when the status quo frustrates.

Post From Flesh-World

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I have not been posting often because the flesh-world is getting in the way. I’ve been promoted at the Census, which means way more work for me. So if I haven’t responded to a comment, it’s not that I’m ignoring you or don’t want to address your post, it’s that in-depth responses are on hold.

I do want to make a quick mention that I’m getting really sick of people just rolling their eyes and saying “That’s government for you” when we have to fill out tons of paperwork, or the people who we’re enumerating saying that this is really inefficient for us to go door-to-door (then you should have turned in your Census form the first time around). The more and more that I see of this operation, the more I’m amazed it can get off the ground in the first place. It really is operating like a well-running machine. Of course, a well-running machine is the epitome of organized chaos- the fuel is squeezed together, explodes in a mostly directed area but out into all directions, and for the most part there is no errors in the running. The same is true of the Census- we’re trained, we’re directed where to go but we’re all going in slightly different directions.

We’re counting over 300,000 million people who don’t all want to stay in one place. The fact that we get it done in a very brief amount of time is pretty amazing in my mind.

Why Am I Not Supposed to be Offended Again?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I have, in the intern, been working for the U.S. Census. It’s fairly routine work- lots of paperwork, lots of calling people, but hey, I need money to pay the bills.*

Today we had an exterminator come to our house to take care of our ant problem. He noticed my Census badge, and started asking questions about why we need the census in the first place (because it’s in the constitution) and telling me that he only put the number of people in his household (then you’re going to get someone to come to the door). It was becoming increasingly obvious that this gentleman was a fan of Michele Bachmann so I talked about what the information was used for and why it was important. I explained to him that the information was used for a lot of really important things- districting of the state and federal governments, genealogical information, sociological information, and information for lawsuits and making sure the Voting Act is not being violated**. Finally, I reassured him the information is confidential.

We went on to talking, and he said that he had the solution for “fixing the deficit”. I said “What, taxing people more?” while my husband said “Cut Senator paychecks?”. He said “No- tax government jobs five percent more. If you work a lazy make-work job fixing up parks for 20,000/ year, you should only make 19,000″.

WTF? I just got done saying I worked for the federal government. Not two seconds ago in fact. We had a brief discussion of the amount of work it entailed, including him expressing concern that I was not allowed to carry any form of weapon on my person. And, without even knowing how much I made, he determined that it was 5 percent too much.

I said “I don’t know, I think we could probably fix the deficit if we went back to the tax rate under the Reagan administration. You know, 50% at the upper end.”

He responded he didn’t like the idea of half his paycheck going away.

I said that the 50% was only income over 200,000 dollars (wrongly, it was actually 175,000). He laughed and said that’s twice as much as what he made. I then changed the subject to talk about my kitty which he was petting.

After he left, I got even more upset at this guy. Not only was he saying that government workers were overpaid (they aren’t) and that someone who’s not making a subsistence wage needs to make even less (20,000 is only 50% over the poverty line for one person, not accounting for relative poverty) but he has the audacity to say this while making 100,000 dollars a year. I’m sure being an exterminator is a hard job, and for all I know, he does his job very well (I’ll tell you if I see the ants disappear). But, all I saw him do is take 5 minutes to spray a can and then spend 15 minutes talking. I know for a fact that maintaining a park takes more effort than that- spraying insecticide is only one of there tons of jobs to do. And him going, to my face, that my labor is not as valuable as the unsteady pittance I made is quite frankly one of the rudest things I think he could say to me.

You know, some day the odds are that I will live in an actual house and make enough money that I will actually have to fill out the the long tax form. And I hope when I get to that age and that level of security, I will remember what it feels like to live in a shitty basement apartment, worrying about when the next paycheck is coming in (and how much it’ll cover) and if going out to see a 10 dollar play is a justifiable expense. I want to remember the burning embarrassment when I tell the local community choir that I don’t have 50 dollars on hand to pay for the dues (and have them pull me aside to say that there are hardship scholarships available for me***). Because that’s the only thing I can think of when people tell me that I make too much money while they’re making way more than me- they don’t remember, or they never were, in my situation.

*Everyone, send in your Census form.
**Seriously, send in your Census form. It’s really, really important that you send in your Census form.
*** It seems like a sick irony that when I have all the time to do the community building stuff, I don’t have the money, and when I can eek out the money, I don’t have the time.


