Decal Matter

My sister lives in an apartment complex, in one of those places that has the pool and the clubhouse and all that, and those delightful speed bumps every 6 feet throughout the entire parking lot, which should come with a ribbon-cutting ceremony if you ever manage to make it out (suspension damage notwithstanding).

Her leasing company doesn’t allow tack holes or nail holes or screw holes or bullet holes of any kind in the walls, and they fine $50 PER HOLE! Even if it’s just a tack that holds a mirror up to society! No holes. No exceptions. No mercy.

So, her apartment is pitifully bare, other than the decorations she managed to put up, and believe me, she got creative. She is a decorative person, and always has tapestries and posters and blankets and pictures and paintings and all types of shit all over the place at all times. Ancient coins and shit. So, the “Fifty bucks per hole” bit is a little restricting, and it sounds like a proposition, if you ask me. Even though my sister made the place look nice, there was still… something… missing. And I knew what it was.

I called around to 17 different decal companies, asking for them to make a custom decal for my sister. (See, I told you I knew what she needed!) A decal leaves no holes, it’s customizable, reusable, and I knew my sister would be responsibly diligent with keeping the paper backing so she could transport it to whichever room seemed most appropriate, and probably to future apartments because of how awesome it was. I found quite a few companies who would be willing to make a custom decal, but none that would make the one I wanted.

It was frustrating. Weren’t they listening to my story about her leasing company, and the trials of decorating without puncturing the wall? Obviously not, because some representatives didn’t even respond when I sent them the prototype, and two of them actually engaged in a thread about how they were a “family startup company,” and how “profanity” doesn’t lie within their family values, and thereby, not within the scope of their business! Good DAY sir!

You’d be surprised how many people got offended. I guess the customer isn’t always right. This customer wanted a decal that depicted beautifully scrolled lines, curling around one of life’s great questions:

“Can We Get A Muthafuckin Moment of Silence… For This Small Chronic Break?”

Not only would they not answer the question at hand, but they were unwilling to make the decal for me, too. Obviously someone (a bunch of em) needs to take a muthafuckin moment (a bunch of em) of silence.

At first, I said “There’s not even any profanity in there!” But then I read it again, and realized I was overlooking the word ‘muthafuckin,’ oops, but because I wanted to preserve the quote, I couldn’t bring myself to censor it. Who wants a decal of a f*@#&ing censored word??! No one. That’s who.

I was kinda mad, because of a few reasons, but the fact that many of those decal companies would have gladly printed “Kickin’ Ass” for an ATV or truck, was really upsetting me. It was a double standard with which I could not compromise. I know for a fact they would have done that, because I live in the boonies, as they’re called, and everyone out here has a big ol’ truck, and the louder they are, the dumber the driver seems to be. Everywhere you look, someone has decals bearing clever sage-like phrasings, such as “Pantydropper” and “Put It In The Mud,” but nothing about a chronic break. My sister lives in the city, so a “Kickin’ Ass” decal was out of the question.

I realize this is ridiculous to complain about, since our “melting pot” of a country is currently overflowing with marginalized people, including (but not limited to) people who can’t even get a cake or flowers for their gay wedding, people who can’t get prescriptions filled because the pharmacist has personal views about why the patient has/needs them, and people who are being denied jobs, housing, and entry into open spaces just because of the color of their skin. I shouldn’t consider this decal thing a big deal, and I don’t, really. I just operate on principles, and big or small, I don’t like policies where the owner/operator can pick and choose and be selective based on whatever criteria they choose at the time. This country is a playground for that kind of thing, especially nowadays, and it’s sickening to see people grin as they defend their exclusiveness. They know they’ll be backed up by hundreds, if not thousands, of people who think just like they do, and there’s strength in numbers. There’s false confidence in numbers. And even worse, there is collective ignorance in numbers. For a Live In Color demonstration of this, one needs to look no further than facebook.

As much as the internet is a place that is generally devoid of expectations of honesty, facebook is a glaring example of the blind following the blind. I am currently in a case study of a GenerationX-illennial who is successfully quitting facebook after ten years, so I would like to speak minimally about this particular viewpoint right now (I could, and definitely will, go on about it) but let me just say, in an effort to further my point, that we have the Great Pumpkin as our president because of facebook. That’s how bad facebook is: shit doesn’t need to make ANY DAMN SENSE for it to become reality, as long as enough people believe it.

How did I get to this, when I was talking about decals and stupid company policies?

Ah, yes. Stupidity rules. How could I forget?

Maybe I should ask for a decal that has the American flag in the background, and it says “Stupidity Rules” in Comic Sans in the foreground. Sometimes, when you type things out, or say them out loud, it becomes clear how stupid it sounds, and I think this decal idea would most likely get me arrested… unless I put a nice rifle on it. Americans like when there’s a rifle and a flag, because it’s a symbol of freedom and toughness. Kickin’ Ass.

I don’t know if I want to be an American in a time when Kim Kardashian – who came (ahem) to fame, via sex tape – is in the Oval Office doing anything. Listen, I’m glad that woman was set free, instead of serving life for a non-violent drug crime. I think she should have been set free a long time ago, and I think there are thousands of people who are still in prison, who will sit there for years to come, and they should be out of that system. But there is no celebrity going to bat for them. There is no viral video getting them attention. The prison industrial complex is an issue that doesn’t get nearly the attention it should, and it never will, because there is too much profit to be made.

That being said, there HAD to have been someone prior to Kim Kardashian, who vied for a pardon/change. She is absolutely not the first. There have been victims’ families, attorneys, protesters, lobbyists, and human rights groups who have taken the same approach toward a change in legislation for non-violent first-time offenders of drug crimes, and nothing was done. But because she’s famous, and she’s interested in ONE high-profile story, the president has taken action. Where is the Kim Kardashian for all of the other people, whose lives are just as valuable, but their stories lack the glitter of a viral video? Why does it take a celebrity, who is literally famous FOR BEING FAMOUS, for our president to take action? Because our president is a celebrity.

