Dear Employer

It’s not you, it’s me.

Actually, it’s a little bit you. A couple weeks ago you sent an email to your customers that thoroughly pissed me off. (But thanks for the writing prompt. I’ve got a post in the works because of that gem.) You don’t treat your employees well. In fact, you flout fair labor laws. Lunch breaks? Who needs them? Reliable receipt of wages? Thanks bank for waiving that overdraft fee when my paycheck didn’t show.

I could shrug all this off, like so many do, such as my lovely co-workers, if leaving you didn’t mean a significant act of self-care. You see, about a month ago depression started lurking. He was sneaking up behind me like a cartoon villain. I’ve learned to listen for the floorboards creaking underneath his overly-exaggerated, be-vewy-vewy-quiet foot steps. Gotcha!

Depression is descending upon me, but why the hell for? Thanks to some good ol’ cognitive behavioral therapy, I’ve discovered my job has loosed the depression. I hate my job. I would likely hate any retail job. That’s why I say it’s me. I need more brain work and less run-around-the-store-like-the-world-is-on-fire work. I need weekends with my husband and friends. I need at least a living wage. I need to not work at this job anymore.

DenisBocquet
Minimum wage? What’s that? / Photo: Denis Bocquet, Flickr Creative Commons license
So, in this supreme act of privilege, dear employer, I’m making a clean break. No notice. “SELF CARE,” I cry. And with that I see an escape hatch of hope. I’m outta here, depression. See you next time. (There’s always a next time.)

Did you notice that part where I mentioned privilege? That I can just quit my job on a Friday morning without consequence is a luxury. It was an easier act because I fortuitously have a freelance job lined up starting next week. I have an approximate 5-week net of dependable income to fall on. That I have this, is also a privilege–a combination of education, professional work, and access to mental health care. I also have an equally-educated, privileged, white male husband who has a kick-ass job and income that can bridge any gaps in my employment. Again, I’m privileged out the wazoo.

My point on privilege, dear all employers, is the work environments you cultivate, the people you hire to be in charge, the shit-ass job opportunities you provide are making us sick. You’re asbestos to our mental health. I can count on at least one hand people I know who are a)depressed, b)can attribute at least part of their depression to their jobs, and c)cannot afford to leave the jobs that are making them sick.

Again, I see a hole in the wall, a bit of hope. I’ve recently learned of the existence of organizations like Companies that Care. I long for a socially responsible employer. I hope like hell I find one of you in the weeks to come.

Lady Parts


I had a poem published by The New Verse News in January of this year. You can read it here

It’s a little silly. A touch ribald. And absolutely still applicable. 

My focus has shifted a little higher to breasts. I’ve been working at a bra shop; the change makes sense. I have seen so many breasts. Heard so many stories. Tried to assuage so many insecurities. 

Here’s to all our lovely lady parts: boobs, pussies, and all. 

How Old Do I Look?

I’m receiving IV infusions for my migraines this week. The drugs are dangerous for little peanuts growing inside of pregnant women. So, they always run a pregnancy test before starting, just in case. I’ve been through this process before.

This morning, this is how it went down:

Nurse Person: How old are you? Do you need a pregnancy test?

Me: Yes. I’m capable of becoming pregnant.

image
Portrait of a weirdo not of child-bearing age. Yes, that's me on a hot summer's day playing in what is essentially an oversized bucket.

My first thought is, Oh she must think I’m young. Then, I realize I don’t look that young; I don’t look 12. Oh God, does she think I look post-menopausal? How old do I look? I’m hoping neither 12 or 52.

PUBLISHED!

I’m thrilled to finally announce that I am a published poet. (I’ve been sitting on this news since July!)

You can find me listed with some highly esteemed poets in Muddy River Poetry Review Issue 13.

To check it out click here and here.

My Shaved Head – Months 3 & 4 Update

So, I shaved my head in June. My hair has continued to grow, as seems its predilection. (And I appreciate this predilection.)

