Bathrooms and Abortions: Divided Left Leaves Progress in Danger

Not so long ago, there were no ladies’ rooms.

No powder rooms. No little girls rooms. No restrooms full of stalls, each with a little metal box on the wall. “Lack of access to toilets effectively tied women to their homes, putting them on a leash as long as their bladder capacity.”

Suitcases

Don’t worry, darling, I almost have all my supplies together!

This would not be a good system for me.

Museum of London describes the problem for us, “‘Respectable’ women couldn’t relieve themselves in alleys as men did, and the few toilets available in Victorian London were overwhelmingly built for men. Women who wished to travel into central London or even further for leisure and pleasure had to carefully plan where they could ‘stop off.'”

Time Magazine has a slightly different take on the idea, framing sex-specific facilities as simply customary, and definitely antiquated: “[Ladies’ rooms] were adopted to create this protected haven in this dangerous public realm.” We needed protection because, despite entering the workforce and propelling the Industrial Revolution, we were still seen as weak and stupid.

“Today,” Time continues, “even though society’s views on women have largely shifted, sex-segregated bathrooms remain the custom.”

Meghan Murphy and Twitter

Meghan Murphy is a Canadian Feminist writer. If you are reading this you have probably heard of her but maybe, like me, you don’t have time or energy to follow what most of the world is doing.

Right now, Meghan is suing Twitter.

That is a crazy thing for a writer to do! But Twitter banned her from the platform late last year, after suspending her several times, over “misgendering” a transwoman.

Thou Shalt Not

Look at this amazing picture! Censorship is bad!

A transwoman who has systematically bated and litigated 16 salons in Canada when employees refused to give him a Brazillian wax. Like, one salon? Okay. Three or four, even, maybe. But 16? I don’t believe that person is acting in good faith.

Anyway, Meghan referred to this person as “him” and Twitter lost their mind. She was permanently banned and she is suing them for loss of income. The main attraction, however, is the hypocrisy.

“Twitter grew to prominence by advertising itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party,”” explains the website dedicated to the lawsuit. “It repeatedly promised its users in its Terms of Service and elsewhere that it would not censor their speech.”

What’s the big deal?

Canadians recently acquired the right to self-declare their gender.

I mean, their sex.

Or, is it both? Are those words interchangeable, or what?

I seem to remember a long period when they were. ‘Gender’ was adopted as a polite substitute because no one liked saying the S-E-X word. Good thing we have come so far from those crazy Victorians, right?

But so, this means those who believe they are the opposite sex can legally become so, just by officially declaring it? And how does one go about declaring it?

What I could find was that Parliament added gender expression to its list of things it’s illegal to discriminate against people for. The provinces already have similar amendments on the books. It sounds logical and harmless but, in our quest to write away badness, we find ourselves lost in a Kafkaesque maze.

Keep Away Pinup

I don’t care how open-minded you are, some things are private!

“Non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression may very well be interpreted by the courts in the future to include the right to be identified by a person’s self identified pronoun,” The University of Toronto explains“The Ontario Human Rights Commission …. states that gender harrassment should include, “Refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun.””

That’s awfully wordy. Let’s try again. “In other words, pronoun misuse may become actionable, through Human Rights Tribunals and courts.”

The likely punishment? “Monetary damages, non-financial remedies and public interest remedies.”

The University’s Brenda Cossman lists these details to refute claims by a misogynist named Jordan Peterson that these laws will criminalize free speech. “Jail time is not one of them.”

That’s a relief!

Meghan, with her Masters degree in Women’s Studies, has been calling out this idea for years. “The idea that if you have a male body but feel you are female you have every right to women’s space was obviously going to have huge impact on women.”

“Laws were being passed and …. You just had to accept it or you were a right-wing bigot.”

What The Hell Pinup

What the hell is going on out there??

In addition to putting the corporate Public Square on trial, Meghan recently toured the UK. Among other engagements, she was invited to speak to the Scottish Parliament.

The invitation came from MSP Joan McAlpine. Ms. McAlpine shares some of Ms. Murphy’s reservations about self-identification amendments and has drawn wrath by saying so. Both women (and many others) have received threats and abuse for their questions.

What does that tell us? Does that sound like liberal discourse to you?

The UK is embroiled in several political swirls these days, and the debate around the Gender Recognition Act is as lively as any. This is despite a hostile social climate like Meghan describes in Canada.

Those who want to discuss trans politics from the perspective of women’s rights are denied venues. They pull out of speaking engagements because of death threats and universities cancel their panel discussions. They are called derogatory names and dismissed for being “hateful.”

The irony is thick here.

“We Just Want to Pee!”

Trans people (mainly transwomen) stepped onto the cultural stage in a big way in 2015. The scene had been set for years, sympathetic portrayals in movies and TV shows only accelerated after.

Coincidentally, that same year my sister’s husband announced that he was really a woman. She supported him and I supported her, but I had to admit to being upset by the whole thing.

Funny story – For years I thought of myself as a man in a woman’s body. I had a pretty bad case of what they now call “Gender Dysphoria.” Feeling so out of sync with my body and my life, eventually I had to critically reevaluate the beliefs that lead me to be so miserable.

It was terrifying. But I started over and created a more grounded paradigm for myself. My life these days is very different and I wouldn’t go back for anything.

Point is, I have some experience in this area. I recognize the struggle of those who insist I recognize their pronouns. And I feel wrong indulging them.

Which would just be one lady’s opinion, except that ladies’ rooms exist for reasons.

Do Women Need Protecting?

I'm Not Scenery

This picture was intended to be cute! And many people apparently agreed! What boundaries?

Time Magazine invokes our rejection of paternalism to reject private spaces in public places. the idea that all women are in increased danger in mixed or gender-neutral bathrooms doesn’t make sense, as predators are not waiting for permission to dress up like a woman to go into bathrooms.” Baby with the bathwater, folks.

But it’s true – Men are already the majority of perpetrators of assault on women. They aren’t waiting for anything.

Women need enforceable female-only spaces for safety because some men are extremely dangerous to us. It’s a prolific minority, but they don’t wear name tags. And they have a habit of being sneaky to get what they want.

“This Never Happens”

Despite proclamations by hand-waving do-gooders, not all transwomen are sweet, misunderstood souls.

They creep on women in department stores. In locker rooms. In our homes. Even in prison.

They put their families through years of bullshit.

We need to be able to call these men out and defend ourselves, verbally and legally.

If you are a transwoman who pees, washes your hands and leaves, anyone who bothers you needs to get a life. But we can’t allow predatory behavior to use Wokeness as a shield.

Bathrooms are Just the Beginning

There’s also the rape crisis shelter in British Columbia that lost its funding because they refused access to male-bodied people. The Dyke Marches that exclude lesbians asTERFs.” There’s the children being coached to “transition” and put on life-altering hormones.

Hilda Squirrel

Am I still a girl if I act like a squirrel?

There’s the epidemic of young girls rebelling as they hit the wall of puberty, facing the choice between being a woman or a complex human being. Many are opting out, declaring themselves “non-binary” or stripping themselves of feminine markers  with binders or surgery.

