Sep 27, 2011

The Glass Cell (the dream*)

(*This is an actual recurring dream I have that I am also using as the basis of a scifi story, albeit with changes.)

This morning I woke up naked in a glass cell. Last night I went to sleep in my own bed in my own room in my apartment. I filled the cat’s food and water bowl, watered the cactus, set the alarm, took a Valerian root, and crawled into bed. I lay in bed for about an hour reading headlines on Twitter, then flicked off the light, rolled over, buried my face in my feather pillow and fell fast asleep.

I expected to wake to the annoying alarm, buzzing of leaf blowers, and birds chirping, but no. I woke up cold and alone in a glass room. Where am I? Where are my clothes?

Am I dead?

Am I still me?

Am I dreaming?

I have always suspected reality is tenuous at best, but this is ridiculous. For example, it’s one thing to think vampires are cool, it’s another thing to meet a real one face to face.

I look around me. I can see other glass cells stretching on for infinity above and below me and side to side. There seem to be figures in most cells. Some look human, others, well, I’m just not so sure. Are they animals? Behind me is a glass wall out of which all I see is a blanket of stars vast and wide. Is that the milky way? A nebula? Where am I? I need an intergalactic “You Are Here” map. When I turn away from the stars, back to what seems to be the only way out of this cell, I see, beyond the wall imprisoning me and locked glass door, a vast hall filled with catwalks and corridors leading down from the various rows upon rows of other glass cells leading to a central vaulted pit that stands taller than a NYC skyscraper. From this vast height, as I lean my forehead and hands against the glass to get a better view down, my knees begin to shake and a strange sensation emanates from the pits of my feet. I feel dizzy and nauseous. Must be vertigo, I tell myself, and press on trying to find clues as to where I am and what exactly is going on.

In the center of the vaulted pit is what appears to be a training ground, well, actually several if I crane my head to the left and right as the pit extends in both directions further than my eyes can see. Beyond the training grounds is another giant wall of glass that seems to open onto a vast, beige, dusty planet with swirling sand storms and poor atmosphere. I can see humanoid creatures in spacesuits working out there and driving strange machinery.

Inside, though, down in the training ground... I’m not so sure what’s happening.

The training ground itself, at least the one directly in front of my block of glass cells, is rectangular in shape with the longer sides parallel to the glass cell blocks. Within this training ground there appears to be what looks like a movie set version of a bar and lounge. There is half a wall set up as a bar back drop with a large fat purple alien like creature that bears striking resemblance to a rhinoceros wearing a tuxedo and presumably acting as the bartender.

Sitting at the bar is a beautiful woman who looks a lot like Mila Kunis. She wears a gorgeous black dress made of an unidentifiable fabric. The dress kind of looks like a scrunched up giant tube sock around her. The material shimmers but is jet black. It looks almost alive, like it’s breathing. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun and her make up makes her look like a futuristic Cleopatra. She says something to the bartender in a language I don’t recognize. The bartender nods then turns around to make the drink. When he does this his long purple tail like a lizard’s whips around. Mila jumps, startled. The rhino glances back over his shoulder at her quickly. There’s a buzzer far off. Then a shout, “Reset.” Human. English. American. What is this place?

Sep 23, 2011

Am I an atheist?

Many people assume that I am an atheist because I do not believe in the biblical god. However, I'm really on the fence. To say that I do not believe in god, despite the evidence to either prove or disprove, is still, in essence, faith based. I do not prescribe to any absolute truths without evidence.

The lack of scientific evidence proving there is a god leads me to not believe in god, but the lack of scientific evidence disproving there is a god also leads me to not be 100% atheist. I do not believe in things that cannot be scientifically proved OR that I have not personally experienced. However, I reserve absolute judgment until such time as it can be proved or disproved.

Perhaps folks think I'm an atheist because I also dislike the idea of a god. Thing is, I really only dislike the idea of the biblical god. I love the idea of Zeus and Thor and Ra, as well as countless gods and goddesses throughout time and history. I love the idea of Isis and Athena. Of the male and female balance of a multi-god system. However, it does not mean I believe in them, merely that if I had to choose, I would prefer polytheism to monotheism.

Late at night, when you cannot sleep and your mind is racing and you feel utterly alone like there's no one you can talk to who would understand or care, the idea of god(s) that will listen to you and care what you're going through is extremely comforting. So much so that it really becomes moot whether god(s) exist or not. If you believe in something strong enough, you can will it into being in your own mind. The placebo effect. And it will bring comfort whether it's real or not. The power of delusion.

However, for me, the idea that it's just one biblical god does not bring me solace. Rather the idea of male and female gods each with their own specialties is what brings me comfort. (Of course, I also like the idea that all gods are based on actual visitors to our planet from outer space and that their powers were misunderstood technology, but that's a whole other topic.)

