The Other Side

This post requires two disclaimers: 1) I don’t expect anyone to believe me, and 2) I know it sounds crazy. I provide this information only because I know there are people out there with a keen interest in it, or who are simply curious.

Exactly 20 years ago I was a new mother with a young baby. My oldest was about 4 months old when this happened. He was a difficult baby and I was in a continuous state of exhaustion and sleep deprivation. One saturday my husband announced he needed to go to the drug store. I pleaded with him to take our baby son, so I could catch a much needed break.

I was asleep the moment the apartment door closed (we lived in a tiny one bedroom at the time).

Then something weird happened.

Even though I was dead asleep, I heard a roaring sound in my ears like tinfoil shaking, but much louder and sharper. This sound “woke up” my consciousness and I had full awareness of what was transpiring.

The roaring grew and now was accompanied by a distinct pressure at the back of my neck (this is the 6th chakra if anyone is interested- I did not know this at the time). This pressure built up as the roaring increased. The pressure built and built… it felt like a fist pushing my neck from the inside- then I was “out.”

I was staring at the roof of our apartment building. I was outside of my body.

At this point in my life I held a nascent, if fragile belief in god. I spent my teenage years as a loudmouthed atheist, but had read enough about near death experiences to immediately understand that my soul was- for whatever bizarre reason- out of my body.

Well, I thought to myself. If this is real I should be able to travel anywhere. Let me see my husband.

I felt a whoosh and was on the ceiling of the drugstore. There was my husband, there was my son in the stroller. My husband was browsing razors.

Okay… I thought to myself. If this is REALLY real, let me see my sister.

Another whoosh! And now I was above the rolling mountains of the Vermont-New Hampshire border. At that moment my astonishment turned to sheer terror and I snapped back in.

I was stunned. I had just experienced absolute (personal) proof of the human soul. It was real. Absolutely real. Since that day, even if my religious beliefs have faded or transformed, I always knew- even when I wished it were not true- the human soul irrefutably exists. It was a completely different experience from sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming and hallucinations (I have experienced all three- the hallucinations were from a raging fever). It was visceral and tactical- I physically FELT my soul push out of my body.

But this is only the beginning of the story. I continued to experience these strange projections (new agers call it astral projection, I simply called it “my soul leaving my body”) from time to time. I thought it was peculiar but didn’t pay it much mind, despite it being hard confirmation of the human soul (again, confirmation for me- I don’t expect others to believe me). Exactly a year ago, for reasons I still don’t understand, it began happening all the time. What was an occasional occurrence was now a near-nightly occurrence. Since october last year, the longest I’ve gone not projecting is two weeks, with the average rate of projection being three times a week, often more than once in one night. I have now projected well over a hundred times.

After a month of this I hit the internet, and for the first time in twenty years actually researched what was happening to me. New agers call it “astral projection,” native americans called it “spirit walking.” Hinduism has tomes of scripture about other dimensions and layers of bodies that encase the human soul. Most of what I found was instructional for people aspiring to astral project. Well I had no problem doing it, I just needed to know what to do once “out!”

Then I learned about retrievals. A retrieval is when a projected human soul (i.e. me) assists a “stuck” soul in moving on. I read that I should request “I would like to do a retrieval” when I project, and I would be brought to a stuck soul or soul shard in need of assistance. Most “stuck souls” don’t understand they are dead, or cannot accept it. For whatever reason they are unable to see the helpers (angels) trying to assist them. But they CAN see projected human souls, perhaps because we are still tied to this physical realm. And once they see us, they can usually see the angels/ helpers… and move on.

As for what “move on” means, I personally believe in reincarnation. I don’t know how exactly it happens- is it sequential?- our perception of time is linear but time may not in fact be linear. Perhaps all our incarnations are occurring simultaneously. Anyway, for all intents and purposes, let’s just say the successfully retrieved souls get “unstuck.”