I feel for these young girls. We live in a world of intense objectification. Conformity is ascendant and those who call themselves Progressive are preoccupied with labelling everyone according to old-fashioned gender stereotypes. It’s confusing.

Many Feminists consider it to be a new form of backlash against the Women’s Movement. The pathologizing of people who don’t conform to sexist expectations could be seen as an assault on the homosexual community. Your swishy son can’t be gay if he’s really a girl!

Is Your Mind So Open Your Brain Fell Out?

Amid all of this, anything besides repeating slogans risks being labeled and shunned. Meghan Murphy is standing up for the gains women have made.

“I find it odd because I never feel I’m saying anything crazy, just normal obvious things …. “I think young women don’t have much knowledge around the history of the women’s movement. I don’t think they realise how hard they had to fight and how long this fight lasted – and how it’s still going on. When women were fighting for the rights we have now – which so many take for granted – those women were dismissed as crazy and radical.”

The Right Swoops In

Meanwhile, states like Georgia are passing draconian anti-abortion laws, hoping to get a crack at the Supreme Court and the infamous Roe v. Wade. (That decision is actually founded in some interesting Right to Privacy stuff which would have lots of ripples if overturned, but that’s another post.)

Starboard Lies

Come back inside, darling. Seeing the view will only give you ideas.

The root of the anti-abortion crusade is not concern for babies. It never has been. I have met many a deluded soul who truly believed that every little life was sacred, people whose passion has been manipulated to support a movement that would see us back in the kitchen.

The anti-abortion movement is funded by powerful men who understand Patriarchy and that controlling reproduction is how it is perpetuated. They know where their bread is buttered, that Civilization Classic was set up for their benefit by others like them.

It’s an ancient trick, using people’s faith and sense of duty against them. I’m far from the first to write about American Christianity’s deal with the political Devil. In the 1970s, the ends were seen as justifying the means – A return to how things “should” be. With everyone in their place and white men on top.

They Stole Our Words

And these days their plan makes a lot of sense. In many ways, it has been successful. Many a greedy egotist saw profit for themselves along the way, everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Donald Trump, Alex Jones and everyone in between. Individual congressmen who gained from exploiting divisions, megachurch pastors and small-minded authoritarians everywhere. Now they have colonized the Left, using our language and openness against us.

Postmodernism – the rejection of absolute truth – has been misappropriated and used to justify insanity. The language of Progressiveness has been corrupted and stolen in service of regressive agendas.

Whether they saw the grand plan or not, many people have contributed to the place we now find ourselves – Where men can be women, but women don’t control our own bodies.

Good People Need to Think Critically

I actually got started on all this because I have quite a few lefties on my Facebook list. They regularly share things in support of Trans Rights. Some of them have trans relatives. Most of them have trans friends. They are understandably protective of these people they love.

Then last month when Georgia did their thing, suddenly my feed was filled with Feminist stuff, throwing in their two cents for bodily privacy.

Peaking Out

But thinking for myself is scary!

Which is where the two sides of the zeitgeist crash into each other. How do you deny biology one day, then speak up in a debate that assumes it the next?

Cognitive Dissonance is Stressful

The Left and the Right are having two different conversations. The Left considered the bodily privacy issue settled and has been pushing its boundaries. The Right has been pushing back against the whole idea. Both sides have reached a precipice and the resulting in-fighting is creating instability.

Conservative think tanks are inviting lesbians to speak. Liberal bureaucrats are censoring unpopular opinions. Kids are being given injections and surgery to fit an ideal in the name of inclusivity. Feminist writers are being invited to Parliament.

It’s definitely a far cry from the world I was born into. Where Mr. Rogers liked you just the way you were, and every single muppet was different. The subversives did a decent job getting their message out.

War is just an absurdly elaborate game of TicTacToe. We are all Basket Cases, Jocks, and Princesses. Things aren’t always what they seem. The bad guy is usually someone you know and trust. Woven between the songs, humor, drama and drug references, tolerance and self-determination were the fabric of popular culture.

Boomers Lack Follow-Thru, Again

But the generation that saw itself as the bastion of a New Age started to fall into old age. With characteristic self-congratulation, they simply assumed that in passing the torch they had won. Around the same time, the elder statesmen of liberalism like Rogers and Henson began leaving us.

But they were the new kids on the block. I think they all failed to appreciate the depth of the problem. You can’t flip the world in a generation, no matter how many pills you invent or how many songs you write.

I have rambled here, but I applaud Meghan Murphy for trying to hold the Left accountable for the progress it supposedly stands for. The Left needs to grow up and take stock of itself. Tolerance and self-determination are beautiful ideals but they require work, thought and compromise.

We Need Objectivity

Young Couple Cropped

Stop and think for a moment!

We can’t abandon Science, which is the foundation everything else rests on. Everything, from understanding the heliocentric nature of our existence, to The Pill, to your reading this right now. Biology may not be destiny, but it sure is the basis of Patriarchy.

While we’re over here in the throes of Death By 1,000 Pronouns, Patriarchy and all who serve it are glad to take advantage of our loss of direction. To swoop in and take away the Privileges – that we so naively refer to as Rights – gained by the oppressed many.

A girl who wants to be a boy needs help. A man who thinks he’s a woman needs therapy. The giant countervailing currents can’t be ignored in favor of “affirming” someone’s identity.

More Labels is not Progress

Progress was supposed to be when everyone could be who they wanted, love who they wanted, without worrying their label – Black, Gay, Poor – would disqualify them.

So, yeah, when the so-called Progressives came at me with a new label for myself – “Cis” – I was not receptive. And I was called bigoted for not wanting to allow myself to be labeled. As something, incidentally, that I don’t feel I am. I certainly am not comfortable with the social role of “Woman.”

Liberal Fragmentation is Scarier Than Any Conservative

The fight is not over. The more I get drawn into the current arguments on the Left, the more I see that we have lost the thread. Consumerism has absorbed almost everything and taught us that we get it Our Way. Jim Henson said it well, “I think it’s good to be your own person. But individuality is a mixed blessing. People who are ‘different’ are isolated.”

The Right has a unifying conformity, and that is their strength. They have been more than happy to use the Left’s diversity to divide and conquer.

We must refocus on creating the world that everyone from Mary Wollstonecraft to Martin Luther King Jr. dared to dream about: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin” Or sex or orientation or wardrobe choices, “but by the content of their character.”

So, no, I don’t want to share my bathroom with you. But it’s so, so much more than that.

 

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.

Haystack Captive

I could use a little more control in this situation!

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.

“By being in a relationship with such a nurturing, loving person, the person with narcissism is able to consume that person’s authentic love and extract narcissistic supply.”

Terrifying because the downturn is insidious:

Devalue – When their partner is inevitably revealed to not be perfect, the dysfunctional person begins magnifying and imagining flaws. Small things like a tone of voice or canceled plans with little explanation sow seeds of doubt in their once-beloved. Slowly, the partner can begin to doubt their own perspective.

Tactics can include “intermittently lacking emotional or physical intimacy, withdrawing affection, seductive withholding, inexplicably disappearing from contact, or blaming the target for the narcissistic person’s issues (projection).”

