Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Standing on the Tracks

I remember being seventeen and standing on the railroad tracks.  I could see the train approaching – its bright light shining directly upon me through the darkness of the cool, late summer night.  I could feel the cold metal vibrating beneath me and I shut out the sounds of my friends egging me on along the tracks.  I felt fearless and free as I leaned back, arms outstretched, my long brunette hair resting right atop my buttocks and then blowing with the breeze as the train chugged closer.

I felt like I was in some Generation X movie – like I really should have been wearing my boyfriend’s flannel and leather jacket, a pack of Camels in the pocket and Doc Martens on my feet.  I would have been dating either Ethan Hawke or Stephen Dorff, or some other young male with poorly groomed facial hair, long, disheveled locks that hung in his face, and a “reality bites,” “damn the man” attitude. 

The tracks shuddered more forcefully beneath the worn Converse sneakers I wore in reality.  I heard the incessant shrill of the train’s whistle and jumped from the tracks, landing in the dirt and rocks to the side.  The gravel grounded me to a reality where I didn’t have a rock star boyfriend with a leather jacket, I didn’t smoke Camels, and I wasn’t too cool for school.  I was actually a girl who should have been worrying about her college applications and finding summer employment to pay for said education. However, such fears of my future could not be heard as the sound of the train rushing swiftly past my petite frame overwhelmed me.  I could somehow taste and feel the engine’s noise, and it tasted delicious – sinfully delicious.
Reflecting upon that moment, I suppose I should have been more afraid and got off the track a bit sooner, but I wasn’t and I didn’t.  I invited the risk and the rush, and reveled in my momentary abandon.  Although my friends stood to the sides of the track, I felt like I was all alone in the world. That was the only time I literally stood on the tracks, and I will always remember the pure freedom of that moment – of my beautiful, uninhibited youth.

However, at many other moments in my life, although no physical train was anywhere in sight, I have felt like I was standing on those tracks again.  But, in these metaphorical moments, the feeling was neither beautiful nor freeing.  It was black and frightening, and I wouldn’t be moved despite all the good advice.  I stubbornly stood on the tracks and let my mind and body be propelled to the ground by some evil engine.  I let the train pummel me down when I should have forgiven, but remained angry.  I let the train blow me so low when I should have set down the bottle, but kept on drinking.  I lay on the hard, metal tracks in discomfort for the pleasure of strangers.

But now I keep a safe distance and respect the flashing red lights that caution me of potential dangers.  This change in me was recently made evident through my reaction to passing trains. 

There’s a track that intersects the route to my home, and I have often had to stop as the train passes by.  Two years ago, if I encountered the train and was forced to wait, I cursed my bad luck and cursed aloud as well.  “Damn train; fucking train.  Shit.  I might be late for work. C’mon you mother fucker. Hurry up.”

But a few weeks ago, I encountered that train again.  This last time, my two young children were in the back seat.  Rather than the ordinary rush of anxiety, there was a calmness and joy that came over me in sharing this sight with my young daughter.  “Look, Emily.  That’s a train.  We have to stop so it can pass safely.  Do you want to wave at the train? Is it like the trains on Chuggington? And do you see the last car?  That’s called the caboose.  Did you know that sweetie?”
She nodded her head in affirmation.  Yes, yes, she did know that was called the caboose.  And I knew that I didn’t need risks in my life to feel alive anymore.  My children, buckled safely in the back seat, were all that I needed in this world to know that I was alive and more important than any momentary rush.  With children that are dependent upon me, I have become far too essential to stand on the tracks again and ignore the warnings that my poor choices are going to run me right down.

There are far brighter lights in my life now than the blinding flash of the locomotive’s headlight, flooding upon me in my memories of age seventeen.  I am not alone in this world anymore.  I have brought life into the world, and thus I promise to be more careful with my own beating heart and subsisting flesh.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rob Zombie Can't Save this Day

Today was a bad day – a fucking bad day.  There’s no way to make it seem like something it is not.  I’m not going to get out a thesaurus or even spend a minute of my time trying to find a better word than “bad.”  It sucked.  It fucking sucked.  That’s not eloquent, but that’s the straight truth. 

I was afraid to get out of bed.  I’ve been pushing shit aside, telling my negativity to have a glass of shut the fuck up and silencing all my doubts.  I’ve been focusing on the positives in my life, and repeating to myself that I am blessed and brilliant no matter what.  But, today the bastards won.  The fuckers screamed at me and kicked me in the teeth and made damn sure I felt broken and battered. 

And I refused to get out of bed when my husband tried helping me.  I say that “I” refused, but it didn’t feel like it was me fighting him.  It was all my emotions fighting one another and this made me angry, confused, and disoriented.  This made me announce that leaving the bed was terrifying and I could not, would not, do it.  He said, “But then you’re letting them win.  You can’t let them win.” 

