Category: Depression & Melancholy

“Societies With Little Coercion Have Little Mental Illness” is a case study in Consent as a Felt Sense

I am an insane person because I have self-respecting humane reactions to being forced to do, think, and feel things I do not want to do, do not believe, and do not want to experience.

Societies With Little Coercion Have Little Mental Illness“, by Bruce Levine, Ph.D., writing in Mad In America:

Throughout history, societies have existed with far less coercion than ours, and while these societies have had far less consumer goods and what modernity calls “efficiency,” they also have had far less mental illness. This reality has been buried, not surprisingly, by uncritical champions of modernity and mainstream psychiatry. Coercion—the use of physical, legal, chemical, psychological, financial, and other forces to gain compliance—is intrinsic to our society’s employment, schooling, and parenting. However, coercion results in fear and resentment, which are fuels for miserable marriages, unhappy families, and what we today call mental illness.

[…]

Once, when doctors actually listened at length to their patients about their lives, it was obvious to many of them that coercion played a significant role in their misery. But most physicians, including psychiatrists, have stopped delving into their patients’ lives. In 2011, the New York Times (“Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy”) reported, “A 2005 government survey found that just 11 percent of psychiatrists provided talk therapy to all patients.” As the article points out, psychiatrists can make far more money primarily providing “medication management,” in which they only check symptoms and adjust medication.

Since the 1980s, biochemical psychiatry in partnership with Big Pharma has come to dominate psychiatry, and they have successfully buried truths about coercion that were once obvious to professionals who actually listened at great length to their patients—obvious, for example, to Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents (1929) and R.D. Laing (The Politics of Experience, 1967). This is not to say that Freud’s psychoanalysis and Laing’s existential approach always have been therapeutic. However, doctors who focus only on symptoms and prescribing medication will miss the obvious reality of how a variety of societal coercions can result in a cascade of family coercions, resentments, and emotional and behavioral problems.

Modernity is replete with institutional coercions not present in most indigenous cultures. This is especially true with respect to schooling and employment, which for most Americans, according to recent polls, are alienating, disengaging, and unfun. As I reported earlier this year (“Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane, a Gallup poll, released in January 2013, reported that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become, and by high school, only 40% reported being engaged. Critics of schooling—from Henry David Thoreau, to Paul Goodman, to John Holt, to John Taylor Gatto—have understood that coercive and unengaging schooling is necessary to ensure that young people more readily accept coercive and unengaging employment. And as I also reported in that same article, a June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have checked out of them.

Unengaging employment and schooling require all kinds of coercions for participation, and human beings pay a psychological price for this. In nearly three decades of clinical practice, I have found that coercion is often the source of suffering.

[…]

In all societies, there are coercions to behave in culturally agreed-upon ways. For example, in many indigenous cultures, there is peer pressure to be courageous and honest. However, in modernity, we have institutional coercions that compel us to behave in ways that we do not respect or value. Parents, afraid their children will lack credentials necessary for employment, routinely coerce their children to comply with coercive schooling that was unpleasant for these parents as children. And though 70% of us hate or are disengaged from our jobs, we are coerced by the fear of poverty and homelessness to seek and maintain employment.

In our society, we are taught that accepting institutional coercion is required for survival. We discover a variety of ways—including drugs and alcohol—to deny resentment. We spend much energy denying the lethal effects of coercion on relationships. And, unlike many indigenous cultures, we spend little energy creating a society with a minimal amount of coercion.

Accepting coercion as “a fact of life,” we often have little restraint in coercing others when given the opportunity. This opportunity can present itself when we find ourselves above others in an employment hierarchy and feel the safety of power; or after we have seduced our mate by being as noncoercive as possible and feel the safety of marriage. Marriages and other relationships go south in a hurry when one person becomes a coercive control freak; resentment quickly occurs in the other person, who then uses counter-coercive measures.

Pair with:

Dear friends, please help. I am asking you for help.

