reality is weirder than you think

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Image of the week: fake-like delusional soy

Two images this week.

File the first one under “is this actually real?”

The left’s favorite comeback is consistently ” I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I???” but this one just takes the cake. In what universe did a beta anything triumph?

Looking at it now, there are enough familiar-ish actor faces that it looks like it could be legit, but also looks like a very clever photoshop.

But this is the real clever photoshop:


It’s getting harder to tell legitimate news from fake news. Fortunately for us, memes make it funnier.

To get what you want, you have to do the opposite

It is completely counterintuitive, yes.

Whether it’s because life is actually a series of paradoxes, or if it’s because we live in upside-down world, it is true that in order to get something that you truly want, you have to do the exact opposite for a period of time.

That probably doesn’t make any sense, so here are some examples.

Digestive problems: to eventually be able to eat whatever I wanted, for now, I have to eat only what is approved.

Dating/marriage: if I eventually want to have a relationship with a man in which I have no inhibitions, for now, I have to create strict boundaries.

Health: if I eventually want good health to the point where I don’t have to think about it, for now, I have to think about it all the time.

Time/work: if I eventually want to have the freedom to do whatever I want with my days, for now, I have to be extremely strict with my time.

Let me break it down even more. Take the time/work example, which I’ve been contemplating a lot recently.

In the future, I will work for myself. I will have a business that runs primarily online that does not depend on a 1:1 time expenditure on my part. Yes, that means that I will have things to tend to for my business each day, but it also means that I can choose when, where, and in what capacity I do those things. Because I will build a business that revolves around things that I already like and want to do, the phrase “freedom to do whatever I want” automatically includes doing the work.

Obviously “whatever I want” is subject to God’s law, and natural law, and US law, but it’s not subject to an employer’s rules and my boss’s expectations and the consequences of having to survive in a highly political environment.

Fun fact: my major criteria for an ideal working environment are: 1. I can wear shorts, 2. an entire wall of speakers so I can blast music as loud as I like, and 3. lots of light.

None of those things could exist at my current workplace. Maybe the light, but I have about 0% control over the location of my office.

However, none of this will happen by itself.

I cannot simply quit my day job now and expect to be able to support myself off the internet with no prior preparation. I could probably support myself off the internet if necessary, but certainly not in the “what I want to do” category.

To get to that point, where I work for myself, I need to build my skills and knowledge on the side, during my non-employed time. This means, that if I also want to eat and tend to my relationships and relax, I need to be disciplined about how I spend my time.

There are a finite number of useable hours in a day, and if I want to accomplish something more than the 9-5 grind, I have to use them to my advantage.

I could do what I want to do now, and pretend that I have the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want. That might make me happy for a time, but then my employer would start getting irritated at me leaving the office to work out every day at 11:30 am, or my taking naps every afternoon.

After a while, I’d probably be unemployed.

Then, if I kept doing whatever my immediate desires told me to do, I wouldn’t have a job and I wouldn’t be building any online business infrastructure. I’d be watching YouTube videos and eating pork rinds.

To get where I truly want to go, I have to do the opposite of my impulsive desires, of my ingrained habits, of the actions that I’ve done so far in the past to get myself to this point.

For the future, I cultivate in myself actions and habits that align with my long-term goals.

I believe that is what they call “discipline.”

It is basically wanting what is truly good for us instead of what is expediently and easily fun.

Winning that battle is just as much mental readjustments as it is physical habits.

(Trust me on this one: it took me YEARS to learn in the food arena. As of a few years ago the pastry case in Starbucks no longer registers in my brain as food. That’s a huge shift.)

This is all totally possible, too. I’ve done it before, in the arena of health. Did I ever think I would realign my life to live the most anti-bacterial lifestyle that I could? No, of course not! But I did, and by doing the opposite of what I wanted to do, I no longer have to think about it as much. Partly, this is because I have some new habits that are ingrained in me, and partly because the problem isn’t nearly as big. And hopefully it’ll be even less big after the surgery next month.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, the road to whatever you truly want is probably its exact opposite.

Don’t fight it, just start walking the path.