Who are they?  The bastards. The nay-sayers.  For now, the exact details are irrelevant because I know we all have “them” in our lives.  The biggest issue is that today it wasn’t just me fighting them.  It was my anger, fear, disappointment, all fighting me too, screaming for attention, “You can’t shove us away! You can’t silence us! We have every right to be here!  Look at what they did to you … again! Fuck those fuckers!  Let us shout!” 
Thanks to Flourish in Progress for this image

All the emotions, and their incessant bickering, exhausted me.  I did, however, agree to get out of bed.  I didn’t get dressed; I didn’t even brush my hair or my teeth.  But, I pulled a hooded sweatshirt over my pajamas and put on a pair of socks and my purple Converse One-Stars.  I agreed to be dropped off at my mother’s so that I would not be alone.  I should not be left alone right now.

I plopped down upon the wooden stool at my mother’s kitchen counter and rested my head on the laminate counter-top.  “Well, what is it now?”  my mother asked.

“You know,” I mumbled, not looking up at her while I spoke.

“Angela, they’re assholes.  You know that.  There’s nothing you can do. You have to learn to let it go.”

“I know; I know,” I repeated.  I do know, but knowing what to do doesn’t also make that thing easy.  My mother knows that smoking is damaging for her and harms others around her through second-hand exposure, but she still finds it impossible to break this bad habit.  And I don’t just have a bad habit; I have an illness – an illness that has undoubtedly been exacerbated by unjust, unethical actions on the part of others.

“Well, what are you listening to?”  she asked me.  I wasn’t sure what she meant by this.  My therapist had often talked to me about changing my “soundtrack.”  Replace the soundtrack that says I’m worthless and afraid with the soundtrack that says I’m beautiful and brave.  This is another thing easier said than done, but my therapist is indeed another blessing in my life.  One of the most brilliant things she ever said to me in response to the actions of the bastards was “Well fuck.”  She quickly followed this up with, “Oh. I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said that, but that’s just despicable.  Well, let’s help you do some coping, and I’ll do the cursing for you.”  She is perfect for me.

However, I had never discussed the “soundtrack” with my mother, so that’s probably not what she was asking me.  I was uncertain as to the direction of her inquiry, so I barely muffled out an audible, “huh?”

“Well, are you listening to that shitty, depressing chic music again?  You know that stuff is going to kill you.”  When she says this, she is most often referring to Tori Amos, although she has also blamed Sarah McLachlan and Fiona Apple for my bouts of depression. She then continued, “You know you need to listen to Rob Zombie when you’re depressed.  Where’s that mix I made you?  Rob Zombie clears the depression right up.” 

Seriously – this is my mother.  Her advice regarding my mental illness is to rock out to “Dragula” and “Living Dead Girl.”  All the same, I love that woman so damn much.  If you know her in real life, you just get it. 

I admitted I wasn’t listening to Rob Zombie, and she said, “Well,” like it was an “I told you so” and “no wonder” you’re not at work right now and cut yourself yesterday. 

My mother then went on to offer some relatively sane advice, leaving Rob Zombie behind.  She told me I can’t become agitated so easily and I need to learn that not everything is worth getting angry about.  Pick your battles and focus on the positive.

I ignored her advice, and went back to bed.  Around 4 in the afternoon, I woke back up because she said I had ten more minutes to sleep before she kicked my ass.  I sat down on the couch and tried to distract myself with juvenile game apps on my Kindle. 

My father came home with the mail and my mother started looking through it.  She opened up something from the dealership where my father had purchased his 2012 Ford Fiesta last fall.  A dollar fell out of the envelope, and she was more excited than the occasion really called for.  “Oooh, they gave us a dollar, John.  All right, I’ll fill out this damn survey for you, okay?” 

I sat on the couch, blasting bubbles of the same color together trying to make it to the next level.  Then, my mom’s voice became louder as she became increasingly agitated with the survey before her. “Too many damn questions.  Too many damn questions.  Christ, how many more questions are there?  What the hell?“ 

“Yeah, I got sent that survey online, and ignored it,” said my father.

She then came to a question that stumped her, “John, what kind of tires do you have on that car right now?”

“Hmm …. I don’t know,” he replied, while continuing to scroll down Craig’s List on his lap top, looking for further vehicles to purchase.

“No! Wrong answer!” she hollered back at him.

For the first time today, I then smiled.  I don’t know why, but for some reason my mother’s random ranting and illogical bitchiness is incredibly comforting to me.  I started beaming and just listened in to her, my anger and fears rolling off of me with every further curse and complaint that my mother made.

“I am leaving them a note on the back of this survey: too many fucking questions.  This survey is too time consuming and annoying.  At least they gave me a dollar, but that shit isn’t enough.  I’ll add that too.  If you expect me to fill out a survey with this many damn questions, you need to send twenty dollars next time.  Too many damn, dumb questions. Christ.  Stupid stuff.  Stupid, stupid stuff. “

Here my mother was, telling me earlier to basically “not sweat the small stuff” and then having a total bitch fit about a random automobile survey.  However, her apparent hypocrisy cracked me up.  It was the best thing I heard all day.  My mother’s bitching was so welcome and appreciated in that moment. 