That was a sad sentence to type. Hence, the pause for nausea. There’s a clever portmanteau in there somewhere, and I’m missing it, because I’m sick to my stomach over this morally bankrupt bullshit.

Okay.

Don’t let me start down the road of inappropriate actions, failures to act, and just completely wrong things he has tweeted and said. I’m not here to recite his presidential rap sheet. I’m just sickened by the dumbing down of this country, and the shallow things in which the president (and then, the population) places value and interest. I wouldn’t trust him to lead me on a tour through one of his buildings, much less lead me through life as a citizen. How is he in charge of anything? Oh, that’s right: facebook.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I live in the United States. If you’re not from here, let me describe it for you: it’s like a big apartment complex, with lots of dumb rules, and it’s hard to navigate around the place. The property manager got hired by trickery (fake resume, probably; no work history, but the references were impressive!) but hey- there are flashy amenities to keep you appeased while you wait to die. I mean, while you live your life. The property manager refuses to fix any of the major issues with the complex, such as the plumbing, heating, wiring, foundation, or roof, but instead spends his time trying to find the best gardener, so his landscaping can take your mind off the fact that it’s just lipstick on a pig. He knows the best gardener, because it’s totally someone you’ve heard of. He’s the best. That’s why everyone knows him. This complex is gonna look great, to everyone passing by.

My part of the complex of America has legal cannabis, which is pretty nice. It’s a good amenity, I think, because a lot of other buildings in the complex are full of pills and miscellaneous injections (including injections of your own body parts, just stuck into another part of your body- ughh), and that’s no way to live. That’s not to say there aren’t junkies in my building, because… there are SO many. It’s an epidemic here. More tenants need to be smoking cannabis in my building. Not literally the building I live in. That was still part of the metaphor.

I think cannabis is a much better option than a prescription drug habit, which I have discussed before, I’m sure, and so I probably also said “Hey, I know not all prescriptions can be replaced by cannabis” so you don’t have to remind me that not all prescriptions can be replaced by cannabis. Like, I know diabetes isn’t going to be cured by it. But it can help you cope with symptoms of a myriad of illnesses and diseases, as well as the side effects of the necessary medications and treatments you do need, and your doctor is not going to offer to tell you about it. What a great person to put in charge of your health.

In fact, I have had doctors purposely perpetuate outdated information, when I asked them to confirm studies in cannabis use for migraines. That was years ago, and it’s common knowledge now, but she was counting on the idea that I hadn’t done my research. Obviously, doctors aren’t telling you the whole story. You should do some reading (do your research!!) and decide what you really believe.

Do you believe you need all of those prescriptions? Do you believe every word that anyone else in your life says? Is there anyone else, besides possibly a significant other, that you trust that much? Probably not. Then why a doctor? They’re just another person, walking around living their own life. Why just blindly believe what they recommend, especially where it concerns how they make their money? It’s not your doctor’s job to care about you. It’s their job – meaning they are getting paid – to treat (not cure) you, and they get more money if they can get you on a regimen of pills, which makes you what they call a “repeat customer.” They just also have to not do any harm. They don’t have to even keep you alive. And did I mention that they make money off your ailments? Why would you put unconditional trust in them?

Ask your doctor about medical cannabis. See how they respond. They treat you like a pariah. Ever had the nurse ask you “Do you take any street drugs or marijuana?” That’s a loaded-ass question, because NO, I don’t take street drugs, but YES, I use marijuana, in a variety of ways to enhance my health and life. You know what I DON’T use? The array of prescription pills that have been “suggested” over the years, that I didn’t need, that I would get addicted to, and then need supporting co-prescriptions for, and probably have some pretty gnarly side effects to deal with. I don’t do those things. Aren’t you gonna write that down on your little clipboard, doctor??? I have no idea why medical professionals are still grouping those things together, you know, since cannabis has been proven to kill cancer and prevent seizures, and crack was invented by the government, to kill people of color. Same thing, right?

All too often, doctors jump to prescribe an anti-depressant for someone who is just sad.

When did it become wrong to feel sad?

It’s a natural human emotion, just like happiness, but we never see a doctor prescribing a drug to buff out the happy times. We live through those moments. Just like anger. It’s not that anger is a bad thing; it’s the way you let it affect you that matters. Feel the anger. Think about why you think you’re mad. Then think about where the anger is truly coming from, if you’re being honest with yourself (even if you can’t be with honest with others, start inside your mind). Don’t project the anger outward. Learn about what makes you angry, and explore it internally. If you still need to vent the anger, break shit… preferably in a place where nobody has to worry about being impaled. And preferably not some shit you’re going to wish you hadn’t broken.

If you don’t want to break anything, that’s perfectly understandable. Being destructive can sometimes exacerbate things. So instead, I suggest you scream into a pillow! Like, at the top of your lungs. I used to have a stuffed animal that I would bite as hard as I could, when I was mad. I would get my teeth around his stupid face, and clench like the world was about to end, and I remember feeling the clinking of his plastic facial features on the side of my teeth, and trying to bite through the eyes when I was particularly mad. I never bit one off, or in half or whatever. I just wanted to get my anger out, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

When I’m sad, I feel the same way. I want to get it out of my soul, but I don’t want to hurt anyone with it. I’m a humanist. Not everyone wants to make sure nobody gets hurt. So they tell their doctor, “Hey, I think I want to hurt people.” The doctor writes it down, and that is enough to warrant a prescription for a psychoactive medication, which (as they tell you) increases the risk of hurting yourself or others. Instead of just working through the feelings, you’re instructed (chemically altered) to suppress them, and just hope the feelings go away. While your doctor is out golfing, you’re in your bedroom, sweating and crying, and getting the jitters, and when you’re able to even fall asleep, you have crazy nightmares that seem real. Your doctor isn’t going through it. The only time they’re going to even think about it, is the next time they see you in six weeks, to see how the medication is working. Getting through six weeks of chemical adjustment, seems like way more work than doing the permanent fix of understanding your emotions. But I’m no doctor.