Sunday, April 4th, 2010

When I was growing up, Easter was a Big Deal in our family. We all got Easter outfits* and took lovely photos. We then sat through a lecture at church that was a rehash of the lecture last year, about Christ is risen, savior, yadda yadda yadda.

But then, we got home, tore off our uncomfortable clothing, and the real Easter began: the Easter Egg Hunt. Oh, it was glorious. My mom really knew how to hide eggs. It didn’t matter how many eggs you found, or didn’t find- we all got an equitable split in our eggs. Eggs, chocolate bunnies, little toys- the day was so much fun. But the big one was we each got our own Easter “Egg”. This was the one in our color, and in it it held a special gift just for one of us individually. We couldn’t tell the other if we found it- they had to find it on their own. This was like Christmas, but better because we actually were encouraged to find it. Inside it was never the most expensive thing in the world- a t-shirt, a cd, one year I got a hat, but it was picked out with our tastes in mind, and it was just something new to look forward too.

We also had confetti eggs, which were blown out eggs with confetti stuffed in them with the hole covered with tissue paper. The point of these eggs was to run around smashing them on people’s heads.

We did the Easter Egg hunt every year until I left for college. From that point on, I was on my own, so no Easter Egg hunts any more. I was happy to ditch the church, but I am quite sad to ditch the other rituals.

What about you, Punkass Community? What Easter/ Belatane/ Spring/ Et cetera events do you remember?

*Dresses, unfortunately- my sisters and I all went through a “We hate dresses” stage which led to much consternation.

Let’s Talk About Something Less Controversial

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

This post comes with no great proclamations, no sweeping statements that I feel the need to defend to the death. It just comes with an idea, one that I’m fairly sure everyone will hate, right or left.

In the United States, we have abysmal class mobility. The best way to figure out what class you’re going to be in is still to look at what class your parent is in. Those on the left say that this is because the “American Dream” is largely a myth, and there are systematic problems against poor people and people of color. The right say this is because people are lazy and lack personal responsibility. I’m going to go with the left on this one, just because I’ve seen study after study on how poverty basically cuts off your legs before you start the race for success. The solution to this tends to be from the left that we need to strengthen social safety nets to get people out of poverty. I agree, of course: there is a certain level of security that should be people’s by right.

But what about taking it from the top as well?

Right now, we have inheritance laws that give money, that someone did not work for, for whom the inheritor did nothing to earn, and allows him/her to coast through life as a lazy layabout. Why? The persons who actually earned the money are dead, so it’s not taking it from them. Let’s leave real property out of it and personal possessions- just finances and stocks. Why doesn’t all of that money get absorbed by the federal government (it says right on it that it is theirs anyway) and have the stocks reabsorbed by the company. Then we would have to worry less about lazy people getting a free ride.

This, of course, wouldn’t get rid of inequality at a basic level.* You would still have families that could afford better school materials, better tutors, and just have more hours to dedicate to their children. It also wouldn’t get rid of the system of nepotism and crony-ism that we swim in. But, it definitely would level the playing field just a little bit.


*Anything short of a communistic group houses where all children were required to live and get the exact same things wouldn’t relieve inequality, but even socialist me is not willing to go there because: 1) different people need different things 2) a family unit of some sort is required for healthy development 3) too many people have too many different ideas as the right way to raise children.

Conservatives are Evil

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Health care reform has passed the House yesterday (as everyone in the blogosphere is talking about). I feel a little bit out side of this discussion, to tell you the honest truth. This is, functionally, what the Republicans advocated for in 1994. If the Republicans have advocated for it any time in the last two decades I neither see it as a great liberal victory nor the end of America as conservative see it. This is a band-aid over a bullet wound. Blood’s still seeping out through the edges, and you’re still going to die of blood loss, but it’s better than a kick to the head.

But the thing I’ve learned after this whole mess is to firmly, and irrevocably decide that conservatives are evil. It pains me to say this, because that means my friends, family, and coworkers are evil. But, if the word has any meaning at all, “evil” is what they are.

It is evil to advocate for people to die because they can’t afford health care. It is evil to say that money is more important than anyone’s life. AND it’s evil to advocate for shooting someone because they disagree with you (even if you think they’re evil, too).

Conservatives have absolutely no qualms calling me evil. And most liberals go with the “They just have different values” views of conservatives, or, alternately, that they’re just ill-informed. Well, let’s take a look at those “different values”.

