The Lie of ‘Better’

11 Dec

When you have a mental illness like depression, the first and most frequent condolence people will tell you is that “it gets better.” When you tell them that you are sad, sad not just one day, but sad for nearly every day the past month, they tell you it’ll get better. When you tell them that you have been down and clouded and crying for the past half a year, they tell you to just hang in there, thing a or thing b will change, feeling x or feeling y will be spirited away by a sparkling unicorn or the glittering hand of some god or other, that something, magically, will happen and it – you – will get better.

When you begin therapy, they tell you it gets better. When you talk about short term and suicide, they tell you about long term and how it’ll be better. When you begin seeing a psychiatrist and finally trying meds, they tell you it will finally, finally get better.

When years later you’re on your fifth therapist and third psychiatrist and you’ve run the gamut of SSRI and SNRI and second-gen psych meds and third-gen atypicals and still you find yourself crying on your couch every weekend, they will all, again, tell you that it will get better.

When you graduate and have job interviews and jobs acceptances and 401k’s and lovers and partners and spouses and kids and apartments and houses and nursing homes, and you say that you are still itching for that off button, they tell you keep hold of your life-allotted joystick to maneuver yourself through life-allotted hoops because this life-allotted endless game, it will get better.

But what they don’t understand, where the syntax error lies, is that while sure, support and friends and love and loving and comfort and direction, they can make it all externally better, making it better… that’s not making it okay.

I don’t want it all to be better.

I want it to be okay.

A Car And A Cute Old Man

9 Dec

Today, I met a cute old man. He was not by default cute because he was old. I have met a lot of old men, and many, many of them are not cute. A lot of them are crotchety fuckers.

But this old man, he was cute. He barely had any hair left, just a brush of white and wiry remnants as his eyebrows, and a U around his head. His skin has the yellow tinge of an elderly Philippino. He could have been stern, if his mouth puckered more. But it didn’t. He was not stern. He was not intimidating. He was like a really old uncle, maybe a grandfather. Something non-threatening. The sort of old relative that would call you dear and not mean it demeaningly.

Oh, I met him because he was my Lyft driver.

So I got into the car, and we made chit chat as is opening procedure for taking a Lyft. I asked how long he’d been driving, he told me he’d been up since 6 am. I commented on how early that was, and he mentions, nonchalant, that he’s hoping to make enough fare to head home early and take his wife out to a nice dinner.

Okay, this dude is like seventy. That’s already frickin’ adorable.

So I try not to making squeeing noises out loud and merely respond how that’s sweet. I ask how long he’s been married. He answers – 44 years.

Holy. fuck.

I ask how they met. He tells me that they both worked in the same government agency, back in the Philippines. “We met in the office and… that’s how it all got started.” His voice winked, even if he did not.

He launches into his whole story. He tells me how he and his wife, they worked at this agency for 25 years, but before they retired, his wife wanted to pursue her real profession for a while. They moved to Chicago and “were trapped there in the snow” for twenty years, so she could be a chemist.

Finally retiring, they moved to Florida. He tells me how, having saved up a fair amount, they gave their remaining assets in the Philippines to their daughter, which he pronounces further endearingly as duo-ter. But… he stumbles over himself, for a few seconds. He’d started to explain how he has a daughter, but… the stumbling and backpedalling came to a stop, and he tells me, “I had a son, but I lost him when he was nineteen.”

I don’t want to ask what lost means.

My driver, he pushes on and tells me about his duo-ter, now 44 (my innuendo-center starts cheering internally and wink-wink-nudge-nudging the man), lives in Okinawa with her eight-year-old son. She’s serving as a pediatrician in the air force – they paid for her school, she works for them the same amount of years. She’s got two left.

My mind immediately starts praying that Okinawa stays quiet for the next two years.

The old man’s talk meanders back to him and his wife. He tells me how they tired of Florida’s weather, so they moved to Los Vegas instead. It was cheaper there, anyway. They rented a three-bedroom house for just $700 a month. My roommates and I are renting a three-bedroom apartment for more than that.

But… the old man, his voice becomes closed and quiet, “Los Vegas was my downfall. I had never gambled before in my life. But I got myself stuck at the slot machines. I lost all our savings. I… I squandered everything.”

