One of those days when breathing is an enormous and laudable achievement.
“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.”
– Superchicken, cartoon superhero
Everyone champions the cause of the minimum wage worker, saying you cannot survive and you can barely subsist on minimum wage.
Everyone champions the cause of the waitress who makes $2.13 an hour and relies on tips to barely make ends meet.
No one champions the cause of the disabled girl who has to work in the adult industry because she is not employable due to a psychotic break over a decade ago (making progress but still recovering) who makes $1.25 an hour with no possibility of tips.
A lot of people speak up for adult industry workers, saying they deserve the same rights and protections as any other workers do, and should never be exploited or put in a position they do not want to be in. A lot of people speak up for victims of sexual assault and assert they should be shielded from things that might be disturbing or unearth bad memories by the availability of ‘trigger warnings’ that will alert the reader or viewer that emotionally incendiary material looms ahead.
And yet, interestingly, no one speaks up for the disabled girl triggered daily by the exploitative nature of her adult industry work, the stigma that she experiences because of it, the painful and destructive cross-pollination of it with her traumatic history, and the despair that comes from finding no hope that anything other than her present reality will ever be possible. No one attempts to shield her from the psychological damage. There are no trigger warnings. The entirety of existence could be called a trigger.
These conditions have the ability to quite fluidly draw one to the presumptive conclusion that only a certain kind of victim matters, and only a certain kind of victim is eligible to receive assistance or compassion. This train of thought goes mag-lev when the effects of continual abuse come into play. Surety in the belief that one is defective and legitimately despicable soon follows – or more accurately, is reawakened, since that is the message that lifelong abuse has already emblazoned upon the abused’s brain.
Despite herself, despite some days when every fiber of her being rebels or threatens to implode or otherwise self-destruct, this disabled girl persists. She endures. She pushes on and survives, and does not even understand, sometimes, why she does it. The only reason she can find is that she does it for the people she loves. She doesn’t want anyone she holds in her heart to carry the grief that she does. She doesn’t want to leave anyone broken. And she wants to give others the benefit of whatever meager lessons she may have learned along the way. She wants to do something to redeem the pain and the regret and the shame and the darkness. She wants to help others in those ways that she wishes she would have – could have – been helped.
It’s rough going sometimes, this silk-purse-from-a-sow’s-ear vision. And frankly, some days it’s difficult and overwhelming and it seems quite fruitless. But these feelings, this hopelessness, it’s all part of the Business of Survival when you carry a certain set of bags. It’s the landscape you have to traverse sometimes when you choose The Long Journey over The Quick Exit.
So, on those days when it seems useless, when it seems an impossible task to continue, she digs in with her fingernails and hangs on. Because she knows that nothing lasts forever. This, too, shall pass. Not the conditions of her existence, no: not the crushing despair, nor the shit job, nor the feeling like no one cares – and don’t even think that the poisoned roots of the past will miraculously release themselves from their purchases deep beneath the Earth’s surface without considerable effort and heavy machinery. These things won’t just magically disappear into the ether. They will still exist. But they will be Over There. Out of focus, not today’s issue, that’s Future Chick’s problem, dude. And what will also happen is that easier times will return. It may not seem like it at that low moment, but the sun will break through the dark clouds once again and she will feel its warmth. She’s seen this happen too many times not to have faith in that. That she lives and breathes is proof of it.
So, in the meantime – see, there’s a reason why they call it meantime, yeah? – she sits down with another coffee, because she read somewhere that it only takes a single cup of coffee to keep you from killing yourself, and she’s found this to be true. (Not that she feels like killing herself today. It’s just a good fact to know, man. It’s News You Can Use.) She channels the troubling shit out thru her fingers and onto the keyboard, trying not to sound too dramatic (trying, though probably not succeeding) because at this point in her life trotting out the Grand Guignol when it’s not an emergency feels tedious, unnecessary, and a bit too Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf. She does, however, allow herself the hideous indulgence of writing about herself in the third person. Because EMOTIONS.
She lets out a big sigh. Takes a swig of Diet Pepsi to chase the coffee. Lights up a cigarette (tsk tsk), and selects a podcast from one of the comedians she loves because comedy can save – it’s saved her more times than she can count – and the conversation will steer her thoughts away from the detritus of which they are currently composed.
