Pain: The Great Equalizer

As I spent the last few days traveling back and forth from Hospital to home, or to pick up another family member, I couldn’t help but attempt to make sense of all the experiences.

They aren’t uncommon to many of us: watching a person writhe in pain, delusion from bodily poisons, fear and guilt concerning impending death, and the emotional pain it wreaks on every loved one. I found my self shedding tears and was forced to wonder why? I only knew this wonderful woman a few years, so why these emotions?

It could be from a number of things. As I cuddled up to my husband, consoling and comforting as best I could, I looked up at him and found myself saying “I don’t ever want to lose you.” The admonition that I never would came as no comfort because the fact is I will. Such is the life cycle. My words were more a reflection of pain, I don’t want to lose him.

Pain, emotional and physical, seems to send a ripple through all around it. Why? Is it empathy? Mirror neurons? Or just fear? Surely, joy as well, such as the creation of new life, creates a similar ripple… But doesn’t pain seem to create such a deeper effect?

Is it the great equalizer? Will it always be this way? Inevitable? Avoidable? Is it necessary to foster learning?

Thoughts? Reflections? Theories?


Memorial Day: Remember


Remember America.

Despite our political views, opinions, philosophies, religion, stances or the like: Remember.

Lives were sacrificed. Young and old.

There are few words I can write, at all. Today is for remembrance.

Liebster Award


I was pleased and a little confuses to see a notification on my page from hessianwithteeth nominating my blog for a Liebster award. Being me,I had to go google what it was. I’ll spare the length here since it is easily findable online.

I feel icky sending personal messages about this though. Makes it feel chain mail-y so excuse me, the 2 people I did message it too. Sorry, skeptic at heart and I also hate being invasive onto people’s blogs. Just me. It’s really cool still though! Good bonding exercise.

Basically, it’s a neat little thing for newish bloggers. I bit, and here I am. It was a lovely exercise. The project: 11 random facts about self, 11 nominees for the reward, answer 11 questions asked to you, then ask 11 questions to the nominees. Very nice.

First, the random facts:

1. I’m a 1st generation college kid with a pending dual major in Bible and Philosophy.

2. Intermediate immersive Ancient Hebrew of 2 years.

3. Pure bred cat snob. Raised breeding cats, with most experience with Siamese.

4. My amazing mother had 2 strokes in her early 30’s. She is my idol. Despite the damage, still brilliant and going to college in her 50’s!

5. Been married twice. Still in contact with my ex, I believe love never ends just changes. Current husband 5-6 years my junior, and happily in love.

6. I have an unseen disease I do not discuss, but is a daily struggle for me. Last hospital stint leading to a month disability.

7. I have 300+ poems written covering 10 Years of my life.

8. Alarayeth and Nikeyo are pen names of mine. The former from a novel my mother wrote and has been a name I’ve gone by online for 15 years.

9. I’:m 3rd generation Italian, with my great-grandparents coming through Ellis island. Great-grandma lives just long enough to have a picture taken holding me when I was born. She passed days later.

10.  Most of my life I was a fundamental Christian: baptised in water and spirit with manifestation of tongues, lead a youth group in Queens, NY and miraculously healed a dozen or so (supposedly). Turned Atheist in college.

11. “Doubt everything, even this” is my philosophical mantra. I know nothing.

Questions asked of me:

1) What convinced you to start blogging?
I was making lengthy status posts on FB when a couple people suggested I blog. So instead of flooding people’s walls with my long posts, took it here!

2) Do you volunteer? For what cause and why?
Not as much as I want, but when I do it’s to raise awareness for a local Atheists and Freethinker group I’m a part of.

3) Do you consider yourself an activist?
I do. Not as active as I want, but I fight for what I feel strongly about.

4) What is your favorite genre to read?
For leisure, the occasional sci-fi. But I enjoy philosophy, science, and biblical studies more.

5) Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by them?
When anyone asks favorite book, always go to the Bible. It’s my nerdy historical fascination. Author? Can’t pick one. Everyone has a voice, and I enjoy reading it.

6) If you could spend the day with any well-known figure (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
Socrates. His dialectic style makes my mouth water. Father of philosophy and the simile of the line? Yes, please.

