Monthly Archives: May 2011

Homesick in the Summer Time

Lately I’ve been feeling very nostalgic for the Midwest. I’m not sure what’s causing it, but it’s probably heavily influenced by the fact that two of my good friends from high school are getting married this summer and a third friend is engaged.  And they’re running around doing wedding planning together. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s summer time, and I wish that I was still in school so that I could be on summer break. Whatever the reason, I’ve been longing for my Indiana home…

Also, sorry about the lack of posts; life got super crazy with interviews and mild crises. I’ll be writing something more about Game of Thrones soon, and maybe a post on writing styles in fantasy novels. 

Oh, and now two escalators are shut down for repairs in Farragut North. When I say that the universe is out to get me/prove me wrong about things, I usually get a response along the lines of “the universe is too big to pick on you” etc, but I am beginning to believe that the universe is a micro-manager and likes to fuck with people sometimes, just to laugh. That is all. Have a great week. 🙂

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Sorry for the Convenience

“Escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience” – Mitch Hedberg

So any of you who live in the DC area and ride Metro are well aware of the elevator/escalator problems that our decaying public transportation system has. During the Rally for Sanity, an escalator in L’Enfant Plaza suffered from a brake failure and collapsed, injuring several people and causing quite a pile-up. I live on the Red Line, which has been undergoing intense maintenance since the crash in June of 2009, and I have come to accept the fact that there are delays pretty much every other day. I read about people complaining about Metro in The Express, and the answers given aren’t very encouraging. So I’ve just come to accept that I should be grateful that we have public transportation at all and that things will be fixed when they’re fixed.  Coming from a city with absolutely no public transportation at all, I honestly thought Metro was the greatest thing ever when I first moved here. Now, I cautiously watch the ceiling in the Farragut North station, waiting for a chunk of concrete with my name on it to come crashing down.

But I think people make too big of a deal about how slowly Metro is fixing itself. Metro has budget problems just like everyone else, and they’re doing their best. They’re under a lot of heat right now from the public and the media, so things are going to get fixed; we just have to be patient. At least we don’t have huge rats wandering around, stealing our lunches and possibly training mutant turtles of adolescent age to become ninjas (although that would be really cool and I’d be jealous of NY if that actually happened…).

So with that said, I would just like to share my experience of confusion and joy this morning. One of the escalators at Farragut North has been out of commission for about 5 months, meaning that riders have had to walk to the other side of the platform to ride up, or walk up the other escalator that was “temporarily” stairs. Not a huge inconvenience, but still mildly annoying. As I exited my train this morning, still sleepy and lacking coffee, I turned to the right like I always do to climb the temporary stairs. And I stopped and stared in wonder. Instead of a stopped escalator next to a closed-off-in-work escalator, there was a stopped one and, GLORY HALLELUJAH!, a pristine escalator going up. I looked behind me to the other side-by-side escalators to make sure that I didn’t just get turned around in the morning, but there were the two reliably working ones that had always been there. The escalator really was fixed. Now normally, I walk up the escalators even when they’re moving, but to savor every moment of this miracle this morning, I just stood and enjoyed the slow progression upwards.

It’s the little things in life that make a day awesome. Happy Friday.

Pills vs People

A person in my life has been suffering from depression lately, and it’s so hard to watch. I’ve never really been on the other side of this as much as I’ve been lately. I mean, I recognize that my mother was depressed a lot as I was growing up, but I think she did a pretty good job of hiding it from her kids. I’m usually the one lying unresponsive on the couch, watching life through the TV because I just don’t have the energy to get up and do anything. It’s very strange to be observing this behavior instead of engaging in it, and it’s clarified and strengthened my views on depression, pills, our society, and marijuana.

My friend’s (lets call him Darien) doctors have been prescribing him all sorts of pills. At one point, he was up to 9 a day and taking well over the recommended dosage for most of them. Pills to help him sleep, pills to help him wake up, pills for anxiety, pills to make him sick if he drank, pain pills, etc. Pills. Pills. Pills. Darien was supposed to go to AA to handle some drinking issues associated with all this mess, and his shrink usually couldn’t see him regularly at all. Now I’ve never personally gone to AA, but from the stories I’ve been told, I never will. Cause some of these people have PROBLEMS. Like trading their children for alcohol type of problems. Which is a lot different than just people who tend to drink a lot when they’re unhappy and can’t seem to control it. AA is not group therapy. I would probably come out of it feeling more depressed and needing a drink. Now I’m sorry if this feels like I’m trashing AA; I understand that the program has changed countless lives and really does help people. I’m just saying that it’s not for everyone and it’s not for every drinking/substance abuse problem. And it wasn’t helping Darien. So he was basically sitting alone in his house all day except for a few random doctor’s visits and meetings, popping pills and hoping that it would all get better.

Well here’s a huge shocker: it didn’t. That’s because while pills can be helpful tools sometimes in some cases, they are not a solution to everything, and I wish that our society would realize that fact. In most behaviorial medicine, we don’t even know the full extent of what the meds do! Listen really carefully to that next SSRI commercial on TV; you’ll notice the phrase “<insert medicine here> is believed to <insert pretty picture of synaptic gaps, serotonin, etc>.” My medicine is believed to do something? Like if I believe it will work, it will? I know what they’re really saying: we’ve tested this product out on people like you and we’ve observed these consistent changes. That’s awesome, I’m glad that you’ve recognized some of what these chemicals do to my body. What else are you doing to me that you don’t know about? One of Darien’s medications actually caused him to have more anxiety, and it was such a rare side effect that his doctors at the time didn’t link it to the prescription; they simply tried to treat it with more pills. We’re treating pills with more pills. Seriously?! He got a new doctor, who took him off of about half of what he was taking, and he’s feeling better. Still depressed, but better.

