Category Archives: existential matters

BooHooWho

This is the only place where I feel the power of having a voice. The blank page listens to me. It gives me its full attention. I feel heard.

It would be unfair of me – as well as a cognitive distortion  – to say “no one ever listens to me”. But I’m going to be upfront: this is the first thing that pops into my head when someone I want to hear me, doesn’t. My immediate emotional reaction to a present instance of not being heard, that frustration – and on a much deeper level, hurt, because not being listened to is being rejected – colors my perception of the event, and it is added to a long narrative of other such events which resemble it in any way, no matter how small. The only thing needed to set off the telling of this particular Tale of Injustice Against Me is a little tap on that button there, which got hit when this not-getting-listened-to business bounced in unexpectedly.

So there in my brain is this entire unfolded saga and every stab of the knife of the central emotions is happening at once, it’s on however many flickering movie screens in that space in my consciousness that’s so close to the world it almost feels outside of me, each screen supercharged with fermented, risen-from-the-dead painful emotion. And all those rotting zombie emotions get together and form a groaning horde, focused on only one end: To eat my brain.

Because now everything I see is colored by this fucked-up perception, so I am not seeing clearly, and if I’m not seeing clearly, I’m not thinking clearly. Not only has the current event been distorted, it’s been tossed into a pit with however many other events where it will endlessly reanimate when new, fresh meat is thrown onto the pile. And rest assured, it will be – because the bigger the pile, the more I’m going to see this negative theme in every interaction. I’ll actually ignore the good things to look for it.

That is, unless I can recognize that this happens. Recognize the distortion, the generalizations of “never”, of “always”… These words are usually good indicators that maybe I need to take a look at the evidence. And if I look at what is real, and not just what I perceive in my moment of pique, I find that actually, quite a few people have listened to me. There have been many people who have, in fact, heard me. So while the zombie horde of emotional baggage wants to pull me into the Victim Dimension, I know that I do not belong there.

And because I can free myself from this vortex of the Woe Is Me Narrative my brain is for all its might attempting to suck me into, I am able to figure out that actually, in this particular instance, it’s just that the people I want to hear me, aren’t. There could be any number of reasons for that. Some of those reasons may have nothing at all to do with me. And just because they don’t hear me now, doesn’t mean they never will. This may be a situation that can be remedied. It may even be an opportunity to learn something – if only how not to get triggered when Life hits one of your sore spots.

Of course, this is all well and good when you’re able to think things through. That doesn’t always happen though, does it?

Coming soon: The Trigger Plan…

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Air and Light and Time and Space

“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.

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Hedy Lamarr, The Mortal Body, & The Art of Being Spaced-Out

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.

 

 

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