I can hear the shame in his voice. I would not have been surprised if he’d started to cry.

“But I told my wife,” he goes on, “I told my wife, it’s not too late, I can earn it back. Well, not all of it, but some, enough…” He spends several more minutes reciting a litany of “I did a bad thing” and “I needed to make it better” and “I was contrite, so I could do it.”

They moved out to Santa Clarita. He started driving for Lyft. That is why he is a driver, to try one car ride at a time to rebuild the life he intended for his wife – and himself – to have. To make good on his statement that he is contrite. He tells me how sorry he is for what he did, how grateful he is that his wife is with them. “I think she still loves me,” he said in a small voice. “I love her very much.”

We reach my street, and as we pull up to my curb, he turns to me and with a somehow beaming face tells me enthusiastically, “I hope all your ventures are successful!”

I tell him that I hope he has a nice dinner with his wife.

A White and Shiny and Probably Horrendously Inflammatory Blog Post

4 Dec

Dear White People,

it happened again. Another murderer got away because of white skin and a shiny badge. We drive around with our white skin and our shiny cars, mere passersby to injustice on the streets. We sit in our white houses with our shiny lives and ignore the systematic burning of a people to the ground. In both Missouri and New York, we like our white snow and our shiny presents, having the luxury of not caring that outside, it’s cold. We’ve got our white skin and our shiny privilege. We don’t have to worry about frostbite.

Look, I know. I know. I make generalizations. White people are also poor. White people are kind. White people suffer. White people care.

White people built this whole fucking country to be poor in and to be kind in and to suffer and care in ’cause we stole it from yet another people without our skin tone.

We established that this was the best country, our country, and disallowed anyone else access to that pronoun. Even when we shipped human beings over like Fedex two-week arrival packages. “Here, Mary Sue, I got you a nice black girl to help you and Ma with your dresses.” “But Daddy, I wanted the other black girl, with the different nose!”

It is horrible. It is insensitive. It is true.

Slaves could be shot for trying to run away. Apparently this is still true when it comes to white police masters. And those police will not be indicted, because after all, they were just trying to subdue their property. They know what those black skins are like. You can’t reason with them. Just gotta bring ‘em down, bloodshed be damned. It was their own damn fault for running away and resisting anyway.

Please excuse me while I go vomit. Alternatively while I go chop off my fingers, because they hate themselves for ever having to write those words.

White people, this is who we are. Maybe not you, individually. But as a people, this is what we have filled history with stories of. This is the name we have made for ourselves.

And I really don’t fucking like it.

We try to make a difference. We volunteer. We tweet. We write fucking blog posts. But none of these are going to pry the arms off the neck of a dead black man. And in the end, that’s really what we needed to do. Before the suffocation even happened.

I am a thin, white female. If a man tried to touch me and I screamed at him not to, but he persisted anyway, it would be the police’s job to come and save me, because in my case, that man’s actions would have been labelled assault. The police damn well know there are other ways to arrest a noncompliant but nonviolent person. And no way in hell do they want the upper-middle class parents of a white girl coming after them and saying one of their male officers assaulted me. Noooo way in hell would they let that come even close to happening.

Change me into a black man and apparently none of that matters anymore.

If a man held me down and suffocated me after I’d screamed and screamed that I couldn’t breathe, and the coroner fucking ruled it a homicide, there would indictments and apologies from the police department and a mass outcry at the unthinkable wretchedness of it all. I would be a martyr, not an example. That police officer wouldn’t even get to be a mall cop. He’d be in jail. Twenty-five years to life.

Change the color of my skin and my genitalia, and apparently this all isn’t even worth a trial.

This is not justice. This is bias, prejudice, flat out hatred in our goddamn justice system.

What do you do when the laws are broken?

What do you do when we are broken?

And what do you do when that brokenness causes us to break other people?

Kill them, even.

I don’t know what to do. I wish I did. Apologies stopped cutting it about twenty black-victim homicides ago. But… I don’t know how to make us better. I as an individual am trying to do the damn best I can to check my privilege and help as appropriate. I know there are others, hordes of others, who are doing the same. But apparently these hordes are not in the justice system. Or if they are, apparently they decided that the tougher incidences like these are when they should sit down and shut up and pretend like suffocating a black man who uses words like “please,” “officer,” and “sir” is a perfectly reasonable things to do.