Yesterday I posted Professor Kevin Westhues’ “Checklist of Mobbing Indicators,” and, as if by clockwork today I was mobbed on Twitter in a thread that matched 13 of the 16 indicators, point for point.

I’ve been the target of what Westhues describes as mobbing, which is evidently a sociological term that sometimes also goes by various other terms in other contexts like “bullying,” “group think,” “epistemic violence,” “gaslighting” and so on, for going on 3 years, now. As others & I have stated time & again, these mobbers’ unwillingness to examine history, and to re-write history so it begins at whatever most recent retaliation or refutation I make, is a constant theme. I’ve been discussing this on-and-off for as long as it’s been happening, but mostly in a detached, academic way. Others, notably unquietpirate​, have written much more deeply personal accounts of the impact this has had on them, as well as on me.

Reading Westhues’ descriptions of the traumatic effects mobbing behaviors have on targets resounds very deeply and very painfully. But it is also an enormous relief. Finally, I can name this specific abuse I’m enduring with terms endowed with the magic cultural legitimacy of the academe, and even though I think academics are classist hogwash, I’m hopeful using the sociological term and framework may convince more people to step outside their “not my problem” bubble and pro-actively support me against this rather than remain uninvolved bystanders.

So, I am asking you for help.

  1. Please read about mobbing. I’ve just begun to do this, too. Maybe we can help educate each other. I’m currently going over the “Virtual Mobbing” article. It’s long and dense but obviously specifically relevant to my “workplace,” the Internet.
  2. Help me find answers to “What to do about it”, which is a topic I’ve found mentioned but only briefly at the end of, “At the Mercy of the Mob.” If there are no solutions provided by the texts, help me imagine possible countermeasures and think through potential solutions, mitigations, harm reduction tactics, and so on.
  3. Send me notes of encouragement, tell me what you like about my work, about me, speak kindly to me, and perhaps even more importantly, speak kindly about me and do so in public. Here’s a simple example of how to do this.

I want to highlight number 3, in the list above, because this is one the things that people still don’t seem to understand about the Internet. One of the unique characteristics about “Virtual Mobbing” is that the Internet enables a kind of plausibly deniable stage whisper. This kind of talking about someone but not necessarily to them is one of the most pernicious and common tactics of cyberbullies and virtual mobbers, because of the scale, speed, and confusion at which the Internet amplifies fearmongering.

The fact of the matter is, I can hear anything and I do in fact hear everything that is said about me (or my work) on the Internet, if it’s said in a public venue. A Twitter conversation from an unlocked account is not private. A public Tumblr post is not private. If people are talking about me, I know about it, usually within a few days.

Most of the time, when people speak ill of me to others, they are doing so under the false belief that these other people who don’t know or even care who I am are “lauding” me, and this makes the mobbers feel “uncomfortable” because they, personally, believe that I am only worth contempt and must be punished for my many mortal sins. A perfect example of this from just the other day is @cythesomething here on Tumblr.

I responded on Twitter:

As I’ve said numerous times before, turning discussions of survivor support tools and other such anti-abuse technology that I work on into a discussion about me, personally, is harmful to survivors—it is most harmful to one survivor in particular (guess which one), but it is also harmful to all other survivors. Taking actions motivated by the impulse to get helpful information to survivors is one thing. Taking actions motivated by your discomfort at seeing the work of someone you dislike welcomed by others who say that work is valuable to them is quite another.

It is no coincidence that this mobbing behavior intensifies at the very same time as the Predator Alert Tool is signal boosted. This has always been the pattern, from the very beginning. Had it happened only once, I might have called it a misunderstanding. Had it happened twice, maybe I could have dismissed it as a mistake. That it has happened more than three times makes clear, these are intentional mob assaults.