Kiss On The Couch

There’s no escape…. from the love!

It’s all a setup for the final phase:

Discard – Now that the target is all jumbled and insecure, the Narcissist is on his merry way. He has drained his victim and will use his charm (and possibly the sob story about this break-up) to find another.

Asking for better treatment can precipitate this phase. Demands for empathy or reciprocity are met with temper tantrums. “Inevitably, the discarding occurs when the person with narcissism either disappears or orchestrates his or her own abandonment by engaging in some form of egregious emotional abuse.”

My ex and I went through this whole thing three or four times over seven years.

How do you do it more than once?  I hear you asking. Well, part of it was my unwillingness to walk away, and part of it was his unwillingness to actually be alone. Put this together, and you slip easily into the last phase of the cycle:

Hoovering – This is not always officially included but, in my experience, it might be the most important. Because it’s where real confusion can set in.

So you’ve been devalued, rejected, abandoned. But then the minute you start to get your head together, he’s back. Apologizing and saying everything you want to hear. This phase is named after the brand of vacuum cleaner because he is sucking you back in. The moment you begin to play along, the whole cycle starts over.

But Narcissism is usually created by abuse. Narcissists beget narcissists. They are emotionally stunted and wounded people.

The Fear of Abandonment can mimic this cycle.

Impatient

You know, the older you get, the more you remind me of my father!

Verywellmind.com lists the steps created by a Fear of Abandonment as

  • Getting to Know One Another
  • The Honeymoon 
  • The Real Relationship
  • The Slight – Where they reveal imperfections
  • The Reaction“If you have this fear, you are probably completely convinced that the slight is a sign that your partner no longer loves you…. Some people handle this by becoming clingy and demanding, insisting that their partner prove her love by jumping through hoops. Others run away, rejecting their partners before they are rejected.”

Seems to me that it’s usually one, then the other. It’s a lot like the Narcissistic Cycle, but that doesn’t mean someone who behaves this way is narcissistic. It’s like a phobia, and can be self-contained in an otherwise reasonable person.

A person who is able to look at their own behavior and see where they could improve. Narcissists are incapable of this. They may be able to talk the talk, but they will never walk the walk. They talk themselves out of things just as quickly.

They will never really take responsibility for anything, this is the purpose of their emotional jig. Eventually, even the most loving and patient person will be exhausted and unable to take any more.

But the reason they can’t take any responsibility is they are extremely insecure. I wonder if it’s what happens when the Fear of Abandonment runs amok.

Swinging Sixties

Do you love me now?

The way Narcissists pass on the disorder is by teaching their children not to rely on them and, thus, anyone. They are not even reliably unreliable. Sometimes, they love you.

And then they emotionally abandon you over and over.

Maybe it’s the Fear of Abandonment grown so big it makes it impossible for them to open up, even to themselves.

I don’t really know but I see the role it plays in my life and it’s got to go. I do have a knee jerk paranoia that every little argument is the beginning of the end.

Because people have abandoned me totally unexpectedly and for no apparent reason. Aside from my emotionally unavailable parents’ divorce when I was five, we moved around a lot. My entire grade in school rejected me when I was nine, then again three years later in a different district.

After a while, you start assuming there’s something wrong with you.

You begin to treat everyone as if they are temporary and, most of the time, they are. Just because of the transient nature of this modern life. And maybe because sometimes you sense a relationship growing stale and the downslide feels like being nauseous before vomiting so you just get it over with and move on.

My first serious boyfriend spectacularly dumped me. My first son’s father was uninterested in both of us. My third major relationship was that ex I mentioned.

He does make for excellent learning material, though.

All Red

I really am trying my best!

My dad went crazy and my mom took the opportunity of her own near-death to treat me with all the grace of a petty child. And now, naturally, my sister has decided she’d rather not actually talk about any of the bullshit she accused me of.

So, yeah, it’s a thing. Learning about it helps a lot. Solidifies the concepts and helps me feel less insane. And I realize that this, plus totally unrespected overstimulation problems, are responsible for basically all the weird shit I do.

Eventually you get a little old and a little wistful wondering where people are now. Hindsight shows you what a shithead you were, things you totally misunderstood.

Psych Alive offers some hope: “Fortunately, a person’s style of attachment is not fixed. We can develop earned secure attachment as adults in several ways…. experiencing a secure attachment can offer someone a new model for relationships and how people behave in them.

This is what I have been instinctively trying to do. I want to fill my life with functional people, and not drive them crazy with my antics.

Lots of people are gone. But so is lots and lots of awful bullshit. Maybe most of the time, when someone leaves, they are doing you a favor.

Fight Despair Together: Healing Through Self-Compassion

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

Redhead With Pistol

I’m not defensive! Just stay away from me!

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.

The most important thing is to have compassion for yourself. This sounds a little weird but we all know what compassion looks like. We just usually reserve it for other people. 

Our expectations of ourselves run unreasonably high and we chastise ourselves for small mistakes. Dammit, that was stupid.  If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself. 

This is something I’m struggling with right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not presenting myself as some kind of self-healing guru. I’m just determined to figure this out and share my discoveries with you.

You are human, with flaws, like everyone. A lot of attention is given to forgiving others but forgiving yourself can be more difficult. Admitting someone else made a mistake is easy! But it’s absolutely vital, because turning compassion on yourself has been shown to soothe the Fight/Flight/Freeze mechanism.

Often referred to as Fight or Flight, this is an ancient brain system that is triggered by stressful situations. But when you are a child, and you can’t fight or flee, this stress response can go unresolved. If this happens many times over a period of years, years when your brain is growing, the overload of stress gets baked in and becomes part of the system. This is why, sometimes, you feel like crap for no reason.

Sad On The Porch

I’m just not feeling these shoes!

Plenty of people are dipshits to their kids. I suspect some common parenting practices are worse for little ones than most of us know. Chances are, the things or situations that throw you off-balance are related to bad experiences in your formative years.

Maybe you rare painfully aware of this but aren’t sure what to do about it. Traditional therapy can feel like endlessly rehashing trauma. Happily, the best treatment for these things is something anyone can do at home for free.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works by helping change the way you think about things. Unlike most forms of therapy, there’s quite a bit of evidence that CBT actually works.

According to the American Psychological Association“CBT is based on several core principles, including:

Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.

Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.”

CBT is all about learning to see things differently. 

First, you have to admit, really understand, that you are not infallible. What you experience is not reality. You see your mind’s representation of reality. It’s impossible to get away from because you can’t get out of your mind.

But you can change it. The brain is flexible and always thirsty for new knowledge, until the day we die. 

The APA continues, “CBT treatment usually involves efforts to change thinking patterns. These strategies might include:

Learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking that are creating problems, and then to reevaluate them in the light of reality.”

Peak Behind The Lace

I see plenty! And those kids over there are up to something!

Experience can condition us to anticipate certain behavior from those around us. We may even misinterpret what they say and do, following our customary script.

That’s right, I’m suggesting you could be wrong.

Maybe you are just totally jangly, too jumpy to think straight. Admit that the issue lies with you, rather than the world being unfair or unwelcoming. The world at large isn’t watching you. The world at large doesn’t care.