Since october 2016 I have done countless retrievals during projections. I have also seen many parts of “the other side” ranging from heavenly… to flat out weird. And while I don’t expect anyone to believe me, if you are OPEN to believing, I can tell you with absolute conviction that the human soul is real and “the other side” is real.  When your loved ones die, the soul simply moves on and evolves elsewhere. They are not gone. And when you die, your soul will move on and evolve elsewhere. As I say to my agnostic daughter: like it or not, you’re stuck existing… eternally.

I can’t tell you which religion is right, what concept of god is accurate, nor even how you should live your life. I can only tell you what I have seen and experienced, that there is infinitely more to human existence than what we see around us. There may be reasons to fear death, but a terminal point is not one of them. As Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) says: death is a period before the beginning of the next sentence.

 

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Manhunt: Unabomber

Manhunt: Unabomber is a Discovery Channel miniseries about the 1990s hunt for the Unabomber that culminated in a raid of his Montana cabin. This dramatized series was surprisingly good, with outstanding performances by Sam Worthington as FBI agent ‘Fitz’ and Paul Bettany as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Bettany’s performance as Kaczynski is particularly poignant. Not appearing until a few episodes in, Bettany plays the role in heartbreaking duet of genius and inner chaos. The result is a highly sympathetic- but not forgivable- portrait of Kaczinski as a man psychologically ground down by his inability to meld with the world.

I had no idea that Kaczinski was subjected to MKUltra experimentation while an underaged math student at Harvard (he entered Harvard at age 16). In fact, I had no idea MKUltra experiments were run on Harvard students at all! It sounds like a wild conspiracy theory, but is in fact sad truth and assuredly part and parcel to Kaczinski’s bizarre reign of terror.

Bettany’s performance aside, the most fascinating element of the series is its emphasis on language and linguistics. I don’t know how closely this holds to the actual investigation, but it is only through Kaczinski’s idiosyncratic actes de plume that the case cracks open with an accurate profile; investigators are able to match his writing to an obscure style guide briefly followed by The Chicago Tribune, thus pinpointing him as having learned to read and write in the Chicago area.

All in all the series is well paced and highly watchable. I’m ashamed to admit I spent an entire saturday glued to the screen. Manhunt: Unabomber is available on netflix streaming as of this writing.

Costco Pizza Review

Despite being a member of Costco for years I never bought their pizza. I figured it would get cold by the time I reached home, plus we have a local pizzeria we normally buy from (they are good but not great). A few weeks ago my 14 year old daughter accompanied me to Costco and requested a pizza slice while we walked. I agreed, she devoured it and pronounced it DELICIOUS. So it was with only mild trepidation that I splurged on four cheese pies to feed my kids for dinner tonight.

I waited patiently as the pies were prepared. The dough was pressed by machine, as was the tomato sauce measured. Cheese is weighed by hand and distributed over the pie which is then placed in a large oven. About ten minutes later the pies are sliced (one guy used a metal guide to cut it) and boxed. I should note, you can select either 8 or 12 slices per pie- same price.

The pies were still hot when I got home, but as I served the food I immediately saw there were issues. The pies were all too browned. While I know some people like their pizzas roasted, many do not. And it wasn’t a fluke; all the other pies I saw prepared were likewise excessively browned. Had I cooked this pizza myself I would consider it burnt.

There are HUGE problems with the crust. Both in depth and texture. It wasn’t a thin crust, nor sicilian. It was just sloppy. While it had the appearance, especially around the edges, of sicilian, it wasn’t thick enough to be considered as such. But it was too thick to be thin crust. The bread was tough, chewy, and difficult to slice. I’m pretty sure this is due to not being properly rested or cultured, plus being cooked improperly at the wrong temperature.

A few of my kids liked it but most hated it. Two refused to eat it on sight. Even though I am diabetic, for the sake of this blog I ate half a slice. Here is my verdict:

The dough is horrid. Chewy, tough (but not crisp), dense. Either it wasn’t properly rested, or it was simply ill-prepared. The sauce was bitter and metallic, with no trace of italian flavorings. There was too much sauce, especially near the edges. The “burnt” taste only added to the bitterness, and with the thickness of the crust made me feel like I was eating soggy burnt toast. It was actually worse than frozen pizza!

