on aimlessness & anxiety

it’s been awhile since i’ve written anything. it’s been awhile since i’ve drawn anything. it’s been awhile since i’ve felt settled in myself at all. these past few weeks i’ve felt this hyper-anxious, single-minded focus ― i’m a girl on the prowl (for employment). if i’m not scrolling through Indeed or updating my Get A Job tracking spreadsheet, i’m anxious. and i’m feeling the thing even when i’m not doing the thing ― it’s been hard for me to focus on conversations with friends/my girlfriend, on reading or watching things, on doing anything at all besides securing that $dough$. it’s about the money, of course (getting a job i mean), but it’s also about the stability. it’s about knowing i can continue to pay my bills and save and do some fun things. it’s about the boredom that’s come after weeks of looking for a job and not actually having much to do during the day. and not feeling able to enjoy the gift of free time (as i could consider this if i were more Evolved) i have right now, because i’m so focused on needing to fill it again with another 9-5 job.

i’m scattered; this is scattered. like i said, it’s been hard for me to focus my thoughts.

i think we probably do talk about aimlessness after college and i’m just late to the game on this, but truly it is soul crushing how little i know what i want to do with myself. and honestly, not to be a giant pessimistic fatalist (because i know that’s not how you Get Things Done) but looking at climate reports, for example, does not inspire confidence in our collective future, so the question of “what’s the point?” seems to take on a deeper level of meaning than maybe it did for our parents or even for the earlier millennials.

i’ve really been grappling with a lot of identity and existential questions too. and then like, the big C questions ― i.e. on capitalism. trying to find a job and a purpose when all work you do for money is fundamentally involuntary and tied to the continuation of a capitalist system. because we need a certain amount of money to meet our basic needs and to achieve any sort of freedom from capitalism (link to Umair Haque’s piece on the matter; his work is spectacular) that allows us to begin to pursue our actuals “passions” and “interests” i.e. anything that may give us a sense of joy and contentment in our lives. i hate being alive in the time of capitalism. we are, at this moment in history, able to effectively end it. but america is, and has always been, a self-immolating garbage heap of a nation, and thus will never prioritize the safety, health, and happiness of its people.

so then, a big question ― what brings me joy? spending time in nature, wind in tree leaves, reading outside under blankets, drawing pictures while watching cartoons. #bubbline. sometimes baking. taking walks. fall. windy days, rainy days. cuddling. watching movies with popcorn. writing, even if it’s silly and inarticulate, even if i’m not great at self-editing yet because i’m too impatient (working on it) (#Sagittarius).

so then, another big question― how do i want to spend my working days, and is it possible to align my work with what brings me joy? or should i focus on having day-work that i can compartmentalize entirely such that i have enough left of myself to focus on joyous work after job work? struggling with this. i have a few job prospects open now (i’m hearing back about next steps or no next steps today) and they range between 1) something distant from my own self, 2) something with socio-political meaning, and 3) something artistic that i think would really stretch me and help me grow. naturally the last option is the one whose phone interview i think i flubbed.

and a third question ― how do i do good in the world and not check out to just focus on my own self and my own happiness? how do i help to un-do this shitty system and the violence it necessarily imparts to us all? focusing on joining the DSA (despite it’s many and varied flaws), focusing on participating and giving where i can.

i dream more and more of leaving the city and living in a little house in the woods somewhere. not sure how i’d swing that, except that it turns out you can buy nice houses for cheap in most non-new jersey places. kind of thinking that that would be an entirely selfish decision ― running away from the big bad city with all its violence and complications and beauty and humanity to self-isolate as the world falls apart around me.

and on that note! wish me well these next few days as i hear from some jobs and see if this little bit of time is over or stretching along. regardless i don’t know that i have answers to the above, so am working on stepping into the grey aimlessness and holding still there. resisting the urge to move, and move, and move, and learning to stay still in discomfort.

