Pro-Tips for Hilary Supporters Trying to “Unite” the Party

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I have some pro-tips for Clinton supporters who want Bernie supporters to vote for Hilary:

Stop talking to/about Bernie supporters like they’re big babies having a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way. It’s condescending, it’s alienating, and it makes you sound like big babies having a tempter tantrum because the other kids don’t like your rules and aren’t playing your game.

Listen to the way you tell Bernie supporters to “tow the line” and “do the right thing” and “unite the party” and my personal favorite “do your duty”. Talking to intelligent conscientious adults like their duty is to stop thinking or having a conscious because the party line is more important than trying to make lasting change is really drawing a thick line under the reasons Bernie supporters loved Bernie in the first place and reminds them how fucked the two party status-quo IS. Also, it makes you sound like mean stupid schoolmarms with rulers suspended over everyone’s knuckles who disagrees with you.

Ditch the fear-mongering as a means to getting Bernie supporters and other outliers (such as alienated Republicans) to vote for Clinton. One of the reasons you claim to hate the Republican party in general and the Trumpster Dumpster in particular is because of the rampant fear-mongering they engage in. You do not make a good case for Hilary by saying “She isn’t Trump”. First of all, we KNOW she isn’t Trump. Saying it like no more discussion is necessary, that not being Trump is all the virtue that’s necessary to vote for someone. Ted Cruz wasn’t Trump either and no way in hell would I ever have cast my vote for that wet pancake. One thing Bernie supporters hate is fear mongering and the status quo. So if you want them to vote for Clinton, act like you actually think they’re intelligent human beings who desperately want to change the way things are done in this country and tell them how you think Hilary will get us closer to that kind of change. When you use fear tactics, you are piling more shit on the shit-pile of fear that got Trump the popularity he’s riding on right now that has you all foaming at the mouth. I mean, keep using them if you like, but at least understand how ineffective it is as a means for meaningful and positive change in this country and in the minds of Bernie supporters.

Stop treating Bernie supporters like the illegitimate children of our “democratic” system. What Bernie supporters want isn’t a rainbow farting unicorn. If that’s what you think, then you’re part of the conservative establishment we want to abolish that doesn’t even understand that Democratic Socialism isn’t an instrument of the devil and definitely isn’t a hindrance to personal freedoms such as Americans imagine they can only have with the constitution stashed in their butt-pockets. We aren’t the bastard children of the democratic party that need to be brought back into the family. Many of us ditched the democratic party a long time ago, in spirit if not in actuality. Many of us  never belonged to it in the first place. We aren’t yours to own or command. If you want us, yeah, you need to talk to us like you aren’t a fear-mongering automaton of the Democratic party upholding the two party system like it’s a princess in need of protecting rather than a broke-down trashy trailer barely road-worthy.

We wanted big change and Hilary’s campaign is not the ticket.

The whole time Bernie was running I assumed I’d vote Hilary if/when he lost the nomination. Then I heard Hilary supporters acting like bullies and screeching condescending assholes and I backed the fuck up and withheld my decision. Which I’m still withholding until closer to November.

I don’t actually want to be romanced by Hilary supporters. I don’t expect them to try and get me into their camp. I expect everyone to vote their conscience. But I offer up these pro-tips for those Hilary supporters who ARE trying to get Bernie supporters to join them. You really want to do that? Start with respect (most Hilary supporters haven’t got any for Bernie supporters, that much is clear, so maybe do a better job pretending). Talk to us like YOU’RE intelligent adults. And for god’s sake, stop being major assholes.

Job Shake-Up and New Chapters

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Lordy lou! It’s been pretty dark around here for a long time. I was starting to fantasize about starting a new blog with a new name thus representing a new chapter. But that’s what I always do. I like to close doors and open new ones. But perhaps the real lesson lies in sticking with the same doors I walk in and out of every day and simply repainting them? Or repainting myself? How about changing how I walk through them? Perhaps I could hop through them instead of slink or trudge? I could skip or pretend to swim through them. I could slide through them like a smooth operator!

I have quit my day job for reasons not pleasant*. I am looking for a new job because I’m not yet a world-renowned novelist and non-fiction champion for people like me (with depression). Bills gotta be paid.

All this job shake-up is actually really great in the long run. I’ve been way too tired to put much time or effort into Sugar and Pith and writing has been sparse (well, part of that was because I used up all my writing time to log the survey results for the last few months and that’s been really emotionally draining). I need to become more disciplined and I need a little more time than I’ve previously had to plot out my plan and steps to reaching my true professional goals.

And I need to do all of this before I die so I don’t have to hang around earth with great dissatisfaction and haunt certain peoples who truly deserve some ghost mischief to be visited upon them.

So instead of shutting down yet another blog, I’m going to stick with this one. I’m going to paint the doors and throw the windows open. But only at night when it’s not so damn hot.

