“You have an old soul.” “It’s just mature for its age.”

  • Boogity shops visited: 2.5
  • Stops at Fry’s electronics: 2
  • Outraged public rants about suddenly, unnecessarily gendered Nerf and Lego toys: 1
  • Farmer’s market: 1
  • Tours of current complex: 0

(for the unfamiliar, that’s a Daria quote)

The bug Mike and I caught was much worse for me today – sore throat, need to sleep but can’t quite, and a nasty, persistent cough.  On top of that, I seem to have this weird thing where my body is jettisoning energy. I’m not sure how to describe the physical sensation – it’s not pain. But something feels like it’s shooting out of me. I wish I understood the metaphysical sensation stuff better; unfortunately I once swallowed a line of crap about how tracking physical responses and experiments was “amateurish” and I am paying for it to this day. On the bright side, my sciatica has mysteriously faded to bare, minimal discomfort.

After breakfast – and what seems to be a situation where eye contact with a server is so refreshing you end up with a friend for life – we determined to pick up some electronics Mike forgot to pack in our 30 days stuff, and then we proceeded to visit the San Jose Downtown Farmer’s market. Before that, however, I insisted we go to Walgreen’s and buy sunglasses. Despite a line behind us, the kid behind the counter fetched scissors and cut the tags for us. In Minnesota, such a request would be met with “sorry, don’t have any,” whether or not that were true.

After that, we went to the Holding Cell because I needed some sleep. Of course, the weird shooting sensation out of every limb on my body made that hard, but I tried my best. Two of the problems I have developed with this cold is a)a cough and b)my allergy meds mask a lot of my cold symptoms. This means the only symptom besides the cough – which can be an allergy symptom, too, since I have allergic asthma – is dizziness/tiredness. This is also a metaphysical symptom. Since I can ignore metaphysical symptoms without consequence I end up very surprised when I crash out of nowhere because of actual illness. But since Mike caught the bug first, at least I had a frame of reference for the symptoms.

Also, coughs suck. Most over the counter medicines do not treat a cough like this, and doctors generally just give you codeine so you sleep through your own coughing. This necessitated me finding an herb shop since the best treatment I’ve found is herbal medicine. Over my years of practice, I’ve found the following remedies work best:


For most people, just hyssop works fine. For severe asthmatics like me, however:

  • hyssop
  • mullein
  • mugwort

This calms our panic down – and helps us use our corticosteroid inhalers without overusing them.

My other remedy:

2)thyme and rosehip infused honey

takes a minimum of one month to make. I need relief for that godawful throat itch NOW.

It took some sorting – Chinese herb shops with the same herbs are inaccessible because I don’t speak or read Cantonese OR Mandarin. I don’t even remember which one is more common or which one is more common here and I’ll look that up when I can think more clearly, thank you. There was one western-enough herb shop in San Jose, so Mike drove me. Only one person was working and it took us a few minutes to understand each other – she wanted me to know she could help me but she needed me to be patient. I thought she was telling me she could get me the herbs, but only if I had patients – when she was asking me to be patient. Oddly, the other customer got annoyed with her telling me that because he wanted to see me get served first. This made for a weird inversion of the culture I’ve lived in for the last 18 years.

We then wandered over to a New Age/spiritual shop in Willow Glen. It wasn’t promising, but as the closest such shop to where we were, I had to give it a try. It didn’t have what I needed – it was one of those crystals boutiques in a fancy neighborhood, more about the pretty things with jacked up prices to cover the store rent. The women that ran it seemed friendly and relaxed, with that glow some get when they’re really peaced out. Sometimes I envy it. Today I didn’t – it wasn’t what I was looking for and it wasn’t what I needed. I needed the things I understand, the magical tools of concreteness and practicality. What I was seeing was the joy of privileged enlightenment. I could have it. I am a white woman who has been shot into their socio-economic sphere because I married well (and it has given me such a fucking complex – it may explain why I was so determined not to marry at all when I was younger, before I got sick…) I could tell someone sent me reiki after I left the shop. Yeah, that’s not okay, but try to tell that to someone insisting – with no regard to your feelings or experiences – that “it’s universal life energy.” Whatever. Did not improve my cold any.