This may sound harsh but, when you realize the pressure is off, you can start living your life however you want …. Whatever that means.

In the words of the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists“If we are upset about our problems, we have two problems – The problem and our upset about it.”

The power lies in putting some breathing room between yourself and the issue.

feel angry

instead of

am angry

Then we can see more clearly, “Often, we upset ourselves about things when, in fact, the situation isn’t like we think it is. If we knew that, we would not waste time upsetting ourselves.”

CBT calls this the Inductive Method. It’s the simple act of checking yourself before you wreck yourself.

Indtruder

You’re not sneaking up on me!

“The Inductive Method encourages us to look at our thoughts as being hypotheses or guesses that can be questioned and tested. If we find that our hypotheses are incorrect (because we have new information) then we can change our thinking to be in line with how the situation really is.”

Mental flexibility is the key to what we’re doing – Facing our fears and putting them to rest.

Top of the APA’s list of unhealthy behaviors CBT addresses is denial. They stress, “Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.”  This is the #1 most important thing!

You must be willing to do this or you are wasting your time.

By the time you get to be in your 30s, you will have noticed that certain scenarios – or situations that feel similar – keep cropping up. You don’t need to be a mystic to see that if you learn to handle these things better, you can stop going in circles. 

You can guarantee that your emotions are messing you up, keeping you from putting your best foot forward. This is why we often struggle with things related to our history. It’s not anything supernatural, and it’s within our power to make changes.

Take a moment, either during the situation or after, and ask yourself why it brings out the feelings in you that it does. How are you approaching or conceptualizing things in ways that come from thoughts that cause you pain? From ideas you know are probably unhealthy?

It’s not complicated stuff, but it does involve dealing directly and honestly with things that make you uncomfortable. With things you’ve taken for granted. It’s easy to get defensive.

Television

We all got way too much of this!

Watch out for anger directed at people or things who don’t really deserve it or are not worth your time. That’s your defense mechanism kicking in to deflect attention from a sore spot.

Time after time, take that pause to step back. Understand that your feelings are like a flowing river – You may be soaking wet, but you are not the water. 

By applying Self-Compassion and Check Before You Wreck, over time you will begin to see patterns in your thoughts and behavior. Understanding will enable you to act more with purpose, instead of just reacting to the world as it comes at you.

You can’t go back in time and undo trauma, but you can fix the damage it caused. It takes time. If you get frustrated trying to understand yourself, imagine the most sympathetic character you can think of – A small child, a puppy, an old lady – and imagine they are having your difficulty. Take how you would feel for them and apply it to yourself. 

Yes, it takes that much patience.

Coming soon: Part 2 – What Does Life on Your Terms Mean, Anyway?

Dementia Trumps Donald?

The time has come once again to name names. Donald Trump is draped in red flags.

I usually save my political rants for more general social themes but, once in a while, I feel compelled to get specific. If you like my Trump posts you are in for a treat. If you don’t…. who am I kidding? No way Trumpers read my blog!

Donald Bemused

Not many Trump fans around here!

Several years ago I worked as a Certified Nurse Aide. Seldom have I felt as entitled to the space I take up as when I was changing dementia patients’ diapers. (Not sure what that says about me, but I digress.)

Years before that, I watched first one grandmother and then the other completely forget everything and everyone.

But, I’m a nerd, so my horror led me to research. I have seen and read quite a bit about dementia and, with my family history, it’s seldom far from my mind.

I say all this because, when I tell you that Donald Trump is in trouble, this is my basis for comparison.

Last month video made the rounds of him seemingly losing the word ‘origins.’ He went for it on his mental shelf and it just wasn’t there.

But the really worrying thing is that you can tell he knows. He knows he said the wrong word but can’t do anything about it. He doubles back on his thought and restates it. That goes well so he gets brave and tries again.

“The Mueller Report, I wish, covered the oranges….”

Trump, New York, Usa 15 Aug 2017

Hey, my words mean what I say they do!

This is called aphasia, and it’s a symptom of dementia. Specifically, something called non-fluent variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (nfvPPA.)  The University of California Wellness and Aging Center writes,

“Because it primarily affects the front part of the brain, nfvPPA is considered a subtype of a large group of brain conditions called frontotemporal dementia (FTD).”

Patients usually begin to show signs in their 50s or 60s. Donald is 72.

Many people think of dementia as the granny who goes shopping in her housecoat. Confused, befuddled and comical, depictions of this disease are glib and play for laughs.

But,

“The nonfluent PPA variant accounts for about 20% of all people with frontotemporal dementia.

“People with nfvPPA gradually have more trouble expressing themselves, even though they still understand the meaning of words…. Reading and writing skills usually remain good…. They may have increasing difficulty with pronouncing or mixing up sounds in familiar words.”

Donald Shows Palms

If I speak with authority, you won’t notice I have no idea what I’m talking about!

Trump almost tweets more than he speaks, if not for his tendency to ramble at the podium.

Which, incidentally, is another red flag according to Science Alert:

“New research suggests that rambling and non-specific speech could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”

The article cites, among others, Ronald Reagan as an example of a still-functional person who showed early signs of language difficulties.

The findings were presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston by Janet Cohen Sherman. She is Clinical Director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Guardian sums it up,

“Scientists compared the language abilities of 22 healthy young individuals, 24 healthy older individuals and 22 people with MCI [mild cognitive impairment].

“When given an exercise in which they had to join up three words, for instance “pen”, “ink” and “paper”, the healthy volunteers typically joined the three in a simple sentence, while the MCI group gave circuitous accounts of going to the shop and buying a pen.”

Donald Touches Temple

My mental precision is as good as it’s ever done!

Sound familiar?

The Guardian continues:

“They were much less concise in conveying information, the sentences they produced were much longer, they had a hard time staying on point and I guess you could say they were much more roundabout in getting their point across,” said Sherman. “It was a very significant difference.”

Sherman stressed that just being a windbag is not the issue. The issue is deteriorating mental precision.

“Another study, based on White House press conference transcripts, found striking changes in Ronald Reagan’s speech over the course of his presidency, while George HW Bush, who was a similar age when president, showed no such decline.”

So, not only is this a plausible scenario, it has happened before.

Dr Lawrence K Altman bears witness to this for the New York Times. He writes,

“In 1980, Mr. Reagan told me that he would resign the presidency if White House doctors found him mentally unfit. Years later, those doctors and key aides told me they had not detected any changes in his mental abilities while in office.

How Has The Donald Ducked Life's Lessons?

I don’t even know who Ronald Reagan is!

“Now a clever new analysis has found that during his two terms in office, subtle changes in Mr. Reagan’s speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.”

His doctors might not have been concerned, and even Dr. Altman insists that Reagan was not impaired enough to have affected his Presidential judgment (although that would be a dandy excuse for a few things.) But not everyone was so confident.

The article begins,

“Even before Ronald Reagan became the oldest elected president, his mental state was a political issue. His adversaries often suggested his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and seeming absent-mindedness could be linked to dementia.”

Reagan was 73 in 1980.

