rockinlibrarian: (voldemart)
Why do I keep talking about this? Why now? 

Because lately people have been giving Centrist types who like to See All Sides of the Story a bad name, and I have to speak up. Because I'M a centrist by nature. I'M all about seeing all sides of the story. I'M the one who doesn't like political arguments because I genuinely think all sides have good intentions and just have different ideas of what's the best way to go about things. You know me. You know this about me, if you've been following what I write for years. Giving all sides a voice is important to me.

Here's what's different now. Seeing all sides of the story means understanding that the majority of people who supported and continue to support the current government were not Evil People. Seeing all sides means understanding that their concerns really are about the fact that jobs are harder to come by, that these people are scared about how to support their families. I've done that "seeing all sides" part. I've been defending them for months from people who just wanted to write them off as at worst Evil and at best Stupid.

But that doesn't mean I won't judge what they DO with those intentions. It's like when my kid has a meltdown. I do my best to understand his feelings, that he's scared, unable to handle his emotions, feeling sensory overload. I get that. But that doesn't mean he's allowed to kick people and throw furniture. I don't say, "let him, he's just expressing his overwhelmed feelings."

Yeah, you say, but what about the people who don't resort to physical violence? Don't they have the right to say hateful things, too? Yeah, but that doesn't mean I won't call them out on it, either. Like I said, these people are scared about their livelihood, I get it, but they're wrong about the reasons, very very wrong, and it's important for me to speak up and correct them because history has shown time and again what happens when these "reasons" are allowed to fester, and it's NOT PRETTY.

Fascism is about finding scapegoats, turning people against each other so they don't turn on the people in charge instead. You can't find a job? Oh, maybe it's because all these immigrants are taking your jobs instead-- never mind that the jobs the immigrants took were not the jobs you wanted in the first place. Maybe it's because of Affirmative Action—never mind that the people who benefit from Affirmative Action were in even a worse spot than you before it was offered. There are all these people around with lifestyles you don't understand—maybe that's why my own life sucks, somehow. Really, it's the money-grubbers at the top of the food chain who are making your life miserable, but god forbid you turn on THEM... so they make sure you see your fellow unfortunates as the bad guys instead.

And it works. People love to have somebody to blame, and it's easier to blame someone they don't understand, someone they haven't gotten to know, someone they've only heard about through the actions of the very worst people in their group and the whisperings of people who want them to distrust each other. 

"But you're judging the alt-right by the actions of the very worst--" okay stop. This is what I'm trying to explain. Even if you're not getting violent, you're still WRONG, and I'm trying to correct you before it's too late. Dig? 

When I was a kid I was really into mid-twentieth-century world history. It was my absolute favorite historical fiction setting, and still is, when I get around to historical fiction (CODE NAME VERITY OMG). There was Big Time Blatant Evil at work, and I was fascinated and thrilled by the actions of ordinary people in the face of it. But, again, I KNOW this history. I know it's not just Indiana Jones punching Nazi soldiers. Much more often, it all hinges on quiet everyday actions— do you comply, because you're trying to be lawful, even if the law is wrong? Or do you defy the law and do what's morally RIGHT instead? 

I always wanted to be, as we say in D&D, Neutral-to-Chaotic Good instead of Lawful Neutral which-in-certain-circumstances-ie-a-Fascist-Government-leads-to-Lawful-Evil. But I worried about myself, because I don't like to rock the boat, you know. I don't like to make waves. Face it, in my practical, everyday life, I have been far more Lawful-Neutral than Neutral-Good, and I knew it. 

But now I can't stand by and let Lawful Neutral voices brush the serious dangers of fascist attitudes away with "let's just let them say what they have to say" and "oh, anti-fascists have been doing bad things, too, they've broken laws and expressed hatred toward the fascists." I can't be Lawful Neutral when this is going on. I'VE READ WAY TOO MUCH. 

I still believe—and dangit, this is something Anne Frank said after Fascists ruined her life and just before they killed her!—but yes, I still believe and I guess I always will (if Anne Frank could hold onto that attitude, then so can safe-and-privileged-I)—that the majority of people have good intentions. Yes, deep down, even the fascists. But that doesn't mean they're not WRONG. And in these cases, even the people who aren't really fascists, who don't consider themselves racist BUT, can unwittingly do great evil simply by remaining Lawful Neutral. By letting the attitudes of the fascists slip unchecked into mainstream society. The Nazi party was FULL of people "just doing their jobs." All I'm saying is DON'T. Stop. Don't let yourself be swayed by the convincing rhetoric of people who want you to hate your neighbor in the name of Patriotism. America was founded on Liberty and Justice for All-- if you want to be patriotic, THAT is the patriotism you must fight for. Not the idea of an America where Everyone Is Just Like You that the fascists are peddling. Because THAT'S NOT AMERICA.

After I wrote the other day, I kept thinking of other moments in my life when I've directly encountered the pervasiveness of hidden racism in our society. Even I, who LOVES EVERYBODY AND RESPECTS EVERYBODY and, well, you know me, it's kind of my thing and all—even I have had moments where I nearly fell prey to the undercurrent of racism, because it permeates our society. You need to be aware of it so you don't LET IT HAPPEN. And when it's NOT subtle? When it's blatant white supremacy chanting at you? You DEFINITELY don't let it happen. Good trumps Lawful. Human beings trump flags and statues. Sorry I keep using that verb, but, hey, Good trumps Being-afraid-to-say-Voldemort.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
Kind of processing something that happened on Saturday, and I do NOT mean the neo-Nazi rally. Well, entirely. I was working, not following the news—I had no idea what was going on. But I had a slightly eye-opening and uncomfortable interaction that goes along with that news, had I been paying attention to it, and maybe the fact that it wasn't directly connected brings the point home even harder. 

There was a mom with three kids ages 4 and under at the library. They'd been there a few hours and it became clear they were waiting for a ride. The kids were getting restless, and the oldest, a very chatty girl firmly in the "Why?" stage of conversational topics, had struck up a friendship with me. I gave her as much attention as I could manage, but there's only so much answering the same questions over and over you can do, especially when you have other work to be working on ("What are you doing?" "I'm still working on fun library programs we can do here." "What are you doing now?" "Still trying to work on....") and this was going on for several hours. Then her little brother found a roll of stickers and began putting them on every available surface. It reminded me a bit of when Maddie comes to the library while I'm working—granted, Maddie is 8 years old and should know better, but that's part of the reason she now is no longer allowed to come to my programs unless she has another adult to be her guardian while I'm being the librarian, because she tends to take advantage of that awkward situation. 

THESE kids HAD their own guardian, but she was in a pretty harried state trying to deal with them. I know she cleaned up chaos at the Lego table at least twice (and it had become chaos again by the time they left), and who knows about the back of the room that I couldn't see as well. I mean, three kids under 4, getting bored, and she was all by herself. You see, most moms in this situation would have said, "Enough! We're going home!" But she COULDN'T, because they didn't have a car, and their ride wasn't showing. 

But the moment that really made me stop and think was when the mom asked to use the phone, so as to try to track their ride down. "Would I be able to use the telephone to make a really important call—"

"Sure," I said, jumping up to set up an outside line for her.

Her eyes got wide. "Really?" she said. "The other lady said no, you can't do that, the last time I asked."

Huh. I wondered who the "other lady" was. I mean, this was the desk by the teen room—we always had teenagers who needed to call for rides. Why should an adult be any different? I said as much to this woman, who—if you can imagine her saying something both "brightly" and "darkly" at the same time, that's how she responded—an obviously forced cheerfulness to cover some simmering rage: "Well, that lady—some people are like that." 

Have I mentioned this family was black, and the mother had a slight accent? It's important because the meaning changes. This woman has been burned, I realized. This woman is used to being subtly discriminated against. 

You may think I'm jumping to conclusions, but the longer we talked, the clearer it became. See, she HAD a cell phone, but she didn't want to tie it up trying to track down her ride, because she was waiting for an even more important phone call: from her husband, whose birthday it was, and who, she said in the most offhand way, "had been deported." DANG. Apparently devoted father of three kids under 4? And he was certainly well-loved and missed by those kids, judging by the intensity of the "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAPI!!!"s expressed when he DID call back. 

And as for that phone—a lot of people take offense to poor people having smart phones, but what they don't realize is those people don't have any other computer, and they certainly don't have internet access at home. That's why she was at the library in the first place. And lest you think she was "wasting time on Facebook" or something.... "I'm sorry I keep eating up your wifi," she said. "That's what it's here for," I assured her, as she continued—again, as if she felt the need to justify her needs to me: "...I just have to get this done, it's important..." obviously, as she'd taken out an Access card to log in— "...What?" she said to her screen. "Why did it... have you dealt with this EBT system before?" she asked me.

"No," I said simply, but before I could say anything else, she said (still in the forced-cheerful voice),  "Of course not, why would you, I'm asking the wrong person." Hey, I thought, I'm a librarian! I'm NEVER the wrong person to ask a question of! I could have continued, made a proper reference interview of it, first for that matter by asking if it worked through the Compass system which I HAVE dealt with before because my son gets Medicaid as a special needs kid, not counting my own financial struggles which just happened to have never gotten to EBT (that's food stamps, for you sheltered folks) levels. But by then she'd already gone away to work it out for herself. 

Oh, right, there was another thing she said—she asked if we were hiring, and I said, "Maybe? We've just been through some major staffing changes," and she said, "I always ask if you're hiring and they always say no, but then I come in and there's some new kid working and I ask 'how did you get hired here?' and he says 'They asked me'—but I asked THEM and they always say no!" 

Again, all these things together just added up and made me realize, this lady has been BURNED. She didn't fully trust me, and why should she, when she'd been navigating a lot of tough experiences with people in authority who SEEMED nice enough, but—some people are like that. 

I felt super-conscious, remembering everything I've read about making sure the library is a welcoming place for EVERYONE, and how some things are so subtly unwelcoming that I might not noticed from my multiply-privileged vantage point. I mean, her kids were beginning to annoy me, but too many people would have seen those kids and been like, "THOSE people—I'm not saying this to be racist, but you know, those Caribbean people just don't watch their kids like we do here." I know otherwise: they were simply acting like kids that age ACT if they've been in a place too long, and the Heinz-57 white ladies with their fancy strollers would have taken those kids home when they started to get out of hand, because they had their own cars and could do that. But this woman had obviously encountered too much of the other attitude, and I wanted to make sure she understood that my annoyance really did come from the kids' behavior and NOT their identity, that People Like Them belong in the library just as much as anyone else. But how could I be sure, when her defenses were always on-guard?

What is the point of this story? To get people to pay attention more. It's all about listening, and not immediately trying to defend yourself. Sure, this lady didn't fully trust me because I was a well-educated white woman in a position of mild authority... was she being racist, judging me by the color of my skin? Technically, yeah, maybe. But when white people get all defensive and claim "reverse discrimination" and "what about MY rights?" and whatnot, they're failing to see what's actually happening. They're failing to notice that people have been burned, that people have been dealing with things they've never imagined dealing with themselves. It's the difference between me feeling a little uncomfortable because someone is wary of me because of direct past experience with people like me, and her being repeatedly written off, outright insulted, denied opportunities, and having her husband taken away from her (and that's just what I know about) all because of her ethnicity, based not on direct experience on the part of others but on their tendency toward generalization and double-standards.

All I'm saying is to be careful. When you feel the need to deflect, to offer excuses like "well they brought it on themselves by—" or of course "I don't see the problem so it can't be that bad," stop, pause, and listen. Maybe there's a genuine reason. What's really going on?

And what can you do to help? 
rockinlibrarian: (Default)
 I'm having one of those brain-chemically Off days and finding it hard to take advantage of this, one of my last kid-free days for awhile. But the good news is, this is the first of such days I've had in MONTHS. MONTHS, SERIOUSLY. I'm not sure if those of you who are neurotypical-and-mentally-healthy are appreciating this fully, so try again, harder: I have gone MONTHS without depressive symptoms taking over my day. Last week at counseling I had to fill out the let's-see-how-sick-you-really-are checklist and I got to check "none of the days" for almost EVERY SYMPTOM, and the ones I didn't were things that have other causes besides depression, like, "Trouble focusing or paying attention" (have I mentioned I'm now officially on the record as having ADHD (Inattentive)? because I have mentioned it, but I keep forgetting).

The really annoying thing is, what could have caused this improvement? Certainly not the state of the world, which, if you haven't been paying attention, kind of sucks more every day. My kids are still loud and my husband's still Republican. I haven't even made any permanent changes in my medication, though we did try, seeing that I have an official new diagnosis that can be treated differently-- it turns out my heart really doesn't like prescription stimulants and I certainly don't want to force the matter on it. 

No, unfortunately, my improvement can be directly correlated with me being on Weight Watchers. 

SERIOUSLY, body?! My diet wasn't THAT bad before, and I'm not exercising THAT much more now. Yet you're going to make me watch what I eat and take the stairs for the rest of my life now to keep me all internally balanced out, is that what you're saying?

