Monday, April 30, 2018

Our Free Press Has a Big Accountability/Credibility Problem

This weekend was not a good look for journalism, I’m afraid.

The Fourth Estate spent maybe three consecutive news cycles with its proverbial panties in a wad over nothing, when it should have had them wadded up over something, which I’ll get to in a moment. 


Meanwhile, the ever-incisive and deliciously cutting Albert Burneko over at Deadspin has what I’m gonna go ahead and deem the ultimate, funniest, sickest third degree burn hot-take on the Sarah Sanders/White House Correspondents’ Dinner/Michelle Wolf non-imbroglio, and I give it my full-throated endorsement.

For what it’s worth (i.e., not much) here are my own three unoriginal takeaways:

1. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Looks Shouldn't Matter, But They Do.

This is perhaps the biggest flashpoint, so let’s focus on it for a second. Everyone walks on egg shells around mocking, complimenting, or otherwise acknowledging a professional woman’s physical appearance, ready to pounce upon even an anodyne remark about eye shadow. Why? Because a woman’s physical appearance is always at issue in a way a man’s never is in an analogous position. The patriarchy has made sure of that, and women gamely served the patriarchy’s bidding by spending all weekend on Twitter cannibalizing each other over the meaning of a “smoky eye.”

We’re supposed to be beyond this as society, but we’re not. If we’re being honest, we’d simply say that Sanders—divorced from personality and context—is a regular looking, conventionally attractive, even, average-sized American woman. And of course, the metric of what's “attractive” in the first place is subjective and established by a beauty industry with a huge profit motive. Full stop. Point is, the only reason we care about Sanders' appearance at all is because she’s not a man. Let’s not forget that. And let’s also not forget that this concern is total bullshit and a huge, irrelevant distraction from the garbage disgorged from Sanders’ dumpster fire of a mouth on the daily, which is where the press really failed to twist its panties up about the right stuff.

2. What Comes Out of Sanders’ Mouth is 100% Trash and the Press Fails to Meaningfully Reckon With That.

What comes out of Sanders’ mouth is a regular fusillade of atomic-grade lies on behalf of what is incontrovertibly the most corrupt, inept, mendacious, anti-democratic, constitutionally infirm, and morally and ethically bankrupt presidential administration kleptocracy in living memory.

And what has journalism done in response? Answer: basically nothing. 


As Burneko’s take in Deadspin points out (AGAIN: RECOMMENDED), a comic can’t “bully” a press secretary or the press. The inherent power differential baked into the structure of the relationship makes this impossible. The White House holds power, and the press holds it too. It's a journalist’s job to use the power of the free press to question the power of the government in service of the public interest—not to pander to a venal executive for “access” and clicks, and not to clutch pearls over jokes told by someone without institutional power. That’s not what the framers of the First Amendment had in mind.

3. Nothing a Comic Says Changes Any of This.

The snowflakery that the White House press corps showed when confronted with their own failures by a female comedian at an exclusive, star-studded dinner party tells you all you need to know about where the focus should be, and it’s not on Michelle Wolf. (Oh and by the way: Michelle Wolf isn’t black, a misperception that Black Twitter noted undoubtedly contributed to the vitriol hurled at her jokes).

Regardless, the White House Correspondents’ Association’s sniveling, obsequious, gratuitous apology for Wolf’s act shows that this organization cares more about access to Sarah Sanders’ daily fact-conflagrations than it does about exposing the anti-democratic intellectual violence she is doing to our constitutional democracy by holding them in the first place. It is, at least in part, the press’s total lack of accountability to the public and unwillingness to speak truth to power--accompanied by shameless self-pimping for access and clicks--that has brought the Great American Experiment to its breaking point.

And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.






Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Porta Potty is the High Dive of Potties

I had this thought at Isaac’s Little League game yesterday.

At a time when no one can agree about anything, when blame and finger-pointing are more instinctive than blinking, when the only snowflakes left on our roasting planet are the snowflakes who are accusing everyone else of being a snowflake, even now--I think we can all agree that the porta potty is the high dive of potties and bathroom use.

No one likes a porta potty. No one. A porta potty is a last resort pottying situation, and when you're forced to use one for #1 or--GOD FORBID--#2, it's like gearing up for a jump off the high dive.

You know the feeling, especially if you're a woman and can't just easily sneak off to the bushes and whip it out. 

You’re at a kids’ sports game or an outdoor music festival or fair. You can feel half a day’s worth of beer or lemonade or coffee or whatever slowly filling up your bladder, and you know it’s only a matter of time before you have to succumb to the call of nature.

There it is. That pit in your stomach/bladder. The tipping point at which the needs of the human excretory system trump the visceral aversion to the inside of a porta potty. You approach the hulking mass of plastic and sewage like it was a high dive, staring at it, willing this experience to be over before it’s even begun.

You take the leap.

Pulling open the plastc door, you put your head down, hold your breath, and keep repeating—as you would on a high dive—don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down. Because you can’t let yourself see it. If you do, you might puke, lose your nerve, and give up. You hover over that seat with your eyes closed and try not to visualize what’s six inches below your ass right now.

The fetid slurry of wadded-up toilet paper and piss and shit; the cloying smell of electric blue chemicals that do little to mask the stench of human excrement. You’re holding your breath with your eyes squeezed shut, peeing as fast as you possibly can. You burst out into the light before you even have your pants all the way up and stumble onto the grass with a sense of accomplishment and relief. 

Like wow, I can’t believe I actually did that. I’m so BRAVE. And now I can drink another seven beers cuz there’s room in my bladder again!

No doubt about it: porta potty use is an epic gauntlet and making it through the other side is an achievement worthy of self-congratulation for the rest of the week.





Saturday, April 28, 2018

I Give Exactly Zero Fucks About Carpet, Despite Having a Vagina

The day I was born, after almost 24 hours of labor, the nurse looked up at my mother, smiled, and said, “Congratulations! You have a little lady!”

The part of the story I think my mom omitted, though, was that the nurse also handed her a dozen 4 x 4 swatches of carpet on one of those silver key ring thingies and added, “she’ll be needing this.”

Because apparently I’m supposed to care about carpet, since my husband tried to buy some but was summarily dismissed by an incredulous salesman who was hesitant to permit this transaction without my personal blessing.

I’m actually not in the least bit offended by the implied assumption that I care about carpet simply because I have a vagina. I’m sure lots of vagina-havers totally care about carpet, and many penis-havers do as well. 

Awareness of good carpet knows no sex or gender. I’m just saying for the record that I personally give no fucks about carpet.

The same goes for all elements of interior design, come to think of it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the way nice spaces look. I’m always in awe of my friends with an artistic flare for a cool backsplash or a nifty faucet. 

Again, it’s just that I personally give no fucks that every other light fixture in my house looks like a crystal nipple and we keep an open can of recycling on the floor of our linen closet and half our furniture came with the house and our dining room table/chairs are from a restaurant that closed and probably still have strangers’ gum underneath them.