 

on #kava-NAW, sexual trauma, and & trying to live your damn life

CW: sexual assault, Kavanaugh confirmation

 

you know what’s surreal? trying to go about your day while being constantly re-traumatized by the news cycle.

full disclosure: i haven’t yet watched the kavanaugh hearings, and i’m beginning to doubt i ever will. and actually what i mean is i haven’t watched kavanaugh’s part of the hearings. i stumbled upon Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimonies at the laundromat – i hadn’t even realized the hearings were happening. i loaded my clothes into the washer and stared up at her face, imagining the sea of white men she had to look into as she bared her trauma to the world. imagining the fear, and the simmering rage, and the knowledge that unless she kept absolutely cool, calm, collected throughout, her emotions would be weaponized against her, against all women.

because #yesallwomen. yes all women have experienced harassment. yes all women have experienced assault (in some way). yes all women are subjected to (some form of) gendered violence. and yes, that includes transfemme folx, it basically includes all of us but cishet men.

anyways. i was at the laundromat, i hadn’t even realized the hearings were happening that morning. i hadn’t even realized i was about to be asked, yet again, to feel the things i do about my own assault. about my sister’s assault. about my mother’s. about my friends’ assaults. about the many named and unnamed assaults that have happened and do happen and will continue to happen because the problem is not that the world won’t #believesurvivors, won’t #believewomen. it’s that the world doesn’t care. the people in power do not care. cishet men do not care. why should they? to care is to acknowledge that their power rests upon centuries of violence against womxn, that entire societies exist only in the way that they do because some people — women, people of color, indigenous people — are oppressed, while others are awarded undue amounts of power.

i was at the laundromat, and then i was home, and then i was applying to jobs, and then i was walking to meet my girlfriend. and then i would open twitter, and then i would see the news, seemingly the only news, and then — racing heart, panicky, on the verge of tears, because y’all, it’s just so fucking unfair. how can this be real? how i can be sitting here, years and years of womxn’s activism behind us, and still Dr. Ford will not receive recognition for her trauma? still, there are tens of qualified men who could be put on the supreme court (which like… the matter of whether that court should even exist is a conversation for another day), but still, the GOP and the government will uphold this one man, this one man who is proven to have assaulted, proven to have a blackout drinking problem, proven incapable of addressing past mistakes — still, he will end up being judge to us all.

how can it be that i was raped and i spent two years denying it, how can it be that i blamed myself when later i learned that my rapist was a serial offender, how can it be that so many of us are sexually violated, brutally violated, our brains and emotions and bodies breached, and still, this? it’s fucking unfair. it truly is.

and to be asked to continually process all of this, right now? i’m trying to apply to jobs. i’m trying to date someone. i’m trying to be happy. i’m trying to get my shit done. i’m trying to remember to take my iron pills, for god’s sake, i don’t have the time or energy to be pulled into rehashing my own trauma, but still i am, we are, asked to.

i think about the idea that people pose, that abusers necessarily dehumanize their victims. i don’t think it’s so. dehumanizing isn’t the right phrase. we aren’t being dehumanized. it’s just that our humanity weighs less in the that of cis men. our humanity means less, our humanity counts less. we remain utterly human in the eyes of our abusers, and that’s why they abuse us. their abuse of us would mean less and carry less power than if we were less than human.

standing with all survivors this week, and sending my most loving, strengthening vibes. we need it. ❤

overnight, again (& what am i doing??)

hello, i am stresst. i am on another overnight shift. that makes 3 in less than a week, and 1.5 day shifts – 56 hours working, 36 of which were overnight. it’s rough. i was expecting rough, but it’s rough.

more than rough, it feels bottomless. i was talking to a friend who has been doing night shifts for a while now, and in his experience, you just basically don’t recover (until you stop doing them, that is). if your work schedule is entirely overnight shifts, you get a chance to reach some inverted equilibrium – but then you sacrifice daytime activities, you sacrifice the energy to socialize, to do anything much during the day besides rest and recover. if your work schedule switches back and forth between day and night as mine does, you’re kind of just fucked. night shifts fuck with your body in all sorts of ways.

i feel like such a baby. i’ve been here for like a month, and i’m already so stressed and tired and want out. at my last job, i really hated my workplace and how it functioned towards the end and was so, so bored of the work i was doing. i was so excited about this job — it’s with an organization that does really good work, meaning community-centric, socially aware, effective work. and it’s hands on, which was something i thought i’d been missing at my old job. i enjoy it, but i also find it stressful — i’m still getting to know the residents (i’ll be settled in one location soon, but have been jumping around), and the schedule is so much. especially because i need to find another job, which means working another 20-30 hours a week on top of the 24 i’ve committed to this job. it just feels like a lot, y’all. like there’s not a lot of room to practice self-care, socialize, do anything outside of work.