This got long, but I hope you’ve taken the time to read it anyway. For now, if you don’t have it in you to slog through academic material (it’s time consuming and exhausting, I know), then consider simply reblogging this. Maybe add a nice thing about me or, even better, the work I’ve been doing lately. Then, some time from now, please don’t forget that this is still happening, like a slow-motion bashing, and remember that this is the context of what’s happening when you see me bashing back.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this mob’s hatred for more than 3 years. I don’t expect it will stop anytime in the next 3 months just because I asked for help. In fact, it’s likely going to get worse. (See Westhues’ checklist, item number 15, “Outraged response to any appeals for outside help the target may make.”)

So, if all you can do is send me a nice ask once in a while, I will really appreciate you for that, too. Thanks.

“How I Explained Heartbleed To My Therapist”

This is an important post by Meredith L. Patterson:

“Remember back around April or May, when you had to change your passwords on all the websites you use? Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, everywhere?” He nods, vigorously. “Do you remember hearing the word ‘Heartbleed’ back around then?” A blank look. Maybe I should have worn the T-shirt. Too late. I have to press on.

“That part’s not important. It doesn’t matter what the problem was called. What matters is, there’s one piece of software that nearly all those websites use to make sure that all the messages that go between your browser and their site are private. And nobody pays for it.”

“Nobody at all?”

“Nobody. The people who write it have been working on it for like fifteen years now, and they’re basically all working for free, the same way I’m doing on the work I’d rather be doing, even though Google and Facebook and practically every company with a website relies on that software these guys make. ‘Relies’ as in without this software, all their business evaporates.” I leave out the part where half of “these guys” are my dead husband’s friends and they’re not all guys; there will be time to talk about that at a later appointment. “And back around New Year’s in 2011, one of those guys made a little mistake with a really big consequence. The upshot of it was that any jerkoff could just ask whatever websites they wanted for whatever private information they had on hand at the time — your passwords, your calendar, whatever.

“And nobody in a position to fix it noticed until April of this year. Which is why you and everybody else had to change all your passwords. And in the meantime, who knows how many credit card numbers and god knows what else got snatched.” My e-cigarette is nearly empty but I fidget with it anyway, calculating on the back of the envelope in my head whether I can dredge just one more hit of nicotine without burning the coil to an ashy, taste-ruining wreck. Everything has become a cost-benefit analysis on the edge of a razor in this New New Economy that has become my life: how far can I stretch the resources I have before physics or information theory dictate they snap? “And even after a disaster like this, these poor fuckers are still running on handfuls of donations. They’re still overstretched and understaffed. It’s a tragedy of the commons problem.”

That’s a catchphrase you hear sometimes in sociology, a cousin dialect to the language of psychoanalysis he speaks. He leans forward. “In what way?” he asks. I hope it means I’ve given him firmer footing than all this computery shit he doesn’t speak.

“These bugs that happen, these mistakes in software that lead to vulnerabilities, they aren’t one-off problems. They’re systemic. There are patterns to them and patterns to how people take advantage of them. But it isn’t in any one particular company’s interest to dump a pile of their own resources into fixing even one of the problems, much less dump a pile of resources into an engineering effort to fight the pattern. Google could easily throw a pile of engineers at fixing OpenSSL, but it’d never be in their interest to do it, because they’d be handing Facebook and LinkedIn and Amazon a pile of free money in unspent remediation costs. They’ve got even less incentive to fix entire classes of vulnerabilities across the board. Same goes for everybody else in the game.

See also, “Your Consent Is Not Being Violated By Accident” and “Predator Alert Tool as a Game Theoretic Simulation of Countermeasures to Rape Culture,” two posts further describing the intentional abuse by the Silicon Valley for-profits against individuals and organizations who explicitly declare a “people over profit” motive. Also relevant is this short post about the so-called “sharing economy,” bluntly titled, “Get on your knees and thank the Silicon Valley elites for your chance to serve them.

And so, she was beautiful to me

She had blue skin.
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by –
And never knew.

Masks by Shel Silverstein

I remember the sunlight on 8th Avenue and 15th Street that morning vividly. New York City is beautiful in the morning, but only if the streets aren’t packed with throngs of hurried people. The sunlight streamed into the tangled mess of steel and concrete and glass, bouncing from one reflective surface to another until it finally lay flat on the ground, or on me.