And then damned if that crazy bitch doesn’t get on with her day.
A POST FROM JANUARY I NEVER POSTED:
Rough time on Monday morning. The plan was to do a LOT of clip shooting, as I haven’t done a single shoot this month. Instead, I have been doing a lot of planning, so that this can be the year when I change my life. Unfortunately, I see a huge conflict of interests. Changing my life involves much pro-activity, an extremely focused mindset, and lots of learning. Doing this, I inhabit a VERY different brain space than is required for shooting clips, an activity which is only successful if I’m not inhabiting any brain space At ALL.
As Hedy Lamarr once said, “It’s easy to look glamorous. Just stand still and look stupid.” The point of the clips is not to project, “I am having thoughts about coding and writing! I am having opinions on culture!” The point of clips is to project, “There’s not a thought in my head that doesn’t involve sitting here smoking this cigarette.”
Hedy Lamarr was what they called in her day “a smart cookie”. She knew how to walk the tight-wire of body vs mind, and she walked it extremely well. She played the infamous Biblical femme fatale in Cecil B. DeMille‘s Samson and Delilah. the third-biggest grossing film of its time. Variety wrote, “Hedy Lamarr never has been more eye-filling and makes of Delilah a convincing minx.” You’d never imagine from that sentence that she was also responsible for the spread spectrum techniques that are today used in Bluetooth technology. At the beginning of World War II, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes which used frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology to thwart jamming by the Axis powers. Both Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Sadly, I am no Hedy Lamarr. Walking that line is much more difficult for me. Part of it is the switching back and forth between opposing mindsets, yes. It’s not as simple as hemisphere jumping. Even though a hop over to the right brain takes the mind away from logic, analysis and static information, it’s isn’t necessarily the right place to hang out when shooting clips. There’s still lots of thought going on inside the right side, the content is just different. It’s the domain of Art and Music, creativity and flow, stimulated by new ideas and novel ideas and works, constantly turning things all about and extracting inspiration from that marrow. It’s pretty far away from sitting still and looking like you’ve not a care nor thought in the world.
Wait, Annie – isn’t shooting clips a creative thing to do? Couldn’t there be some use for this right brain specialty in what you’re doing? Sadly, no, I have not found that to be true. What I have to shoot is fairly specific, and does not leave much room for elaboration. Plus, all of my instincts are off-brand. No one watches my clips for my sense of humor, and they sure as hell don’t watch them for the production design (believe me, because the “set” I have to work with lost its novelty years ago, and there’s no funds to upgrade the situation). They watch my clips to watch me smoke. And I’m at the point where I cannot reinvent the wheel. It’s time for me to do something else, and it’s been that time for years now. Nonetheless, until I have a larger chunk of knowledge under my belt, until those new skills I’m learning are a legitimate part of my wheelhouse, I have to keep doing this. I’m at the point financially where I need one of those “poor barrels”. But I can’t afford a poor barrel. Now that my rent’s gone up, I can’t really even afford to keep eating.
There is never a moment in time where I am not thinking about something from all angles. The tenor of my thoughts and the tides of my emotions do not naturally lend themselves to controlling the expression on my face to reach a specific and marketable end. Trying to hit all the marks of “Pretty” takes me a lot of concentration and thought, without a lot of payoff in the end result. The square peg despairs because it never fits into round holes, it’s impossible to fit into round holes, but the only way it can survive is to fit into a round hole. This condition creates the perfect hothouse for a self-annihilating inner narrative to flourish.
I am ill-suited to do the thing that I absolutely MUST do to survive, and in doing it, I keep myself held back from doing something I WOULD be good at, a situation Joseph Heller called the Catch-22.
Rock, me, hard place.
This is for anyone who can’t hear audio in Chrome using Bluetooth headphones:
- First update Chrome to the latest Official Build.
- Make sure your Bluetooth device is on, paired, and connected. (Sorry if you can’t pair or connect – I didn’t have that issue so I am unsure of the fix for that)
- Go to Settings/Sound/App_Volume_and_Device_Preferences
- Find Chrome, and select your Bluetooth headphones as output and mic.
Hopefully this will fix your issue.
