I bought a book of curses
All cataloged and tagged
To help me learn the words
To reverse the curse I had
It had curses born of fear
Of misery and woe
Curses of obsession
Curses of control
Curses of dark visions
Of sleeping and food
Curses of focus
Curses of mood
Yet to my growing horror
Not a single note was had
On how to end a curse
Once you’ve been branded mad
But I learned to speak in curses
And I realized as I spoke
Although the world may curse you
It can’t erase the words for hope
*A quick ode after finishing my first grad course in Intro to Psychopathology! Gosh the DSM-5-TR is a scary book - and no, there are no actual treatments in the entire tome. Only diagnostic criteria. And if like me you wonder how any medical science could train its practitioners on how to diagnose a problem without a clearly linked treatment for it - then I would challenge you to define what the real problem we are diagnosing might be.
Pineapple Belongs On Pizza
It's sweet and it's savory. I don't really give a fuck what you think, it tastes amazing and I will take a slice of Hawaiian pie over any Italian concoction you can craft any day of the week.
Also - I've been to a Nickelback concert. No regrets.
If we want to discuss whether you should have a dog or a cat I suggest cats are better for anxiety, as their purrs are calming and their general presence is serene/solitary; whereas dogs are better for depression, as they are energetic and loyal whilst getting you out of the house. If you have anxiety AND depression just get both - fuck the binary.
Which, while we're on the subject, do I think gender matters? No, it shouldn't. But are humans inherently flawed fuck-up's who run their lives on stereotypes and love boxing themselves in with labels like a 5-year-old's Valentine Day art project? Hell yes, they are. If we're not going to stop and unpack our shitty made up social norms then at the very least we should have the common courtesy to allow others to choose which ones they want rather than forever damn people by their genitals. Fuck genitals. No literally - that's all they're meant for, they have zero impact on personality or preferences that was their only fucking job. Get over them already and stop assigning genitals to arbitrary shit like razor blades or shoes. Shoes don't even go there.
And speaking of razor blades fuck shaving. I quit.
Guns suck. I don't give a shit if you like them, you know what else Americans like? Cars. Can we kill people with cars? Absolutely, we do it every fucking day. But we still regulate that shit and force you to take a test, get a license, and hold fucking insurance for owning one. Do the same goddamn thing with guns and stop whining like some fucking future terrorist anytime somebody raises the specter of government regulation. Government exists because you're stupid. Be grateful, somebody would have shot you by now without a law against it. Hell they still might. At least you could sue if it was fucking regulated.
Rent. Is. Too. Damn. Fucking. High. Hello, Boomers. If I walk into one more coffee shop and listen to whiny homeowners who bought their shit in the 80's complain about how nobody wants to work anymore when it would take a salary of at least $24/hour to rent an average apartment in the U.S. I swear to god I will hit people. But not with guns. Because those suck. I have fists and I'm not a monster. Pass some fucking rent control already you goddamn dinosaurs, you control all the politicians anyway and your asses are gonna get kicked out on the street soon when your mobile home lot gets bought up by another investment firm. One third of this country can't afford a home and the cost of housing has skyrocketed 400% in the past twenty years alone, what the hell have you idiots been doing - sucking Reagan's dick? He's dead already - just like our deregulated economy. Our generation is now the first in American history to be worse off than its predecessors and there are literally hundreds of charts that can pinpoint the fall point to those choices you made and continue to make to this day without learning a goddamn thing while your children and grandchildren suffer the consequences. Well done, selfish pricks. Please die already.
Like the environment, which also got royally screwed by the last generation (thanks for thinking of us!) and is now a total shit show. It is 98 in May right now and we went from droughts to super floods in a decade, yay. Whatever real estate is affordable is increasingly located in a newly formed desert with less and less water. You wonder why we're not having children? What the fuck would we leave them with? Sand? Ashy post-wildfire asthma? Where are we getting water for all these new humans - our melting ice caps?
But God forbid we stop having those children, which is why you absolutely had to rescind abortion rights so that women can now bleed out in front of hospitals that are too afraid to treat them the way they used to in the fucking dark ages - because the needs of the unborn outweigh the needs of the living apparently, particularly women. That genital lottery just sucks, doesn't it? And then you freak out when somebody suggests they could change genders - why, because then you might start losing your forced breeders? Well gosh, maybe if you ACTUALLY GAVE A SHIT ABOUT PEOPLE and put any effort towards child care, maternal health, paternity leave, or family cost of living people wouldn't see children as the economic death sentence they've become. Or here's a thought - why don't we just mandate vasectomies for boys aged 15 and up? They're easy and reversible, unlike the same procedure in women which can't be undone or even requested until your 38 or already had three kids. Or maybe we could mandate castration for rapists - no repeat offenders, win win! Wait, what's that? We can't regulate male bodies? God damn those genital values again.