I don’t know what it was exactly that soothed me so much as she damned the auto dealership.  Maybe it was that no one tried stopping her.  My father and I just let her rant on, and accepted her voice and frustrations.  No one told her that she needed to get over it.  No one told her to look at her blessings.  No one told her to let go because she lacked control of the situation.  We let her be a bitch.  So fucking what?  Who did it hurt?  No one.  In fact, it strangely did me a world of good to listen to her ceaseless complaints. 

Maybe that’s all I need: to be allowed to be angry without being told things will get better or God has a bigger purpose for me.  I need to sit with that anger and own it before I can fully release it.  Maybe, just maybe, that’s what this day was for.  And maybe my mom is just a bitch, but she made me smile on an otherwise extraordinarily shitty day. 
And now ... a little Rob Zombie to ensure you all have a wonderful day!
 <3 Much love to all my friends and followers! <3

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Shuddering Won't Stop Me

I had my first seizure a little over seven years ago.  I was living with my parents at the time, following a recent divorce, and finishing up my Secondary Education and English degree as a returning, non-traditional student.  It was July, and I was taking a few online courses so I wouldn’t have the long commute to the nearest respected university.  I still had to finish up some elementary Environmental Science course I had been avoiding as I refused to recognize the value of this course in relation to my given major and career goals.  I was completing some lab document about clouds – seriously – cumulus, stratus, cirrus – real remedial bullshit that I have frequently found myself referencing when teaching Ernest Hemingway and Toni Morrison (sarcasm font).
At any rate, I was plugging away at my coursework, trying to complete my assignment so that I could tend to my then significant other, and now spouse Sam, who was staying with us because his appendix was recently removed in an emergency procedure and he was prescribed additional recovery time. My fingers were furiously tapping down upon the keyboard when they began to shake and tremble uncontrollably.  The trembling became more severe with each keystroke until I could no longer complete a sentence in my open document – the document that began to appear hazy and unclear before my eyes.
I had suffered from some shaking before.  Both my father and my brother also suffered from unsteady hands.  Often, when I was struck by such an ailment, I would have a candy bar or serving of yogurt and the uneasiness in my appendages would be eliminated.  Therefore, I wondered if I might be diabetic, like my father, his father, and my mother’s father.  I sought medical expertise, and was told that I had “extra levels of adrenaline in my body.”  Personally, I translated that as “We don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you, so how about this random theory I pulled from my ass – extra levels of adrenaline.  Yes, yes, that’s what it is!”
Whatever the reason, I knew that something was not right as I suffered such feelings of dis-ease in my parent’s basement office.  I quickly saved my document and began to walk toward the staircase.  My plan was to arrive in the kitchen and consume a small snack, in an effort to remedy my current wrongs.  I rose from the plush desk chair and took a few small, uneasy steps toward my destination.  The entire room began to spin, and each tiny step was a struggle. I doubted my ability to take another step, and thus called out for Sam.    
Sam was moving slowly at the time, as he had a drainage tube emitting from a surgical hole in his abdomen.  He had been sent home from the hospital only one day earlier.  My mother was at work, and my dad was out with some friends, so only Sam and my youngest brother, sixteen at the time, were home to assist me.  By the time Sam arrived, I had already collapsed on the floor and my body was violently writhing about.  My hands were curled up into iron-clad pulsating fists.  My heels aggressively thumped up and down on the tiling as my legs and feet quivered and quaked inexplicably.  My head jogged back and forth, hammering hard against the flooring, and Sam kneeled over me and rested his hand under my head to protect me from possible concussion. 
I remember being completely overcome with fear and confusion.  I had no idea what was happening, or why, and I had no control over my body – yet was conscious and aware of this lack of bodily regulation.  I began sobbing and tried telling Sam to call an ambulance, but my tongue had gone numb and I couldn’t form comprehensible words.  Sam was trying desperately to help me, but I could see that he was in his own pain. 
He called out to my brother, who was in another room of the home playing video games.  He requested that my brother bring him the telephone.  My brother, Jared, brought the phone to Sam, and then just stood there staring at me for some time, unsure what was happening and how he ought to react.  “What’s happening?” he asked Sam, who could not return an answer as none of us possessed any awareness of this current condition.  “I don’t know,” Sam said, “I’m going to call your mother.”
Sam still held me in his arms and tried to speak calming words to me while he dialed my mother’s place of employment and waited for someone to pick up on the other line.  My brother could not wait, and the scene before him made him anxious.  “This shit is freaking me out,” he declared, “I’m outta here.”  He ran up the stairs, grabbed the keys to his truck, and we heard the front door slam shut.
As the door was closing, the phone call had been received and my mother was on the other line, wondering what we needed.  Sam explained the situation to her, and said he didn’t know what to do. “Oh, she’s just having a nut attack,” my mother told him.  “Give her a shot of brandy.  Give her a shot of brandy, and she’ll calm the fuck down.”
“No, Cindy,” Sam argued, “This isn’t anxiety. It’s different.  I don’t know what’s happening.  She can’t stop trembling.  Her entire body is just jarring right now.  I’m scared.” 
Shortly after he expressed his concerns, his fear was allowed to dissipate as my body came to rest.  This episode could not have lasted for more than ten minutes, but it felt like hours, and my body was completely exhausted.  Sam and I locked eyes, a mixture of panic and relief resting upon both of our faces.  Without actually asking the question, we both knew the other was wondering what had just happened. 
After helping me to a standing position and then to the bedroom to rest, Sam and I both arrived at the conclusion that I had suffered a seizure.  We followed up with medical guidance and several tests were conducted.  No absolute conclusion was ever drawn, other than the possible theory that some scarring had developed on my brain from an earlier head injury sustained in a fatal car accident.
The seizures happen rarely, but they do still happen.  However, now we know what is happening, and what to expect.  We know that it will pass, and Sam does the best he can to keep me calm and comfortable in these episodes. 
This Saturday, my daughter was witness to an episode.  Like many mothers, I have had neurotic fears and worries about my children.  Is someone going to come to the house and abduct them while I’m in the shower?  Is she going to trip on a toy and suffer a coma?  Will she be mauled by a bear if I let her play alone in the backyard?  Are aliens going to snatch her from her body while I sleep?  You know, real practical, logical fears.  Yet, for all these crazy fears, it had never crossed my mind to prepare for what to do with the children in the event of a seizure.
I was thankful my spouse was home to help me and the children.  My son was resting in his swing, so he created no additional concerns after I collapsed on the kitchen floor.  My daughter, however, ran to me and crouched down beside me with the same concern and worry her father had seven years ago.  She rubbed her tiny hand against my wrist and tried to calm me down, just as her father had once tried to uncurl my fists and hold my hand.  When the jolting and juddering became more extreme, my husband left my side to put her in her chair in front of her cartoons.  She kept on calling for her mommy, though; she wasn’t screaming, just questioning “Mommy? Mommy?” with clear concern for a tiny toddler not yet two years old. 
When the shaking ceased and I was composed again, I asked Sam to bring my questioning, concerned child back to me, though I still lay on the floor feeling faint.  She kneeled beside me and smiled, repeating “Mommy?” just one more time.  I smiled back and told her that Mommy was okay.  She seemed assured, and nodded her head.  Then, she got up and walked away.  I was relieved that she was okay, and seemed unaffected enough to return to her cartoons.  At least I had assumed she intended to return to her television programming.  Rather, she had walked away to retrieve a soft pink baby blanket from the living room couch.  She pulled it behind her and returned to me.  She then placed the blanket over me, kneeled beside me once again, and leaned in to kiss me.
Her loving actions this weekend are an absolute acknowledgement of why I know that no matter what – no matter what – I am going to be okay.  I am blessed beyond belief.  The seizures have never stopped me; the shuddering hasn’t slowed my spirit.  Likewise, I won’t let the bastards keep me down; I am loved and I will rise above the vibrations of ignorance and hatred to be the me who has been kissed by an angel even after she has witnessed some of my scariest moments.     