The sample size of the language study is small, but it overwhelmingly supports my own observations and those of many others. Often the first signs of dementia are subtle linguistic anomalies.

Donald Arms Crossed

I’ve never done anything wrong in my life! I always have reasons!

And a guy like Donald is the kind of guy who would hide it. Deny, deny, deny.

“People with nfvPPA tend not to show the behavioral characteristics of FTD until quite late in the disease, and they are keenly aware of their difficulties.”

Not to mention an old man who is estranged from his wife, in trouble with the law and apparently spends a shitton of time watching TV and surfing social media:

“Depression and social withdrawal are common features of nfvPPA.”

I am neither the first nor the most qualified person to suggest that Donald is suffering from some kind of mental deficiency. It would be easy to brush off such claims as haters hating.

But even if I thought my personal axe-grinding makes any difference, the man speaks for himself.

Top 5 Women Bloggers I Love

It’s funny how putting yourself out there is a great way to meet people.

Definitely more effective than my old favorite method – Keeping to myself and hoping to be noticed.

Along my journey at Brazen She I have met some really cool people. I want to give back to this great community.

Here are my top 5 favorite woman bloggers who I’ve met during my time here. They are a diverse group of voices each of whom enriches the world using her unique perspective. These ladies are brazenly themselves.

Women Bloggers Breeta

Breeta – A Voice

Breeta – A Voice

Breeta shares her experience and perspective with infectious enthusiasm. She shares her struggles, her insights and, more than anything else, her favorite songs.

Sometimes just coming along for the ride is not to be missed. In a post under the hashtag #Drunkposts, she writes,

And watching Heath Ledger as Patric, all young and bright-eyed and sweet and… alive, with those 90s pop in background…I mean I am an Indian kid and those exact songs were never part of my 90s days but the musical vibes… you can’t miss…

I am a hot mess now and fighting really hard to not drunk-text my old high-school crush and feeling like banging my head and crushing skull or break at least something…

I love the cultural perspective – I am always falling in love with new songs or revisiting old favorites. I feel a kindred spirit with her whimsy, wistfulness and wry humor.

She also has a gorgeous Instagram where she posts her photography. Truly a voice from another corner heard loud and clear.

Women Bloggers Claudette

Claudette – Writer of Words, Etc.

Claudette – Writer of Words, Etc.

Claudette is someone I can see myself getting coffee with while we vent and laugh about our kids.

While I rolled out the dough I made them sweep, vacuum and de-clutter the entire open concept area around me.

I will spare you the various antics that ensued to get them to conform to my wishes pleads expectations, but I will say this:

Their dad avoids confrontation.

Me?

I’m half Italian…BRING IT ON.

Sigh

What I mean by this isn’t that I *want* a fight, certainly not. I was quite sick with a nasty head cold all day, didn’t even make it out to food shopping due to all the sneezing.

Soul sister! Pity she lives in Toronto. But I still love reading her stuff, she’s so prolific I’m jealous and inspired all at the same time.

Sometimes she is very personal, after a while it starts to feel like you know her.

I am my own worst enemy.

I go up and down and sideways with my internal turmoil that it mostly leaves me mentally exhausted rather than inspired, or focused on the here and now.

Just reading her posts helps remind me to be brave, but she has also made the leap to try fiction.

Women Bloggers Justine2

Justine – OK Vibes

Justine – OK Vibes

I’m just going to let Justine introduce herself:

Justine Monikue is a chocolate-covered 80s baby, born abroad in Germany to military parents.  She spent a good chunk of her childhood in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA (hence why she refers to submarine sandwiches as hoagies)

I relate very much with Justine’s philosophical tendencies. This lady can squeeze meaning from the simplest things:

Though I’ve been callenging myself not to dwell on the past, I find myself questioning my life choices when my life plans aren’t manifesting in the way I’d hoped, or an inconvenient event surfaces.

Omg I am right there with you! Justine helps me feel a little less crazy about looking for growth opportunities under every rock.

She shares her struggles and also gets creative with flash fiction,

Mei Fan was alone at the local beach, waiting on her bestie, Chandra, to show up. Chandra was always late, which irritated Mei Fan since she prided herself on being punctual. She checked her phone, no texts or missed calls from Chandra. Maybe she forgot to charge her phone again? Wouldn’t be the first time.

….Mei Fan’s phone rang, she grabbed hastily and answered without checking the caller ID.

“Sorry I’m running late, traffic is crazy as fuck today! Plus my mom wanted me to grab flour for roti, she called as soon as I started heading to the beach. Forgive me?”

Mei Fan sighed, “Always, I know how your mom is. That’s why you gotta start leaving earlier C!”

And poetry

Juicy warm and ripe

in fitted denim so tight

pits of flesh will rise

Hot stuff.

Women Bloggers April

April – Anxiously Imperfect

April – Anxiously Imperfect

April is the kind of blogger who posts when the mood strikes but when it does, watch out!

Her blog centers on living with anxiety and depression. Two of the most common mental health issues and two things that need talked about much more. While describing what it’s like with aplomb, April takes you right into the center of the storm. Her goal is to remind others that we are not alone:

Yesterday was a bad day for me, ….I didn’t realize it through my haze of anxiety, but I had scared my boyfriend.

….Later after my anxiety haze had faded and I could think more clearly.
I started thinking about who I am as a person in spite of my anxiety.

….I AM MORE THAN MY DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY!!!
Please remember that the bad days don’t last forever!
Don’t give into the stigma and seek treatment if you need it!

I love April because so few people really capture the feeling of a panic attack. Most of us wait until the storm has passed. The raw emotion in some of her writing grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let up –

I’m sorry that going out was just too much for me today!
I’m sorry that you are tired of hearing about my mental illness!
I’m sorry that I embarrassed you when I had my panic attack!
I’m sorry that I made you uncomfortable when I “lost it” today!
I’m sorry that I shrieked at you when you told me to just “lighten up!”

Although April is a personal friend of mine this list would be incomplete without her. She has been instrumental in keeping me motivated, directly and indirectly.

Women Bloggers Tamla

Tamla – 12 Raisins

Tamla – 12 Raisins

Last but definitely not least, Tamla explains the title of her blog,

At the stroke of midnight, I ate 12 raisins, one at a time, each one representing one wish for the New Year…Wishes fulfilled, I embark on a new journey. A journey of writing, motherhood and reflecting on this thing called life.

And reflect she does, with a calm intelligence that guides readers through events with a firm hand,

I knew class was coming up, and because he’d walked out on us after the first class we had to ‘catch up’ and had double the readings (which was A LOT). Not only that, he assigned an extra reflection for us to complete…there was no way I was going to get it all done….. This is a guy who only alotted 5% for participation but expects you to be in every class and never late.

I was reminded by my loved ones… “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Personally, I would have been livid but she deals with frustration with inspiring composure.

[My little guy] used to eat vegetables back when he ate pureed food, now he wants nothing to do with them. As such, I’ve resorted to sneaking them into his meals. Nowadays, if I can even get him into the high chair, mealtimes are often filled with negotiation and bribery (other big no-no’s in all of the literature for feeding a toddler). It’s exhausting. I worry about him becoming a fussy eater but know that I have to be patient and his fussiness is likely, as they say ‘just a phase’.