The point is, we follow the advice of people who see us for maybe an hour per year. They don’t see you at your most vulnerable, and are most likely not even listening to most of what you’re saying. I know you think your doctor is great, but you should think about that shit a bit deeper. Of course they’re nice to you, when they know you’re paying for their time. I could fake a nice bedside manner for 20 minutes at at time, if I knew I was going to be paid well for it, because that person essentially only exists when they’re paying me. Just like you, to your doctor.

I know a bunch of people who are doctors by profession, and they’re kinda pieces of shit in real life. I’ve also worked in medical offices. They catch up on your overall story right before they walk in to see you, and they type a lot of stuff while you’re answering their questions, so they miss a lot of what you’re saying, and then they’re essentially just cross-referencing symptoms with a database. If you have an ongoing issue, and you’re seeing a specialist, same thing. You matter while you’re there. What about all of the other days of your life, when you’re not paying for their time? They see a multitude of patients, and I promise you, they’re not at home thinking about your health and well being. If you’re suffering, oh well… it’s just a fact of medical science that there will be a rough adjustment period to new medications. Do you want to get better, or not?!

And to make you think about it even deeper, I can tell you that I also know a few pharmaceutical reps, and they aren’t bound to secrecy when it comes to their stories. They get an easy six figures, and all they have to do is push the latest lab creation. And do not even get me started on the embarrassment of clinical trials that don’t last long enough to gather real information, or that fail to report horrific findings. I swear, there could be a video installation of clinical trials gone wrong, PLAYING IN THE WAITING ROOM of every doctor’s office, and people would still put full faith in whatever they’re told. It’s an obsession, to the point where we’re unable to do anything but constantly turn the other cheek on the bad things. It’s like we have unlimited cheek-turning ability, and we’re twirling like drag queens through the halls of hospitals, asking our doctors about the new drug we saw on TV.

“Is it right for me, doc?”

Everyone these days is so hung up on their appearance, and preserving their youth, and afraid to feel emotions of any kind, and we’re so overloaded with preservatives and pesticides and vaccinations and medications and hormones in our milk and our chicken and our beef, and everyone needs a trophy or they’re “at risk,” and everyone needs to keep having sex all the time or something is “wrong” with them and they need to fix it… there is a neverending market for pharmaceuticals, and doctors know they’re going to make money off prescribing them to you, month after month. And as the medication starts to plateau, you’ll need to up your dose, and possibly take a “stabilizer” or an “inhibitor” or a “booster” because you’re strapped the fuck into the pharmacoaster now! Enjoy the ride, courtesy of your doctor. Did they forget to mention that you’ll be charged hundreds of dollars per month for the rest of your life?

No? They didn’t mention that up front? I bet they mentioned how highly they suggest that you start taking it now, in a low dose, which really just means they can charge you for more stages of the medication, because you’re definitely going to eventually be on the “highest dose for you.” That’s when you need the co-prescriptions. Cha-ching! (For the doctor, not for you. You’re gonna be broke.)

And don’t even think about trying to quit one (or – GASP! – more) of those prescriptions, to save money, or ease side effects, or whatever. If you do, your doctor will shame you. First of all, that’s shitty, but, second of all, it’s legal. Also, you’re gonna be in detoxification CITY!! You may do things you normally wouldn’t do, such as harm yourself or others, or possibly even KILL yourself or others. But hey, those are side effects of most medications anyway.

Even if you yourself are not on medications, there is a high (heh heh) chance that most of the people around you probably are. Many of them are being over-prescribed, misdiagnosed, or unmonitored, which creates a chemical imbalance, and puts you all at risk. At any moment, someone around you could snap, because of a trial medication they were “adjusting” to.

Think about how many kids are being diagnosed with ADHD every day, just because they’re more excited than other kids, or because they aren’t constantly happy and accepting, or because they do things a different way. You may (or may not be) surprised to learn how many children are being made to feel like they’re NOT NORMAL, just because they feel their emotions. Just because they live in the feelings, and show them. Just because they feel their emotions, but they don’t match what someone else says is The Standard. They are medicated, because someone says they’re not normal, and there is literally no medical evidence to support the need for this “normalizing drug,” but the parent trusts the doctor, and starts the chemical re-programming of their child. “Medicated” is the new “normal” when every kid is so doped up, that nobody feels anything anymore. Everyone can be the same.

If every kid that has ADHD were gathered in a room, and we conclude that 80% of them are being medicated for it, they’re most likely on a medication that alters their brain chemistry. I know, some parents don’t go that route, which is why I said “most likely” so calm down. If you give a child or pre-teen (or even a teenager) a brain altering medication, you’re attempting to re-wire something that is not yet complete. The human brain is not fully grown (for that person’s life) until the mid-twenties, so until then, the brain is still growing. If you give a child a brain altering medication, thus setting off a chain of chemical reactions in the brain, they will start to focus on an activity they know they can master, and in this country, sadly, that’s usually video games.

Think about the percentage of people you know, not just family, but people you know from work or school or community or nephews or friends’ kids, who play first-person POV games, such as Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, etc. I’m sure you’re familiar with quite a few. When a child or teen becomes focused on these games, in the midst of a chemical re-programming, their brain starts to assimilate the game into their emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills. The game content imprints on their brain, because as it’s growing and changing, the brain develops coping skills to get through life (ie, the fire is hot, so i’m not going to touch it) and many of the scenarios in those games are not something these children/teens will likely encounter in their lives. But, the content gets loaded into their brains, and when everyday conflict does come along, they use what they’ve accumulated for problem-solving tactics, and that’s why we have so many instances of young kids shooting each other, and such rampant bullying and violence. The medications help them center on the game, and their brain can’t tell the difference, because it’s in standby mode.

This all sounds like a narrow view of an otherwise larger problem, but it’s merely a slice of the pie. I am by no means trying to leave anything else out, to suggest that mental health isn’t equally important where it pertains to medicine and our country’s violence problem. I could lecture for days, but where this is an already lengthy post, I have to say I’m surprised that anyone is still reading at this point. It can be alienating, to talk so openly about the damaging side of pharmaceutical medication, because such a majority of the population is currently taking a medication of some sort. They don’t want to feel like they’re failing at caring for themselves, or making a wrong decision, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel that way. It’s YOUR health, and you don’t deserve to feel like you need to be “normal” by anyone’s standards.