So this pizza gets an ardent thumbs down. Unless you like mushy pizza crust, too much sauce, and burnt cheese, Costco pizza is not for you.

The Mammogram

Last week I finally had a mammogram. The grim part of me felt I entered the world of Old People Tests. The bright side of me felt this was so cool sophisticated technology can peer at the inner workings of my boobs. I was a little worried about radiation exposure- supposedly for every mammogram a woman receives, her risk of breast cancer ticks up 1%. But I figured one time wouldn’t kill me.

As I sat in the waiting room I thought of Maryam Mirzakhani, the only woman ever to win the most prestigious honor in mathematics, the Fields Medal. She recently died of breast cancer at the age of 40. Why would god give a woman such an incredible gift only to take her from the world prematurely? Not only that, but make her suffer in the process? God, you’re weird. I nearly said it out loud.

Then they called me in.

The mammography tech was, unlike me, ample bossomed which somehow seemed apropos. She was also nearly a foot shorter than me. She asked cheerfully had I ever had a mammogram before? Nope. Did I know what one entailed? Uh… not really. I know big machines are involved.

She had me undress waist up in a dressing room and cover myself with a blue gown. I walked into the exam room and she announced she had to put these little stickers with metal dots on my… ugh… I opened my gown and let her have at it. She asked was there a history of breast cancer in my family?

Yes, my mother.

Ovarian cancer?

Yes, my aunt. She recently died from it.

Ah… she said, filling out forms.

Then she explained I would have to place each breast on a platform while images were obtained. I looked at that platform, looked down at my now-pastied boobs, and regarded her skeptically.

I don’t have much breast for the platform. This is true; my breasts are so small they may as well not exist.

Oh I’ll manage something! She was laughing in a good natured way. I thought of poor Maryam, all the boob examinations she must have endured.

Onto the platform the right one went. The tech twisted and crammed, eventually a plexiglas compressor bore down, trash compactor style. EEEEEeeeejjjjjj. That was the sound of the x-ray. EEEEEeeeejjjjjj. Then the left. EEEEEeeeejjjjjj.

It was definitely uncomfortable, not necessarily painful. I was more concerned about my back potentially spasming (my back likes to spasm) than the state of my breasts- she kept twisting my arms to and fro and grabbing my bare shoulder blades; the muscles on my shoulder blades are the most spasm-prone.

Then it was over! The whole ordeal was less than fifteen minutes. So if any of you ladies are avoiding a mammogram, please don’t. It’s not so bad, it’s not embarrassing, and if you have a history of breast cancer in the family the risk of minute radiation exposure is dwarfed by the worser fate.

 

The Nice Guys

(spoiler free)

The Nice Guys is a 2016 film directed by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame. It stars Ryan Gosling (of The Believer fame) and Russel Crowe (of Gladiator fame). The plot- as far as I managed to follow, revolves around the death of a porn star who may or may not have been facet of larger intrigue. Gosling’s young movie daughter tags along on a thoroughly inappropriate adventure into the world of 1970s Los Angeles porndom.

The movie was so ridiculous I began to wonder if cast and crew partook of the ubiquitous booze and weed in the film. Plot holes and incredulity abound, sick humor sickens and the canned characters sprout botulism beneath the lid. This movie sucks! By the end I didn’t even care that the incoherent mystery was solved. The only real mystery is why did my husband recommend this film in the first place?

Wimpy Wine

The island survived my absence: turkeys still grifting, opossums still gnawing through garbage, my oldest daughter kept the feral cat colony in our yard alive. My tomato plants died but that was written in the stars.

