Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Inevitable Pendulum

Things are better today, partially becuase I haven't jacked around my Xytincon-ay (how does one piglatin-ize oxycon-tin anyhow?) but also because of a couple of a nice, low-stress couple of days with my sweetie. She's great at helping me talk though things and listening to me rant when needed.

I feel like the whiplash effect is fading and maybe I'm getting back to some sense of normalcy, which is good. My mood is better, anyhow -- which is always a plus. A day spent anti-shopping helped. A stop at Midwest Mountaineering where I bought a bungee dog leash while Jen spent nothing, yet still walked away with a brand-new camping air mattress (her old one was defective and had been warrantied). On to REI, where we bought things using gift cards (thanks, Santa!). From there, we went to IKEA and managed to avoid its insidious Swedish compact/convenient affordability by only having lunch. $3.99 for a plate of 15 Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry preserves simply cannot be much of a money-maker for them. They're likely subsidizing this because they know that the average shopper will need to eat after a few hours of hardcore shopping, and they'd rather that you keep shopping than leave and maybe never come back. Or they are subsidizing this because there is no way to get out of the cafeteria without walking by lots of things that -- at these prices -- who can afford not to buy? I love IKEA, don't get me wrong, but it's virtually impossible to breeze in about out of there, and we both felt superior that we were able to escape their marketing clutches and take advantage of their insanely inexpensive (and pretty decent) food. Of course, we did have to exit through the emergency exit, with the help of a staffer. I didn't want to be temped by crazily-priced trivets, or Christmas lights, or spatulas, or mixing bowls, or rugs, or dog toys, or enormous bars of chocolate, etc. They make it nearly impossible to just hit the cafeteria and then bolt. For good reason.

Next, we went across the street to the dreaded Mall of America (known by locals as the MegaMall or the Mall of Doom). It is a place that I avoid at all costs because it (like IKEA) has a tarpit-like siren song that is hard to escape from in any sort of timely fashion. We foiled them yet again: I returned something at the Crocs store, stopping only to drink free samples of tea (one of which was called "Samurai Chai") and beat a hasty retreat. We felt very ninja-like, and my checking account balance actually went *up* today, over all. Take that, corporate America... and Sweden.

**Addendum**. In an attempt to get more relaxed (something that virtually all of us could use, but I could currently use more than most) we looked up meditation in Minneapolis on the internets. We found a place that does open, guided meditation a few times a week and put 10:30 am Sunday on our calendar.

Holy cult, Batman. This was not what I was expecting at all. I'm all about the alternative approaches: I see an acupuncturist regularly, as an example. But this felt like branch-Davidian, cultish, creepy, out-there to a degree that I was instantly uncomfortable with, and I'm glad that Jen felt the same. The room was smallish, maybe 30 x 15, and completely packed with people seeking enlightenment. All white and looked to be middle-class and upwards. They were shoulder to shoulder in concentric circles radiating out from a single kneeling dude, who was reciting some mantra over and over again. Everyone was following along, most with closed eyes. I believe in meditation (or at least I think I do...) but this felt more like brainwashing. I should have thought it was fishy when the greeter was extra-excited and sparkly-eyed about having new people. There wasn't room to sit or stand when we got there, and its probably a good thing, or we would have been looking for another excuse to leave. I have no evidence that there were automatic weapons hidden in the floorboards, but it would not have surprised me to learn this on the evening news. The insipid fake-friendliness, cramped quarters, the fervent, closed-eyed adherence to the mantra and being all-too-easy to get locked in to that room made us both extremely uncomfortable. They were cagey about the cost, also. Yoga places tell you straight up how much a class costs (and they ain't cheap). But we realized that this meditation center *can't* charge -- because they likely hold tax-exempt status as a place of worship. If the sign had said "Church of Steve the Extra Groovy" on the outside, I don't think we would have gotten out of the car.

I have done some Buddhist "mindfulness" meditation with my therapist, and that was cool, easy, and helpful. There were no Krishna-esque chants to learn and it was not necessary to play follow-the-leader to a guy chanting into a Britney-spears boom-mic. Likewise, with my therapist it was not necessary to "out-meditate" your neighbor, which is what this group was shaping up to be.

It was an interesting place, but one that I will not be rushing back to. It made for good laughs afterward, though.


Jen said...

You forgot about our failed attempt to find inner peace! Love you much.

M said...

Indeed I did! See addendum, above.

RachaelHD said...

There is a pretty good meditation center by my house, in the old greasy spoon restaurant kind of by the Schooner. They have a variety of classes but I think they do mindfullness stuff.

M said...

Actually that was the place we went to! Perhaps it was just that it was Sunday and people were treating it more like an odd meditation church service, but it might be worth another look. Also if they do mindfulness stuff also that's a plus and would be worth another look.

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