Friday, October 26, 2012

No Matter What

This morning my facebook status read: “No matter what … I still have the love of my family, and that is the biggest blessing of all.”  A lot of people “liked” this comment, far more than normally do when I have a status update that I think is fucking hilarious beyond belief, but really only amuses me and two of my other sick-minded friends.

I am absolutely sticking to this morning’s status; it's fact that my family is awesome and I am blessed. I feel fairly certain that most of my friends didn't ponder this update and merely interpreted my message as a plain positive comment, but of course there was an unexpressed origin for this update.

I told very few people this, but a full time teaching position opened up with my former employer, and I applied.  Only my IRL (in real life … I just learned that shit like two weeks ago) friends know what a BFD (big fucking deal -- I'm learning all sorts of lingo) this action is, and it’s not something I will go into detail about here.  That may come at a later date, but now is not an appropriate time for several reasons.  Of course, this whole damn blog is inappropriate … but still. 

I was told I would hear about the decision today.  Hence, my “no matter what" comment. I had to tell myself that whether I was offered a job or not, I already have incredible happiness in my life.  That’s true, and they can’t take that away from me.  Here’s a few other “no matter what” realities:

No matter what … I have a God who loves me and appears to have more faith in me than many have in him.

No matter what … I have a spouse who adores me, and will stroke my hair, massage my feet, and give me wonderful, warm hugs at exactly the right moment.  Really, he is amazing with a capital A!

No matter what … I have a mother and father who support me even when I’m suffering.  My dad helps with my home and vehicles; my mother helps with the children and still makes meals.  I am grateful for them every single day.

No matter what … I have the most beautiful, adoring children in the whole entire world.  That might be hyperbolic to you, but it’s the truth for me.  They are my life, my joy, my everything.  I can’t imagine living without them. 

No matter what … I know that I have incredible skill and talent, even if others refuse to see it. 

No matter what … I have some of the best damn friends in the world. They are generous and supportive and constantly remind me that I am kind, good, and worthy.

No matter what … I have the sun, the sky, trees, air to breathe … all things that I am truly thankful for.

No matter what … I have a resilient, indestructible spirit.