Everyone DOES deserve to know the truth about their health being sold for profit, and everyone deserves to know there are other options out there, not just the ones your doctor will make money from. IF you choose to explore that information, which I highly (heh heh) suggest, you may decide it isn’t for you, but at least educate yourself on the truth. There is so much misinformation surrounding medical cannabis, because it’s so sustainable and beneficial, and it threatens the pharmaceutical industry as a cash cow. If more people took advantage of the benefits of medical cannabis (eating edibles, using concentrates, or vaporizing are all great methods, if you’re not a smoker), they would see their health improve, they would see saved money, and they would see that they’re spending less time thinking about what time/day they took this pill or that pill, and less time going to the doctor. But mostly, doctors would see that they’re starting to lose money they would otherwise have made through prescribing medications to you. Medications you probably don’t need. Nobody wants to see their money taken away from them, so they’ll just keep doing what they have to do, to keep the money moving. Even if that means putting you on 10, 20, even 30 prescriptions at a time. The side effects are your problem.

Next time you see your doctor, ask them if getting a muthafuckin moment of silence for a small chronic break is right for YOU.

-jg

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

There’s a commercial on TV right now, for a medication that targets the “misunderstood side” of Manic Depression, and that is the Manic Episode.

Now, for those who are unfamiliar with Manic Depression, that’s okay. It’s a term that is going away now, with Bi-Polar Disorder being the new moniker taking its place. It sounds a bit more immediate, in my opinion, being that you can go from a high point (in mood or behavior) to a low point within a short period of time, and I always understood Manic Depression to be more of long term thing: weeks or months of “high”, followed by weeks or months of “low” and so on. Now, they’re saying it’s both. Schizophrenia is a completely different thing, though Manic Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder can make you feel like multiple people exist within you at different times. So here we are, up to speed on our terms. I will refer to them by acronyms, from here on.

I have always identified more with the MD symptoms than the BPD symptoms. I think everyone has the capacity to change their mood during the day, based on whatever situational stimuli they have going on. BPD is an extreme version of that, and can be dangerous, depending on the person. I have not ever been that way, outside of the normal heated arguments I (again seem to) think everyone has. I don’t think I ever get overly energetic or “hyper” for lack of a better word, and the only problems I have with sleeping involve my back pain, which is an unrelated issue.

I do, however, experience periods of time where I am creative, and the execution of that creativity is gratifying, and I am motivated to do more, and create more, and clean more, and get rid of excess things, and show people the attention I think they deserve… followed by periods of time where I can do nothing but sleep, and be in a fog, and feel no motivation, and don’t enjoy anything (music, tv, movies, painting, photography, writing, time with family) with no explanation for it. These peaks and valleys are noticeable and oddly predictable, and I always try to take advantage of the peaks while they’re around, because I know I’ll be fucking useless once those valleys come around. So, that’s what I do.

I should mention, I am not currently being treated for MD or BPD. I have taken Psychology and Sociology and Mental Health and Human Development and Philosophy, and I have watched a TON of TV commercials, but I have also talked to multiple doctors about the symptoms. I choose not to medicate for it, because I don’t personally think I need it, and even though my doctors are probably paid by the pill, they agree that a prescription is not necessary. I also am not interested in unsolicited advice that I don’t want and am in no way asking for. So like the medication, don’t fuckin offer it to me.

The TV ad shows a woman making sandwiches, and she gets through a few, and starts thinking “Why don’t I make a shitload of sandwiches, while I have the Mustardayonnaise out?” So she starts making hella sandwiches, and she’s wrapping em in foil, and some sandwiches are all rushed and sloppy, and I think that’s supposed to be a metaphor for how our work suffers in quality on Manic Monday. She makes like 100 sandwiches, at least, and then the camera pans out, and she’s on a fuckin house of cards. I don’t know, I might be mixing up the two ads that are run by this pharmaceutical brand (one is the sandwich lady, and the other one is a fuckin crazy post-it note queen going to town on some shit). Anyway, the message is: “Manic episodes can leave you on shaky ground” or something like that. I think that might be the actual tagline.

When I was watching the commercial, and I saw her being a damn sandwich wizard, I was captivated! “Go, girl!” I yelled at the TV, because I was excited for her progress and her forward thinking. I was impressed by her productivity. I wanted to make a sandwich. I wanted to be her kid. But then they were all weird about it in the ad, which made me feel pretty violated, first of all. I felt like they lured me to the van with the candy, but when I got there, it was just a bunch of candy shamers. I didn’t want to feel guilty for cheering her on, and it was a sick move on their part, to make me feel that way. They started talking about the Manic episodes being “the misunderstood side” of MD.

Excuse me? I’m pretty sure the DEPRESSION is misunderstood as something people can just “snap out of” and “feel better” and “try to look at the positive things” to get through. To compare one to the other, is just ridiculous. Both elements are equally misunderstood, and this medication is only making a bad thing worse! It targets the Manic episodes solely, leaving you with nothing but an indefinite Depressive state, and a laundry list of side effects – including, but not limited to, suicidal thoughts or actions, headache, dizziness, loss of vision, or it may worsen your depression. Why would anyone want to pay for that, much less ingest it, and form an addiction they have to continually pay for, not only out of pocket, but through the insurance plan they also pay for? Are people that opposed to smoking a joint before bedtime and calling it good, that they would rather put themselves through the addiction and financial hardship of a chemical blast to the brain?!