When it comes to home improvements, here are my criteria: whatever it is should work for its assigned purpose as long as possible, require as little maintenance as possible, not be outrageously expensive, and simply appear one day without my having done anything to assist in its apparition.

Like really, dassit. I’m just glad someone else is thinking about carpet. I’m not about to look that gift horse in the mouth by weighing in with preferences. I learned this from my parents, who just last year replaced some 40 year-old curtains in their apartment. 

I am not kidding when I tell you that if I never see a paint sample again, it will be 100% too soon.




Friday, April 27, 2018

A Critical Thread on the White Supremacist Origins of Trumpism

I'm reprinting an important and informative thread from @_Ethan Grey on Twitter on the role of white supremacy in the rise of Trumpism, because I think it's so critical to understand the racially-charged aspect of where we are and how we got here.

Donald Trump won the GOP primary and the presidency because campaigning on whiteness-first messaging still has potency in the 21st century. Plenty of people don’t want to directly engage with this fact, but this thread will be getting into it in full.

All too often I see the framing that “Hillary lost to the worst candidate in history.” But I think this framing has always been wrong, and it allows people to bypass a question that they don’t want to grapple with: why was Trump electorally viable to the degree that he was?

Do not construe this as me arguing that Hillary’s campaign didn’t make mistakes, but I want to laser focus on why people voted for Trump, and what that says about where we are as a country.

We've seen the excuses for Trump: “He promised to shake up the establishment.” “His campaign resonated with those who have been left behind.” “It’s just so refreshing to hear a candidate speak his mind.” “Trump voters responded to economic anxiety.”

But these theories do not have any explanatory power regarding why the vote broke down the way it did demographically. Only one broad demographic seemed to be receptive to the kind of campaign that Trump ran on: white people.

We must be cognizant of what Trump ran on: calling Mexicans rapists, banning Muslim immigration, building a wall to keep undocumented immigrants out, national stop-and-frisk. And he has a track record of questioning the legitimacy of Obama's birth certificate.

We know that denial of racism, alongside hostile sexism, predicted a vote for Donald Trump significantly more than other factors like economic dissatisfaction.

This kind of correlation between racial resentment and the probability of voting for Trump has been observed in other studies.

Lack of education predicted support for Trump because of its strong relationship to ethnocentrism, not so much income and occupation. Trump voters thought that a hierarchy that prioritized white people was under attack. Trump helped cement that belief.

Separate point: perceptions of the economy don’t really determine political preference. Rather, it’s the other way around; political preferences determine economic perceptions. Bearing this in mind . . .

We’ve seen something analogous under President Obama; racial resentment predicted perception of the economy.The more racially resentful, the poorer the perception of the economy.

So yeah. You see the theme. Of course, it’s not enough to grapple with what the appeal of Trump’s campaign was. We must also be cognizant of the fact that that appeal was propelled to the White House while Trump has demonstrated he's thoroughly unfit.

We know Trump’s temperament is horrible, he lacks the qualifications to govern effectively, he doesn’t know the ins and outs of the issues, he has no real desire to learn, he is obsessed with denigrating his opponents and not being humiliated, and he’s a lecher.

We can’t just say “Donald Trump won by cultivating bigotry” though because that still leaves some things ambiguous. Donald Trump won because affirming the primacy of whiteness is still an issue of importance to too many white voters.

What white supremacy greatly fears is a genuine meritocracy, a society where anyone, regardless of race or gender, can rise according to their talents and diligence.

For white supremacy to guard against a trajectory toward meritocracy, this requires everything of merit must be sacrificed, which brings us to a terrifying conclusion: the various ways Trump was unfit for the Presidency were features to his voters, not flaws.

Trump won the GOP primary and was propelled to the White House because a swath of white voters wanted to send this message to people of color after 8 years of a Black President who successfully governed: “The worst of us should still be given deference over the best of you.”

Furthermore, this entitlement is so profound that many white voters have been willing to sacrifice benefits to their class in exchange for seeing institutions uphold the primacy of whiteness.

In W. E. B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America, he wrote about the psychological wage of whiteness; in exchange for experiencing potentially low economic wages, white people were given a psychological wage in the form of ubiquitous deference.

If you find it hard to conceive of people forgoing fiscal wages for the sake of a psychological wage, consider that similar behavior has been observed in non-racial contexts.

A Harvard study asked people if they’d rather make $50,000 when everyone else around them makes $25,000 OR if they’d rather make $100,000 when everyone else around them makes $200,000. Fifty percent of respondents opted for the former.

Wild, right? People will opt for a job that pays absolutely less so long as they know they make more relative to everyone else over a job where they make absolutely more but relatively less than everyone else. Because people want to know they’re on top.

But if that’s how people behave in non-racial contexts, then it’s actually not a wild leap to conceive of white people forgoing economic benefits so long as they get institutions and politicians upholding white supremacy. They want to know they’re on top.

This is actually why many fiscally left-leaning policy positions that we support run into brutal opposition; the real undercurrent is too many white people do not want to share the safety net with anyone else. Then they wouldn't be on top

Here’s a specific example: we could have had something akin to single-payer during the Truman years. But white southerners opposed it because they feared a national health insurance program would force hospitals to integrate. Seriously.

The 60s marked a period of significant success for the Democratic Party and civil rights. It also led to a flight of white southerners from the party and the end of bipartisanship on redistributionist policies.

Reality: This country was founded upon building an economy on top of exploiting Black labor, concentrating wealth produced from that labor in the hands of white people, and deploying all kinds of terrible tactics to ensure that rigid social stratification was upheld.

And when that status quo has been challenged, our country has experienced its most significant upheavals. The U.S. fought its bloodiest and most destructive war over whether the enslavement of Black people should continue.

Eras of relative stability for the United States, on the other hand, usually relied on people with power tacitly (or explicitly) upholding racial exclusion from democracy.

As minorities increasingly got to participate in democracy—both in terms of voting and participating in government—we saw a decline in bipartisanship, a trend which effectively exploded when Barack Obama was elected President. This isn't a coincidence.

The unfortunate truth is Trump is the culmination of a force that has always been here, namely the tendency to undermine and destroy institutions that do not show extraordinary deference to whiteness, and instead, propping up new and regressive systems in their place.




Thursday, April 26, 2018

The #BooHoo Movement is Underway

I think the standards for television have lowered a bit, because I just learned that disgraced CBS anchor Charlie Rose is purportedly shopping a #MeToo redemption series, in which he plans to interview other high profile men who got #MeToo’d and have a good long cry about how unfair it all was.

In other words, this would be like a “comeback-apology-redemption-tour” for rich, famous, sexually abusive men who got caught abusing and harassing women, and suffered professional consequences, and for which the public is supposed to absolve them and restore them to their former glory not one year later.

