Have a Bad Day

I woke up from a dead sleep at 4am with an anxiety attack. It had something to do with the day job, an insignificant thing that my broke-ass brain decided was a much bigger issue and decided to flail about it despite my repeated attempts at logic and reason. It took almost two hours for me to get back to sleep and even then, I ended up having fitful anxiety dreams.

This set the tone for my day. It colored everything I did. How I interacted with other people and dealt with them, how I went about my writing and my day job shift. When I finished my exercises in the morning (because I made myself do them), I sat on the floor with my head in my hands for twenty minutes, inert. I knew that it was going to be a day. I was going to be out of sorts.

And you know what?

I let myself have a bad day.

There’s this idea that bad days should be avoided at all costs. Do whatever you can to not have one. Don’t let that one moment ruin your twenty-fours hours. Change your attitude, change your perspective, other people have it worse, don’t let it get you down.

Granted, no one wants to have a bad day, but I think so much of that is because people don’t like dealing with other people having a bad day. It makes them uncomfortable. It’s awkward. They don’t know what to say or what to do. So, they tell you not to have one so they don’t have to deal with it. Which perpetuates this idea that bad days are some kind of failing. To have one means you’re not fighting hard enough to be happy and therefore not burden the other people in your life with your unpleasant, unkempt shit.

In the past, I would have struggled to turn my frown upside down and that struggle would have made my bad day worse. I would have pushed and everything I touched would have gone to instant shit. Like the Midas touch, only crappy. Instead, I knew from the minute I woke up with that anxiety attack that I was going to have a bad day and I accepted it. I didn’t wallow in it. I didn’t take it out on anyone else. I just acknowledged that this was the day that I was having and it was okay. I was allowed.

The result?

My day wasn’t great, but it didn’t get worse. It was bearable. I was more productive than I thought I’d be because I didn’t push myself. I gave myself an out for everything on my schedule. I forced nothing. I took nothing personally and I ate comfort food for dinner. I let myself be, I had my bad day, and I didn’t make anyone else uncomfortable in the process. My day ended up being grey instead of black.

And it ended better than it started.

Two bowls of cereal have that power.

So, I’m Depressed. Now What?

I’ve been in denial about it for months, but it’s true. I’m struggling with a major depressive episode right now and have been for a while. I haven’t wanted to admit it because that means I have an actual PROBLEM instead of it just being a bad day or PMS or lack of sleep or stress. But when there are more bad days than good, the excuses run out and I’m left with the truth.

I’m depressed.

What does my depression look like?

Well, from the outside, I look fine. I’m the kind of person that puts all of my energy into maintaining the basic illusion of functioning. I shower everyday, I eat most of the time, I get dressed, I show up to work when I have a day job, I get my work done. And since I’m an introvert anyway, nobody notices that I’m socializing even less than usual and never leaving my house.

Meanwhile, the chemical imbalance in my brain is ripping me apart. I can’t focus. I can’t problem solve. Everything is overwhelming. I can’t do things as well as I did or I think I should be able to and I’m falling behind and I can’t catch up. More and more things get put off until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I don’t have the energy to do anything because every last bit I have is going into maintaining the most basic level of functioning. I don’t have the brain space to write blogs. I barely have the ability to tweet. It takes me forever to accomplish a writing project that would normally take me no time at all. I’m miserable and I don’t see how to fix it and I kinda wanna be done now.

What’s truly frustrating is that the logical thing to do, the advice everyone gives you, is to ask for help. However, my brain has every single rational argument why I shouldn’t. Nobody cares. Nobody has time for your shit. They’ve got problems of their own. There’s worse things going on in the world. Your bullshit is insignificant in comparison. You had a good day last week, right? You’re fine. You’re not depressed. And even if you are, nobody is going to believe you. They’re going to think you’re faking. They’re going to think you’re just a lazy piece of shit. They’re going to roll their eyes and do a jerk-off motion behind your back because they KNOW you’re just doing this for attention, for sympathy, so you don’t have to work or be a responsible human.

So, why am I admitting it now?

