Monday, August 22, 2016


This is the first of 2 posts that go together and it was inspired by a sudden flash of a memory from more than20 years ago.
The chart for the moment the memory came is at the bottom.

I was feeling passionate, in bed I thought for the night.  The cloud cover was thick but I had seen Jupiter and Venus at the thin openings along the horizon at sunset.  I had been reading about the brain and how memories are no more accurate than the last time we recall them, because they are colored with new associations each time they pass back and forth between the hippocampus in the heart of the brain and the surrounding cortex.

I was thinking about the dangers of perfect solitude, now that I finally live with no other humans in the house.  Not even a dog to sniff me and let me know she needs to go out.  A few cats that I put outside as soon as I tire of their affection.   "Yes," I thought, "it is good to have the interruptions and outside input."

I was on my back but not practicing breathing or focusing on any object.  I was caught up in filling out the allegory that had sprung up in my imagination of a culture where music was just one note.  There were several numbers or letters for different notes in succession, which could be arranged in various patterns, but no matter the number or letter that named them, each note sounded exactly alike.

I imagined what people would say about this kind of music when someone suggested using different sounds for different notes- "People who can't hold the note want to imitate birds and other sounds of nature.  They want to elevate discarded superstitious practices and celebrate them as edifying pursuits.  It is nothing but a lack of self control which they want us to accept as art.  True art is an exercise in free will and no  civilized human being with the power of free will should choose to mimic nature when the true path is clearly in developing the ability to follow the one note born of the past and bearing our minds on the one guiding wave to the glorious future."

I was getting pretty worked up as I turned the possible dialogue over in my mind.  I wanted to make people see how strange life is for someone who follows time according to the planets instead of the uniform days on calendars and hours on clocks.  That such a person is neither a peer of astrological forecasters nor of the people who look to clocks for order in the human journey.  I wanted people to see how beautiful organic time is compared to clock time and how sad it is that so few care to follow it.

When I started thinking about writing this post the  emotion was allowed to build.  I could see myself feeling more and more like a misunderstood, underappreciated outsider.  The Moon was not visible, but I could see its symbol a mere 4 degrees behind Uranus in the chart.  I calculated - roughly 8 hours and they would be lined up.  Looking at those two symbols lining up in the section marked with the red Aries glyph was calming.  I was thinking about the step in becoming where the self is exalted.  Not the capital S self that the yogis talk about reaching when we let go of our ego, but the lower case s self that is associated with the body in which we find our souls to currently exist.
All day I was adjusting to the utter peace of solitude and drifting from one task to another, or to periods of study.  Meditation kept coming up as a possibility, and then I would feel really tired and head for the comfort of my bed.  Nothing was important until sunset when I knew I only had 20 minutes to catch Jupiter and Venus if they were not behind the clouds.  Then I was moving and rode that momentum to go off in my car and do an errand in the fresh darkness of a new night.

The music on the radio was better than usual to me and I went past my house for an extra errand to enjoy being out and listening to that airwave coming from Scotland via Chapel Hill.  I went to the grocery store and listened to the music in the parking lot.  I felt so free with no immediate worries or responsibilities.
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My old boyfriend had called during my afternoon nap.  I wasn't asleep. I spend a lot of time in bed, saving up precious thyroid hormones and slowing down my breathing.  My old boyfriend was upset.  A rude customer had called his boss at the taxi station and reported that my old boyfriend had been rude.  That customer should have heard the torrent of foul language I was treated to.  I laughed and thought of the Moon in Aries.   He continued to curse and apologize and I laughed some more.  The boss wants to turn the taxi business into a more professional operation.   My boyfriend born on the one day every two years when we see Mars closest to Pluto (back then in Virgo the sign of service), will have nothing to with this professional bullshit.  No sir.  He will not play that game.  He is frothing.   And I am laughing.  I get to play Venus.  I listen and think of all these astrological associations, enjoy his outrageous sense of humor and laugh at his delightful turns of phrase as he vents his rage.   He is one very underappreciated entertainer and I am only occasionally fed up with his need for an audience.

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Something felt strange about the whole day to me, as though I was just a bit off the rails.  There was no one else to see it and with my old boyfriend doing such a great job of being misunderstood I didn't have the heart to go in that direction.  Who wants to follow the path of righteousness when the raging bull is clearly seen and heard tearing up the tracks within a few paces after the pleasure of feeling correct?

