broken it years ago and had a crown on it, but it hurt so I went to the dentist. He did a root canal on it. It still hurt. He sent me to an endodontist (root canal expert). Turned out it was a mutant tooth with two canals. So this tooth had two root canals on it in the span of a week.

But I was also having pain up into my sinuses, specifically the right side of my face next to my nose. It turned out that a top right molar was infected as well. Having it taken out was an… experience. It took two full hours to extract the tooth. The problem is that the infection was so bad that it made the procedure really difficult: besides all the pus, everything was super-sensitive. The dentist had to cut the tooth in two, then flush up into the roots and inject anesthesia there. He wound up cutting the tooth again, and 3 of the four pieces didn’t hurt but the one with the infected root made me start crying. And this was with a ton of anesthesia.

Finally, finally, it was done. It was sorta funny, though — I love my dentist, and his sister is the assistant, and the three of us were carrying on laughing and joking between attempts to get the tooth out. He and I hugged each other twice after the procedure was over with. He’s a good man, and he did his best by me. I cried again, after, from relief. And I am NOT a crier.

I would have been dead within the week from the infection, even with the antibiotics, if I hadn’t gotten that molar pulled when I did. He didn’t suture it, so the infection could drain. (He gave special stuff to swish with three times a day, too.) I’ve thought a lot over the past few weeks about how the infection would have killed me weeks ago in the days before antibiotics, and how much pain I would have been in.

Weirdly, I was hyper productive during that time. Mostly to distract myself from the neverending agony. I got some small web sites built, and got some spinning done. (I haven’t read any books since April, though. I couldn’t focus through the pain.)

I’ll be paying off dental bills for the next six months, but my mouth is fine now. I do take good care of my teeth; of the two problem ones, one was previously broken and the other (the top one) had a filling in it from when I was eight years old. Guess even good tooth hygiene can’t prevent every problem.

Visitations from a goddess

Posted in magick

The goddess Selene came to me in a dream in April, wanting me to worship her. It was startling, considering she’d never been on my radar before. I got sick immediately after (which I’ll talk about in a future post), so didn’t do anything about it until last week.

The first night I prayed to her, I was blessed with shockingly vivid dreams of people from my past, embracing me and telling me they loved me. (One is dead, the other is an ex I haven’t spoken to in years who I presume is still alive.) It felt so real. Like a gift.

Last night I prayed to her again before meditating. I entered a trance of sorts. Selene didn’t appear, but she made herself known through words and images popping into my head. She was a little irritated that I can’t offer her menstrual blood (I have an IUD, so no periods), and then instructed me to weave her a cloth and hang it over my bed and she would show me her generosity.

I knew immediately what it should look like. Non-weavers would think it was a tapestry, but it’s actually a technique called overshot. It will be the three visible phases of the moon — rather like the Triple Goddess symbol — outlined in one of the sacred Greek weaving borders (which I have on my computer already). I don’t even need to buy the supplies; I have black, white, and marbled gray wool already, and I need only spin them.

The cloth will be 9″ high by 18″ wide, black and gray on white. Spinning the yarn won’t take terribly long. I need to draw the design on graph paper. Shouldn’t take too long either. I have a spinning commission I have to do first, though. I hope she doesn’t mind a delay of a couple of weeks.

I’ve never had a deity take interest in me like this before. Normally I initiate contact, and am lucky if they interact with me. Selene started this. I’m honored and a bit baffled. Why me?

The universe is amazing.

Posted in Media

I was listening to an episode of This Podcast Will Kill You earlier today about chytrid. It’s a fungus that has killed off 6% of frog species worldwide. It’s horrible. And at the same time, it’s amazing. Because it’s a tiny fungus that can swim. And when it senses a frog nearby, it changes directions and swims straight for the frog. A fungus. That’s motile and can sense prey. (It then bores into the side of the frog and eventually kills it.)

I just laid there for a while (I was in bed, as my second covid shot is kicking my butt a little) and felt this awe and reverence for nature. Because holy fuck that’s weird and mysterious and a bit humbling, that this thing exists and humans have no idea how it works.

I hope I don’t come off like the Insane Clown Posse talking about magnets. Biology is full of crazy shit we don’t understand. You want to be blown away by how strange and interesting reality is? Pick up a book on biology, or find a good podcast about it. Life is really fucking weird.

Weird moods.

Posted in brain fun, and Mental Illness

I’ve been all over the place, the last few days. Emotionally speaking, that is; I’ve only left the house to pick up groceries. On the one hand, I got a WordPress consulting job I did over the weekend. I really liked my client, she was easy to work with, and she’s planning to hire me again in a few weeks for some small edits to her site once she has more content to post. I also got about 12 ounces spun of my current spinning commission, and am almost done with that. So I’ve been productive and happy about that. I enjoyed all the work immensely.

But in the quiet moments, I’ve been depressed. Depressed about my weight, my debts, the point of existing. Not that I’m suicidal or anything; rather, I’ve just been trying to convince myself that I have worth. This fucking capitalist society makes me feel worthless for not being able to hold a steady job. I know, logically, that that is bullshit, and my life has value outside of that. But to me it’s not about the money, it’s about being a consistent person.

