It’s bleak out there.

It’s only Day 2 and things don’t look good. Not that I thought it would be good, I just didn’t think it would be this rampant. This unashamed. That there was this much simmering racist/misogynist rage in the country. I’ve obviously underestimated the pure shittiness of so many of my fellow citizens. I guess they were just waiting for permission to be their worst selves, and now they have it. We can’t hide from it anymore. We will have to reckon with this. How? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out.

There was so much talk during the election about how polarized we were, and how everyone lives within their own echo chambers on social media and only hear from people they agree with, and it was certainly true for many of us. The election results are only making it more so. I’ve seen so many posts from friends on Facebook about “cleaning house” on their Friends list, because they could no longer tolerate the racist and extremist rhetoric coming from Trump supporters they knew. Many heated discussions are taking place in comment threads about it, some saying that we should not be dismissive of Trump supporters because they’re #notallracist, but in my opinion (and the opinion of most of my friends – my echo chamber), if you voted for him you are either a racist or you’re willing to be tolerant of such attitudes, since he so clearly stoked that fire. Not just racism, but Islamophobia, discrimination toward the disabled, and actions toward women that are literally criminal. This is not just a “difference of opinion” that we must all just agree to disagree on and move forward. These are fundamental issues of HUMAN RIGHTS that are not negotiable. Networks of friends and families are splitting apart on these fault lines at this very moment, and the prevailing attitude seems to be “good riddance to bad rubbish.”

I’m lucky not to have this problem. I guess I’d already self-sorted my networks to exclude these attitudes, and no one has surprised me by popping off with comments I can’t deal with. My immediate family is free of Trumpitude and for that I’m grateful. (Extended family has mixed results but I can easily avoid them when necessary.) I fear family gatherings at the holidays are going to be VERY volatile all around the country this year.

I know it’s only Day 2, but I’m having a hard time deciding on a course of action for myself. How much social media do I want to subject myself to? Can I limit myself successfully? I don’t want to abandon it completely. I have many friends I don’t want to lose touch with and I like being reasonably informed about what’s happening. But this is a situation of “too much will never be enough,” and continually beating myself over the head with all the terrible things isn’t necessarily productive. I normally wake up to NPR, read all kinds of news all day long, and have been listening to a variety of political podcasts during the election season, but since Tuesday night I haven’t turned on the radio once. I haven’t listened to any of my podcasts. I haven’t looked at a newspaper or watched any TV news. I haven’t (won’t) watch Trump’s acceptance speech. I haven’t watched Hillary’s concession speech or Obama’s remarks. I will, eventually. But I’m not ready yet. Maybe tomorrow. My mom tells me it was helpful for her to watch it, it made her feel better. But I’m so tired of crying right now, and I know I will cry again whenever I’m brave enough to watch it.

What will my purpose be for the next few years? What can I do? How can I contribute to keeping the damage to our country (and to myself) to a minimum? This is what I have to think about now. . .

 

It’s bleak out there.

2 minutes to midnight.

(it’s actually 12:53 but i’m being symbolic.)

i watched part of the returns with friends, but now i’m home alone. my body is vibrating with anxiety and i feel speechless, but my mind is also bombarded with thoughts, scenarios, ideas, what could happen. what won’t happen.

  1. hope for an early death. like tomorrow, ideally.
  2. turn away from the world. disconnect everything. pretend it didn’t happen (as much as I can, anyway.) become one of those people who doesn’t know anything about the world outside my little apartment box. ignore everything else.
  3. but no. i have friends who do not have that luxury. African American, Latinx, Muslim, LGBTQI, people I love and will not and cannot abandon to whatever this turn of events throws at us.
  4. become fire. scream and rage and not let anything happen without a battle to the death.
  5. become love. perhaps the hardest choice of all. proven tonight, there are many millions of people for whom racist, misogynist, fascist ideas are absolutely not deal-breakers when choosing a President. The idea of approaching them with kindness and generosity is beyond me at this moment. I could look upon them as dumb puppies who poop on the rug because they don’t know any better. but they are goddamn adults and i will rub your nose in that shit because you should  know better. oh wait this really belongs under #4. Oops. Gonna have to work on that love thing.
  6. Become a drug addict. I understand there are a lot of opiods to be had quite easily. Maybe look into that. It would bring up a lot of other problems that would be more distracting than worrying about this piece of shit and everything he’s going to rain down on us.