Toddlers are so difficult! And adorable! Tamla writes a lot of great material about mom life, with a steady hand and an eye out for life lessons. She’s also a teacher and you definitely get the sense that this lady is a rock. She knows how keep her balance on life’s choppy seas, something I could definitely use more of.

Like the rest of our group, Tamla is also unafraid to tackle the meatier topics that come her way –

For my second last course I took “Decolonizing Education” which turned out to be one of my absolute favourite courses out of all my years in school.

For our last class we were asked to create a piece of poetry using the final chapters of our readings. Essentially, summarize decolonization.

She published her impactful poem in its entirety. It begins,

Language. Expression. Relevance.

Clearly.

To see ourselves.

In relationship to ourselves.

And to other selves.

What a thought. What a concept.

Of course she immediately begins to find practical use for this experience to enrich the lives of others,

What a beautiful way to ask learners to be thoughtful and creative while synthesizing a final unit or theme of study and inquiry…. I can imagine this task working with a wide range of students of varying levels and abilities and am excited to one day try it out in my own classroom(s).

Reflectively yours,

Tamla

Reflecting on these fellow travelers fills me with excitement for the future of literature and cultural dialog. Knowing there are so many other women out there pondering life and all its facets is some of the best motivation there is.

Love you gals!

Summer Series: Fight Despair Together

Summer Series 2019 is all about finally moving forward.

Tea By The Tub

I could use some self-care!

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.

The Middle Class Never Existed

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.

We hear a lot about the Middle Class – That fabled land of mowed lawns and street lights. Most of us probably know someone we would consider Middle Class. But the Middle Class doesn’t exist.

It never did! In a strange twist, our parents and grandparents just happened to live in an historical vortex. A unique combination of events conspired to create a freakish period of prosperity.

Writing for Medium, Jonathan Peter Schwartz quotes economist Robert J Gordon on the different phases of the Industrial Revolution (IR):

“In particular, the period following IR#2 (1920 – 1970) saw incredible annual productivity growth (1.89%). Gordon argues that…. IR#2 impacted ‘virtually the entire span of human wants and needs. 

“‘Given how impoverished the human condition had been, and the vast array of technologies that intervened, it should come as no surprise that productivity skyrocketed and tremendous amounts of wealth, economic growth and improvements in living standards were observed during this period.'”

Haircut

So, I’m gonna be cutting my own hair for a while?

The Nothing is Spreading

Those of us who grew up listening to the stories about this great party are having to accept that we will never attend.

And on top of that, they trashed the place.

We are left with the same old story, a chosen few living high on the efforts of everyone else. The Middle Class was a technology-induced fever dream.

Fight Despair Together

As we slip into middle age it gets harder to talk about someday. That better job might not be coming. Prices just keep going up. All the rules have changed and many of us are floundering. Most of us know someone who OD’ed.

I covered the spreading despair in my last post. We are a big group and we are very diverse, but we can’t let stress cause us to focus on divisions.

We need one another. The antidote to despair is fellowship. Camaraderie. Talking about what’s going on is the first step to fixing it.

But First….

Each of us has to be in the right frame of mind to ensure our focus stays on unity. In order to listen, we have to calm the panicked voice telling us we’re drowning.

Before we can clean up the world, we have to clean house.

Originally, this was going to be a single post but I decided it needs more space than that.

This year’s Summer Series is about soothing the anger and beginning to heal from the journey so far. By Fall we will be centered and equipped with new tools to build a better future.

Part 1 coming soon: Self-Compassion Promotes Healing

Feminism In Action: Dr. Sam Collins Builds Women’s Leadership

Every once in a while I will get hopeful and apply for a few remote jobs, writing jobs, things that would just be interesting to do.

On Indeed, of all places, I found an ad wanting someone to write a woman-centered blog.Dr Collins 2

That’s me! I tightened up my resume and composed a real zinger of a cover letter after doing some research. The company and its founder amaze me, she is someone we should all know about.

Originally from England and based in Los Angeles, Dr. Sam Collins has been out there fighting the good fight for a long time. For 17 years she has been working to boost representation of women in business and government.

The organization she runs for this purpose is called Aspire. According to its website, Aspire was “founded in 2001 by Sam when she was just 30 years old and [is] now a globally sought-after organization that enables women leaders and men who are advocates for women to thrive through leadership development, coaching and events.”

The nonprofit arm of Aspire does pro-bono mentoring work in 80 countries and “has made a positive difference to the lives of over 15 million women and girls across the world” since 2010.Radio Heaven

Dr. Collins has written the story of how she came to this path in her book Radio Heaven. I haven’t had a chance to read it, I’ve added it to the ever-growing list. Amazon describes it as “about the power of doing business for social good and designing your own destiny rather than waiting for your parents, bosses, partners, or society to determine it for you.”

Dr. Collins was 21 when her mother died. Her grief threw her life into chaos. She was fired from her dream job. She was mistaken for a homeless person after passing out in a train station. After spiraling she pulled herself right and used her tenacity to build a business, win awards, and help women all over the world. 

This lady is definitely someone I should know about.

I was nervous about reaching out but compelled myself with the thought that she is acting out a logical, practical vision of many of the values I have been writing about. We’re working toward the same goal, although she has a much more impressive resume. It seemed natural that we should be aware of each other.Dr Collins 3

For a few days, I checked my email every couple hours hoping to hear back. I allowed myself to imagine what it might be like to have a conversation with her, weighed which questions I would ask.

I think it was the third day I heard back. I was at work when the notification came in and I left it until I got a break.

Until I looked at it, anything was still possible.

Dr. Collins said she didn’t think I was the “right fit” and she was “sorry for the disappointing news.” So polite, it’s hard to be mad. I had thought she might be too classy to be overly interested in what I do. I heaved a big sigh and checked the substitute teacher board again.

Most of the time, the results of our explorations are not what we hope they will be. The trick is to keep an open mind and make the most of reality as it presents itself. Not getting caught up in wishes or regrets and missing opportunities to learn.

I’m still glad I stumbled upon that ad. I got to learn about another inspiring woman showing the way for those of us at the beginning of our journey. We’re connected on LinkedIn, maybe one day we’ll meet at a conference and have a laugh.

Mainly it’s just nice to know there are people like her in the world.

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.

Wuthering Heights

Where is everyone?

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.

But I really needed this right now. Hubs got laid off two months ago and has been focusing on school. At the end of it he’ll have a high-powered degree. I have been teaching and working at the restaurant, but Breadwinner just isn’t a position I am a good fit for at the moment.

The little guy is 21 months old, and is finally starting to get over the awful rash he’s had for two months. He’s been a delight to be around since he’s feeling better, playing toddler games and learning new words every day.

When I come home after a day (or night) of work, too often all the pacifiers are lost. He’s been laid down for the night in shorts, scratching his scabs open. I don’t know what he’s eaten. Clothes are misplaced. I missed something adorable and unrepeatable.

Hiding In The Lobby 1

Gotta keep it together!