Mary vs Martha

When I was younger, I remember listening to a tape (yes, back in the day) of an old Christian kid’s radio show called Adventures in Odyssey. All my suburban-raised evangelical youth group compatriots know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, there was an episode in which we listeners were ~ transported through time ~ to Biblical lands where we could be a fly on the wall in Bible stories. The only one I can remember was the ongoing saga of Lazarus, especially the bit with Mary and Martha.

You see, like most of the publications written for suburban-raised evangelical youth group kids, this was coming from a place of uber-industrious SJ-type writers. Of course everyone listening would identify with Martha.

We are all too busy Doing Things to be bothered with trivial stuff like thinking or learning. Martha was the harried-but-perfect hostess, ignoring the party because there were dishes to wash.

I have this theory that the movie Frozen was secretly written by a bunch of ladies at brunch. I’m beginning to suspect that Adventures in Odyssey was too.

The whole point of that radio spot was that we need to quit doing things and learn how to listen.

The MISSING point of that radio spot is that the writers were probably projecting their own inadequacies, and completely missed that there is another entire subset of people who are 100% going to be Mary.

No way would you catch me doing dishes if someone like Jesus was at a party with me.

I’m the exact opposite; I don’t need reminding to learn something new but I absolutely need an alarm clock to get me to bed on time and to make myself do the dishes.

There are do-ers who need to calm down and focus more on being, and then there are be-ers who need to rev up and do more.

The Christian media I grew up with assumed we were all do-ers. It tried to get “busy” people to become more contemplative, never mind that a portion of your readership is going to try contemplativeness to the 2nd power and reach levels of non-effectiveness that we didn’t think were possible.

It’s funny what you start to see when you try to grow up and live your own life.

Magic 8-ball says surgery is in my future

Gosh there’s been a lot of self reflection on this blog lately but (psyche!) it’s not going to stop with this post.

Met with an oral surgeon today. Turns out I “””get””” to have my face hole operated on in the next few weeks. This will probably also include a bone graft.

I’ve spent my entire conscious life avoiding surgery. For other reasons, certainly, mostly related to my autoimmune illness. I’ve clawed my way to the top of the walls surrounding our little hothouse garden of health to peer into the endless deserts of possibility to find other options than surgery.

Up until now, I’ve been successful.

This one looks like it can’t be avoided. The bone destruction is real, and I’d like to be able to talk, chew, and look like a human being.

One would think that a simple surgery would be a rational thing to accept and plan for. It’s not even that big of a surgery, just a tooth extraction being extra.

And yet, it feels like this is a personal decision, like I have to somehow reconceptualize or recontextualize myself in light of this new information. Maybe it’s the bone graft, the realization that I have to accept this dead thing (excuse me, “calcium scaffolding”) as part of myself.

I was expecting to encounter anxiety about the process, and was fine with being nervous about the procedure. What I was not expecting was an existential connection with this event. Maybe it’s because my identity has been so wrapped up in NO SURGERY.

Jury’s still out. I’ll keep you updated if I figure any of it out.

NCT Dream grew up

But the dirty grotty basslines that characterize NCT title tracks will never die.

I’m definitely not complaining.

We all thought Mark was ‘graduating’ from Dream because he’s an adult now. I guess that was before SM rethought the entire concept of NCT.

And yet he’s back and rapping better than ever.

There’s a reason he’s my ultimate NCT bias.

Shade-loving container garden in the high desert

(Or to be precise, “semi-arid steppe climate.” I don’t really live in the high desert but I like to pretend.)

Let’s talk about baseline reality for a minute, shall we? Things like the layout of our dwelling places and the types of food that we eat and the living things that we surround ourselves with.

Unlike the malfunctioning washing machine in my rental, the deck is a pretty dang sweet setup. First of all, I actually have a usable deck, and I’m excited to have a protected outdoor space for my own. Second, the deck is pretty much the only bit of outdoor space that I have control over. I could potentially put some plants out my front door, on the opposite side of the house, but there’s not a lot of room there. Third, this a covered deck that faces North. It will be absolutely fantastic in the heat of the summer, but I’m looking to make it a more hospitable place by adding many pots and containers of plants.

The challenge here is that while my deck will be a relatively shady place, the summer will almost invariably be hot and dry. I’m no gardener, but I can’t think of any plants that will be tolerant of (or even thrive in) the hot shade.