Thanks to co-morbid mental health concerns, I am a person with considerable dopamine issues. So when I saw a headline in the Inverse Daily newsletter about dopamine fasting, my interest was absolutely piqued.
“A dopamine fast? Clue me in, Inverse!” I said out loud to no one. (Did you know cats have the ability to roll their eyes?)
According to the article, it only takes a single day of abstinence from, well, most everything you’re used to flooding your senses. We’re talking social media, advertisements, entertainment, conversation, podcasts, audio books, video games, pretty much anything on the computer. No board games, no poker, no hate-watching reality TV, no re-writing librettos to make them pornographic – you see where this is going. And of course: no drinking, no drugs, no smoking, no sex. No junk food, no dessert. No gossip, no schadenfreude if you happen to witness your grumpy neighbor stepping in dog poop. Basically, nothing from which you derive some sort of pleasure or gratification, especially the immediate kind. Anything that makes your receptors fire off that sweet, sweet dopamine is off-limits.
Presumably you can do stuff like wash dishes, get a root canal, or build a pyramid. (But don’t take my word for it – Read more about exactly what they mean by “dopamine fasting” here.)
My imaginatory vagueness led me to come away with the idea that this fasting period sounds a lot like the idea of stillness, put forth by the Stoics and recently highlighted by Ryan Holiday in his new book, Stillness is the Key, which – oops – I haven’t read, because it’s a new book, and I’m a Poor – but I do get his daily newsletter, and I’m down with the concept, as the amount of information, disinformation, static, sound, and noise that is pelted at me daily is overwhelming. I’m a delicate flower, also known as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
(If you are also one of these HSPs, please don’t be offended. It’s good to be a delicate flower. There are just some drawbacks, like getting Stressed The Fuck Out™.)
Hear tell, there was once a time where a person was not reachable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where on Earth they were. Hear tell, there once was a time when folks were lucky if the person they were trying to reach had one of those fancy new-fangled answering machines. You had to wait for the beep, is my understanding. And there was something called a “busy signal”. If you can imagine. Don’t even get me started on those party lines and “Emergency Break-throughs”.
Yeah. People also used to get polio and chill in iron lungs. And while I’m sure those were very good times – times that apparently anti-vaxxers, among others, are nostalgic for – this is the Modern Age. Remember to please tip your stagecoach driver!
So we need to actively seek out stillness. Because in this high-speed society, we no longer idle at Idle.
As far as my stress-addled brain can tell, dopamine fasting has a lot in common with stillness, insofar as shutting out the excess, the chatter, the constant flow of non-stop unnecessary information.
Do I REALLY need to know that Khloe Kardashian thinks it’s super-important that she puts herself first? Aside from this tidbit’s glaring, nauseating self-evidence, it doesn’t seem particularly useful to anyone except Khloe – and, I suppose, Kris Jenner, the most ‘extra’ stage mother since Rose Hovick. Furthermore, this (can I really call it) information is taking up room in my brain that could house something more important, an example of which I cannot cite, probably because I know the names of at least three Kardashian babies. And I do not even LIKE these people or watch their frickin’ show.
What sort of growth do I find in knowing the particulars of the latest Online Outrage War? Which feeds my soul more: letting my inner gestalt consist of the changing-by-the-microsecond Tilt-A-Whirl thoughts and obsessions of others as I swipe through my Twitter feed, or sitting with my own brain and choosing, very precisely, with care and consideration and intent, what material goes into it?
Whether it’s a dopamine fast, the path to stillness via Ryan’s book, or the wisdom of Aurelius and other Stoic philosophers, putting the brakes on overstimulation seems like a pretty good idea to me. At best, you may find some peace and some clarity. At worst, you may learn a few tips for life that you would not have otherwise, AND you will probably get higher than giraffe genitalia once your dopamine fasting is through, because tolerance is a thing (and the struggle is real).
I am so anxious.
The ankle has been swollen now for, I think, 3 weeks? And it’s been at least 2 weeks since I saw the Nurse Practitioner about it, and she deemed it “cellulitis”, which I am gonna look up now because I really have no idea what the hell that is.
