Friday, March 24, 2017

Day 85: Playing Pretend

Okay, clearly, I need to explain the soul crushing...

At some point along the way in life, I came to realize that my trick with fear worked for other emotions, as well.  Most of them, really.  You can pretend not to feel almost anything, if you set your mind to it hard enough.  Now, those who knew me as a child and young adult can well attest, I almost never chose to do such a thing.  I was always a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of gal, and while it was undoubtedly a little difficult for those closest to me to deal with at times, it was at least an honest and authentic way to live my life.

I don't think I ever actively made the decision to start pretending away my emotions, I think it was more the natural consequence of needing to function during a time of enormous upheaval.  It worked tremendously well for me, too.  People who really should have known better were convinced that I fully had my shit together.  Hell, some days even I was convinced I had my shit together.  I'm not saying it was a horrible thing for me, at the time.  I really needed to be able to take care of my kids, and if I'd been experiencing my emotions to the fullest I probably would have been sitting in a corner doing a jello impersonation for a few years.

The downside is that, once you get into the habit of pretending your emotions away, you start doing it all the time.  And that sort of thing is simply not sustainable.  When I refuse to be scared, there is an immediate and overwhelming reaction that hits me as soon as the danger is passed.  The longer I've had to be calm, the bigger that reaction gets.  There was inevitably going to be a huge reaction when the crisis was over and all the various feelings I'd been smooshing took their revenge.

And here we get to the part where I say "although I've just recently come to realize it, it turns out I've been dealing with depression for a really long time."

This is, perhaps, socially awkward of me to say.  Depression is still slightly culturally shameful, plus lots of you know me and think I'm a pretty happy, upbeat person, and it will feel really odd to you to hear me say I've been depressed.  I have considered both these things carefully, and here is my response to that:

Fuck it.  It is what it is.

For those who will inevitably ask... yes.  I'm doing better.
Kind of.  
It's a process.
More on that tomorrow.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 84: Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck... Isn't a duck.

I'm not a very brave person.

We all know that quote about how bravery isn't a lack of fear, but rather the willingness to act in spite of the fear, right?  In order to truly be brave you've got to be scared of something.  Now, I am scared of plenty of things, but I am terrible at facing my fears.  Fear paralyzes me.  It's one of the reasons I consistently bomb auditions.  I've got the nerves of a chinchilla.

From a very young age, however, I figured out that I could keep going if I just pretended I wasn't afraid.  I'm pretty good at pretending, so I've developed a method which looks, from a  distance, a little bit like bravery.

But don't be fooled.

Really, I am just pretending that I'm not scared.

That's not the same thing at all.

It's useful at times.  I'm great in a crisis, because I shut down anything that gets in the way of dealing with what's going on.  When I was eighteen and my best friend flipped his car off the road with me and a bunch of others in it, I held it together until I'd scaled the bank and flagged down help.  It wasn't until I found the rest of our friends that I broke down and cried.  When a volunteer and I got mugged on the way to Roberto Clemente I was totally calm and cool, and I kept her calm so she didn't get stabbed.  Then when I got home I lost it.  I would be a great party member in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but if I happened to survive someone would need to shut me in a closet for a week once the danger was passed so I could cry it all out.

Anyway, the point is, I'm not brave.  I can just Fortify like max-level Priest in tricked-out gear.  It's a special talent, and I'm not denying it's handy.  But I've just realized that I might be using it to crush my soul.

I mean, just a little.

But maybe a little soul crushing is still a bad thing?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Game of Sacrifice

I don't get Lent.

 word cloud of Lenten sacrifices

Now, before some well meaning individual tries to explain it to me, let me clarify; I know what Lent is.  I'm fully educated in the theological significance of the forty days, as well as the reasoning behind the fasting, the penance, and the sacrifice.

I know what Lent is.  I just don't get it.

Here's the thing.  I've been surrounded, my whole life, by people who are deprived.  I'm not talking about someone who missed their chance to get a pumpkin spice latte this fall.  Far be it from me to hate on coffee, I just want to clarify that I'm not using that term casually.  When I say deprived, I do not mean they haven't had chocolate in a week, or that the store is out of their favorite brand of bath soap.