And so, I wasn’t chosen once again … and this does indeed make me want to puke, cry, or punch something.  Instead, I’m going to write because I didn’t do it yesterday.  I didn't write yesterday because I simply could not; rather I spent all night weighing pros and cons, obsessing over my decision should an offer be extended.  And today, I realized that in the absence of that environment, I had found an outlet and a talent that I love.  My writing is this outlet, and I strongly believe this not only serves me, but truly benefits others as well.  After this actualization I came up with one more very important “no matter what.”

No matter what … I will not allow anyone to silence my voice EVER again!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

C U Next Tuesday, Ann Coulter

I remember one lunch discussion at my former job with one of my favorite co-workers. She always had something intelligent and insightful to say. One morning she had been listening to NPR on her commute to work. They posed a question that she then posed to us as we ate our microwave meals and dreamt of actually getting the piles of papers sitting beside us graded. That question was as follows: “If you could eliminate any word from the American vocabulary, what would that word be?”I had my answer immediately. As much as I curse on this blog, I stuggle to type that word out without acting like I’m spelling it one letter at a time rather than actually saying it. It’s a horrible, gross, disgusting word that I reserve for very rare occasions: c-u-n-t.
Ann Coulter’s recent twitter comment is precisely one of those rare occasions when I can be heard actually uttering this repugnant word. Ann Coulter – you are a fucking awful cunt. I said it; you’re a giant rotten cunt.

At this point, I’m aware I may need to fill a few of you in with some absentee information. If you don’t know who Ann Coulter is, she is an extremely conservative political commentator and author. (Did you follow the above link? Yeah, the current post on her home page is titled "Obama: Half Black, But All Democrat." That gives you an indication of the bitch she is.) One of my most conservative friends was found saying, just last night, that Coulter is “a disgrace to conservatism.” Coulter is far worse than that; she is a disgrace to the entire human race, and she’s also a massively insensitive cunt. Wow; I said that awful word again. But, in my personal opinion, what Ann Coulter recently said was far more offensive.
So, here it comes. On Monday night, following the foreign policy political debate, Ann Coulter decided to tweet some snarky comments about our current leader. If you’re familiar with Coulter, this should come as no surprise as she despises the Democratic Party. Coulter, herself an outspoken female, once shared that if the government were to strip the female gender of their right to vote, we would never have another democratic president. Her logic was that women (at least single women) lack the proper intelligence to make the “correct” choice, which she believes to be republican completely regardless of the candidate (seriously, she strongly endorsed Herman Cain). The tweet heard round the world read “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”
I truly lack any genuine surprise at Coulter’s comment, as this was the same woman that once called John Edwards a “fag,” strongly defending that her ignorant comment was in no way offensive to the LGBT community and merely a “school yard taunt.” Rather than issuing an apology, as many parties requested, she returned with another attack that those offended individuals were simply too sensitive and liberal, and not intelligent enough to see that there was no link between the term“fag” and the homosexual “lifestyle.”
Just because I’m not surprised, however, does not mean that I am not angered and offended. Okay, so maybe I am sensitive and maybe I am too “politically correct,” but I like that about me. I like caring about others. I am so strongly against the use of the term “retard”as a synonym for “dumbass” or “moron” that use of this word was actually mentioned on all of my course syllabi as being in opposition to the classroom rules of respect.
I want to be like my favorite fictional character, Atticus Finch, and give Coulter a little credit. Maybe she had a difficult childhood; maybe someone fucked her over royally making her a bitter, bullying cunt. But, no, nothing excuses this woman. I know plenty of people that grew up in difficult situations – parents who were alcoholic, drug-dependent, and abusive. I know a woman who was repeatedly molested by her own father. I know another woman who found her mother dead after hanging herself in an act of suicide. They still manage to be caring and considerate individuals, and don’t make excuses for their words and actions. So, no, Ann Coulter is just a cunt with a cold, black heart.
Coulter further added that if Obama were the “smartest guy in the room” it must be “one retarded room.” I also know many individuals who suffer from learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and the like. They are not stupid. They are not incompetent, and to use the word “retard” carries an implication that they are, which is simply false, ignorant, and offensive.
One individual who suffers from Down Syndrome, and should not suffer the implication of stupidity that word “retard” carries when spurred as an insult, is Special Olympian and activist John Franklin Stephens, who issued an open letter to Coulter on Tuesday. I highly recommend you open this link and read it. If you are not in the least bit moved by his words, you will likely be spending your eternity in hell with Coulter. Stephens is kind and generous in response to Coulter, and attempts to educate her and appeal to her compassion. I applaud his effort, but fear her spirit will not be softened.
The use of the r-word goes well beyond social sensitivity to a moral and legal responsibility. Congress banned the use of the words "retard" and "retardation" in 2010 in federal health, education and labor laws in favor of using the words "intellectual disability." The American Psychiatric Association also plans to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual development disorder" in the fifth version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to be published in 2013 (CNN).
I strongly agree with tweeter @amurphy217 who said, "Politics aside, this tweet from @anncoulter was offensive & disgusting. ANY use of the “R" word is unacceptable.” Why are millions of others, like me, disgusted with Coulter’s continued disregard for those with differences? It has absolutely nothing to do with our political preference. I don’t despise Coulter because I’m a democrat and she’s a staunch republican, although this will probably be her claim if she ever offers any form of a half-assed apology. I disagree with Coulter because she’s a dumb cunt -- a mother fucking c-u-n-t.
Yeah, I know the c-word is offensive. I told you that I hate it myself; speaking it aloud actually sends shivers down my spine. But, no one has to struggle through life and be constantly discriminated against due to being born with the disability of cuntism. Too many already struggle, yet remain inspiringly positive, when born with intellectual disabilities such as Asperger’s Syndrome or Stephens’ Down Syndrome. The DSMMD may have to create a special category for Coulter when they replace “mental retardation” in 2013. It shall be called TCS – total cunt syndrome. I’m just thankful that TCS is such a rare diagnosis, so that I might continue to reserve my use of the awful, awful c-word. But, more importantly, I’m thankful and hopeful that more people will realize Coulter suffers from a far worse illness than anyone with an intellectual disability, and thus refrain from further use of the more offensive r-word.
Although my response was immediate during lunch a year ago, if you currently asked me to more carefully consider the question of what words to eliminate from our vocabulary, I would add “retard,” “gay,” and “faggot” to my list – all favorites of Coulter fans. And if you were to ever pose the question of an individual I think the world would be far better off without, my answer would include Coulter (and my ex-husband). Okay, okay … keeping shit real, there would be a few others on that list too; I got a lot of problems with you people. Regardless, let’s come together and make the elimination of hurtful terms such as “retard” more than a thought-provoking point of discussion. Let’s educate others and make it a reality.