So it’s a skin infection that enters via a cut or crack. Can be caused also by scratching itches. I do not have a cut or crack and have not at all in that area in the past more than 1 month. I have not been scratching my ankle. So, here are the other things it could be:
But feet and ankles that stay swollen or are accompanied by other symptoms could signal a serious health problem, including:
- Pregnancy complications
- Foot or ankle injury
- Venous insufficiency
- Blood clots
- Heart, liver, or kidney disease
- Medication side effects
So, yeah. That looks scary AF, doesn’t it? And yet, no one seems to think it’s a big deal. And no one actually believes that I have any kind of concerning issue – except for the NP at Urgent Care, who said, my unexplained body aches and feverish feeling could be indicative of problems with my heart, and that he tended to believe people who insist that it is not a panic attack, that they know what that feels like and this ain’t it.
Given the symptoms – and in addition the troponin test being seriously flawed/giving false negatives due to Biotin intake – if I were a doctor, I would be concerned. My therapist is concerned. She is well versed in anxiety, and, again, this ain’t it.
Also, I got the flu, unrelated to the weird feverish feeling, which was not accompanied by any flu symptoms. And the flu kicked my ass for nearly 3 weeks, as well.
So okay. Did I mention I am so anxious?
I am so anxious.
I have an appointment tomorrow with the GP, who brilliantly, as I watched him write the Rx for my nuclear stress test, apparently called me “Edith Santos”. And checked the right ankle instead of right knee to be x-rayed, right after he’d told the nurse, no, not the ankle – she needs the knee x-rayed. Does this make me trust in his diagnosis? Not particularly. Then there is the hospital’s lab woman who said, of the FDA report, “Well, I am SO GLAD you have that information” sarcastically, after telling someone else that “SOMEONE told her” – meaning me, I am the “her” in that phrase – about the flaw in the troponin test, and I corrected her and said, hey, it’s not SOMEONE, it’s the FDA. A governmental agency. (Has she even fucking heard of it?) You’d think, even if they did not tell me what test was done on ME, which I have a right to know, I believe, they would have at least a LITTLE concern about the fact that these tests are invalid. That they would want to investigate that further. But, no.
Nevermind that my blood pressure has been normal my entire life and now I have not Stage One but Stage TWO high blood pressure. And high cholesterol. And weigh too much. And have had three cardiac events preceded by intense jaw pain (which hey, that happens to be a heart attack symptom, how ’bout dat?). And now the ankle. But yeah, I am sure a swollen left ankle is indicative of PANIC DISORDER, which is what they all say – the hospital, the Primary Care Provider, the shrink, for fuck’s sake.
I have an appointment with the shrink tomorrow. I look forward to showing him my ankle and saying, hey, check out the panic disorder in my ankle!
Because panic disorder is so totally listed in that list above. See it? Oh, wait, IT’S NOT THERE.
It is easy to believe that I am not being listened to.
Further evidence of this: my floors are caving in. The floor under the fridge POPS intermittently. That is not a good sign. I read an article about a family whose floors completely gave way, and that was preceded by much popping. The floor in the kitchen has a dividing line between the floor that is slanted downward – which would be the floor under the cabinets, sink, stove, and fridge – and the non-slanted floor. It creaks when you walk on it. It doesn’t not feel stable. The bathroom floor has indentations in several areas I can feel with my bare feet and it is not particularly stable – of course I received a work order about the bathroom floor when I reported it marked ‘complete’ when they didn’t even LOOK at that floor. Not to mention that the living room floors are also caving in – bended and warped and they do not at all feel stable and one of my dressers tilts forward and cannot be put against the wall, because why? The floor is warped, unstable, and in the process of leaving this Earth.
They have known about everything except the bathroom floor since this summer. The maintenance guy said contractors would be out to appraise the situation. But. Has anyone ever come out? Nope. And that completed work order? Said “floor is contractors”. Okay, does that mean that I am supposed to hire a contractor? Because it sure sounds like they are doing nothing about this. To wit: They have been putting lease renewal notices on my door, and they raise the rent each year. It seems to me that they have been in breach of this lease for half a year, because I did not sign a lease that said I agree to rent with unstable flooring. So, they are going to raise the rent, but not fix the floors. They are ignoring the floors. In fact, they have ignored my last THREE emails to them.