It was the realization that there were more bad days than good and that the fallout from taking advantage of a good day (thinking I was totally fine now, everything back to normal) was so debilitating that it made me admit that my brain was not of the okay. But it still took me several days to say the words out loud to another human because, hey, who cares, right? I’m just being a drama queen, saying I’m depressed. It’s just an excuse for me to be lazy and worthless. What do I have to be depressed about? I’ve got any easy life since I’ve so successfully avoided being a real adult. I don’t even have a real job.

Man, if only my brain chemistry could relate.

It turns out that it was probably my bout of anemia that kicked this all off. One imbalance triggering another. The depression might have gotten better as the anemia was treated except that’s when I was in the middle of the disastrous day job that had me so stressed out that my hair was falling out and my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t sleep. That pretty much sealed my fate. Quitting might have helped my stress levels (though my hair is STILL growing back), but the damage was done to my mental health. I haven’t been back to that store since I turned in my keys because just driving by can give me an anxiety attack. Quitting just affirmed what my depression knew to be true: that I’m a loser who can’t even handle a little stress at a crappy day job.

And I’ve been simultaneously ignoring it and battling it since.

Why put this out in the public sphere?

I don’t know. Because I’m tired of pretending I’m okay. Because I’m tired of maintaining the facade of a functioning human. I’m struggling to function at this point. The idea of getting another day job right now is so overwhelming that it makes me want to panic. Hell, just leaving the house makes me sweat.

Because by saying it out loud, I’m admitting it’s real and by admitting it’s real, then I have to deal with it. Time to drag myself out of the pit. I know how to do it. I’ve done it before (though, thankfully, this time is not nearly as bad as it’s been). I just have to remind myself to be patient while I put myself through the paces. Depression doesn’t go away overnight, which is bullshit.

Because by saying it out loud -I’m depressed- I am showing people what depression can look like. I look perfectly fine right up until the minute that I’m not. And that’s a disastrous minute. It’s the minute that everyone refers to when they say, “We had no idea anything was wrong.” You don’t. Because I can still laugh and crack jokes and have a good time and function well enough to fool an audience. I can have good days. And I can still go to sleep and hope I don’t wake up. I can still wish to fade away so I don’t have deal with all of this anymore. I can still feel miserable and utterly hopeless.

Neat, huh?

So, please be patient with me while I right my ship because laws knows I will not be. Fixing this is always the worst because I have always struggled to be kind to myself. I never feel like I deserve it and the depression just amplifies that. Right now I’m coasting on the kindness of others and I’m going to be needing a lot more of that kind of help. It’s going to take me a little while to get back to what I consider normal, so.

Hang in there.

We’ve Already Discussed This. Writing Is Work.

“Are you coming with us?”

“I can’t. I gotta work. I’ve got 2,500 words to write for NaNo.”

“That’s not work.”

It was a throw away comment in a conversation I had earlier this week, a dismissal of my excuse not to go more than anything, but it still stuck in my skin like a barb.

That’s not work.

I’ve already discussed this, probably more than once, in the time I’ve been writing with the intent to make a profit, but I suppose I should say it again for the people in back.

Writing is work.

The prevailing idea is that if something doesn’t get you a regular paycheck, then it can’t be work. Unfortunately for many of us pursuing some sort of creative field like writing or art, we don’t get regular paychecks. Honestly, we would like to. We’d like to be paid a fair wage, dollars per hour for the work that we do. We’d like that regular weekly or bi-weekly paycheck like so many other jobs provide.

But the reality is that we don’t get that.

And because we don’t, there’s this myth that what we do isn’t work.

It is.

It’s the most frustrating kind of work in this capitalistic society because we will put in a ton of effort on a project that might never yield one cent for us. A story or a novel that never sells. An article that languishes in pitch hell. And even if we do get paid, rarely is it ever fair compensation comparable to the amount of work put into it.

There’s also this idea that because we set our own hours and/or work from home that writing is not work. It’s actually more work when you think about it. How easy is your job when you’re constantly interrupted by the people around you? How long does it take you to get one task done when people keep stopping by your desk to chat? How easy is it for you to get back into your groove? How frustrating is it when you lose that groove ten minutes later because they’re back again?