Yet despite all the extremely infuriating setbacks facing my generation and the next one I will at least always have pineapple options for my pizza. Maybe I'll go crazy - add some green peppers. Hell they could put corn cobs as crust - I've seen it, it's real! Let's just go crazy, the world's ending anyway. And in thirty years when my dementia kicks in and I can no longer keep working even part time to pay my eternally rising rent, I'm sure I'll still be able to go purchase a gun and shoot myself after I take one last long final vacation. Because America may never have universal health care, basic income, guaranteed and sufficient social security, or the right to housing. But hey we'll always have the right to buy a gun.
And put whatever the fuck we want on a pizza.
Bring Me Men
I grew up in a small roughneck town of about 5000 people. I got into my first "fight" (no fists, mostly just yelling) with a boy when I was four. He accused me of not being a girl because my hair was too short. My opinion of boys ever after was that they were dumb and bad at listening.
As I grew older and puberty hit getting mistaken for being boy wasn't an issue, but dealing with them continued to be a pain. I resorted to watching them together - I had more than a few male friends, how hard could this be - and figuring out what MADE them listen. Sometimes that was taking advantage of my early puberty voice and yelling at them like their mothers, using scary grown-up words if I had to. Sometimes it was a swift kick to the shins before the teacher saw. Sometimes, after those steps, it was watching them in the moments when they got quiet and seeing what lay underneath the idiocy.
Because they honestly thought they were stupid.
I was a straight A little hustler, working my ass off to maintain the GPA my parents assumed I was naturally capable of making (natural my fucked up anxious ass) and so to me the idea of "getting" the homework or figuring out things didn't seem like such a big deal. It was just what I did. But as I sat at the table with my assigned seatmates - three of the biggish, brutish, worst behaved boys in class, who decided THAT seat order - and I suddenly went over how to fill in the worksheet I realized they'd all fallen quiet.
"How'd you get that? I didn't get that at all."
Pause. "I just listened to what the teacher said and read the instructions."
"Oh. You're smart."
The unspoken? We're not. It dawned on me in that moment that they literally thought they were less intelligent and incapable of doing the work.
My teacher had failed them.
I immediately went Hermione Granger on this shit.
"Look - you're not stupid. If the teacher could explain this well enough we'd all get it. That's their job. Here, watch - we do this, like they said, but then you add here..." and I quickly broke down the steps, raising my loud little voice up and pumping as much drill sergeant bravado in as I could (never show weakness as a little boy - rule number one).
Over time and looking back I realized things I hadn't noticed as a young kid myself back then. Our teachers weren't the only failures. Those boys came from "factory families" - folks who had spent generations as assembly line labor, which was probably a step up from mining coal. When your entire history is basically being a dumb cog, drinking beer, knocking up your childhood sweetheart, and living in a trailer - why would you imagine anything else? You're asking kids to go above and beyond what they know without giving them any hope for it. And you expect them to believe you?
While I used to resent being the straight A kid, I also had a major leg up because adults treated me differently. I had expectations. And the key thing about expectations is people don't set them when they don't think you're capable of achieving them. These boys had barely any expectations for their behavior. And the underlying message, the one every adult repeated whenever they gave up or didn't bother holding them accountable, responsible, or capable, was I can't.
I've thought myself bossy, angry, hot-tempered, stubborn, or downright bitchy if I'm being honest - but end of the day what I do is I hold my expectations. Do not tell me you're stupid. I know you can figure shit out. Do not tell me you're just a jerk. I've seen you behave better. Do not joke that you're another loser. You only lose when you don't bother to take a shot. And do not expect me to do all the believing in you - grow up and believe in yourself.
I don't know what the male equivalent of Oprah is (Ron Swanson? Honestly the binary is exhausting, I don't even care) but I do know that as a society we need to hold expectations for each other. We need to demand better behavior, not only for our own benefit but because when we tell each other, "I know you can do better," what we're really saying is "I still believe in you - don't let me down."
There's a lot of countries that do not have 911.
What I mean here is in the event of an emergency - you do your best.