I guess I just don’t get it. I live in a pretty liberal state, so I feel like people should always try cannabis first, before climbing on board the candy wagon. When someone takes a medication for MD or BPD, they aren’t just taking one – they’re taking co-prescriptions with it, and they’re paying for those too. And not only are they paying for them, but they don’t even think about what the “medicine” is doing to them! I don’t understand what needs to happen, for people to realize how beneficial cannabis is, and how poisonous prescription drugs can be. Every day, I read about 20+ new class-action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, and they’re never in the newspaper or digital news or even on TV news. It’s a quiet class-action settlement that you wouldn’t otherwise know about, unless you were looking for it (or following new lawsuits all the time, like I do). You’ll never see it in the news, because there’s not enough time between prescription drug commercials. If you think your doctor isn’t being paid kick-backs by pharmaceutical companies, you’re one of the people making me laugh right now. Seriously. That level of stupidity and denial makes me laugh my ass off, because I know there is a moron walking around, and it isn’t me.

At this time, I am currently in a Manic state, but that could be because school just got out for the summer yesterday, and that means I get to go to the track at 5 AM now. It also could be that I am 35 minutes from my deadline to post this, and I am still writing. I have been awake for 7 hours, and haven’t eaten, so that’s probably not a great thing, and the coffee will make me crash soon. At least I’ll be surrounded by my kids, so they can pick up the slack.

I don’t think I could afford to take a medication that took me out of my brain, because my kids would probably fall off the face of Shaq’s flat green Earth. In my Depressive episodes, I end up reminding (torturing) myself about how much I love my kids, and how they’ll be gone soon, and making stupid choices, and I want to be there for them, and I want to hear everything they ever have to say… and then when they won’t shut up about dumb things, I scold myself for wishing they would stop talking. I bully myself into participating in a conversation about Lego superheroes or Reader’s Digest, when I’m dying inside and just want to fall asleep to see how much time passes by. I make myself do it. I use it as a reason to never forget what I have. I take the shitty things, and I turn them into silver linings. It’s not easy, and I don’t know how I even do it, but I’m sure that not everybody can do it, and that makes me feel sad too. My sister tells me the same thing about herself, and that makes me feel sad too. The misunderstood spiral goes on.

When I get Manic again, I try to think of ways to show appreciation for people, and I end up flooding my mind with ideas, and get my gears jammed, so I ultimately spend an hour just thinking, and not actually doing anything. Mostly, I just end up cooking a lot, and sometimes if I’m lucky, writing. I haven’t been in a peak for awhile, which is why my writing has been struggling. I promise to try to “snap out of it” really soon, and “just feel better” so perhaps a good upward climb on the ol’ house of cards is just what I need.

-jg

Mothers’ Day… Just ONE?!

In honor of this upcoming Day of Life, as I like to call it, I have decided to post a piece I had written last year, because I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to top it. Enjoy….

Being a Mom is SUPER FUCKING HARD.

Oops, I mean… spoiler alert. Being a Mom is literally THE most difficult job on the planet. I can say that, because I’v e worked at every job on the planet. No, that isn’t true, and of course I don’t care what job you think is more difficult, I still stand by the original statement. This job is taxing on every single part of your existence. There is nothing else.

But for shits and giggles, let’s think about a difficult job: underwater welding. Sure, getting fried in the water sounds cool, but not when there aren’t drugs involved, and we’re talking about a life-ending shot of electricity to the body. That never sounds cool. So, you’re an underwater welder, and that’s a tough day, I can admit, which is why I chose it for this example. I’m just warming you up, see. So I can yoink the proverbial carpet out from under proverbial you. Underwater welding is dangerous, and I would never want to wake up in the morning to the knowledge that I had to report to underwater anything, much less for 10 hours of welding.

But picture this: life is good, you’re underwater welding, you have your underwater welding coworkers, and you’re all eating lunch, and it’s time to get back to work, but one of your coworkers barfs all over you! Like, everything they just ate, is now being pulled by gravity, down the front of your whole body, each piece of disgusting food searching for a place to crust onto. They even got some in your mouth. Then, another coworker gets diarrhea all over the place, before they can get to a bathroom, and it’s in their hair, and it’s just leaking out of every microscopic hole in the fabric of their clothing. And another coworker says he’s hungry, and doesn’t want anything he has in his lunchbox, even though he has all of his favorite foods that he liked as recently as yesterday. Oh, and another one has taken all of his clothes off, and is trying to stick a piece of his apple in his butt. All of them are looking to you for solutions, NOW. They’re touching you. They’re whining at you, in stereo, like some hellish choir. And don’t even think about taking a nap! There are bodily fluids in the form of toxic sludge, just waiting to be cleaned up. Cleaned up by you. You could ask another coworker for help, because you have one available, but he has his own job to do, so you probably have to handle this one yourself.

All of this, of course, comes after the First Day of Work, where you have to find a way to push something large through an impossibly small opening, while somebody rips your very soul out of you, without giving up, without asking for anything, without killing someone. Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first day! Here comes the diarrhea….

Now, don’t get me wrong: I know there are men who do all of these things (other than the First Day part) every day, and they’re fucking spectacular at it. There are men I know, who are better parents to their children than the Mother is. There are men I know, who do all of the parenting. I am speaking in a generalization of our society, which is the only one I can speak from with accuracy. This piece aims to highlight the things Mothers are typically expected to handle, regardless of the number of parents in the household. When baby shits himself, it automatically prompts the person holding the baby to exclaim “Oh boy, someone has a present for Mommy!”  Huh?! Why the fuck is it for Mommy? What if they were so inspired by your face, that they shit their pants and gave it to YOU as a present? That shit is your gift, and you’re trying to re-gift to Mom because you assume that that is the process of things. Why should someone who has probably changed a few diapers in their life be expected to change a shitty diaper? No, that’s Mom’s job, here you go.

That shit used to drive me insane! I will gladly change a friend’s baby without even blinking an eye, because THE BABY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. If you were bedridden for some unfortunate reason, and weren’t able to use the toilet, would you expect a hospice worker to come over and say “Oh gross! Someone else…. I am NOT doing this!” No, you’re lying if you think that would feel ok to you. The diaper needs to be freshened, it doesn’t matter who is doing it. I’m sure the baby has no preference.

Same thing with puking. When a friend’s baby pukes on me, it doesn’t occur to me to be grossed out or flinch. I will take care of the baby, and then clean up myself afterward. The baby is helpless for their own care. Ridiculing it for puking is not necessary, I can assure you. Change the damn baby and stop whining about how gross they are. You’re gross.