Good thing there are people in this world who have more knowledge and experience with plants than I do.

After some searching, I now have a list of plants that I desire to put on my deck:

  1. Hellebore
  2. Begonia
  3. Hosta
  4. Creeping Jenny
  5. Ferns
  6. Lamium
  7. Columbine or acanthus
  8. Coleus
  9. Japanese forest grass
  10. Silver-falls dichondra

Apparently Japanese maple trees also do well in the shady-but-hot regions of the world (potted, clearly). Not sure I’m ready for the responsibility of taking care of one of those beautiful trees, but it’s certainly something to put on the “soon” list.

For now, I’m focusing on creating a beautiful, hospitable space for both myself and others that will harmonize with the natural environment–thus being the easiest to care for.

My plan is to take my list to a reputable nursery and ask the staff there what they think will also work best based on their experience in our region.

This is one of the reasons that spring is my favorite time of year; there’s so much promise and opportunity everywhere that only exists for a moment. Everything is new, and changing, and shimmering–until you blink.

Capitalize on it while you can.


On a side note, climate maps are fascinating. It’s interesting to me how the climate zones in the South and East are so broad, while the climate zones around the Rocky Mountains are much smaller and more varied. I wonder how that impacts things like regional culture and architecture.

Don’t be like my washing machine

There’s a washing machine in the basement of my rental, and like most rentals it’s a little…quirky.

That’s what we would call a “manic pixie dream girl.” The nice, cute way of saying “batshit crazy.”

What’s batshit crazy about a washing machine, you ask?

You select a cycle, and pull out the dial to start filling the machine with water. Then, you add detergent and your clothes, put the lid down and go do something more interesting. When you come back, the dial LOOKS like it went through all the cycles–wash, rinse, spin–but when you open the lid, your clothes are making like soup and swimming in a giant vat of soapy water.

The “brain” of the machine isn’t in step with the “guts” of the machine. Reality is broken.

So you reset the dial to mid-cycle, to catch the rinse and spin cycles again.

Twenty minutes later, the dial says that your clothes are done, but your eyeballs clearly see laundry soup in the machine.

The very dial that supposedly tells the washer what to do is not only not doing its job, but misrepresenting what is actually happening under the lid. Not very sportsmanlike.

But it’s 10:30 pm at night, and you’d like to put your sheets back on your bed eventually so that you can sleep, so you have to get this laundry soup into the dryer somehow (preferably rinsed, so you can sleep without itching yourself to death). To outwit your faulty dial, you set it to spin cycle–at least there’s no more laundry soup–and then go through another rinse.

A relatively short and simple process has now taken 2.5 times longer than it needed to, and you no longer trust the dial–the very piece of machinery that’s instrumental to getting the laundry done.

Friends, it is important to have our mental models match reality as closely as possible. When our dials are off, we are in danger of doing useless things, or we are unable to ascertain whether or not our accomplishments were successful, or–even worse–both at once. Doing something useless and thinking that it was useful.

Human beings are much more complicated that washing machines, as we are capable of so much more than simple agitation, but dealing with my haywire washing machine tonight has reminded me that it is of utmost importance to have a mental model of the universe that is in tune with reality as much as humanly possible.

Maybe I will sleep on clean sheets tonight. Maybe I will roll myself up like a human burrito in my duvet cover, because my sheets are still stuck in spin cycle limbo. I will find out after I post this.

Maybe I can’t fix my washing machine, but I can take a look at my own accomplishments, and my view of myself in the universe, and I can start to align them with observable reality.

Image of the week: reality is weirder than you think

Another art piece this week. It was either that or a meme about gun control and magical thinking, and as much as I support the 2nd Amendment, it’s not a fight that I’m willing to jump into the middle of. There are people who are much more experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate than I am to lead that charge.

This week, I’m reminded that reality is a weird wild wooly thing. It’s definitely not tame, and yet somehow we can influence it with our actions (and even our thoughts).

Background: I’ve struggled mightily with dating. You might have been able to tell from some of my previous posts (#understatement). I signed up for last month.

Last week, I was challenged to project myself into the future, to December 31, 2018, and write about what made 2018 the best year ever. It was an exercise in preemptively looking back, which set an extraordinary amount of expectation and implicit planning in motion.