There’s a hashtag for this: #BooHoo.

The #BooHoo movement—which I think maybe I just coined (not sure)?—is more than just famous dudes trying to “un-MeToo” themselves, though. Since I made it up, I’m going to apply #BooHoo to all men who end up suffering the consequences of their own misogyny and malfeasance.

You see, it is so UNFAIR and UNBELIEVABLE that a MAN would not be able to get a SECOND CHANCE at MAKING LOTSA MONEY and allowing his GENIUS to flourish after RAPING someone or SEXUALLY VIOLATING them, because isn’t this AMERICA? And what happened to INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY? 


Except wait . . . that standard is for criminal trials, and none of these dudes (except Bill Cosby) have been tried (much less convicted) of any crime, to my knowledge, despite having gotten away with lots of them. And natch, no one cares about all the genius and contributions these men took from the women they abused, raped, and harassed.

The thing of it is, we all have a short attention span, especially now. So the fact is these men probably WILL make a comeback. Forgotten will be the women who bravely came forward with their stories. They’ll be shoved aside, and Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer and all the rest will have successfully waited out the clock in the public shame/#MeToo penalty box, and go back to being rich and famous "geniuses" again.

And as for the women?

Well, the women will go back to knowing what they always have: which is that nothing they say and nothing they do and nothing that happens to them actually fucking matters in the end. They’ll return to the certainty that our patriarchy cares more about rehabilitating a rich white man’s career than it does about meting out any form of justice—poetic or otherwise—to the men who helped themselves to women’s bodies. For women’s bodies, after all, are their entitlement and their birthright.

The deadly culmination of the #BooHoo movement is “incel culture,” to which that dude who mowed down a bunch of people in Toronto this week subscribed. Zach Beauchamp over at Vox has a good breakdown of incel culture, but basically it’s more Boo-Hooery, only scarier and deadlier.

Per the Vox report, “involuntary celibates” have “an elaborate sociopolitical explanation for their sexual failures, one that centers on the idea that women are shallow, vicious, and only attracted to hyper-muscular men.” Branches of the incel movement encourage violence against women as retaliation for depriving them of the sex they are owed. “What we’re seeing right now,” Beauchamp writes, “is one of society’s oldest hatreds, misogyny, being reworked in real time to fit a specific group of men’s rage and pain.”

Which is what it all comes down to in the end, isn’t it? MEN's rage. MEN's pain. MEN'S tears, because WOMEN.

Both the incels and the soon-to-be-rehabbed MeTooers are all just part of a whole #BooHoo narrative that says when men feel bad about themselves, it’s a woman’s job to fix that bad feeling. Not therapy, not medicine, not introspection, or ownership, or responsibility, or self-reflection. Not really, no. Vagina. That’s the only answer. The only just solution is executing on these dudes’ rightful entitlement to women’s bodies.

Let’s be clear about one thing: women’s bodies are the stock-in-trade of #MeToo, incel, and now #BooHoo. Famous (and not famous) men felt entitled to women’s bodies, and spent their whole careers taking what they wanted. When #MeToo put (let’s be honest) what is likely a very temporary stop to that, whose fault was it? 


Why women’s, of course!

And when women now insist that these transgressions not be easily forgotten, and that their abusers be made to suffer at least some form of permanent consequences because of those violations, they are not giving men the second chance they deserve, because why? Because these were never really transgressions at all. 

These men were entitled to women’s bodies all along, and it’s not FAIR that someone said otherwise. And when men are sad and depressed, it’s because women won’t fuck them, and the only solution is to murder people.

You know what’s unfair? Literally everything that happens to women’s careers and bodies every single fucking day of their lives. Men need to get straight on this.

Boo fucking hoo.





Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Consplaining the Self Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment

So everyone who hates Trump with a white hot passion (a category in which I squarely put myself, by the way) was giddy today with news that sebaceous humanoid paramecium and soon-to-be-sanctioned-if-not-disbarred Trump toadie Michael Cohen is “pleading the fifth” in the Stormy Daniels civil suit over a non-disclosure agreement, due to the ongoing criminal probe against him.

Specifically, he said in a court filing that:

I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the [overlapping] ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
We can speculate all we want over whether this is an indication of Michael Cohen’s guilt or not, and for my part I hope he’s guilty AF and goes to jail for a long time along with Cheeto Satan. But the constitutional lawyer in me knows that this type of schadenfreude is self-indulgent, hypocritical civic idiocy.

About twelve bazillion books and law review articles have been written on this by serious scholars and lawyers much smarter than me, so I’m certainly not going to pretend that this blog post will add anything new. 

I’m just dropping a hot take to point out that the Fifth Amendment exists to protect every citizen from prosecutorial overreach by the government—even felonious lawyers who disgrace the bar.

Here’s what the Supreme Court said in 1951 in Ullmann v. United States about the self-incrimination clause:
Too many, even those who should be better advised, view this privilege as a shelter for wrongdoers. They too readily assume that those who invoke it are either guilty of crime or commit perjury in claiming the privilege. Such a view does scant honor to the patriots who sponsored the Bill of Rights as a condition to acceptance of the Constitution by the ratifying States. The Founders of the Nation were not naive or disregardful of the interests of justice. . . . They made a judgment, and expressed it in our fundamental law, that it were better for an occasional crime to go unpunished than that the prosecution should be free to build up a criminal case in whole or in part, with the assistance of enforced disclosures by the accused. The privilege against self-incrimination serves as a protection to the innocent as well as to the guilty, and we have been admonished that it should be given a liberal application.
People love to say, "well Trump says everyone who pleads the Fifth is guilty." Maybe in this case, he's right. I hope he is. But Trump is a pathological liar, not a constitutional scholar. He said Obama was born in Kenya and that it wasn’t raining when it was. His opinion on the constitution means precisely dick.

Let it be clear: Our constitutional democracy has never--NEVER--been in graver danger. For that reason, it would do us all a lot of good to remember why these rights exist in the first place, even/especially when we’re rooting against the people who are relying on them.




Who Said It: An Alaskan or a Mushroom?

"It’s so dark."

"Everything is covered with mold."

"Why can’t I find a decent pizza?"

"Could I be any paler?"

"I’m cold and damp."

"If you need to find me, I’ll be hiding in the woods."

"I’m covered in dirt and mud."

"I guess I’m just gonna have to reproduce asexually."


"I feel like one giant allergy."

"Just leave me alone."

"I feel stuck here."


"I'm never moving away from here."

"God, I stink to high heaven."

"I love trees."

"I have relatives in Hawaii."




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Childbirth: Princess vs. Plebe

Based strictly on this photo and (some) personal experience alone, here’s how I’m guessing this distinction goes:

I. LABOR

Princess: William dear, I believe the prince is en route. Shall we call the driver and get to hospital?