So, Mom is expected to keep everyone clean of bodily fluids of all types, keep everyone fed, keep everyone’s clothes on, keep everything picked up, even though there are thugs following her around, fucking up her shit in her wake. Moms have to have everything in order, which if you didn’t know, is impossible to do when kids are involved. It’s barely possible with a grown man in the house, much less ANY number of tiny relentlessly wild humans who apparently aren’t aware of just how many strings they can pull at once. These things have to be done, and if by some miracle, someone sees your house on a clean day, I’m just kidding, that never happens. But if it did happen, like I said, by some miracle, then you get zero credit for everything that happened up until that point. It’s like in the movies, when the house is trashed, and the parents are coming home, so everyone is hauling ass to clean the house, and they get the last thing cleaned in the nick of time, and the parents think nothing has been going on. It’s status quo. All of your hard work and effort has gotten you to the point of looking like you haven’t done anything all day, because nothing is out, and nothing is going on.

And don’t even get me started on how much of a slap in the face it is, when someone comes home to the part where the thugs are fucking shit up behind the woman who has been frantically cleaning and trying to keep food and bodily fluids from being expelled (sometimes unnoticed, where it dries onto the surface, and you only realize it’s there when it starts to smell really really bad) all day long, and she hasn’t had a chance to brush her hair or eat a piece of toast, and the partner says, “You don’t even do anything but stay home and play with the kids.”

Jah, please help.

Being a Mom is difficult from day one, and for the rest of her life. Your Mom had to watch you make mistakes that tore her apart inside. She knew about things you didn’t know she knew. She didn’t approach you, because she wanted to see if you would do the right thing. Sometimes, you didn’t, and she loved you anyway. But when you did do the right thing, it was everything to her.

She had to watch you leave her home, which no Mom is ever ready for, no matter what she says. Yeah, I’m blowing it up for all the tough-as-nails Moms out there. It is never easy to say goodbye to your child, and it doesn’t matter if they’re leaving for the weekend or the semester. Moms spend hours of labor trying to get you into this world, then spend years trying to prepare you to leave her home, and then when you do, they want you to come back. She calls you and hounds you to come visit, and it gets annoying, but you were everything she knew for decades, and now she can’t hug you when she wants, or see if you’re doing alright. Your Mom will never stop wondering if you’re okay, even when you’re old enough to take care of her. She made you. She spent years of her life putting you first, not considering herself a priority for time, money, food, love, or care. She has worked endlessly for your happiness, and has felt the pain of your misdirected anger. She has cried for you more times than you can count.

There is a reason why so many people talk about how special their Mom is/was. Moms are something that gets woven into us. Some people have had a less than positive experience with their Moms, and can’t relate at all to any of what I’ve said. Again, I’m speaking from a basic cultural standpoint that is prevalent in even the poorest of homes. Income and status need not have anything to do with it. To some children, their mother is their security blanket, and the mother doesn’t even pay attention to them, but just knowing that she is physically there is enough to create a bond.

Mothers experience a change when they have a baby, and whether that change is positive or negative, it never leaves her, and it never leaves the baby. The baby will grow up with feelings toward the woman who felt at least positively enough about them, that she would let her body be defeated by pain, just to bring them into this world. Even for Moms who don’t show their children affection or support, there is still an emotional tie that never goes away. Even cases of greed and deceit early on, can turn into guilt and anguish for women who are incapable of manifesting the “Motherly” manner toward their children. So there is always an effect.

I think, generally, Mothers teach us that women can MAKE a human being. They can make a person. They can produce the vessel, to be filled with good or bad, and present it to the world. Women make the mark on society by even choosing to have a child or not. It’s a process that makes a person realize they could have been nothing, but instead they are here, and now they too have the choice to create something to present to the world. Without Mothers, there is nothing to present. We make the world.

This day is for every Mom, even the Mother of that evil spray-tanned toddler wearing the president’s hat. I’m sure she has the superhuman ability to love him, which is pretty impressive for any human (she’s human, right?). You gotta give it to the woman who dealt with that shit,….so then I guess probably the nanny?

No worries, nannies. You will have your own special relationship with the child/ren, because it’s been shown that children develop similar bonds with nannies, for the same reasons as they do with their Moms: when needs are met, the child feels safe, and trusts that they can rely on this person for care. The only difference is, the child grows to realize that this nanny is not their Mother, and they thereby create the separation, but the genuine emotional feeling of security is still there.

Even in respect to the nannies, Moms have to make the decision to let another person care for their child, and I am sure there are some Mothers who would prefer a better situation, but can’t for whatever reason. This is difficult for those Moms, because women are expected to return to work so quickly after maternity leave, that they miss out on the essential bonding that happens between a Mother and baby. For Moms who can’t be bothered by their children’s presence, there are some much more toxic underlying issues happening in that world, and it’s probably better for the child to be cared for by the nanny. This will create a bigger bond between the child and nanny, but the child will learn that their needs are being met by somebody and it very well could have been nobody. The Mother had to make sure the child was cared for, so there is some semblance of love toward the child, whether the Mother wants to acknowledge it or not.

Becoming a Mom is easy. BEING a Mom, every day, is the tough part. Giving up will cross your mind. You lose a part of you that for soooo long, used to belong to you, but now belongs to someone else. You cry, you laugh, you pray to nobody, you eat a plate of French fries at 2 o’clock in the morning because it’s the only time you can eat without someone stealing your food, you starve for five days straight because you put the kids first, you wonder if you will ever pee without an audience again, you forget how many days it has been since the last time you showered (tub with baby may have been it), you find things within you that you didn’t think were there, you find things within your toilet that you did not want in there, you stop giving a fuck about anyone else, you surprise yourself with how long you can go without sleeping, you silent scream wishes that the baby would just go to sleep, but then when they do, you just stare at them and stroke their fat little hands, wondering how they can be that beautiful.

And then they wake up and they’ve shit themselves, and removed their diaper for you already, and painted a beautiful poop mural on the wall. That full body electrical shock is sounding pretty nice, isn’t it?