And let’s not even speak of the Black Mold that they have attempted to minimize by referring to it as “mildew”. Is mildew black and does it creep through surfaces into other surfaces? Like the picture of my deceased parents which I gave them for a milestone anniversary while they were still alive which they were thrilled by and which was very sentimental to me, and now covered with black mold that traveled through the back of the frame from the wall and further until it is now covering and ruining this picture?
Hi, I’m looking for Horton because I am a dust speck and apparently that elephant will be the only one that can hear me.
By the way – mortality rate on right-sided heart failure, the first thing mentioned on Google regarding a swollen left ankle? Less than a year to five years at best.
For over a month I have been able to count every single one of my heart beats without taking my pulse, because my body throbs in time with them, as if I have just finished an intense workout.
I went yesterday for a nuclear stress test, and after over an hour total, waiting for my doctor to fax an Rx with my actual name on it, I was informed that the insurance company refuses to authorize the test.
At least I got the knee x-rayed on my deformed, turned-the-wrong-way leg from the treatment I received for a broken ankle four years ago.
Also. I have lost five cats this year. Five. Most recently, the love of my life, Milhouse, my smart (though they are all/were smart) extra special guy. Before that, in September, Momo, who I thought would be the last one standing, my also quite special guy. And my heart is broken. I have a mausoleum on my bookshelves of kitty urns, footprints, and the ashes of my parents, representing a huge chunk of my loved ones.
And now I am concerned about Bear. He is not acting right. He is not eating much at all, is suddenly lethargic, seems depressed and not like himself. He needs to go to the vet. So does Tiny – she is a week away from being out of thyroid meds, putting her again at risk for a heart attack due to her sped-up, hyperthyroid-ed out metabolism. And I am a broke bitch. How do I do this?
And all this stress is so good for the heart. Oh, wait…
This is all some fucked-up bullshit, to use a technical term. And I really do not know how much more I can take, frankly.
I have no family to help advocate my cause(s). I am my only advocate. And unfortunately, the fact that my advocate has several psychiatric diagnoses sort of ruins my advocate’s credibility with these people. They just assume that I’m being histrionic, I guess. That is certainly what it seems like.
And. I have not been able to do my work for a month and a half now, because of these health problems and grief issues. So money issues. And big vet bills have been the norm for months now, with most of my kitties dying on me at once.
And ooh, I just noticed that to the right of this rant, there is an article from Science Daily, and the headline reads, “Chronic Adversity Can Dampen Dopamine Production.” Wonderful.
Fuck me running.
I am so anxious.
I have been sick in one form or another this entire month. I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve been to the ER. I will likely be going to Urgent Care today. This is pretty much the first time in a while that I have been able to sit up for longer than a few minutes without just keeling over. There has been a cardiac issue, phlebitis from an improperly inserted IV (confidential to “Mean Eric” from the ER: it’s a vein, not a fucking balloon animal), a bad reaction to a flu shot, a now-you-feel-it now-you-don’t oh-wait-bitch-now-you-do-again UTI, what I’m guessing is an actual flu-shot-tempered-flu – but hey, I have no idea, because I could have become physically dependent on a shrink-prescribed-for-anxiety benzo and the withdrawal syndrome includes flu-like symptoms (if the grand mals don’t get you first) – severe pelvic pain, and headaches so intensely painful, when I try to think of a way to describe them, I just see Glenn with that popped-out eyeball, rasping, “Maggie, I’ll find you”, before Negan brings Lucille down for the final, fatal blow.
Welcome to Wheel of Symptoms, the game show with no consolation prize.
Having been unable to do anything income-generating for the entire month of October, my finances are completed fucked. I have to break in here and laugh bitterly at the use of the word ‘finances’, as that word sounds so high-rollin’. ‘Finances’ seems like a word you use when you can afford things like regular haircuts and transportation. Nonetheless, ‘finances’ it is, because ‘schmoney’ doesn’t really convey the gravity of my dilemma.
Meanwhile, it appears that I may be truly and sincerely fucked.