I'm talking about people who don't have homes.  People who don't have a place to clean their bodies.  People who don't have basic health care, not even Tylenol for their fevers.

 These people.

I am talking about the 795 million people who go to sleep at night with their insides gnawing at them, because they don't have enough to eat.

So I don't get Lent.  I see people giving up chocolate, or Starbucks, or swearing for forty days, and I fail to see the point.  Maybe, if they took their coffee money and donated it to the World Hunger Foundation, maybe that would mean something to me.  Maybe, if they tried to live on $2 a day, and came away from the experience with the determination to change the world so that no one ever had to live on $2 a day ever again, maybe then I would appreciate the season.  Maybe if they gave up swearing and instead filled their mouths with words of solidarity, and revolution, and commitment.  Maybe then I would get it.

Lenten Sacrifices: Current Top Ten List

Instead I see nothing but the privilege of having so much that you have something to give up.  I see nothing but wealthy people playing a game of deprivation, giggling about how awful it's going to be to go without wine for six weeks.  I see them using it as the jump start for their diet, or their exercise plan, or whatever other personal improvement project they're working on.  I see yet another example of the wealthy of the world skating atop the misery that supports their self-involved lifestyle, turning even their moments of deprivation into a kind of party.

 These kids are hauling water to wash in.
That little dude is six.
But it's cute that you gave up bar hopping for Lent.

This may sound like a harsh critique to some, but I cannot apologize for it.  I have recently been reminded of the stark difference between this middle class life that I lead, and the lives of over 70% of the world's population.  It is unconscionable, and this game of sacrifice merely highlights it.

Besides.  I gave up my internal filter for Lent.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Unacceptable

 artist: Eric Drooker

Some things are unacceptable.  We all know this to be fact.  We do not ask the woman with the black eye and the broken nose to accept her husband's violence.  We do not ask the child with the lashes on their back and scissor cuts on their tongue to accept their mother's discipline.  We do not ask the man with a burning cross on his lawn to accept white supremacy.  We know these things to be violations of the very foundations of just and moral behavior, and we would never ask a victim of these violations to accept such actions.  There are no exceptions or caveats.  There are no justifications that can be given.

Some things are unacceptable.

When it comes to governing in a democracy, morality and justice become hotly debated topics.  The standard for acceptability isn't defined, therefore, by what violates those metrics, but instead becomes something else entirely.  What is unacceptable in a democracy is anything that makes it impossible for the democracy to function properly--anything that breaks the system of governance. 

You know where I'm going with this, right?

I do not agree with the new administration about the necessity for the wall.  I do not agree with their stance on abortion, or racial inequality, or LGBTQ issues.  I do not agree with their choice to discriminate against Muslims, or their decision to block refugees from our country.

I do not agree with these things, but they are issues of justice and morality.  They are--as much as I am loathe to admit it--up for debate.  I will fight for them each and every day if I must, but I will never claim that taking an opposing side from mine is breaking our system of governance.

What is killing us--what is dismantling our democracy before our very eyes--is our new administration's relationship with the truth.  Facts are not just being denied; they are being suppressed.  Our government is actively working to keep the population ill-informed.

How, I ask, are we expected to participate in the political process--and make no mistake, the participation of the population is the defining characteristic of a democracy--when steps are being taken to keep us from having the basic information necessary to make well informed decisions?

"Alternate facts" are not any kind of facts at all, and facts are what we, the people, require in order to sustain our democracy.

Science is a non-partisan, facts based discipline, and the findings of scientific agencies should not be subjected to political review before being published.

Intellectual freedom is the bedrock for the First Amendment, and an integral component of a functioning democracy.  We must be free to receive and disseminate ideas without restraint, or our system of governance will die.

This is not an issue of conservative vs progressive.  It is not an issue of Democrat vs Republican.  It is about the integrity of our democratic process, and it cannot be allowed to stand.  Not if we want a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Some things are unacceptable.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An Open Letter to My Dog, Now That He Has Passed On.