Happy Life Day!

-jg

Uncomfortable Comforting

When I think about the kind of person I want to be, I generally just say “I don’t know” because that’s just easier than really allowing yourself to be completely selfish for a minute. Forget who everyone else wants me to be. Who do *I* want to be?
I want to be strong, but some people would argue that I am the strongest person they know. Others have called me weak. Some have said I was my own worst enemy, which would be crazy to think about: having me as an enemy. Yikes. I would be anyone’s worst enemy. Except for the people who think I’m weak. So maybe I don’t think I’m weak at all, and just don’t recognize just how formidable of a person I truly am. I know I’ve made it through some bullshit, and even look like it’s effortless at times. It’s never effortless. My whole life is a struggle. I don’t ever want to be someone who doesn’t struggle. I want to be strong.
But I also want to be kind. Despite the fact that I would give my right leg to develop the power to spit acid in the face of my enemy, I feel the pain of others. I feel that everyone goes through some shit, and the ones who are hurting the worst are the ones who are going around hurting others. They are unable to work through their feelings, and I feel sorry for them. It is a scary world when you’re unable to connect with yourself and be honest. I have gotten so good at doing that very thing (out of necessity) that I have had to rediscover that process in the form of participating in my daughter’s counseling sessions. I bite my tongue when I can sense she is going to talk about something that would normally be none of her business. But the fact is, she has witnessed something that may not be her business, but still has an effect on her, and still evokes feelings that she may not be able to process. When she gets her gears jammed by something unfamiliar, she gets anxious, and then her skin flares up. The past couple of days have been particularly bad for her, and her skin is breaking out. She talks about subjects that I am comfortable with processing internally, but am uncomfortable  with facing in front of others. It helps my daughter to be able to recognize that struggle, and how deep the ripples go. It isn’t often that she sees me become uneasy, so when she plows through those conversations anyway, it makes both of us stronger in the end. I place great importance on strength, but equally important is kindness.

-jg

Signs, Symbols, Metaphors, Clairvoyance

I don’t remember always being clairvoyant, but I’ve been told quite often as an adult, that I’m “scary psychic.” Of course, I’m not actually psychic, but I do have a sharp intuition, and a heightened awareness of my surroundings, and I pride myself on being highly observant. I had the luxury of attending Psychology and Sociology classes in high school and college, in addition to the independent study hours I’ve racked up for free, and live by some mundane philosophies where society is concerned. I’ve been called Liberal, Conservative, Communist, Socialist, Progressive, and crazy. I have loved men and women. I have connected closely with people of other races. I own a fire arm. I believe in free education. I believe in the death penalty. I believe in equal pay and consideration in the work place. I would fight any day for the rights of those around me, because I believe we all have a duty to each other, to take responsibility in our happiness. If you want to live a happy long life, don’t cause waves. There isn’t enough of a focus on how our actions affect others, and that is the key to a happy life. If we are good to each other, and not selfish for the things we can own, there is less of a need for things like the death penalty. But we are not there yet, and religious persecution is still a deadly business, and people are still being sold and traded and raped and killed and abandoned and poisoned and disenfranchised, and women still don’t have equal rights. If you love the wrong person, you don’t have equal rights either; even if you are a white, college educated male in his mid 20s, you are not entitled to those rights if you love another man. We are far from where I thought we would be. There is no way we could have predicted that we would be here. My ideals don’t come anywhere near the reality that is alive around us, and it’s getting increasingly tricky to know what is going to come next. The best we can do, is prepare ourselves, educate, strengthen, and care for ourselves and each other.
When I have moments of clairvoyance, I tend to act like it’s a magic trick, when I know it’s just me being highly observant and my intuition being sharp, as I mentioned before. But sometimes, I question whether it isn’t magic? I’ve predicted deaths, births, and even a specific old man (in a crowd of people) being rushed to the hospital. It’s never something I brag about, and I don’t do it on command, or anything like that. Sometimes, I don’t even like when I’m “right” about things I’ve said. It gets creepy, and sometimes I think I jinx myself into bad luck situations with my jinxer mouth.
The first time I really remember seeing into the future, was when I was about 10 years old. My brother was at a baseball game, at a school in another town, and my sister and I went walking on the trails in the woods behind the school. We walked up to a small clearing with a boulder in the middle of it, and a Walkman* was just sitting there on the boulder, all unsupervised. We both paused, my sister and me, because we had obviously never encountered a better surprise than this before (we totally did one time after, though). Before approaching the rock, we decided what tape would be awesome to find in there, and since it was 1991, I said “Dr. Feelgood” by the incomparable Motley Crue. I don’t remember what my sister said, but it doesn’t matter, because it was “Dr. Feelgood.” I opened the Walkman, and I said “What the fuck!” I couldn’t believe I had told the future! And it was about a tape I wanted! And a Walkman!
If you’re wondering how that ended, my dad saw me (happy and had to extinguish the happiness as quickly as possible) and was like “Hey, what did you steal this, or something?” and I was like “No way. I found it.” And he didn’t believe me, so he took it and probably found the rightful owner, I bet.
If you’re wondering about that time we found a better surprise than that, it was in Florida, when I was I think 15 years old. My dad took us to Universal Studios somehow, and he was dicking around in a gift shop for the free A/C for like 75 minutes. My sister and I stood outside by one of those planted trees with the potted soil that is waist-high on a grown man, and I leaned against the cement pot, and found this huge wad of money. It was an insane amount of cash just sitting in that dirt, because it probably fell out of some asshole’s pocket when he didn’t deserve it anymore. I’m talking like, $500.  So, because I knew I would never be able to spend one cent of it without my dad finding out and accusing me of mugging someone since I’m Oliver fucking Twist now, I gave my dad the money.
I didn’t want to.
I handed over the money, and he said “Hey, what’s this?” I don’t know, maybe I stole a lot when I was really little, and he was just working off patterns. But he wasn’t nice, even though I did the “right thing” whatever that was. He found the rightful owner right after that, I bet.
That wasn’t a clairvoyance story, but I guess you could say it was a signs story. That was part of the title of this chapter, too. Look at the top of the page. See? Told you.
Anyway, it was a sign that my dad would never believe anything I said, so I might as well just never say anything to him again. That’s a metaphor for life, and a symbol of forgetting what you were saying in an effort to bring the title back into the whole thing.
So, I work off symbols and I look for meaning where there is none. I get told that a lot. I think too deeply about things. “You’re going to cause something to happen because you’re thinking about it so much!” I swear that is something I have been told. One place where I’m really crazy, is advertising. I listen to radio commercials, and I say “Who wrote that fuckin jingle?” Seriously. “How did they cast the singer for that jingle they wrote, and how did nobody object to how annoying and underproduced it sounds?” I think about the commercials for kids’ toys and snacks, and I picture the casting for those kids, and what the green room must be like. Essentially, they have to get to know the other kids on a weird level, because they have to be familiar with them, but not too familiar, because it’s just a commercial and you’ll forget about them in two weeks. When the producers talk shit about the kids – because you know they do – I wonder what they say? I would love to hear some of that hot mic feed. I hate print advertising, especially logos, because I always think they’ve included some secret message in there, and I make a whole side story about the company, in order to justify it. I can’t say for sure that some of it might not be true.
People say “Stop thinking too much into things.”
And then I see 14 posts on facebook about “45 Company logos that you didn’t know had hidden meanings!” How am I supposed to think everything is the polished end result we see on television, and nothing more? That’s why I go looking for shit. Because sometimes I find it.
That’s another reason why I look like I’m psychic: because I dig on everything. I’m not always successful, but the more you dig, the more times you hit success, and when you start to rack up the sheer numbers, you look as though you experience more “hits” than the average person, and therefore, you must be clairvoyant.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t predict the near future quite a bit, and have no explanation for how it happened. It goes beyond the common predictions of the next song that will play on the radio, or knowing when someone would call. I know what people are going to say next, so often it’s become almost boring and annoying to my family. I solve the Wheel of Fortune puzzle before any letters are shown, I shout out the correct response to Final Jeopardy before the clue is even given, I tell them I know what they’re going to ask/say in many situations, and am usually correct.
If you pay attention to the universe closely, it gives you clues, and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. In that way, I can be clairvoyant. But I think anybody could do that. I just make it look really impressive.