Often, while alone—and only while alone—I’d walk facing the sky. In the Summer, if I woke early enough or stayed up late enough, I’d slow my typically brisk pace to relish the thick, warm air as I walked through it. In the Winter, when too many people woke before the sun, I’d wait for rush hour to end before venturing outside, because that’s when I could feel the sun drape its light on me the way I wanted to feel it.

It was one of those cold, late mornings in the Winter that I remember, except I wasn’t alone. On this particular morning, I was walking with my father and we were talking about school. I’d recently started attending another school after dropping out of the one I had just been in, and, again, I hated it.

But there was a girl, and her name was Bre, and one day she told me in visibly unconcerned confidence that she, like me, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And so, she was beautiful to me, and I got a crush on her. And on this particular morning, playing hooky for a while with an understanding father, I was explaining all this to him as matter-of-factly as I could, lest I seem too smitten.

As my father is wont to do when he correctly sensed I had shared something that made me feel uneasy, he paused momentarily, looked at me concertedly, and then began to tell me an allegorical tale. This time, he told me of a short story he had once read. It went something like this.

On a day very much like that sunlit day, a man and a woman met at a sidewalk café. They quickly struck up a conversation and, soon thereafter, found themselves spending a good deal of time with one another. As their friendship flourished and their fondness for one another deepened, however, they each became more afraid of revealing their romantic feelings to the other.

The story, my father told me, was written from both of their perspectives. The narrative voice switched from one to the other, so that the reader became a sort of voyeur able to peer into each of the protagonists’ minds. Although the details of his fears were different from hers, the outcome was the same: neither told the other the extent of their true feelings.

Ultimately, it was a very sad story. It ended on a note of mutual resignation rather than happy romance. But the moral is clear, and so was my father’s message.

I remember this story whenever I shy away from revealing something about myself for fear of rejection, ridicule, or even shame. Like the characters in the story, I don’t always muster the courage to lay myself bare. In fact, I never told Bre about my crush on her and before long my opportunity had gone, as she transferred to another school. However, the memory serves to make me that much braver in moments like these.

There are numerous things I’m struggling to work up the courage to offer for public view. I am afraid of being ridiculed and mocked. I am afraid of being ignored; that things important to me are not important to anyone else; of being unimportant, myself. Most of all, though, and contrary to some of my bravado, I am afraid of being disliked.

But I also know I am often ridiculed and mocked precisely because I show courage when others do not. I know I am often ignored precisely because the things important to me are too threatening for others to acknowledge. And I know I am often disliked precisely because of my conviction’s integrity.

Often, all of that makes me conspicuous, and so I’m sometimes thought to be “inspiring” when framed positively or “intimidating” when framed more negatively. I think enfant terribles are important, and I’ve rarely felt happier than when I receive (now weekly, if often private) thanks for sharing myself publicly. But at the same time, I really do not want to be any of those things. I want, instead, to be plain and largely forgotten.

I want to be in love and feel close with people. And I’m afraid the more “inspiring” or “intimidating” I become, the more I’ll stand out as someone hard to feel close to.

I remember when someone who was in love with me sang along to Billy Joel as we crossed the Golden Gate bridge. And I remember when another who was in love with me put her arm around me as I gently shook flowers off the tree we climbed on Atwell’s Avenue. And I remember both of the days when each of them stopped feeling safe enough to be in love with me, days I revealed the extent of my true feelings.

So I think that, these days, I share so much of myself with strangers so publicly because what I really want is to share myself with someone who loves me. And I just hope you’re reading.

Broken Code to Broken Dreams to Broken Worlds

(Originally posted to my Tumblr blog.)