i think one of my biggest problems is aimlessness. people talk about your 20s as this period of trying to figure things out, but the reality is so… i don’t know. i don’t know what i want to do, so i keep trying these things and not finding them particularly satisfactory. and i’m prone to anxiety and depression (though i’m medicated and the most stable i’ve ever been right now) which makes me feel weak — i get anxious and stressed and feel hopeless, and then i’m mad at myself for being weak, for not being able to handle things, even though i’ve been feeling stable. especially working where i do, with people who have so much more to deal with than me, who are up against so much more… and i’m this weak? people have jobs they hate all the time (me at my last job) and in fact that seems kind of like the norm. people have jobs that are stressing and they still do them, because they have to, because we all have to. i had a 9-5 job and now i don’t and want one back; i wanted to do more hands on work but i’m finding myself not up to the task (i.e. the hours).

i don’t know, y’all. i’m just already thinking about what’s next and not knowing, and that’s stressful. i feel stuck in my own aimlessness, in my own choices, in this choice, in this Good Work. trying to think of things that i can do to pay the bills and maintain some semblance of sanity and balance. been thinking about doing THAT kind of work, if you know what i mean, because there are ways of doing it that aren’t doing all of it, and it can be lucrative, and it seems like a way to feel secure, i guess. i’m just lost and wanting some kind of direction to head towards for what’s next, i guess.

a small violence (TW: sexual assault/violence; writing prompt)

Prompt: write about a small violence.

 

I tried to do it to myself, the small violence. It was August, and heady. I just wanted to do something meaningless, moorless; I just wanted to have my body do a meaningless act. I didn’t want to bother with emotions. I wanted the kind of solitary feel-nothing hookup sex that everyone else seems to have. I brought him to a party where the theme was finding a date online — I operated through Tinder.  We kissed, and if I had thought harder I should have realized that it would be no good. It was rough, no finesse — rote moves, squeezing chest, ass, rubbing p*ssy through jeans in quick, cyclical succession. (Wearing a path.) We kissed shamelessly against the brick wall holding up my friend’s apartment building; I reveled in the randomness of it, the publicness. I guess I’ve got some exhibitionist in me — I relished the cars behind us, paused for the traffic light, doubtless (blessedly) watching. Anyway.

Later, when his body rose up over mine — I still didn’t realize. He left the lamp on and we removed our clothes, separately, and he rose up over me, stroking on the condom. I lay there and felt as detached as I had wanted — I forgot myself and the reality of my body, forgot the thick heaviness of my middle, weight I’d put on during a recent sad spell, forgot that I had worried I’d feel embarrassed, naked. Then he was on me and that’s when I realized it wouldn’t work. Literally would not work — my body would not let him in.

And the harder he tried to enter — lube and fingers and more and more pressure — it hurt and I felt the frustration rise, a bile, and then quickly, panic. It wouldn’t fit, it wouldn’t work, it hurt it hurt and then suddenly I was back under the boy who raped me, my first time having sex, having sex done to me, even though that time he hadn’t been on top, I had been on top, kissing and then suddenly pain and burning and I was crying but he was still having sex with me and that’s all I really remember. He’d come home with me after we’d danced, after we kissed outside, laying on the dusty ground, after I’d thrown up all over my shoes and some on him too, after I’d begged off and he claimed to have been locked out of his own room and couldn’t he stay in mine? After – after – but really I barely remember.

It’s not uncommon, actually, though I only heard it called by its name a few months ago. Vaginismus. Painful sex, extreme tension — from trauma, from anxiety, my body tightening to wall out intrusion, a sort of inverted vagina dentata. The “cure,” if it’s to be taken as such, is to go slowly, so slowly, with someone you trust. But the reason I chose a boy to fuck, senselessly, is that I wanted the senselessness. I didn’t expect it would be good. I just wanted to drown myself in another body, detach. I couldn’t do that with a girl.

It’s frustrating to have even the ability to be reckless with your own body taken away from you — swallowed, somehow, into your trauma. It’s frustrating that my body won’t do what I want it to, makes me make much of something that I don’t want to have to think about, forces me to look at a trauma I rarely think about and thought I had recovered from and see that it’s lingering (festering, waiting). It makes me feel weak and angry — I didn’t think it would be a big deal but my body made it a big deal. My body feels like it somehow belongs to my trauma, not to me — a small, terrifying violence.