Before I go further, I want to make a few things abundantly clear. Most importantly: I am NOT, absolutely NOT, implying that clinical depression can be CURED just with diet and exercise. Maybe for some people it can, but that's not actually how the mental illness of depression works (maybe it works, combined with talk therapy, for some folks getting over situational depressions, but I ain't talking about them!). I am still on 100mgs of Zoloft a day, thanks, and I still have days like today, where I just haven't quite got the drive to live. The Zoloft attempts to keep the serotonin behaving as it ought to in a normal brain, but apparently being generally healthy keeps the levels of serotonin manageable on top of that.

Second thing I want to make clear: I'm relatively bothered by our culture's stance on FAT. I don't really approve of cosmetic weight loss, trying to get a Beach Body, wanting to hit a certain number on the scale. I've always had, I've said, relatively healthy feelings toward my figure (if not my face), whether as a skinny kid, a curvy adolescent, or an overweight adult. I figure, as long as I'm HEALTHY, there's nothing wrong with a little heft.

But that's the key-- I'd stopped being HEALTHY. If I ever WAS healthy. But anyhoo. That's why I started feeling better after only a week of "weight-watching." I hadn't even WEIGHED myself for the first time yet, so I wasn't psychologically cheering about that. No, I just woke up one morning about a week later and thought, "I ALREADY feel so much better. CRAP." 

i.e., apparently scaling back on portion sizes and carbs and non-water drinks actually DOES give you more viv. WHY. I LIKE NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT HOW MANY POINTS SOMETHING IS BEFORE I EAT IT. I LIKE BUFFETS. I haven't had to deal with a real buffet yet while on Weight Watchers but I WILL GO TO BUFFETS AGAIN. 

Anyway, it's funny, I've now hit the point, weight-wise, I was at about two to three years ago, when other people (doctors, inlaws, you know) were telling me I was gaining too much weight and I was perfectly happy where I was. It was much later into my sudden-blimping-out phase when I became dissatisfied with my own body-- looks-wise, the fact that I wasn't fitting into pretty dresses I'd just recently MADE-wise, but also I was getting a lot of annoying side symptoms that were in fact related to extra weight. I set my first goal on Weight Watchers to lose 20 pounds, which would get me out of that stage. And I hit it, a few weeks ago. And yes, like magic the heartburn and incontinence and joint pain and junk are gone! Woot!

But now my logical brain and my Id are apparently arguing with each other. I set a new goal to get me down another twenty pounds, which would get me back to pre-Maddie weight if not pre-Sammy. But-- though my points numbers and habits haven't changed-- I'm not losing as quickly now, and I'm CRAVING high-points food items a lot more, which GIVES me less desire to stick through it. So it's like subconsciously I hit a point where my superego is saying "Okay, keep up the good work, keep going!" but my id's all "No, this is my happy spot, remember? It's fine right here." 

But it's NOT fine right here, because it's too easy to slip back to where my body wasn't so happy? So I really need to keep going, and make sure habits are in place where I don't HAVE to be QUITE so strict with my diet but I'm not going to slide down that hill of healthlessness again? 

So that's where I'm at. I'm DOING GREAT, BUT I'M ALSO AFRAID OF JINXING MYSELF BY SAYING THAT.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)

Yeah, I know I haven't posted here in a long while. You been reading me over at GeekMom? But I was about to tweet something that would have turned into a long tweet thread and I was like, okay, easier to do this way, in these surprise extra fifteen minutes I've got.

--I arrived at my first outreach preschool of the day to find it shut down from a water break problem. "Awww," I said, for the missing storytime, but it hit me that I feel particularly badly about water problems.

I always think of the time in high school when Angie had been having a really bad day and it hadn't even started yet-- she joined me and a few other people at my locker first thing in the morning. I was already in the middle of telling everyone how, that morning, our cousins had a problem with their well, and they'd had to come out to our house to brush teeth, shower, whatever else to get ready for school that morning. And Angie got this look of pure epiphany and said out loud, "Oh! At least I have water!" 

And it became kind of a gratitude mantra. She'd keep a gratitude journal, and on the days she couldn't think of anything else to be grateful for, she'd write, "At least I have water." I do recall there were some days she just wrote "I have water" three times. 

So, although I always think of it as ANGIE'S mantra, it became mine, too. And when people DON'T have water-- when you see the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, continue to be unresolved, let alone around the world in less developed countries-- it's like OUCH. How can anything be worse? When you can't even say "At least I have water"?

So that's my shout-out to the importance and wonder of clean potable water today. Have a nice day! Be glad you have water! Unless you don't, then I hope you find some soon! Maybe somebody who DOES have water can help out, eh?

rockinlibrarian: (voldemart)
I was talking politics with my mom the other day (it's nice having an in-real-life person who agrees with you politically to talk to sometimes), and I mentioned this really interesting blog post I'd read a few months back that unfortunately I CANNOT find now. Sorry. I really wanted to link you to it. It's about how this president—at the time of the article he was president-elect or even just a candidate, I'm not sure—uses language. The article posed that it wasn't so much that he is a pathological liar as much as he's using—I think this was the term—prescriptive language in situations when most people would use (and would assume he is using) descriptive language. Descriptive language describes reality as it is (or as it at least appears to be). Prescriptive language describes reality as the user intends it to be. For example, "You're fired!" The phrase isn't true until it is said, then saying it makes it true. That's an obviously iconic example of how he's used to using this sort of language, but think about it—he's a spoiled rich kid who could get whatever he wanted, with a major entitlement complex—he's USED to whatever he says being granted, or at least, that the making of whatever he says happen is other people's problem. 

As I told her about this, I remembered how some of his original supporters liked how he was a businessman-instead-of-a-politician, so he would "run the government like a business." Right, the kind of business where the Boss is IN CHARGE and everyone must do exactly what he says. That's what they wanted? I guess that IS what they wanted. And THAT made a scene pop into my head.

Shut up a minute, Star Wars prequel-haters, I'm not saying the acting and/or dialogue itself of this scene was fabulous or anything, but it DOES FIT here. You know the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin and Padme have been frolicking in the fields of Naboo and he starts teasing her about being a politician and she's like what is your problem with politicians, and he's like The system doesn't work, we need everyone to sit down and work out what's best for everybody and then just do it; and she's like But that's what we DO, it's just that people don't always agree on what the best thing is; and he's like well then somebody needs to MAKE everyone agree; and she's like Hold up you're crossing over into Dictatorship territory here; and he's like Well maybe that's what we need then; and then they go back to flirting as if he hadn't just admitted that he's totally someday going to be the Emperor's Right Hand Man and will totally kill hundreds of innocents to make it happen. 

So I'm like oh shoot, that's totally what happened, all these people are like Hey, a Dictatorship's fine and dandy if I AGREE with the Dictator. Let's give the Chancellor unfettered power because he'll TOTALLY make everything right in the galaxy again because he'll just MAKE it that way! Yay, everybody we disagree with just being TOLD WHAT TO DO! That could NEVER backfire!

...I mean it's not like people haven't totally glommed onto the Rebel Alliance as a symbol of resistance to all this or anything.

Meanwhile, the kids and I have made it to The Last Battle in our Narnia reading. Ugh, we're back to the problematic racist Calormene portrayals, which is ironic, because the real life parallels otherwise are very pro-Rebel Alliance, I mean Resistance. Eerily so, reinforcing that we seem to be living in an apocalyptic scenario. But look: we start out with Shift the Ape creating a False Aslan, which IMHO nicely describes certain prominent folks in the Religious Right preaching the "Prosperity Gospel" and linking the professed "Christian" culture with big business and exploitation of workers and destruction of the environment and other stuff the real Aslan would DEFINITELY NOT APPROVE OF (and omg the dwarfs who are all like "NEVER AGAIN" when they find out they've been had, are all those people driven away from the very idea of Christianity by the actions of these sort of Christians). And, ugh, that Shift, the way he gaslights poor Puzzle—I keep interrupting my own reading and saying to the kids "I REALLY do NOT LIKE this guy!" —personality-wise, and the more he gains power, the more he becomes Our Esteemed President in this scenario, to the point that he becomes the ineffectual puppet of sly Ginger the Cat—that'd be Bannon—and the Calormene general, who is definitely effectively Putin, looking to take over Narnia from the inside (yes, government. Calormen may LOOK like the Middle East, but get over your xenophobia/Islamophobia and look at the ACTUAL ACTIONS). I mean, dang. The Prophet Clive Staples Lewis says we're screwed, folks.

Oh, speaking of which, the end of The Magician's Nephew inspired some interesting/creepy conversations with the kids, too: talking about dying suns, and Maddie's like, "Will the Sun really DIE? Like our great-great-great-great grandkids won't have a sun anymore?" and I'm like, "The Sun will eventually die but not for billions of years, humans will probably die off from something else long before then," which just made the kids like, "WHAT? How could all the humans die?" and I'm like whoa I sat in it now, and said, "Well, like the dinosaurs died off. It could be something like an asteroid strike covering the sky with dust so the sun can't peek through so we can't get food, or it could be—" and then I realized I was heading into frighteningly relevant territory "—the climate just changes so much that it can't support human life anymore, or—" why on earth was I saying this out loud to my sensitive children, it just poured out of my mouth "—when he said that bit about humans discovering a horrible secret like The Deplorable Word that could wipe out all life? I'm pretty sure, since he wrote this right after WWII, he was hinting at nuclear weapons—" SHOOT I'm going to have to come up with a comforting spin on this somehow— but then I noticed the kids had actually stopped paying attention to my nihilistic rambling. But seriously folks. I saw a tweet the other day that was like "Hey, remember those couple of decades we DIDN'T think we were all going to die in a nuclear war? Good times." SIGH.

Anyway, last week I was writing my latest GeekMom article, about Labels vs Symptoms (btw, Megan, someone wrote a glowing response to your comment on that), and I was thinking about Billy (H)arrison's superpowered autistic tendencies and wanted to use some of "his" actual quotes on the matter, so I went into my files and scanned over my related writings, and, let me tell you, some of the plot of my book, which had seemed ridiculous when I wrote it, suddenly looked prophetic. Reading tweets about the president's rally in Florida this weekend made me tweet this, in a series of linked tweets copied here into an easier-to-read paragraph:

"There's a scene at a political rally that is just REALLY EERIE right now. Not to mention gaslighting and attempts to control the media. I don't think it will ever be good enough to officially publish, but I almost want to share it as-is now just to say 'READ WHAT I WROTE DECADES AGO! It was about an OVER-THE-TOP evil take-over-the-world plot! OVER-THE-TOP, I say!' Do you think it would be a bad move to self-publish something I don't think is perfect or up to traditional publishing standards just because I want to share some of the scenes NOW? I mean, it's as good as or better than a lot of fan fiction that's out there. It just doesn't have a built-in audience. (The fact that it has Real Person George Harrison fanfic in its backstory is not obvious in text). But I'm not trying to sell it/get famous from it. I'm just like READ ABOUT THIS RIDICULOUS WORLD DOMINATION PLOT & TELL ME YOU DON'T SHIVER!"

Well, I had several people respond that they WOULD like to read it. I think the easiest way to do it, though, is just share the file (non-editable) right off the Dropbox it's already in.

So here, if I've done this correctly, is the link to Ian and Co, aka The Incredible Adventures of Four Teens Who Are More Than They Appear, aka The One With Billy 'Arrison In It. I'm pretty sure I have not given you permission to edit the document, but just in case, um, politely refrain from editing. And by "editing" I mean "changing the document itself" —I'm all FOR you leaving constructive criticism with the Comments feature or whatever. I'd love to hear your ideas! Keep in mind, if I ever do come back to these characters' stories, it may be ENTIRELY different. I already have a completely new beginning written which has Ian more of a marginally-more-innocent bystander in what ought to have been Billy's adventures, which is most likely how I will take it in the future (I said once that Ian is Watson to Billy's Holmes and that suddenly made the whole concept click into place better). But DANG is this Swish plot relevant NOW, which is why I'm sharing THIS edit as-is.

Now here's something I considered doing awhile ago, which is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL, mind you. But since I'm kind of self-publishing my book, above, there, and I've written other good stuff you might like, and we still need to replace our patio/retainment wall that fell down in the back last summer, if YOU would like to donate to the cause of ME WRITING STUFF, I've got here a nice PayPal.Me link: https://paypal.me/rockinlibrarian  So, whatever you think my book is worth to you, go ahead and pay for it here! If not, don't! I probably wouldn't because I'm cheap (but then again I might anyway if I really love it and am not currently broke—I guess I have done such things before). Because after all it isn't quite up to standard, but it's still pretty fun and I did take decades writing it!
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
Allow me to be frank—I know I'm on the internet, which means *gasp* anyone can see me being frank—but I'm going to have to get a little ugly-personal. Don't freak out.