I think of this a lot whenever I have anxiety, which might seem counterintuitive, but it actually helps me relax. Because I have a magic number I can dial to summon help, 24/7. Does it matter if they get there in time or I can afford it? Nope.
For a brief period of my life I lived without this magic number. Not only no magic number, but very little safety net whatsoever. We would probably classify it as a third world country; I was in a car accident (van tipped over, jostling everybody inside not wearing seat belts, crawled out the busted windshield after trying not to fall on the people below me) and had to call colleagues to come pick me up from the side of the road at 2 AM. Luckily no injuries; that coulda been harder to handle.
Yet strangely nobody really had anxiety there. Not like here where we stress over paying the rent or making a difference in our career. Those weren't even considerations. You just lived. Like a can getting kicked down the road, life just happened - you didn't have to think about it that hard. It would work out. You asked people for help when you needed it, you did what you had to do, done. There might be a sense of "Gosh, life could be better," whenever you watched the media and saw all those richer countries portraying their cultures and big, shiny homes; but your choices and options were limited so there was no sense of "Man, I'm not making it because I don't have that." You enjoyed what you had and you seized opportunities as they came. So much simpler.
I forget that sometimes as I'm getting older now. I forget that I can actually just sit back and do the bare minimum, and life will keep going. I don't have to think about it or stress about it; I just get up again tomorrow. I can enjoy what I have and seize opportunities as they come. It's not really more complex here it just feels that way sometimes.
I've struggled lately and thought I should try to get some therapy. But, similar to that magic number, I've had trouble getting therapy for most of my life. Would it be nice to have that psych sitting there and helping me out? Sure.
But if it doesn't happen, meh. Life will keep going.
I'll get up again tomorrow.
Eventually, slowly, I'll enjoy what I have.
One day, maybe awhile away, I'll seize an opportunity.
Meanwhile, for now, I just remember my magic number. I remember how nice it feels to have one. And I remind myself that even when I didn't have it, everything worked out okay. Because I can handle life. It doesn't require that much thought.
And maybe somebody else who can't see that needs that psych right now more than me.
A common thread I've noticed lately in life is prioritization. This involves focusing on certain things over other things based on what holds the most importance to you. If you look at anything in life - from an individual to an entire nation - it's pretty easy to see what their priorities are based on how they choose to spend their time, energy, and money.
For example, in my current career in project management I can look at our various teams and see what projects they devote most of their hours and budget towards; those are their priorities. In my personal life I'm choosing to spend not a small sum right now on personal training because regaining my health / good habits is a priority for me. In my former marriage I realized my husband was devoting most of his time into overtime at work, and most of that money earned into one-sidedly chosen home repairs. He now owns a nice house which stands empty because he was too busy to notice the happiness of his family while he focused on career and concrete patterns. However those were his priorities - so that's how it played out.
Right now I've been looking for something to do with my life since giving up on the traditional path of family and have considered going back to school to reboot my career. Since myself and many I've loved have struggled with mental health issues I looked into becoming a licensed therapist - master's degree level only, nothing higher. I figured I'd never afford a doctorate either financially or time-wise; I'm already getting older and would prefer to spend more time in the field doing than in a school studying.
However, after completing my FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the required tutorial course on financial loan literacy the government has very clearly explained to me that going back to school makes zero financial sense. My ability to repay my loan given my chosen degree is dubious; the suggestions instead were to look for certifications or other options that might have a greater return on investment. I already make enough money so going into debt to make the same amount of money in another career field that is riddled with bureaucratic hurdles isn't recommended.
Now, is there a need for that particular career field? Given the amount of mental health issues spawned post-COVID, the amount of burnout in the current professional pool, and the fact that per the news most states are way below the number of suggested care professionals per person - I'd say probably yes. But per the government it makes no financial sense. It's not a priority right now to fund that profession. It still pays less than the money put into it. We're not even looking at social work or other helping professions - those make even less.
One might argue it makes no sense to begin with for an older person transitioning their career - to which I'd like to remind you that the government is steadily increasing the age limit to access any type of Medicare or Social Security benefits, so that's a joke. Someone who starts off at twenty in a chosen field and burns out by thirty-five hasn't provided any more years to an industry than someone at forty who goes back in and works till they're sixty or older. And given how little there will be left of either Medicare or Social Security my plan is to work till death; I'll never afford to retire. So if I stave off dementia as long as humanly possible that's potentially another full thirty or forty years working, which some smarter twenty-year old who made better life choices and retired in their sixties would have offered anyway.