*For certain persons who may or may not be checking my blog to see what I may or may not be writing about my current employment situation – I signed an agreement not to reveal any confidential business crap, but you can’t legally control what I say about my employment from a personal experience perspective (provided I do not reveal any business or proprietary information). Just thought I would put this here because I’m not stupid and I imagine that persons may be checking in to see if I say anything legally actionable. The last time I discussed my work situation (which threw a bunch of people into a tizzy) is the primary reason people now have to sign a confidentiality statement (in spite of the fact that sensitive proprietary information was removed from the premises long prior to this incident of the Blog Post and by an individual who was also caught padding her time card and stealing other items – but that didn’t provoke a confidentiality clause because – ???) Anyway, if anyone hoped I’d be saying stuff about my job to get righteously angry about, behold your disappointment!

Jaded Drunk at a Dry Wedding

when no one's coming

I’ve been a bruised piece of shit for the last few days. Vulnerable like a snail chained to a trail of salt. Part of me sits back and watches the Angelina show like a jaded drunk at a dry wedding, while part of me brings my own salt shaker to the party.

There is deep shame in this whole experience. I spend all my up time shouting to outsiders to fuck off with their shaming tactics, to fuck off with all their bullshit put-downs and their sly references to our lifetime ticket to the short bus, and I spend all my low time proving that I’ll never quite get up off the floor of my shredded naugahyde seat on the post-apocalyptic bus to hell.

I keep trying to write what it’s like to be mentally ill for people who aren’t and I’m a broken record that never reaches the chorus, that never manages to wheeze out the punchline. It’s impossible, this thing I carry in my head, in my body, in my spirit. It’s got the cumbersome painful body of John Merrick and the beautiful poetry of shut-in Emily Dickinson.

Whatever I am, the truth of it is always convoluted and polluted by how much I try to hide, by how much I reveal at my most vulnerable moments. I’m all contrasts. Truth delivered in brutal late-night beer-brave bullet-points only to be rescinded 12 hours later by the harsh remembrance of my place in the hierarchy of humans and their inability to digest the deeply bitter spiritual revelations that constitute the air I breathe.

The Dark Side of the Survey Results

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One of the hardest things about logging the Suicide for Beginners survey results are the mean things some respondents have said to ME. I know the survey was hard for a lot of people to take. I know it asked a lot of deeply personal questions about the darkest part of people’s lives. I felt it was necessary. If we are ever going to get other people to understand what it’s like to live with mental illness, if we are ever going to get people to stop stigmatizing us – I believe we have got to talk about the toughest and darkest parts of it. Some people really hated that I did this. They painted me as the enemy. And it hurt. There were a number of respondents who lashed out at me but this one that I read last night was one of the most horrible things to have someone from my own community say to me:

I find it interesting that in the first part of this survey you’ve asked IF the respondents have suicidal thoughts or ideation, and now you’re assuming that we do, and that it’s a serious desire. PS, the title of this survey is actually pretty shitty. It’s like you’re encouraging depressed people to think about or plan a suicide attempt. You kind of suck, and when I say kind of, I don’t mean that. I mean you seriously suck and if even one person harms themselves because of this, you’ll be at least partly responsible.

First of all, there was no assumption involved.  I never asked IF respondents have ever struggled with suicidal ideation. I asked HOW OFTEN with the possible answer of never. It is a fact the majority of people who have suffered from serious chronic depression do, at one point or another, struggle with suicidal ideation or passive suicidal ideation. So the entire survey is skewed more to people who’ve experienced it than not. But if you’ve never experienced suicidal ideation then the question WHO KNOWS YOU THINK ABOUT KILLING YOURSELF? is not applicable and instead of excoriating me in the comments box one could easily say “not applicable” (as a number of respondents did).

Out of 529 respondents (so far logged) only 29 of them have never experienced suicidal ideation of any kind. You let those numbers sit with you for a few minutes.

Second of all, if you thought the title of my survey and of my book is pretty shitty, you could easily have chosen not to take it as this survey (like most surveys are) was 100% voluntary. This particular respondent, ironically, gave incredibly long responses to most of the open ended questions. For thinking I suck so bad, they clearly wanted to be heard and counted (which was the point of this survey)

So FUCK YOU for being such a mean-ass unsupportive member of our community.

I was seriously tempted to discard this respondent’s survey altogether. But this survey isn’t just about ME. It isn’t just about YOU either. It’s about hearing from as large a swath of our community as I could and attempting to represent many voices and many experiences when I write my book about depression because one of the huge things people don’t understand about depression is that those of us who have it experience it in many individual and different ways. We aren’t all the same, we don’t all agree with each other about how to eradicate the stigma, or what the most effective treatments are. To help people truly understand what depression IS they need to do two things simultaneously: understand that no two people’s experience of it is exactly the same while understanding what the most universal problems are that we experience as a community so that those things can be addressed.