It's been a rough week. It's hard to say how much you, my reader, already know me, when some know me in real life but just in passing, some know me in real life quite well, some have never met me but are closer to me than all but a few of the people I have met in real life, some know me in passing on the internet, and some just stumbled here randomly hi I don't know what you're doing here but you're perfectly welcome. So I don't know if you know that I'm an utter mess, both figuratively and literally. I am NOT a together person.

But one thing I have always felt confident about? I'm a dang fine librarian. Being at work is for me is a BREAK from feeling lost and incompetent. It keeps me steady, and smart, and productive.

Until last Saturday. See, my literal mess caught up with me, and I guess it hit on my coworkers' last nerves? This is hard to explain, because I'm honestly so confused and I guess not quite so shaken as I was last Saturday, but still just...broken. Like I can't piece it together in my brain. I didn't get completely cleaned up after my program Tuesday night-- to be fair, we were pulp painting, it's quite complex, and I DID clean up MOST of it-- but, maybe it was my lackadaisical attitude toward finishing up that they didn't appreciate? Maybe, but the thing that got me lost was that this somehow earned me a week suspension. A week and a day, actually, as I didn't end up working last Saturday and here I am still off today. Now, Jason points out that I really should have been given a written warning or something instead, that the punishment far outweighs the crime and he is SO TEMPTED to march down to the library and give everyone a piece of his mind but he won't because that's totally something his mother would do and he doesn't want to do something she'd do; and there's a rational part of me that definitely agrees it's all out of proportion.

But the problem is it triggered something, shattered me further. Work was the one place I felt competent, the one thing my literal-and-figurative mess wasn't tainting. For the first time since I've been in this particular job, the thought of going back to work on Monday gives me a jolt of anxiety. I have lost that little piece of confidence. And, talk about an out-of-proportion reaction, I'm just BROKEN.

I don't want you to think I'm being melodramatic. I very nearly checked myself into the hospital that day. Because obviously I'm not good at ANYTHING anymore so there's no point trying until I can get myself FIXED. I didn't, because I figured it would be cheaper to just go home and go to bed, while telling everyone to leave me alone. That didn't work so great either, because except for Maddie, who came in and just hugged me and said "I love you" for awhile, nobody else could manage to talk to me without increasing my stress. In the middle of the night I wrote this poem-- cleaned it up and put it on Tumblr in the morning just because Tumblr seemed like the best format for it. It pretty well describes "how I'm doing," kind of perfectly, if you're asking and want to know the truth.

Well wait, copying and pasting so you don't have to click:
"EFFORT"
I’m not okay
though if you ask
I’ll say
I am
because I pull myself together
I smile, I laugh, I sing
I cook, I eat
I hug and say I love you
I go through the backpacks and take-home folders and
usually
remember to sign things
I pay the bills
eventually
I get where I need to go
eventually
But then you notice the cracks and say
Why don’t you pick up after yourself?
Why have you let yourself go?
If you would
Just
Try to
lose some weight
exercise a little more
make the kids behave
(no, MAKE them)
get her hair brushed
get YOUR hair brushed
make them make their beds
make YOUR bed
watch what you’re wearing
watch what they’re wearing
do the dishes from the start
organize your time better
leave a little earlier
make those phone calls
communicate better
pay attention to your surroundings
don’t leave things lying around
go to bed on time
tell us what you need
If you would
JUST
put in a
LITTLE EFFORT.
Good to know
that’s all I need to do
Just
put in
a LITTLE
EFFORT
If only I hadn’t used up all my Effort
pretending
i’m
okay


The thing is I usually AM okay because I'm holding together and getting through contently enough, it's just I can't take any MORE than that. Technically I SHOULD be capable of more, because more is required of me, and, like, maybe life should be more than just hanging together?

So at counseling on Wednesday I got some interesting news: I now, officially, on my medical records, have indeed been diagnosed with ADHD-light-on-the-H. See back in the day they just called that ADD but now no matter how nonexistent the H they call it ADHD-Inattentive Type instead. I slipped through all these years because of the complete lack of H, because I was well-behaved and smart enough to ace tests even if I couldn't stay on top of my homework and was only half paying attention in class. My brain was good at school. It's not so good at practical life. But practical life is what adulthood is about. You know I've said this before, lots of times, it's just now I've got an official label saying it's real, my brain really DOES work differently than normal. "You've been struggling with this all your life without even knowing why," my therapist said, having just read the above poem. 

So, somewhat tangentally (it's my ADHD! It all becomes clear!), last week we upgraded our cable to take advantage of their Triple Play, which includes phone service, since the main reason we never had before was our home and cell phone accounts were tied together, but now we get cell through J's work, so we were like, hey, and WE NOW HAVE CALLER ID AND AN ANTI-ROBO-CALL SERVICE AND I AM NEVER GOING BACK. But, also, we now get more TV channels, including FX. I'd bought access to FX's Fargo because it was awesome before, but look! Now we have FX just in time for Fargo-showrunner Noah Hawley's new show, Legion, which is a friggin' X-Men spinoff! I love Noah Hawley's storytelling (at least if Fargo is any indication) and I love X-Men, so can it get any better? The answer is, yes, it can, because Legion is also FRIGGIN' PSYCHEDELIC. 

Now I've been thinking of writing a whole post about me and psychedelia-- I've had a draft in the GeekMom Wordpress for about a month now, because I started writing it and then it turned into something else, and it might be really two posts, or it might not, but anyrate. Started when I finally got a chance to listen to the United States of America album I got for Christmas and it totally out me back in touch with a part of myself I'd been neglecting. I've been giving my psych rock collection a workout lately. Anyway, the short story about why I love psychedelia is that it reminds me of my own mind, but ever so slightly more orderly. 

So the main character of Legion has been diagnosed schizophrenic, although it turns out his hallucinatons are really telepathy. So you see the show from inside his head, which is tripped out...but strangely familiar. Me and psychedelia. I've never had to deal with hallucinations (or telepathy as far as I know), but my brain is always RUNNING and tumbling and jumping from track to track and it IS a lot to keep up with, and my dreams-- my dreamworld is nuts, y'all, and I love it--Legion really reminded me of my dreams (also the soundtrack is awesome) (maybe because there's a lot of psychedelia) (also it's made the Stones' "She's a Rainbow" stuck in my head since Thursday and I don't mind a bit).

Anyway, but the point I'm really getting to is that part of the reason he struggles so much with his mental illness is he's been fighting the wrong thing-- he thinks he needs to stop the hallucinations when really he needs to learn to control the input from his psychic powers. I keep thinking of it in relation to myself, how my brain works differently, but I've been expending so much energy trying to compensate for it instead of trying to work WITH it. It's funny, I used to know I was pretty smart as a kid, but most of the time as an adult my self-talk immediately goes to "you're an idiot." Since Wednesday it's occured to me, wow, if so much of my brainpower has gone to trying to compensate for my attention issues... maybe I actually am a genius. If I wasn't constantly trying to fight my own brain, what else could I be putting that power to? If I wasn't using up all my effort on being okay?

There was more on the end here, but somehow it got erased....

rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
A few years back it occurred to me, libraries are SUBVERSIVE. Our whole mission is to give the Have-Nots access to knowledge, and knowledge is power. This image of librarians as revolutionaries tickled me. Since on the surface I am a sickeningly sweet somewhat prudish well-behaved little white girl, I like being also, secretly, a bit of a rebel.

By now it's probably clear to you I'm in a particularly revolutionary mood lately, and you know exactly where my ire is directed. Maybe you're sick of me retweeting stuff on the subject. You remember when I was an optimistic ray of sunshine (with chronic depression) talking about books and music and children (in some order or another), who AVOIDED "issue" tweeting and political side-taking.

I apologize if all this rallying is getting old. I don't want it to get old. I want it to stay fresh. I keep sharing it because I don't want anyone to convince you that it isn't happening.

I think it's only in the past day that I've been able to pinpoint my motivations. There seems to be reason after reason to protest the government. Keep calling your representatives? What about NOW? I'm losing track of all the dangers we need to make sure our representatives resist... which is apparently something rising dictatorships count on. I read this nice article this morning called "How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind" --she talks about supporting "progressive agendas" but I want to again make clear that THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PARTISAN ISSUE AND CONSERVATIVES NEED TO STAND UP AGAINST THE NEW ADMINISTRATIONS BLATANT IGNORANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION, TOO, but ignore that bit. Anyway, her #1 says GET AWAY FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF NEWS FOR AWHILE which might make you go "SEE, AMY? Shut up with your retweets, you're just overwhelming us so we don't care anymore!" Again, sorry. But #2 is what I want to talk about right now, and explains why I have such a hard time shutting up: "Focus Your Energy on One or Two Issues."

So which one or two issues do I want to focus on? Which slice of humanity under fire deserves more of my support? For a moment yesterday I thought it was going to be Climate Change, because I've always been an environmentalist, and I was feeling particularly angry about the government science departments being censored. But then I remembered my sensitivity toward gaslighting, and when a fellow GeekDAD actually posted this great little piece about evaluating information sources almost simultaneously with a high school friend posting this great graphic, and when I shared the former on the library's facebook page, I realized I'm not just being suddenly political. I'm DOING MY JOB.




So right. This will be my focus in the Rebel Alliance: Freedom of Information. This is why I will keep harping on about it. I'm not trying to change your political opinions-- well, not outright. I hope your political opinions will become more well-supported by fact. But I am making damn sure that the people will have access to actual facts and will have the skills and guidance to figure out what those actual facts are. That's why I'm standing up against the censorship of scientists and the intimidation of the media. That's why I'm standing up for freedom of expression and Net Neutrality. That's why I'm amplifying marginalized voices. BECAUSE I'M GOING TO MAKE SURE NOBODY CAN TAKE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AWAY FROM US.

Because that's what librarians do.

rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I'm kind of wincing at my own title. You know STORY is my favorite thing in the whole world. You know I'm all about the importance of stories and trying to separate the word "myth" from the concept of "falsehood." Story helps us give meaning to our existence. But we also sometimes use it to justify what we WANT to be true, even when it isn't. It's funny that this was a major theme in this season of Sherlock, too. I'd like to share my thoughts on that, sometime before it becomes too far past to be relevant. I'm also working on two different GeekMom articles at once (possibly three. Come Monday, if I don't get any more time to myself to type before then, definitely three). I also have (as usual, but at the same time worse than usual) a complete wreck of a house to deal with, a bunch of Christmas decor to put away, and a whole lot of commitments taking me out of the house, not to mention the day to day commitments of a family that somehow expects I should feed them everyday (even though they don't like much of anything I cook for them). There is SO MUCH I have to work on, and I haven't even mentioned settling back to do the final handsewing on my new butterfly brocade dress while watching the series of Soundbreaking I finally managed to get hold of, because that's pure leisure time.

But I digress. (Often). I really want, right here right now, to address current events, yet again. We are at a scary moment of history. And if you disagree, this is probably due to the stories you are telling yourself, not the truth. And if you think the people who disagree ARE fully aware of the truth, you are also telling yourself stories, not seeing the full truth. The sad, frustrating, dangerous, and frankly somewhat traumatizing thing is, forces have transpired to fog the truth up for us. Gah, I know, that's vague. But that's the point. It would be nice to be able to point directly at Putin and blame the rise of totalitarianism on the Russian propaganda machine, but that's just part of it. It's easy to point to the new administration, which is doing it blatantly: But again, that's just part of it. If we all called these things as they are, they wouldn't have any power. But the fog isn't coming out of a single sfx machine that we can just unplug. A spun story here, an appeal to People Like Me there, a information miasma without enough librarians, and countless individual stories-we-tell-ourselves being presented as truth in echo chambers among people telling similar stories, and you end up with a GREAT SMOG pouring in from countless directions.

I'm super-sensitive to this fog, which is why I said it's somewhat traumatizing. It's traumatizing for ME. I don't like my mind being messed with. It makes me angry. It makes me frustrated. It makes me really really sad. And I feel like Cassandra when I see it happening and I can't get anyone to believe me (who doesn't already see it happening themselves).

Let me show you how these things happen, using a tragedy that happened down the street from me this past fall as an example (skip the paragraph if you don't want to read a tragedy). Here is what happened, strict facts. A man who had been abusive and outright threatened to kill his pregnant wife showed back up to torment her and threaten her life again, even though she had a PFA against him. She called the police. Police showed up, too late, he's already shot and killed her and now he turns the gun out the window and shoots two officers, killing one, badly injuring the other. The police shut down the area and go on a manhunt for the rest of the morning, only to find the guy had killed himself right after. 'Kay. That's what happened.