However, I have to sit with this decision now and the knowledge that even FAFSA thinks this is a bad idea. Chasing a master's degree to become a professional is a bad financial decision, period. How many other professions are necessary but too expensive to afford educating a workforce? We assume doctors and nurses make good money so those professions provide a good return on investment - but do they? And forcing people to go into debt to do the work we need them to do - how does that make economic sense?
According to FAFSA it doesn't. The suggestions provided on the government website include looking at certifications or two-year programs that might provide a better and cheaper alternative for my career advancement (point of clarification: they mean a two year Associate's degree, not a two year Master's degree, even though either would be two additional years on top of my four already wasted in college). Moreover they suggest your student debt payment be only 8% of your gross income upon graduating - numbers they couldn't make work when I plugged in all my data.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for college tuition and fees are 1,482.04% higher in 2023 versus 1977 (a $296,408.29 difference in value). In other words, college tuition costing $20,000 in the year 1977 would cost $316,408.29 in 2023 for an equivalent purchase.
Now, for all those Boomers out there who grew up thinking life was hunky-dory I'd like you to understand that bit of math right there. Your professionals - the doctors who treated you, the lawyers who defended you, the specialists who cured you - cost waaaaaaaaaaaaay less than the same professionals would today. In Capitalist terms, you could afford educated professionals.
Now we can't.
[Hint: And if you're wondering why the labor market keeps begging those cheap, debt-free Boomers to stay in the professional sector you can see why -- they're way cheaper! New kids saddled with debt are going to demand higher wages to compensate.]
Add to this the fact that due to rising costs above and beyond college tuition, families have started putting off things like children either later in life or indefinitely and the U.S. birth rate is falling accordingly. This means fewer people to chase fewer professions to help a rapidly aging population that - universal healthcare or no - will probably end up waiting on their so-called "death lists" just due to basic functions of supply and demand.
If you think this is all paranoia from a crazy person I'd like to point out the fact that in the past ten years I have had no less than seven assigned doctors - not because I was a picky patient, but because all seven of my doctors left / quit / resigned after less than two years. They're overworked, underpaid given the economic situation they find themselves in, and there was no way to sway them. As a result I haven't had steady or consistent healthcare at any point in my life since entering my twenties - and I'm not betting on it as I age either. My senior care plan at this point as an American is to buy a gun and name it "Darkness" as it will be my old friend who sees me off when I can no longer work and afford the unregulated and rapidly rising costs of living here. I've seen the increasing numbers of elderly entering the homeless population as investment brokers buy up mobile home parks. I know what awaits me.
But back to my point - priorities. We're not prioritizing mental healthcare professionals any more than other care professionals who arguably should spend more time in school or training. If you think merit-based scholarships can cure the problem they're not doing their work either; per the numbers, only 25% of college students receive them (which is a high estimate - other datasets show less) and for graduate students the number drops to less than 10%. The idea that if you work hard your talent will be rewarded was a myth busted a long time ago for me. If I could go back and tell my dumb ass straight A student self anything it would be "Don't bother stressing - this won't pay off for you in the end anyway."
So what careers would be prioritized for me, if licensed therapist isn't one? Well if you want the big money you gotta go all the way - doctorate level; not just a therapist but a pill-pushing psychiatrist. Nurses now are even expected to complete more and more years of education to keep their earning potential and licenses. I'm not even bothering to enter in numbers for that amount of student debt. There's no way in addition to losing another four years of my rapidly decreasing work life that I can get that done. Sorry younger me. You bet on the wrong career horse.
I could if inclined just stick to my boring / unfulfilling desk job doing shit that honestly means nothing to me but pays the bills. That would seem to be the smart course. If I feel listless I could go volunteer and feel better about myself. I've tried that before; it's not awful I just don't have much energy at the end of a grinding and ultimately meaningless workday. I always thought when I retired that'd be what I could devote my days towards, but sadly that's not going to happen either. If there's no energy or money for it now there won't be later - so oh well.
My friends who love and support me (and whose children have been on waitlists for therapy for three years) suggest literally going-for-broke and just doing it anyway. The debt can sit there, who cares. We're all dying in some form of debt or debtor's squalor and if we're not enjoying life what's the point anyway? It's not the smart, rational, or fiscally responsible decision. It's just the fuck-it-why-not one.