When my 5th grader was little, I took advantage of living with family to stay home with him as much as I could. I worked sporadically, part-time, trying to get a foot in the door of my chosen field. But I hadn’t turned my whole life around to not raise my child.

When they’re bigger we pack them off to school, largely so they can find their own footing in the world outside home. It’s natural that they begin to build their own experiences and friendships.

Little ones, younger than 3 or 4, have a stronger need for a connection with one main caregiver. They are constantly changing and unable to communicate most of their needs. More than this, they need a near-constant guiding hand they can rely on.

Don’t get me wrong – My family does a good job taking care of him. They might let him stay up later than I would, but he always gets a nap and his meals. He gets played with and loved on.

Maybe part of it is my own selfish need as a mother to KNOW he’s okay. I understand that many women are not maternal in the least. Until I had my own, I wasn’t either. But when that switch flipped, it flipped hard. Most of the time, it’s actually easier for me to relax with him around.

And when he isn’t I am constantly distracted. I could work more hours and have more money, but I already feel like tearing my hair out.

So I try to use my real skills. I don’t have a journalism degree; sometimes I can’t escape the feeling of being punished for chasing my dreams instead of being practical. But I never appreciated how my capacity for wordsmithing could serve me.

Secretary

If only people would let me correct them!

Yesterday I read a HuffPost article with an entire paragraph from the beginning repeated at the end. An entire paragraph! Someone got paid good money to not proofread that!! 

I see this stuff all the time and it drives me insane –

Misspellings.

Poor word choices.

Sentences so badly put together I have to reorder them in my head to understand them.

On Huffington Post.

On MSNBC.

On Medium.

The New York Times still holds a pretty high standard, but New York Magazine is better.

While attempting to keep up with news and culture I am bombarded with reminders that I am good enough. Either someone will give me a gig or I will piece it together until I can raise my head above the fray and shout, “I am Brazen!

None of my switches can be unflipped, it seems – Not Motherhood, and not my newfound sense of agency. I have slain my dragons and a strange, unexpected feeling of deep calm has come over me as the dust settles. My fury only fuels me. My time is coming.

Beware The Were-Bitch: PMS & You

I’m not sure how to write this post. I only just came to the idea that the sheer bald-faced panic I faced recently wasn’t cured by the extra sleep or the vitamins or my husband’s attention. It basically seemed to evaporate along with my menstrual period.

Indtruder

The call is coming from inside the house!

Fucking hell.

I have had this thought before, but my cramps are mild and I only bloat a little, I have always counted myself lucky that I don’t get a lot of the physical symptoms. So it never occurred to me that I might need to look out for extreme mental ones.

But last week, dear readers, things got dark for me. I kinda thought I was losing my mind or something. I seemed unable to communicate anything important to anyone and the whole world seemed to take on a dark pallor. (It didn’t help that it rained literally all week. Thanks, climate change!) But mostly I was just sickeningly tired. Head-pounding, stupidly tired.

That’s where I started looking for information. I was researching exhaustion and workplace mismatch. But I’m also finally desperate enough to acknowledge the timing of my little meltdown, and that it’s happened before. I was proud of myself for sailing through work pretty well despite wanting to hurt everything that moved.

I’m pretty practiced at it, actually.

I ended up looking at things for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – You become super-sad before your period. Because hormones, they think.

Needing five symptoms for a diagnosis, I easily checked off eleven.

Hmmm. I have not kept track of this because I have been on The Pill for most of the last 20 years, I don’t worry about when my period is coming. And my symptoms are so mild, right?

Crazy Eyes

No! I’m fine! Really!

In February 1963 Sylvia Plath carefully insulated her sleeping children before sticking her head far back in her oven. She had been notorious for intense mood swings and previous suicide attempts, while of course also composing some of the most evocative prose of her day. She was 30.

Years ago I read a convincing article that argued she suffered from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, in addition to Bipolar Disorder. But the picture was drawn of a young woman possessed by her monthly cycle.

I read this like watching a horror movie, then promptly filed it away. Such a frightening idea that someone so brilliant could be so ensnared by something so mundane.

And some people don’t believe PMDD exists at all. Dr. Joan Chrisler, who is a psychology professor and president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research insists it’s “culture-bound.” This implies women in other parts of the world don’t experience any of the familiar PMS symptoms.

According to Feminist Voices“Chrisler’s research on menstruation critically examines social understandings of menstruation, such as the cultural construction of ‘PMS’.  In speaking about the constructed history of PMS, she states, “it is amazing to think in the 1970s that nobody knew what it was and now everybody thinks she has it.””

Exasperated And Drunk

Feeling like shit – It’s the latest craze!

According to Medium, “these mood symptoms are culturally over-attributed to the menstrual cycle, and could be indicative of other issues — such as lack of social support, stress, declining health.” I think we’re onto something here.

“PMS, like the “wandering womb” and “uterine suffocation”, blames the female reproductive organs for negative conditions associated with those who have a uterus.” Hell yes. Maybe the common denominator is…. something else. But female=/=bad.

Medium wraps it up, “The underlying theme remains the same: that those born with a uterus are controlled by it.” Yeah, screw that! Just like men aren’t controlled by their…. Well they kind of are, tho’, right?

Every single one of these fun articles was inspired by the same book, The Geography of Madness by Frank Bures. In it he follows the concept around the world that some populations suffer from maladies that just don’t exist in other places.

He does report that symptoms such as pain, fatigue and bloating are pretty universal, but says Western psychosomatic mood issues stem from old ideas about “hysteria.”

I suspect the truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. For one thing, women outside of the West are discouraged from reporting and probably from feeling certain things, just like we are. Why is their lack of reporting emotional issues any more reliable than our experience of them?

And the serious mental issues many women report may be the kernel of truth behind what Hippocrates and all the rest have been gabbing about.

Time confusingly muses, “So is the concept of PMS just a remnant of sexist ideas about women’s changing moods from a time when most physicians were male? The new study from a team led by Dr. Sarah Romans of the University of Otago in New Zealand, reviewed 47 studies that followed women’s moods across the menstrual cycle, but unfortunately isn’t designed to provide an answer.

White Woman

Everybody knows white women are too busy loving white men to accurately experience our own lives!

“For one thing, because they wanted to look at healthy women, the authors excluded data on women seeking help for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a syndrome they do not dispute, in which 1% to 9% of women experience extreme mood problems related to the menstrual cycle.”

So, they admit it exists while dismissing the idea as medicalized moods. Bizarrely, the studies they cite didn’t find any consistent evidence of premenstrual anything. Which is weird, and all very well but I’m not seeing fuckin ghosts here. 

Maybe it’s the Western diet. Maybe it’s hormones in the water. Maybe it’s the special kind of shit we deal with every day. But more research and talking need to happen.

The American Psychological Association (the official psychologist’s club in the US) also quotes Dr. Paula Caplan as saying, “It is really appalling that using PMDD for women who want recognition for discomfort is a very clear message that goes something like: ‘OK, OK, we’ll believe you are feeling bad if we get to call you mentally ill for feeling bad.’ Can you imagine if we did that to men?”

Okay, true enough. Men do get to go around acting crazy an awful lot.