Here is one way the story could be presented, and was: the story of the police martyrs cut down in the line of duty by a cop-killer. This angle is still in evidence in our town-- the blue-and-black ribbons are still up all over, the signs that say "We stand with you, Cbg PD!" and "We salute our fallen officers." This angle really resonates with people, which is how my little neighborhood ended up making the national news. Implicit in this coverage is a "Those darn criminals keep killing our fine police officers!" message. And it goes farther, it gets turned into "Why do you keep accusing the police of brutality, can't you see THEY'RE the victims, THEY'RE the ones that keep getting SHOT DOWN because your lies about police brutality make people hate them?!" Whoa, slow down here. The guy shot them because he was a violent maniac and they were coming to arrest him, not because he was part of some cop-killer club or anything, lying in ambush just waiting to pick one off. Officer B truly did die in the line of duty, not out of some political demonstration.

Now look at the way the story was NOT presented. I was surprised when the story made the national news because the sad fact is domestic abusers kill their partners ALL THE TIME, and you don't hear it on the national news unless one of them's famous or something really unusual and gruesome happened or, say, a cop got killed. Is this woman, and her unborn child, and all the other victims of domestic abuse, somehow less important than the police officers who were trying to save her? Is her life worth less? Why is her death not a national tragedy? Oh, sure, the police were in a way innocent bystanders, just doing their jobs, and they got shot. But isn't she equally innocent? Isn't it a tragedy that she's had to suffer at his hands and words all this time, that she tried to get help and protection and it ultimately didn't work? With all the black-and-blue ribbons all over town, in just one place do you see a memorial to her-- on the electric signpost of the drug store where she worked. Her coworkers love and miss her. But everywhere else she's forgotten.

Now imagine what would have happened to the story the world saw if I change just one detail. You see, this woman was an immigrant from Egypt. Her killer husband was an all-american white boy with freakin' american flags waving off the back of his truck (I used to gawk at it, it was something). WHAT IF their ethnicities had been reversed? What if the killer was a Middle-Eastern immigrant and his wife was *gasp* blonde? If you don't think this would change the way this story was told, you haven't been paying much attention. We all have our own Normals, based on where we grew up, where we live now, who we were raised by, and who we were raised among. When we see just a snapshot of another Normal, it's easy to jump to conclusions. Because this, people in that Normal must be this other thing. So we get a bit repulsed by the Others and retreat deeper into our own Normals, where everyone tells the same stories about What Normal IS that you do So we automatically frame what we see in terms of what we already consider normal. The story of the tragedy in my neighborhood takes on a different meaning depending on how you feel toward police officers, what your experiences or knowledge of domestic abuse is like, or how much you know about the culture to which any of the interested parties belong. We group people and experiences into "like me" and "not like me" categories in our heads, and when evidence goes contradictory to it, we rewrite our understanding of reality to fit. Sometimes we change our opinions. But other times we hold tighter to what we used to know as true.

This is true across the board, but people who are still optimistic about our new president have had it particularly bad, lately. They were so excited to get a GOP president-- "GOP! Anti-Obama and Anti-Hillary! That means he's LIKE US!"-- that they fail to see that he's actually NOT. Oh, he's not a Democrat in disguise either, all right. He's not a normal president, period. But he must be good because he says things about Making America Great Again, and that's exactly what we want to hear, so.... Particularly fascinating are the folks in these pictures who admire his Godliness but wish he'd stop tweeting. I suppose because every tweet makes the UNGodliness stand out instead. It makes it hard for them to keep telling that story to themselves. If he keeps it up they may be forced to change their minds about him, and they'd rather not, so just shut up, Donny, and let them keep their fantasies, okay?

Don't run away from reading me here yet, my conservative friends! Don't get complacent, my liberal ones! The Left has their own pretty stories, too. The most problematic one is lumping all President Trumpsterfire's supporters together with the worst of them. They've all made a serious mistake-- yes, you KNOW I think you've made a serious mistake, people who voted for him-- but not for nefarious purposes. Yes, they may kill people by taking away their health care, yes, they may invalidate people's marriages, yes, they may condone the persecution of millions of innocents because of their heritage or genetics, but they DON'T SEE IT THAT WAY. They know different Stories, they either don't HAVE all the facts or they can't make the facts fit into their Stories so they respin them as falsehoods. A few of them--a few-- really ARE hateful, bigoted scum. But when we call the REST hateful bigoted scum, too, it just makes it harder for them to listen to the actual truths you're telling that they need to hear! I've seen too many conservative friends bristling away from the movement toward justice because of this. I found the pictures from the Womens' Marches really inspiring yesterday. Then I saw a tweet from a conservative friend in response to someone who'd said LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL EVERYONE UNITED EVERYONE IS WELCOME! "...not the Pro-Life ones," she replied bitterly. OUCH. I know what she means. I have no doubt that Pro-Life women WOULD have been and WERE welcomed into the marches, but a lot of Pro-Choicers have a problem how they talk about the Pro-Life movement-- they, too, lump people who genuinely believe in the sanctity of life with misogynists who just want to control women's sexuality. This is a particularly frustrating issue for me, because I grew up in a very actively Pro-Life extended family-- I've done the March for Life myself!-- and I thoroughly understand my family members' actual feelings on the matter, and I truly consider myself Pro-Life, even though from a political standpoint I am technically pro-choice. I don't think the picture shows up in the quoted tweet, here's the one I was referring to: I've had a real hard time at church since just before the election. Remember I said I hadn't lost my faith in God but was pretty disillusioned with the Church? Our pastor, he's a great guy y'know, but the Sunday before the election he said something like, "Yeah, we have to make a choice, and it looks like we have to make a choice between 'Bad' and 'Worse.' I can't tell you who to vote for, but I will say when you get down to it that the most important thing is protecting the Sanctity of Life, and we have to vote to stop abortion." And I'm just SERIOUSLY HAVE YOU EVEN LOOKED AT THIS GUY, HE IS ANTI-LIFE UNLESS IT'S HIS OWN! The fact that the Pro-Life movement has become SO FOCUSED on overturning Roe vs. Wade that they can no longer see that liberal movements have actually done far far more to REALLY protect the sanctity of life (I can't find the article I read about this last summer that uses facts to support this claim, but here's another article I found while looking for it that at least expresses the idea in more detail) is just... so depressing, really. And if we'd stop being so PARTISAN about it, we could SEE this, and actually WORK TOGETHER to truly protect LIFE.

I think the most important thing we need to do is follow Haymitch's advice in Catching Fire, and remember who the real enemies are. I know we find it hard to forgive each other. I know we're angry, we're all so angry. But let's make sure we're focusing the anger in the right place. I saw someone say, "Trump didn't divide America!" -- true, we've already been divided. I've seen others say, "We need to stand together and put faith in the election process and our new administration." Or, the opposite, "We CANNOT play nice anymore. The Nazis weren't defeated because the Allies had a nice discussion and they all shook hands."

BUT. A totalitarian government just LOVES when it can pit its citizens against each other. It LOVES to be all "if you're not for us your against us." There are people TRYING to get us to hate each other, pointing at all the worst actions of the "other" side instead of the many many more right actions. WE CANNOT LET THEM DO THIS. Civil war destroys so much. A revolution, on the other hand? If we all, ALL, take a good look around and see who the enemies REALLY are? It's rough when we're still divided over the stories we're getting, but the fact is the majority of people are GOOD PEOPLE. And when we stick together instead of turning on each other, we can beat this.

I don't know if this whole quoted tweet will show up, but... You see this is the one she was quoting: That original tweet was a little bitter, about how privileged white women are that they don't have THEIR protests broken up by riot police (when there isn't a riot). But Goldeen takes that and says LET'S USE THIS. You see what we can do when we ALL stand together? We can't let anyone try to divide us any more. We need to speak up even when we aren't the direct victims of an injustice. We need to listen to each other and not just assume that, oh, this is only about THEM, or that, oh, I don't see a problem so obviously there isn't really a problem they're just overreacting. If we open our eyes and hearts and stand together, we can keep the real enemies from their nefarious plans. We can make right mighty, instead of pretending might makes right.
rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
It’s time for the yearly roundup, and while 2016 is pretty universally known to have been a pretty crappy year, it’s had its bright spots too. As I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve rounded up events and reviews into Top Five lists for your perusal. It makes for a long post, but I’d love for you to read it, and chime in with comments on anything you see that you agree with, disagree with, or feel enlightened by, because I do these things to talk to people, you know.

Cut for length and pictures )
So yay! I hope you've stuck with me through this long, long post! Drop me a comment!
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)

On the off-chance you don't follow me on social media (or do but missed it because FB's obnoxious) or on GeekMom -- which you really should because I post there more often-- I posted my Merry Christmas post there this year https://geekdad.com/2016/12/here-is-what-christmastime-means-to-me/--I'm on my Nook so I can't make that link look pretty.

So anyway, allow me to direct you there. Merry Christmas!

rockinlibrarian: (portrait)

Hi. This might be a cry for help? Part of me's great. I feel capable. Christmas prep is fun and exciting. But if I didn't have Christmas, and to a lesser extent if I didn't have my library job (because I have hard-to-get-moving moments with that, too), I'd... well I don't know what I'd have. What I'm feeling is maybe best described as disillusionment? I feel like I don't believe in anything. Not in a religious sense-- in fact God is probably one of the few things I DO still believe in, but I don't exactly feel close it Him either--though religion as an institution isn't faring so well on my things-I-believe-in list, either.

But no, I mean, I've lost my faith in random stupid things, like journalism and... okay not STUPID, that's just the disillusionment talking. I just mean... aside from the US government crashing down before our eyes, and every other horror of humanity: my Sesame Street has lost sight of its original mission to serve the underserved; my daydream of running away to England has been tainted by Brexit crap, and my Imaginary Englishman Husband has even lost most of his luster; my favorite local radio station's news reports sound like The Trumpaganda Minute; my kid has developed full-on Oppositional Defiant Disorder and I'm CRAP at everything I ought to do as a parent; I'm not in love with my husband, he's just there (I LOVE him, mind you, in the sense that I love any family member, I'm just not IN love--no admiration, little affection) ; and no, I'm STILL not writing fiction, but hey, that's been not-happening forever now. It's like I have nothing to dream for. Disillusionment.

That's a weird word, because logically it sounds like a good thing: seeing through illusions to the truth! Except I'm not seeing any TRUTH, either. It's just pointlessness all over.

I literally do NOT CARE about self care. I can't bring myself to bother. My cholesterol recently took off out of nowhere, I'm falling apart, but eh, who cares. Watch the world crash down, why not just crash with it? I know what I'm SUPPOSED to do to get healthy/keep from getting more unhealthy. But I DON'T CARE.

I'm not sure what it's like to be an atheist. Surely they have SOME beliefs, not supernatural ones, but, like, VALUES. Things to stand for. Right? I'm short THAT.

I know this is bad. I need to get my meds fixed, but, a, I lost my psychiatrist and can't get an appointment with the new one until february, and b, my perpetual state of not-caring wonders what the point would be.

But the Christmas lights calm me. They remind me to light a candle to get through the dark times, because the light WILL come again.

So while some people find this time of year stressful, I'm thankful for it. It's carrying me through. I'm just not looking forward to January.

So anyhoo, that's where I am right now. Sorry for the downer. I just need to get it off my chest.

rockinlibrarian: (roar)
So, unlike people living in Bubbles of Blue, I was not shocked. Disappointed, absolutely, but not surprised. So why did it hurt so much? Why was I crying? Why have I been unable to shake off the tears that keep coming all day?

I mean, there's the usual. The stuff I've already explained, about why I was voting the way I did in the first place. I want to thank those who voted differently but acknowledge that they're not necessarily happy about it, or who even, plain, don't gloat at all, because for some of us this IS genuinely not just a matter of the-one-we-liked-lost, but the-one-who-won-gives-us-literal-panic-attacks-and-it's-going-to-be-rough-for-us-to-watch-the-news-for-the-next-four-years.

But as I tried to explain to the kids, doing a very bad job because my own emotions belied every "it's going to be all right" I said, it's not like the world is suddenly going to erupt into nuclear war this afternoon.

Besides, WE are lucky. WE don't have to deal with systematic racism. OTHERS are much more directly fearing for their lives.

I began to get the sense that there was something slightly selfish about my grief. It felt so personal, like I wanted to shout "But look what you've done to ME!" at everyone who voted. What HAD they done to me? Voted for a guy who triggers my bully-anxiety, so what, it's not like my health care or marriage legality or right to freakin' live in this country is in danger. Sure I could TRY to nobly insist it was all alturistic, that I really felt so bad for EVERYONE ELSE, but no-- I mean, yes, I DO feel bad-- but no, this personal grief IS INDEED personal. What bugged me so much?

Eventually I unearthed it. It's because I always started crying harder when I read inspiring messages like this:










And most notably, this:


Because THAT is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE QUOTES OF ALL TIME. I was keeping a quote book when I first read Fellowship, and at that I'd jumped up and ran to grab the dang thing because I needed to write that one down. It hit me hard in the chest this morning, like J.R.R. Tolkien had taken me by the shoulders, given me a little shake, and said, "How could you have forgotten what I told you?!"

"I'm sorry, Professor. I hear you. I hear the others. I'm just having a really hard time believing you right now."