The following is a video that a former group of students created for my Interpersonal Communication course. This was done as a project for our unit on the power of words. I’m also sharing a video about homophobic and exclusive language, which I strongly feel is on par with the “r-word” as far as really stupid, ignorant shit to say goes.  Please know that the students were completely responsible for these projects, and the opinions present in the videos.  

 Spread the Word to end the R-Word
Words have Power: What are your words saying?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sometimes ...

Author's Precaution: This post discusses sensitive material, and may contain triggers.  The author respects your choice to avoid this post, but would encourage you to read and share as a means of ending the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness.  Thanks!

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view;
until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
 – Atticus Finch, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
Sometimes my husband has to call my place of employment to inform them that I am too ill to attend work that day.  This makes me feel like shit – total and complete shit.  Once I’m feeling better, I am so ashamed by this actuality.  I feel like a tiny, helpless toddler incapable of forming my thoughts into proper words, becoming frustrated and throwing temper tantrums – crying uncontrollably, kicking and screaming.  Does he also need to change my diaper and spoon-feed me soft foods?  Why can’t I be a properly functioning, professional adult and pick up the damn phone to make that important call my own self?
The answer is because, on those days, I am not fully myself.  I become a victim to my illness; my manic depression has total and complete control over me.  Her cold, chilling fingers wrap themselves firmly around me while I sleep fitfully.  She hovers over me, crushing my will as she weighs heavily down upon my chest preventing me from any action.  She whispers damaging words, gently caressing my lobe while convincing me that I am worthless, ugly, awful, incompetent, undesirable, worthless -- fucking worthless.  On these mornings, I often awake with a gasp, as though I have just been revived from potential drowning.  Despite this literal gasp of life, emotionally I still feel as though I am drowning – struggling to stay afloat under deep, dark waves of depression.
I physically become far too similar to that dependent infant child I later shamelessly connect to.  I do cry uncontrollably – unable to express my needs like a hungry, ravished child.  I don’t know what I need really – even when I am well.  I have my medications, and I have the love and support of my family.  I have an understanding of my illness as though she were an old familiar friend.  Sometimes, there seems to be nothing – absolutely nothing – to ease this pain and all I can do is lay in bed all day, trying with all my might to push away these suicidal thoughts and feelings of utter worthlessness.  Suicide would be so easy, but also so undeniably selfish.  I love my family so much that it is impossible to express, and I don’t want to leave them.  I don’t want to leave my joy, but sometimes my illness tries to convince me otherwise.  She’s a very strong, adamant woman and I have to be stronger.  I have to train my mind and fight just a little bit harder than her.  I have no choice; weakness is not an option if I hope to win.  And I must win because winning means living. If I lose, there’s going to either be blood splattered on the wall from a bullet hole, or blood dripping down my wrists from a razor blade.
I imagine that kind of shit is hard to hear.  It’s truly challenging to type.  But neither typing this nor reading this are as challenging as living with this illness, and being so often surrounded by misunderstanding.  Sometimes, I want to break dishes, throw the television, punch a window, whatever, when I am told to look on the bright side or buck up.  I want to yell, “I don’t have a bad attitude, you dumb, ignorant bitch! I have an illness.  Do you think I want this?  Do you really think I want this? Fuck you. Try a little empathy!” 
I don’t yell at those who would judge though, because I’m too afraid to face others on some days. Occasionally, all but my family frightens me.  Insane thoughts of what might happen if I dare leave the house, or even move from my mattress, silence all rationality.  My body curls itself up into the fetal position without this being a conscious decision.  Fear and self-loathing rule.  I become an amnesiac to the amazing woman I really, truly am.
Sometimes I lie in bed and shake and I can’t stop the shaking.  I hyperventilate and my fists curl up into tight little balls nearly impossible to break open.  I stumble upon my words and start to stutter, so my spouse needs to make the necessary phone calls.  And I feel like shit, even more so because I do blame myself.  Why am I not better than her? Bigger? Braver? Louder? Why can’t I escape her grip and quiet her voice?  I hate her.  I hate my mistress manic depression.
But, sometimes, I love her.  I want to hug her and thank her for making me an extraordinary woman. For making me a strong woman.  For making me caring, considerate, and compassionate.  I want to thank her for this incredible gift of empathy that I possess. 
I want to wrap up that gift in shiny ribbons and bows – make it glitter and shine just like I do when I’m fully well.  I would give that gift to every person I have ever met – and it would be true they would need to know pain.  Ultimately, however, at the bottom of that gift, under the torn tissue paper, is understanding.  Sometimes I wish these shoes were on your feet.  I would invite you to climb into my skin.   You might just choose your words more carefully.   