According to the work of Jon Haidt conservatives have three “values” that liberals just don’t seem to have: purity, respect for authority, and loyalty to the ingroup. “Purity” is a nonsense value at best- a human isn’t “pure” anything. “Purity” is a great quality for metals, for water, and for air- for humans it edges is into mental health territories of the “precious bodily fluid” type. Real life is messy, trying to make everyone “pure” cuts out life. “Respect for authority” is a fuzzier, nicer way to say “Respect for hierarchy”. They don’t respect scientists in their field (people who arguably earned their respectability), they don’t respect political leaders when they’re the wrong party, they don’t respect anyone in a position of power that the determine to be illegitimate (just ask women CEOs). They also mean “respect” as “obedience”. I wouldn’t consider it respect to blindly do what someone tells you to do- I would call that insulting. What they do enjoy is the kyriarchy- white rich men on top, everyone else filtering through the bottom. Again, this is evil. This is causing harm and hardship to people over completely useless markers or markers they can’t help. Finally, their last value is “loyalty to the in-group”. This “value” is something that is at its best morally neutral (preferring the company of your friends to say, co-workers), and its worst, the evils of jingoism, racism, and pep-rallies.

These “values” have little sub-”values” tailing off them. “Purity” ends up meaning “anything I find icky is wrong” so it becomes “racism” (different foods and music are gross) “sexism” (women’s sexuality is scary and icky so let’s make sure they can’t get contraception or abortion) “heterocenterism” (butt sex is teh icky). “Respect for authority”‘s little sub-value is “gleefully ignorant”. They never have to look up anything because, hey, the right authority figure said so, and doing so makes you disobedient. In-group loyalty is obvious for the sexism, racism, heterocenterism, and religious prejudices, but then it also leads to nice little paranoias from everyone from agnostics to zoologists.

How could desire to cut out life, being against equality, ignorance, and paranoia be “good”? How could wanting to harm others, provided you don’t get harmed or even benefit, but a “good”? These values are wrong, and people who ascribe to them are acting in an evil fashion. And maybe it’s time that people actually started getting called on that.

Yes, Virgil, Men and Women Can Be Friends

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Person of Honor at my wedding was my male friend, PE. PE in have been close friends for a long time now. At no point in our long friendship; a friendship that has included sleeping over at one another’s house, sharing hotel beds, walking around in the moonlight and getting really drunk, has there been anything that could be construed as sexual or romantic. Not a kiss, not a hug that wasn’t platonic, not a lingering look that has set either of our hearts beating. Yes, my friend PE is straight.*

So, when people write articles describing a gender-neutral housing policy for dorm rooms, all I can think is “about damn time”. I know it would have been easier for me to find a male roommate that I knew in college rather than a female one**, not to mention a lot easier for Hubby and I get to get an apartment together earlier. But, of course, an article like this has to bring out the people who apparently think the relationships I have with my male friends are fictitious, whom the only reason that a male and a female would room together would be because they wanted to have sex with each other.

Where does this belief come from, exactly? Nobody I know my age lacks for mix-gendered friends. Heck, as near as I can tell, even my parents and my in-laws have mixed-gendered friends. We are not leopards, whom only come in contact with each other for sex. We are social creatures that mingle all the time. If you don’t have that urge before you move in together, I’m telling you snoring, bad breath, bed-head and uncapped toothpaste tubes are not going to generate a deep and abiding lust.

Will some boyfriends/ girlfriends room together? Absolutely***. Will there be relationships where there is underlying sexual tension that will be released? Again, absolutely, but not near as much as the comments seem to think. The dire predictions of uncontrollable fucking, destroyed grades, et cetera are based in fairy tale land****. I also think that the number of romantic couples that will want to move into together are actually much smaller than people think. Most college students are not ready to live with their significant other, and the ones that are already do.

College students are adults. I realize that people seem to dispute this all the time, but they are. If they want to have a roommate who’s of the opposite gender- let them. In one’s life, we have to navigate all sorts of different relationships. Fear-mongering about how “men can’t help it” and “women are helpless” are wrong, stupid, and damaging cliches.

*I’ve also had former boyfriends whom I’m good friends with and our contact is now non-sexual. I have also had friends where there WAS sexual tension, and for a variety of reasons, we never acted on it and still stay good friends. I also have had friends where we do occasionally fuck on top of the things that make us friends. There are a wide variety of relationships that I have, and have had, that forcing me to room with females did not get rid of. Heck, one of the sexual tension ones was because my female roommate was straight and I really liked her body.
**Though playing roommate-roulette actually worked with me. I had studious, neat, and mostly gone female roommates.
*** And good for them. This would definitely cut-out all of the negotiation and scheduling with roommates that having sex on college takes right now.
****The same place where the ’50s was a golden era filled with upright, moral people.