So I logged this person’s answers with everyone else’s in my spread-sheets while actually kind of wanting to hurt myself after reading her comments. So this brings me to the part where she suggests that the title of my book and my survey are so triggering that if anyone hurts themselves because of this title I’ll be partly responsible.

I do not take responsibility for anyone else’s actions, EVER. That’s the kind of thing people say when they want to shame or guilt someone about something, and it works on a lot of humans. Especially emotionally and mentally vulnerable human beings. The title of my project may make someone curious and think “What the fuck is this?”, but anyone who takes a few minutes to find out what this project is all about will know IMMEDIATELY that it isn’t a guidebook for killing yourself.

The only way I’d feel at all responsible for someone harming themselves is if I told them what shitty person they were, because telling people they’re shitty human beings is mean. If you don’t like something someone has said or done, you can tell them without being a huge sphincter about it.

So, to this person who told me how much I seriously suck: do you take responsibility for making me want to hurt myself? Did you stop and think for even one tiny second that the person you made those comments to still struggles with the urge to self harm every time someone is an asshole to them? So yeah, for a half an hour after reading your comments I wanted to hurt myself because I’m trying my damnedest to help bring light and understanding to our community and you just shit all over me like I’m a fucking toilet.

But I don’t actually hold you responsible for making me want to self harm. The truth is, a lot of things make me want to hurt myself, not just assholes. Whether I do it or not is a fight between me and my mental illness. If my mental illness wins, then it still isn’t your fault. I mean, you’re still a jerk, but you don’t control my actions. Sometimes I don’t have control them either – because depression is a bigger asshole than you. Something I think we can both agree on.

This person is definitely NOT the only person who hurled mean comments at me personally, as the person asking them questions they didn’t like. The “gifts of mental illness” question elicited quite a few negative responses. At least 10 respondents said variations of this theme:

THERE ARE NO GIFTS OF BEING MENTALLY ILL, GO FUCK YOURSELF.

I understand. I seriously do. I almost didn’t include that question on the survey because it’s a tough one to swallow for many people – even just to contemplate it. I’m very thankful I listened to my gut on this one and left it in the survey. The biggest surprise was how many respondents were able to list at least one gift of being mentally ill. Many named multiple gifts and some of them were incredible, funny, and cool. You have to be at a certain point with your own journey with mental illness to see past the hateful pain of it to the extraordinary benefits. You have to be really secure in the idea that to admit to benefits doesn’t erase the horrible aspects of it. They co-exist.

The problem with being a person with mental illness giving a survey on mental illness to other mentally ill people and asking them to be honest and share raw and very private things is that they lash out at me and I have a very hard time not taking it into my heart as a personal assault. I have so little defense against people telling me to fuck myself when I’m putting myself out there all the time to reach out to others in our community. It hurts. I know that ultimately it’s NOT really about me, rationally I know this. It’s not my first lap around this lake of hell fire, but it still hurts.

So this is the other reason why logging the survey results has taken so long and I’ve had to take so many breaks from it. It physically hurts me to read all this pain, to take it in, to attempt to quantify it, to be the moderator and researcher while also being the subject of the research. It’s deeply personal and I’m a sufferer so I can’t ever step outside of the answers and pain.

So why do it? Why stick with it?

I’m so glad you asked me this.

Because I’m tired of doctors and scientists who don’t actually have mental illness themselves telling my community who we are and what kind of pain we should or shouldn’t experience. I’m tired of outsiders explaining us to everyone else. The only people who can properly explain what it’s like to have any kind of mental illness are those who experience it. I want doctors and scientists to keep working at coming up with medical information – but they need to listen to us too. The patients. They need to believe us and not treat us like crusty little growths sitting in their offices who don’t know anything about our own experiences.

We need to be heard. Not just one or two of us. Our whole community needs to be heard – both our individuality and our universal struggles.

Depression is a serious killer and people keep telling us who we are instead of letting us tell them who we are. They need to shut the fuck up and listen. That’s why I need to do this even though it’s really hard and even though people in my own community are telling me I’m a piece of shit.

The good thing is, and the thing that keeps me coming back to the spreadsheets, is that a definite majority of the people who took the survey understand what I’m trying to do and appreciate the chance to be part of it. It reaffirms that I’m on the right track.

Something else that’s really bothered me a lot are the respondents who, in the section where I ask them what they would say to someone struggling hard not to kill themselves, have laid on a thick blanket of bullshit about how you shouldn’t kill yourself because of all the pain and devastation you’ll cause other people, that at your worst moment you should be living for the sake of other people’s comfort.

I have a huge problem with anyone suggesting that your pain is nothing compared to the pain of others. But I don’t have time to go into this now. I have to go eat some breakfast, clean up some kitten poop, and then log some more surveys in.

Suicide for Beginners Survey Update

calling yesterdayIt’s July 1st and I’m still not finished logging the Suicide for Beginners survey responses. Why is it taking so long? I had originally planned to be done with this part of the project by the end of April. So what the fuck happened?