On the way to a housewarming party, I wrote an email to a piece of my past. A snippet:

[M]y dreams have subsided but my memories are resurfacing. I’m spending some time for the first time in years reading the archives of my own blog. And, as part of that, writing (drafts of, until the story about CV and Ken) the stories important to me. I’ve done a lot of learning over the past year or so and am recognizing things I once overlooked, like the power of storytelling.

Other memories that pop up often as I do this are all the times you asked me to write about us, which I’m sure you recall, as well as all the times I sat down in front of a blank screen to try, which you may not recall because I was alone. I want to say, so that you know if you don’t already and to be reassured in case you do, that I would have written more about us, and I wanted to, but I was hurting and I could not bear the task. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to accomplish that.

When I arrived at the party, things immediately felt at once unnervingly familiar and yet disconcertingly foreign. I did not know such a strange self-contradiction was possible. Everything from the way people looked—the slender, long-haired man in the Utilikilt serving drinks; the sharply-dressed fast talking woman whom he called “sweetie”; the animal lover and perpetual student in the green dress; and others, too—to the music on the stereo—Gaelic Storm—to the layout of the apartment—not quite a bullet house, but close—was eery. Pieces of them each reminded me of people I had once seen almost daily.

It felt like a combination of being in bizarro world mixed with blasts from my past, all in a parallel universe. I floated from one conversation to the next, throughout the evening feeling as though one half of me was not really in attendance but rather observing the other half of me that was, except for the brief reprieve in which I dropped to the floor to commune with the household’s feline pets. I stayed for a couple hours, then caught a ride back over the bridge, towards home and far too much NyQuil.

I feel emotionally irradiated by the experience, and it hurts.

On the car ride back, a thought occurred to me as I shared a little bit of my history with my couriers. I used to work as a web developer fixing other people’s broken code. I never could find a situation or make myself any significant, sustainable opportunity to just write my own damn code. Now, I’m an activist and I’m trying to fix other people’s worlds, but I don’t feel like I have one of my own.

I walk a lonely road
the only one that I have ever known.
Don’t know where it goes
but it’s home to me and I walk alone.

[…]

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me.
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating.
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me.
‘Til then, I walk alone.

I’m walking down the line
that divides me somewhere in my mind.
On the border line
of the edge and where I walk alone.

Read between the lines of what’s
fucked up and everything’s all right.
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
and I walk alone.

I always felt I’d make a great lost boy. I had such a crush on Peter Pan, too.

Dear Cassandra

On Monday night, despite efforts to the contrary, I was true to my word and ended up watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on my own. I had invited not one but two others local to my neck of the woods to join me, both accepted, and then both canceled on me.

So much for helping me dissuade notions of prophetic predictions. I felt lonely, but it wasn’t so bad. When I’m lonely, I work myself to sleep because that’s more pleasant than crying myself to sleep, which is too often the alternative. (When neither of those options present themselves, I’ve been reaching for NyQuil.)

However, for weeks now, the debilitating sadness has been coming in waves. It’s been years—maybe a decade—since I’ve felt this kind of heaviness in my limbs. I’ve been making the most of the times when I feel able to move (because, yes, there are times when I don’t), and am proud to say that I’ve done a relatively enormous amount of reaching out in times when I’m not.

But as much as I’d like to pat myself on the back about that, to congratulate myself on making social arrangements despite the persistent pessimism, it doesn’t seem to be doing any good.

Last Friday, at the behest of a new acquaintance who wrote me some of the smartest emails I’ve ever gotten after reading my blog, I went to the Transmission party at the SF Citadel.

You: “Well, how was it?”

Me: Meh.

You: “Oh, come on. Why ‘meh’?”

Because despite knowing more people than I thought I would, spending $35 on a cup of coffee and some fruit for a chance to give out some cards and shake a few people’s hands over the course of a couple hours isn’t my idea of a good time. I would have had a better time if I had met this acquaintance over an overpriced Starbucks latté, we would have talked more (they had play dates to attend to), and it wouldn’t have cost me $35. Thirty-fucking-five-dollars.