So that imaginary dialogue between a follower of organic sound as allegory for a follower of organic time made me think it was time for bed.  I had worked in the yard, done some good studying, completed errands and witnessed two planets sinking behind the clouds on the western horizon.  Aimless as I felt, the day had not been unproductive, and I certainly would not pursue a righteous vision of the solitary planet watcher.

Being slightly unfocused much of the day was actually not surprising.  Two of Mr. Lyrica's brothers are visiting from Ireland and I had gone over to meet them in the morning.  I always have Mr. Lyrica on my mind for at least 24 hours after we spend time together, and this short visit with some of his family naturally made an even deeper impression.   I kept turning over in my mind the things we had said and smiling each time I recalled the selfie stick we used to take a group photo.  I went over concerns that we all share but can't yet speak of openly as a group.  Though this all seemed natural I still felt there was some under current pulling on my attention that I could not identify.

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I felt like I was just coming out of a dazed shock from the outburst a few weeks ago when the Moon was in Leo.  I had gotten over repeating the events in my mind and was adjusting to the reality that America was really gone.   She called me in the evening and apologized for not coming by to pick up her bed and other remaining possessions.   She would try to come by Monday and also leave the last key which we had both forgotten about.  Okey dokey.  Como quieras.  Absolutely not a problem.  No one has been drinking beer, listening to loud music and smoking pot in the front yard for a week now.  I have no complaints.  America sounds happy too, she is moving on to the next success in her life.
The storm seemed so unnecessary at the time.  I was shocked at my behavior as well as hers.  It all seemed like a strange manifestation of the profound heartbreak she was suffering because her daughter in Mexico had left home and moved in with her boyfriend.  America had been yelling at her on the video calls "if you're old enough to get married without my consent you are old enough to pay for school."   And the daughter took the leap.
Two years left in college, all the money America had been sending to Mexico for bus fare, books, uniforms, field trips, food....all it seemed so she could hitch up with a classmate and become a tethered woman just like all the other suffering Mexican women.  Our troubles only seemed absurd when I forgot about her daughter.  And the people abducted on a regular basis for ransom.  The young men in their 20's threatened with murder if they refuse to join gangs that deal in drugs and kidnapping.  It wasn't such a difficult storm to explain when I considered the pressure she lives with.

But I can't remember which thoughts led to the memory of being led to the bed at my customer's house many years ago and having a cold rag placed on my head.  Suddenly, like Bam! It was there.  I was there.  My customer was there, in the room with the blue carpet and the white curtains, with shades that were not all bent and tangled, but straight and even and regularly dusted by the well paid housecleaner Moustache Mary.

I've been working on this post all morning and wish I could recall the thoughts immediately preceding that Bam! Memory.

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Last week I stumbled on a very helpful tidbit of information in one of the books I'm reading about the brain.   They had side by side views of a brain imaged when the area "concerned with binding emotions and thoughts" is active and when "the skeptical brain sparks up on the edge of the insula."  They went on in the caption to say "the insula is sensitive to things which are 'disgusting'  - suggesting that falsehood is treated much like an unhealthy substance which the body wants to reject."  it was in one of those boxes publishers use these days to highlight a concept.  The box was labeled Belief and Non-Belief.  "The scans suggested that, although many of the 'high cognition' parts of the brain are likely to be involved in assessing the truth-value of a statement, the final acceptance of a statement as 'true' or its rejection as 'false', seems to rely more on primitive, emotional areas."

Wow.   I put the book down and walked from room to room after I read that.  I remembered seeing the look of disgust on a customer's face when I asked to do the charts of her family members.  She couldn't hide the instinctive eeyoo look of the the raised upper lip trying to prevent a foul odor from entering the nose.
I thought she was young and hip.  She didn't believe Jesus rose from the dead, but she sent her kids to a church day care.  My husband had taken us down that same path.  He hated Christianity but needed subsidized day care.  My customer was actually a church member, much like my father, who was very open minded but saw churches as community organizations whose believe systems were to be tolerated.  You pay your dues, go to mass every Sunday, and when you get in a scrape you can knock on any parish door and expect the priest to help you.  It was as simple as that.

But modern textbooks don't include a paragraph condemning the superstition of a political prisoner rising from the dead.  The universal paragraph to be found in most every science text book explains why astrology is superstition and must not be confused with science.  We are not taught in public schools that the Christian story is a myth.  We are however told that astrology is a trick on fools.
And so it made sense that my suggestion caught my customer off guard and she could not conceal the fact that it was to her like a cockroach had hopped from somewhere on my person and darted across her kitchen counter.  Skepticism associated in the brain with disgust.  What a revelation that was to me.