 A Bito
Dear Chimbasa,

I'm really not going to forgive you for this.

I mean, let's be honest, I've been pretty tolerant of your shenanigans over the years. Remember that time you were only a few months old, and we gave you all those rib bones from TGIF's, and you peed all over the porch you were so excited? I didn't even get mad. I just laughed my ass off at how silly you were. 
 The Buddy Puppy

And when you fell in the lake up the mountain, and I had to stick you in my sweater to keep you from dying of hypothermia and you got my shirt soaking wet and it was only 50 degrees outside and I almost froze trying to get you warm? I was totally cool about that.
Dog vs. PiƱata

When you and Mishka dug a hole through the bed we just sighed and flipped it over. And when you dug ANOTHER HOLE through the OTHER SIDE we bought a new mattress and started locking you in the kitchen when we left. Okay, I admit, I got a little peeved when you dug up the kitchen linoleum, but I forgave you pretty easily, didn't I?
 Partners in Crime

Remember the Bito song of love? Remember how you sang it for almost four months straight the first time Mishka went into semi-heat? Did I complain about your vocal expressions of frustration? No I did not.
With your One True Love
I never got mad that you hated snow so much that sometimes you'd pee in the house rather than brave the out of doors.  
 Tropical dogs don't like winter

I reluctantly accepted that no, the trash was not always going to be off limits.  In fact, sometimes it was going to be all over the kitchen floor.

 On the plus side, we never had to clean up crumbs.

When Elliot was born, you got a little mad at me, I think, and I even handled that.  I waited patiently until you realized the new puppy was going to let you lick yogurt off his hands, and that he might be a fine addition to the pack.

When Charlotte was born, and you and Callie decided you loved the diaper pail, I handled that utterly disgusting situation with grace and aplomb. 
Making a giant mess takes a lot out of a dog.
Remember how every seat in the house was yours? 
 No matter how ridiculous.

Remember how you used to eat my underwear?

I guess I did kinda get revenge for that.

I lost track of the number of times you decided to go on walkabout.  I've even lost track of the number of times we almost didn't get you back, because you were so damn adorable some other family wanted to keep you.  Really, you were almost kidnapped an absurd number of times.  There was even that one time you were ACTUALLY KIDNAPPED.  Maybe you should have tried being a little less cute.  Still, I didn't blame you.
 Seriously.  You looked like a stuffed animal.

How many times have I cleaned up your various accidents in the house?  No idea.  I just know that I never held it against you for long.
 The father coaches the son on techniques for destruction.

When you had your stroke, that was a big deal for me.  But I forgave you.  You were getting old, after all.  Things were bound to happen.
Has a stroke.  Still guards the baby.
When you started having unexplained night pains, and waking up yelping in your sleep, it scared the crap out of me, but I didn't get mad.  
You made up your sleep during the day.

When they told me you had kidney disease--the same thing that had taken Mishka--I finally thought you were a goner for sure.  But we put you on drugs and you perked right up and made it through your next birthday.
 Keeping Vigil.

Fourteen.  That's a pretty impressive age for a dog.
 You can look it up on the internet.
But now, now you've done it.  You've finally gone, and I'm not really sure I can forgive you for that.  It's not that I'm so much angry, you understand, as utterly heartbroken.  Since the day I first brought you home, until the moment I stroked your ears while you died, I have loved your tiny, stinky, dignant little face.  You brought me love, and joy, and--yes--more than a few disgusting messes, but it was more than worth it.
 Oh, my Bito
Okay.  Okay.  We all know I'm full of it.  I'm totally going to forgive you.
But I will miss you an awful lot.
Good-bye, my Bito.  See you when it's my turn.  Don't eat all the bacon before I get there. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Day 83: Two-Hour Delay

This morning I was awoken at 5:30 am. 

 This is my re-enactment of the face I made.

It was not, as it often is, one of my children crawling into my bed in order impose their love upon me via the strategic application of cold feet and rambunctious wiggling.  Nor was it my dogs, desperate to know why I was lying abed when there are SO MANY THINGS in the world and ALL OF THEM need to be peed on.