7) What truths, if any, do you hold as self evident? Why?
“I think, therefore I am.” That’s about it as far as self-evident can get, isn’t it?

8) Do you attend any conferences? If so, which ones any why?
Nah. I’ll attend the occasional colloquium or lecture if it’s about religion or science though.

9) What is your dream job?
Professor of Philosophy at a University.

10) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Hunger, eradicate that shit for Pete’s sake already. Basic life need, food, and we’re worried about our gadgets. Baffles my mind how that is still a thing in this world….

11) If you could make a movie, what would it be about and who would be in it?
My Aunt Karen’s love story with John…. It needs to be written and seen because their love inspires me every day. She blogs about him ever since his soul-crunching departure from our lives:

My nominees:

My questions for them if they choose to accept:

1. Why do you blog?
2. What inspires you?
3. What’s one book I/everyone should read?
4. What’s on the top of your bucket list?
5. What social justice issue is closest to your heart?
6. Favorite movie and why?
7. Favorite quote?
8. What makes you laugh out loud?
9. Who had the biggest influence on your life, and do explain?
10. What do you like about blogging?
11. What do you dislike about blogging (yours or/and others)


I woke up this morning, 11 hours of sleep, groggy and angry at the world for both oversleeping and not feeling rested.

As I kept pouring coffee down my throat, flipped through blog posts and FB statuses, one thing I’ve learned kept knocking around inside my skull.

I can trace it back to last night’s indulgence into skepticism and refreshing my mind with logical fallacies. The words “skepticism,” “truth,” and “logic” kept bouncing around in my cranium until I felt sick. Like something wasn’t right about this constant inundation to pursue these things like nothing else matters.

What in the blazes was it?


This small, almond shaped part of our brain called the amygdala which feeds the rest of our body if gone unchecked. Too many times have I witnessed skeptics, thinkers, and the like ignore emotions as “illogical” (oh, Spock…) and pay it no conscious mind, despite the fact that doing so allows it to unconsciously control the entire body, including mental functions such as where to store memory.

What I am most tormented by is how far science has gone in researching how to regulate this destructive, illogical little but in our brain: not far. Well, to be specific: we have been able to reproduce stressful responses easily while happiness doesn’t seem so black and white. Stick a monkey with a prod: pulse sky rockets, blood pressure rises, muscles tighten… all the repercussions of the negative emotions. Give the monkey a banana? Still stressed cause you prodded it.

My mind spins with this in a mess of jumbled words and thoughts. My only hope: we can better research this thing that controls us so, rather than ignore it.

Help me out here with some thoughts?

On another pot of coffee.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Religion

I’ve gone from Fundamental Christianity, to agnostic, to new Atheist, and now to A-theistic A-gnostic. I use the hyphens in my current designation to bring attention to the basic meaning of the words. Basically, I don’t have a Theistic system I follow and I don’t claim to know jack.

I’ve gone through these phases by studying, reading, and conversing with leaders and followers of all types ( I call these ventures my field studies). After coming through all these titles to a less aggressive and open not knowing shit stance, I’ve had time to reflect, humbly and honestly, on what I have learned from religion.

1. You Reap What’s Been Sown

Ah, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) paired with “You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). This was a favorite of my farmer-turned-Pastor’s weekly sermons. The farming metaphor was drilled so far into my mind that it will never leave.

But it’s a universal truth that can be applied to anything really. What our parents down into us, will we see bloom in our lives later on: be it abuse, wisdom, or neglect. Bad attitudes often sow negativity, and creates a harvest cycle of negativity. Hospitality and good deeds, likewise, brings the same when down and the individual falls into their own hard times; after all, we’re all more likely to help those who helped us, aren’t we?

2. Not all Religions/Denominations/People are ” Religious”.

We’ve all seen Atheists do this a lot in defense of the “Atheism is a religion too” argument:

religion (rɪˈlɪdʒən)

— n
1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion
3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers

Newsflash: Google, Webster, and Collins are not the gods of word meanings. Yes, yes, it’s a dictionary. But language belongs to those who are communicating. It’s a tool, a subjective one. Words change meaning at the drop of a hat. A “wall” now, when one “posts” on it, for example, almost always means FB now. Before FB, it spoke of people tacking things physically to a wall.