My Twisted Place in the Kyriarchy

Friday, March 12th, 2010

The Kyriarchy, for those of you who don’t follow a lot of feminist/ progressive scholarship, is “a neologism coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination…Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.” What this means is that the various “isms” are intersected and overlapping and far more complicated than just a strict hierarchy.

Sometimes, I wonder about women who seem bound and determined to keep other women down. Or people in minority communities that want to deny rights to other minority groups. Or working class stiffs allying with big business when it seems like cutting yourself off at the knees. Heck, it always seemed to me to be the weirdest phenomenon in the world when feminists are against transgenders or homosexuals are against bisexuals. But, in some twisted way, maybe it does make sense, and that sense would be that if you are both oppressed and an oppressor, it is much easier to identify with the powerful than the powerless.

I’m female, I’m bisexual, I’m fat, and I’m crazy, I’m not-Christian and I’m definitely not rich. Those don’t exactly make me on top of the heap when it comes to rights in the United States. BUT, for all the things that I’m fighting against, I have plenty of privilege I’m coasting on. I’m white, a big one. I’m middle class, I’me educated, I’m mostly healthy, I have no visible health problems, and I’ve got pretty good health insurance. More than that, a lot of the things that count against me are not as visible as other things. If you look at me, with my wedding ring on my left finger, you’re not going to think “bisexual” which is pretty helpful on a day-to-day basis. I can pass as “straight”. No one after talking to me can go “oh, yep, she’s totally bonkers”. And, though in sheer dollar terms, lower class, I’m going to be pegged as middle class or higher by people I just talk to. My clothes are of that style, and my syntax is middle-to-upper class. So, depending on the situation, sometimes I’m going to be more oppressor than oppressed. Some times I’ll be more oppressed than oppressor.

I was thinking about this today when my racist friend* and I were talking about the African-American community. He, of course was hitting all the stock crap, (they are more violent than “normal” people, they’re out-breeding us, yada yada) and I was giving the pretty much stock answers (no they’re not, no they’re not, what in Christ are you smoking?) and I finally came with “Racist friend, seriously, how many black people do you actually KNOW? You live in the middle of freaking white-bred nowhere North Dakota.” His response, was “How many black people do YOU know, if you’re oh-so-progressive”. His retort, while completely dodging the issue, did give me pause. With the exception of a few people I worked with at the thrift store, I DON’T know anyone who’s black. I have more homosexual friends than black friends. Could you imagine being a black person and not having any white friends? It is a mark of great privilege that I don’t have to be exposed to a culture other than my own (though, I wish I could figure out what my culture WAS), and in the same token, it’s sad that we have such a segregated society that’s the case. I enjoy talking to my Somalia coworkers: they told me about things that I had only read about in books, and I did my best to try and explain fundamentalists Christians to them.

I wish the world was equitable so it would be like water. I don’t have to think about getting clean water- it comes out of the faucet. It took a lot of people to get it that way, and it takes a lot of people to maintain it, but for the most part it is just there. I want social justice to be as invisible as clean water- something that you’re grateful for if you stop and think about it, but you rarely do that.

*Hey, if they get to have “gay friends” and “black friends” I get a racist friend.

Presumptions of Fat

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I was talking with my friend Victory today online about various social things, and as is apparently legally required during interactions between females, the subject of exercising came up. Victory told me that she was going to go to the local Wellness Center, which she hates, because she’s getting “a little bit pudgy”.

My friend Victory is well within the normal social conventions of attractive- blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lovely symmetry and most importantly, skinny. I am more in-line with the social conventions for “ugly”. I dye my unruly mop of ash-blonde hair red, I have freckles (STILL) despite my best efforts of avoiding the sun like a vampire, and, most importantly, I am fat.* And when I hear my extremely skinny friends say she’s worried about getting fat (when the odds are that she could gorge like a glutton and still be as skinny as she is) it feels odd to be sure. It sounds like “I am terrified of becoming like you”.