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Big and Beautiful Bullshit

In another round of Blogger Idol, we were given this new challenge: “You need to pick a news-worthy hot topic, write about it, and give your feelings about it.”  So, here’s my take on recent entertainment news. As always, enjoy!

Christina Aguilera has come under a lot of heat in recent years for her increased body size.  But now it seems that Christina’s so-called “curves” might be paying off for her – to the tune of three million dollars.  Aguilera was recently offered a spokesperson contract with, a dating website created for “chubby chasers” (I hate that fucking term; I am seriously cringing while typing this).  The website was created by former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Whitney Thompson. 

Thompson’s site boasts “On our dating site, women no longer need to fear the word ‘fat.’”  Now, I’m going to agree– Christina has not looked the best she ever has in her life, and she has undoubtedly gained weight.  But, we must remember that we first met Christina when she was only a teenager.  When my husband first met me, I was only 104 pounds at age twenty (partly because I was manic and took three aerobics classes daily). And here’s the truth folks: Unless you have a shit ton of time to devote to exercise or have a naturally high metabolism, women gain weight with age.  So what? You all need to calm the fuck down and quit hating. Yes, she could currently be confused for a street-walker as opposed to a celebrity, but Christina Aguilera is NOT fat! Why should she represent a site that doesn’t even apply to her? Thompson needs to be approaching “Too Fat for Sex” (actual magazine cover I once read) Kirstie Alley.  
And if we’re going to keep shit real here, let’s talk more about this Whitney woman, creator of the plus-sized dating service that propositioned Aguilera.  Woman – you are not plus-sized! According to Fashion Model Directory, Whitney Thompson is 5’10” and weighs 165 pounds.  Bitch! I weigh 165 pounds, and I’m only 5’3”.  I most certainly do not classify myself as “big and beautiful” either.  I wear a size ten and I’m okay with that, without having to be told that it’s okay for me to be okay by someone four sizes smaller than me.  When I tell you I’m okay with this, it’s also simply; I don’t feel the need to declare that I love my “curves”  (I also hate this term – am I a beautiful, intelligent human being or a dangerous, twisting asphalt road?).

Aguilera has yet to make any comment on the offer, but some sources believe she would be a suitable fit as she has lately spoken out about her fluctuating body size.  In a recent Lucky magazine article, Aguilera remarked, “As long as I’m happy in my own skin, that’s all I need.  I used to be too thin, so I love that now I have a booty.”  Aguilera added, “And, obviously, I love showing my cleavage.”

No shit, Christina! Have you all been watching The Voice?  If you don’t view this show for the vocalists, you should do it for the very real possibility of a nipple slip.  Put those things away, Christina! Further, I throw down the bullshit flag on the fact that Aguilera embraces her new body.  If so, please buy some properly fitting clothes and quit trying to dress like a twenty-one year old skank.  You’re thirty-one and a mother, so if you wore actual pants and put those monster titties away, you would be undeniably beautiful Christina!

Most importantly – Christina would simply be beautiful – not BIG and beautiful.  I, too, am a beautiful, average-sized woman.  No plus-sized dating site, magazine article, or other source is going to convince me otherwise.  Whitney Thompson – your site is a bunch of big, ugly bullshit!

You ARE Beautiful  --  At Any Size!!


Author’s Aside: While I wouldn’t actually believe it, I would do a little dance in a commercial to a song called “I’m a fucking tub of lard and loving it!” for three million dollars.  Contact me if you’re interested, Miss Thompson.





Thursday, October 18, 2012

Living with my Cape On

So, this week’s Blogger Idol play-at-home challenge was to write about a day in your life as though you were a superhero.  So, first I was thinking of being “Super Bitch,” so I could use my “super awesome bitch powers” to say: “What the fuck? Who came up with this shit?  We already did a day in the life prompt.  Creativity and Originality Fail!”  Then I figured that it’s probably not my best idea to alienate any more potential readers than I already did  when I declared in my very first blog post: “Send me money, bitches.” 