WHO NEEDS MY VOICE. I worried for ages that my voice is useless because I'm too Privileged, because I'm not from a population that's been historically silenced. Ah, but then I found it again. I found it not enough to feel that I had any FICTIONAL stories worth telling, but I at least had, not just the right, but the DUTY, to speak up for those who AREN'T as privileged as me. So I started getting political. I started getting BRAVE. I started making statement after statement and long essay after long essay.

And I voted. Because Every Vote Counts.

Yeah, but I look at the returns for my county, and although it was obvious from the signs along the road, it just felt disheartening to see that MY vote, in my county, had been outnumbered two to one.

And I thought about my essays. My impassioned pleas here and on Twitter and Facebook, and the time last week I finally absolutely BLEW UP at my husband for his continued insistence that both candidates were awful so he'd stick with the one who "wouldn't take away [his] guns." And I thought, did it even matter?

Who even reads what I write except people who already agree with me? Who even CONSIDERS what I have to say? WHOSE MINDS HAVE I CHANGED by writing these things? Nobody. Nobody cares. I have no effect. I've failed.

Writing has failed.

So I had a well-timed counseling appointment this afternoon. By that time I'd pinpointed this problem, this stupid selfish thing that was upsetting me. As I said last time, my therapist was unsurprised by my general anxiety about the thing because that was going AROUND in her office. "What can help you from getting stuck here, though?" she asked. "What are you going to do in your own life? What do you have control over?"

She was paraphrasing Gandalf. I smiled.

But my eyes teared up again. "It's just that nothing ever changes. No one listens to me. I spoke, but I didn't change anyone's mind."

"Maybe you've got the wrong goal. Maybe you're going to fail if you go into it thinking, 'This one beautiful essay will CHANGE PEOPLE'S MINDS.' That starts to sound kind of nasty, actually, wanting to CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK, you know?" She looked hard at me. "Instead, make the goal to be strong in your own beliefs. Believe in yourself enough to put your beliefs out there. You've done that. You've made something beautiful. It may seem like a small drop, but it's something. A small drop still makes waves.

"Besides, no great social movement happened overnight. Do you think it took just one pamphlet to win women the right to vote? Did Martin Luther King go out and make one beautiful speech and suddenly win equality for all? I bet all the great leaders had days where they came home, said to their families, 'Why do I bother? No one is listening.'

"But what did all those great heroes have in common?"

I grinned sheepishly, because again J.R.R. Tolkien supplied the answer, popping immediately into my head:


Why SHOULDN'T that answer have been ready in my head? I NAMED MY SON AFTER THIS GUY BECAUSE OF THIS SPEECH.

Heroes have lots of chances to turn back, but they don't. That's all. That's what makes a hero.

I could actually feel light seeping back into the wrinkles of my brain, sitting there. I started to believe in the inspirational messages again.

"So, what are you going to do now, so you don't slip back into that stagnant water?" she asked me at the end of our session. "What action are you ready to take, to keep things moving?"

"I--" I started to laugh. "...I actually want to write about it."

The Lone Power is always trying to get me to SHUT UP, one way or another. I've said it before and I'll say it again, because over and over It feeds me excuse after excuse, why I should just give it all up, stop trying to write, stop trying to be heard. It's always something new, but it's always the same in the end: "SHUT UP, AMY, NO ONE NEEDS YOUR OPINION." And it always results in entropy taking over, which is how I KNOW it's the Lone Power's doing.* You'd think I'd be able to catch It in the act quicker now. You'd think I'd recognize it sooner. But I guess that's how It works.

I need the reminders, every so often, that the only thing that makes a hero different from everyone else is that they don't turn back.

Don't. Give. Up.


*God bless you, Diane Duane, I don't know how you so deeply infiltrated my own personal theology, but it sure is handy for expressing my dilemma.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
I should probably get out of the habit of checking the Internet first thing in the morning, because the anxiety it evokes ruins me for the rest of the day. But then, I should probably also change the radio station on my clock radio. It wakes me with news, and local news, at that, which is why I like it. It's the little Washington, PA, station, as opposed to the Pittsburgh stations covering all of western PA, so it's got local traffic and weather and other stuff about things that might affect me in my day to day life, so it's good to wake up to that way (it's also an independent Oldies station that plays the HUGEST variety of music from the 50s to early 90s-- ALWAYS pulling up obscure stuff or stuff that's fallen out of rotation on the bigger stations-- and I often find myself yelling "I LOVE you, WJPA!" periodically every time it unearths something awesome and unknown. Though I will admit some of the stuff they play on their Cruisin' Sundays PROBABLY should have stayed unknown). But it covers national and international news, and while earlier in the year some of the announcers did express some anti-HeWhoMustNotBeNamed (BecauseNowEvenHisNameMakesMeSick) sentiments, the way the news is covered, itself, when it doesn't outright show a bias towards him, at least WHY do they always have to include a soundbite of him, which in most cases adds no information to the news story but never fails to make my body freak out in response?

Self-care says I should be AVOIDING triggers, particularly when they ruin me for the rest of the day like this, but at the same time they're kind of unavoidable right now, period, and if I stay offline I'll just be facing my own ruminations in isolation. And as an EnneaType 9, I'm all about avoidance. There's nothing new there. I'm all about suppressing my own anger (to the point where often even I am not aware of it), peace-ing out, and pretending everything is JUST FINE. It's a sign of growth for me to face up to things, and to express my anger instead of let it simmer.

It's delicate. I know other people are feeling as sick-- or nearly as sick-- of this election stuff as I am. I usually try to be the bearer of light on the Internet, putting beauty and humor out there to counteract all the negativity. But there are TWO definitions of being a bearer of light: counteracting darkness is only one of them. The other is ILLUMINATING, and sometimes that means shining light on things that aren't so pretty. I feel like if I stop speaking the truth I see, I'll be betraying a Holy Mission or something. It's my duty to speak. And I know I've spoken up before and what difference does it make, everyone has made up their minds and the only people who will read this are the people who already agree with me. But I have to keep saying it.

At this point what I'm trying to say to you, to everyone, right here is THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS. This is not about differences in opinion regarding policies and the role of government in the lives of the people, which is what differences in politics should REALLY be about. This is about my personal feelings of horror at watching half the nation rally around a demagogue. It is about personal gut fear, and how I normally do not feel this way about political figures. Remember, I'm a registered Independent! It's not a simple matter of government size or particular policy!

Anyway, what follows is what I wrote for MYSELF as the only audience, in my journal Sunday morning. Not trying to convince anyone else of anything, just me getting it all off my chest. Some of it I've expressed before in bits. I'm sharing it here because that's all I feel I can do at this point: just put it out there, This is what I am experiencing and I feel you should know. What you do with my personal experience is up to you.

Well I mean, within reason. Don't plagiarize my personal experience and say you wrote it, that would suck of you. It's copyrighted by virtue of me writing it here, first (or in my journal first, me second), the law's on my side, dude.

*ahem*

Sunday, October 30, 2016

There's no CCD today so for once I'm not rushing off anywhere in the morning. I feel like I journal so infrequently now that maybe that's why my brain feels like it's about to explode. I woke up at 8 and still feel tired. I realized, this week, is part of it is current events, but not in some theoretical isn't-the-state-of-the-world-frightening way. No, it's that monster of a GOP candidate, there's no escape from him and, here's the thing, he's a genuine bully who uses all the emotionally abusive techniques all the bullies in my life have used-- the ones that tormented me in elementary school, Angie in high school, my other students when I was a teacher. So it's not just an ideological beef I have with him-- he's genuinely triggering. Just seeing his face or hearing his voice puts my body reflexively in fight-or-flight mode-- by this point even just seeing/hearing his name will do it (notice I haven't used it here).

I'm torn between WANTING to talk about it and WANTING to pay attention to the news, and just taking it easy, knowing that reading the news won't accomplish anything, all I can do is go in and VOTE for Hillary next week and pray enough other people are voting for her, too. If she wins maybe this constant state of stress will let up-- if she doesn't, I honestly don't think I can take having to be exposed daily to that man for the next 4 years. Maybe they'll impeach him sooner than that (they impeached BILL C for less), or maybe he'll bully his way into a dictatorship. Still, ANY amount of time with him continuing to dominate the news is TOO MUCH FOR MY POOR NERVES. It got to the point that yesterday I found myself wondering if the Xanax I got last year was still good. I don't know, maybe it WOULD do me good to take one! But one won't change the political situation, so I'd soon devolve into an addict, popping pills one after another in a desperate attempt to stop the world from hurting me.

It's just... insane. You know, some people find the word "insane" a slur toward the mentally ill. But it's BACKWARD, because I'm the one dealing with actual mental illness here, these anxiety flashbacks, but I'm not the dangerously irrational one. This anxiety is not, in and of itself, irrational, it's an actual warning, my experience and understanding throwing up flashing red lights and sirens: "THIS GUY IS BAD NEWS: DON'T LET HIM BE IN CHARGE." The only thing that makes it irrational is that the warning outweighs my ability to DO anything about it. All I can do, besides casting my own vote, is speak up, but WHO'S LISTENING besides the people who already agree with me? I'm Cassandra, over and over.

Sammy had the bad timing to yell "Vote Hillary Clinton!"  while [J's extremely paranoid Survivalist friend--not exaggerating, anyone who knows him knows exactly who I'm referring to-- which would be pretty much Megan, Megan's the only one likely to read this who would know, but she'll also tell you I am definitely not exaggerating], king of the Libertarian Survivalists, was visiting with Jason last night, so the two of them gaped at each other in shock and finally piped up "Why would you SAY such a thing?!" and Sammy goes "Because Donald Trump's a BAD man," naturally-- see? KIDS know. And Jason,* sounding strangely panicky, burst out "WHERE'S YOUR PROOF?!" at his 9yo son, sheez, I mean MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS-- first of all, this is another bullying tactic, throw off someone from expressing their opinion by demanding proof in a way that suggests no proof exists (or at least can be used-- there's also the "your word against mine" version of this technique). Second and MOST important, THE PROOF IS ALL OVER THE PLACE, BLATANTLY OUT IN THE OPEN, as opposed to scraps of incidents taken out of context and blown out of proportion by political enemies or conspiracy theorists, which is all Hillary-haters base their hatred on.  Whereas the far greater faults That Monster has are flaunted out in the open. His supporters praise it as a sign of transparency-- because apparently when it's OBVIOUS someone is a pathological liar that makes him more trustworthy than someone who's just accused of being a liar without the facts backing it up? Well, the conspiracy theorists haven't dug anything up on him! BECAUSE THEY DON'T NEED TO DIG!

This is why KIDS don't like him! Why do KIDS so consistently profess their dislike of him? BECAUSE IT'S OBVIOUS if you're not mired in political maneuvering and bias. He is simply a BAD MAN, and kids can spot the emperor's lack of clothes, just like the story said. I'm not saying kids will ALWAYS be right about politics, just that they can tell when the emperor has no clothes. Like a dog who's normally docile suddenly growling at certain strangers who turn out to be bad. It's gut instinct. THIS IS A BAD MAN.

[Name of daycare retracted], the daycare I went to on Friday, has THAT MAN signs up-- one along the edge of the road I thought could be just, you know, anybody, not the daycare itself trying to make a statement, but then I saw they had TWO HUGE SIGNS, one on each side of the daycare's actual sign, EACH EVEN PARTIALLY COVERING UP THE SIGN FOR THE DAYCARE ITSELF. Hol-Lee-Heck. Well, it's a very effective Halloween decoration, scares the crap out of me. How desperate ARE the directors of this daycare? I mean, I'd find even Hillary signs displayed that way inappropriate for a large non-affiliated-with-any-other-group-that-could-be-biased daycare/school, even if it is technically a private school. It's just-- it's mind-boggling. Obviously the other side has feelings just as strong as mine, it's just THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES. There's no other way to put it. That's what that story was about. I feel like I'm screaming truth into a void.
___

So, that. I've said my bit. Mic drop.

Here's to all of us surviving the next week and whatever comes after.

Now let's see if I can actually accomplish anything practical with the time I have left today.

----

*Note: back during the Primaries, J thought That Man was a horrible joke, too-- but now that he's, GASP, the only one who can save us from CROOKED HILLARY, suddenly it doesn't matter! Yippie! He's outnumbered 3 to 1 in this household and he's highly aware of it-- Sammy's outburst the other day wasn't the only time it's come up-- but...! At least none of us here are trying to put up any yard signs, boy, that would be a fun household war, wouldn't it? Though in all seriousness, maybe I should try to explain my anxiety reaction to him, maybe then he'd get it. But he's SOOOO touchy about it, he's pretty much shut himself off from listening.