I don’t know how to prod us all in the back, to fucking wake us up any time we’re being idiots or accomplices to murder. We’ve lost all the sticks because we made our slaves bundle them up and throw them into our hearth fires a long time ago. We, the collective we, white people, have made this a country of white people first, everyone else be damned if you haven’t made yourself as otherwise white as possible. And it’s not okay. This is so fucking not okay.

We said we were founding this country on equality and justice. We’ve got about two hundred and thirty eight years that say that’s not what we did. White people, we have failed.

Maybe it’s time we got the fuck out. Literally, metaphorically… I don’t know. But nobody else seems to either, because we’ve got a two hundred and thirty-eight year old problem here.

And when everything is white and shiny, it’s hard to see through the glare and notice that.

The Weirdness of Black Friday as a Detail-Oriented Person

28 Nov
Hey, it's a good point. (source)

Hey, it’s a good point. (source)

I will straight-up admit that I have never gone Black Friday shopping. The idea terrifies me. I already dislike shopping. So the idea of some day of mega-shopping-on-steroids-and-speed is rather unattractive. But as a detail-oriented person, the idea of this monster shopping is all the more repulsive. Why? Let’s discuss.

As a detail-oriented person, I take so frickin’ long to make decisions. My usual shopping strategy involves walking around the store, eyeing everything to make a mental list of what the store has to offer. Then, with an eye more to what caught my interest and what I’m looking for, I walk around the store again, looking at what things specifically fit that bill and discarding things from my mental list of available objects that aren’t relative. Then I walk around the store again, two to three more times, pausing to evaluate each of the items that I’ve decided I might buy, weigh the pro’s and con’s, double checking and triple checking my subjective analysis. I might carry an item with me for side-by-side comparison, or I might leave it behind to not bias my perception of the next prospective choice. Then, finally, if I’ve found something that fits what I’m looking for, is a price that I’ve deemed reasonable for this purchase, and actively makes me pleased when I think about having bought it, then I will probably buy it. Or I might just leave it and decide checking options online should happen before making any more purchases.

Detail-oriented. Neurotic. Indecisive. Deeply-fearful-of-making-“wrong”-choices-and-squandering-money-because-that’s-what-I’ve-had-beaten-into-me-since-childhood. They’re all basically the same thing, right?

But anyhoo. This whole decision-making purchasing process obviously takes a bit. Fifteen minutes. Fifty minutes. Something on that scale.

But my understanding is that on Black Friday, generally this whole shopping thing goes down something like Go! Go! Go! Storm the beaches! Claim your territory! Forge on with literal disregard for life and limb! TAKE NO PRISONERS BUT ALL THE ITEMS! QUALITY BE DAMNED! THIS IS A NUMBERS GAME, BOYS!!! 

Ahem.

Yeah, if I went Black Friday shopping, my likely outcomes are 1) obtaining zero items for purchase, 2) being trampled, and 3) freezing in a panic attack and blanching enough that someone assumes I’m a mannequin and attempts to purchase my clothes/me.

… that last one might be kind of hilarious, actually.

But… all those earliest-of-morning shoppers, aren’t they all some nerve-jittering combination of sleep-deprived and hyped up on caffeine? How do you even think in that state? Do you think, or do you just do some kind of weird muscle memory pattern of grab-buy-grab-buy-grab-guy?

I mean, I guess my aunt and grandmother are historically some of those early-morning shoppers. But they already get up early, so that, like, doesn’t count. Shhh. I can remember them planning out what they were going to purchase, knowing what to get and where to get it and for how much, based on the store’s coupons sent out earlier in the week. And my uber-planning-sensitivities are satisfied with that. But still, even if you walk into a store with a plan and studied, centered concentration, my general impression is that in this case you are the 1% and that the other 99 are all running around waving their hands in the air meme-style yelling WAAAAAH WHERE IS EVERYTHING WHAT IS THIS PLACE COUPONS COUPONS WHY DID WE FORGET THE COUPONS DO YOU HAVE THE COUPONS BILL RAAAAHWRWRWRWRWRWR! 