So no, not all religions fit all mighty Webster’s definition. Which leads to my next point:

3. Not all Religions believe in a God, or find it necessary to do so.

I learned this soon after jumping out of fundamental Christianity and into atudying. Ancient and Reform Judaism. Both give no clear definition of God, no face, no none metaphorical descriptive words. Ask a Jew, oftentimes what or who God is and they won’t give you a definitive answer.

Ancient Judaism (think Old Testament) is riddled with doubt and woes over the focal question we all ask at times “Where are you God?” Reform Judaism was best explained to me in books and from meeting with a local Rabbi. When told of my disbelief, he responded: “Judaism has always queationed, and these questions are encouraged even questioning the very existence of god”.

As far as Christianity, some follow the ” once saved always saved” doctrine. In this case, I’m still a Christian since I did the prayer and was “born-again,” as my family says: “I’m just on a journey.”

4. Religion has many assholes.

We’ve all met these, they’re everywhere. And no, they’re not exclusive to religion. However. When one goes into an honest search and quest to “find themselves” and meet such people it can and does deter many from the religion. Instantly. The wiser seekers will head my last point below, but when one keeps trying and finding nothing by condescending, holier-than-thou, fire and brimstone preaching, guilt tripping, damning, judgmental representatives of a religion…. Well, one can only take so much before they cross that religion off their list.

5. Fundamentals, Hate Groups, and Terrorist do not represent the entire religion.

This can be best exemplified with a modern example: NYC after 9-11. Almost every was out from a Muslim. The ridiculous profiling (often those profiled, not a Muslim at all) went hay-wire for a while.

Despite many Islam-haters interpretation of the Koran, many Muslims are very peaceful people who have interpreted THEIR (its their book, let them interpret how they want) Holy Book in a completely different fashion than the Terrorist we like to jokingly describe as strapping bombs to themselves.

The old adage reigns true here: ” Don’t miss the Forrest for the trees.” Many religions have a vast wealth of knowledge concerning culture, community, spirituality, and life wisdom. Don’t miss it.

What do you think of this list? Is it true? Would you add any or take any out?

Leave your thoughts!

Playing Your Hand

bad hand

Before typing this thought, I need to give respectful credit of where I read my best example of this metaphor:
whose book I reviewed here:
and whose said book you can purchase here:

Now that that is done.

The metaphor is a brilliant one, and something I often forget. Life is, at times, truly like a Poker game in that you are given but one hand. There is no trading, and who knows if you’ll get another round? Only the dealer knows (and who the hell is s/he? You don’t know the dealer. No one does. Just this ominous neutral party who throws you cards at random. Run with THAT metaphor however you see fit).

So, you’re handed a shit hand. Gonna sit and whine about it or do something with it? Yeah, you could bluff and fight and scrape your way through. And yeah, you could put all in and lose all. But facts are, you have a shit hand. It’s your choice if you want to shoot for the win or sit back and take your loss.

This has been the fuel of my personal thoughts and meditations. The life I was born into did not give me much to go on. If anything, it fucked me up pretty bad. Yeah, my folks did the best they could but I don’t blame them. I blame no one. I can’t, what good would it do? Whining and hiding this reality has gotten me nowhere. I haven’t been able to progress anywhere in my life until I accepted the facts and did what I could with it. I have to work with what I have.

Luckily, the fact that the converse of what I am trying to do is a reality is quite an encouragement: people with perfect hands lose as well. People born into stability, connections, recognition, and the like… they lose the game too. T

So with the facts lined up, it’s quite obvious that the hand isn’t to blame. It’s the one playing them.

But hell, what do you think? Am I wrong? Too hopeful? Is the metaphor too much of a stretch or does it fit?



(P.S. If someone can advise me as to why the “link” option on posts is not working on my WordPress… that would be lovely)


Violence and Popular Philosophy Today

Fascinating idea. I find terming separation as “violence” to be a harsh misuse of the word, though.

What I would call it is creating an “in-group, out-group” type of elitism. Creating a social construct of “us and them.”

