Milk, addictions and money

It’s quiet here at 326 on a Sunday morning and I’m having the usual weird thoughts that flit from one subject to the next.

If you use Oat milk you are more helpful to the environment. Oat Milk uses far less water in its production than stock standard cow’s milk, almond milk and others. 

One of my daughters feels guilty every time she orders a latte and the waiter asks her preference. ‘Dairy,’ she says, ashamed. 

Another daughter drinks only oat milk. It began for her because of a lactose intolerance but now her boyfriend has joined her in drinking said milk. ‘Because of the environment,’ he tells me.

Even though it’s twice the cost of cow’s milk and the particular brand, the only brand my oat milk-drinking daughter enjoys is hard to come by. You’ll find it at Woolworths, not Coles, and more often than not they’re out of stock. All for something as basic as milk, which has undergone many transformations throughout my lifetime. 

When I visited Holland in 1980, I remember my shock at the shelves piled high with several varieties of milk from low-fat to no-fat to full cream to extra creamy. Now we have these varieties here and we all take the choice for granted. 

Everything changes. 

We’re introducing the new National Broadband into our household now that they’ve allegedly finished installing it in our neighbourhood. The cheaper less effective version because our government did not want to spend the extra. 

I’ve heard so many horror stories about how much worse the system is than the original and I live in fear. Fear of losing my online connection to the world. 

Sounds pathetic. 

Years ago before the mid 1990s, I would have wondered what all the fuss was about. In those days I valued the computer for its word processing capacities. I scarcely used Google and I still read books at twice the rate or even three times the rate I do today. Today I read a huge amount online but fast and mostly articles and essays. 

It’s just not the same as a good book. I feel more guilty about my reading habits than I do about my dairy drinking habits. 

The same way I came to feel guilty about smoking cigarettes. It was the shame that took me off them in the long run. The shame of being seen to be a desperado who needed a cigarette and could not care less about inflicting her stale cigarette smoke on everyone else. I couldn’t bear to hear the occasional advertisement or discussion opposed to smoking. I knew it was bad for you but then I imagined I might live forever.

In the years when I smoked and sat under the bright sun.

Banking has changed too. It’s all now online and increasingly less mysterious. To me at least. Now that I know my way around the system and can see how easy it is to shift money from here to there. To transfer debts owed, to set up accounts and to take them down. 

I keep an eagle eye on these events now in a way I could not bear to know years ago when life was hectic and full of the needs of children growing up, a husband who worked long and intense hours, my own daily analysis and the demands of my work. 

All of it left me feeling the best I could do was talk to folks from the bank from time to time and watch as our debts rose. We earned large incomes, we had reasonable assets mainly in the form of our family home and so we were able to borrow and in the heady eighties and nineties and even beyond when the banks tossed money at you, it was easy to borrow. No questions asked. 

Unlike the first time I went to the CBA Bank in Glenhuntly Road and spoke to the manager about our chances of getting a home loan. He wanted first to speak to my husband. Before I married, I had taken out a small loan as a single woman to buy my first car. I paid it off in the required time. I was a good risk, but my older brother needed to get the loan approved by doing all the talking because I was a single woman. 

Yesterday, when I sat at the bank with a less than manager type, a youngish man trying to help me set up a new business account, I considered how much things have changed. But at least he was prepared to talk to me and did not ask to see my husband. 

Avoiding the unexpected

For the first time in my life, my Bleeding Heart is thriving.

My Bleeding Heart or what others call my Chain of Hearts.

For me it bleeds, heart-shaped leaves that slip from purple-grey to green and give off a wash of sorrow made more beautiful by every tendril that falls. 

I’ve been in discussions of late with a friend who is concerned about the rise of content warnings to the point of suggesting we put such warnings on books.

This blogger urges content warnings on books because she hates to read a book and find herself suddenly assaulted by images in her imagination that she can’t remove. 