So, in essence, am I really an atheist? I don't know. I never really liked labels anyway.

Sep 17, 2011

My First Jury Duty Experience (written in the waiting room)

So far, I can sum it up with one word: BORING.

I suppose things would be different if I was chosen to serve on an actual case rather than just sit in the waiting room all day like cattle waiting to be called to the slaughterhouse.

Earlier. I had devised a plan to insure that I would not be chosen, but it was based on a criminal case. Unfortunately,  this is a civil court. So, no laws to argue with or jury nullification to conjure up. Rather just folks suing each other. Oh, joy.

At least a criminal case would be interesting, but two humans squabbling in a litigious situation is just boring unless it's like a class action lawsuit bringing down some evil corporation for polluting a water supply or something.

We, the potential jurors, arrived at 7:30 am at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. The courts don't open until 9:30 am. That means we had two excruciating hours of orientation. It's times like these that remind me how stupid the government thinks its citizens are. Did we really need two full hours to have the process of jury duty explained to us? And what of the multiple timers? My gods, I'll go berserk if I have to ever sit through that nonsense again. Then there was the jury duty propaganda film with cheesy patriotic sounding music and actors hired to talk about their favorite aspects of jury duty. "I just loved deliberation!" Please. Then there's the sentimental touch of two gals laughing together and hugging. "Jury Duty is deep and emotional. Many jurors stay in touch afterwards." Oh, really? Somehow I doubt it.

The highlight of the day so far is lunch. Found an interesting little inexpensive cafe called Cherry Picks with a NY deli vibe and large vegetarian selection. The espresso was a little too bitter but the sub was fantastic and I dug the jazz over the PA.

By 3:30 pm with only an hour and a half left in the day nearly every person in the room, approximately 200 people based on the number of chairs (yes, I counted them, I was that bored), were called to a courtroom for jury duty while myself and about 30 others are left still waiting. I can't help but wonder if my lack of selection has anything to do with the questionnaire I filled out upon entrance and the fact that under "What is the primary language spoken in your household?" I put "American." Or maybe it's just random. Or maybe we'll all still be called before the end of the day and it's all just dumb luck (or lack thereof).

And now for a little James Joyce stream of consciousness moment (kind of like a modern day equivalent to live tweeting if you think about it):

Not enough sleep.
Been in this room too long.
Walls closing in.
Paranoia takes over.
Too much left over adrenaline from last night's panic.
Fluorescent ceiling lights moving.
Institutional decor maddening.
Waiting too long.
Not enough food or fresh air.
Boredom consumes.
Can only read so much.
Can only surf internet so much.
8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 hours.
Get me outta here.
Head spinning.
Mind wandering.
Brain shutting down.
Did I just fall asleep?
What time is it?
Where am I?
Oh, right, jury duty.
But not even jury duty for real,
Just the waiting room.
Courthouse purgatory.
This is not interesting.
This is not fun.
I don't want to be here.
I want to run.
Long drawn out sigh.
Check phone.
Glance at Kindle.
I wish I had a pillow.
What are other people doing?
Playing with phones.
Reading papers.
They could at least tune the TVs to a channel,
Or can you not watch TV while you're waiting for jury duty?
4 pm. 1 hour left.
What will happen?
Will I be called yet?
Or will the day pass quiet and uneventful?
Civic duty, my ass.
Cleared for the day at 4 pm.
What a colossal waste of time...

Sep 1, 2011

A Diet That Will Change Your Life

As many of you know I have had stomach problems as long as I can remember and they only got worse as I got older.

However, all that changed when I put skepticism aside and tried something new as a last ditch effort and many of you know all about that, too, since I have posted a few updates and notes about my restricted diet on Facebook, but what you don't know is that you're just like me.

That's right - I'm not the only person who should have a restricted diet.

The diet I'm on is as a result of seeing a Constitutional Acupuncturist, wherein he enlightened me to the fact that humans break down into 8 body types. Some of those body types shouldn't eat meat, whereas some should. Some shouldn't eat fat, whereas some should. And so on. The problem with this concept is that it cannot be quantified so Western Medicine ignores it. Big mistake.

For years I suffered from extreme stomach pain. It all came to a boil when I found myself waking at 6am daily in so much pain I couldn't get out of bed until noon or later. This put a huge dent on my life and ability to function.

So, when I went to visit my Dad in Florida, he took me to a health food store to discuss my diet with the resident nutritionist. After asking me a few questions, she determined that I was experiencing an allergy to soy. I am a vegetarian so I end up eating a lot of soy. It's in every single fake meat product, not to mention tofu and edamame. Moreover, if you read all the ingredients of everything else you eat, almost every single food item has soy in it from chocolate to fast food to soda to bread. I was doomed.