Which means all I would have to do is ignore the unhelpful bureaucracy, the predatory college recruiters, the jaded professionals, and the jacked economy to go chase something that could leave me worse off than before.
But hey - I've already been married. What's one more expensive mistake?
Maybe it's time to try out some new priorities.
Breathe by Becky Hemsley
She sat at the back and they said she was shy
She led from the front and they hated her pride
They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance
They branded her loud then were shocked by her silence
When she shared no ambition, they said it was sad
So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad
They told her they’d listen then covered their ears
And gave her a hug whilst they laughed at her fears
And she listened to all of it thinking she should
Be the girl they told her to be best as she could
But one day she asked what was best for herself
Instead of trying to please everyone else
So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees
She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves
And she spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine
And she told them what she’d been told time after time
She told them she felt she was never enough
She was either too little or far, far too much
Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak
Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek
Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs
And she stopped and she heard what the trees said to her
And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave
For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe
Hellbound (A Repost)
*This is a repost of an old poem but it fits the Challenge I think
Devil take me now
Throw me to the pit
Let me lust for battle
For I was born for it
Give me not redemption
But let me wear my sin
As I feast upon my fellows
With a chortle and a grin
I will wear them proudly
The errors of my ways
An angel may ask mercy
But a demon never prays
I swear I'll never falter
Never hesitate or slack
Lead me not to salvation
Let me fall into the black
Let the gates sit open
For heaven it can wait
I'll not envy paradise
Over my own chosen fate
Sentence me to hellfire
I need no judge or jury
Forge me as your sword
Let me embody fury
Neither grace nor glory
Can satiate my greed
Take me now, my Devil
For Hell has all I need
Life on Earth has about 1.5 billion years left.
At that point, the sun will have grown in size to the point its heat output will basically make life uninhabitable for the planet. In another 3.5 billion or so years after that the sun will go supernova, expanding and swallowing our planet and most of the solar system before exploding brilliantly.
We won't be here for that, so no worries.
Humanity - at least in our somewhat modern way of defining it - has only been around for about 315,000 years (near as we can tell). Relative baby steps, really. And during that time we've succeeded in killing off 85% of all other mammals and over 50% of all plant species on the planet, many of whom had been around for millennia before us. Obviously we're making the most of our time; not even a half a million years and we're doing the sun's job much quicker than it ever could. Moreover with human-made climate change in the works we're killing off the remaining species at record rates, and guesses are that maybe a whole third of what's left will die in the next few decades. There are some who worry the mass extinction we've caused - the first caused by a species, go us! - will cause our overall ecosystems to collapse and spell our doom, but they're probably alarmists. "Humans are resilient" - not like all those other species we destroyed.
Guesstimates think we could hit "peak human" at around 10 billion people; we've hit 8 billion recently, so another couple 'bill doesn't sound so difficult. In just the space of 40 years, between 1959 and 1999, we doubled our total population from 3 billion to 6 billion - like the blink of an eye, look at us horny little buggers go! Past 10 billion however and scientists get a bit concerned we'll run out of things like freshwater and food, assuming we all do the unthinkable and go vegetarian to maximize the planet's resource production. But we'll probably hit that mark they say in another thirty to fifty years so we'll get to see how that theory pans out. Lucky!
Still, most mammals before we slaughtered them lasted about 1 million years before they went extinct from natural causes; assuming that's our lot then we've got a little under 700,000 years left. Again, waaaaay before the sun heats things up worse than we have, phew.
And if you're worried about climate change or pollution don't be; these things may reduce the overall human population but obviously we're on track to grow anyway. We're not looking at the quality of life on Earth, just the possibility of it. Sure whole sections of Earth may become uninhabitable - heck, we'll pack it in! - and we may be reduced to relying on a much more limited catalog of species to support us - that's what gene cloning is for! - and our ability to survive may become reliant upon technology more than most of us are comfortable with - nanobots and gene splicing for the win! - BUT the important thing to remember here is life goes on. Regardless of whether you're horrified or not, whether you'll be part of the tiny majority that can afford to survive when it becomes much more expensive to do so, or whether you believe in any of that nonsense and think things will carry on the way they always have (you're totally right! they will!) - the bottom line, again, is that humanity will make it. Maybe not forever, maybe not happily, but after all is said and done at least it'll have its day in the sun.
Oh, sorry - under the sun. Sun doesn't swallow us whole for another 4.5 billion years, remember? Gosh, semantics. I hope we kill that shit next.