Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Decaf Achiever

Do you remember that 1980s ad campaign that pressured TV viewers to "Be a Coffee Achiever?" It seems like each decade has its signature excesses, and the pendulum swings from stimulants to sedatives and back. To wit: the postwar nicotine and amphetamine craze of the 50s, followed by the giant pot party that was the 60s and 70s, followed by the caffeine/cocaine frenzy of the 80s, followed by "heroin chic" in the 90s, and so on.

Aside: these drug trends seem to map onto U.S. political trends, with stimulants being popular during conservative/Republican times and sedatives being popular during progressive/Democratic times. Gives new meaning to the signature colors of the Republican and Democratic parties, no? From the blues to the mean reds and back again.

Anyway, back to drugs: It seems meth, cocaine, and even caffeine have made a mass comeback in the 00s. Being a user of neither sedatives nor stimulants (unless you count thyroid hormone), I live a boringly mid-range life. It's not that I think drugs are evil, it's that my bandwidth of acceptable excitatory levels is frustratingly narrow. Marijuana makes me wish I were simply asleep, yet stimulants of any kind drive me frantic. A can of Red Bull will keep me up all night. I can't even handle the caffeine in a cup of coffee, which my husband, a devoted drinker of fully-leaded java, thinks is really pathetic. Hence, this commentary etched on the cap of my weekly carafe of decaf:

This shouldn't have surprised me. People who abuse stimulants frequently have behavioral problems.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I'm Not a Boy! ....Am I?

Okay, let's face it: my little girl looks like a boy. It doesn't help that I dress her in clothes bedecked with cars and trucks, but even when she's in gender-neutral clothes people think she's a boy. Heck, even when she's wearing a dress they think she's a boy, like it's the 1800s or something. The only time she's identified as unambiguously female is when she's wearing pink. Here's the weird thing: I'm pretty outspoken, so you'd think I'd be quick to correct people when they say, "He's so cute!" But I don't. It doesn't bother me at all. I think the sentiment is sweet, and why punish someone for a compliment with a reprimand, however gentle? My husband feels the same way. When she's older we might have to speak up to avoid giving her a complex, but for now, who cares? So we go out to breakfast every Sunday at the same place, where they make this fabulous thing called Cha-Cha Charritos (whole wheat tortilla stuffed with scrambled egg whites and black bean burger, covered with queso fresco and tomatillo salsa, doused with Cholula and dolloped with sour cream, good god my mouth is watering just describing it), and smile at people who comment on our darling little son. It's kind of fun to have a son sometimes, especially a sweet one who doesn't torture the dog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


My mother was ideologically Buddhist but raised her kids Catholic, so my understanding of this term has always reflected a monotheistic approach to reaping what you sow: send negativity out into the universe, and the universe (a.k.a. God) will send it right back at you. Send positivity, get positivity.

I believe in karma, but I've recently rethought the mechanism behind it thanks to research on brain functioning and emotion. My friend Maria (a beautiful soul who has her own set of experiences with karma) gave me a book describing this research. It seems that the brain creates pathways that it wants to travel again and again, so a childhood full of abusive relationships becomes an adulthood full of abusive relationships. This is why the long-term therapy relationship is so valuable; it's training ground for cutting new pathways in the brain and traversing them until they become well worn and reflexive.

By complete coincidence, I've been reading a book on Buddhism in motherhood in which the author describes karma in just these terms. Positivity and negativity aren't vibes the universe sends back to you as reward or punishment, they are simply habits that become entrenched in the brain by way of practice. To work karma to your benefit, practice positivity (mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, expansiveness) regularly to keep your brain working in a loving way.

I am embarrassed to admit (but you already knew it, didn't you?) that I have some very deep, well worn negativity paths. In my family of origin, whoever could deliver the most clever, cutting insult was most admired. Group discussions focused on shared antipathies. Sarcasm was praised. Backstabbing ran rampant. Apologies signalled weakness. No one ever said "I love you." Anyone who complained was contemptuously labeled "too sensitive." I know exactly where this came from (my dad's parents were cold as hell and my mother's, profoundly abusive), so I know I am at risk for passing it on to my daughter. And there's no fucking way I'm going to do that. (Ahh, that felt good. I was going to give up swearing for Lent... so glad I didn't.)

So, time to start practicing positivity. I promise not to cite platitudes about cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" or "putting on a happy face" or anything fatuous like that. Just trying to get into the habit of connecting with the beauty in the world while I can still experience it, and while my daughter is creating those pathways in her own brain. Let the mirth begin!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I would comment on Ann Coulter...

...but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the words "emaciated soulless sea hag."