I know, intellectually, that she’s not meaning it as a slur against me and my body. She doesn’t think of me as “fat” she thinks of me as “heavy-set”. When she thinks of the word “fat” she thinks: lazy, slovenly, stupid, slow, unattractive, unhealthy. The fact that “fat” does not in any way mean these things is not the point. She does not want the social pressure that goes along with being a persecuted group in society and she has an absolute right to be comfortable in her own body. I wish that her ability to be comfortable in her body came without the social pressures.

I’m picking on my friend Victory here because we had the conversation the most recent, but she isn’t by any stretch the only friend who says stuff like this. From my friend who works out because “It’s not fair for me to say “No fat chicks” if I’m not in top condition too”** to my other friend who used to be fat who is now skinny through a self-induced regiment that makes boot camp look like a day walk or my other friend who went and got a belly-band surgery. It is a weird cognitive dissonance for me- I know they think I’m either normal looking or downright attractive, but yet, one of my major physical features they find completely disgusting. Though rare in my social circle, when we have discussions of who is sexy in Hollywood, women who are much skinnier than I are castigated for being “sloppy” and “fat”.

Some days I wonder if I should bring it up, because discussions about one’s bodies are very personal. I meant what I said- people have a right to feel comfortable in their own skin and if that means that you absolutely cannot live with being a fat person to do what you can to get yourself down to whatever you possible can get yourself down to- either through learning to accept yourself or remake yourself*** But, I feel like all of this talk about how disgusting fat is kind of violates my right to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am not immune to culture- there are days that I absolutely hate what I look like and feel like I’m trapped in a tube of unbaked bread. But, I find when I haven’t been around a lot of visual media; days that I spend in-doors or out in the middle of nowhere with just books and radio and my husband for company, I find I actually enjoy my body quite a lot. It’s soft, it’s supple, it’s warm and perfect for snuggling. It’s sexy as hell with curves all over the place. It’s strong and it’s substantial. Some days I feel downright like a fertility goddess.****

Any other subject, I have no problem telling people off for. You think gay people are icky? That’s your problem, and something you should probably work on. You think rape jokes are funny? I have about 30 stock responses, all buzz-killing. You complain to me that women just don’t make sense, and why can’t they be more like you? I will not play the role of your token female- they make as much sense as a group as any other group of humans.

But I don’t know how to address discussions of fat that both go “You know, fat really isn’t that disgusting, and I wish you would quit acting like a major component of my body was something terrible (even though I know you’ve already done the requisite mental gymnastics to not include me in the group “fat”)” without also saying “You don’t have the right to feel towards your body however you want and do whatever you feel is necessary to be comfortable in your own skin”.

Final Note: I will delete any concern trolling that goes “But being fat is UNHEALTHY”. Bull-fucking-shit. You don’t like fat because of aesthetics, not because you give a shit if they’re healthy or not. You know what’s unhealthy? Not getting enough sleep. But, we still expect people to not get enough because of our work culture and no one wants to address that at all. But, enough makeup and you never notice the dark circles. If “health” was the issue at stake, me going “But my doctor says I’m perfectly healthy” would shut down any discussion of me needing to exercise or alter my diet. Others have already talked about this, I’ll leave it with them.

*My friends and family all hide that word in terms like “pudgy” “squishy” and “heavy-set” but I’m trying to de-stigmatize that word. “Fat” is a description, not an insult. The social norms say I’m not attractive. My social life says differently.
**Which is, I suppose, a baby step up from other acquaintances who look like slobs and still expect super models.
*** I’d go with the learning to accept yourself, though that’s harder. Remaking yourself hits a brick wall pretty quickly unless you have a LOT of time and money to burn.
****Minus the fertility. So, I guess “sex goddess”.

For Your Consideration (Another One)

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010


For Your Consideration

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Not dead, I promise.

Who Drives?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Over at Pandagon Amanda talks about some poor dear to whom “sexism” isn’t enough of an answer to the question “Why do men do most of the driving when there’s a man and a woman?”

This is one of those times were I really wish that I could say I buck the trend, but alas, I don’t. When it’s Hubby and Me, or PE and I, more than likely it’s the guy doing the driving.* The short answer to why this is so is “Because I hate to drive” where the guys I hang out with it enjoy it. But, that is really only one part of this onion of sexism.

