Fight Despair Together

World’s “Freest” Economy Squeezes Citizens Into Boxes

What do words like ‘freedom’ and ‘liberal’ actually mean?

Hong Kong has been in the news for a while now. Many of us will have at least a passing familiarity with the fact that the Chinese government is experimenting with various methods of running them into the ground.

But a more long-standing problem – in the country deemed 2020’s Freest Economy by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal – is the spiraling price of real estate.

Vox recently published a video addressing the issue. Land scarcity, the obvious suspect in an island nation of millions, is not the problem. Only about 3% of Hong Kong is zoned for urban housing.

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Something Positive: The Great Green Wall of Africa

It’s been a very long year so far. Between disease, financial crunch and political upheaval, it seems like the world is just plain confusing, if not actively out to get us.

In times like these, it’s important to occasionally take time out for something majorly positive.

Today’s installment of Something Positive features climate change. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me.

Women in underdeveloped countries often suffer the most from the personal and economic effects of climate change. So it was with no small relish that I learned how successful (and cheap!) the Great Green Wall of Africa has been so far.

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Elder Millennials: Watching the World End, Over and Over

“A civilized divorce is a contradiction in terms.”  So says Danny DeVito’s lawyer character, narrating the 1989 film The War of the Roses. This dark comedy was released the same year my parents divorced. Mom has told me she can’t watch it, “It hits too close to home.” Such drama, Mom.

Personally, I think it’s hilarious. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner chew the scenery and DeVito twists the Greek Chorus he loves so much. A farcical gem and definitely one of the best comedies of the era.

The divorce rate peaked in 1981 and has been slowly declining since, for everyone except Boomers. So I venture to say that my experience is a pretty common one. I can think of two friends my age whose parents were still together by the time they turned 20. A couple had parents divorce in high school. Contrary to common wisdom, this seemed to hit hardest.

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Father’s Day Madness: Guns, Guns Everywhere

Just popping in to bring attention to something I noticed in the news this morning.

This weekend was Father's Day in the United States. Usually, this holiday passes with little more fanfare than some cards at the drugstore and persistent Home Depot commercials.

This year, as we will all have noticed by now, is unique. This year, Father's Day was marked by random outbursts of violence across the country.

I'm not even talking about the protests. Or the riots. Or the looting. Or the brutal acts of political pageantry.

Chicago had it worst, with 60 people shot across the city. Nine of them have died, in unrelated situations where someone decided to start pulling a trigger. New York City has seen 18 shootings this weekend.

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Class War! America’s False Choice

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has done us the service this week of openly arguing that their bottom line is more important than our lives.

It’s behind a paywall, but Fox Business was kind enough to provide a free version for our perusal. The headline, ‘Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown‘ vaguely presages its thesis subheading: “No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.“

Yes, yes they can. Many countries around the world are running a skeleton crew of essential services to stave off, ya know, a pandemic.

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Coronavirus Exposes Personal Weakness, Too

 

Around the world, the spread of the pandemic has illustrated the existing social patterns in real time. Here in Tennessee, we are some of the last to see people getting sick. West Virginia was recently declared the 50th state to see an official case of coronavirus.

Watching it take over the conversation on Reddit, Twitter, and finally YouTube, was like watching a bowling ball from the perspective of a pin. I got to learn which of my friends pay attention to the outside world. Which of my friends, whether on purpose or not, had been absorbing right-wing talking points.

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OK, Boomer: Daddy Was A Gerrymandering Villain

….OK, Boomer.

Two words have crystalized our generational friction as we slip into the second decade of the 21st century. The “entitled” Millennials and our

Zoomer cousins are beginning to see we are in for a struggle to inherit the world.

Stephanie Hofeller has it worse than most. Her Dad, Thomas Hofeller, was the architect of today’s political landscape. Called “The master of the modern gerrymander” by The New Yorker, Tom died in 2018 and left a lot of interesting things behind.

Stephanie has been using her father’s files to chip away at his work. She was instrumental in the Supreme Court ruling against including a citizenship question in the 2020 census, after Tom’s cache revealed a study showing the question to be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” Which, obviously, is a faux pas.