I took some month three progress pictures, and then got whammied by a weeks long migraine. I also got a hair cut *GASP*, so I figured a dual post would be appropriate. We’re about a week away from the official four month mark, and I think that’s close enough.

Haircuts & Migraines!
Haircuts & Migraines!

Month three seems to be the mark where my hair went from tolerable to annoying. I felt like my look went from an adult woman to a 4-year-old boy–overly long, unruly curls along the back and sides. I mostly tried to embrace the curl, but I definitely felt less cute.

I held out as long as I could, hoping to get more length on the top, but I just had to get a professional cut. No mullets for me. Off came the back and sides–there’s really no point in saving that length until the rest of my hair catches up. My hair is actually in a shape now (I let the stylist tackle the top too), and I’m in the position to let it grow or keep it the way it is.

I’m tempted to keep it. I blow dry it for less than a minute, rub in some texturizing wax, and I’m set. Heck, I could just wash and wear too.

Realistically, I don’t see myself jetting over to the salon in a month from now. I’ll let it keep growing, taking it month-by-month, all the while, resisting the urge to pull out the bleach and pastel pink hair color.

All the Shitty Things

My Grandpa Melvin used to say, If it’s not one thing, then it’s another.  It’s a common saying–one I cannot truly attribute to him. But, I like to imagine him saying this oft-used quotable, because I loved him and I can picture him doing so with a goofy grin and good-humour. Maybe even with a bit of puckish appreciation for the absurd and ludicrous.

I’ve tended to view this observation of life as linear, like all the shitty things that might and will knock you around are all waiting in a nice, orderly queue. Shitty Thing A happens, you manage through it with grace or strife, and then Shitty Thing B happens, and so on, ad infinitum et nauseam.

If we add a few more adages to the pile, I suspect we get a clearer picture of the human experience: It’s either feast or famine, When it rains it pours, Shit happens. (My mother used to own a keychain with that last pithy expression. It’s a ’90s thing.)

If the Fates are kind, we get some breaks between the shitty things–times that infuse us with enough hope and happiness so we’re better armoured to battle the shit when it flies.

Or, we’re Oedipus.

The point is, I think, the first adage, that motto of Grandpa Melvin, is pretty decent, and my interpretation, when repositioned, could be dead-on:

If it’s not one thing, then it’s another. So, take care of that one thing, and after that, the other.

My Shaved Head – Month 2 Update

If you were flying a tiny helicopter or spying on me with a drone, this is the view you'd see of my noggin.
If you were flying a tiny helicopter or spying on me with a drone, this is the view you’d see of my noggin.

It’s been a little over 60 days since the post-shaved-head-regrowth-countdown began. For the details, read here and here. The hair in the back has become a little rambunctious, and I experienced a couple hot August nights where the temptation to pull out the clippers was strong. Aside from that, I don’t have much to report, except that my hypothesis holds true: hair grows back. Enjoy the progress pictures. xxxooo

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Confessions and Poems: Migraine Edition

When asked,"How are you?" All I have to do is point.
When asked,”How are you?” All I have to do is point.

I have chronic migraines. I wrote the following prose-ish, confession poem piece to convey exactly what the experience of being a migraineur is/was like. I share this, not as an attempt to garner pity, but to add my voice to the collective.

I’m in a much better place now compared to what I relate in the poem, but one never knows when the headache goblins will come a knockin’. Please, please feel free to share. Sometimes when you’re in pain, it helps to simply be reminded that you’re not the only one.

Yes, this is me giving myself a shot in the leg. This is how I've earned my "badass" merit badge.
Yes, this is me giving myself a shot in the leg. This is how I’ve earned my “badass” merit badge.

_____

Rhetoric of Migraine

What do you do when your body betrays you? When the relationship with your most constant companion turns abusive?