Plebe: HURRY THE FUCK UP ASSHOLE! STEP ON IT! YOU DID THIS TO ME ASSHOLE THIS BABY IS COMING RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD THERE’S A TELEVISION SET COMING OUT OF MY VAGINA I’M GONNA PUKE PULL OVER PULL OVER PULL OVER ASSHOLE (PUKES) HOLY SHIT I THINK I’M DYING

II. DELIVERY

Princess: *Baby slides out of perfectly manicured vagina in one push* Oh helloooooo dear! Welcome to the British Royal Empire!

Plebe: *Screaming and wailing*: I AM DYING I AM DEFINITELY DYING AND GOING TO BE A MATERNAL MORTALITY STATISTIC TRACKED BY THE CDC ANY SECOND NOW WHERE IS THE ANESTHESIOLOGIST WITH MY EPIDURAL WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE’S PLAYING GOLF 30 MILES AWAY ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME I AM SO DONE WITH THIS I NEED A C-SECTION IMMEDIATELY

III. BLEEDING


Princess: *one regular tampon’s worth of menstrual blood* The end.

Plebe: *10 weeks after delivery* WOW HOW AM I STILL BLEEDING INTO THESE GRANNY PANTIES? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THERE WOULD BE THIS MUCH BLOOD I ACTUALLY CAN’T BELIEVE I AM STILL EVEN ALIVE RIGHT NOW HOW CAN I PRODUCE THIS MUCH BLOOD AND STILL BE ALIVE THAT ONE BLOOD CLOT IS SO BIG I THINK IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ONE OF MY KIDNEYS?

IV. CLOTHING


Princess: *7 hours post-partum*: Jenny Packham dress in a daring red with a sweet Peter Pan collar, along with a pair of classic court heels by Gianvito Rossi that retail at $500.

Plebe: *7 hours post-partum*: Size XXL Star Wars pajama pants from Costco; XXL T-shirt from Rhode Island thrift store; husband’s gray Stussy hoodie from 1998; flip-flops.

V. POOPING

Princess: Does not poop. Ever. Full stop.

Plebe: *2 weeks after delivery*: MOM MOM MOM GET IN IN HERE I THINK I’M HAVING ANOTHER BABY EXCEPT THIS ONE IS COMING OUT OF MY ASSHOLE CALL THE DOCTOR OH WAIT NEVER MIND IT’S JUST TWO WEEKS OF SHIT IN ONE GIANT TURD THAT IS THE SIZE SHAPE AND COLOR OF A WORLD WAR I GRENADE/DIET COKE CAN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVEN IN MEDICAL SCHOOL OH YOU HAVEN’T THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT

VI. MOOD

Princess: Cheerio, fine citizens of London!

Plebe: GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME, YES I AM WEEPING BECAUSE I DROPPED A PLATE OF VEGETABLE FRIED RICE AND BECAUSE THE CAT ON THE FANCY FEAST COMMERCIAL IS CUTE AND WHAT OF IT?!?!

VII. NURSING

Princess:
*Places one C-sized boob in mouth of perfectly latching infant for half an hour, hands off to nurse immediately.*

Plebe: GOD FUCKING HELP ME I AM A MISTREATED DAIRY COW PETA SHOULD SUE SOMEONE MY NIPPLES ARE IN A MEAT GRINDER WHY CAN’T THIS BABY GET COMFORTABLE MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE S/HE IS SUFFOCATING FROM THE SIZE OF MY TITTIES LITERALLY EACH TIT IS BIGGER THAN THIS BABY’S HEAD NO ONE TOLD ME I WOULD HAVE TO DO THIS AROUND THE CLOCK WHY DID NO ONE EXPLAIN THIS

VIII. SLEEPING


Princess:
*Hands baby to nurse on night one, sleeps full 8 hours*

Plebe: WHAT DAY IS IT? WHAT TIME IS IT? HOLY SHIT OMG WHERE IS THE BABY? OH WAIT IT’S STILL ON MY BOOB. DID I JUST HEAR IT CRY THOUGH OR WAS THAT AN AUDITORY HALLUCINATION FROM LACK OF SLEEP I FEEL LIKE THE SUBJECT OF A CIA BLACK OPS TORTURE INTERROGATION





Monday, April 23, 2018

Are You Mad at Me?

For most of my life, this was the question that consumed me. It was the fulcrum of my psyche, a lodestar for my feelings and conduct.

It ricocheted around in my mind all day and night like a pinball, pinging off the corners of more static, ongoing concerns like homework, sports, and later, work and children. The question was woven, inextricably it seemed, into the fabric of my every interaction and relationship. It would keep me awake at night, looking up at the little glow in the dark stars on the pink ceiling of my childhood bedroom, wondering what I could do to fix others’ perceived or real beefs with me, and later as an adult, rehashing an email or a telephone call at work.

I would beg reassurances from friends, teachers, relatives, colleagues, and yet would never really get what I was looking for. I was a bottomless void of insecurity and need to know and be reassured that no one was “mad at me.” Often, peers would use my fear of their anger sadistically against me, as a power play. Or they would be confused by the question, or dismissive.

I learned to tune in to other peoples’ emotions before I learned to walk, both intuitively and out of necessity. Modern pop-psychology calls this “EQ,” I believe.

My father was closed off, something of an emotional black box, and my mother was in many ways the opposite. She was depressed, anxious, traumatized, and intensely interactive with me all at the same time. Like all children and mothers, my life was in her hands, and honing in with acuity on her emotional state seemed like information I needed to survive.

Navigating New York City, too (which I was doing alone by the fifth grade) meant I had to thin-slice strangers on the bus, street, or subway. Size people up; sense who might be violent or dangerous. I still feel that I have a sixth sense for this. An intuition so strong and true, that even now I don’t doubt for a minute when I look into a man’s eyes whether he is prone to violence.

But some time in the past few years, mostly since I’ve started writing this blog, actually, I’ve begun to put that question—“are you mad at me”—aside. I’ve stored it in my mental attic, and it’s begun collecting dust up there.

I’ve had to, because I’ve managed to make a lot of people mad during this period of time. Mad about my tone of voice and choice of language. Mad about my opinions. Mad because I made an insensitive joke. 


Suddenly I was hurting people’s feelings, which I regretted and didn’t mean to do, but which, it turned out, is what inevitably happened sometimes when I stopped worrying if people were mad at me, and instead started being myself and prioritizing my voice, needs, and feelings in service of self-expression, self-care, and self-actualization. 

It was as if I was given a limited amount of energy to care about the answer to the question "are you mad at me," and the reserve of that energy is finally just depleted from overuse.

I’m hardly ever offended or “mad” at anyone, but on the rare occasion that I am, I recognize that this emotion is first and foremost my responsibility, not that of the alleged perpetrator, and the same is true in reverse. When I know I’ve made someone mad, as I inadvertently have and will, I feel sympathy for the unpleasant feeling they’re experiencing, instead of an urge to rectify and resolve their anger for them on their terms by modifying my behavior in unreasonable, unrealistic, and often self-destructive ways.