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Social Justice as Abuse

The phrase ‘social justice’ is often invoked to describe lofty principles individuals and institutions are expected to follow. But what happens when people misuse the power of these ideas?

This fascinating article details seven ways social justice language can become abusive in intimate relationships:

It kind of feels like this author was stretching for length, but they do present an interesting angle.

We all know people are amazing at rationalizing our actions. Those who are most passionate about social justice causes are often those with their own trauma. It makes sense that sensitive souls might use their interpersonal defenses to shield themselves in a weak moment.

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You’re A Man, Honey, and That’s Okay

Male Violence is The Enemy

Hey, guys, I get it. As much as any lady can, I sympathize. Being A Man is a big freaking deal. Men are kinda nuts.

Forced Into the Butch Box

If you are just not much of a hard ass, if you find yourself drawn to the lighter side of life, you may also find yourself targeted by the Man Police. They are regular guys, your friends, your boss, your teacher. Your Dad. Any or all of them may take it upon themselves to kick your ass if you step out of line.

I’m not going to dig into why that happens. It’s pretty foreign to me, and I truly don’t mean to patronize you.

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Fight Despair Together: What Does Life on Your Terms Look Like?

You see the well-trodden paths in your life. You learn ways to stop getting stuck there. You go, killer! The next question is, “Where do we go from here?”

We have to forge new paths, create new ways of relating to people around us. If we are doing our inner work well, this should be obvious to us. We recognize familiar situations and remember how we would have reacted in the past.

Take Responsibility for Your Reactions

Personal example, a weird thing I have is I hate waking up alone. Like, if I went to bed alone, okay. But in that half-awake haze of the Night Owl at 8am, I seek out the comfort of my beloved.

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Fight Despair Together: How Do I Know It’s Working?

When we are going inward and doing personal work, the most important thing is to stay on-task.

How Do I Choose Which Path to Take?

Stay focused on a simple goal, don’t be distracted by side paths that may pop up. If you are working on expressing yourself more clearly and you realize that you are experiencing social anxiety, it’s tempting to run off and treat the anxiety.

But why? Who’s to say the communication issue didn’t cause the anxiety? Or they could both have origins in a single, forgotten event from childhood.

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Is Fear of Abandonment the Root of Narcissism?

The similarity is unmistakable – Narcissistic people, who appear grandiose but are actually cripplingly insecure, tend to follow a cycle in relationships.

While reading about the Fear of Abandonment I was struck by how they are essentially the same reaction. The main difference is that the Narcissistic Cycle dominates a person’s relationships.

Idealize – The beginning is beautiful, often called ‘Love-Bombing.’ Their partner is the most perfect person to ever live.

This is a hard one because it mimics normal infatuation. In the early stages of romantic love, people are notoriously rose-colored in their estimation of their crush. Much ink has been spilled, thousands of songs written and enough films for a weeklong festival. It’s cruel because this phase can actually be terrifying for people who have been involved with emotional vampires before.

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Fight Despair Together: Healing Through Self-Compassion

What is stopping you from working through your problems and becoming who you want to be?

Depression and anxiety are both subsumed anger over how we have been treated. 

Over and over, researchers have shown that those who suffer from such things are overwhelmingly victims of abuse as children. 

Of course you would be angry if those who were supposed to care for you instead treated you like crap. Or otherwise made you feel lesser. And there’s a good chance you don’t even realize it. Or the depths to which it shapes your experiences to this day.

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Summer Series: Fight Despair Together

Summer Series 2019 is all about finally moving forward.

Last year I did my Tripping the Fright Craptastic series, where I told you all about my struggle dealing with my parents. I was attempting to show some of the crap that comes with being in the middle of life while supporting either end.

This year’s Summer Series is about all of us.

Reality is sinking in for the 90s kids. The reality that we may never own a house. That the endless ascension toward a blissful, shining future full of robots is not going according to plan.

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The Nothing is Spreading: Millennials’ Company in Misery

 

By now, everyone has heard about the depressed blue-collar White Guy. His jobs have dried up, the mainstream is leaving him behind, and he’s paranoid about signs he’s becoming a minority.