I dunno. Maybe it doesn’t go down quite that way. But still, even if you, with your plan and your coupons that you did remember to bring and tuck safely in your wallet and your thought-out idea of what you want, know what you’re doing, that’s a whole lot of chaos to deal with on your mission.

Wait.

Wait.

This… this could be excellent.

Guys, I am a detail-oriented person. I care about people. I value human life. I… I am also someone who kinda enjoys watching the world burn in chaos.

You know, in the controlled, nothing-too-tragic-is-happening kind of way.

Mostly.

Anyhoo. So Black Friday is chaos, right? What… what if stores capitalized on this show? Put up bleachers? Sold tickets to people who just wanted to come and watch? It would be like football! Americans like football! We’d have trainers on the side ready to rush out with water or bandages or whatever whenever one of the players got hurt. The audience could even root for individual shoppers. (“He’s comin’ down lane 1, George, will he make it to the end goal on time?” “I don’t know, Ted, that shopper with the Ninja legos seems to have shaped up since her last stretch and wants to add a few more scores to her basket.” George, George! Did you see that move?! A swerve left, a dodge right, but no! Collision!!! We haven’t seen a toppled cart like that since the show down in aisle three back at opening time!”)

… I might actually really enjoy planning this.

Well then. Chaos as a spectator sport. I think that would be a Black Friday purchase I’d deem worth investing in.

You know. Because of details and shit.

Ahem.

This is totally where I planned to go with this blog post.

Yeah.

Details.

Thanksgiving with Eating Disorders

27 Nov

‘Round these American parts, it’s Thanksgiving. You know, that holiday where we ignore the actual history and consequences of the original “day” and whittle the whole event down to talking about what we’re thankful for and increasing our dish washing activity by at least an order of magnitude because of all the food we’ve made ourselves cook. Today, some of you are sitting around, munching on whatever it is you’ve got on your table, and basking in the glow of a nice communal meal.

Some of you, on the other hand, are sitting at perhaps this same table, staring at the food on it, terrified.

Because life with an eating disorder is complicated enough without throwing in this weird social expectation-filled eating ritual.

I spent a lot of Thanksgivings this way. I’ve rollercoastered my way from textbook anorexic to anorexic with heavy side serving of orthorexia to who the fuck knows to bulimia to some kind of weird mutant bulimia-anorexia mashup. That’s a lot of years in there, people. A lot of Thanksgivings.

Personally, what I am grateful for on this day is having a second year under my belt where at Thanksgiving I can come to the table considering myself “in recovery.” I’ve had a shit ton of therapy and a shit ton of support and a shit ton of relapsing to finally get me to this point. But that’s not what I want to write about, here. No, I want to write about the harder years. Because of some of you, my dear, dear readers, may be in those years, right now.

Eating disorders are often all about rules. For a long time, I had a mental list of “safe foods” and “bad foods.” I’d pick at the Thanksgiving spread searching desperately for something to fit my safe rules, all the while trying not to be too obvious about it, because who wants your mother, or god forbid Great Aunt Marge suddenly calling you out on your habits and making you feel embarrassed and anxious and trapped. As an anorexic, my goal was to make myself small, in every aspect. That meant small in terms of vocalizing. I did not have the capacity to stand up for myself. At those times, I wish I would’ve had someone to call out Great Aunt Marge. To have stepped up for me. Not in a way that would defend my eating disorder – just in a way that would take the focus off of me. So – hey, if you’ve got an ally in whatever group of people you’re spending tonight with, ask them for help. And if you can’t do that – know that somewhere out there, there is someone who would give you sympathy. Not support for your rules, but understanding that, well, you are following them right now. And regardless, you deserve to feel like a human being, not a specimen for gawking at.

And then there’s the other end of the behavioral spectrum… I can remember multiple holidays of eating “normally,” just like everybody else, perhaps even more than everybody else, because I could avoid notice that way, and then I could just go purge it all later. A removable cloaking device, in a way. But… there was no less shame, no less guilt. And it was all still about power. Except I wasn’t the one with power. Like, here I am, causing my body to do something through unnatural means because some fucking brain parasite is telling me I have to in order for it to let me feel okay? Never mind that the more I do that, the closer my esophagus gets to rupturing, and the more fucked up my electrolytes get, tilting me further and further towards the eventuality of a heart attack. Not that I didn’t know all that while I was purging. I knew it, and did it anyway. And every time, I thought that if only I just hadn’t gone the binge/purge route. If only I’d given myself this chance, today. If only I hadn’t gotten upset because of Relative A, or felt overwhelmed because of Comment B, or decided that if I felt slightly over-full, might as well say fuck it and go the whole nine yards, to make the punishment I would inflict on myself later that much worse.