It was difficult being up there, not in ways I anticipated. Often while driving around it felt I never left. Nine years non existent, maybe a time loop. The town looked somewhat worse- I saw a meth head handcuffed & hauled into the police station- I never saw that while living here. I never saw anyone handcuffed until I moved to nyc.

My dad was irate. Ranting about my aunt, her lack of estate planning, nitpicking her last motions, grumble grumble grumble. God lord, I wanted to tell him- the woman was dying! Cut her some fucking slack. I kept my mouth shut.

My mother dragged us to church, “us” being the little guys and myself. Alright I get it, she wants to show off the grandkids. I’ll show them off too- they’re criminally cute.

The church was so depressing. They recently signed a compact with a lutheran church merging two dying churches, and I could sense one foot in there was turf war betides. The lutherans on one side, anglicans on the other. Stink eye ensued.

My lovely children started acting rotten so I dragged them to the back where exactly one child (I later learned he was being raised by his GREAT grandmother- both parents and grandma were unfit) playing with legos and toy sharks.

Did I like sharks!? he asked, full volume. I tried to shush him. Had I ever picked up a shark? Had I ever picked up a shark but failed! What was my favorite type of shark?

He rolled up his sleeve. I’ve gotta tattoo, he said proudly, showing off a temporary skull tattoo. I gave him a silent thumbs up then shushed him again.

Day before the funeral my parents had a wine and cheese event. My mom’s cousin was first to show up; they discussed weather, traffic, grandchildren, who was at what school studying what. There was discussion of family history. The cousin marveled how adept my two year old was at navigating stupid games on my defunct android. I listened politely… and thought of the steven king story where people slowly turn into vegetables.

Then my dead aunt’s buddies arrived. The greeted me uproariously- hugs, jokes, booze! My aunt’s best friend’s other best friend sat in an armchair, perched on a cane chatting brightly. Aunt’s best friend threw back a tumbler of gin. I don’t want any of that wimpy wine! — she bellowed– viking style. The other friends downed glasses of wine and nibbled on cheese. We discussed architecture, history… the house was rocking!

Then the funeral. It was at the merged church, beautiful in its day. Rich mahogany knotted the ceiling, elaborate stained glass pictographs: Ruth the Gleaner, John the Baptist, St. Michael– ready to charge.

I read from revelations, my sister read a poem. The gin drinker cried quietly.

A reception at my sister’s house. I wolfed down turkey and roast beef while my kids ate fruit. My sister’s german shephards skulked like patrolling soldiers while I clandestinely fed them pieces of meat. I watched our kids, all our kids, my kids, my sister’s kids, my sister’s friend’s kids, frolic in the gated garden. How surreal to regard such life in the shadow of death. The yard sloped down to a pond, endless acres of forest, the sky clear. I wonder as to the state of my aunt’s soul.

The funeral. We drove two hours to the grave site, my little guys surprisingly well behaved. An ancient retired pastor gave the homily while a grinning funeral home worker stood by his side. What a racket! (I later told my mom just to dump my ashes if I precede her in death.) The weather was sublime, a perfect breeze shimmering through towering oaks like god had planned it.

 

 

Escape From New York

Yesterday I left Staten Island for the first time in nine years. That’s right, I hadn’t stepped foot off the island, even for other boroughs, in nine long years. Actually that time went by rather quickly.

The drive was surprisingly non-horrific. With two and five year olds in tow I braced myself for the worst. A couple older kids came along for the ride and Mom did the driving, which was heaven sent- I dislike highway driving to the point of phobia.

We went over the Goethals, the turnpike, various parkways. We stopped for lunch at McDonald’s; I had a double quarter pounder sans ketchup and I threw out the bun (not before offering it to the rest of the family, they declined). It was awkward but doable eating the floppy hamburger patties with my fingers, the meat was terribly overcooked. It was edible, but barely, to the tune of $5. My little guys shared french fries and chicken nuggets, mom had a salad, older kids had an egg mcmuffin, more nuggets and fries. For drinks we had water (me), lemonade, mocha latte and diet coke.