But Dr. Caplan, who wrote They Say You’re Crazycontinues, “emotional displays that are considered normal in men are seen as a mental disorder in women.”

That may be, but what I experienced last week was far from what I would consider normal emotional displays for anyone.

Salon gathers many threads around Sylvia Plath, explaining, “Plath endlessly noted her agonizing symptoms, castigated herself for her inability to gain control over her life, even dreamed frequently about her periods, and yet could not make the connection between her cycles of fertility and cycles of torment.”

X Ray

Internal organs only make you look fat, anyway!

And it can get worse as you get older.

How long has this been going on?? It explains the maddening tendency for my rage and anxiety to reappear seemingly out of nowhere. It could have served to help obscure the annual gulag that is seasonal depression. Salon quotes PMS expert Dr. Glenn Bair, “Depression is the slowest symptom to clear, and in fact seems to build up over time,” as your lack of ability to control your emotions starts to affect your life.

The American Psychological Association carries on being dismissive. Dr. Chrisler says that officially dubbing severe premenstrual symptoms a Disorder “allows you to hold onto a view of yourself as a good mother who doesn’t lose her temper.”

What mother believes such nonsense? For a group who claim to speak for women, these people are very dismissive of women’s stories.

It sure looks like a real thing to me. There’s a subreddit, of course. There’s this heartbreakingly eloquent essay by a woman who took the only way out she could find. She found relief by having all of her reproductive organs removed.

Ironically, what we have here is a disorder that most people assume is all in your head being dismissed by the head shrinkers as not existing at all. 

It sure looks real. In 1993 Dr. Jean Endicott of the New York Psychiatric Institute published a paper where she reported, “there is evidence from autopsies that completed suicide is more likely to occur during the late luteal phase of the cycle.”

Were Bitch

I feel something sneaking up on me!

What a tangled web we weave! In its introduction to the Sylvia Plath article, Salon explains, “Aesthetic purists tend to attack all such biological-influence theories as reductive,” which is a great way of saying no one likes to believe just how much the state of our brains affects the state of our minds.

I haven’t been treating myself well for a while now. It’s been a hellish year, no joke, on many levels. Still waiting for that lull where I can catch my breath and it just hasn’t come. The past couple months have seen my thoughts turn especially dark and it’s starting to get scary.

Hubs and I occasionally play with the idea of moving back to Cleveland. It’s where we met, where family still lives. But I’m not sure if life without seasonal depression is something I’m willing to give up.

I think if I take better care of myself this other ugly manifestation will fade too. As embarrassing as it may be, I’m excited to have a new puzzle piece. I’m tracking things for a couple of months to make sure, but the difference between this week and last week plus the deja-vu of it all have me pretty convinced.

And in the back of my mind, I have known it was getting worse for a while. PMS is usually reserved for punchlines, and I have been living with the mistaken assumption that strength of physical symptoms was an indicator of overall effect. It never occurred to me that when I thought I was losing my mind my body was just roaring its primal female scream.

If women had built the world, there would be entire subcultures and religions dedicated to the reproductive cycle. Sects of women in various states and phases of life, great works of art and literature, whole schools of thought informed by the experience of living in a female body.

You know, like how we’re always hearing about their goddam dicks.

As much as we hate to be reduced to our bodies, the somatic experience is a vital element in how we understand the world. If your brain is not working right, neither are you.

I need more veggies, exercise and sleep. I need a schedule that doesn’t involve being up half the night all the time. Maybe then I will find the energy to get things done.

I’m Not Scenery, Dammit!

Working late at McDonald’s and someone had decided to spray the wall behind the soda machine with ketchup.

Waitress

Cut me a break, these shoes are killing me!

To reach it I was given a sponge on a long handle. I leaned across the bar, scrubbing away at 11:45 on a Sunday night and cursing the idiot who didn’t understand that ketchup is one of the stickiest substances on Earth.

I stop to take a breath and glance over my shoulder to see the one person left in the place staring at me like I was the last 10 seconds of the football game he just had to tell me about on his way out.

I froze for a second, then dropped the squeegee and walked back over behind the counter to tell my supervisor about King Leer.

She threw her head back and laughed.

I tried to find other things to do in hopes he would leave when the dining room closed at midnight. That was also the end of my shift. I got tired of waiting and just climbed up on the damn counter. This creep was not going to keep me from going home.

Like every writer, I’m working on a novel. As I consider the tone of my tome I remember books and authors I have enjoyed. I feel the story has a thematic connection to the Beats, the Lost Generation of the 40s and 50s, so I tried to crack ‘On The Road’ again but I just don’t have the time to really sit and read.

Enter: audiobooks. Genius! I can read while I make dinner.

I have always sensed a kindred spirit in people who distill experience into a sharable item. I guess you’d call that Art. Kerouac talks about how he loves “the mad ones,” he tells how he finds himself following “the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing.”

Jeepers Peepers By Gil Elvgren

How long have you been standing there??

The whole thing sounds a bit manic to me but I feel what he’s saying. A theme of his is enthusiasm, how much he enjoys it in others and seeks to spark it in himself.

He’s making his frantic way Westward when, half an hour in, he mentions waiting a while at a bus station before leaving, having “watched a waitress for 30 minutes.”

The action moves on in Kerouac’s characteristically speedy way, this line a throwaway to give the (admittedly dull) passage some texture.

With him watching a woman’s body while she works.

This is the part where someone will say I am making something out of nothing. There is no harm in looking. Everyone has enjoyed the scenery now and then.

But I think we all know there’s a difference between appreciating someone rocking a tight pair of jeans and treating some working stiff as a private show.

And it took me right out of the damn book! I don’t give a shit that he described Dean’s wife as “a beautiful sharp little chick.” Getting upset over slang is silly. I don’t care about the hookup scenes or the casual examples of sexism (it was the 40s, what do you want?) It was more the fact that this was part of a description of time at a bus station along with what the pie tasted like.

Before too long the whole notion of him as some kind of starry-eyed witness to Life Itself started to wear on me. I love the idea of all-night talks but I would not have been invited to these.

Solitaire

Solitaire is a fun game too, I guess!

Where are the philosophical eddys of women writers who pioneered new frontiers of verbiage, aesthetics and drug use?

What have women been doing around kitchen tables for the last 5,000 years? Is it really nothing but homemaking and childcare?

Too often the voices saying interesting things are men’s voices. And then, with a flick of a wrist, he reminds me that I am not really invited to the party.

The weather was nice the other day, so I walked from the power company to the library. Literally next door. Waiting near the curb was a twenty-something guy with long black hair and a crutch.

He smiled. I smiled.

“I’m a sucker for a redhead!”

Good for you.

Want to see objectification in action? How about I’m not a fucking shrubbery? I was not placed here to beautify your view.

And as for Captain Creep, taking pleasure at someone else’s indignity is a violation of the social contract. No person has any dignity but what others give her.

How about I want to do my job without being scrutinized by perverts?

He hung around until I was done, making conversation on his way out the door like being nice to me made it okay. Typical self-rationalizing behavior.

I guess I will just have to create a pioneering community of intelligent women…. In between orders.