In short, I now accept that people will sometimes be mad at me. Some relationships (most, fortunately) can withstand mundane conflicts. I don’t ask this question very much anymore, and the price is a little bit less sensitivity, perhaps, to the feelings of others. 


I’m not happy about that, but on balance, it’s worth it.




Sunday, April 22, 2018

James Woods is a Heretofore Unknown Level of Stupid

It's not easy (anymore) to say something stupid enough to stand out as TRULY stupid. 2018 America is permeated to the quick in stupidity, so it's actually a remarkable feat to tweet something as demonstrably dumb as washed-up has-been actor James Woods managed to tweet out today. 

Here's what he said:





What's EXTRA amazingly—almost congenitally—stupid about this tweet is that it manages (impossibly!?) to combine two dangerously moronic conspiracy theories in fewer than 180 characters: that vaccines have no point AND that "illegal aliens" spread more disease than the general population. 

What do you even call this? Anti-vaxxer xenophobia, I guess? Like this is so dumb, I don't even know where to start debunking it.

That vaccines are the most revolutionary and effective public health measure (after hand washing) in two hundred years is beyond any reasonable debate. I'm not even going to get into the lack of scientific knowledge and reasoning necessary to say with a straight face that vaccines have "no point."

But even more ridiculous is the idea that there's no point to vaccines BECAUSE "illegal aliens" are going to "spread the very diseases that the vaccinations are trying to contain." Take measles, as just one example of a disease that the anti-vaxx movement is bringing back with a vengeance. A pulmonologist friend of mine referred me to World Health Organization data that breaks down measles vaccination in 12-23 month olds by country:  

U.S.: 92%
Mexico (PAYING FOR THE WALL): 96%
Libya (Travel Banned): 97%
Venezuela (Travel Banned): 88%
European Union (HWHITES galore): 93%

And for DPT (diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus) another set of diseases making a comeback thanks to anti-vaxxer hysteria, I bring you these stats:

U.S.: 95%
Mexico: 97%
Libya: 97%
Venezuela: 84%
European Union: 95%

And, by the way, this is the same xenophobic argument that says "illegals" are taking advantage of our health care system. Are they filthy and disease-ridden or are they taking health care away from hard-working Americans? Which one is it? PICK A LANE, BRAIN-WASHED BIGOTS! 

The worst part is that James Woods is a rich white American Christian man with all the resources and privilege in the world at his disposal. Nevertheless, he persists at being a dumb bigot who uses his thankfully limited platform to spread his dumb bigotry like a rampant case of uncontained polio.

Rich, dumb, and bigoted. A way deadlier combo than unvaccinated "illegal aliens."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The 4/20 Haggadah: The Four Questions and the 10 Plagues of NoCal

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

How is this night different from all other nights?

1. On all other nights, we smoke dirt weed and drink Miller Lites. Why on this night, the Chronic?

When we were in Tompkins Square Park trying to score a nickel bag in high school, it was often just oregano. We smoke Chronic to celebrate the fact that weed is now decriminalized in many states and we are grownups with jobs who can afford the good shit.

2.  On all other nights, we make a nominal pass at healthy eating. Why on this night do we microwave a 16 oz tube of Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough and dump a half gallon of vanilla ice cream on top of it and call it dinner?

The active ingredient in da tchrees fa ya mahnd--tetrahydrocannabinol--or THC, activates the endocannabinoid system, a complex area of the brain that regulates appetite. THC interacts with our smell and taste receptors, promoting the release of the hormone ghrelin, an appetite stimulant.

3. On all other nights, we pass the Dutchie to the right-hand side. Why on this night do we pass the Dutchie to the left-hand side?

We honor the 1982 Stoners' Anthem, Pass the Dutchie, by the dance-hall Reggae band Musical Youth, and they always pass the Dutchie to the left in that song.

4. On all other nights, we eat sitting upright, or maybe even standing at the kitchen counter if we're in a rush to drive a kid to dance practice, for example. Why on this night do we eat half-passed out on the couch listening to '77 Dead?

Sorry . . . what was the question again?

THE 10 PLAGUES OF NoCAL

1. Tinfoil bowls
2. Dead lighters
3. Bong water on the carpet
4. Cops
5. Mom finding stash
6. Josh from your old shift at Blockbuster who can NEVER handle his shit, for some reason
7. Roommate smoked all your dankest nugs
8. Mold infestation or mites in your dope grow
9. Seeds and stems
10. Harshing of the first mellow (see Plague #6)




Friday, April 20, 2018

Transcript of Semi-Awkward Period Convo With My 10 Year-Old Daughter

[Scene: 8 minute car ride to school]

10 yo: When you get your period, do you bleed just like once when you pee, or for longer?

Me: For longer, like 5-7 days.

10 yo: Whoa. Can you take a medicine to make you not get your period?

Me: Yes, but that's basically birth control I think. We can discuss it with Joy [pediatrician] when the time comes.

10 yo: Where does the blood go when it comes out?

Me: Into a tampon or a pad.

10 yo: What's the difference between a tampon and a pad?

Me: Well, the tampon goes in your vagina, and the pad goes in your underwear, kind of like a diaper.

10 yo: Wait . . .  WHERE does the tampon go?

Me: So . . . um . . . your vagina actually has a hole in it. Did you know that?

10 yo: WHAT?!

Me: Yeeeeeah . . . about that. I can explain everything if you want. You also have something called a clitoris. Do you want to know about all of this right now or not?

10 yo: EW! Gross! No!

Me: Okay.

10 yo: I heard someone in the locker room at swimming say their tampon string got lost in their vagina. 

Me: Yeah, that happens sometimes but you can always find it again, I promise.

10 yo: How often do you get your period? Do you just get it one time?

Me: No, it comes every month--usually every 28 days.

10 yo: And HOW long do you bleed for again?

Me: 5-7 days.

10 yo: Wait . . . WHAAAT?!?! EVERY MONTH?! FOR 5-7 DAYS?!

Me: Yes, you bleed for a week every month for approximately 40 years.

10 yo: Wow. This is terrible news.

Me: Don't kill the messenger.




Thursday, April 19, 2018

Do Flies Like to Blow Their Load? Science Says Yes!

Soooo ... lemme just say right off the bat that I suck at math and science, and I’ve been searching in vain my whole life for a way to blame the patriarchy for my intellectual deficiencies.

Also, I didn’t actually read this study, or even  Newsweek’s full report on the study, that says flies love to blow their wad. So the practical applications of this discovery remain a mystery to me.

And yet, I did get to the part of the article that claimed “this work is important in understanding sexual pleasure among male invertebrates,” (though the overall point of the research was a deep dive into why people love booze).

M’kay.