I was surprised how many black people and hispanics are now north of NYC. Nine years ago non-asian minorities faded out a certain radius beyond the metro area with the exception of Springfield, MA. Most of the diners at that connecticut McDonald’s were black or hispanic, and it didn’t turn all/mostly white until Vermont.

After five hours we reached my hometown; I didn’t move here until age seven but it’s essentially my hometown. I wondered if I would start crying after all these years. But it was anticlimactic. There were the gorgeous mountains, lush green rolling in distant landscape. There was the guns-n-ammo shop. More lush greenery, an auto shop. Some kind of manufacturing plant (the sole one in the area, industry here has been decimated). The veterinarian where our sick pets were euthanized so long ago. Pretty colonials and victorians, many but not all in disrepair.

We arrived home to my very grouchy father. Grouchy is my dad’s version of happy, it only goes downhill from there. My little guy was all over the place while we unpacked- I tried to lock him in a playroom via baby gate but he howled pitifully so I let him escape.

My parents had dinner but I told them I would eat later. I went for a walk around local roads and hopped briefly into the woods, climbing a steep incline padded with pine needles and thin weeds. Pine trees towered overhead like solemn angels. I sat under one and patiently slapped mosquitoes as they landed on my skin. Later I ate some salmon and semi-raw hamburgers. My mother was horrified as she packed them out of sight into the fridge, asking wasn’t I worried about eating rare beef? Nope.

This morning I went to walmart. I needed shampoo and razors, my five year old requested pretzels. My mom warned me: the town looked worse than ever, but as I drove it looked the same. There was a new CVS. There was an abandoned something or other. There was the middle school where I was mercilessly tormented by my peers. I peeked down the street to my childhood best friend’s house- I considered driving past but that would feel stalkerish. I have no idea if her parents are even still living, and she has long since moved away.

Walmart… it looked exactly the same as nine years ago, except the shopping carts were in terrible shape (nothing irks me more than lousy shopping carts) and the walls were dinged up, in need of repainting. Two women said hello and politely asked how are you? This jarred me. They don’t do that in Staten Island, not that Staten Islanders aren’t friendly in their own way.

I am here for my aunt’s funeral. It’s all very sad. She should have lived a good twenty, thirty years further. God gives and god takes away.

Abortion: Stories Women Tell

Abortion: Stories Women Tell is an HBO documentary detailing the footing of abortion access in Missouri, a state where restrictive laws render it one of the most difficult states in the nation to obtain an abortion. Women often have to drive hundreds of miles to reach an abortion provider, and within the state are subject to a 72 hour wait period even if the baby is afflicted with a condition not compatible with life.

This is a good documentary, highly watchable, and it makes an effort to allow both sides to speak to the camera. Clinic security guard “Chi Chi” is a character unto herself, snidely telling off protesters- “I wish I could abort HIM!”- she quips of one, and castigating women who churn out babies for welfare (her words, not mine).

We are introduced to soldiers on both sides of the line: clinic escorts who usher shell shocked patients to and from vehicles, pro-life activists who make a veritable career from organizing pro-life events and protesting at clinics. At one pro-life dinner a teary eyed Susan Jaramillo takes the stage like a quasi rock star, telling her tale of abortion woe and destruction. Her books are for sale on a nearby table.

In the documentary numerous women describe their decision to seek out an abortion. Most cite financial distress, a few cite abusive husbands/ boyfriends, one woman sought an abortion when she learned the father of her child was married. A few women terminate pregnancies after the baby is diagnosed with severe anomalies.

I had a lot of sympathy for all people featured, yes, even the obnoxious preachers raining hell fire on bewildered patients stumbling into the clinic. I can see why people hate them, but having known militant pro-lifers myself, I understand where they’re coming from. They truly believe they are fighting the most heinous form of murder known to humanity.

My own views on abortion are not so clear cut. I’m unsure if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. I’ll tell you my views and maybe you can let me know what I am.

