Monthly Archives: September 2015

depression

I have struggled with bouts of depression for as long as I can remember. College was the worst, but since then, I haven’t been through the struggles for as long periods of time or as often.

One has crept up on me now, though. Other writers have described depression far better than I have, so there’s nothing to add. A bit of apathy, a bit of sorrow, an unknowingness of what to do. I have tried to push past it with busy-ness, which has worked in the past… extra walks with the dog, extra acceptances of dinners out with friends and family, extra writing projects. I can’t tell if it’s changing anything now. The part I dislike most, though, is that depression is a lonely disorder. I can’t really talk to people about it, because the most common reaction is to want to fix it, and it really isn’t something to “cure.” It will just fade away eventually, to return another day. And how does one properly answer “How are you?” Well, “I’m depressed and I don’t know why and there’s nothing you can really do for me…” :/

So that’s what’s happening now. One of my “drown myself in busy-ness” projects is a fun one, though. The final book in the “Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer comes out in a few weeks, and the publisher is currently running a contest for it: write a short story featuring another fairy tale character who hasn’t already been incorporated into the series, and possibly win a trip up to the “Winter” release party. I’m using Beauty and the Beast, even though that might be too cliched… I like the story I’ve created for it, but am still not sure what to call her. She’s “Beauty” in the original tales and “Belle” only in the Disney-fied version, but they mean the same thing, and “Beauty” would be a weird name in the Lunarverse… but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Anyway, in the great words of Allie Brosh & her Hyperbole And a Half version of depression reflections:

depression-hyperbole-and-a-half

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running writers

So, how is this school year going so far? More free time, as expected (hallelujah no new classes), but not a lot of writing yet… definitely a lot of mulling, though. I have had a lot of time to brainstorm and head-plot, which I’ve found is essential for my writing style (i.e. imagining all the scenes clearly and then sitting down to write it in a giant burst of speed).

And where better to do my brainstorming than out on a walk? Or at least, that’s what I used to do. Now that I am more in shape–30 pounds down since this New Year’s Eve–I’m trying to move to running, instead. It’s a sport I always hated in P.E., because I’m not very fast, but now that I’m on my own pace, without a creepy gym teacher yelling at me, I’m having a lot more success.

Luckily, there are some amazing resources out there for geeky runners like me.

“Zombies, Run!” is my favorite. I’ve been using this one for a while and really like it. It mixes your music playlist with a storyline, explaining that you are out on supply runs or investigative explorations to help your little crew survive the zombie apocalypse. If you are too slow, zombies will chase you (complete with scary breathing in your headphones!) until you speed up and “escape” them. I might have written about this one before since it’s been over a year, but now, escaping the zombies is not so hard… it’s nice to be in shape, haha. In season 2, Margaret Atwood even has a cameo!! It cracked me up. I’m glad Ms. Atwood is all set to survive the apocalypse. 

“Hogwarts Running Club” is the one I found more recently, obviously inspired by Harry Potter. One sorts oneself into the appropriate house (Ravenclaw!) and joins that team on the “Charity Miles” app. Then all the miles logged by running are added to that house (just like the house points in the stories), plus the app donates 25 cents per mile to whatever charity one chose before the run. Benefits: earn money for charity by doing something you probably already would have been doing, feel competitive by trying to outrun the other 3 houses, and join a really active Facebook community who encourages each other to run (and posts info about nutrition, gear, pretty photos from outdoor runs, etc.). They also host virtual races with real medals. So I signed up for “the Patronus 5K” in October… I can pick any day, run my 3.12 miles, and claim my medal. Plus I don’t have to run in a pack of other people, I can run with my dog, I don’t have to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to drive somewhere far and weird and fight for parking, I don’t have to worry about my time being highly publicized if it’s sucky, and I don’t have to safety pin a bib to my shirt. An introvert’s dream 5K!!

So yes… being outside, being observant, being healthy, are all important for writers, too. Don’t become a pancake-butt just because you have to sit down to write so much. Walk (or run) to think!

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You are either a Feminist, or an Asshole.

Many thoughts. Here they come.

[I know this not the usual content of my blog, but current events like the book I’m reading, a few items in the news, and a fight that a meninist picked with my little sister have awoken my inner DragonWoman, so behold…]

There is a frighteningly large percentage of people in my life–students in my Women’s Literature course, acquaintances on my Facebook news feed, commenters on the internet articles I choose to read–who think that feminism is nonsense and feminists are crazy. I have seen them write out and have heard them verbalize their beliefs that gender equality exists already, that feminists are overreacting, that there is no need to keep having these conversations. Unfortunately, many of these people are Christians and conservatives… two groups who are often thought of as unintelligent [1]. I don’t like the thought that so many of my fellow Christians and conservatives [2] take pride in their anti-feminist stances. Let’s take pride in our intelligence instead, and make sure our thoughts are rational.

