Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.

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Sage Leaves and Dirt

When was the last time my feet had touched the ground? Like, the real ground? Dirt? It had been two weeks at least. Maybe three. So I wandered out to the garden, barefooted and spirit trapped within its own internal war, but he moment my feet hit the grass I felt all that stress and anxiety release. There was sage for picking in the garden. I would start there.

I did not start at the sage, but rather in a desperate moment of anxiety I laid on the grass and stared at the sky for a while. Why? Because I wanted to be reminded that I was so small in so vast of a world. That problems of mine were just as fleeting as my own life, and would soon drift away as time passed. That feelings were just feelings, no matter how strong they are, and that they too could fail me just as my own body could.

I needed to be reminded that I was finite. That a hundred years from now it is unlikely that I will continue to exists in the physical world, and all my emotions and problems would too.

I found comfort in this. As I laid on the ground staring into the sky, watching the clouds change from gold, to pink and purple hues, I found comfort in knowing the sun would also set on my stress, my sorrows, my anxieties, and my whole life. Maybe not today, but one day. I let that comfort wrap around me as the sky deepened in its blue.

I picked my sage and smelled it as I walked back to the stone steps of my tiny porch. Putting a soft leaf in my mouth to chew, I took my last deep breath of fresh air before entering and closing the door. Who knew I could feel so much better with just sage leaves and dirt?

A Really Bad Dr. Visit

“So, I noticed you’re getting fat…”

Really? You couldn’t have said it nicer? You’re a medical physician. A specialist. Yes, I’ve gained weight, but seriously, 150 lbs is not that bad a weight for someone 5’4″ much less a diabetic who has only been skinny because of bad blood sugars for so long. I finally get healthy. I finally get on track. I finally have lower blood sugars and am eating right. Exercising for 30 min to an hour every day, and for what? You to sit in your white coat and crudely call me fat.

This is like, my worst nightmare and it happened only last week when I went to the doctor. I had gotten my blood sugars down for the first time in ages, and finally was food logging, exercising, and doing all kinds of stuff that I ought to be doing…only to have it once again not be enough. When we got home from my appointment I cried to my husband. I made false promises and threats never to eat again (I love food so we all knew it was a lie), and I walked, oh did I walk that night. An angry four mile walk where with every step I cussed out my doctor in my own head. Furiously. Violently.

I had worked so hard to get better, only to get the mixed message that I had gotten worse.

Insulin is not a cure to diabetes. Insulin, at least the more you take it, makes you fat. The fatter you get….the more insulin resistance you build, which means over time your body may not react to insulin anymore if you take too much. The fatter you get the more diabetic complications you can have too…all caused by taking insulin, the very hormone that is supposed to save your life.

Then they tell you, if the high blood sugars don’t kill your organs, being overweight will. So either way you lose.

Oh yeah, eat healthy and exercise right? That’s the cure! So many people talk about diet and exercise like it’s such an easy fix, but really the food industry makes even healthy living hard.

Insulin is like slapping a bandaid on the real problems. Like how healthy and low carb food costs so much money. How medical companies are afraid of us getting better because a healthy nation means they don’t make money. How most foods in the grocery store at all ever, are practically indigestible for the human body, have little to no nutritional value, and causes people to gain weight with high sugar, carb, and cholesterol content. The lack of fiber and protein content. Oh and don’t get me started on artificial sweaters (which also cause weight gain, cancer, and plenty of other issues). All things that cause so many health issues and weight problems in the US, and no one does anything about them.

I eat as low carb as I can in this kind of environment, increasing my proteins and vegetable intake considerably, and even use meal replacement protein shakes with less than a gram of carbohydrates in them (they taste like slightly sweetened chalk water with a touch of sadness, but I still drink them). Last week I managed to get to the store and get myself organic lettuce, organic peanut butter, organic frozen fruit (3 kinds), vanilla yoghurt, strawberry yoghurt, organic chicken breasts, and 5 varieties of organic and nonorganic fruit. It cost me just shy of $100. For so few items. Most of which were on sale. Then I made my husband Jumbalya, and couldn’t eat any of it….the struggle was so real.

Exercise then. Am I right? Surely that’s the cure!

I’ve exercised for 30 min to an hour every night for the last several months. No less than 30 min daily. Either a walk, a bike ride on my recumbent in the basement or outdoors, and playing Racquet Ball once a week for an hour every week with my coworker. Like, really high impact.

So what is a girl to do? How do I get healthy and lose weight as a type one diabetic? I’m considering eating some kind of parasitic worm at this point because I just freaking give up!

Unhelpful Criticism

“I don’t mean to use such harsh words, but this look like something our China team would come up with.”

Please tell me what in this phrase is a helpful direction? What does that even mean? I guess you would have to be a racist to know.

Clearly, my boss really struggles with giving constructive criticism.

This particular phrase really bothers me, firstly, because it speaks badly of a team that the owners of the company chose to work with overseas and that we are trying to have good communication and relationship with. I haven’t ever seen our China team come up with a design, and if they work for us and were chosen by our leadership, why are you insulting them? Aren’t we all working for the same goal? Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same side? Saying things like this puts a bad taste in the domestic team’s mouth and just makes you look racist.