Unlike my mother, whose career lives and dies by the vicissitudes of NIH AIDS grants, I’m no “sceintician” and I don’t pretend to know where research dollars come from or how they are allocated. But, it seems to me that since science is more embattled than it’s ever been, “understanding sexual pleasure among male invertebrates” wouldn’t necessarily be the first thing to command the precious
 resources used to advance the cause of scientific progress.

Perhaps shit like “why do so many women around the world still die in childbirth?” or, “maybe access to women’s reproductive health care actually helps society as a whole,” or “how can we stop the earth from melting before it’s too late” or ... something? Like is it really a bigger priority to understand the sexual pleasure of male invertebrates?

I know I know. I get it. It’s not a one-to-one correlation. It’s not like the actual money that would otherwise have saved someone’s uterus or the planet helped a fruit fly nut off instead. 

But I mean, come ON. This is just a bad look.

Like let’s see ... What’s a really neglected corner of science ... oh I know! Do cockroaches like hand jobs? Do salamanders enjoy getting their dicks sucked? Do bro snails like to bang girl snails doggie (snailie?) style? Is the Pacific Octopus addicted to porn? Do squid need Viagra? How much jizz do caterpillars produce at one time?

Only science holds the answers.




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The REAL Recipe for the Alaska Cocktail

1 oz two-stroke motor oil 
1.5 oz Rainier
2 oz Snus juice
1 spray WD40
2 sprays foam insulation 
1 oz seawater 
1 sprig Fireweed

Mix ingredients in a 5 gallon orange bucket from Home Depot with duct tape on the handle. Place bucket in the bed of a Ford F-150. Drive down dirt road at 30mph until well-mixed.

Garnish with a spruce tip and serve over ice chipped off your metal-grated front steps with a pick-axe.






Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Teen Spinach is Acting Up Again

I’m at my absolute wit’s end with my teen spinach you guys. 

When my spinach was “baby,” it was so sweet and tender. Now that it’s had an “additional week of maturity,” though, things have changed. I’m just not sure what to make of my spinach’s adolescence or how to get through these tough few weeks until it wilts and liquefies in my refrigerator crisper.

Any suggestions from fellow spinach parents on how to navigate the next 14 days would be most welcome. I’ve read all the self-help books and I’m in the teen spinach chat forums, but nothing seems to be helping. 

My spinach just seems really emotional and withdrawn. It never comes out of its plastic clam shell unless I really pry the top off. And frankly, I’m just not sure what it’s up to in there. Two nights ago, in the middle of the night, I was getting a swig of orange juice and I’m pretty sure I found pot in the corner of my spinach’s box. Also I maybe heard it having sex with arugula. And three days ago, it went to a house party at the Romaines with some micro greens and kale and came home reeking of Caesar.

It never talks to me anymore. I mean, it never did, but now it’s like, really remote, you know? The only time it ever seems to express itself is when it demands Craisins, Feta, and a nice balsamic vinaigrette and I’m just like GET A JOB YOU’RE SEVEN WEEKS OLD. Am I being too harsh on it? I don’t know! Its grades have been suffering and I’m worried it’s never going to get into a good salad if it keeps this up.

Shit. At this rate, my teen spinach is going to end up living in my compost for the rest of its life.






Monday, April 16, 2018

The Aggression of this Chocolate Bar Will Not Stand!

I like to think of myself as a low maintenance, easy going sort of a person. Someone who just needs a crust of bread, a glass of water, and a pallet on the floor to be happy.

But when it comes to chocolate, I simply will not abide “70% cacao blended with Yorkshire caramel and delicate flakes of Anglesey Sea salt.” I mean, who does Green & Black’s ethical chocolatiers think I am? Some sort of SAVAGE?! An ANIMAL who was born atop a hay bale in a dilapidated BARN?!

Absolutely not. To quote the Dude, this aggression will not stand.

First of all, I have a bright line rule when it comes to cacao percentage.I do not eat chocolate that is not at least 72.45% cacao or more. I’ve tracked this carefully, and my free radicals become trapped in my epithelial cells if I ingest a single square of chocolate that is less than 72.44% cacao.

Second, I refuse to consume caramel from Yorkshire. Everyone knows that as far as British caramel is concerned, Birmingham and MAYBE Manchester (in a pinch) is acceptable. But I’d eat a desicated turd straight off a lamb’s asshole before I’d let caramel from YORKSHIRE—of all places—pass my lips!

Third and finally, I simply cannot countenance sea salt from the Anglesey Sea. I haven’t even HEARD of this sea, much less would I trust “delicacate flakes” of salt from its questionable waters.

No. 

When I ingest salt, of course it must come from the sea and nowhere else like a shaker or—God forbid—a mine. Only the following seas embody the correct Ph balance of acids and bases such that the salt derived from them will not interfere with my karmic alignment of chakras: the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Mediterranean. That’s it. Full stop. Anyone worth their salt knows this. Not to mention that when you flake salt—delicately or otherwise—you denature its healing properties. Salt must always be chipped into perfect hexagons. Never flaked.

For fuck’s sake, G&B. I might as well eat a fucking Cookies and Cream Hershey’s bar.  





Saturday, April 14, 2018

These Two Sentences Are Why We Are Totally Fucked

So I’m on a week of study abroad/friend visitation in Lower 48 America, doing Lower 48 America/Alaskan goober things like failing at Uber, marveling in horror at Boston traffic, and wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods gaping at olives and vacuum-sealed hearts of palm in a dazed fugue state.

I actually remembered this sign from the last time I was in a Whole Foods several years ago, and went to check to see if it was still there. 

Sure enough, there it was:



These two sentences form an actual, legitimate warning. A warning about a problem that is apparently so widespread among Whole Foods customers that it warranted a sign in all of their stores. Like just imagine for a minute the kind of existence you must be leading for the “organic integrity” of your coffee and the cross-contamination of “conventionally grown” coffee beans and non-organic coffee beans in a grinder at Whole Foods to be concerning enough to constitute a “passion.”

First of all, you have to be a coffee snob, which in and of itself is a luxury. But okay, we’ve all got our tastes. Next, you have to care that your coffee is organic. Okay, fine, you’re being nice to the planet and your body. I’m down with that. 

But then you have to have enough money to buy that coffee at Whole Foods. And then you have to be so averse to consuming even ONE stray ground of “conventionally grown” coffee beans that you are catagorically unwilling to risk using the same coffee grinder that has made contact with such beans, because you are “passionate” about the “organic integrity” of your coffee.

All this in a nation where girls are being sex trafficked in meth rings; where kids get shot on the reg in second period algebra; where a mammogram is a luxury; and where the chasm of income inequality is so vast and deep, that the so-called “philanthropy” of the top 0.01% of hedge fund douche bags funds every public health and environmental initiative imaginable.