I absolutely believe the unborn baby is a nascent form of human life. How anyone could pretend otherwise, even atheists, I cannot understand. As my friend the atheist once said: Everyone who is for abortion was born. Not complicated right?

I also believe, that as a nascent form of life, the unborn baby is precious and deserving of protection.

However: I also believe forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is tantamount to rape. Pregnancy and childbirth involve the penetration of the mother’s body, both of her uterus and vagina, sometimes other parts- even if the baby is going “out” the body is still being penetrated, sometimes horrifically (yes I know the “horrific” part firsthand). Penetration without consent is rape.

So on the one hand you have the taking of a human life- murder- and on the other hand you have rape. Forgive me if I can’t decide which is worse!

I have one other thought on abortion, and this is something pro-lifers refuse to acknowledge: women will always have abortions. It doesn’t matter how many laws you lay down. Women will seek and obtain abortions even where it is illegal.

Therefore, if you are faced with an inevitable abortion, and you can either lose one life (the baby’s) or two lives (the baby’s and the mom’s), you are ethically obligated to protect the one life you can reach- the mother’s! Why pro-lifers refuse to see this is beyond me. If they successfully outlaw abortion there will be MORE loss of human life at the hands of shoddy purveyors of abortion, not less!

While Abortion: Stories Women Tell attempts to be even handed, it comes out slanted for the pro-choice side. I’m not sure if this is because the pro-lifers featured are so obnoxious, although one pro-choice SJW type gives a pestiferous rant toward the end of the film, or if it was deliberate. Either way this is one of the better abortion documentaries I’ve seen, and I recommend it to anyone with ninety minutes to spare. It is available on HBO GO as of this posting.

Food Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In browsing older posts I realized there might be some confusion to new readers as to what exactly I eat. Thus I would like to clarify (don’t worry, I know the world doesn’t hinge on what I eat, but I don’t want to confuse anyone).

Years ago I was a strict vegan. I truly believed this was the healthiest way for a human to eat. I made this decision based on books like Eat to Live, The China Study, and the various vegan websites out there like vegsource (I have no idea if they’re still around). Eating a whole food vegan diet, claimed these books, led to perfect health and slim waistlines.

I have always been thin but I was trying to improve my health- after my 4th child was born I began experiencing recurring and debilitating fevers. Based on testimonials of vegan converts I switched to a completely vegan diet.

It took a while but my health did improve. I didn’t eat only health foods- I loved vegan cookies and desserts, but I did eat mostly health foods, and I completely eliminated sugar from my diet 4 years ago.

Then I got pregnant with my youngest child and despite being low weight, gaining virtually no weight, and eating a “healthy vegan diet” I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was 190 mg/dL on the glucose tolerance test. I obtained a glucose meter and began testing my postprandial (post meal) blood sugar. I was horrified to find all those “healthy” whole grains and beans were spiking my blood sugar astronomically.

Then I remembered… in the back of my head… a documentary I watched ages ago. I thought it was funny back then but, as a strict vegan, believed none of it. That documentary was Tom Naughton’s Fat Head, where he eats both a moderately low carb/ high fat diet, and later a nearly zero carb/ high fat diet, and not only does he lose weight but his blood work improves significantly.

Against medical advice I immediately began eating low carb. I was concerned about going too low, given I was pregnant [note: I would no longer have this concern today], so I hovered around 50 net carbs a day. A typical day for me eating was as follows: I would skip breakfast then eat a huge lunch. I ate a tremendous amount of lamb and chicken thighs, and of course did not remove any of the fat. I would have a small amount of dried fruit for dessert (dried fruit and some veggies were my only source of carbs). For dinner I would have the same.

My blood sugar immediately normalized below 100 mg/dL no matter how much I ate, and my son was born 6 pounds just shy of 36 weeks. He did not require any NICU.