(Confirmation bias is a bitch, isn’t it? Better to have it working for you than against you.)

One of the themes I touched on was, of course, a relationship. And since when you’re creating a best year ever, you may as well go big, I envisioned the kind of relationship that would blindside me.

That night–no literally that same night–I was messaged the kind of man that I have always hoped to run across on dating sites. Christian, courage of conviction, /our guy/. Despite the fact that a few of these men are on Twitter, I was beginning to doubt that there were any IRL.

Now it remains to be seen how this all will play out.

But the timing is still intensely weird.

They say there’s no magic bullet

And I used to believe them. I wanted a magic bullet. I wanted to be well without doing any work. I wanted to take a pill or do a raindance or stand on my head while whistling “The Star Spangled Banner” or SOMETHING.

My autoimmune illness was raging (although it was nowhere near its worst) one night when I met up with a friend to grab burgers after work. At that point, I was eating somewhere on the paleo spectrum, so I got a lettuce wrap and stared longingly at her truffle fries.

“I have finally realized,” I said, “That there is no magic bullet for dealing with my disease. I just have to suck it up and do the work.”

She nodded in agreement. I really didn’t expect her to understand but she was sympathetic to my cause.

I kept talking: “I have been looking for a pill or something that would just make everything better, but I’m finally resigning myself to the fact that there is no quick fix for any of this.”

Well, past self, I have news for you. There are no quick fixes, this is true, but after a long, slow slog, when you find the right thing the results are instant.

(Or maybe they just feel instant, because a week is so much quicker than 5 years.)

I have been working on my diet for years. First I cut out gluten, then sugar and all other grains. Soon afterward, I realized (for the 3rd or 4th time in my life, and certainly not the last) that dairy had to go too.

Then, I started cutting out vegetables. Maybe it was just nightshades at first, but then I rooted out [lol] foods high in FODMAPs or foods that I could tell caused an extra special skin reaction. I even cut grapes because I finally realized that any form of grape (fresh, juice, or wine) gave me a runny nose.*

At some point, I was eating about 5 foods. Meats, pickles, cooked carrots, and of course my addiction to sunflower seed butter and honey.

I still wasn’t getting better. Or I would get a bit better, and then get worse again. Usually this coincided with a change in diet or treatment option, so I would get all hopeful for a week or two before my hopes were dashed again.

Even when I went full carnivore, it wasn’t even a week before I decided to try dairy again.

And guess what? Dairy and I are not friends. I mean, we are. Cheese is one of the most delicious foods on God’s green earth. But dairy + me = inflammation all the livelong day.

So last week, roughly 9 months into my carnivore journey, I quit dairy again.

And this week, roughly 9 days later, my health has improved so quickly that I have whiplash.

Is it perfect? No. There’s still a “3 steps forward 1 step back” theme going on. But the three steps forward, well, they are biiiiiiig steps.

Magic bullet? Maybe not. It sure feels like one.

Even after years of experimenting and months of dialing in something that works, those gains come hard and they come fast.

I’ll take it.



*That’s code for “fed the bacteria colony that has a permanent resident card in my left nostril.” And yes I’m serious about the left nostril part, that’s not just poetic license.


Woe is me! For I am

Like the fruit pickers and the grape gatherers.

There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,

Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.

The godly person has perished from the land,

And there is no upright person among men.

All of them like in wait for bloodshed;

Each of them hunts the other with a net.

Concerning evil, both hands do it well.

The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,

And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;

So they weave it together.

The best of them is like a briar.

The most upright like a thorn hedge.

The day when you post a watchman,

Your punishment will come.

Then their confusion will occur.

Do not trust in a neighbor;

Do not have confidence in a friend.

From her who lies in your bosom

Guard your lips.

For son treats father contemptuously,

Daughter rises up against her mother,

Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;

I will wait for the God of my salvation.

My God will hear me.

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.

Though I fall I will rise;

Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

I will bear the indignation of the Lord

Because I have sinned against Him,

Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.

He will bring me out to the light,

And I will see His righteousness.

Then my enemy will see,

And shame will cover her who said to me,

“Where is the Lord your God?”

My eyes will look on her;

At that time she will be trampled down,

Like mire of the streets.

–Micah 7:1-10

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