No, this morning I was awoken by my phone.

It was ringing.

Now, before you make assumptions about my own level of technical brilliance, let me assure you: I do know how to silence my phone.  Unfortunately, I was also instilled with a high level of paranoia at a very young age that SOMETHING MIGHT HAPPEN which required my attention, and that paranoia has only grown now that I have spawned.  So, while I know how to silence my phone, in reality I only put it on vibrate, with the dubious logic that if someone really needs me, they'll call, and I'll feel the vibrations and wake up, whereas the occasional late night rumbles of my brothers having a conversation about the Big Bang Theory won't disturb me.

Quiet, you.  It isn't your phone.  Just let me have my coping mechanisms and leave me alone.

 Morning.  My old enemy.  I greet thee.

Anyway, my phone rang at 5:30.  I, knowing full well what a complete asshat of a year 2016 has been thus far, automatically assumed something dreadful was happening.

Turns out I was right.

See, it was an automated call from the school system.  The kids have a two hour delay.

Why is that awful?  Well, lemme 'splain.

(1) First of all, I was supposed to take my brother to the airport this morning.  That was gonna work fine when the kids went to school at 8:25.  Not so much at 10:25.  I had to stick the poor boy on the commuter rail.  I hope he makes it.

(2) I had a doctor's appointment this morning.  Other parents had other things.  ALL OF US are now not going to do those things.  We're going to do other things instead, things involving our children, and scrambling for child care coverage, and trying to figure out how to fit our six hour day into four hours.

(3) It's not like I get to sleep in because of the two hour delay.  In fact, I actually had to get up over an hour early, because once I realized my morning plans were boned I had to get up and figure out how I was going to fix it.

Now, lest someone get all shirty and talk about the safety of the kids, I would like to be clear: I 100% fully support the school system in them making whatever schedule adjustments they feel necessary in order to keep the students and teachers safe.

 Doesn't look like much, but the inadvertent split I did in the driveway confirms, 
this stuff is slippery.

I'm just gonna grumble about it over here.  Because days with delays are like the worst of both worlds.  You still gotta deal with the school routine, but the actual routine gets broken.  It's balls.

Oh well.  At least Elliot is happy about it.  Charlotte, on the other hand, agrees with me.  Apparently the delay is cutting into her social schedule.

Me, too, baby girl.  Me, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 82: Hamilton Makes the Best Parodies.

Today, we're accepting that I'm childish.  Cause I wrote this, and it's totally childish, but I'm too gleeful not to share it.

If you're not familiar with Hamilton, this isn't gonna make any sense.  Fair warning.

Anyway, various and assorted gentle folk, I present to you my "You'll Be Back" Parody, written for our soon-to-be Commander in Chief.  *Edit: I'm still not a dude, but I gave it my best shot.  The sock puppet was a genius inspiration from my friend Brown.  Enjoy. 

I'm in Charge
You say
The price of my wall’s not a price that you’re willing to pay
You cry
Over each foul remark that I make, and each grandiose lie
Why so sad?
The founders created this system which leaves me in power
And it’s making me mad
That SNL doesn’t respect my ascendent hour…

I’m in charge, don’t you see
All you little folk belong to me
I can do, as I please
Watch me bring the country to it’s knees
Oceans rise, but I ignore
All the science that has come before
And you rich, you’re in luck
Cause I’ll help you screw the country over good, just to make another buck

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da…

You say I am destructive and it can’t go on
But I know you’re just bitter because I won
And no, I don’t like data
Cause facts are just for haters
It’s true because I say it
And you’re all gonna play it
This game I created, you’ll play it because you can’t help it

I’m in charge, you’re all mine
And I like the situation fine
It’s not fair, it’s not right
(But we know that I can fix that with might)
I’ve got plans, soon you’ll see
The Bill of Rights will be history
Cause when push, comes to shove
Civil rights and equal treatment, social justice—they just are not things I love

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat—

Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da
Da da dat dat da ya da!
Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da da da da
Dat dat da ya da!