I cannot do the same thing every day for eight hours, five days a week. My energy levels simply aren’t stable enough for that. Because I’m chronically ill, and it’s so fucking hard to accept that even with my intelligence and creativity, I’m so very limited. I’ve been trying to accept it for 20 years now. I get a little healthier, try to achieve something, crash, fail, repeat. I’m not going to try school this summer. I was going to take trig, but I don’t think I can. Which crushes me. Learning calculus is one of those things I’ve wanted to do for decades but either haven’t gotten the chance or else haven’t been healthy enough for.

My therapist says it’s cruel to raise kids believing they can be anything they want, do anything if they’re smart enough. There are so many memes about us burned-out gifted kids who feel we didn’t live up to our potential. A dash of realism would have been nice, not that I’m mad at my parents about it. They really believed I could do anything. They never thought mental illness would be an issue, much less a stumbling block that would affect my entire adult life.

A new online friend was surprised that I feel pointless. She says I’m always doing something, crafting or writing or programming or reading something educational. She had a point. And I regularly help my family and friends in any ways I can, so I’m definitely making at least a few lives better.

I miss being able to donate blood. My elbows are too fucked up. I need to exercise more, do some weights or bodyweight exercises. I feel myself losing some of my strength, and it scares me, but not enough that I’ve done anything about it yet. Another thing I’m depressed about.

Ugh. I’ll stop whining and go spin. At least I can read while I do it, and distract myself from this funk…

Daimonic Reality

Posted in books, and magick

Notes on Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality, jotted down here as I read.

The discussion of the Neoplatonic “personal daimon” — a spirit that is both part of a person and active in the outside world — reminds me a great deal of Crowley’s “Holy Guardian Angel”. Also, in some traditions there’s the notion that each of us contains part of “God” or some higher connection; would the personal daimon be the Godhead, or is that another facet of a human?

Harpur’s talked some about mental illness and relationships to the daimonic. All I can think about is my OCD; while I don’t suffer symptoms any more, when I’m unmedicated I (and everyone else with the illness) have “intrusive thoughts” — thoughts that feel like they’re not coming from our Self. It’s not hearing voices. It’s thinking things that “I” would definitely not think. For people with OCD, those thoughts are often socially inappropriate or even shameful, and we don’t want to talk about them for fear people will think we really believe those things. It’s a huge source of stress.

Most people think of OCD as the compulsions. The stereotype is germphobic, extreme handwashing or cleaning. I have some of those (when unmedicated), but by far the worst is the obsessions/intrusive thoughts. The compulsions are a symptom of the obsessions. “My baby will die if I don’t knock on the counter three times every time I enter the kitchen” kind of thing. (Not one of mine, I don’t have kids.) The obsession is about the baby’s death, and the intrusive thoughts might be mental images of the baby’s corpse, or worse, “alien” thoughts about killing the baby. The person would of course be horrified by this.

So, to bring Harpur back into it, would he see intrusive thoughts as coming from a broken connection between the Self and the personal daimon? Maybe he’ll bring it up as I read.

The idea of believing something is metaphorically real but not literally real is a hard concept to wrap my mind around. I need to sit down interrupted and meditate on it for a bit.

I find myself wanting to experience the shamanic initiation, or an external quest as described in the book. Yet I need to be careful what I wish for. I’m too prone to madness as it is. I’m not certain I could return to myself safely. But still, I crave it.

I am a very vivid dreamer, but I don’t have what Harpur refers to as “big dreams”. They usually don’t say anything very deep. I’d prefer quality to quantity… On the other hand, I recently started lucid dreaming, and that’s something I need to explore further…

Final notes: excellent book, definitely recommended. I realize this isn’t very coherent to anyone who hasn’t read the book. Maybe I’ll review it properly at some point…

Another step on the path

Posted in books, and magick

I had another mini-epiphany while reading John Higgs’ book on the KLF. Higgs talked a lot about what Alan Moore calls the Ideaspace. Ideas are as real as reality, the theory goes. I’m typing this on a laptop. The laptop exists because someone had an idea for it. The couch I sit on was also just an idea, once. Everything humans have ever created came from ideas. Ideas, therefore, must be real. Not in the same way this sofa is real, but if the idea had never existed then there would be no sofas.

Moore’s Ideaspace has a lot in common with Plato’s realm of forms. Which I always thought was bunk. I don’t think, as Plato did, that the physical world isn’t the real world. I think perhaps Ideaspace and Jung’s collective unconscious are facets of reality, just as the physical is a facet.

After all, science can’t measure a thought. It can watch my brain light up when I think the thought, but it can’t see the thought. But I can share that thought with others. I can manipulate the thought inside my own head, and think about the thought. The thought is real. And now I’ve written the word “thought” enough times that it no longer looks real. Gotta love semantic fatigue. (And love the fact that the phenomenon has a name!)

And I’m sure I sound so amateur and basic when I discuss these things, because I’m taking baby steps along a path many others have tread. I don’t know where the path will lead. I’m not sure Enlightenment is really a thing. But I do feel myself changing and growing as I read, and I adore it.