To help, allow me to address some points in the hopes of educating & persuading the rational onlookers (because the crazy people are going to scoff at reason anyway and are already dead to me):

– “Feminism is nonsense! Gender equality already exists!”
Men and women are not paid the same for the same work [3]. When evaluating an otherwise identical resume, male AND FEMALE hiring staff were biased toward the one belonging to a “John” over the one belonging to a “Jennifer” [4]. Boys are offered cars, trains, science kits, action figures, books, super heroes, all the Legos, dinosaurs, math games, and more. Girls are offered dollies and pink things and play kitchens, maybe some books and horses [5]. What message does that send? Boys, grow into whatever powerful, smart man you believe you can become. Girls, be prepared to pop out babies for those boys. “But that’s biblical and good!”
I don’t think God meant to limit women to motherhood alone. Consider C.S. Lewis’ argument in “Mere Christianity”—

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

Our desires were designed to be fulfilled by things that exist.
When girls and women desire to pursue certain careers and identities, then God approves. Stop trying to be the voice of God. Women are not bad people or bad mothers or bad Christians by wanting equal access and equal treatment in their work. Ruminate on points made in texts like “Reviving Ophelia” or commercials like the “Like a Girl” series. Young girls believe they can be anything, and only stop when someone illustrates or tells them that they are less, limited, silly, “just a girl.” Stop it. Fix the message. Have you read the entire text regarding the Proverbs 31 woman? She has a job! She works hard! She kicks ass! [6]
So there.
God is not a male. God is also not a female. He transcends gender. He is described as a warrior and a mother, a shepherd and a lover. I do not think He perceives me as “less” because of the awesome uterus I have instead of balls. I think there are people in the Church who view me as less because of that, though… and I think that’s why I’ve struggled to find the right Church home the past few years. If you can’t handle my awesomeness then I will chill with God on my own, without y’all.

– “Feminists are crazy!”
I’m sure people have met a few extreme feminists who have turned them off to the label. But shouldn’t the majority, the well-balanced feminists, be the true owners of the label?
It’s how Christians work it, after all.

– “Feminists are overreacting! Stop trying to force this equality conversation!”
No. It is not overreacting to call out misogyny. The number one response I see/hear in person/online to reports of sexism are along the lines of “girls can’t take a joke.”
If someone is jokingly sexist with you, it ought to be a friend, with whom you regularly joke. You will understand by their tone that they are not attacking you. You will have the type of relationship in which such a joke is acceptable and comfortable.
But does it usually happen that way?

No… many women instead are dealing with:
+ running down the street, just trying to exercise, but hearing comments shouted about their ass. (Does this ever successfully end in a date? No. It’s not a compliment. Don’t catcall.)
+ walking down a sidewalk, just trying to get to work/school, but hearing comments shouted about their boobs. (Does this ever successfully end in a date? No. It’s not a compliment. Don’t catcall.)

~Do you want to give a compliment? Then phrase it properly! “You look very nice today” is great. Some women may still be uncomfortable because they may not know your intentions, or whether you mean that they look lousy on other days, and so on. Social skills are hard to teach, but catcalls are easy to stop. [7]

+ standing in the subway, just trying to use the public transportation, but getting groped by a dude who thinks her body is an object to be fondled at will because he lusts for it. (Is it ever okay to touch people without consent? No. Your only body is your own. Don’t grope.)
+ dancing in the club, just trying to unwind with friends or a boyfriend, but getting felt up by a dude who thinks her body is an object to be fondled at will because he lusts for it. (Is it ever okay to touch people without consent? No. Your only body is your own. Don’t grope.)
+ moving in to a dorm, just trying to attend college and enjoy the experience and embrace an education, but getting raped by a dude who thinks her body is an object to achieve victory over for his own lust for sex and power. (Is it ever okay to kiss, hump, or participate in intercourse without consent? No. Your only body is your own. Don’t rape.) [8]

~ Do you want to sex up a lady? She should want to sex you up back? “She winked at me” or “she was drunk” or “If she didn’t want to risk rape she wouldn’t have been wearing a skirt” are all bullshit excuses and YOU KNOW IT. [9]

+ trying to do her job, but getting passed up for promotions because men are freaked out at the idea of having a woman superior.
+ living with a period, period; but even more so having to deal with it in certain countries where, in addition to trying to handle the excruciating cramps, irrational mood-swings, weird cravings, and so on, they ALSO have to sequester themselves away because they are “unclean” [10].