Some of us just aren’t party people. If that’s not okay with you, you’re shitty friend material to begin with.

Rather than ramble on—I’m only writing this because I literally have no idea what else I could possibly do with myself that would be constructive at this point—I’ll record this overly-personal SMS (that’s “text message” for you luddites) conversation I had today:

Them: “I’m in introvert hell.”

Me: “Oh dear. I’ll appreciate a brief Skype call if you’re up for it in a few. You can tell me what ‘introvert hell’ is. :)”

Them: “I’m in a car with grandparents for the next 45 min and then sleeping on a couch. I’ll see if I can step away once we arrive”

Me: “Okay. No pressure. Enjoy family while you can.”

Them: “I just have no privacy…. How’s your weather?”

Me: “Ah. Well, if you need privacy maybe you should grab moments alone, not on Skype with me. :) My weather is…cold? I don’t know. I just have no idea what to do.”

Them: “No idea what to do?” [Then, later] “Hey. I def don’t have enough privacy to make a phone call. :-( I’ll wake up one of the Olds. Anything I can do for you besides love you from here?”

Me: “No. Thanks for asking. Have a good night. I hope you find some privacy.”

Them: “I’m so sorry to disappoint.”

Me: “Disappointment implies expectation. I hope I didn’t give you an impression I expect of you, that you’re somehow obligated. I don’t—you’re not—so don’t be sorry.”

Them: “I’m fine. Just wish I could give you more this moment. Am willing but not able.”

Me: “I understand but can’t empathize. Story of my life is either unwilling but able or willing but unable. It embitters me—how could it not?—and it’s NOT your fault.”

Them: “Goodnight, may.”

So, now that I’ve managed to find a way to pass this hour, I’ll go see if I can face working again. Kink On Tap episode 57 needs to get published. I hear that show makes some people happy.

And even if I’m not, I can’t stand the thought of my own depressive lethargy standing in the way of a smile on one of the show’s listeners. I’m pretty sure, now that I think about it, I’ve turned into an activist because it’s the strongest reason I still have to stay alive.

I guess that would explain why I have so few friends.

Settling in San Francisco

I wrote this on July 27, 2009, a little over a year ago:

Not long ago I moved to San Francisco, California in order to make a fresh start for myself in a number of different ways. Creating a new home turns out to be a ton of work, especially since I had almost nothing except for a bunch of clothes and my computer with me. I had no housewares, and after spending a week literally putting blisters in my feet trying to find an apartment in which to live, for the first few nights I ate delivery with plastic utensils out of tupperware.

Soon enough, though, and with the help of some inspirational friends (most notably Susan Mernit, Sarah Dopp, James Carp, Emms, and Gabrielle and Tara) things started to come together. I visited Ikea twice for some furniture, but a lot of the other things in my apartment from the futon I sleep on to the plates I eat off of came from friends. I even got a microwave as I started to make mental lists of the things I needed.

Then, without publishing those words, I stopped writing. A year passed. In that time, a lot happened. But San Francisco is no more home today than it was before I arrived. If anything, I feel more out of place than ever. More alone than ever.

I am struggling. No one who thinks they know me, who sees all the stuff I do, no one knows how hard each and every day is for me. No one.

Now it’s all the little things

Immediately after arriving in New York City, I turned myself into a tornado of work and worry in order to make sure KinkForAll was the success I desperately needed it to be. To my indescribable relief and happiness, KFANYC wasn’t just a success, it smashed through even my wildest expectations, topping at 45 presentations with well over 100 participants physically present and countless others watching the online feeds. (I was so worried about presentation shortage, I prepared 4, but only ended up needing to present 1. Likewise, I originally thought we’d top off at maybe 35–45 participants, and in the end one of our biggest problems was simply lack of physical space!)

On that front, I’m now looking at the amazing possibility of helping people in sexuality communities who have contacted me from Washington DC, Toronto, and San Francisco emulate the success of New York City’s event in their own hometowns. But not yet…. Not quite.