Eating disorder decisions were not good decisions.

They were only one more signature on one more contract moving my eventual self-execution, whether that was through starvation or heart attack or something else, just a bit closer.

Guys, that’s not being powerful. That’s being puppeteered.

But you’re going to do what you’re going to do. It is not my place or my job to convince you otherwise. I write this merely to say that I understand. I understand how much it sucks. And that I hope today, to stave off just a bit of that suckiness, you can take control of those puppet strings and say brain monster be damned, relatives be damned, I will just fucking do what I need to do to keep myself truly safe, truly healthy today. You don’t have to go forward or anything. You don’t have to put down your foot and say “today I will recover.” That’s not what I’m suggesting. I am suggesting that today, even if you do not do recovery, just… do no harm. Survive. Please.

Yeah, I’m a random stranger on the internet. But you are fighting the thing that I fought. And because of that, I care about reducing the lashes you take from the whip I too faced. Camaraderie, of sorts.

Be cool to see you on the other side of this sickness/recovery battle, too.

Race ya.

27 Nov

miceala:

One of the most well-written commentaries and analyses of Ferguson, whiteness, racism, and a whole lot of water it appears we’re all drowning in.

Originally posted on I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog:

I am a white person.
I am occasionally a little bit clueless.
I am sometimes a bit racist.

Okay, now, hold on, everybody! I’m not, like, proud of that statement. The only people who are proud of that statement … I actually don’t know anyone who is proud of that statement. White supremacists? Hitler youth? No one wants to be racist. That’s why people begin statements that are usually super racist with the phrase “I don’t want to sound racist, but…” 

(Tip: If you start a sentence that way, you are almost always going to say something incredibly racist).

I don’t want to be racist. No one actually wants to be a racist.

But I have been known to say or do clueless, ignorant, or hurtful things before, because of a subconscious prejudice against people who don’t look like me.

Do I enjoy the experience of owning up to that…

View original 2,915 more words

A La Frozen: Let It Burn

26 Nov

My apartment is hosting a bunch of people for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and while a lot of the cooking will happen then, there’s some initial preparation that’s already happening. And, well, we’ve already managed to fill our apartment with smoke once. My bet’s on at least three times total between now and Friday.

Joking around our first time of smoke-filling inspired this lovely Thanksgiving parody of Let It Go. Please forgive the bumps in rhythm that happen every few measures; it’s a joke, not a music masterpiece. But I do hope it eases the pain of all of you who are also elbow-deep in giblets or knee-deep in powder sugar mess.

Let It Burn

The cake glows white on the counter tonight

not a helper to be seen.

A kitchen of isolation,

and it looks I’ve got to clean.

The oven starts a-beeping like the swirling alarm inside

Couldn’t turn it off;

Heaven knows I’ve tried.

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see.

Be the arsonist you’ve got to be!

Grab mitts don’t feel,

don’t let them know -

but the smoke shows!

Let it burn! Let it burn;

can’t salvage it anymore.

Let it burn, let it burn.

Turn and slam that oven door.

I don’t care

what relatives say.

Let the fire rage on,

the burn never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how apoxia

makes everything breathe small,

and the fears that once controlled me

don’t register at all.

It’s time to see what glass can do,

to test the limits and heat through.

No right, no left, no escape for me.

I blaze!

Let it burn, let it burn.

I am one with the ash and smoke.

Let is burn, let it burn -

you’ll never see leftovers.

Turkey brands,

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The ashes flurry through the air onto the ground.

The turkey’s spiraling in burning white meat all around.

And one thought then condenses like a smoky blast –

Next year no relatives come back, the past is in the past!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

Till it breaks the fire alarm!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

The whole damn meal is gone!

Turkey brands

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The burn never bothered me anyway.

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