Secondly, “don’t mean to use harsh words,” is not an excuse to then use the harsh words. You do mean to use them. We all know it. It only makes people more aware of how much you actually mean to use and are going to use harsh words. It means you are aware of how you sound. It means the words you have chosen to use, were selected and intentional to be harsh and you know it. Foolishly, you are trying to remove yourself from your own responsibility, which is an indicator of bad leadership. To be a leader is to have responsibility, and to show you wish to remove yourself from the responsibility of your position and the tact you know you ought to have while holding it lessens your dependability.

Constructive criticism doesn’t use “I” or “Me” statements. It explains why a design or photograph does or doesn’t work based off of brand goals and statements. It doesn’t use insulting analogies. It builds up where it needs to and it makes helpful….emphasis on helpful…suggestions to give a better direction.

Consider this a public service announcement.

Victims

My car was in the shop a few days ago, and since my husband and I get off work pretty close together, and our jobs are only a couple blocks away from each other. I told my husband if he dropped me off at work in the morning, I would walk over and meet him at the car in the parking lot at his place of business.

Big mistake. On the way, I got cat called not once, not twice, but 5 times…as well as followed.

The first one was pretty usual. A honk and some lewd yelling. I flipped them off and they sped up. The second was immediately after them, a small piece of the chain reaction, only this one was a man with a young boy no older than eight or so in the passenger seat. I kept walking and mumbled curses under my breath for that one. The third one was just a honk, and when I ignored it and kept walking, they made a u-turn and started back my way very slowly. That really freaked me out so of course, I ducked into the nearest business I could. A hardware store within the block of where my husband worked, and sharing a parking lot. I told the manager what happened, and asked him to forgive me for loitering for a while. He offered to call the cops. I told him I didn’t get a good enough look at the car to really have that be useful. Only that it was a blue car, darker blue, but not navy and not quite royal either. When we looked out to see if any blue cars were around, and saw none, I finally was ushered by the manager to exit the building out the back door to get to the shared parking lot faster.

When I got in the parking lot, and half way across nearly to our car on the far side (where employees are directed to park), I got cat called again. Twice. One guy hollered and I increased my walking speed. Then another guy from another car did too just as I reached for my door handle. I yelled back some vulgar words, remarking on the kind of trash I thought the guy was, since he was nearer to me and I had just about had it with cat callers for one day. He was older too, not like the previous four who were all probably under 40 or so I guessed. I got a better look at him than I did the others since he was closer and moving slower as he was leaving the parking lot.

Of course, when safely in the car I locked myself in, and turned on the AC full blast. The thermostat claimed it was 87 degrees. I felt like I was out of breath and melting. It had been a hot walk in my bootcut black jeans and blazer. What pissed me off was that nothing I was wearing was provocative. No makeup. Wearing all black with a company t-shirt underneath. Which also made me super aware that people who catcalled me on my way to my husbands workplace might now know where I work and watch out for me.

After a quick moment to catch my breath I called my mother to look busy in the car in hopes people would leave me alone. While recounting my tale to her, my mother remarked “I always worry about that with you. You’re so small. Anyone could just grab you up and throw you in a trunk.” Thankfully I’m pretty strong which I half heartedly pointed out to her, but she wasn’t wrong either. On a hot day wearing all black and exhausted by a long workday, I was probably a tired target…which might make me an easy one.

My mother had even asked what I was wearing on my walk after I had recounted my tale and calmed down, conditioned by the culture she grew up in, and every fiber of my feminist being was outraged and I got wound up again. Then I had to calm myself down once more as my heart raced in anger, disappointment, and fear. I was not alone, and how many other women had worse experiences on the matter than I? Too many. It made me angry for them. For the women who were asked the same questions. For the women who were victim blamed.

Why does anyone want to victim blame? It’s rude and insulting to the victim, and it doesn’t call-out the perpetrator for their harassment. II’ve thought about it for a while now. Why do people victim blame? The more I think about it the more complex the answers or reasons become. Part of it is I think people want to give others the benefit of the doubt to make their worlds feel a little safer. Cat callers mean no harm. They would never act on their catcall. It’s just a compliment right? Besides it doesn’t it take two to tango? Then there is the justification issues. Lot of people do it (apparently) so anyone might feel justified in asking how the victim may be asking for it because they have catcalled women before thinking outfits and mannerisms are some kind of justification for it. They want to justify their own actions so they don’t feel badly about it, or worse, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

When I was harassed, I felt objectified and upset, and when I was followed for a while by the blue car, it didn’t really feel like I was being complimented as some might think. It felt like I was being intimidated. Maliciously targeted. I was afraid. I hated it. Worst part? I got cat called walking to my car (which I had gotten back that afternoon from the shop) in the parking lot the next day when I left work.