done with listing. i just don’t know. i just don’t know. I never wanted kids and now i’m even happier with that decision because all the parents i know are tying themselves in knots worrying about how to explain this to their kids.

aside from the damage being done to our country at large, i am overwhelmed with outrage at the idea of Barack Obama having to hand off the Presidency to this horrible troll, the man who was instrumental in trying to discredit his legitimacy with all the birther bullshit. this fucking enrages me more than just about anything.

i’m lucky to live in the blue bubble of Chicago. I’m lucky to be a white person with a decent job and health care coverage. i’m lucky to be menopausal. but so many people aren’t.

i am scared as shit. but i will do what i can. i will do my best. Sometimes i’ll be fire, sometimes i’ll be hiding under the covers. sometimes, if i’m lucky, i might even be love.

i hope we can get through it together.

2 minutes to midnight.

Slurpee & Taquitos to go

I stopped at 7-11 on my way home tonight, to buy myself a cocktail in a can, as I do sometimes. As I walked out the door I was approached by a young woman.

“Excuse me. . . could you buy me something to eat?” she asked, as she rubbed her belly, presumably so I would notice that she was pregnant. “I don’t want any money, I’m just really hungry.” As a city dweller of 35 years my instinct is to be hard and my antennae go up. Am I being set up for a pickpocketing or a purse-snatching? Is she really pregnant? Thoughts and possible courses of action race through my head in a millisecond, then I say, “Sure.”

“Thank you so much. My baby is so mad at me right now.” My head is reeling at this, the idea of being pregnant and being so alone that you have to ask strangers for food. I know this happens every day, but it’s nothing I will ever get used to.

We go back into the store and I ask her what she wants, heading toward the deli case, thinking probably a sandwich or something, but she heads toward the hot food display and my first thought is “Oh god she wants a pizza.” (like honestly would I have said no if she wanted a pizza? Of course not.) But she asked, “Could I get some taquitos?”

“Sure, of course.” They’re 3 for $3 & something, not much. She asks for four. While they’re bagging them up she asks if she can get a drink. Again I ask, “What do you want?” I’m not sure why I needed to ask, I should have just said go head, get you want you want. “Can I get a Slurpee?” I think for a second, and then say, “Sure.” Because what was I going to say? “You’re pregnant, you shouldn’t be eating this garbage?” My middle-class judgy-ness was rearing up inside me. As though I had any business telling her what to eat or not eat, like she lived in a world where that was a choice she could make.

She told me that she’d been waiting two hours for a friend to pick her up and they hadn’t shown up and she hated having to “be all hobo” and ask for food from strangers. I told her it was no problem, and felt like a giant piece of shit for holding two states of thought in my head at the same time: “I’m a sucker, I’m being played” and “Why is anyone’s life like this?” As though one can be “played” for $6 worth of junk food. I told myself to get the fuck over. I’ve wasted more money on that on stupider things just this week.

She thanked me again after we left the store, and asked me where the nearest Blue Line stop was, so I told her, and then I crossed the street and finished my journey home. Now I’m sitting here drinking my cocktail in a can and hoping she got home (or wherever she was going) okay,

I also realize that you can do a (hopefully) nice thing for someone and still feel like garbage, apparently. It’s not enough, I don’t do enough, I should have done something else for her.

 

 

Slurpee & Taquitos to go

anxiety dump.

Time drags so slowly when there’s not much happening at work. (Of course now that I’ve said this, some work-related flaming disaster will rain down on me and I’ll beg for the boredom again.)

But for now, it drags, and there’s a few things I can do: I can go down a Twitter rabbit hole, marinating in election nonsense, finding things to get mad about and despair about (which takes no time at all, let’s be real). I could go into my Flickr account and do some organization. I could go through my inbox and start deleting. (Honestly, are you EVER going to read that article from the NYT from four months ago? Probably not.)  I could go down to the mini mart and get a bag of snack foods and eat my anxiety. (I literally sat here watching the clock from about 12:30 until 1:00 pm when I allowed myself my mid-afternoon snack of a KIND bar. I could’ve eaten it at 12:30 when I first thought about it but then I’d have to make it until 3:00, when I let myself eat lunch. This is my demented relationship with food. (I work from 11:00 am until 7:30 pm, so my food schedule is a little off from the norm.)