Yeah. That’s my reality when I’m trying to write.

Writing is work. Yes, I have to hold day jobs from time to time and I currently don’t have one, but my ultimate goal is to comfortably support myself by writing and writing alone. I want writing to be my only full-time job. I wish for it to be my career.

No, it is not backbreaking, sweaty labor. No, I don’t have to leave my house to do it. No, I don’t have a boss in the traditional sense. And no, I don’t get that regular paycheck.

But I earn every penny I make from it. It is work. It is MY work.

Now don’t make me say it again.

This is America

Someone posted a meme on Facebook showing pictures of people being rescued from the horrible flooding due to Hurricane Harvey. The caption read: “America is not what happened in Charlottesville. America is what’s happening in Houston.”

Bullshit.

America is both.

America is Joel Osteen not opening up his megachurch to Harvey refugees just as much as it’s a preacher going through floodwaters to search cars for people who might be trapped.

America is a Nazi running down Heather Heyer just as much as it’s two young people rescuing folks with a kayak.

America is the people price gouging water and food during a disaster while people share and donate to aid charities.

America is a president screaming that CNN is fake news while those same reporters are rescuing folks trapped in their houses.

America is “17 year old male found fatally shot in the backseat of a police cruiser in Akron, OH” while SWAT team members in Houston, TX are carrying children to safety through floodwaters at the same time.

America is ICE leaving immigrant women and children stranded at a bus station and a community group swooping in to save them.

America is the richest citizens criticizing those who didn’t leave Houston while a 60 year old woman wades through waist deep water to get to her $10 an hour job.

America is the $700 billion military unable to assist in a major disaster while the Cajun Navy is deployed.

America is Texas politicians asking for financial help for Hurricane Harvey after denying help for Hurricane Sandy.

America is a place that experienced Hurricane Katrina, but learned very little from it.

America is all of these things.

America is a brutal. It was conquered by genocide and built over their graves by the bodies of slaves. It’s racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. It’s prejudice and oppressive to the poor in favor of the rich. A person’s worth is determined by their job and their bank account. Right now, the voices of hate are being emboldened by those in power as they demand walls and pardon men who violate the Constitution. You know. That sacred piece of paper with all of those amendment and the Bill of Rights, though it seems that most folks are only keen on the first two.

But America is also human. There’s a lot of love and kindness confined in these arbitrary borders. There’s hope, too. There’s resilience and courage. And you see that when you watch a woman rescue bats from underneath a bridge so they don’t drown. You see that with the teenagers rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey in their boat. You see that in the small group of young people who stood holding up a sign denouncing white supremacy while they were encircled by Nazis bearing torches and throwing salutes. You see that at every Pride parade. You see that when 15,000 people turn up to shout down hate.

It’s all America. All of it. It’s a tightly woven tapestry of horrible and terrific. You cannot untangle one thread from another.

When you say “this isn’t America”, you’re discounting the experiences of others, you’re disregarding history (if you even bothered to learn it outside of those standardized tests in high school), and you’re turning a willful blind eye to the injustices and suffering around you so you can focus on an ideal that doesn’t even exist.

America is not great. America has never been great. But, America could get better.

The first step is admitting it.

This is America.

Rerun Junkie–All of Your Favorites Are Problematic

One of my favorite episodes of The Monkees is called “Monkees Chow Mein”. The four guys inadvertently intercept a fortune cookie filled with top secret information at a Chinese restaurant. The CIA get involved. BJ Hunnicutt is there. Hijinks ensue.

And Joey Forman plays the head Chinese guy, Dragonman.

If you’re not familiar with Joey Forman let me assure you that he is a very funny man who is definitely not Chinese. His portrayal of Dragonman involved scotch-taped eyes and a stereotyped accent. It’s a somewhat less obnoxious version of yellow face, but there’s no doubt that it’s yellow face.

It’s problematic, to say the very least.

So, how can it be one of my favorite episodes? Two reasons. One, it’s funny and most of the humor in it could have been achieved just as successfully by Joey Forman (and his right hand man, Gene Dynarski) not doing yellow face. The lines and the antics would have been just as funny because it had nothing to do with the stereotype they were portraying.