You see, on top of all this “supine on the broken futon of ill health” fun, I have seriously failing dental work, thanks to the growth of something called a “bony tumor”. This will require surgery to remove as it is unseating my dental situation and eating has become extremely painful. Fixing this is going to cost around $5K. I don’t think I have ever even SEEN $5K. I have heard that this number exists, but it sounds kinda suspect.
If I don’t get this dental situation fixed, I can not only kiss eating goodbye, but say adios to the structure of my face as well. Which is going to lead to wonderful treatment by others, I’m sure, because you know how awesome our society is to unattractive people. If you don’t, allow me – with my lifetime of experience in that department – to clue you in. They are not. If you don’t meet a particular standard of appearance – which does indeed include possessing teeth – it’s a fast track to a Freaky Friday-type situation with Gregor from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which is to say you have the lovability factor of a fucking cockroach, and about as much chance of not being squished in disgust.
Three cats need blood tests. One cat needs his bottle of insulin. I sure as fuck could use a medical marijuana card to deal with my PTSD and all of this stress (this last thing, though, is a luxury, something to ease my ailing mental state. Currently, I’m sober as a… um… well, we can’t really complete that sentence with ‘judge’ anymore, can we? My point is, though, I’m not blowing my meager funds on The Pusher Man. Slumlords always get the first entry on the dance card. This is an important rule to follow, as homelessness makes it a bit more difficult to complain about your miserable life on the internet).
I’ve been up since 3 a.m. talking myself down from the ledge. It is now 7:12 a.m. I’m too drained, my brain is too scrambled, and my throat is too sore to tell if this has actually worked. There is a handsome cat who has insisted on holding my hand under his paw as I sleep for weeks now, because we are telepathic together and he knows I’m going through it (he is the one who needs the insulin – why the fuck is insulin over $300? If I were Carrie White, man… the Dangerous Mind Power Carnage would be a sight to see around Lantus Town, trust).
So okay. Time to sleep, until another “you have to pee” nightmare wakes me up, an hour from now. The last one featured Susan Sarandon performing solo sex acts in a Walmart in a manner so horrific that it actually did not even get close to qualifying as a Sex Dream but instead sped like a bat out of hell right to Bad Dream classification. I don’t remember what department she was in. I’ll guess Ladieswear? Whatever. She’s on the Dream Grudge list and I’m never looking at her the same way again.
FILLER WATCH: The latest to succumb to the Juvederm/Restylane/Filler-Of-The-Month succubi are Maggie Haberman and, surprisingly, Asha Rangappa. Yes, they look good. Damned. Good. Yes, I covet their damned injectable hyaluronic acid. But alas (and alack), injectables are like the new Logan’s Run with class separation thrown in for (debatably) good measure.
EVIL CLOWN WATCH: Hailing from – where else? – Florida, WRINKLES THE CLOWN is an eponymous documentary about its subject, a creepy AF clown that unfit parents hire to terrorize their children. It’s also a look in general at the place clowns have taken in pop culture and in folklore, the desire that some other kids with actual decent upbringings have to scare the hell out of themselves, and a look into the mindset and mission statement of the anonymous-for-his-own-safety entity underneath the eyeless Michael Myers-esque clown mask and blousy polka-dotted onesie. If you can get through the completely horrific wails of the terrified children in the background of Wrinkles’ voicemails from parents using him as a punitive device in place of genuine parenting, it’s a pretty fascinating – and creepy – documentary.
“YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART” WATCH: Currently available via HBO, you can catch Gary Gulman’s The Great Depresh – which is the best comedic special about mental illness I’ve seen since Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide (also available on HBO). Gary is an amazing guy as well as a spot-on comedian. Every day, he tweets out tips for hopeful new comics to encourage them to WRITE. And they are some damn fine tips (for example, he urges them to read “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the finest essays going on how to be unapologetically yourself, and conform to no other standards than your own – which is so important to comedians, especially in the face of attempted censorship).
GALAXY MIND WATCH: Feeling a little woo-woo? Want some words every day that you can project your own stuff onto that ISN’T a horoscope? Want to be occasionally freaked out by how uncannily accurate something randomly is? Sign up for Notes From The Universe. It’s been the first email I read every weekday morning – even when I’m too damn insane to read anything else – for several years now. I’ve gotten a lot out of it. You might, too. What the hell, it’s free, why not?