+ EXISTING AND YET STILL BEING PUNISHED FOR SAID EXISTENCE BY OBJECTIFICATION, DEGRADATION, AND DISCRIMINATION IN MYRIAD WAYS.

Aye yi yi.

Oh, girls. I wish I could save everyone. I wish I could magically wave a wand and erase all the beliefs that women are less-capable, the beliefs that catcalls and gropes and sexist comments are a normal way of life we can’t/shouldn’t fight against, the beliefs that the pursuit of an interesting career is non-viable because it isn’t something women fit into. I can’t. I am not magic. September 1st passed again and still no Hogwarts letter. But I can attempt to educate, and if just a handful of people “get it,” at least that’s one tiny extra light in the world.

I’ve been struggling with my current Women’s Literature class because they are all so sheltered and silent and don’t see the point of any of these teachings to their lives, but when they leave the AHS bubble, I fear they will be shocked. I was supposed to spend the last two hours lesson-planning something interesting and useful for class tomorrow, since nothing has worked for them yet, but instead I wrote this.
Maybe it counts.


Though I’m pretty sure I’ll get in trouble if I let any “fuck!”s fly in class.

________________________

Still confused? Try a flowchart.

 

feminist flowchart

________________________

Semi-academic footnote-y thingies:

[1] Let’s remember that part of my motivation to enter the teaching career was my sheer exhaustion at dealing with stupid people every day; the knowledge I was helpless to stop the stupidity drove me to severe depression. Now, as a teacher, I can bit by bit carve away ignorance and replace it with critical thinking and common sense so the next generations will, perhaps, not be SO DAMN FUCKED UP.

[2] I’ve decided I hate everybody and no politics make sense and I have no label anymore.

[3] John Oliver will explain the gender wage gap to you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsB1e-1BB4Y.

[4] Read a summary of the study here: http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-job-rather-jennifer

[5] This is why I approve of Target’s recent actions in their toy aisles. It isn’t anti-God, or about transexuals, or any other earth-shattering descent into chaos like it’s been painted in the blogosphere. [P.S. If I ever meet Matt Walsh in person, I’m going to smack him on the nose like I would a bad dog.] It’s letting children explore their interests and potentials without limiting them into societal-based, unnatural gender roles. Let the boys “play daddy” and nurture something! Let the  girls catch bugs and roll in the dirt! ALSO, pink used to be a masculine color and only recently (post WWII) switched roles — http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/08/pink-wasnt-always-girly/278535/.

[6] And I’ll bet her husband helps with the freaking chores.

[7] Did you know that if you are getting cat-calls from construction or maintenance workers and their company name is nearby, you can call and report it? Some managers won’t care, while others will reprimand their men. Calling it in is an easy action with major potential. Totally worth it! We should be allowed to walk down the street without stress or fear! See “Everyday Sexism” by Laura Bates, page 157, for her thoughts.

[8] I get the need to teach women how to avoid rape, but we really, really need to teach men to not rape, too. In fact, I think males should be ashamed that the rhetoric teaches that “guys can’t control their penises, so we must be on our guard!” Really? Your flappy ding-dong has such a mind of its own that you can’t possibly control what you stick it in? Men should have more pride than that. Teach your sons, remind your frat buddies, spread the word, that rape is unacceptable. Make that penis behave. It will be treated well if you treat the woman who has mutual feelings for you well. Have patience. *
* I know rape happens to guys too, but the statistics people always haughtily throw around usually involve dudes in prison, so, that’s a whole different issue. Nobody should rape anybody, okay?!?

[9] “But one time the news told me that this one girl made up her whole story about being raped so now I think rape claims are all a big bowl of lies!”
Okay, well, one time a student made up a whole story about having no internet or technology or any way to POSSIBLY complete their essay, even though it took me all of 30 seconds to find their public Twitter with dozens of tweets suggesting the opposite with which to call out their B.S., but that doesn’t mean I never ever will believe another student’s internet-connectivity issues ever again.
For further thoughts on how this is not at all a “crying wolf” situation, read here: http://mashable.com/2014/12/05/false-rape-accusations-rare/

[10] Super interesting article about period prejudice in other countries here: http://jezebel.com/what-life-is-like-when-getting-your-period-means-you-ar-1542273510

Do you not like ANY of my points?

 
beholdthefuckfield

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