Emotional eating has been my primary coping skill for as long as I can remember, and the current state of the world makes it difficult for me to relieve my anxiety while not gaining 20 pounds. Nothing else works quite as well. I’ve been drinking more alcohol now (as opposed to hardly ever), but that’s not a really great strategy either. I don’t smoke. I could probably get a medical marijuana card from my doctor, but I’ve never been a weed person either. Maybe I should start. I don’t know. Then there’s the weed-related munchies, which is what I’m trying to avoid in the first place, so maybe not. I’ve been trying to do more yoga but I’m SOOOOOOO lazy more often than not it results in me flogging myself about not doing it instead of just doing it and then I flog myself about that. How did I ever get this old? It seems like I should’ve just died from inertia by now.

It occurs to me that 75% of my waking time is spent flogging myself about something. I know I’m not supposed to do that, and obviously said flogging is not helping me achieve whatever it is I think I should be achieving. I also flog myself about not knowing what I should be achieving, how meta. The snake eats itself. Better than eating an entire bag of Doritos, I suppose.

It’s almost 2:30 now. I’m going for a walk. Then when I come back I can eat my lunch and then I have to go to a meeting and pretend to care about things.

If you made it through this, congrats, you just experienced five minutes of my brain. Apologies.

anxiety dump.

2016 Reading List Update

Note: In 2016 all the books I read will be written by women, about women (either fictional or non-).

Currently reading:
Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt by Jean Naggar
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman


Read:
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (I started reading this before 2015 ended so it’s grandfathered in here. At least the two main characters are women, even if it was written by men.)
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman
Inferno: A Poet’s Novel by Eileen Myles
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman
Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

2016 Reading List Update

2016 Reading List Update

Note: In 2016 all the books I read will be written by women, about women (either fictional or non-).

Currently reading:
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff


Read:
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (I started reading this before 2015 ended so it’s grandfathered in here. At least the two main characters are women, even if it was written by men.)
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman
Inferno: A Poet’s Novel by Eileen Myles
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman
Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

2016 Reading List Update

It went from bad to worse.

But it’s better now.

In my last post I was kvetching about insurance and the difficulty of getting my meds when I needed them. When I woke up the next day, I had a fever of 101. I felt achy and terrible, and I wondered if this was part of withdrawal too? Nothing on the internet indicated that this might happen, but who knows?

I called my doctor. Naturally he was out of the country, so I called the Humira hotline, where they have nurses you can talk to. The Humira nurse told me that the drug really does not have any withdrawal symptoms, aside from the potential return of the Crohn’s symptoms I’m taking it to suppress. It would definitely not cause a fever. So that theory was shot.

I didn’t go to work because I felt so yucky, and I was supposed to go see Louis CK that night, but I didn’t do that either. Bye bye $50. Another thing I didn’t do was take my medication. Because after being without it for weeks (and yes it was finally delivered that day), I couldn’t take it because I had a fever. Since it’s an immunosuppressant you’re not supposed to take it when you’re sick. So I still couldn’t take it.

The next day I felt fine. I went back to work. I still had some joint pain, but no fever. It was strange to have had a fever but no other symptoms, no respiratory stuff, no intestinal stuff. I decided to go ahead and take the Humira on Thursday night, since I hadn’t had a fever for over 24 hours at that point.

Friday I was fine.

Saturday I woke up at 6:00 in the morning, shaking, teeth chattering, and my fever was roaring back. 101.5. I decided I to go to the urgent care clinic, because WTF?

The clinic was wonderfully not busy and I got to see a doctor in less than an hour. He said it was most likely a virus, and he would be reluctant to prescribe antibiotics “just in case” because I have Crohn’s and he wouldn’t want to unnecessarily mess with my gastrointestinal system. But, he said, if your fever goes up to 102 or higher, come back here or go to the ER. Okay.

I went home and crawled back into bed. And then woke up a few hours later, with the shaking and the teeth chattering and GODDAMMIT. This time my temperature was almost 103. Fuck. The clinic was already closed at this point, so I couldn’t go back there.

I called Dan & Mike to ask if they could take me to the ER, and Dan immediately came over and we drove to the ER at Northwestern Memorial.

As Emergency Rooms on Saturday night go, it was pretty mellow. No screaming babies or gunshot wounds. There were a few people there who made me genuinely think, “Wow, I hope they’re going to be okay.” But most people were like me, basically ambulatory and not bleeding, but still, something made them come here. After going through the initial triage process so they could figure out where to put me in the queue, we sat and waited. It was about three hours until they called me.