It’s only in this world that the “organic integrity” of coffee beans could POSSIBLY be conceived of as problematic in any way. Similar problems presumably include a broken light bulb in the aft cabin of one’s lear jet and sheets with a thread count of less than 50,000,000.

Seriously I cannot fucking EVEN with this so-called “passion.” Forget Trump. This sign at Whole Foods is Exhibit A of why we are irreversibly fucked as a society. 

Full stop.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lower 48 Re-Entry Syndrome

If you’ve lived in Alaska for any significant period of time, you’ll instantly know what I mean when I talk about Lower 48 re-entry syndrome. Surely it’s more acute if you’re in rural Alaska, where there’s a better than 50/50 chance you don’t have running water, much less Uber.  

But even “urban” Alaska, by comparison to “urban” places down south, is ... well ... not exactly the same.

It’s hard to explain and a bit subtle, but so-called “urban” Alaska is just different enough from the rest of the country to make this noticeable. Personally, I get rusty at navigating big crowds, stores, new convenience apps, and traffic; and once among these things, I get a deer-in-the-headlights feeling of disorientation that takes about 72 hours to dispel.

There’s always some new piece of tech that’s slightly different from the last time you were there. Simple transactions like paying for a cab in New York or Boston using a touchscreen in the backseat can make you feel like a foreigner in your own country, a Martian, or like you just hatched out of an egg. 

You’re slow on the uptake. Everyone around you is stylishly buzzing about in the rhythm of their routine, and there you are, standing still, looking around blinking and kind of dumbstruck in a river of lights, cars, and people.

It’s like your brain hasn’t had to be used in this way for awhile and must reacclimate to the pace, culture, and trappings of the rest of the world, which seems to have forged ahead without you while time in Alaska remained more or less frozen.

When Isaac, then six, asked if there was “good fishing” in the Hudson River off the New Jersey Turnpike, called a pigeon a “ptarmigan,” and a cactus “devil’s club,” I knew that for better or worse, my kids were always going to suffer from Lower 48 Re-Entry syndrome.

At least they have a good excuse. They were born in Alaska and are thankfully semi-competent at being Alaskan and doing Alaska stuff. I left New York City 13 years ago and never even got a real handle on Alaska either, so now I’m just incompetent everywhere.

Mars is looking better and better every day.






Thursday, April 12, 2018

You Robbed a Bank for Me




You're at the bank with a gun
And you’re upset
You’re going off about voices in your head 
'Cause you’re a stalker and the teller is scared too 
I'm locked in my house
It's a typical Tuesday night
I'm writing music about boys who made me cry
And you’ll never get past my body guard crew 
But you wear ski masks
I wear Gucci
You are scary 
And crazy and spooky 
Dreaming about the day when you jump up
And find that you can rob a bank and then do me from behind 
Can’t you see the cops, the guys who will arrest you
I’m dialing 911 so why can't you see
You are so crazeeee
To rob a bank for meeeee
Walkin' the streets with you —oh wait no you’re in jail
I can't help thinking this is such an epic fail 
Freaking out in my mansion, thinking to myself
Hey isn't this creepy?
And you've got a charge that could lock you up for years 
I’ll come to court and testify through sobs and tears
You say you’re fine
The judge knows better than that
Hey what you doing with that baseball bat?
‘Cause you wear ski masks
I wear Gucci
You are crazy 
And scary and spooky 
Dreaming about the day when you jump up
And find that you can rob a bank and then do me from behind 
Can’t you see the cops, the guys who will arrest you
I’m dialing 911 so why can't you see
You are so crazeeee
You robbed a bank for meeeee
Standing by and waiting at my back door
All this time how could you not know
Baby, you are so crazeeee
You robbed a bank for meee
Oh, I remember you drivin' to my house in the middle of the night
I'm the one who called the fuzz
When you tried to get inside 
And I know your lawyer’s name
And you threw some cash at me
I think I know where you belong
In jail and throw away the key
Can’t you see the cops, the guys who will arrest you
I’m dialing 911 so why can't you see
You are so crazeeee
To rob a bank for meeeee
Standing by and waiting at my back door
All this time
How could you not know
Baby you are so crazy
You robbed a bank for me
You robbed a bank for me
Have you ever thought just maybe
You are real crazy

To rob a bank for me?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Not Sure My Kids Got the Memo About National Siblings Day

So, apparently it’s National Siblings Day, because in the age of social media, every day is some made-up hashtag holiday. Well, my kids didn’t get the memo. Or if they did, they chose to celebrate the occasion in their usual way, which is to fight like crazed animals all week long, competing for resources while deploying every weapon in their physical and psychological arsenal.

I’m an only child, so my barometer for what’s normal in terms of brother-sister relationships is probably skewed. Ideally, my children will be best friends now and forever, caring for their parents in our senescence and for each other long after we’re gone.

Sadly, at least right now, I feel like my kids will be lucky to make it to adulthood without killing or maiming each other. Here’s a sample of their interactions, on the eve of National Siblings Day:

The "Slime on the Sweater" Incident: Isaac tried to "dry off" a ball of green slime on Paige's favorite sweater. The ball of green slime also, coincidentally, belonged to Paige. When Paige got home her reaction was HOW COULD YOU LET HIM PLAY WITH MY SLIME AND NOW MY FAVORITE SWEATER IS RUINED AND IT WILL NEVER COME OUT AND MY SLIME IS GONE AND etc. etc. etc.

The "Shoe on the Sweatshirt" Incident: Sitting in the back seat of the car on the way home from Folk Fest last night, Isaac and Paige began to scuffle and Paige kicked him in the chest with her shoe, and Isaac's reaction was HOW CAN YOU LET HER JUST KICK ME IN MY BRAND NEW SWEATSHIRT SHE GOT MUD ALL OVER ME [EXPLETIVE/EXPLETIVE/EXPLETIVE] I can't even repeat the curse words that were flying for fear of revealing myself to be an even worse mother than I already have.

The "Breached Bedroom" Incident: Paige complained about Isaac breaching the threshold of her bedroom. MOM HE'S MESSING WITH MY STUFF I WANT TO CALL DOAK'S LOCK AND KEY AND GET THEM TO INSTALL A SPECIAL LOCK ON MY DOOR HE HAS ANGER ISSUES YOU SHOULD SEND HIM TO THERAPY to which Isaac responded I DO NOT HAVE ANGER ISSUES SHE SHOULD GO TO THERAPY I HOPE SHE TAKES DRUGS AND LIVES IN A BOX WHEN SHE GROWS UP!


The "Won't Stop Singing Annoying Song" Incident: Both of my kids like to annoy each other to the point of mental breakdown by singing songs or repeating the same thing over and over again, until they both scream MOM MAKE HIM/HER STOP!!!!!