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The funny thing is it was a week after the upsetting event that I was in that customer's guest bed with her placing a cool rag over my head.  I had told the same story to another customer a day or two earlier without a sniffle or rising tempest of having been profoundly wronged.  But here in Marlene's house I blubbered and felt weak with convulsive crying.
It doesn't take brain books to know the power strong emotions  have to fix an event in the memory.
I had taken the 3 hour drive down to Brunswick County to visit my mother.  It turned out she was in the middle of a crisis while I was there.  The second day of my visit I heard her talking on the phone to my older brother in Florida and already had a good picture of the situation.  She was sending money to him for a lawyer to represent him in court to retain custody of his daughter.  When she got off the phone she explained that the wife was being convicted for stealing drugs from the hospital where she worked and was going into drug rehab.

"Well, that sounds like something they have in common."  Yes.   I do believe that's exactly what I said.  It is hard to imagine saying anything more foolishly provocative, but that's my best recall.

My mother did not need to be reminded at that moment of all the years of heartache and disappointments she had endured in my adventurous brother's long and colorful illegal drug career.  For me he was a pirate hero I could never hope to equal.   For her he was the son who vacillated between petty criminal low life friends and the respectable path.

I grew up hearing every woman he fell in love with referred to as a slut.  I could not control my sense of righteous anger that yet another woman attached to him was being demonized.  The immature feminist in me darted out and lunged for my mother's most vulnerable spot-  the need to insure continued access to her only grandchild.

Her reaction took a few minutes to gather force as it cycled through the years of recriminating exchanges.  "This is fine," I thought.  "I can weather this storm.  I am no longer afraid of her.  She will rage on and get it out of her system and then she will calm down."  But I had not considered my father in the equation.  He had no desire to let the storm play out.  Any moment she could turn on him with accusations about alcoholism.  He wanted me to leave.  He wasn"t angry.  He just said, "You better leave."  Like it was the sensible thing to do.  We have all been through these tirades and I had been away for so many years for that very reason, I had forgotten how violent my mother could get.

"I'm not leaving,"  I said calmly.  "This is my house."  Not sure where I got that idea.  It was my first visit 'home' in years.. I always felt like an intruder on the rare occasions when I went back.

He moved to approach me and escort me from the house.
"No!"  She yelled in panic.  "Don't touch her.   She'll have the police on us.  You'll be in court for assault.  You call the police before she does!"

I can see where most people would question the wisdom of my actions.  I must admit I don't see them as wise.  But at the time I felt like the presence of police could be a help.  It seemed like they were the one hope of bringing some calm to her storm and I wanted to be there on the other side.   I really thought it was an opportunity to move past old hurts and leave them behind.

So I waited.  Well, when they arrived I was told I had to leave.  The officer stood by and monitored my every action as I retrieved my suitcase and a few other items to my car.  Among them was a bag of bulk tea which she asked about.

"Is that Marijuana?"   I was taken aback. 
"It's tea.  Do you want to smell it?"
"Yes please."
What a very strange encounter.
I think the step I am about to recount reveals that I was not as concerned about getting past old hurts as I was in wrestling respect from my parents.  On the way back to Raleigh I stopped in the county sheriff's office and asked if I had grounds to bring my mother to court for verbal assault.  I don't remember the response, just that I was obsessed with 'justice'.
So in the middle of recounting all this foolishness to Marlene I began sobbing and blubbering.  I knew I was really home, or as close to it as I would ever get.  And it wasn't so much because Marlene cared about me as it was that I knew she also cared about my mother.  She understood the hurt that both my mother and I felt and did not see either of us as blameworthy. 
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When I began this blog 6 years ago I had recently been diagnosed and treated for Grave's Disease.  My thyroid was visibly swollen and I had been exhibiting symptoms for years.  It was Marlene's husband who explained why I could not tolerate heat and mentioned very casually that once I got my thyroid checked out I would start wearing a sweater in the cold temperatures. 
I had been living with an over active thyroid for many years, so even though I was determined to be one of the people that gets back up to speed in a year and certainly not one that would take 10 years to get my life straight, the problems just kept shape shifting.  If there wasn't pain there was intense unbearable anxiety or profound fatigue.  I had time to write a blog when I cut back on my cleaning schedule.  This link goes to the continuation of this essay - Patience