People have blamed this demographic for the Alt-Right, electing Trump, and for generally being a cesspool of simmering privilege. The consensus seems to be they are upset because they are entitled. The world doesn’t revolve around old white men anymore, and they need to adjust.

New data challenges this stereotype. The American Journal of Public Health released analysis of a longitudinal study they started in 1995. Visiting with the participants five times over 20 years, they interviewed them about things like drinking and drug use.

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Shaken, But Not Stirred

WARNING: Rant ahead!

I’m so frustrated lately with my job search! I keep applying for writing gigs, but I only apply to things that really seem like a good fit. And running into the same old problem of not really fitting in anywhere.

This last one was a blog ghostwriting service. They literally wanted me to do what I do here, for money. On whatever topic was provided. I let myself get excited when they responded positively because it seemed like a natural step.

So today when I read they were “going another direction” (I’ll go whatever direction you want, that’s the whole idea!) I was unprepared. And embarrassed at being so upset.

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Thanksgiving in Hot Water

Today our water heater died.

The day before Thanksgiving. The day before you’re supposed to scrub up and cook. Wash potatoes for mashing and celery for stuffing.

The day family you haven’t seen in a year comes to visit, and maybe you want a shower first.

Today was an excellent example of why, sometimes, I don’t get anything done.

This house has many issues, most of which don’t impede the average day’s living. Old linoleum is still good for walking on. The broken lid of the washing machine still latches. The toilet only leaks sometimes. But lacking hot water crosses into the realm of real poverty.

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Trump is Baby Boom’s Death Rattle

Tonight I attended the monthly meeting of my local Democrat Executive Committee. I represent my ward with my male counterpart Dave.

We didn’t do very well in this recent election. There was disappointment but still a light mood in the room. Until 2016, the Democrats had no organization in East Tennessee at all.

Two of the women there had worked the polls. “Up came this lady, had to be 80, with a walker!”

“‘What brings you out today?’ And she said, ‘The President called me personally.'”

There were a couple groans.

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This Could Be Your Lucky Day in Hell

“You can’t miss another day, okay sweetie? You only have four hours left.”

The sweet Southern lilt came from my case manager at the temp agency. I missed part or all of 3 out of 5 days last week, and I expected her to be annoyed. Instead she was sympathetic, telling me how her family had been sick over the weekend and that she wanted to check my time with me.

It’s nice to have a boss who doesn’t treat me like I’m trying to get away with something.

Because I really was up at 4am leaned over the toilet bowl. No alcohol was involved. My period hit me like a train and I just really feel awful.

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They Said I Could Be Anything, So I Became A Robot

This is just your faithful narrator checking in. It’s been a while since I’ve published anything and I’m frustrated because it’s not that I haven’t written anything or have run out of ideas. Far from it.

But I recently started a job that has me standing in an industrial environment all day. The stories I shared this Summer about my parents are both still ongoing. We have been struggling financially at home and I feel like I have been living in a pressure cooker for six months.

It makes me sad because, back in June, I hit a stride and the world seemed to burst with inspiration. Thoughts came together naturally. Writing was fun and I put a little money into promotion. I got over 550 hits that month. I made connections with some great people. I could see it growing, envision myself getting somewhere with this.

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Art Vs. Economics: Who Am I?

Watching films about great writers and artists always inspires me. Tonight’s offering was Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Available on Netflix, this documentary of the famous writer’s life is full of interesting details but dances quickly from one situation to the next without giving a lot of depth.

Joan Didion is someone I’m embarrassed to admit I was not more familiar with before now. She bore witness to some of the most interesting events of recent history. In the film she is a wizened crone reflecting on a full life.

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Feminism In Action: How to Spot A Bad Boyfriend

[I’m writing from a straight lady’s perspective, but most of the things that make a relationship suck can come from men or women.]

Hubby and I had a little rough patch recently. We’re both stressed and tired and started nipping at each other. But we never stopped talking, and we managed to tough it out. After about a week we found our way back to baseline, a little stronger for the struggle.

This is still a new experience for me. At the beginning of our relationship, I had to fight back terror that every little imperfection was the beginning of the end! It’s funny how moving on makes you think back on things, and I got to comparing what works with this relationship that didn’t in past ones.

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