So what do I do about it? I can’t go back in time and call cops or come up with better comebacks. So as an artist and letterpress printer, I decided to make posters. A weird response I know, but it was more or less to release my anger as well as an act of public service. Because letterpress printing has its therapeutic qualities. The result:

It’s a pretty great feminist work if I do say so myself. I also like how the image shows the rectum as well, so you can either think it says don’t be a dick, or don’t be an asshole! Or both! You can pick your part! This poster was also a really satisfying way to use my newly purchased gold ink, which looks beautiful on the black hand-cut card stock. Not bad, for my first truly feminist work.

Ideal Accident II

I know not a lot of people seem to believe in God given moments of strength anymore. Yet, even while I didn’t expect it, it was certainly made clear to me.

It’s amazing how in all His power He shows Himself in whispers. How clearly we see them after He has been so soft and subtle. How foolish I often feel that He was holding me in His hands and I never knew.

Yet, how many does He hold and they refuse to see.

Since the car accident, I have taken to heart a great deal of thankfulness and humility in a very short amount of time. Mainly because, it has come to my attention, that I did not once have a panic attack during our trip about driving. Even during and after the accident.

This is only a complete miracle. Considering that prior to the accident I had so many concerns about driving such long distances. Yet, in the moment of crisis, I was not panicked to dysfunction, but rather I was able to act in clarity and with sober (albeit shaken) emotions.

Upon this realization I thanked God feverishly over that. Because there is nothing within me that indicates that I should have been able to do so. Even my husband, whom I love and is usually the level headed one, was brought to an unreal place of panic that I had to coach him through after he got off the phone with the police. Even then I was so proud of him for holding it together while he called the cops.

Still, Im certain so little of that was in our own strength. It was clearly a God moment for me, and I continue to be shameless about telling myself and others that it was.

Not only that though. The fact that engineers were created to give us safe cars is a miracle. The fact that police officers put themselves in such a place of danger to help people like us on dangerous interstates is a miracle. The same for tow trucks who maneuver heavy machinery to keep the highways safe for others is a miracle too.

In light of darker times, seeing people help other people can also seem like a miracle.

Ideal Accident

People always say “It happened so fast,” and you nod in agreement usually because you can, to a degree, understand how an accident can only take a few seconds to happen, but unless you have been in an accident, you really don’t know how quickly “so fast” happens.

Today I learned the hard way.

We hydroplaned on the interstate and ran into the median. I knew the moment I tapped my break to decelerate from my cruise control as I felt my car fishtail that it had been a mistake to even tap the break at all. Neither of us was hurt. Both of us were shook up and knew we were not emotionally fit to drive.

The cop was really friendly. He issued no ticket since he had also been caught in the downpour prior and nearly lost control himself. Low visibility then too. Traffic didn’t slow. It didn’t even slow when we hit the wall, but then again we hit no one and thus no one felt obligated to stop. He kept saying how it was good that we were both buckled and that I did all I did to stay out of the rest of traffic, however ungraceful it felt.

My aunt drove us half way home, my dad met us at a park-n-ride and took us the rest of the way. We loaded, unloaded, and reloaded vehicles. I spent at least an hour on the phone with the insurance agent as we sat in a BK parking lot. In all honesty I told the insurance gal that if I had to have my first accident this was an ideal accident to have happen. It was near family. It was just us. I did all I could to stay in my lane and hit no one else. It could not have gone better as far as accidents were concerned. Still the sinking feeling of watching our own bumper get ripped off and the sparks flying as we scrapped helplessly to a halt against the concrete didn’t make the accident seem so ideal.

I wondered what would have happened if we had left a little later in the morning? If we had went to the in-laws first before we got on the road? Would conditions have been improved? Would it have mattered? Then, to top it all off, I totaled my husbands car and induced quite a panic attack in him. I kept finding myself asking if he was mad at me for breaking his car. He said he was mad that he didn’t have a car, but not mad that I had an accident. It wasn’t my fault. He was just glad we were alive despite his attachment to his little car, which was old and probably was nearing the end of its long life anyway.

A little whiplash had settled into my neck, so I took an epsom salt bath and some Tylenol after I had finished all my phone calls to the family. My husband joined me in the tub a little while later and held me close as I thanked God silently for the safety we were granted in our accident. We stayed there until the water cooled before snuggling our aching bodies in bed together and breathing in unison as the cats cuddled near our feet. We still had my car. We were alive and home. It was enough.

The Vacation That Wasn’t

When one goes on vacation in the area that family lives, one really isn’t on vacation. I have noticed this since becoming an adult, and it was further reinforced when I got married. We come to MI to relax, and … Continue reading

Panic Attacks and Long Drives

I was never this way before. I didn’t start having panic attacks until I was in college. Ever since then I feel like I’ve had them regularly for a few years. Medications don’t seem to help. In fact they make … Continue reading

Confession: Lost Boys and Long Drives

When my vacation time was officially approved, I felt a sense of dread. I enjoy visiting family for the most part, but it’s the freaking driving I cannot stand. Five hours through two large cities. I can’t handle it. Not … Continue reading