That being a bust – there were lots of spendy things there but nothing for someone who practices straight up witchcraft – Mike and I went to my favorite go-to: a botanica.  The one we went to was in a rundown part of San Jose. I didn’t feel unsafe, particularly, but I might go with Mike a few times before I’d consider going alone. When I walked in, I asked for the herb I was looking for in Spanish. The guy running the botanica said he didn’t have it, and I shrugged – I really did need a few other things. There was a huge Santa Muerta shrine in the back room with candles burning, and she was there. I said a polite hello to her as she stared at me through her idol, realized this back room was for darker dealings I try to only use when I feel my hand has been forced, and found the more benign things I sought in the front room.

Two seven day candles and an oil for $13.75. In Minneapolis the same stuff would cost about $25, even though it all comes from the same supplier.

I said a polite goodbye to the guy, who I assume was the acting priest/Santeria/Brujeria guy. He was friendly, but through the entire transaction had this incredulous expression on his face. Apparently white women don’t walk into botanicas and calmly pick out what they need on a daily basis. I didn’t even giggle.

Truth is, even with the obvious cursing action going on, I felt more comfortable in that botanica then I did in the fancy crystals and privilege store. I am privileged but I just don’t resonate with its trappings. I like my witchcraft down and dirty, perhaps because I myself can be quite physical. I’m sure there’s some psychologically complex reason for it. All I know is that the enlightenment found through white light and rose quartz is not the only kind of enlightenment out there, and it’s not my wavelength. The enlightenment I seek is all about candles, oils, messy hands, roiling earth, and skin on skin. I’ve met God so many times that way, and I plan to keep on meeting Him AND Her that way until it no longer does it for me.

We stopped at the Safeway on the way home. The aisles were too tight, and one woman who had actually blocked the entire aisle with her cart startled when I simply moved it out of traffic and went about my business. I had a friendly chat with a guy in the stationery aisle about notebook prices – he was on his way to his air conditioning and heating repair class and had to make a last minute stop. I have a lot of weird “I’m attractive now?” moments in my life, and Safeway was one of them – a gorgeous dreadlocked man kept sidling up to me in multiple aisles until Mike appeared at my side. In my twenties no one ever made those approaches. I am a year from forty and they seem to be increasing. It has got to be the culture change in favor of larger women. I so wanted a full dance card when I was young. Right at this moment, I want a nap. Of course, not only can I handle it now, the guys that approach me actually keep their specific thoughts about any body parts below my nose to themselves. I had so much trouble handling that when I was younger – and my trust has improved, since usually any compliment from a man I found attractive was assumed to be a prelude to mockery and humiliation, since that’s what usually happened.

On the way out, I saw a woman wearing hijab, standing at the edge of the lot, holding up a sign that said “Please help, I have two kids and no job.” She made sure everyone who made eye contact with her saw her exaggerated, long-suffering look. Now, I know everyone’s situation is different, but when I read that sign, my first thought was “It doesn’t say she has no husband, and given the neighborhood she’s in, she’s probably really bored and he’s probably at work.” Pan handlers induce skepticism in me, rather a lot. In Minnesota I have never, ever seen a Muslim begging. When I looked at this woman, there was something indefinably American about her. It was just a look in her eye -  I wish I had a more concrete explanation of her, and one of my mistrust of her.

Again, back to the holding cell where I have sort-of slept around energy bursts and we have started to assemble a list for tomorrow’s apartment hunt. I worry – a lot, actually – about what I am going to do with myself on Monday, while Mike’s at work. Explaining that I don’t have a job is awkward around here and it only gets worse when I admit that I’m a writer. I will have a car, but I don’t know the area, and my T-Mobile plan has been choked within an inch of its life sine I repeated Mike’s streaming mistake.  This means San Jose, but no navigation. I suppose, depending on the pollen count (which I am just as allergic to here, and the pollen counts are equally high)  I can find my way to the train and just wander around at each stop. See if I can leave any more botanica employees incredulous…