For the record, I get that HRC represents everything the poor folks of rural pennsylvania (and elsewhere) hate, but the charges laid against her over the years have been outrageously, excuse the term, trumped up. She's not a bad person, although she might have policies you disagree with. I don't agree with everything she says. But she is FOR SURE competent and I have faith in her to do the best job she can do. I'm not JUST voting against the other guy. I genuinely think, though admittedly not perfect, she'll be good for the job. Her biggest hurdle in doing a good job will be the same as Obama's has been-- political enemies trying to block everything they do. WHICH IS JUST RIDICULOUS, CONGRESS, GET OVER IT ALREADY. Anyway, but that's discussing politics calmly on the subject of actual issues and abilities, something we can politely disagree over, as opposed to DEAR GOD KEEP THAT MAN AWAY FROM THE NUCLEAR CODES.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
I've been unearthing roots of current subconscious feelings a lot this week, like spontaneous psychoanalysis: "That's impressive," my therapist said, "you've done a lot of work!"

"Not really," I said, "I just ruminate about these things. I don't DO anything about it." I mean, it's all well and good tracing your self-denial and hesitancy to WANT anything back to a simple and understandable Ice Cream Incident at the age of six, but what can you do, go back to 1984 so you can tell that six-year-old "It's OKAY to be disappointed, you're NOT selfish, maybe we can try again to get ice cream later"? Being able to see clearly what had happened and knowing objectively that that six year old did nothing wrong and should not have been so harshly punished by her own inner demons, can't magically erase the layers of loathing and mental mechanizations those demons put in place to keep punishing that inner six-year-old whenever her 38-year-old self tries to even HAVE her own wants and needs.

They keep whispering, "Stop whining! You've got it good! You have nothing to complain about, you live a life of privilege!" Little white girl, comfortable middle class home, two loving parents, good at school (not counting homework*). You lived a sheltered childhood. Oh, sure, try to pipe up something about how lonely you were, start to mention "bullying," but we all know bullies have done much worse to OTHER people. Bullying is supposed to involve physical assault! Nobody ever hurt you. Never mind that when you actually look back and describe various situations you think, "Holy heck, girl, no wonder you have social anxiety." Didn't hurt you.

The irony is, the inner demons are doubling down on all the bullying that did, in fact, happen on the outside. They are being bullies, bullies you can't escape from because they keep following you around inside your own freaking head. That's why you still have anxiety dreams involving school cafeterias, where everyone is laughing at you, and everything you say and do just makes the laughing worse, and you literally blow up and start SMITING people and, well, they STILL point out that you're obviously a freak because normal people don't SMITE people and you're all worked up over nothing.

Note: I'm going to get into the current political situation again here, so, you know. But I'm still not talking about politics, per se, I'm talking about bullying. And subconscious roots.

And the fact that walking down a street lined with campaign signs for a classic psychological (as well as apparently physical) bully can be triggering.

I told you, when I devoted a whole post to this election, that I normally don't have strong feelings about politicians. They're all flawed, they're all skilled, it's just a matter of weighing their traits and comparing it to the job and deciding from there. I was very objective in that post. The FACTS favored one candidate far over the other. But the truth is my strong feelings about this election aren't completely objective, because one candidate literally makes me nauseous. Not hyperbole. I'm not insulting him here, saying "he makes me sick" because he's ugly or I don't like his ideas (although I don't). I'm saying he causes a reflexive stress reaction in my body that makes me feel sick. I am LITERALLY SICK of hearing his voice and seeing his smug, hateful, punchable face.

I saw an article on Twitter last month, see what I wrote:

And because the embed doesn't actually let you see the content of the tweet I was quoting:



And if you're like "On a site called 'Everyday Feminism,' yeah like THAT'S not biased," shut up and read it. Well, read it if you ARE like that. If you can just see the headline and are already nodding like, "Yep, absolutely true, I KNOW," then don't read it because it's freaking triggering. Or in my case, read it, discover it IS triggering but it EXPLAINS SO MUCH so you're glad you read it.

THOSE are the things I experienced at the hands of other kids (and in some cases, probably unintentional, from adults--not my parents I must add) as a child, and the things I saw other kids, some of them very important to me, experience and fill me with rage. THOSE are the experiences evoked in my subconscious when I have those cafeteria nightmares.

And, like the article said, it's incredibly triggering to see these behaviors flaunted by someone running for the highest office in the country. When I see his smug face, he reminds me of every kid who picked on me or my friends at school. The decades of simmering frustration bubble back up into the present and all I want to do is PUNCH HIM, and with him every other bully who has ever crossed my path. Did you hear about the guy who sledgehammered his Hollywood Star yesterday? Oh, say what you want about the evils of vandalism, I'm not condoning him, but I TOTALLY understand him. He just DID what all us victims/loved ones of victims FEEL. And, more kindly than sledgehammering the guy's FACE, which is what we really burn inside for (not saying we genuinely want it with our minds! We just FEEL that want).

This ISN'T political, this is primal gut instinct. Don't try to tell me his opponent is a bully, too. You may not agree with her, but if you think she's a bully then you don't understand what a bully is. It isn't just insisting that you're right-- that's called being assertive. A bully is something else entirely, and victims recognize it when we see it, if only subconsciously through reflexive stress reactions. I went into my therapy session on edge yesterday, and said I kept thinking about bullies, and my therapist kept asking if something had happened that had triggered it, and I said, "No, it was just seeing political signs along the road." She nodded immediately and said, "Ah, of course, you've been Trumped." She didn't know my political affiliations! I hadn't said anything specific! But I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one of her patients who has this reaction, and she knew EXACTLY what I meant. People are only getting bullying flashbacks via one particular candidate.

Anyway, to bring it back around, walking the kids to the bus stop along a street with sign after sign supporting the Bullying Poster Boy is... somewhat disconcerting. Even the kids think so. Of COURSE the kids think so-- not just my kids, SO MANY kids, not just parroting their parents' opinions, but genuinely their OWN: "Why do people like him? He's MEAN." Leave it to the kids to cut to the chase.

"Well," I say, "people like him... because... maybe they just believe his lies?" I don't know how to explain. I understand how many people in communities like mine have just had enough of the Liberal Elite, but to actually support this monster instead? THESE people are not monsters. These are ordinary folks who give me cheerful hellos, who have lent a hand on occasion, who have families and full lives.

Maddie's friend and her older sister run out of their house (one WITHOUT a campaign sign) to join my kids at the bus stop, their hair in cornrows, bright smiles on their dark faces, and I get another mental nudge. How does THEIR family feel, living on this street? Oh, maybe people are just as nice to them. Maybe they see them as "GOOD ones, not like Those Others." Or maybe not. But how would I know? Perfectly inoffensive white lady with Resting Nice Face? Nobody feels threatened by me. Who knows how many people who are perfectly decent to me aren't nearly as decent to someone else?

Bringing me back to childhood again. Or adolescence-- do you know how socially acceptable it was to pick on my best friend in high school? Kids I didn't previously think of as bullies would join in freely. Maybe they felt it was okay to side with the bullies when the person being picked on seemed so different from them, too. Maybe they felt it was safer. Maybe that's how the people on my street feel.

I'll admit: I wasn't completely immune from this behavior myself on occasion. The song "Hey Mickey" always kind of haunts me-- people in the marching band had made up alternate words for it, directed at this awkward nerd of a kid whom I didn't particularly like either, and although I knew I shouldn't find it funny, it WAS funny. But gosh, what was it like for that kid, when even I couldn't help laughing at that song?

But luckily for my retroactive pride, I was more often the kid in the middle. The one defending a friend to another friend who was saying terrible things behind--or in front of-- her back. "How did the others react when you defended the person they were picking on?" my therapist asked. I blinked a little. "Well... it was weird. On the surface they called me things like 'goody goody' or whatever, asked why I cared, told me to stay out of it because I was wrong," I said. "But on some level-- I think something in them kind of respected it? Because they weren't like 'If you're friends with them you can't be friends with us,' or anything overtly cruel. I think they KNEW that, with the situation reversed on them, I'd stick up for them, too, you know? So they didn't want to alienate me too much."

She smiled as if I'd finally hit on obvious proof that I didn't have to be so afraid of speaking up for myself. But it's so much easier to stick up for other people than for myself. Sticking up for myself against outside bullies (or even just nice people who disagree with me) would require me to first stick up for myself against my inner bullies, and they are super-persuasive.

But maybe that's why I'm so privileged. Maybe I can't handle any more to battle inside me. But outside me? I can keep standing up for others. And maybe people will actually, every so often, listen to me.

So that's why I keep speaking up, trying to get people to listen to each other.

My therapist suggested maybe I'd have better luck standing up against my inner bullies if I thought of it as doing it for my childrens' sake. Still really hard. But it feels right.

I have enough trouble dealing with internal bullies. I refuse to put up with outside bullies, no matter who they're picking on.



*Last night after I tucked her in and left the room, Maddie out of nowhere piped up, "Mommy, did you ever forget to do your homework as a kid?" HAH, girl, we don't have time to have this discussion right now! 
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
Been having a bad week. When I say that, there's usually nothing actually BAD happening IN my LIFE, it just means my mental/emotional imbalances are acting up again. That's the case here. I feel like my brain has been invaded by seven billion voices shouting for help. I can't handle the weight of it. And as I struggle to shoulder that weight while my own life slowly succumbs to entropy, I feel guilty about my inability to handle this all. So that weighs me down further. I know with my brain that all this weight isn't mine to carry, that I need to let it go, offer it up to God, lean on a support system of some sort, but knowing with your brain and being ACTUALLY ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH what your brain says you ought to are very different things.

Facebook did a thing the other day. Now, I must say, I've been avoiding Facebook a lot. It's a shame because more actual people I know spend time there than on Twitter, but the algorithms make such a mess of things that I just simply DON'T LIKE trying to read my feed. I go to check notifications, and every so often I'll read what I can see. Like how on Twitter I'm a chronic ReTweeter, and on Tumblr I ONLY ever reblog, I "share posts" a lot on Facebook, more than I post original content. Now, apparently someone didn't like my political sharing? Because I got blocked from sharing. Actually for 24 hours I was blocked from posting ANYTHING. Now it seems I can, say, post the word "testing," but it still won't let me SHARE posts. Even, apparently, when they're MY post.

Because Facebook likes to show you "memories," what you posted on this date in a different year, and offers to let you share it again. Yesterday it showed me this LiveJournal entry, on being Pro-Life. I was kind of curious if the entry still reflected my feelings or if it would show me my naivety of two years ago. On the contrary, I found it strangely inspiring. I clicked "Share" on the FB Memories post and typed this into the "say something about this" box:

Me from two years ago encouraged me today, to keep speaking what I know is right, even if no one agrees with me.

Look (going off on a tangent here): I have spent my entire life being silenced. I was laughed at and shamed to the point where I was, rightly, voted Shyest in my high school class. I still struggle to speak, both literally and figuratively. When people tell me "You're wrong" I shut up, feeling like everyone else must know something I don't, everyone else must be smarter than me, even when I know deep inside that I am right. I am SICK of being silenced, of being belittled, of not being taken seriously. I am SICK of buying the lie that everyone else knows something I don't, that everyone else has some vital bit of worth that I'm lacking. I am SICK of hating myself. And darnit, when I know, deep inside, that I'm right about something, I NEED to speak up. I NEED to let my unique outlook shine even if it doesn't jive up with everyone else's. ESPECIALLY when it doesn't jive up with everyone else's. I don't know who reported me for something yesterday that had my Facebook account locked up for 24 hours, but dude, why you trying to shut up the Shyest Girl of Derry Class of '96? I've had enough of being shut up. It's more than time I start making noise.*

*(Note: this is still really hard: I'm fighting against some really strong internal Shut-Up-Amy demons. I speak determinedly but I could still use support. I had a REALLY rough I-should-just-die day yesterday. Encouragement is never wasted).

Except when I hit post, it told me I was still blocked from sharing.

You see the irony, here, right?

I copied the comment into my email drafts and tried posting again from different computers and devices-- no luck! I figured I'd just give it up, because it's really not important, yadda yadda yadda.

Except the irony nagged at me. I couldn't write a screed about being sick of not speaking up, and then not actually POST it.

So this morning I saw this hanging around my email and knew I had to put it SOMEWHERE to get it off my chest before I could move on to anything else.

Because my brain is still too heavy to function well, but now it's just this tiny bit lighter.

As long as LiveJournal doesn't decide to crap out on me just as I hit "Post" now.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
This morning I filled out a survey for the Census Bureau. I kept snorting derisively at my answers to the questions. Gosh, yes, this is a family of four, one mother one father two children (one boy one girl, at that!), living as an individual family in our own house with two cars, nobody's ever been divorced or remarried or blended into other families. Yes, every one of us is white and non-Hispanic, and our ethnic backgrounds are the patchwork of typical European cultures boasted of every white non-Native American whose family has been here for generations. It's disgustingly cookie-cutter, yes.

Then I got to the disability questions, and the laughter changed to something charged with a little more hilarity. "Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help with walking or climbing stairs?" "Yes," I said out loud, thinking of my extreme klutziness, and my daughter's somehow even MORE extreme klutziness.* No, I checked in the box. I knew what the question was really asking. We're all perfectly capable of walking.

"Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions?" "YES," I said with an even more hysterical laugh. This whole household is a mess of Attention Deficiency. But again, I only actually MARKED Yes under the boy's name, since he actually gets government aid for home/school wraparound services. Whatever his dad's and my problems, it isn't like we CAN'T make decisions. It isn't like we need someone signing our paperwork for us. We accomplish things. We hold down and even excel at our jobs. We are perfectly capable adults.

One hour later I was sitting in my therapist's office, sobbing about my incapabilities, while she reminded me that I should stop beating myself up for failing to be everything to everyone, that it's okay to ask for help even if you think you're SUPPOSED to be able to do it alone.

Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions? I thought again as I sniffled through an attempt to schedule my next appointment, slowly realizing a scheduling conflict and catching it just before the receptionist printed it out. I don't need an assistant to make my appointments for me. But this interaction took a great deal more energy to accomplish than it would for an average person. Just because I'm capable of making my own appointments doesn't mean I don't need to REST for a minute after doing so.

I thought of the Spoons thing that goes around Tumblr and the like, that code for the amount you have to give. I'm not sure the analogy always works for me, but I understand the feeling behind it, and that's what I thought about now: just because I'm not obviously disabled doesn't mean I'm invincible. Just because SOME people aren't as sensitive as I am doesn't mean I SHOULDN'T break down over "stupid" things. Just because SOME people are neat freaks doesn't mean
I should instinctively keep a tidy house. Just because SOME people communicate through shouting doesn't mean I shouldn't be totally uncomfortable and shut down in such interactions. Just because making a telephone call is a thing MILLIONS of people do without trouble every minute doesn't mean I should be able to do it without scripts and deep breathing exercises and a reward for myself when I finish.

Just because it seems like nothing to most of the world doesn't mean it's not huge for me. But it's only a problem if I pretend it isn't.

I am exceedingly fortunate. There is so much I can do, so much I'm even good at. But that doesn't mean I SHOULD be capable of EVERYTHING. That doesn't mean my weaknesses are failures. I'm just Differently Abled.

This is me. I'm a good writer. I'm an excellent children's librarian. I'm empathetic and thoughtful. I'm highly sensitive. I'm demisexual. I'm a good cook but hate deciding what to make. Oh, just in general, I'm indecisive. I'm scatterbrained, inclined to be late, and very, very messy.

Take me or leave me. Don't demand I be anything else.


----
*So last week my cell rang at work and I saw it was the school calling. When I answered I heard someone saying in a pitying voice to someone in the background "...smashed your fingers in the door..." and before I could stop myself, before even saying hello, I said, "This must be about Madeleine." Of course it was. She has a gift, I assure you.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
YOU GUYS. Remember when LiveJournal was actually social media and new Harry Potter books were coming out and we'd just DISCUSS THEM excitedly RIGHT HERE as we finished reading?

That was a decade-ish ago. Since then I've learned to Blog Properly, and have networked with loads of Librarian-types, or have made online friends with just various cool people I haven't actually met. (Since then also my baby has gotten quite grown as has his sister who wasn't even conceived yet). I've gotten into the habit of Writing Reviews, in which I DO in fact go on about my feelings about a work or whatever, but what I write can better be described as a typed book talk: "Here's this book, here's why you might want to read it! No spoilers, no discussion, I'm just RECOMMENDING!"

When I finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child --The Script, I felt curiously incomplete. Well, partially because I have not yet fully experienced the story by seeing it performed. But also because I felt "Okay, I've finished, now I need to frantically post to all my friends who are also probably finishing about now! Right? That's... that's how reading these works."

...it's different now, a decade later. A lot of us have kids, which means me reading this three days after its release was actually EARLY, not late, and who knows who else has managed to get to it yet. And online, I have followers. Loads of people I don't actually know, who keep expecting me to write brilliant things instead of just chat. We speak a language of reviews. We carefully avoid spoilers. We don't just spill our thoughts.

BUT I WANT A SPACE FOR THAT AGAIN!

Anyway, here is my Spoiler-Free Response post. Those of you who want to hash things out in more spoilerific detail, use the comments section right here on LiveJournal, rather than on Facebook or Twitter or whatever-- that keeps the discussion all in one place and, ironically, makes it harder for people to stumble upon spoilers, because the comments aren't just OUT THERE like they are on Facebook or whatever. You do not need a LiveJournal account to comment-- you can log in with another type of account or just do it as Anonymous (but please sign your name)-- Anonymous comments won't show up right away but I DO get notified and I WILL put them up eventually. Anyway.

Make no mistake, this is a SCRIPT. Reading it is not magical like seeing it performed would be, or even like reading a book that's actually crafted to be your whole experience is. It's a placeholder, a consolation for those of us who CAN'T see the show on stage, so that we don't miss out on the story itself. But you can tell that this really is just an OUTLINE of the experience. This is meant to be viewed on a stage-- that's how the story is crafted. You really aren't getting the whole experience just reading the script.

But that never stopped anybody reading Shakespeare.

I saw in passing a tweet in which somebody said somebody ELSE had called it fanfiction, which IS technically not true, but I can see where the thought might be coming from. After all, some theater guys did the actual WRITING.* It's just Jo Rowling helped shape the story, making the story, therefore, canonical. But there are lots of reminders and callbacks to things in the books that may just be reminders but also kind of feel like jumping-off points actual fanfic writers MIGHT use. And, being written almost a decade on, it kind of takes the part of-- what's the word, fanfic people? "Corrective" fic? Something that rolls off the tongue better? Anyway, that-- it's able to fix some of the problems the original series had. Notably, we get our first actually likable and heroic Slytherin House characters. (In fact, if you'd told me ahead of time who my favorite new character would be? ...well, didn't see that coming). And yes, they're ambitious and cunning without being evil or snobbish!

We also get to play around with AUs a little bit for those people who weren't always sure about Granger-Weasley marriage concept, and we get FURTHER SATISFACTION THAT RON/HERMIONE IS INDEED THE BRIGHTEST TIMELINE for those of us who are still passionate shippers after all these years. That wasn't a spoiler. THAT WAS MY HIGHLY OPINIONATED TRUTH. ...it was LOVELY to see them together as adults, their ever-beautiful chemistry still melting my heart after all these years. I liked the reminder that they really are one of my absolute favorite fictional couples ever. SO SUE ME.

It's scary. I was surprised how scary it could be simply reading the script-- imagine seeing it in the theater! The stakes get high and they get there fast-- "this is happening in only Act Two? Of Four Acts? Only the BEGINNING of Act Two at that?!"

There are twists and turns you don't see coming. It's just plain fun.

When I finished I had to go look at production pictures. I know, that sounds funny-- I can read BOOKS without pictures just FINE. But it was strangely comforting to see some of the scenes I'd read, like, "oh good, they DID complete this script by performing it, PHEW!" And, just reading about grown-up Harry, and then SEEING grown-up Harry... it was just good to see him there, you know? I kept staring at him. "That's Harry Potter, grown up." Now, I see Daniel Radcliffe as a grown-up and I go "aw, look how well he grew up!" but I don't actually think of him as HARRY grown up. THIS is Harry grown up, and it's just nice dangit.

I guess I'll stop there. Chat in the comments if you like!

*Just like an old-fashioned LiveJournal journal entry, I'm not bothering to look up their names for accuracy because I don't actually CARE. It's not like you won't be able to FIND it.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
My dad is a big genealogist, and when I say big, I mean he was into it WAY before Ancestry.com, when you had to do serious legwork, travelling all around the country and even world to pour over decades of paper church registries and the like. By chance I eventually settled in the town that one of his favorite ancestors had lived in, my great-great-great* grandfather on my dad's mom's side, a blacksmith, guardsman, and Civil War hero. My dad wrote a (self-pubbed and extremely limited in distribution) book on the guy and his squadron's history, which supposedly once was in the Local History collection of the library I now work for, though I can't find it there now. I have to smile every time I drive past the corner where this several-greats grandfather's blacksmith shop had been, just because I can hear the enthusiasm in my dad's voice as he once pointed it out to me, every single time.

Ancestry.com has certainly added new ways to track genealogy, though. And recently, through DNA testing, it unearthed an unpleasant truth: the man he so admired, who'd done so many great things, wasn't his great-great-grandfather after all.

My great-great-great (or however many) grandmother had been 15 when she married this man. And five months pregnant. And according to the DNA trail, the father of that boy she carried (my g-g-grandfather) was one of three brothers, one of whom was a teacher, another of whom was eventually locked up in an insane asylum, and all of whom were at least twice her age. Was it the teacher, taking advantage of one of his students? Was it his younger brother, and they locked him up for being a serial rapist or something? Does it matter? Whatever happened, it was at LEAST a STATUTORY rape, if not full-blown. The blacksmith/war-hero was a family friend, who married the girl to save her from what in that era would surely have been scandal and ruin. "It makes me admire him even more," my dad said sadly, "to have raised this boy as his own even though he knew he wasn't actually his."

I wondered a little at my dad's disappointment when he said that. So this hero's blood didn't run in our veins after all. But he still RAISED our however-many-greats grandfather. Did it matter that our DNA came from a rapist, or did it matter more that the boy ended up calling a good man Dad?

(It's a bit like the part of the Gospel of Matthew they read on Christmas Eve, which always makes me roll my eyes. Ol' St. Matt goes off on this long, long genealogical report, tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham all the way up to Joseph. To JOSEPH. Who, in the very next verse, he explains is NOT ACTUALLY JESUS'S BIOLOGICAL FATHER, ANYWAY. Like SERIOUSLY, Matt, what was your point?! UNLESS it's more important that this man, who happens to have serious Jewish blood going way back, RAISED the boy Jesus as his own. Because maybe that's more important than the bloodline after all? I don't know, don't lecture me on theology, I'm just observing. Anyway, this is only tangentally related, because this post is about bad stuff in the past, which makes this story very different depending on whether you believe Mary had been raped like my g-g-g grandmother or she had indeed conceived the child via the Holy Spirit. Or you believe the whole story was made up period which makes it moot. But in that case, the Holy Spirit answer's the one in the story so it is still good).

I got onto this subject today because I started puzzling over something I'd seen on social media (ah, social media). The other night the First Lady spoke at the Democratic National Convention, a lovely speech full of hope and integrity, and she noted that now two little black girls lived in a mansion that had been built by slaves-- look how far we've come! Think how much farther we can go! And for some reason a bunch of people, instead of hearing the message of progress, got stuck on "wait, did she just say the White House was built by slaves? How DARE she say the White House was built by slaves!" and I'm like, "uh, because it WAS? It's not like you can't learn this information through a picture book. Or even just, you know, ASSUME, based on the history of the region." But these folks were really riled up about this. If they couldn't deny that there were a lot of dang slaves "employed" in the building of our nation's capital, they had to start insisting that well, they were slaves, but they really weren't treated that badly.

I'm like what is your ISSUE? She wasn't trying to slander the holy edifice that is the White House by referring to a negative-but-well-documented fact about its history, she was trying to say Isn't it GREAT, that once people that looked like my family were enslaved and would they ever have imagined a family that looked like them would be living here as the Family in Chief but here we are? Hooray! Our country is getting better all the time! Is it really that important that the history of our country is far from perfect?

It got me pondering the ways history is told, and how a lot of these people are the same ones who complain about "revisionist history," and how they want to stick with the TRUE history, which is the history they learned growing up. You know, like how George Washington chopped down a cherry tree as a boy? So what these people are looking for, I guess, is Golden, Gleaming History, History that is a role model for us to look up to.

I finally got my ears on the Hamilton musical a couple months ago. 1) gosh it is SO GOOD; 2) one thing that struck me is how much it put the lie to the idea that the founding of America was some stately, well-organized thing like the back of a two-dollar bill. That's another thing people who like Golden Gleaming History like to talk about: "The Founding Fathers thought THIS" and "The Founding Fathers did THAT" and "WHAT would the Founding Fathers say?!" And yet, listening to this, it reminds me that the last thing the Founding Fathers were was a unanimous monolyth on the issues we would face as a nation. SOME Founding Fathers wanted stronger state governments, weaker federal; SOME wanted a stronger federal and weaker states. SOME Founding Fathers did indeed keep slaves; but SOME Founding Fathers were outspoken abolitionists. The notion that the Founding Fathers were the last word on every issue is based on this Gleaming concept of History, a History that has no room for Cabinet Battles and dirty deals and blackmail, because that would mean we COULDN'T use it as the final word in an argument.

It's literally part of the conservative mindset-- not just politically conservative, but the whole idea of conservative-- to want to hold the past up as ideal. That's what conservatism is about: change is bad, the good old days were good. If you hold this mindset, it's a little earthshattering to face up to the not-so-good parts of the past. If your ancestors came out of history on top, it can feel like a personal affront to hear that they weren't perfect. But it's not just political: we all have a little conservative side of us, a part that holds tight to stories of how things ought to have been and believes in them. My dad's a pretty progressive guy, but it did upset him to learn of the smudge in his family tree that seemed to take away his claim to good blood. And me-- as a kid I had a really hard time with this concept. To find out anyone great had a not-so-great side? To uncover the dirty laundry of history? Heck, to find out how many of my favorite musicians were "druggies"? Frustrated me, man. I couldn't reconcile it. If these things were BAD, why were we learning about how GREAT they were?