-jg

*a walkman is like an ipod, but it had batteries that you could change out, and you could put tapes in it, or listen to the radio on it.

Why Now?

I find it nauseating, reading the comments made by people with whom I share a society; comments that suggest women are LYING ABOUT BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, because they “waited so long to come forward.” I’ve seen people -men and women- comment that they’re seeking publicity, or looking to ruin someone’s name/life, or digging for money, or suggesting that they’re lying because they didn’t say anything at the time.
If you’ve ever been sexually assaulted, or even touched in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, however innocuous on the part of the person touching you, you are familiar with the feeling of freezing in time. You know exactly what I mean by that, because that’s what it feels like when you’ve experienced sexual assault: you freeze in your body, in your mind, in your tracks. Should I say anything? Will I sound like I’m making it up? Am I just being too sensitive? Is this going to ruin something, like our friendship, or my job, or my life, or their life? Will they hate me? Will they try to hurt me? What will other people think? Does this make me a bad person? Am I supposed to like it? Do I like it? Do other people like it? What if they do it again, or something else? Should I say anything? Should I laugh? Should I cry? Am I gross?
There are questions no woman or man should ever have to ask themselves. When you’re in the moment, you aren’t thinking clearly, because your mind is clogged with an adrenaline stream that is carrying a constant cycle of questions you have no answer to.
In many cases, women are violated by men of power, and would have undoubtedly ruined their lives by coming forward, so they chose to say nothing. In many cases, something is directly threatened by their coming forward, such as their job.
Can you imagine being told, to your face, in that confusing moment of being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE, that if you say anything about feeling uncomfortable, your monetary support system will be ripped out from under you? What would you do? Would you say something? It’s not an easy choice to make when you’re faced with not being able to pay your bills or eat or have a place to live.
Can you imagine losing a friend or family member, or your spouse even, because you didn’t play along with their sexual demands? The effects would ripple into your entire universe if you said something. It could tear apart your family, and remember, the aggressor has a side of the story they’re likely going to tell everyone. Who will they believe?
Can you imagine whistleblowing on a fucking president? Not just a company president, which would be bad enough, but the president of your country. Could you rationalize in that moment? You suck it up, is what you do. Because it’s easier than living out the consequences of your actions over something “small” like being touched WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BE.
Some women never come forward. Some men never come forward. Some men DO come forward, and are immediately discounted because of their gender. There is no shortage of people who are unwilling to believe you. There is no shortage of people who want to prove you wrong. No shortage of people who need you to prove it to the whole world, that you were RAPED, because that’s the only kind of sexual assault that people recognize, and EVEN THEN, people will choose to call you a liar. An attention seeker. A slut. A homewrecker. A scorned woman. A liberal. A lesbian. An angry feminist. There is no shortage of subsequent uncomfortable moments to follow a sexual assault, regardless of what decision you make in the moment.
That’s why people wait to come forward. They wait until they feel like someone is listening, and often, that never comes. If it comes 20 years later, it doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Think about living with that feeling for 20 years; the questions, the nervous feeling that worms through your body when you think about it, the emotional and physical repercussions that come with it all.
Think about finally feeling okay to come forward, because you think someone is listening, and you finally tell your story even though you feel like dying inside, and all of a sudden, it’s your fault. Or people will say that you’re just lying. They are more comfortable to live with the idea that it didn’t happen to you, than to believe that someone is capable of touching something that didn’t belong to them.
Women don’t come forward at the time for many reasons, ALL of which are none of your fucking business. If you want to play judge on a sexual assault case, go to law school. Until then, keep your toxic opinion to yourself, unless you’re offering support in some way. Victim blaming is a disgusting trait that needs to stop, like, yesterday.
-jg