The "Commandeered Computer" Incident: Isaac went to "research" a split board snowboard on the lap top, and Paige immediately began trying to "help" him find it. MOM IT WAS MY TURN WITH THE COMPUTER AND SHE JUST CAME OVER AND STARTED USING IT AND IT'S NOT FAIR AND etc. etc. etc.

And that was just one day. One. Fucking. Day.







Monday, April 9, 2018

This Woman is Getting Rich Off Fancy Ice Cubes and Yes, I Am Fully Evacuating the Planet Right Now

Evacuation from earth. 

Those were the first three words to pop into my head upon reading this article in (where else) the NYT Style Section, about 26 year-old Wisconsin native and current "1905 Craftsman house"-dwelling L.A. denizen Leslie Kirchhoff, whose “claim to fame” is "Disco Cubes," which are “frozen objets d’art that keep cocktails cold while also evoking the botanical paperweights of the glass artist Paul Stankard.”

I read that sentence, and was just like, WOW. Wowowowowowoow. Why the fuck did I even bother with all this SCHOOL and STUDENT LOANS and DEGREES, when I could’ve just stuck an ice cube tray under a faucet, dropped a dandelion inside, and abracadabra BAM, become a bazillionnaire!?

You’ll never guess the serendipitous series of happenstances that led to a size-two blonde bombshell who is technically old enough to be my daughter getting rich off ice cubes, and because you can’t guess AND presumably don’t want to read the whole article to find out, I’m going to tell you (you're welcome in advance).

You see, Leslie was studying abroad in Paris (bien sur) during her sophomore year at NYU, and it was there that she learned to . . . wait for it . . . D.J., which generally in 2018 or thereabouts involves . . . making a playlist? I dunno, I can barely use Spotify so who am I to say.

Anyhoo, around the time Leslie returned to NYC to continue her playlist-making-and-playing-with-headphones–on-while-looking-supes-hot-in-a-spaghetti-strap-dress-at-night-near-many-more-hot-people “career,” she “ordered a cocktail with a lavender ice cube at the James hotel in SoHo,” and, “disappointed that the cube just featured lavender sprinkled on top, she began to experiment with ice cube molds.”

Leslie then spent the next four years (!?!?!?!) “developing her own ice-making method and turned it into a business.”

DISAPPOINTED. 


Guys, let’s linger on that word for a moment. Leslie was DISAPPOINTED that the ice cube in her cocktail just featured lavender and did not have lavender inside it, so she asked herself, WHAT ARE WE?! SAVAGES?!? WHAT KIND OF WORLD DO I WANT MY FUTURE CHILDREN TO INHABIT?!, and chose to rectify this grave injustice by leveraging her substantial privilege and skill to fill a void in the fucking ARTISANAL ICE CUBE MARKET.

But back to disappointment for a minute. Simply for comparison purposes, here's a short and extremely non-exhaustive list of things that have disappointed me in my life: (1) Every single man ever; (2) the size of my ass; (3) not getting into a better law school.

Here’s a complete list of things that have NOT disappointed me in my life: (1) drugs; (2) masturbation; (3) FUCKING ICE CUBES.

I’m going to leave you with a cut and paste job from the end of this profile because this is really all you need to read to know for a FACT you are doing it wrong:

Disco Cubes, as the project is called, “grew out of an earlier experiment called Drunk Crustaceans, in which Ms. Kirchhoff and a friend staged and photographed pieces of shellfish on mini Adirondack chairs, drinking mini bottles of Veuve Cliquot. The props were purchased at Tiny Doll House, a shop that sells dollhouse-size furniture and accessories on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.”
Basically what I'm saying is, if you’re not getting rich off ice cubes, you’re a yooge sucker plebe and you should kill yourself. But if you’re looking for a career switch, just go out and invest in some turntables, an ice cube tray, some doll house furniture, and a packet of pansy seeds and say hello to swanky parties and goodbye to debt forever!




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Depression is a Legitimate and Serious Illness

I'm not airing her dirty laundry; she already wrote about all of this in great detail, twenty years ago now.

This is one of my earliest memories. Not because it was such a big deal, but because it wasn't. And yet, it was so unusual: My mother was smoking a cigarette on the living room couch in our apartment. She wasn't a smoker anymore; she'd quit before I was born. So I'd never seen her smoking. 

But there she was, smoking a cigarette; her bare feet in the caramel-colored shag carpet, staring off into space, aimlessly tapping ashes into an ashtray. 

I remember the ashtray, in particular, because it was so distinctly 70's. Big and tacky orange ceramic, hexagonal in shape, it carried the heft and foreboding of a jilted lover's improvised murder weapon. Like you could easily see a Joan Crawford-type in a silk bathrobe chucking this thing against a wall in a fit of rage, just narrowly missing someone's head. 

I didn't know it then, because she was stoic and tried to hide it, but my mom was very sick. Like can't eat, can't sleep, can't work, can't get out bed, can't think, can't function sick. 

She wasn't “in a bad mood.” My mother was clinically depressed. 

She had good reason to be--which is itself a ridiculous thing to say, because of course no one needs a "reason" to be depressed, just like no one needs a "reason" to get the flu. But just like with the flu, things can happen that reduce or increase your vulnerability to illness, and my mom had been overexposed to those things.

Orphaned at 11, living in a rough South Bronx neighborhood and then in foster care in the suburbs, abandoned by her biological relatives, existing in perpetual fight-or-flight mode, putting herself through medical school, marrying and having a child. She was 35 and could finally exhale; but when she did, she blew out a puff of cigarette smoke and darkness rushed in to fill the void. Her trauma, her bereavement, her PTSD, her anxiety--it was finally safe for her to feel and experience these things.

And she did. She was a psychiatrist. She knew what this was.

I was in preschool then, and until ninth grade, my mom continued to struggle with her mental health. She emerged from that episode of acute depression very suddenly one morning nine months later. But she was still anxious and traumatized, and it wasn't until she began taking Prozac in 1991 that she really started to get relief from her symptoms.

She kept going to therapy, of course. But just like someone who is immunocompromised in some way, people prone to mental illnesses like clinical depression just need treatment. I've struggled with depression and anxiety on and off for as long as I can remember; a lot of it is hereditary. And fortunately mine is under good control right now. 

But it's important to talk about depression so that people understand what it is, and, more pointedly, what it isn’t.

Depression is not a bad mood, or something you can snap out of. It's not an attitude you can adjust, any more than you can adjust your way out of cancer. It makes you physically sick, unable to sleep or sleep too much; unable to eat, or eat too much. You don't want to leave your house, you don't want to see or talk to anyone, you don't want to do anything, nothing makes you happy, you can't derive pleasure from anything. And when you're in it, you feel like it will never, EVER end.

I’ve seen my mother and many friends experience this illness. I’ve had mild episodes of it myself. The good news is that for most people, most of the time, depression does end, or is at least episodic. The problem is, it doesn't end as easily or as quickly if we don't acknowledge that it's real in the first place. 

It's way past time to fix that.