But I was younger then. I've learned about shades of gray. Which is why it's surprising when so many people my age and older are still stuck in this black-and-white mindset.

A thing I've always hated since I discovered it is the Your Fave Is Problematic thing. It's almost like the opposite of the History Was Great and Never Dare Say Otherwise mindset, but is the exact same thing, really. You think something's or someone's so great? I'm going to POKE AS MANY HOLES IN THEM AS I CAN. SEE, NOT GREAT. So a fan says YOU ARE SO WRONG, THEY ARE GREAT, YOU SUCK, and the "problematic" folks are like "NO, THEY SUCK, AND IF YOU LIKE THEM STILL THEN YOU SUCK." WHAT, people. Why does everything have to be perfect or terrible? Why can't things just BE with all their nuances?

Back to the topic of dark spots in ones ancestry. I've always felt uncomfortable with the use of the word "we" to describe anything that I, personally, was not involved with-- "we won" or "we lost" or "we did this historical thing because...." I don't like my sports teams referred to as "we" unless I'm on them (ha). I don't like my country referred to as "we" if it's something out of my control-- like, back to sports teams, Olympians-- "we" do not get so many gold medals, those people who are way better athletes than most of us could ever imagine being got them; and I especially don't like it when referring to events that happened before I was even born. We settled in America. We drove off most of the native people. We defeated the British. We nuked Japan. Our ancestors, maybe. And maybe we've even benefitted from horrible things our ancestors did.

But we don't have to take it personally. It happened. And who cares whether it was your ancestors or not. What are YOU going to do? Who are YOU going to follow? I've got a great-great-great grandfather who was a rapist, but my great-great grandfather was raised to be a good man by a good man, instead. You're not bound by the past, so you don't have to fear it.

What happens NOW, is the question. That's what Mrs. Obama was saying the other night, not "feel ashamed of your history" but "look back on history and how we have improved and how we can keep on improving!" Look back to look forward.

I think I've made sense here, it's hard to tell because I've been super distracted by our library Harry Potter party happening on Saturday and I've been making chocolate frogs all day, which involves a lot of back and forth while waiting for things to set. But anyway.


*I THINK I have the right number of greats
rockinlibrarian: (voldemart)
If you've known me awhile you probably know that I can't stand politics as they are: the us-vs-them arguing and posturing and refusing to work together. You might know I'm a registered Independent because I can't stand the side-taking. It's true I lean left, but not in a party line way, and most of the time I'm the one that goes "but the CORRECT answer is something completely DIFFERENT from what either side is proposing!" See, my problem is I am, by my very nature, extremely talented at seeing all sides of a situation. Not bragging, stating. This is after all the same trait that makes me obnoxiously indecisive ("but ALL these dinner options have equally valid plusses and minuses!"). Old acquaintances have reminded me that, even as a kid, I tended to get myself in the middle of feuds, trying usually painfully to be friends with two or more people who hated each other (to my credit, I always defended the person who wasn't there to the person talking smack that I happened to be with at the time. No two-faced behavior from me. I was open in my refusal to take sides). I'm a peacemaker. 'Swhat I do.

But the ability to SEE all sides of a situation does not necessarily mean AGREEING with all sides of a situation. It's one thing when the sides genuinely ARE balanced, like in the what-to-have-for-dinner question. But when a Peacemaker like me has managed to see all sides of a situation and has come to a conclusion that the sides are NOT equal, after all, our decisions come rock-solid. And listen, it's easy for me to defer to other people, assuming they know better than I do-- yet another symptom of my indecisiveness, but I'm learning to put my foot down. I'm learning to speak up. I'm learning that I can be RIGHT, sometimes, too. So look, don't try to tell me I'm wrong on this one. I've seen all sides. I sympathize with all sides. But my gosh one side is clearly better than the other, so let me just get it out here so I can point to it and move on.

I know, friends and family, that many of you have, not just disliked, but utterly hated Hillary Clinton for a very long time. You've already made the decision to vote against her no matter what, and the GOP is counting on that. They will be slinging so much mud over the next few months, and that mud looks totally justified. Here's the problem: what's their alternative? THEY have a narcissistic blowhard with no political experience and not much in the way of brains, who yes has boatloads of money which he might claim equals business sense but in truth the money is primarily inherited and his actual business decisions have been relatively bad ones, a hothead who doesn't believe diplomacy applies to him. Or, it applies to how YOU should treat HIM, but HE is immune from having to use it. I'd add here the bits about him being openly bigoted and outright hostile toward women and minorities, but if I did y'all'd just go "Oh, that's just those liberal types being so OVERSENSITIVE again, they blow everything out of proportion," so I won't even bother. Let's just stick with the narcissistic blowhard part.

Oooo, you say, those are awfully mudslingingish words, yourself, you hypocrite! You can't say one side is relying on bashing the other side and then go bash 'em right back! But the difference is Clinton is experienced. She's competent, intelligent, knows how the world works, and her underlings both love and respect her. I don't particularly care for everything she's ever done or said. She wasn't my top choice in 2008. But I've always admitted she's got the chops for the job.

BUT LOOK AT THE BAD THINGS SHE'S DONE, say you.

Okay then. Let's look at this. Imagine that, instead of choosing a President, you're choosing a Service Animal. Sounds kind of insulting, but it's not-- we're talking about choosing someone who is meant to serve and lead you, so, it applies. So Hillary is a Trained Service Dog (again, in this scenario. I am not calling her a dog, I'm weaving a metaphor). She's got all the paperwork. But there's some troublesome notes in the paperwork. Maybe she's chased squirrels a few times when she was supposed to be on duty. Maybe she's even led her unsuspecting masters into danger once or twice. Maybe the paperwork might be fudged, maybe some of the incidents reported have been blown out of proportion, but maybe they haven't. Either way, okay. You decide you can't trust this one as a Service Animal. Maybe she needs some more training or something, maybe she should be retired or taken out of the Service Animal register.

But you still need a Service Animal. So you turn to the GOP and say, Well then, do YOU have a Service Animal we could use?

Well... they hesitate a bit, then dive onward. Well, not a TRAINED Service Animal, per se... but we've got this rabid weasel who crawled in the mail slot. We tried to put a leash on him but he chewed through it, but that's all right, he's got spirit, see?

So look. I think I'm going to stick with the imperfect but actual service animal. The chances she'll mess up at the job are just a LEETLE less likely than the chances the rabid weasel will make a complete mess of everything.

You disagree? You want to argue? Okay, but there is nothing you can bring to light that will make the Trained Service Dog look like a worse option than the Rabid Weasel. Instead, you've got to prove to me that the Rabid Weasel isn't actually a Rabid Weasel. Got it? Prove to me you're not trying to put a Rabid Weasel into office and maybe I'll care what smack you have to say about the Trained Service Dog.

Good luck.

You know very well I still love you. I'm just saying THINK. Just say no to rabid weasels.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
Summer Vacation hasn't been treating me well. Sure, I didn't always make the best use of my time while the kids were in school, but now that they're home I'm a zombie staring blankly and mourning my lack of alone time. Also they're addicted to YouTube and video games like Minecraft and Roblox which are only available two places in this house-- my computer and my Nook-- and since there's two of THEM they've been commandeering my online access, so I don't even have you all to whine to about it. Seems the only way I can get them to go out and play is if I go, too-- take them to the pool, let them hang out an hour after Vacation Bible School this morning because they were actually running around with other kids even though I really wanted to get back home and have lunch, whatever. I feel very impotent when it comes to actually running my own life-- everyone else is running it for me. And when they AREN'T, I sit and stare because I can't even figure out what it is I would do if I DID take charge of my own life. I'm not sure how long it took me to actually start typing this, once Sammy decided to go see what his sister was doing instead of playing Roblox and I realized I had my computer to myself and could finally type out all the stuff I've been wanting to put out there all week. Like, wait, what did I want to write about again?

My physical body has been a mess lately. My right knee has been acting goofy* since Disney World and really only getting worse over time. It doesn't like to bend. It doesn't like going up or down stairs, or getting in and out of the car, or bending down and standing up again, and will protest with a scream of pain if I try it. And resting it doesn't even help. It's still mad at me in the morning after a supposed good night's sleep. I finally went to the doctor last week, who determined that nothing was broken and it was something in the joint itself, either tendonitis or arthritis, and all I can do is take lots of ibuprofen and put ice on it occasionally. This past week it's felt like my whole body wanted to follow that knee, finding a million ways to creak and cramp and act up whenever I tried to move OR to stay still, and I was like, seriously? Is my whole body falling apart now? I'm supposed to get into shape but I can't because exercise hurts, but not exercising makes me continue toward entropy? The good news is the x-ray determined my knee issue is not arthritis, which means it's not permanent, supposedly. There's hope for me eventually.

For some reason I have gained 25 pounds in the past two years. Now, before I go any further, you have to understand that I, unlike far too many people in this fat-phobic world, have never had body issues. I was skinny as a kid, so no one fat-shamed me into hating my own body, so instead I devoted all my physical self-loathing to my face, my blotchy, too-square face with the crooked teeth and stupid-vague-EnneaType9 expression-- look okay I still have irrational issues with my face, so I'm not like some miraculously physical-shame-free person. But my body I've always been okay with. I thought my figure was kind of perfect when I was younger. When I was pregnant, while other mothers-to-be fretted about feeling fat, I was like HOLY CRAP I LOOK LIKE A FERTILITY GODDESS, THE EARTH IS MINE! Even now, I'm not disgusted by my figure: it feels properly womanly** to me. But lately the weight gain has brought other problems with it. GIRTH has become a problem vanity-wise only because dresses I made or bought-on-Modcloth-so-they're-expensive-and-pretty just a few years ago NO LONGER ZIP UP. I do not want to get rid of those dresses. Okay, but besides that, I've developed actual health issues that correlate with weight gain: the joint pain, as established. Sleep apnea. Heartburn, which for some reason always hits me at two in the afternoon no matter what I may or may not have eaten. I've never been in good shape, what-my-body-can-do-wise, even when I was skinny, but that's hardly improving now, either.

And my husband ironically makes it worse by needling me about it. He's equal-opportunity about it at any case, going on about how we BOTH need to lose weight, but every little crack he makes makes me feel more stubbornly like NOT doing anything to help improve my weight. I'm just going to NOT exercise now because he said that, right? And food. Food is a real issue. I've always wanted to eat healthier than we eat in this household, with salads and produce of all sorts, experimenting with all kinds of foods, cutting back on meat intake-- in summer, especially, why doesn't my family like SALADS? Why do they insist on COOKED food? But with my family of picky eaters, they're not going to go for it. But my husband, while he won't sacrifice his hearty meat-and-potatoes*** dishes, he thinks snacking is the evil we need to cut. No eating too late in the evening (even though when I work evenings I often CAN'T eat until, like, 9 PM). No eating between meals. Whenever he sees me get a snack he makes some snarky comment about it, and you know what? It just makes me want to eat MORE and WORSE. Whether it's out of spite or just a feeling of DARNIT I WANT SOMETHING FOR MYSELF, I WANT SOME LITTLE BIT OF HAPPINESS JUST FOR ME TO INDULGE IN, DO NOT DENY ME THIS COOKIE. With the objective observer part of my mind, I can see myself doing this, making an unhealthily psychological connection to food, STRESS-EATING. So obviously, the objective observer says, I don't NEED to eat when I feel that way, right? At which point the objective observer gets GLARED AT by the rest of my mind, more determined than ever that NO ONE, NO ONE SHALL TAKE MY SWEET-AND-STARCHY SNACKS FROM ME, INCLUDING ME! When I mentioned this to my psychiatrist she said, "so when you feel this way, how much do you eat?" "I don't know, a few cookies?" "So not, like, two pizzas at a sitting?" "What?!" "People do that," she explained. Well dang, surely I SHOULD be allowed my cookies then, shouldn't I.

But seriously, that's so psychological. I so definitely make sure I always have a chocolate stash just because it's MINE. I'm a grownup and I can have a dang chocolate stash if I want. Because it's nice to feel like SOMETHING is in my control, you know?

Completely psychological.

I was going to write about bigger, more important things probably, but I think this is all I'm getting to today.

*pun not intended
**not that skinny women AREN'T womanly! I do not wish to suggest there is any WRONG way to be womanly! But I do feel my body is in fact properly womanly. Not my face, though, it's still too square. :P
***Granted, I won't sacrifice potatoes, either. It's just, you know, the concept. Meat-and-potatoes. But potatoes are happy. I love potatoes. Shut up anti-starch people.
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