I have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety and mild OCD.

How the fuck is that an answer or excuse? Ahhhh – most of the people who took my survey KNOW why that’s a profoundly important answer.

As a person who has Major Depressive Disorder, I have very low energy at the best of times. Not everyone who has this disorder is always low energy. Some people with it are only low energy during a depressive down-cycle. Some don’t experience low energy as a symptom at all (I didn’t for the first half of my life of living with depression). But the majority of us find having depression emotionally exhausting and physically draining. I have a day job, a kid, a mom who depends on me to run her errands as she is physically unable to do so herself, I have pets, and all of this would reasonably make anyone a bit tired at the end of the day. But put depression on the heap and I’m done for.

I have tried getting some surveys logged in the mornings before work when I have the most energy. But most mornings I have enough trouble getting myself into the proper mind-frame to face a day of customer service.

There’s a whole other factor at play here as well. I’ve got no filter for other people’s emotional baggage. I’m also excessively empathetic. Reading long surveys in which I ask people to talk to me about the darkest and most vulnerable part of their lives is truly hard. For one thing, people with mental illness disproportionately experience abuse over people who aren’t mentally ill, particularly in childhood. So these surveys are filled not only with the pain of having mental illness, but the pain of abuse, disregard, bullying, disrespect, and marginalization.

These people are my community. They are my tribe. They matter to me almost more than any other people on earth. So it’s really fucking hard to sit down and hear all their pain and just fly through survey after survey – boom! Boom! Done. I FEEL their pain in no small part because I have experienced all of it for myself. It’s overwhelming.

So I’ve had to take it slow and take long breaks because it’s fucking heartbreaking to actually hear so many people’s stories about living with depression. Lordy, and this survey doesn’t even cover any of the co-morbid diagnosis’ most of us live with.

There’s another factor that’s made it hard too – those survey respondents who spewed mean shit at ME. But I’m saving that for the next installment of:

WHY IT’S JULY AND ANGELINA ISN’T DONE WRITING SUICIDE FOR BEGINNERS YET.

I’m just about to read survey #530 out of #584 total “completed”*.

*Survey Monkey’s idea of what constitutes a “completed” survey is pretty remarkable. There are some surveys they counted as “completed” in which the respondent answered exactly 5 out of 25 questions. Translate that into orgasm talk and you’ll have a riot on your fucking hands.

My original plan was to be finishing my first draft of the book by now. Shit.

But this is the very THING I’m trying to shed light on, isn’t it? That living with depression means adjusting your expectations and your goals because if you don’t do that you will hate yourself more than your brain already tells you to and you’ll struggle even harder. One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a person suffering life-long chronic depression is to accept that it will limit you a lot of ways, some of them obvious, many of them not.

I have 54 more survey responses to log. It doesn’t sound like much, but I logged in about 15 of them last night and felt so drained from it that I’m still feeling it this morning.

Once I’m done logging the responses I will be sorting my spreadsheets to reflect the numerical order of the answers which also means I have to clean up the notes and crap I scattered all over them that will get in the way of ranking them. Once I get everything ranked and cleaned up I will take each individual spreadsheet and evaluate my findings and take notes on what I think they mean. Then I can begin to actually WRITE THE DAMN BOOK.

I had originally planned to be done with my second draft by the end of the summer so I could start sharing with beta readers and writing query letters to agents. With non-ficiton you don’t actually have to wait to finish your book before querying agents (whereas they will not even consider your novel if you query them before it’s finished) you just need chapter outlines and a synopsis, but I know I have to write this book no matter what and I need to have written it to properly query it. It must take shape first before I present it because I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to arrange the book and prioritize the chapters until I’m writing it.

Will it even be done by 2018? I don’t know. I do feel a sense of urgency as mental illness is being offered up more and more as an explanation and the core issue behind mass murders, homophobia, racism, and pretty much all crime. Which is excessively wrong – people don’t understand mental illness who don’t have it and they also don’t understand how a human can kill another human so obviously mental illness is linked to violence in their minds. This must stop! Obviously, my book may not help stop people from being ignorant and keeping all of us mentally ill people chained up in humanity’s claustrophobic closet of horrors, but I can’t give up just because my project might not achieve what I hope it will help achieve.

First I have to write the post about the people in my community who are making things worse for the rest of us, but especially ME as they tell me to fuck off. Then I’ll get as many more survey responses logged as I can today.

 

I Lie to Everyone Some of the Time

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Don’t care where anyone else sleeps on their conscience. I can only ask myself how I got to this thought, this feeling, this judgement, and then ask myself if it’s who I am, if I died 60 seconds from now “Is this who I am, is this how memory will record me?” and cast my shadow against the wailing wall for all to pick at, discuss, and cruelly dissect. Because humans, no matter how evolved we become, are still creatures limited by our state of flesh and blood.