So here’s a little medicine that I’ve witnessed firsthand with Darien. Its side effects are happiness, sleepiness, slight paranoia, and hunger. Oh yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Marijuana. Now he’s only smoked thrice since I’ve known him and all three times have been when he feels like his medicine has failed him and he has to calm his shit down. And you know what? It works. He feels calm immediately afterwards, and he is more productive and motivated the next day. None of his prescription medications do that. Unfortunately, after telling his doctors and the program he was attending that his medicine wasn’t working and not getting any serious response from them, he smoked. He felt better. He was helping himself where they were failing him. And they kicked him out of his program. That’s messed up. I mean, I can see things from their perspective too. It was a substance abuse program, and the participants are supposed to stay clean. But it’s not like he’s a regular user or even abuser of pot, and he kept pestering them about how bad he still felt and they did nothing.

Ok, so even though I think that marijuana is far better than pills for anxiety and depression, I think there’s an even better cure: people. One of the worst things about depression is feeling alone. Darien is alone in the house all day, every day, watching TV. Days begin to blend together, all motivation is lost, and time begins to mean absolutely nothing because it just keeps dragging on. Circumstances like that would drive a completely stable person a little crazy, so what effect do you think it has on a person who’s already a little off his rocker? We are mainly social creatures that need to interact with other people. Even introverts need company sometimes. I fully believe that companions or life coaches are one of the best ways to combat depression. In my mind, they’d be sort of like the companions that old people have sometimes. You know, they help them take their meds, buy groceries, get to doctor’s appointments, etc. But depression companions would help the depressed person work towards their goals and keep them motivated. When Darien’s sister was in town, he was the most active I’d seen him in months. He was sleeping on a more regular schedule, getting up and staying up most of the day, and helping around the house. It’s because he had to entertain his sister and do things with her. A companion would serve the same function. They’d make sure that a good combination of diet, exercise, and activity worked to help the person get their life back on track. I realize that this is probably impossible for most people because it would cost a lot more than even prescription meds (which are already ridiculously expensive), but I still think that it would work the best. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to him wanting to get better and finding the motivation to help himself.

I just really wish that our society viewed depression differently. Doctors overdiagnose people with it all the time and throw pills at them that they don’t need. What people need is to not feel alone with all of their problems in this chaotic and unstable world that we’re in. This is one of the downfalls of being a competitive, dog-eat-dog, capitalist society.

The Fake Feminist

Feminism has been brought to my attention a lot lately, probably because I’ve been reading the “TwoXChromosomes” subreddit a lot. And one thing that weighs heavy on my mind is the “fake feminist.” Now this is a girl that gives all feminists one bad reputation. Let me paint you a picture of this ignorant chick.

First off, she obviously calls herself a feminist. But anyone who knows anything about feminism and men’s rights should be able to see through this lie right away. She only believes in policies that bring down men instead of lifting up women to a level of equality with men. She believes that she should get a job over a man with better credentials because she’s a woman. Anything that isn’t fair in the workplace she blames on the fact that she is a woman, not the fact that she’s completely incompetent. Being a woman is her trump card to everything. She’s in a bitchy mood, but she’s allowed to be ’cause she’s a woman on her period. She tries to dress in power suits and hide the fact that she’s a woman because she claims that she’ll be treated differently if she flaunts the curves God gave her. She claims to not need any help from men because she’s strong and independent and can do it herself, but she gets offended when a man doesn’t hold a door open for her. She uses inconsistent language. She’ll bitch and moan whenever someone uses the word “bitch” because it’s degrading to women, yet she’ll have the audacity to say something like “That exam totally just raped me” and think nothing of it. She calls herself a feminist because she wants to be strong and equal, but she doesn’t know how and would rather drag men down to her level than nut up and play with the big boys. She is usually a spoiled brat.

To all the Fake Feminists out there: You disgust me. I consider myself a feminist, and your actions make me and those like me look like bitches. You’re the reason we have a bad rap of man hating and whining.

Here’s how I believe a true feminist should behave. She’s confident in her looks and knows that dressing in pretty colors, skirts, lace, and frills isn’t making her any less serious. In fact, it doesn’t matter what she wears because she’ll get the job done either way. She’s strong and confident– the kind of woman who can strut her stuff in 6 inch heels or flats or sneakers. She holds herself accountable for her actions and rises to the challenge of keeping up in a fast-paced business world. She juggles a career and a family, sometimes with grace, sometimes with a lot of coffee. Or she focuses on a career. Or she focuses on a family. Doesn’t matter because it’s her choice.  She respects everyone despite their gender, holds doors open for everyone behind her, helps elderly citizens across the street, and saves kittens from trees. … Okay maybe I went a little overboard. But the point here is that she treats everyone as an equal and her attitude towards life demands that she be treated as an equal as well. She is a mature adult who understands that the world isn’t fair and that to blame it on being a woman only adds to the problem and doesn’t solve anything.

Feminism is not about holding men down so that we can rise up. It’s about being completely equal and holding our own. It’s about the choice to be able to do what we want with our lives, our careers, and our bodies. The fake feminists try to take away men’s rights just because they can’t figure out how to live in what they call a “man’s world.” Fake feminists, put on your big girl panties and learn to deal with it because life is not going to slow down for your spoiled asses.

I believe that beside every good feminist is a good partner, supporting her when she needs it and whom she can support when s/he needs it.