I decided what I would do then instead of eating soy for protein was drink protein shakes made from hemp and eat lots of green leafy salads.

I was also exercising daily with yoga, tennis, and jogging.

You'd think that I'd get better over night and loose weight. Problem was, though, that I began to feel even worse. I found myself constantly in need of Gas X, ginger, Zantac, and various other stomach aids. I was also gaining weight like crazy.

After a month of this diet and exercise plan, I packed on 10 pounds and went up 2 pants sizes.

I was miserable.

I also started experiencing an embarrassing need to pee constantly. I'd wake up every hour or so because I had to pee. After weeks of living like that I was going bonkers from lack of sleep.

I decided it was time to actually see a real doctor. Heaven forbid.

The doctor prescribed a pill for my pee problem. (See here: If you didn't read that whole blog, in a nutshell, I had a horribly adverse reaction to the pill and had to go back to the doctor.

I explained the problem in more detail this time and she decided to recommend a specialist, but she said it was not the norm, nor was it generally accepted by Western Medicine.

She went on to explain that she was recommending a Constitutional Acupuncturist and that he would examine and alter my diet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was desperate so I figured, "What the hell? At least try it."

But see, here's the thing, for the most part I am a huge skeptic. I just don't believe anything ever. I need to actually experience something tangible for me to say, "Yes, this is real," or "Yes, this really works." I have read a lot about how acupuncture is bullshit and really just hypnosis. Well, hypnosis doesn't work on me, so I figured I'd know instantly if it works or not. Also, I'm terrified of needles, which is why I never tried acupuncture before as an experiment. Just didn't seem worth it.

In my first session, Dr. Kim explained to me how in Eastern tradition there are 8 body types and that each body type is allergic to certain foods, but we aren't lethally allergic so we never really notice that it's the food causing health problems. We may blame our environment or just sum it up with, "That's life." Moreover, Western Medicine and Society have brainwashed us into thinking that we can eat any fool thing we want. Oh, get gas, just take a pill! Everything in Western Medicine is solved with a pill. Ignore those signs that your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. Ignore the pain and the added weight despite exercise - just take a pill and feel better! But what they don't tell you is that the pill is just a band-aid covering up real problems underneath. Heaven forbid if Western Medicine actually fixed the problem because then you wouldn't be back for more pills to pay for that new yacht for the pharmaceutical company's CEO.

So, anyway, as most of you know, I'm completely over pills... Back to acupuncture.

So, right off the bat, after taking my pulse and reading my body, he determined a list of food stuffs I should avoid. Soy was not one of them, but green leafy vegetables was.

Within a week I was already feeling better than I had in YEARS. I was able to sleep through the night, wake up early, and get out of bed with no pain. I was able to eat breakfast again! It was like a miracle.

However, when I told people about my new restricted diet, all I got was looks of sympathy and pity. One person even said, "I'm sorry your life sucks so bad."

But here's the thing - not only does my life not suck as a result of the diet, it's tenfold better AND I'm not alone in this. Every single person who exists on this planet falls into 1 of the 8 body types and every single body type has a restricted diet.

After a month of weekly sessions and the new diet, I lost 10 pounds without a lick of exercise. I ceased eating leafy green vegetables and ate bread and cheese and soy again. Let me repeat that. For a whole month, I ate bread, cheese, and soy daily without doing any exercise instead of eating green leafy vegetables and exercising daily and I LOST 10 pounds.

My body type has trouble with green leafy vegetables but can easily burn through fat. Perhaps for some, as they say in Scott Pilgrim, "bread makes you fat," but not for me.

Also, throughout the coarse of my 9 sessions I discovered that my memory and endurance improved, as well as my mood. Ok, so maybe I can't eat chocolate or corn or tomatoes, but I'd rather be slim, feel good, be smarter, and more productive than eat whatever the hell I feel like. Constitutional Acupuncture has literally changed my life for the better.

I can't recommend it enough. I personally guarantee that if you have any health or weight problems it is directly connected to what you eat and drink and that with the proper diet you will feel better, be healthier, and live longer. The trick is - it's a lot of hard work and will power. We live in an instant gratification society. "I want what I want and I want it now." *snap* But that just isn't healthy. You are just like me. You should be on a restricted diet, too. I can't tell you which one; you'd need to see Dr. Kim or another Constitutional Acupuncturist to find that out. I have CHOLECYSTONIA body type. It actually means, in a nutshell, that I'm supposed to eat meat and fat. I hate meat, always have, but beans are a great substitute. So, I eat beans and cheese (fat) every damn day and I love it. You learn to get creative. And you learn to live without. I don't even crave chocolate anymore and it's really not worth the stomach ache it creates.

TL;DR: Constitutional Acupuncture changed my life for the better and I recommend everyone struggling with health and/or weight problems to try it and discover which of the 8 body types you have. You will be amazed.