When I crumple in a heap of indigestible feelings and thoughts I would rather die than anyone see my face on which everything is writ in smudged chalk and ancient language. I would rather die than explain myself to other humans, but humans intrude cheerily and with love, so I lie to them with good cheer and equal love and everyone moves forward exactly one centimeter towards no gain.

I understand that this is how it will always be. Even if I were to tell all the secrets and expose all my arteries to the light – this is how it will always be. Hanging onto minutes like lifelines, waiting for the tide to turn, waiting for the waves to choke out idle curiosity. Can’t abide the casual eye on my aspirating valves, slowing to death under the weight of a nightlife I can’t control or escape. I’d sooner choke on the seaweed tangling around my feet than swim to the surface of this fight.

I lie all the time, every day. Whether it’s wrong or not depends entirely on how far into my world you’re entrenched. That I lie to everyone for my own protection is an incontrovertible fact. White or black is only one way of looking at it. Survival or death is another way. I lie to everyone. There is no one I don’t lie to about the core of my life experience. I parse out dark truths as much as those around me can handle them but never all at once, never more than a patchwork of truth. No matter what I say, there’s more I’m holding back.

We’re all masters at subterfuge, my spirit family. Almost everyone in my tribe knows better than to share whole truths. Our survival depends on the art of half truths and making other people feel good about our chances of survival. We spend most of our time making sure the people around us are as comfortable as they can be, we lure them into hope like mermaids calling sailors to cliffs that look like pillows of marshmallow gold.

I want to let the flesh fall and the bones talk. I want to walk the creeks with my veins open and my truth available to every curious mind. I want to share all this shit with everyone who thinks they’re ready for it, who wants to know, to understand, but –

I have a responsibility to tread lightly around humans more tender than myself, humans who still feel hope, who burst with spiritual optimism. I have a responsibility not to crush them with my darkness.

I have optimism too, but it’s darker and older and isn’t rainbows, unicorns, bunnies, innocence, mercy, or love.

My optimism is bloody survival. It’s war anthems being sung by the dead when there’s no one living left to rejoice in winning. My optimism is that the earth will reinvent itself without humans and be better and healthier for it. My optimism is that we will all be here forever as gasses and soil and sand.

This is good enough for me.

This is good enough for all of us.

 

Part 2: No Country for Me

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Voting Cancellation Theory is based on a faulty premise. It suggests that your one vote is only valuable as a cancellation of one opposition vote. It supposes that the purpose of voting is to vote against a candidate rather than to vote for a candidate.

Maybe you’re okay with this. Most people tell me that this is just how it is, that this is reality and to demand anything different is to be naive and ignorant.

Voting Cancellation Theory suggests that to not vote for anyone in an election means you’re voting for the opposition. At least, that’s what a bunch of people told me this week. That if I don’t vote for Hilary then I’m voting for Trump. This is impossible, of course. If I don’t cast a vote then my vote can’t be counted for (or against) any candidate. If I don’t vote for anyone in this coming election then I’m not in the voting pool. If I’m not in the voting pool then I can’t be counted for one side or another.

Because, if not voting can be counted for one candidate or the other, then what about all the dead people who don’t vote? Are they also voting for Trump? Are they voting for Hilary? They aren’t casting any votes either, what with being dead and all, so will you blame them for the outcome of this election?

I know, you refuse to follow me through this analogy because dead people can’t vote anyway, but I’m a middle aged fat living American with a viable vote to cast which is obviously way different.

But I want to smash your face deeper in this analogy because if I say, as a disenfranchised ex-American, that I refuse to participate in a stupid system that’s clearly corrupt, then what I’m saying is that my vote is not available to anyone. If I withdraw my consent to participate in a system I think is ultimately responsible for the rise of Trump in the first place, then you don’t get to count my vote as being wasted or given to opposition because if I withdraw myself from the voting pool voluntarily, you must view me as a dead American whose vote is no longer in the political pool to be romanced one way or another. My vote withdrawn is a vote no longer countable or accountable.

People in both of our only two nationally recognized political parties are talking to those of us trying to leave the whole system like we’ll be responsible for all the evil in the world if we refuse to remain in this abusive political relationship. It’s exactly like threatening an abused wife that if she has the temerity and selfishness to leave her abusive husband her kids will suffer more and it will be all her fault. It’s like telling her that her only value in life is as an emotional and/or physical punching buffer between her abusive spouse and their kids. Like her body, mind, and spirit only matter when she can be a buffer between her country and the next dictator.

Guilt is an ugly ugly kind of blackmail.

I do not accept that I am responsible for evil taking root in this country. I do not accept that my political vote will change anything one way or another. Except that I do believe that if my vote carries any weight at all in this country then it’s just as powerful a statement to withhold it when I don’t feel there’s any candidate I can vote for in good conscience as it is to cast it when I wholeheartedly endorse a candidate.