Granted, it is usually not the conscious intention of people with such labels to create such a division between them and their fellow man. But could it be possible that this is, truly, what we are doing by accepting such labels that divide us as “other” from our fellow man?

Or is it necessary for us to feel commonality with a small group of humans. Is it not possible to feel connected with everyone because of differences?

Sticky. Discuss. What are your thoughts? Are there labels you choose to carry? Why?

Willfull Apathy


I write about willful ignorance a lot, but I think that ignorance can be melted down to a worse evil: apathy. The tag of “willful” is necessary, however, as we are all apathetic to certain causes. We can not bear all the injustice in the world, we are but one person in our individuality. What makes us unique are our individual causes. Together we fight the evils of this world.

I encounter this willful apathy on a daily basis as a waitress. I don’t write often about my day job although I could (the stories we encounter are far too entertaining), if you want more stories about serving and our adventures, I would recommend checking out


So yeah, waitressing. In the area of the world I live, being “stiffed” ($0 tip) is a norm. I have worked in Queens, NY and Albany, NY (the two capital areas of the state) and have not been treated as poorly as I have here.

Now what I mean to point out here is not the common courtesy of tipping your servers, but of willful apathy as a conscious choice. It’s an attitude more than a “I just can’t right now,” which is a wise consideration of both ones resources and ones need to not be worn thing.

I am having a hard time coming up with more examples other than my every day personal. There is a degree of willful apathy in those who ask for their servers personal stories of why they are waiting tables (college kid, single mom, double or third jobbing young adult) and then smile, thank them for their service and say they were wonderful, and leave them nothing (which in most cases, leaves the server to pay for their meal through tip outs).

But, I get the sensation that I’m merely reacting off of experience and judging.

Am I? Is there such an evil as willful apathy or is apathy a necessity to protect ones emotions and stability? Must we be empathic at all?


Become a child


For the majority of my life, “you’re such a child” was thrown around as if it was a derogatory term. I was raised by those types of parents who think their baby is too “mature” for certain shows or activities. So in church, I was put in the teenagers Sunday school group. The boring one that sat around and read and talked about the Bible, rather than watching Veggietales like a normal 9 year old. Instead of watching Peter Pan and Show White, I watched the X-files and Star Trek because cartoons were too kiddy.

The older I’m getting, the more it seems that innocence and humility or not knowing is more admirable than an aura of wisdom. True wisdom, after all, like Socrates exclaims “I know nothing!” and continues on the daily to learn and grow. The most wise individuals I’m sure we all know, will continue to say no matter what their age (even the ones in their 90’s) that they truly know nothing at all.

Ironically, the Jesus’ writings in the Bible likewise refer to a child-like attitude as desirable:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

I rarely hear a child waking up dreading another day. Or fretting about being an adult or if they’ll ever get married.

Yet somewhere in between teenage life, and young adulthood, we loose out innocence and optimism for life. Don’t we? Life starts looking bleak and a struggle to rise from the top.

Whatever happened to the days of imagination and days that seemed to last forever? Adventure and discovery? Absorbing like a sponge? Afterall, medicine used to think at a certain age we stopped growing neural patheways – but now realizes this is just not true! We’re not done after we hit adulthood, we can continue growing and learning.

What do you think? Naive? Immature? Admirable or “childish”?


You think too much

ATTN Followers: Personal friend and fellow thinker. I’ve been trying to push him to start blogging his thoughts and philosophical musings.
As such, please go share your Penny’s worth thoughts with him. If you will.

mistavega's Blog

You think too much. The dreadful folk expression that ignites my insides with a sustained and lingering bitterness, like a crude after taste from some shitty diet beverage . I’m hearing this so called critique way too often. On more then several occasions people have a accused me of it, so it’s only fitting I give it a comprehensive analysis.

I wonder if they even know what they’re talking about. Certainly we’re all constantly thinking, otherwise we would be dead. What do they mean by that expression? Are they referring to frequency of thoughts or perhaps the duration of a sustained thought? I think what they mean is something far more specific, which is thinking thought that aims is to explicate some proposition. That is the thoughts that goal is to figure some states of affairs out conceptually.

Here’s the crux of the issue. I think that a thinking person…

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