If she had known in advance that such content in the book might stir up memories of her own distress or refresh distress then she would most certainly have appreciated a warning in advance.  

To me, this is the oddest thing.

Why read if you don’t want to be moved or even unsettled?

Why read if you want every word to be as predictable as the next?

Why read if you don’t want your imagination to take you places where you have never been before or take you to places that are all too familiar, including those of distress and so-called trauma? 

The more you read into these territories the more you can get your mind around events of your own experience that once disturbed you, and maybe still do, to learn about how others have tackled them. 

At least this blogger is asking for a content warning only. She’s not suggesting we altogether ban such books from the library of human thought. 

I’d have thought the blurb, the cover and a few pages from the beginning might give you some idea of the nature of the terrain ahead. 

Not the specifics though.

That’s the magic of literature. You can’t go on a journey without going on that journey. And everyone’s perspective of that journey will be different, even as we might all be exposed to the same landmarks. 

That’s the joy of reading and most writers know that not all readers will read their work in the spirit in which they’ve written.

People will see things the writer never dreamed of. 

You can’t get to your destination without actually going through the landmarks of that journey unless you want to avoid the experience of life altogether. 

You can travel from A to B in a hermetically sealed bubble. You can fly from Australia to Los Angeles without a stopover and know almost nothing of the terrain over which your plane has carried you, but you will still have the experience of the plane journey itself. 

Unless you anaesthetize yourself.

Your time within the airport your time landing and those fourteen hours or so where you entered what I always think of as a travel bubble where time takes on a new dimension and you try to pass it by sleep or reading or watching movies and the occasional usually awful airplane food. 

Perish the thought the unexpected happens. That the plane encounters difficulties. No one wants this and this is the extreme of trauma to be mid-flight in turbulence that causes the air in the plane to drop so that airbags become necessary. 

Still, this happens rarely. 

Air travel is an actual experience, a reality and by-product of the amazing thing called human flight. 

Reading a book is a virtual experience. We might find ourselves plummeting to the earth in our story airplane, feel all the anxiety and horror of the descent, our imaginations filled with the angst of our fears of dying but we will not die. 

Note I’m using a safe metaphor here. Flight as opposed to the horrors of being on the receiving end of gross cruelty or sexual abuse.

Yesterday, I listened to a Ted talk by Keely Herron who spoke of her distress over what she calls the cult of happiness. The pressure always to exude happiness in public and to hide our ‘unacceptable’ trauma from others. 

In contrast to ‘acceptable trauma’.

She uses the example of a young man, Danny, who did not learn to swim until he was thirty because he had been bullied as a child.

Everyone applauded Danny’s story. They admired his tenacity. He learned to swim after all that distress. At least one person even found his story inspiring. This trauma of being bullied at school is ‘acceptable’.

But other stories such as this women’s father who killed himself, or her first experience as a five-year-old of sexual abuse and her later experience of being raped. These rate as unacceptable trauma. You keep them to yourself. 

Sexual abuse of all forms, especially incest, go into this category, along with suicide and mental illness.

These then are the cornerstones of unacceptable trauma. 

The stories we might tell, about which our blogger wants a pre-warning:

This content will distress you. This content will unsettle you, and for those out there who do not want to be unsettled by life, by what you read, do not go there.

Stay in the safe bubble of Facebook land or elsewhere where images are sanitised, even as the news every day overwhelms us to the point of horror to which we have become inured.

It’s a crazy world that on the one hand advocates content warnings on literature and at the same time allows the governments that currently lead us to thrive. 

I watch my Bleeding Heart grow and admire its beauty. There is beauty in pain, sorrow and suffering if only we can see it.

Not for its own sake, but for the fact we can’t avoid such feelings and also in the sense that to feel is to be human, and helpful. 

Our feelings help us to understand ourselves and our world. They help us to connect with others and guide our decisions.

Let’s not wrap our feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, up in avoidance and denial.