I have been a fully engaged participant in this political relationship since I was I was 10 years old. I have taken my civic “duty” seriously since I was too young to visit the Peace House on my own and long before I could legally vote. I have been voting in both local, state, and national elections for 28 years, completely buying into the idea that somehow I can make a difference working with the broke-ass system in place here since long before I was born. In 28 years of never missing a single election I have seen democracy be bought inch by inch and I’ve witnessed zero positive change brought about by me participating on a thin wisp of hope that my precious vote makes a tiny fucking difference.

28 years is a long time to give a system the chance to prove its worth, to prove its value, to prove anything good at all. What I’m mostly feeling right now is foolish for having hoped for so long, for having stayed in a broken abusive political relationship for most of my life. All these years I’ve wasted feeling responsible for all the Bushes and Reagan’s fucking up life for the poor, working class, and middle class quality of life. All these years I felt I should have been able to do more to fix it, that I should have been able to heal the division, the anger, the bigotry, the racism, the sexism and feeling inadequate because I have done everything I could possibly do (peace marches, petition signing, senator and representative calling, political marriage counseling, etc) and still, here we are, with Trump running for office.

I’m leaving this dysfunctional relationship because it isn’t healthy for our children for us to stay married.

I’ve been a registered Democrat for – I think – my whole voting life. As a Democrat you other Democrats may consider my vote yours and that if I don’t vote for Hilary my vote will go to Trump. (I think you don’t understand how anything works, but you’ve swallowed the rhetoric that serves you best, it’s only human). But as I unregister myself as a Democrat and decline to state a party, you can’t assume that me not voting means I’ve cast a vote for Trump. I might just as easily (by your reasoning of default voting) be casting my vote for Hilary to the chagrin of Trump supporters.

What I’m saying is that my vote withdrawn isn’t in this game at all. I’m no longer a Democrat so you can’t say (without revealing a terrible want of critical thinking skills) that me not voting is automatically a vote for the worst human the United States has ever produced.

I withhold my vote. That means no one gets it. Neither side can cancel each other out with it, neither side can claim it, neither side can abuse it, neither side can blackmail me with it.

There are a lot of ways to change the world. There are a lot of ways to be a positive force pushing back evil. There are many ways to serve one’s community, many ways to serve humanity without claiming allegiance to any nation or party or club or cult.

What you all need to understand is that for a person who’s participated faithfully in a broken political system for 28 fucking years to withdraw participation isn’t a decision that comes lightly or wantonly. If you think I make this decision without thought to the consequences of my actions (or non-action, as the case is) – then you don’t know me at all and you can fuck your ignorant self for supposing you do.

Those of you who can’t come up with any better reason for us political outliers to vote for Hilary than that “she isn’t Trump” seem to think I’m a simple dog who just needs to be obedient to the party line. NEWSFLASH: I don’t belong to a party. Fuck you. Treat me like an intelligent human and we can talk about this.

I don’t bow to fear tactics. Supposedly it’s the American standard to refuse to negotiate with terrorists but as far as I can tell that ideal is only upheld when it’s easy to refuse negotiating against abject fear.

I will not bow to the fear of Trump being President.

I will not become your chained bitch.

I am a conscientious objector to the current American political system.

I will not participate in an abusive political relationship.

I take shelter from this madness as is my RIGHT as a human being.

I refuse to continue to be bruised by a corrupt system that punishes those of us who won’t tow the party line.

To be an individual, to act according to your conscience, and to go against the stream is American PORN – until it matters.

The only thing you have control of in this world is your conscience. You’d think you have control over your own body, but you don’t. There are a thousand laws governing what you may or may not legally do with your corporeal self. Your conscience is all you have. You get to live your life according to it if you choose. You can trash it if you like. But it’s all yours. At the end of every single day the only person you need to square yourself with is YOU.

I have endeavored to live my whole life according to my conscience. It’s all I really ask of myself or anyone else.

But here’s the important deal: What my conscience demands is NOT the rule by which anyone else must measure themselves. If, in this election, you feel the most important thing you can do is vote for Hilary, that’s what matters. That’s honestly all I’m asking of anyone – vote your conscience, live your conscience – not mine. If you love Hilary and are really excited about her – you don’t ever have to apologize or excuse your choice to me.

This isn’t some better-than-thou bullshit. I’m going to say something shocking and if you can’t forgive me for it then I can live with that – even if what your conscience is directing you to do is to vote for Trump – if you’re doing it because that’s somehow weirdly the thing most true to you – I would rather you honor yourself than to bow under the weight of popular thought.

This world would be incredibly different if people weren’t prone to falling for mob rule.

I have to act and live according to my conscience and if you think that’s not my right, then you have a lot of evolving to do yet. You have a lot of accepting of yourself to do before you try to shape me.