They put me in a room (on the second level of the ER, which if you have to be in an ER this is pretty nice, I’ll be honest), and let the games begin:

Doctor #1 and a nurse come in & take vitals and I give them the run down of what’s happening. They are also confused by the fever with no other symptoms. They put an IV in me and hook me up to a bag of fluids. Then they take some blood and at some point I will have to pee in a cup. But I’m not ready to do that yet.

Doctor #2 came in and I gave him the run down again. (This all brought back memories from when I was in the hospital several years ago and wanted to have my spiel printed on cards so I could just hand them out instead of having to tell it every time someone new came in.) They seemed extra concerned about my fever because I’m on immunosuppressant drugs.

I finally felt inspired enough to go pee in a cup, and I SPILLED THE GODDAMN THING ALL OVER THE BATHROOM FLOOR. Jesus fuck. Now I’d have to start all over with water-drinking and hope I could squeeze some more out soon.

In the meantime, the Registration lady wheeled her computer cart into my room and took all my insurance info and told me I owe $432 and change for my co-insurance and how did I want to pay for that? I handed over a credit card, but then I wondered what if I didn’t have one? What if I said, “I can’t pay for it.” Would they have kicked me out? Given me a couple Tylenol and sent me on my way? I don’t know. Health care in America, who knows.

Also, everyone thought Dan was my husband because who else would he be? Why would some guy who’s “just a friend” sit with you in the ER all damn night if he didn’t have to? Dan would, because he’s one of the highest quality people in the world.

Eventually, Doctor #3, Boss Lady Doctor came in. (Have I mentioned that every single person who came into my room was insanely good-looking? Like TV-show quality good -looking. It was unsettling.) My initial blood test results showed no infection. I still needed to pee in a cup, and she wanted to have more blood drawn to do cultures, the results of which would not be available for a few days, but she wanted to make sure there was nothing hiding in there. She stressed the fact that the drugs I’m taking could keep my immune system from responding the way another person’s would, and there might indeed be an infection somewhere, but my body wouldn’t necessarily react in the same way. And then she recommended having a spinal tap. UGH.

Initially I did NOT want to do that. Because who wants someone poking needles around your spinal cord? Does anyone? I didn’t agree to it immediately. Cute Boy phlebotomist came in to take more blood, and then I finally got the peeing in a cup thing done successfully. I decided to wait on making a decision until the pee test results came back, so we waited. And it was negative. Nothing.

It was about 2:00 am now, and I decided to let them do the spinal tap, because what if there was something there? What if my body was doing strange things (as it has a long-standing reputation for) and they could find something out now? I was already at the hospital, if something serious was happening let’s just get the ball rolling.

I sent Dan home then, because I knew I would be there for at least another 2 hours and he’d already been supremely patient and supportive plus he might like to get some sleep.

Doctor #1 set me up for the spinal tap. Aside from spreading your legs for a doctor it’s about as vulnerable as you can be. Here is my spine, arguably the most crucial thing in my body. Feel free to jab at me with needles here. And he poked me and poked me and probably because I have too much back fat he couldn’t find the right spot while I was lying on my side. Boss Lady Doctor came in and had a go at it too, but no luck. So they had me sit up and finally had success doing it that way. It was only mildly uncomfortable. Mostly just a weird feeling, being poked there.

Then I had to lie flat on my back for an hour afterwards. I was so tired by then I think I dozed for most of the hour. Then the initial results came back: Negative.

I was relieved, but also anxious because after all that we were back at square one: It’s probably a virus.

I took a cab home from the hospital and got home around 5:00 a.m. I was extremely tired but I couldn’t sleep right away. I made myself some breakfast since I hadn’t eaten much of anything the day before and I was actually hungry.

After that, my fever never went above 99-point-whatever.

Then the headache came. One of the most common after-effects of a spinal tap is a GIANT HEADACHE. It goes away when you’re lying down, but gets worse when you sit or stand up. The worst of it lasted until Friday. That was the first day that I felt GOOD in two weeks — getting over the virus, then getting over the headache.

While I was battling the headache I was also battling my old friend Hypervigilance. I was kind of obsessively taking my temperature, making sure I didn’t have a fever, constantly monitoring the state of my head. Is it worse? Is it better? What if they did something wrong during my spinal tap? What if something else is going wrong? It’s exhausting. I’ve been down this road before, with weird medical problems and my anxious nature doesn’t handle it well.

I felt such a sense of relief on Friday, like a cloud was lifted and I felt like a normal person again. I still have a little bit of a lingering headache, but large portions of the day go by without my even noticing it, so I know I’m on the mend.

It went from bad to worse.