Yes, I realize there’s a lot of privilege involved that it allows me to approach this episode from that angle.

And two, being a rerun junkie means that I’ve learned to accept that my favorites are going to be problematic.

It’s a simple matter of history, really. These shows are a product of their time, whatever their time is. That’s why you see a lot of racist casting (e.g. white people playing minorities) in the ’50s, ’60s, and even into the ’70s. The stereotypes continued all through the ’80s and beyond.  Misogyny and sexism has run rampant for decades, so it’s always available in reruns. To be fair, the shows can’t help it. And it’s far too late for them to change.

That’s not to say any of it is right, of course. These things might have been common then, but even at the time, folks had problems with it. Pernell Roberts reportedly objected to the racist stereotypes of the minorities on Bonanza. And Van Williams repeatedly tried to get Bruce Lee a bigger role on The Green Hornet, which the producers reportedly refused because they didn’t want to give too much focus to a non-white actor instead of the star.

So, when it comes to reruns, it’s a matter of acknowledging that at the time this was the practice. They’re time capsules of cringe-worthiness, syndicated reminders of our sketchy, shady, seedy TV past.

Even shows that did their best to be socially conscious (for their time) still stumbled. For example, Barney Miller often tackled topical 1970’s issues, some of which are still relevant today. And it largely succeeded in addressing those issues, at least in an illuminating sort of way. But there are some episodes that missed the mark and as a result have aged terribly. The episode “Rape” attempted to address the laws (or lack of laws) pertaining to marital rape. However, done in the confines of a 30-minute comedy…yeah. The tone-deafness only rings clearer as the years go by.

These are the landmines you risk as a rerun junkie. It can make for uncomfortable viewing and in some cases all of the logical rationale can’t save you from the oogy feelings. There are now episodes of my favorite shows that I avoid because I just can’t.

Retaining perspective is the key. It’s a good thing that these issues are noticed and that they cause discomfort. It’s a sign that things have progressed (somewhat) and that the old status quo has long spoiled.

Ideally, I’d like to do in-depth posts about the different issues that crop while rerun-watching.

But for now, I continue to come to terms with my problematic favorites.

Warning: Fat Girl Walking

Sometimes, if it’s nice out and I have reason to go, I walk to the post office. It’s barely over half a mile there and back, but I do it to get a little exercise in the course of mailing whatever it is that I need to mail. Plus it feels less wasteful than driving the few blocks there and back (unless it’s gross and/or I’m running a bunch of errands that day, then I don’t have a problem driving).

I’m not the kind of person that likes to walk if there’s not a purpose to it. And for me, walking only for the exercise is not a purpose.

When I was in grade school, I had a teacher obsessed with exercise. As such she’d take us on walks multiple times a week, making us walk long distances as fast as a bunch of fifth graders could manage. My fitness-minded mother often walked in the evenings after all of the daycare children went home. For at least thirty minutes, she’d power walk around the neighborhood to exercise. A couple of times she made my sister and I come along. She complained that we were too slow. We complained that it was pointless.

Now that I’m grown and no longer at the mercy of fitness-minded/exercise-obsessed adults, I only walk if I have a place to go and a purpose to fulfill. That makes sense to me. If I want to exercise, then I do yoga or I belly dance. Walking to the post office to mail something is bonus exercise.

But walking anywhere means that I am a fat girl walking.

For some reason, this is a sight to behold. People seem to find it very interesting. Eye catching, really.

Okay, yes, some of it is my own paranoia and projections, but we all know the truth of which I speak.

People LOOOOOVE to tell fat people to “take a walk, fattie”. And then when the fat folk do, they’re met with looks, glares, smirks, and sometimes even nasty comments hurled from vehicles as they pass. Thankfully, that last one has never happened to me. Most likely because even at my nicest I strike people as someone who will cut you.

If you can picture these two occurrences as a Venn diagram, they’d damn near overlap to form a flawless circle.

Now one would think that people so fatphobic that they offer unsolicited advice about exercising to lose weight would be supportive of someone doing just that. But no! You see, the underlying message here is not only should you not be fat, but you should also not attempt to alter your state of fatness in public. These people are only interested in the before and after pictures on the commercials; they’ve got no interest in witnessing the journey.