I’m not better than you. I don’t make decisions about anything based on how I can feel superior to any other human being. I’m pretty fucked up, truth be told. But I trust myself, more than many people can say about themselves. I’m not better than you. But I know myself better than you’ll ever know me. FACT.

Peace.

Part 1: No Country for Me (And Why I’m Leaving the Democratic Party)

upstairs bar la rosa

The political situation in this country and the way it’s making people I normally respect and whose opinions I normally share turn into douche-harpoons has caused me to declare myself a woman of no country. Liberals, particularly Democrats, are becoming rabid with fear and abandoning reasonable thought.

Bernie Sanders lost the California primary and Clinton was declared the Democratic nominee. I didn’t expect to be so deeply bummed out. Until now I’ve been able to safely say I’ll vote Clinton if Bernie loses because he started to really look viable and the actual election is very far away. What happened is that the reality of my choices being between Hilary and Trump became depressingly real.

I really truly deeply distrust Hilary. She wears a constant mask. She changes her position like midwestern weather during April. She votes for wars, she votes for policies that strengthen corporate America and HER. What the fuck has she ever truly done to make this country better for middle class or poor people? I’ve never liked her, never trusted her, and I didn’t know how deeply that dislike ran until faced with her as my only choice besides Trump.

Do I even need to tell you how I feel about that chauvinistic baboon-ass-faced racist narcissist?

I didn’t think so. Trump was never a voting option for me. (I almost just threw up saying “voting option” and “Trump” in the same sentence.) God help us all.

(Except I’m an atheist so I think God is like a magic 8 ball you consult when you need predictable reassurance of what you already think and believe)

Hilary is basically a Republican. As far as I’m concerned she’s no Democrat. So my presidential voting choices have been reduced to corporate but moderate Republican versus the kind of severe Republican the US has been aggressively working on creating for my entire lifetime.

Bravo, United States! You finally created the bastard-headed beast of your dreams!

On Facebook I expressed my deep political depression and dismay by saying I’m thinking of not voting in this election at all.

It’s as though I made the angry seas of God part with that comment. I expect conservatives of all stripes to flip the fuck out – but instead it was all liberals. Mostly Democrats. Many of them dear friends of mine, some of them friends of vague acquaintances who pounced on me with their 3″ verbal claws drawn ready to shred me for being unAmerican.

It was unexpected. I admit that it actually shocked me and then seriously blew me deeper into my own convictions that the only way to approach this whole political fuckery is to be led by my conscience, whatever that entails.

If you want to hear people show their most ugly and truthful side – tell them you’re going to listen to your conscience during this election. Apparently, it’s really UPPITY and HIGH HANDED to vote your conscience at a time like this, in an election like this.

A fellow Democrat, and someone I used to think was a decent person said these actual words to me:

I’m sorry Angelina Wiliamson, but when you vote you don’t get to pick the person your conscience most approves of. You only get to choose between the candidates who are running.

So, having a conscience doesn’t apply to voting in general, or just this time? Is a conscience just a thing we consult when it’s easy and convenient and no one else will judge us poorly for it? Is my conscience only something you value in me when it doesn’t disagree with yours?

This same person went on to say this brilliant gem:

Personally I think that kind of moral absolutism and the complete disregard for the consequences of your actions is a pretty scary thing. But there seems to be a lot of moral superiority going around in this election cycle.”

(I did the bolding because there is zero indication that I have a complete disregard for the consequences of my actions by the comments I shared on this thread. She makes an outrageous assumption based on her firm belief that anyone who chooses differently than her has abandoned all regard for humanity. People are so fucking brain-impaired sometimes)

I have saved the entire thread for posterity and as a reminder of what kind of people I never want to be and never want to associate myself with politically. I am accused of moral absolutism because I won’t comply with political absolutism.

This is the end of part 1 of how I have become a woman of no country and no political affiliation. I have a lot more to say and you may disagree or let bile fill your throat with anger, or you may listen like a rational person and possibly disagree with my conclusions, my beliefs, and my actions, but still treat me like an intelligent human being who’s been an active part of the political system for 28 years who is now done with all the bullshit. Your choice.

What you may NOT do is come here on MY blog, my page, my virtual living room, and be a douche. I will shut you the fuck down so quickly and silently you’ll never even realize I did it.

A Constant End Without End

pale grinder

There’s a lot of life carved into 60 seconds when you’re not sure you’ll be alive at the end of them.

Common wisdom suggests that those who optimistically embrace every second because life is beautiful and gorgeous and happy and joyful and cheerful are the ones who get the most out of life.

I suggest that those are the people who skim the surface of the universe without ever truly knowing its depth or circumference. I suggest that they are the people who think the goal of life is joy when the real goal of life is metamorphosis. I suggest that transformation is the ultimate directive of the universe. Observe it in liquid to gasses, in maggots to flies, in the acrid sting of fresh onions to a sticky sweet fond on the bottom of the pan.

Most people see life as a beginning, a middle, and an end. And they hate the end, they resent it, they avoid it at all costs, they see it as the natural enemy.

