This has been a shitty year in many ways, but this month I've found myself reflecting on how my own mental health is so much better right now than it was a year ago. I still grapple with some anger, resentment, and loneliness that resulted from what really must have been intense (and externally exacerbated) post-partum depression, a time when I also felt like nobody was there for me. But, let's be clear, last December I cried at least once a day, and this December I think I've cried once. I'm doing alright. It's a huge relief; I can't be the only person who feels like they're going to be depressed and anxious forever when in the throes of it.
This week off from work, with the kids and Melissa home, has been a good one. I've read a lot. However, I've also realized that I didn't read many books last year. I'm not even sure I hit 20. Who even am I? I am determined to read more, which is not a resolution, but a "oh my god what the hell." This week, I read the first volume of Y The Last Man which, enh. I read Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, which was good, but I am still thinking about some of it. I'm almost through the first volume of Bitch Planet, and I am going to keep reading the whole series if only because of the scene with Penelope and the mirror that shows her as her ideal self, which brought fierce, intense joy to me. The rest of it is perfect, too, but oh that scene.
I have had a lot of energy around the house. I've finally cleaned out the utility room. I've replaced almost all of the handles and knobs in the kitchen. I cleaned out several drawers and cabinets; my kitchen is happier and easier to use. And I've been cooking a lot, far more than usual. It's all grounding me, making me feel more like this is MY house. I do this thing where I feel like I have to respect past owners, kind of self-efface, not respect my choices enough. Just as an example, this week (after four years here) I took off the "meat" and "dairy" stickers from when the previous owners, who must have kept kosher, lived here. I did this with the garden in the last house we lived in; I never felt comfortable making decisions there that didn't respect the work of the person who built the garden, all while my lack of investment in the thing was contributing to (though not creating) neglect. This yard is more of a blank slate, happily, and I am planning, planning, planning, and hoping this energy and investment holds up. I feel more free about this stuff than I have in a long time. Maybe it's brain chemistry. Maybe it's consistently getting more sleep. Or maybe it's that my toddler is over two and will play by herself for more than a minute at a time. Possibly it's all of that.
I'm feeling fairly done with Facebook these days, which is why I'm posting here. I'm trying not to be too judgey and cranky about it, but I have all of these feelings about fake news, real news and how I'm confronted by it, and how things get passed around over there and, also, about connections with people and the value I place on them. I've always said that I can't hate Facebook because of how it lets me stay in touch with so many people I'd lose otherwise, but I don't know. Are facile, shallow connections worth it when I'm not willing to put in the effort for more? Or is it keeping a tenuous thread between me and some other person so when I am willing to put in the effort, it's still reasonable? There's also how stung I've been to see people that I thought loved me vote for things that are actively damaging to my rights.
I don't know. In any case, here's a blog post. Hello, end of 2016.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
I know you, Southern Small Town. I KNOW you. I see you posting nasty things about transgendered people molesting children while you dither about how you know Uncle Joe touched cousin Jill's little girl inappropriately but nobody talks about it and the little girl seems fine these days so maybe it's okay to invite Uncle Joe to Thanksgiving anyway. I know you and your conspiracy of silence around rape, around sexual abuse, around mental illness, around every goddamned thing that's ugly. I KNOW YOU.
You know it, too. You know that it's not transgendered people in bathrooms molesting your children. You know goddamned well that the super butch "macho" guy standing at the door or the slick dude at church is more likely to do shit like that--to molest, to hit, to lie about it--than the transperson in the bathroom. Because, like I said, I know you. I know you're not stupid, despite what mass media would have me believe. Because I grew up there, too. I know how strong you are, I know how blisteringly smart you are or can be (some of y'all are stupid, but that's your own fault, and there's stupid in cities, too).
I also know how afraid you are. I know how, in a small town, you can't put your foot down without risking losing your whole social network. I know how important it is for you to conform--to post about Jesus, to post about how Obama is ruining the nation, to post about transfolks being dangerous--because it's always safer to be conservative in a small town like where you live. I KNOW YOU. I see you. I know that if you lose your friends, life will be miserable. I know. You can't just go out and get new ones, in a small town, not easily.
I'm still appalled at your utter failure of compassion, though. I am constantly horrified. I left my small southern town for some very good reasons, but I am still shocked, I still thought better of you, I really did. I am stunned that you can think about someone who feels wrong in their body, who goes through something that I have to imagine is difficult and terrifying, this transition from man to woman or woman to man, and think "what a horror show" rather than that poor person, who had to deal with that. Who had to risk their whole social world (where's your compassion for that?) so they could be true to themselves, so they could live out this life, this only life we get, as happily as possible. The more I think about this, the more horrified I am, the more I start thinking nasty things about what's made you this way. What is WRONG with you?
I see you. I know you. Be better, goddamn it.
Posted by Shelly at 6:54 PM
Thursday, January 7, 2016
I’m irritated this morning about, like, life. How do I describe this?
I’m annoyed that the lotion in the bathroom at work says “stress relief” on it, as if some lavender scent will relieve stress in any real way, and more than that I’m annoyed at all of the products that are supposed to help us cope with this life, right, where most of us are not really following dreams and are instead getting through days and weeks. I’ve long been annoyed at beauty products (she says, with make-up on her face, mind you, let me not pretend I’m immune), but today I’m annoyed at all of it. All of the soporific nonsense, from homeopathic idiocy to McDonald’s, all of it designed to calm us and soothe us and prevent us from thinking too much about what’s real and what matters the most.
I’m annoyed at myself, for letting so much time trickle past me while I do things like look at Facebook and not things that I’ve deemed important to my happiness and to having this short life contain something that I feel is worthwhile.
I’m annoyed at the shortness of life, and at everyone who’s ever tried to claim that our lives “burn bright” or “mean more” because we’re not immortal. I love some Doctor Who, but shit, give me a long life and let me see if it’s actually tedious, because I don’t believe it for a second.
I’m annoyed at myself for my distance from people that I love, at how I don’t work harder to connect. On the one hand, fucking Facebook surely doesn’t seem like the answer, but on the other, when I turn off Facebook I feel more alone. I don’t think social media is entirely pointless and empty, but it’s not the same as sitting down with someone, sharing a drink, writing a letter. I’ve felt isolated a lot in the past year.
I’m just irritated, feeling some kind of weird itch I can’t scratch, and what I have to do right now is get some work done, work I feel disconnected from, and here I go, without any kind of conclusion for you. Escaping isn’t right, but carving out meaning in all of this isn’t easy.
Posted by Shelly at 8:54 AM