Despite the betrayal and abuse, your relationship grows
more intimate. You know what not to do
to incite your abuser’s anger. It’s my fault I have a migraine—I drank a glass of wine last
night.
You know what’s wrong with you before the doctor tells you
migraine. You understand your body and its offenses better than your doctors. It’s not
retinal detachment; it’s an aura. Yes, I’ve had an MRI, and no, I don’t have a tumor.
Please don’t give me that medicine; you’ll only make it worse.

What do you do when the cure is no better?

You, in turn, abuse your body: try so many drugs your kidneys threaten
failure. You push syringes into your own leg. You hold your breath while you prepare
a shot, and suck on a root beer barrel to mask the taste of nausea. You feel ill whenever you
smell rubbing alcohol. You allow doctors to inject poison into your face, head, neck,
shoulders: 33 total. You hear the crunch of the toxin forcing itself into your muscles
when the doctor does the ones above your ears. You’re not vain,
and would welcome the option of raising your right eyebrow.

What do you do when pain, slow and steady, eclipses your life?

You turn resentful toward well-meaning people. “You don’t look sick.” Thanks, I’ve had
practice.
“Do you know why you have them?” Headache goblins. “I had a
migraine once—it was awful.” Isn’t that cute? You’re so pretty. “Have you tried
acupuncture?” No, my meridians are just fine, because—they don’t exist.
At every new job, you wait for your employer to complain
about your absenteeism and presenteeism. (In other words, you must come to work even
if you feel like shit, but mustn’t look like you feel like shit when you get there.)
At first, you miss the small things—movies, concerts, happy hour. Eventually, you miss
the big things. You can’t work, keep friends, drive a car, read a book.

What do you do when you’re not just broken physically, but mentally?

You literally turn dumb before your migraine emerges. And, when it finally comes,
the pain itself binds your brain. You can’t string words into a sentence—
except the sentences you always say. I can’t go. I can’t stay. I have a migraine.
The side effect of one of your medicines is “decreased cognitive function,” and so you
can’t recall the words “decreased,” “cognitive,” or “function”. The theft of your words is
the ultimate insult, because they’re your livelihood
and your sanity. You worry because you’ve read constant, chronic
migraines might cause stroke or brain damage. You submit to scans for lesions and tests
for cognition.

What do you do when pain’s ugly stepsisters—depression and anxiety—come to stay?

You’re lost in a constant feedback loop.
(Pain causes depression causes anxiety causes pain.)
You add more doctors and pills. You laugh at all the ironies—you’re Alice armed with a
vorpal pillbox. The box separates the “this pill makes you happy” from
“this pill makes you sleepy”. You turn your bedroom into a dungeon
and Depression locks you inside. He whispers lies to you. And you believe them,
because they seem innocent. It would be lovely to just float away and leave my body
behind. A coma seems like a welcome retreat. It’s not that I want to die,

just stop existing for a while. But the lies grow more insidious, and you believe the worst
of them all: you can’t live one more day in the dungeon.
This handful of pills will fix that.

What do you do when your entire sense of self, your identity, is distilled down to this single malady?

Every decision you make is because of Migraine.
Every thing you can’t do is because of Migraine.
Every thought, utterance, moment is consumed by Migraine.
You’re so weary of Migraine you can’t fathom how your loved ones manage it.
You wonder how you have anyone left.
You ask the doctors and therapists, friends and lovers, anyone who remains. You ask the
dog who stands sentinel, day and night, next to your bed. You ask the hot spray of the
shower that brings temporary reprieve. You ask this once blank piece of paper.

What do I do?

God: Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Published!

I need access to a King James version of the bible for a class on 16th and 17th century English literature. I found this Kindle version. I was particularly tickled by the listing.

While anachronistic, I can't help but envision God tip-tapping away at a typewriter.
While anachronistic, I can’t help but envision God tip-tapping away at a typewriter.

If you click his name, you’ll also find that God has been quite prolific. Unsurprisingly, the Holy Spirit, Moses, and the saints have also jumped onto the literary train.