People like me experience life as a constant end without end. The middle is a mythical space where others unfold quietly and dumbly, unaware of the sharp steep chalk edge inches away from their hapless feet. Unaware of the constant dredging and sluicing of fortunes, tossing choice in favor of chance without conscious consent.

People like me don’t need to consent. We are the conscious unconscious. We don’t get to consent or dissent. We ARE. We are born BEING. Raw, charged, and full-spectrum humans from the moment we hit existence skidding our tires against a static roadway.

We appear broken, blasted, wasted, and wan. That’s just because we operate on a different frequency than most humans. We haven’t got your filters for noise, for violence, for chaos, for sorrow, for anything at all. Everything hits our exposed nerves like lightning shock. It burns us hollow.

The joy for us is in the macro experience. Looking at the unfettered layers of landscape as separate sentient beings, seeing the glory in the dust mote, the streak of light, the accidental paint dripping. The joy for us isn’t in living another day for the sake of living, which is meaningless in itself, but to watch the golden hour cross the world one more time illuminating the hungry human eye, swathing a grassy hillside in a soft dust of light. This is worth living another day for. It doesn’t need words, unless we want to share it outside ourselves, then it requires more words than there are in our lexicon.

Give up your stiff rules of thought, of belief, of starchy dogma. Release yourself into the wild. Let your thoughts get thick with shade and leaves. God might be in the details, might not be too. Don’t know what God does or doesn’t do, but I know that the divine in humans is never as far from the surface as their actions suggest. That’s the closest to blind faith I get.

Deliver your bloody beating heart into my trembling hands and I will bury it up on the pinnacle of your crumbled hope, your grave of dreams.

I once picked up an accordion every afternoon and played Amazing Grace on it like it was the sword that defeats death.* It wasn’t, but the bees heard me, the lilacs listened, the ivy slowed down and heard the call of honey.

 

*True fact. I still have my accordion but I’m terrified to try and play it after years of neglect.

Authenticity in Writing and Other Stuff

grooming is good

(You’ll have to scroll down for the thoughts on writing because first there’s other stuff)

I’m super excited about the family vacation we’re going to take on June 14th. It’s pretty much all I’m thinking about. Except that I really want to get my Suicide for Beginners survey responses all logged before I go on vacation so I’m thinking about that too. About how I keep missing opportunities to plow through them after work. I faff around making food for my kid, doing dishes, and then I’m exhausted and sit around thinking about all the things I should be doing before vacation and do nothing else.

This is the main thing that sucks about having depression. The lows come and go for me and they can be super bad, but I don’t really have highs. I just have no energy. Even when medicated, which has certainly helped.

I need to sew some stuff for my trip. Well, just for in general, because hot weather is mostly here and I’ve been very uncomfortable. I need some culottes so I can ride my bicycle without knotting my pant cuffs and so I don’t die of heat exhaustion related to wearing long pants all day at work where it’s so hot I break a sweat just from fetching a cup of water from the water cooler.

Now I need to make myself a new bag too because yesterday I pretty  much destroyed my main one by spilling coffee inside of it. A lot of coffee.

I think I just have to lock myself in my office tonight without any booze and work on the survey results. And again tomorrow night. And again on Friday night.  Then I can sew this weekend.

WRITERS: BE AUTHENTIC…

Random writer thought – I truly despise it when book promos promise to make a reader cry. My goal in reading a book is never to be made to cry. Ever. I hate crying and worse than that I hate knowing that an author relishes the idea of manipulating their readers into feeling sad or so happy (??) they break down crying. Claiming that your book is so emotional your readers are going to ball their eyes out strongly suggests that you measure your success as a writer by how much you can manipulate the emotions of your readers rather than by how much they enjoyed your story-telling. It suggests to me that you’re in it for the satisfaction of moving people to some strong emotion and not to write great stories. It tells me your focus is off and that it’s kind of creepy.

If a book promo suggests that a story is going to be tragic – I feel like I’ve already been betrayed as a reader. I will not read the story. But if I did read it, I would not allow myself to be drawn in emotionally because I’m already prepared to be betrayed.

I see this a lot on Twitter. You have very little words with which to hook a potential reader. Don’t waste them promising to wreck a reader emotionally. Say something about the actual story. I say this as a person who’s total crap at writing promos, so I get it, writing promos is hell. But at least try.

Writers who live to manipulate the emotions of readers are just as unpalatable to me as writers who live to moralize. Emotional manipulation and moralizing are terrible reasons to write and having either of those as your core goal and your starting point with any story will permeate your whole story with a stench that most readers can smell a mile away and will resent you for.

Please, fellow writers, be in it to tell amazing stories about interesting people and places and events. Please be in this writing gig to share your authentic imagination with the rest of us. If you’re authentic in all your writing then you’ll move readers naturally.

Time to go wash my hair before work.