As the unconference ended, Sara and I were joined by a group of over 20 friends (and friendly acquaintances) for dinner at a nearby Asian restaurant. Despite my hunger (I only ate at the behest of my concerned friends during the day ’cause I was so busy), I didn’t want to finish my meal; I knew that would be the end of dinner, and the day. Nevertheless, day turned to night and as Sara and I walked around the corner for a modicum of privacy, excitement gave way to sadness and we said (temporary) goodbyes in tears.

I retreated from the city then, headed towards Providence, Rhode Island to stay with close friends who generously offered me the opportunity to create a small sanctuary in their spare room. This has been helpful, and I can begin to feel myself recovering, but I’m still having trouble grounding myself in the here and now or focusing on the new tasks at hand. For one thing, there are so many, and for another thing, they are so vastly different from what I’ve just done that mentally changing gears so radically, so quickly, under so much pressure, is actually painful.

When I moved my self and my life half way around the globe to Sydney last year, I felt optimistic about what I would find. Sadly, I didn’t find what I wanted. Now, having moved myself and my life all the way back across the planet and then some, I’m determined to make what I want—because it doesn’t exist yet, and no one knows what it’s going to look like…except me.

My hosts, Emms and Zac, are nothing short of a godsend. They are literally a healing warmth of a magnitude I could not possibly express adequately in words. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving in their home, I fell ill. Of course, this is not at all a surprise considering my physiological history for exactly such mind-body connection.

My attempts to focus on my writing (for my second and much more advanced web development book on CSS I’m authoring; my first book was much more 101-level) have been only partially successful, but I’m encouraged by this anyway. As Emms told me last night while cooking a pasta dinner for us all, “Comfort yourself with the standards of the world,” a piece of advice she wisely preceded with, “Now’s the time to focus on only the most important parts of your chapters.” This, all while taking my hand every time my eyes unexpectedly overflow with the salt water I feel like I’ve been storing up in them.

I’m a little…not annoyed…chagrined at the admission that yesterday was the first full day in more than 4 weeks that I didn’t cry at all. Not only this, but earlier today while my hosts were at their day jobs and I mainlined enormous quantities of tea as though it were a blood transfusion, I couldn’t stop myself from crawling backwards in time towards happier memories. I cried again, embarrassingly loudly since no one was home, and resigned to let my head rest for a while instead of forcing it further into failing attempts to create reusable patterns of CSS code for styling semantic markup.

To help with the memories, I’ve been playing MGMT‘s Kids on repeat for what must be an hour or more now. I first heard it on Australia Day (apparently Australia’s almost-equivalent of America’s Columbus Day), which Sara and I spent with Janek and company at his house on a tropical, warm, rainy day in Sydney. The radio was playing all day but the only song I remember was this one because, somehow, it stood out like a spotlight. I remember laying on the couch in the living room with my head in Sara’s lap, eyes closed, as she pet my head and I purred along with the kittens in the far corner of the room. The memory is emblazoned in my mind’s eye as a vivid still frame.

When Zac came home and gave me a hug to comfort my tears, he remarked on the song. “It’s always weird to hear this song,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because Emms and I went to college with them—the band.”

And now I have two memories.

Insomnia of the worst kind

Tonight’s my first of a little over a week’s worth of nights alone. When this ends, I’ll be on the other side of the planet. I’ve turned out the lights maybe four times already, trying to get ready for bed, but my body just won’t shut down despite its utter exhaustion. I really hate this feeling of waiting—having at once nothing and everything to do. I really hope I get some rest.

I want to go away

I’ve slept most of the day. I haven’t even really slept, but I’ve been in bed and haven’t gotten up. I woke up at 9 AM at first, feeling full of energy but wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep. I woke up again, finally, at 2 PM or so after tossing and turning for hours.

In less than two hours of being awake, I was crying in fits and starts on my bed again. I wanted to tire myself out again so I would go back to sleep. I just want to go away and hide.