Like a lot of girls, I was not terribly encouraged to take a lot of risks. In fact, I was downright DISCOURAGED from taking any sort of risks, and in the car it was no different. I can remember one time when my dad got a three-wheeler, I near immediately put the thing in the ditch, and didn’t have the upper body strength to pull it out again. I burned with embarrassment, not only at the idea of not being able to get it out, but for getting it stuck in the first place. My dad, trying to be sympathetic, said “That’s okay- that’s what men are for, to do the heavy lifting for sweet little girls”. I wasn’t allowed to drive the thing any more. The neighbor boy took that thing through 3 feet of mud, bent some of the frame, and was still allowed to drive it around.

When I went to get my driver’s license, I was told, again and again, about how dangerous driving was, and how expensive the car was, and how much the family relied upon it to keep working. I was NOT allowed to go cruising around for the fun of it (I had to have a specific place to go, and I had to come back immediately afterwards).
My dad, who I’ve seen pull J-turns with the best of them and thinks the speed limit is a suggestion, freaked out if I went more than five miles over the speed limit.** Driving, instead of representing freedom and the fun of the journey, represented chores and ferrying around little sister.

I also tend to get really worried while driving. A couple of early accidents (people hitting me, not the other way around) makes me incredibly paranoid about being on the road. The accidents were ruled to be “Mostly their fault” but I had something like 20% responsibility for one of them, so my parents screamed at me for the increase in insurance for about a week after it. I see all of the possible accidents on the road, and that tends to make my adrenaline gland go into overdrive.*** Compare that with when I’m riding, where I can tend to have a more zen-like attitude (if we crash, it’s not my fault).

It’s nothing against the guys who do the driving- PE thinks so highly of my driving skills that I’m one of 3 people allowed to drive his car, and when Hubby and I travel in really heavy traffic, we’ve learned to let me do it (I’m less likely to take asshole drivers personally). For the most part, the guys I drive with are perfectly aware that I can drive quite well. They are also perfectly aware that I hate it. There are, of course, some exceptions. FiL and my dad need to be the ones driving- it’s very control-freaky on their part. A few of my guy friends will “let” me drive, but then make fun of me for driving like a “granny”.****

And I think my experience (aside from the paranoia- that’s all me) is not unique. We teach guys to take charge, we teach girls to be more passive. I just wish there was more public transit so I wouldn’t have to drive at all.

*The exception to this was when I was the only car in a group of car-less friends and college. Oh, and Bear, but that’s because he’s a TERRIBLE driver. Like, frighteningly bad, I would walk 5 miles than have him give me a ride in winter terrible.
** I’m to this a terrible driver when my dad is in the car. Probably a mental block- or possibly the sound of him slamming the invisible brake.
*** Of course, the flip side of this is I’m a very aware and safe driver. I’m very good at picking out when someone’s going to move over in the lane without signaling or checking their blind spot. I start emergency braking before being consciously aware of the need to do so.
****Apparently, driving like a granny means: I don’t go through yellow lights if I have enough space to stop, I don’t do more than 5 over the speed limit, I let people onto the highway from the off-ramp, and give people plenty of space if I’m going through an intersection. Also, I don’t do J-turns, or power turning, or donuts on the icy roads (on purpose).

Depression and Weird Moments

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

A friend of mine, the other day, told me, “You know, except for a few weird moments, I’d never know you were depressed.”

Of course, those “weird moments” are probably the one in which they catch me looking longingly at the point of a knife or a phone call in the middle of the night where I sob out all of my existential angst.

But, if anything, that about sums up what depression is for everyone around me- a few weird moments. I still go out, I still go to work, I still smile and laugh and joke. When other people see me, I make sure that I do all of the hygiene that’s appropriate for a human being. I’m still logical (or as much as any one human being is). I still care about the world around me, even as it continues to baffle me. Depression doesn’t make you less intelligent. Or, for that matter, more intelligent. The “tortured genius” stereotype is wrong on so many levels.

I only have a mild case of depression. What this means is when I went to visit my shrinks, they didn’t put me under surveillance when I told them that I was suicidal. When I got frustrated with having to talk to them, it meant that I could say some pretty little lies about finding the value of living and I could stop seeing them without any trouble from the university* or the hospital.

But, what it means to me is inside my head I have a torture device. I have a brain that likes to say, on an endless loop, about how much better everyone would be if I were dead. It likes to say about how stupid I am, how arrogant I am, how cruel, ugly, clumsy, useless, talentless, and disgusting I am. And as evidence it brings up every memory for every embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me, from the tiny to the huge. Then it tells me I’m selfish and weak for wanting to die. This loop is powered by my energy and desire, so every time it goes around in my head, I have a little less of each to go about and do the day-to-day life.