Furthermore, if these delightful humans found out that some of us fatties aren’t even walking to lose weight, that this is just a little bonus exercise to get things done, or a preferred method of cardio with an eye on fitness, not the scale, well, I imagine they’d be so offended by the notion that they’d melt from the heat generated by them frothing at the mouth and screaming about why this approach is WRONG.

Or, perhaps what would be the ultimate worst, that some fat people don’t walk for exercise. Not to lose weight, not for any modicum of fitness. They walk because, well, humans don’t hover. Sometimes bipedal transportation is just the only way to go. Think of all the fat people judged because they’re using mobility scooters. Now think about how those same people are judged if they’re walking around.

That judgement doesn’t change much does it?

You know what else doesn’t change?

Fat people walking around in public. That’s going to continue to happen for all of the various reasons listed above. Humans gained the ability to walk upright at some point, have been using it as a mode of transportation for ages, and well, despite all insults to the contrary, fat people are human too. We’re going to continue walking about in places where everyone and your God can see us.

So, if you do happen to see me on one of my post office walks, smile and wave.

Otherwise, keep on driving.

“I’d Never Sleep with a Fat Girl”

There’s a flip side to the “I like big girls” coin and it’s called “I’d never sleep with a fat girl” or some variation of that sentiment.

Oh, yes. It is indeed the same coin. Because declaring that you’d never sleep with a fat girl isn’t that different from proclaiming that you like big girls. It all boils down to the same thing.

Centering the conversation around what gets a guy’s dick hard.

Now, in my personal experience, I’ve had more dudes tell me that they like big girls than that they wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl. However, in the case of the latter, it seems to always be a desperation move on the guy’s part. You can almost smell the panic, almost hear the alarm bells ringing in their head.

Oh my God! I think this fat girl might like me! My friends would never stop giving me shit for that! Quick! Say something to reject her without actually rejecting HER.

I am oblivious when it comes to flirtation. I don’t know when people are flirting with me and I don’t realize that others can interpret my behavior as flirtation when I’m just trying to be my usual funny-to-cover-up-my-awkward self. This sort of interpretation leads to the above panic.

And to my own confusion.

I once had a guy say straight out to me, “I would never sleep with a fat girl” and it was so out of the blue that I was momentarily baffled. It wasn’t until later that the I figured out that the guy was having “fat girl panic”.

On another occasion I had a guy casually remark that he could never date a girl with cottage cheese thighs. I can’t remember how this came up in conversation, but it was so oddly offhand. My first thought was along the lines of “Good luck with that”. Again, thinking about it later I identified the comment for what it was.

Listen, fellas, just like it can be cool if you like big girls, it’s also cool on the flip side of the coin if you don’t. If you’re HONEST about why you don’t. And why you feel compelled to declare it.

Would you never sleep with a fat girl because it’s honestly not your aesthetic? You like them just fine as people, as friends, but for whatever reason, a woman with a generous helping of curves doesn’t get your dick hard? That’s cool. No need to shout it from the rooftops unprovoked like a weirdo. It makes everyone uncomfortable and you look like a jackass. Let it come up in conversation naturally, if you must. Or, if necessary, let it happen in private with the fat girl you’re certain is digging on you and the feeling is not mutual.

But if you wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl because what would the guys think? Wouldn’t consider it because the guys would rag on you endlessly? Even if you really liked the fat girl in question? Even if she got your dick hard? Because the guys would just give you way too much shit? Then here’s what you need to do, skippy.

Get new guys.

Because those bros are reading from society’s worn out script. We’re talking cheesy ’80s sitcom worn out, my dude. And not the good kind of cheese either. It’s a rerun even I wouldn’t watch and I watch them all.

Announcing that you would never sleep with a fat girl is doing more than just stating the obvious, sports fans.

It’s also blaring just how cowed by society and insecure about it you really are.

So, no worries there, guys who would never sleep with a fat girl. Fat girls wouldn’t want to sleep with you anyway.

Because that frail ego flailing? Not a good look.