Well, when they gave me the glucose tolerance test a few months after his birth my numbers were even worse. I was 300 mg/dL! I was now officially diabetic, although it remains unclear if I am type 2 or LADA- adult onset type 1- since I am so thin it may likely be LADA. My well meaning but clueless internist advised me to “eat brown rice and potatoes.” I kept my mouth shut but knew some of my worst postprandial numbers resulted from precisely those foods.

I have been a low carber ever since, even going down to zero carbs for long periods, eating nothing but meat and fat. That’s right, I am still alive despite eating no fiber and eschewing all plant foods. My blood work is perfect. A1C is normal. I’m thinner than ever- not necessarily a good thing, but for those of you who need to lose weight, if it works at my low weight it would certainly work for you. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was 135 lbs (at 5’9″). After a few months eating very low carb I went down to 120- slightly underweight for my height- and have maintained and even dipped below without trying.

I truly believe eating low carb has saved my life, and quite possibly saved my son’s life. So would I recommend low carbing to any dieters out there? HELL YES! The emphasis on fruits, whole grains and veggies in nutritional circles is ridiculously overblown. I’m not saying they’re bad for non-diabetics, but they are indeed terribly dangerous for diabetics and are not the golden key to weight loss the FDA would have you believe.

I’ve been able to maintain a normal A1C without meds, insulin, or exercise (I like to walk but don’t consider it “exercise.”) My blood sugar rarely cracks 100 mg/dL. So I would plead- yes PLEAD- with any diabetics out there to consider a low carb/ zero carb diet. There are countless resources online and just as many books. Atkins is a great place to start. I eat only foods from the induction phase, plus nuts.

We Should Have Stayed in That Cave

[[very mild spoilers season 1 and season 4]]

After much procrastination I finally am watching Game of Thrones. I tried watching the first episode way back when. I thought it was stupid and boring. Too many plot lines, too many characters, the costumes silly. I couldn’t keep anyone straight. So many dark haired men in leather armor! So many women in bad wigs and sumptuous gowns! Borrring.

Then my husband announced we have a temporarily free subscription to HBO, and with it HBO GO via roku. HBO! They have a lot of good documentaries! And indeed I watched a few, including one about a veterans’ suicide prevention helpline. Did you know a US military veteran or active serviceman kills himself at the rate of roughly one man per hour, every day? That’s more fatalities than the recent wars put together. Anyway it was very well done, very sad, but too short. I hate short documentaries. They always make me feel cheated.

But there is no dearth of Game of Thrones. Since I never watched it before I theoretically had six seasons to plow through. It was so stupid last time you watched it (I said to myself)! But maybe you would like it this time around (I also said to myself). After much inner deliberation I pressed PLAY.

I still thought that first episode was stupid, however, Tyrion (the amazing Peter Dinklage) snagged me in his dialogue with Jon Snow. All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes. Such nuance, gravitas and wry humor in one man! Peter Dinklage, as they say in The Station Agent, is THE MAN! So I kept watching.

I still thought it was silly, perverted, way too violent. Could you please spare me yet another chopped off head? SO much sex. Gay sex, hooker sex, sadist sex, incest sex, underaged sex, interracial sex, rape after rape. I’m no feminist but I shudder to think how women would fare if George RR Martin ruled the world.

Yet… somewhere mid season one I was hooked. It wasn’t just about Dinklage anymore. I was asking my son (a rabid GOT fan) questions. How did Tyrion meet Ser Bronn? Why exactly did Daenyrus kill the black guy? I was in tears over the kidnapped baby dragons, and further along wept as Jon Snow cradled a dying Ygritte in his arms. We should have stayed in that cave Jon Snow

So would I recommend this series to my gentle readers? Uh, not sure. It ain’t exactly family programming, though apparently every family on the planet has watched it. It is a brilliant story, or rather a series of brilliant stories within other brilliant stories, the characters are beautifully villainous and multifaceted, but somehow I’m left with the same feeling as having eaten a sicky sweet, overly rich slice of cake when the credits roll. Gird yer stomachs men, and forward march!