Therefore, I’m taking a slightly different twist.  I’m not going to tell you about a day in my current life as though I were a super hero.  I’m going to tell you about all the days and moments I really did believe I was a hero and tried desperately to save the whole damn world … one neglected, troubled student at a time.  In doing so, however, I often neglected myself. 


Another missed day of work.  It’s already 16 minutes after 3 – in the afternoon, and I’m still in bed – for the third day in a row.  I’m really starting to get quite rancid.  It may be my own awful odor that eventually breaks this depression for me.  The love of my family and my job haven’t been able to do it.  This is not because they are not enough as both loves are infinite, but bipolar disorder is a snotty little brat that covers her ears and hollers “Na-na-na-na; I can’t hear you!”  It didn’t matter how loud I tried to challenge her.  My family loves me, and my students need me; I want to be at work.  “No!” she yelled louder than I could, “You’re staying in bed again! You’re staying in bed and crying, and shaking, and hyperventilating with overwhelming anxiety.  Oh … and you should probably self-injure yourself because you deserve the pain, you worthless bitch!”  Fuck you Miss Manic Depression! You’re the bitch -- a lying, sniveling bitch! I’m going to be better! I’m going to help those kids!

And then the depression would eventually break … for no apparent reason.  There wasn’t suddenly sunlight.  I didn’t hear or read some profound motivational phrase.  No one said, "Look on the bright side of things," for the very first time, suddenly saving me because I've never heard that fucking miracle phrase before (sarcasm font required).  It just came and went, because bipolar is also a mysterious little missus. So, when she was gone, that’s when I would directly put my cape back on and return to the vicious battle ground of today's high schools.
Josh needs to talk to me because his mom kicked him out again.  I need to make sure he has a place to keep his backpack and help him get his homework done before he leaves the building because I don’t know where he goes from here. I need to let Alexis know she’s beautiful because her mother is more interested in the cocaine and alcohol than she is in her fifteen year old daughter – her daughter who tells me on an almost daily basis, “I wish you were my mother.”  Kyle needs someone to talk to who isn’t going to discipline him and judge him because he’s already been through rehab twice, and is only a sophomore in high school.  Breanna needs answers to all the questions she has about her current pregnancy – replies that I can actually give her, unlike her other lingering question of who the father is – and every other adult is afraid to be honest with her for fear that their transfer of knowledge might be perceived as acceptance of teenage pregnancy.  Dylan needs someone to help him correctly spell even the most basic of words like “hurt” and “angry.”  It takes approximately thirty minutes for him to write three complete sentences. Matt doesn’t know who else to talk to because he finally got the nerves to come out as homosexual to his mother, who replied that it was “probably just a phase.”  And Krista just rolled up her sleeves as she sat sketching anime figures in the back of the classroom, only to reveal freshly self-inflicted scars.

I wanted, and still want, to save them all.  I believe I can save them all, and they know that I will listen without judging and try to give them my secret superpower – one that few other adults here unfortunately possess.  My secret superpower is acceptance.  My power is the ability to listen without judging.  My secret superpower is that I admit I can’t solve the problem fully – but I don’t lie to them and say “it will all be okay.”  My power is honesty; “yeah, you’re right, that sucks – but now let’s figure out a way to deal.” My secret superpower is hope – allowing others in on the secret that I fucked up along the way too, and people fucked me over in many of the same ways, but I chose strength and that’s why those same students looked up to me as a role model.  I was living proof that life can get better – no masks.  The masks are part of the fucking problem. 

I am not faster than a speeding bullet.  I am not more powerful than a locomotive.  But what I do have is the power of love, of acceptance, of hope, of peace of mind.  All of these gifts I was able to bestow upon others – rather than hording them away for myself in the hope of some narcissistic megalomaniac superhero fame.  I cannot bend steel with my own two hands, but I can bend a hardened heart and give knowledge, faith, comfort, and courage to those individuals.  Like Superman, I intend to fight a never-ending battle for truth and justice.
But another unfortunate truth is that it’s not easy.  It’s an exhausting battle, however touching and rewarding.  So, when I become ill again and disguised not as a mild-mannered reporter, but a victim to my bitch of a mental illness, my mother will often remind me that all my attempts to save others often end up leaving me feeling hopeless and powerless.  On such days, she will say, “Take off your cape, Angela, just take off your cape.” 

I know you make this request for the love of me, mother, but I’m keeping my cape. I bet you Superman will never hang his cape on the hook for good, and neither will I.  But, who’s going to save me from myself when I need the help?  What superhero will come flying down to kick depression’s ass the next time my arch villain wants to hang around far too long?  Seeking superheroes.  Will you strap on your hero boots to help others too and help me by ending the stigma surrounding mental illness?  Please join me in fighting for truth and justice.  Superman, me, and you – let’s see what we can do!


Author’s Note: All student names have been changed to protect individual rights.
Also -- these magnets are awesome gifts I received from students.  You can buy these, and other fun and inspirational products at the Curly Girl Store: