The Depression of the Lambs?

Depressives tend to bristle at the advice that we need to go out and get fresh air, or exercise, or meditate, or drink more water, or smile more, get out of bed, go to bed at a reasonable hour, or any of the pat responses we get about our depression.

We know these things will help us. The issue is that when we are at our worst, we can not find the will to do these things.

I know how hard it is for people who have never experienced debilitating depression to understand how deeply in our bones can be felt the absolute hopelessness and despair that makes doing the things that will help us get well seem utterly pointless. When we are at the bottom of the pit, we truly can not remember a time in which we weren’t at the bottom of the pit. Someone might come peer over the edge and say, “You weren’t always down there, you know. Just last month you were up here with me.” And while we know we were “up there,” our minds tell us that while our bodies were up there, our souls were still at the bottom of the pit. Any attempt to drag us out comes across like Buffalo Bill telling us to put the lotion in the basket. What’s the point? Take care of ourselves just so we can inevitably fall back into the pit? The pit will always get us.

Amazon.com: Zapista Buffalo Bill Painting Fine Art Print Silence ...

There have been whole swaths of my life i spent at the bottom. If I wasn’t actually sleeping, I was certainly sleepwalking through my life. From 13 to 33 I was in and out of the deep pit of depression. Making bad choices. Choosing bad people.

I have spent the last seven years steadily climbing my way out of the pit. I’ve slipped a handful of times. But I believe that I am, at last, standing on solid ground, with the pit behind me (but always somewhere in my line of vision).

I wish I could say that I remember what it’s like being up here. I wish I could point to a time in my life that was spent up here. But I think most of my life, I’ve dwelled somewhere in that pit. Or at least, I’ve been sitting on the precipice, legs dangling over, with a very tentative finger hold on the ground beneath me.

I want to pause here to once again remind the reader that I share these things, not for sympathy, but rather simply because it is my story, and the only way to tell it is truthfully. It is what it is. I don’t want or need sympathy. If I were a diabetic, I wouldn’t expect sympathy for that. It’s a condition I have, and I am doing what I can to live with it.

It’s only once you’re out of the pit that you can begin to understand that all the well-meaning advice you’ve been given to take care of yourself, is finally something you might have the will to try.  Of course sleeping all day isn’t healthy. Of course exercise is good for you. Of course eating healthy is good for you.

I tried Transcendental meditation for a while, and I couldn’t get it to stick. Last year, in order to drag myself out of the pit, I decided to adapt that practice and make it something more manageable. But when the world came to a halt, I let the practice go. I was overwhelmed by suddenly being a fulltime parent and homeschool teacher, with my industry shut down, and very few prospects for work.

I slid back down and got pretty close to the bottom again. Everything felt unmanageable. My stress and anxiety would shoot through the roof the second Monty started complaining about whatever thing his seven-year-old brain was telling him was unfair. I felt like an absolute failure at everything. My parenting, my “teaching”, my partnering, my sistering, my writing. Everything. I felt myself sliding faster, and I was worried that once I hit the bottom, this time, I might not be able to even see the top, let alone crawl toward it.

In early June, amid the din of cries for racial and economic justice (and the basic human right of not getting murdered by the police), I found a wellness app called “Shine.” Founded by two women of color and 80% staffed with BIPOC, Shine offers daily meditations, readings, check-ins, advice, and mental health exercises. The meditations are usually less than 10 minutes long. When you’re done checking in each day, you get rewarded with a celebratory message and emoji. It’s nothing, really, but it’s enough to track your commitment to your own progress. I have checked in every day since I downloaded the app. 27 days. I do it as close to waking up as I can. Before I start getting into my day. One morning I didn’t get to it, and the day spun out of control, with Monty and I hollering at each other over something stupid.

I Clarice Starlinged myself out of that pit. I found myself at the bottom of the pit and was like, “Shut up! Stop screaming!” and I groped around in the dark for a while, until I found Buffalo Bill and I shot him a whole bunch of times. And then I hoisted my own self out of that pit and was like, “I killed the bad guy. You’re okay.”

I am aware that metaphor doesn’t really work, and I’m aware that another bad guy could surface at any moment, but I’m running out of time. I only get small breaks here and there to do anything that doesn’t involve Monty, and that’s my time, folks.

I’d like to think I’m putting some real distance between myself and that pit.

Posted in depression | Leave a comment

You’re an asshole, but I love you.

My mother was a freelance writer. She worked from home on an early generation Apple computer she bought from selling her father’s grand piano (I think it had been her father’s). The only memories I have of the piano is that it was mostly used as a surface for stuff. My sister remembers my mother crying as she played the piano one last time when the buyers came to take it away.

Anyway, she had an early model home computer. She also had a printer that made a god-awful noise when it printed. It sounded like metal grinding on metal. Like a key being cut. And it took forever.

When my mother was in her study, it was understood that she was not to be disturbed. When I got home from school, I was to go to my room and read and take a nap. I don’t remember ever pushing back on this. Like all the rules in my house growing up, I don’t remember there being any room for push-back. Dinner was dinner. There was no claiming you didn’t like it and having something else made for you. Ever. The TV lived in my parents’ bedroom, and unless I home sick from school, I was allowed a half an hour a week. There was no, “I’m bored!” and expecting someone to fix it. I remember my sister would be up in my parents’ room watching The Facts of Life, Growing Pains, Cheers, or Family Ties while I was doing homework at the kitchen table. I remember hearing her laugh uproariously. I don’t remember ever whining that I wanted to go watch with her. I don’t remember getting a lot of help with my homework, although I’m sure I must have. My mother would listen to All Things Considered and drink red wine from a tiny glass that she refilled frequently as she cooked, and I would do my homework. I remember once asking her for help with my math homework. Her answer was, “You’re never going to need to know how to do that in real life.”

Once I was home from school because I forgot my bus pass. When my father and I got to the bus stop and I realized I had forgotten it, his form of punishment was to send me to my room for the entire day. It was hardly punishment. I hated school. And in retrospect, I guess I kind of get it. There have been times with Monty where he has lost or forgotten something for the umpteenth time, and I’ve been tempted to cancel the rest of the day. I was a forgetful kid. And I was sloppy and not careful with my stuff. Part way through the day I remembered a nightmare I had had the night before, and I got very scared. I went down and knocked on my mom’s study door. I told her I was scared. She gave me a quick hug and told me to go back to my room. That was it. No stopping what she was doing to help me process. No cuddling on the couch. She was working and that was that.

I’ll tell you one thing FOR SURE she would not have put up with: Captain Underpants. That shit would not have flown in my mother’s house.

I can not begin to imagine what my parents would have done if the world had ground to halt in 1987 the way it has today. Considering the overall health of my family at that time, I don’t know how we would have survived. I don’t see my parents scrambling to find activities for me to do in lieu of camp, for example. There was no internet, and there weren’t activity boxes you could have mailed to your door monthly. But I didn’t even get Highlights magazine. I wonder if my mother would have thrown up her hands, turned on the TV, and locked herself in her study for months. We didn’t have cable, so I would have been watching a shit ton of soap operas, I guess.

As it was, I spent a lot of time alone in my room. Reading, drawing, playing make-believe. I would take apart clocks and telephones to see how they worked and put them back together. I listened to records over and over in my room. I entertained myself.

Monty has no sense of boundaries. When I tell him I need to get some work done, his response is a panicked, “What am I supposed to do?!” When I open the door to his room and point out the plethora of toys he has that he never plays with, he claims they’re all boring. When I tell him I’ll go ahead and donate them all then, he flies into a rage. He wants to play video games or watch crap. If I have the mental, emotional, and physical fortitude to stand my ground and not hand him his tablet (leant from school, by the way. I’m not buying a seven-year-old an expensive personal computing device…), I know he will stomp around for a while, wail and complain, slam his door a few times, say some weird shit like, “Fine! I’ll never have fun for the rest of my life!” or “You don’t want me to ever have fun again!” and I will try and fail to not raise my voice, and if it gets really bad, I’ll end up slamming my door, and calling him selfish and entitled, and threaten to throw away all his toys, and take away screen time for a month, and say some weird shit like, “You are being such an asshole! My mother would have hit me by now if I was like this!” (which is true, but also, like, what?).

Parenting is not my forte.

Eventually we will both apologize to each other (he will usually initiate because he is a god damned gift). I will explain to him that I need to have time to get my work done, and he needs to try to respect that. I will gently point out all the sacrifices I make for him every day. He will seem to get it in that moment… I will tell him I’m sorry I called him an “asshole.”

We will cuddle on the couch for a bit, and then I’ll ask him to help me make dinner, to which he will enthusiastically reply, “Okay!” He will help me for a few minutes, and then he will wander off to put an 80s playlist on Spotify and play drums, and I will silently chastise myself for not making him make dinner with me (so he can develop a useful skill and learn the valuable lesson of being helpful and blah blah blah).

At the end of the day, he will insist that I do bedtime with him, even though we have spent every waking hour together and I called him an asshole. He will ask for a bedtime story (his current favorite one is the one where Sonic the Hedgehog gets his powers by sleeping in a drainpipe of a nuclear waste facility after a logging company cut down his forest. He then has to go join society, which means he has to go to the DMV and get a non-driver’s ID, and then apply for citizenship. There are a lot of forms he has to fill out, usually in triplicate, and sometimes he uses a blue pen instead of a black pen, and he has to make a new appointment, and wait another six weeks.). I will give him squeezes and hugs to last him through the night, and sometimes listen as he yells for me from his room while Kurt is trying to put him to bed.

I will lay there and marvel at the bottomless well of love he has for me. I feel completely undeserving. I am sure that I’m raising him to believe that it’s okay to call someone you love an asshole, as long as you show contrition afterward. I am sure I’m raising a sociopath. I can see him years from now saying, “You always folded and let me play video games, and now I can’t self-motivate to get a job AND THAT’S WHY I HAVE TO LIVE IN YOUR BASEMENT!” Oh god.

If my mother were alive, I wonder if she would have softer ways with Monty than she did with me. Obviously she wouldn’t spank my child. If she did it would be her first and last time, and she would never see us again. But I wonder if she would say things like, “Oh, he’s just a kid. Let him play videogames,” or “He’s only seven, of course he eats like a complete slob. At least he’s cute when he does it!” Or would she be like, “Daisy, you have got to put your foot down and put an end to this shit. He can figure out how to entertain himself. And why does he eat spaghetti like that?!”

Right now, Monty is in his room with the door closed doing god-knows-what on his tablet. Once, when he was really little, hhad figured out how to use voice command on my phone, and he was whispering, “Google, show me videos of big bellies.” I’m not kidding.

Hopefully, he’s playing PBS games. I suppose worst comes to worse, he’s watching those stupid videos where the kid opens toys and plays with them (honestly, what?). And I have had an hour of quiet to write. Should I leave him in there and enjoy some more quiet time?

Maybe he’s watching videos of big bellies. That’s okay, right? Right? Like, he’ll be okay, yeah?

In twenty years, when he’s living in my basement and slurping his spaghetti one noodle at a time, flinging sauce all over the place, I will be reminded of this morning and know that this one hour of peace and quiet was his ultimate undoing.


Today is Juneteenth. Find a local celebration or peace rally and go to it. Wear your mask. Today and every day, educate yourself. Be kind to your neighbors. Don’t call the cops on ANYONE (especially not a BIPOC) unless you literally see them wielding a weapon or their own strength at a person, or plowing their car into pedestrians. If you see someone in need, ask if there’s anything you might be able to do to help them.  Ask yourself, is what I’m doing helpful or hurtful.

Juneteenth Celebration | Happening @ Michigan

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Black Lives Matter, parenting, work | 1 Comment

Frankenstein Bunny (Monty came up with this title)

Listen, I’m not going to lie. One of the reasons I haven’t been writing as much lately is that when I have a free hour or two (when Monty is visiting with Aunt Mo, or going for a ride with Kurt), I’ve been spending that time either playing video games or watching “Married at First Sight.” I’M NOT PROUD, OKAY?

Watching a show where toxic heteronormativity is rewarded, and shooting zombies has been a balm these days.

“I just want the man to be the man.” Shoot a zombie! “How many men have you slept with?” Shoot a zombie! “When they see that ring, they know you belong to me.” Kick the ever-living shit out of a zombie! “He knows how to cook?! Teeheeheehee!” Explode a gas can on a hoard of zombies.

Smash the Patriarchy" Canvas Print by serpentsky17 | Redbubble

But Monty and Kurt are going to Target (with their masks on because we’re not monsters), and here I am, doing this! Go me!

I’ve been thinking a lot about an interaction I had back in 2016. We were staying with my friend’s parents in Newburgh, NY (long story), about an hour and forty minutes on the train to NYC. On the way to the train station in Beacon I noticed a man and his child walking down the street. The child was about Monty’s age, about 3, and was wearing a backpack shaped like a teddy bear. A couple hours later, on the shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square, I saw the pair again. The man was really good-looking, which may have been part of my motivation for striking up a conversation. I told him I had noticed him and his son on the way to the train station. I told him I had a son his age. He told me they lived in Newburgh. I asked if his son went to pre-school and he said he did. I asked him how they could afford it (there’s no free preK in Newburgh). What I didn’t say, and what I should have maybe said was that I had looked into preschools around there and I couldn’t afford any of them, and I didn’t know how anyone could afford them. They were prohibitively expensive. I think what I meant to say was, “I looked into programs there and was shocked at how expensive they are. I’m trying to figure out where to put my son so I can work.” 

I noticed he has a very faint accent that I couldn’t place. I almost always ask people where they’re from originally if I hear any regionalism. I have a weirdly keen ear for accents and dialects and can usually tell where people are from. I can tell the accents of Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Long Island apart. I can tell if someone is from south Jersey or Philly. I can usually tell what country people are from even if their accent is almost undetectable. So, I asked him where he was from and he said New York. And then I asked him where he grew up. I saw something shift in his face. Like a wave of disappointment. I was a little confused. We parted ways and I spent the next few days (and years) thinking about it.

I realized pretty quickly that I had, in essence, asked him “But where are you really from?” And even though my intentions were completely innocent, I hadn’t taken into account that people of color field this question a lot. As if they couldn’t possibly be from the United States. It doesn’t matter that I’m also a native New Yorker, and we tend to always ask where in New York a fellow New Yorker is from. It doesn’t matter that I’m just interested in dialects. What mattered was that I should have checked my privilege, and considered that that question, coming from a white person, wasn’t going to come across the way I wanted it to, and it’s not like I was going to have time to explain myself.

Add to that, the way it might have seemed like I was asking him how he could afford preschool.

I think about this incident a lot. I feel shitty about it. I wish I could go back and fix it.

I have made worse missteps in my life. I know I have.

All I can do now is try to be smarter moving forward. Read and listen. Try to understand microaggressions and do my best not to make any, and if I do, promptly apologize.

I don’t really have a way to end this blog. I’ve been sitting on it for a few days. I just want to get it up. So, I’ll end with this:

If you have a moment today and an extra twenty bucks, consider going over to eyeseeme.com to buy a book by a black author. If you’re into dystopic fiction I recommend Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. For nonfiction So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo or How to be Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, work | Leave a comment

Lies I Tell Myself

Why our thoughts turn negative before we go to bed - ABC Life

I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just begin, and we’ll see where we get.

I’ve been told recently by a few different people that they’ve always enjoyed my blog and that they admire my openness and honesty. It’s flattering and validating, but my depressive mind ends up wondering why I’m not farther along. Why more people don’t share my blog, pass it on for others to see, shout it from the rooftops. My rational mind knows the reasons. People are busy. People are easily distractible. People like to be complimentary. But more than all that, I haven’t been disciplined in my posting for years and years. I know the missing puzzle piece is my own work. I’ve read enough books on writing to know that I’ll never get anywhere unless I sit down every day and do the work. And I have excuse upon excuse as to why I don’t. But none of those things mean anything.

What troubles me most about this is that I want to be a successful writer. When I realized I wasn’t passionate about being a singer, all those years of not taking my lessons seriously, or putting in the work, made sense. I didn’t put in the work because I didn’t really want it that badly. But I really do want to have a career as a writer. I want to sell my book. I want to write books. I want to write for television. And so, my reticence to do the work is confusing and frustrating.

What if it isn’t that I didn’t have a passion for singing? What if what it really was, was fear? What if what stopped me from putting in the work was a great fear of failure? What could I have achieved if I had put in the work?

If I show up every day, and put in the work, and then I don’t succeed, what then?

I used to put in little to no work on my auditions. I would glance through the sides when I got them, and glance at them again on the subway on the way to the audition. And it worked. Not every time, obviously. But I got work. I booked plays and musicals, and TV gigs. I booked my first guest star role on a TV show (as an adult) after a night of illicit drug use, not realizing that my audition was first thing in the morning. And it’s not that I got cocky about it. I learned many, many years ago that my shit stinks just as bad as everyone else’s. It’s just that that’s what worked for years. Skating by on instinct. Not only that, but because of my very early success, it took me longer than some to learn about hard work and tenacity. I was taught that I would either succeed, or I wouldn’t. I was either good at something, or I wasn’t. Training had nothing to do with it. I believed that if something didn’t come to me easily, I would never be good at it. I didn’t know how to try and fail and try again. It took many years, and some pretty big failures, for that lesson to finally kick in.

I think, in retrospect, that habit of not preparing was a self-protection mechanism. The less effort I put into something, the more I could say, “Well, I didn’t really try,” when I failed. Because when I did put my shoulder into it, if I didn’t get it, my depressive mind would tell me it was because I wasn’t good enough.

It takes a long time for the lesson that not booking a job rarely has to do with talent, and usually has to do with look, or how many followers you have on social media, or whether the producers daughter wants to be an actor that day … If you’re at the level where you’re reading for the production team, or the network, you have the talent (or you’re Ruby Rose and everyone is blinded by how insanely beautiful you are), so not booking the gig doesn’t have to lead to a shame spiral. It takes a loooooooong time for that lesson to kick in. And it takes constant reminders.

Nevertheless, the less you try, the more you can blame your failures on your lack of effort, rather than your lack of talent.

I have to remind myself that I have been trying (and succeding) at this business for 30+ years.

My depressive mind lies to me a lot. In my more rational moments, I know that. It tells me I never stick with anything. It tells me that all my ventures are failures. It tells me I have nothing to show for my 40 years on this earth. It diminishes all of my accomplishments. It turns all compliments in to, “yeah, but…”s. It tells me that all of Monty’s “good” qualities are due to his nature, and all of his “bad” qualities are due to my terrible parenting. It points to all the gaps in my blogs posts. It believes the trolls in my life who have tried to knock me down.

It does not recognize how many times I have gotten back up. It does not recognize my career achievements. It does not recognize the ways in which I help my family and friends every day in small ways and big ways. It does not commend me for getting out of bed every day to show up for my son. It does not commend me for feeding my family every night, almost always from scratch. It does not commend me for trying to learn, and grow, and be a better parent, partner, sister, friend, person, and ally.  

In my worst moments, it tells me that everyone would be better off without me. It tells me that I am fucking up my child somehow. It tells me that my partner has settled for me out of necessity. It tells me I should have more friends and more success. It tells me everything I do is a failure.

Here is a great irony: I am sharing these thoughts, not for sympathy, but because I have heard from readers that my openness about my depression and struggles with mental illness have helped them in their dark moments. So even as I write this, I know that my words have value, and yet as I write this, my depressive mind is telling me it’s worthless, self-indulgent, and self-pitying.

Someone recently asked me when I made the decision to be so open and honest about my life. I never made the decision. I don’t know any other way to be.

So, that’s where I am this morning. My PLAN is to share more often. I’m having a lot of thoughts and struggles with my identity now that I am a full-time stay-at-home parent. There is no guidebook for how to hold on to your Queerness when you are in a “straight” marriage, and you’re suddenly a full-time stay-at-home parent with no idea when or if your career will ever have the opportunity to pick back up. No one has written that book yet. So, I’m navigating a lot of this alone, and I have plenty to say about it.

In regards to the social and political unrest we are now experiencing, I hate to say “I told you so,” but I did, in fact, tell you so (please see a recent blog for evidence of said telling-you-so). I have long thought that one of the ingredients of “successful” capitalism is keeping a population working more than they should/can in order to prevent them from thinking too much. So, when the economy comes to a grinding halt because of a pandemic that everyone should have seen coming, it stands to reason that now, with more time on our hands, people will have more capacity to look around and see that what’s going on is unjust and inhumane. Then, what choice do we have but to revolt?

For my fellow white people, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and impotent in a time like this. Remember that for the vast majority of their time on this continent, Black people have felt overwhelmed and impotent. Moreover, they have been abused, erased, beaten and killed (literally and figuratively). They have suffered generations of trauma from systemic racism and white supremacy. They are still being lynched in the streets. So, we white people can stand to be uncomfortable for a while. There are tons of resources. You have no excuse for not doing your part. Follow black activists, writers, and artists on social media. Listen. Dig deep and look at your own biases, racism, and missteps. Resist the urge to defend yourself when you see people share their pain about their experiences with white people. It’s not about YOU (I mean it is, but it’s not about your ego). March in the streets but wear a mask! If you can’t march, for whatever reason, do your part by amplifying the voices of black people, and sharing information on marches, protests, rallies, and campaigns to reach local lawmakers. Donate and volunteer if you can. Teach your children to be anti-racist. FUCKING VOTE.

Here is a list with a tremendous number of resources for you, including where to donate, what books to read, and legal help. Save it to your desktop.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, depression, work | 2 Comments

Safer at Home

Written and Directed by me.

Starring me and Monty Eagan-Bloom

Shot by Kurt Bloom

Edited by Luther Creek

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Teach your Children Well. Or… At All.

We took a drive on Saturday in my sister’s convertible up to Mullholland. We were hoping to see the view south of here. We heard you can see all the way down to South Coast now that the pollution has cleared out. We didn’t get to a good vantage point to see the view, but I could smell plants I had never smelled before up there. Eucalyptus and other herbaceous plants. There was something really magical about it. Smelling plants.

I set up an egg hunt on Sunday in our building’s courtyard for Monty and his friends downstairs. A few neighbors came out to watch. It felt like a relatively normal moment in the middle of a shit storm.

We finally got a formalized “schedule” from Monty’s teacher. She posts assignments in his school email account. Unfortunately, in the four weeks since we’ve been homeschooling, we came up with our own system that was mostly really working. We did a combination of online and live lessons. Now, with this new schedule, every lesson is online, and Monty can finish everything before noon. That’s not gonna fly. Today we did a math assignment from his teacher and compared to what he’s been doing over the last four months, the work was a joke. He had to count pictures of leaves and whatever and write the answer down. The leaves were in a straight line… It’s not even like he had to hunt for them or track his counting. And he had to circle “is less than” or “is more than” on pictures of Lego blocks. My sister (who does the bulk of the teaching because, weird fact: I’m terrible at teaching.) was having him add and subtract two and three digit numbers. He was learning about Kenya, and who our ancestors are, and where they were from, and the proper use of the “me” and “I.” Today, for his online assignment he watched a video about a fly who flies high in the sky, and a girl who cried…

I have always believed in public education. In theory. And I can’t afford to send Monty to some school where he gets to design his own curriculum. Nor can I afford to live in a neighborhood with schools that are properly funded. But his lessons are way behind what he’s capable of. I’m worried about wasted potential. I’m worried about how much supplemental learning he’s going to need in order to “compete.” I’m worried that at this rate he’s going to be bored. And I don’t want to him to skip 2nd grade public or private. In a lot of ways, he’s still very young and tender. When he sets the table, he won’t put out butter knives because “knives are violent.” The thought of him trying to keep up with a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds is terrifying. The other day he was talking about Pennywise! And that’s just from his 6-year-old friends. God only knows what a bunch of 3rd graders are going to teach him about. He’ll come home with a pack of cigarettes rolled in his sleeve, and say things like, “Hey toots! How’s about some chow?” (Honestly, I don’t know how children talk).

I’ve started making face masks for myself and my family. I am not crafty. At all. So, this is going to be…fun.

Is this real life?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Whose Country is it Anyway?

I wish that I could offer hope or optimism, but I’m not feeling tremendously hopeful or optimistic. I wish I could say that we’re all going to come out of this relatively soon and stronger as a nation. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that’s not the case. It’s my belief that “safer at home” measures are going to last for at least a year. Probably more. There is no vaccine in sight, and once there is, there needs to be extensive trials before it is made available.

And I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I hope I’m wrong.

Our country’s brand seems to be yelling “We’re number 1!” at the tops of our lungs, while sticking our heads in the sand when anything that might contradict that claim rears its head (which, by the way, is all the time. See: the levies breaking during Katrina, see: the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as other cities across the country, see: the banking crisis and resulting Great Recession. And that’s just in the last couple decades.). Those of us whose patriotism isn’t worn on our sleeves, who insist, despite all logic, to remain optimistic, or believe that “the pendulum always swings the other way eventually,” are being just as willfully ignorant as any MAGA idiot waving a Confederate flag and holding a tiki torch from Home Depot.

While we have made massive strides in the country toward equality, we are still failing our working poor and our shrinking middle class. Many of our laws support and uphold the White Supremacy this country was built on. Our healthcare system is a joke. Our education system is embarrassing. We have the highest rate of incarcerations of any country in the world (We really are #1!). If anyone truly believed that every single one of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated were guilty of their crimes, or actually “deserved” to be there (whether a human being deserves to be held in a cage is a different conversation), wouldn’t that necessarily prove that America is not the greatest country in the world? How could the greatest country in the world produce the highest number of criminals? See? The logic doesn’t hold.

We have some massive structural problems in the country that won’t be fixed without some sort of complete collapse and rebuild. Some people are urging us to envision the kind of society we want to rebuild once this is over. It’s a nice thought. It’s a comforting fantasy to think that some societal positive will come out of all this. But I don’t believe this is our bottom. I think what happens next might be.

After the Great Recession, when big banks were bailed out with tax-payer money, rather than take the opportunity to reflect on why they had failed and what they might be able to do better, they foreclosed on home owners and small businesses, and developers marched in and began a boom of building “luxury” condos all across the country. And yet, AND YET! What I’m noticing just by using my eyes is that despite these hideous grey boxes going up everywhere, more people are living on the streets. When I came back to Los Angeles after only four years away, the number of people living in tents all over the city had grown exponentially. Recently I heard a Virginia lawmaker say that in his state there are 11 vacant apartments per one person experiencing homelessness.

Whether or not you think people experiencing homelessness should be housed in available housing, the issue is that rather than figure out how to close the gap between rich and poor, or how to use the tax-payer bailout to help…the tax-payer, banks and developers used a crisis to line their pockets. I don’t think this time will be any different. I don’t think our lawmakers are going to suddenly be struck by a case of morality and upend the system (Even if Bernie had won…).

Capitalism and Racism are far too entrenched. In order to create real change, there would need to be the kind of collapse that is scary and not easy to live through.

I don’t know that I love this country enough to stick around for that. I used to think that if you disagreed with the way your country was being run you should stick around to help fix it. But I don’t know that it is fixable. And I know that abandoning this country would mean leaving behind those who don’t have the luxury to get up and relocate, and I struggle with a lot of guilt around that concept. But I don’t think I want to try to make it through the revolution. Especially not with a kid.

For now, I breathe, and parent, and partner, and nap, try not to look at the news, and just get through this day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reset.

There are planes going by overhead from Burbank to who knows where. Who is still riding on airplanes?

I am somewhat at a loss. What is happening in the world is so big and scary, I don’t know where to begin. Everyone is frightened. No one is exempt. Social Media has become a room where in one corner people are screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, in another people are screaming at the people screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, and in another people are making “content.” The fourth corner is the WHO saying, “Wash your hands!” and the CDC saying, “Don’t spit in your partner’s mouth!”

Parks and beaches are now closed. We went to the beach on Sunday with my friend Gonzalo. All five of us packed in our car, which I understand is VERBOTTEN, and very bad, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. But Gonzalo is like family, so we figured we would be okay. And I was feeling so stir-crazy and sun-deprived, that I reasoned the chances of me getting sick or getting Gonzalo sick were worth the risk. We kept our distance from all other humans. We gave seniors the evil eye and said, “Back! Back, ye foul knave!” We yelled at babies who toddled too close. We didn’t lick any handrails. In short, we were as safe as could be while still venturing into the sunshine. And I’m grateful we did it before we lost the opportunity altogether.

I have become a homeschool teacher, which is a job I am wholly unqualified for, and very bad at. My attempt this morning devolved during our morning walk (first thing after breakfast, mind you) when I asked Monty to spell the word “people,” over which he had a full meltdown. Frankly, I don’t blame him. “People.” Really. How do I explain a silent and pointless “o?” There is nothing quite like teaching spelling to a six-year-old that highlights how nonsensical the English language is. Thankfully my sister has years of experience nannying rich people’s kids, so she has taken over the bulk of the teaching. She seems to be an endless font of activities that are both educational and fun.

Kurt also is better able to teach Monty than I am. When we got home from our walk this morning, I asked Monty to hit the reset button on the day. He went to his room for a few minutes and came out just as angry as when he went in. Everything I suggested was a problem. Then Kurt got up, and I retreated to my room for my own reset. When I came out, Monty was happily reading out loud from a book about Dinosaurs.

In discussing this with my therapist today, it became clear that Monty’s frustration mirrors my own. When teaching him is harder than I want it to be, I tend to throw up my hands and say, “forget it!” It’s no wonder he does the same.

My parenting strengths lie elsewhere. Though I will admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to see what strengths I do have as a parent. Sometimes I struggle to see what my contribution is. Especially when I’m hearing Monty and my sister laughing in the living room over a made-up game show called “What’s That Grammar?” and I can’t get him to spell “people.”

I have to regularly remind myself that Monty is a happy, well-adjusted kid, who seems to inspire joy in everyone he meets. And despite how frustrated I get, or how little I feel I’m contributing to his well-being, he is always thrilled to see me, wants me to sit right next to him at dinner and in the car, wants me to do bedtime, and tells me all the time how much he loves me. Maybe my contributions are just harder to quantify.  

I hope we are all taking some of this time to hit our own reset buttons.

I find myself thinking very seriously about what I want my life to look like when the dust settles. Do I want to remain in Los Angeles and continue chasing a dream that is illusive and never quite as satisfying as I want it to be? Do I switch careers (again)? Do I move somewhere quieter and open a country store? Do I run for office and try to help redesign our culture?

We certainly can’t keep going the way we have. If this disaster has proven anything, it is that the people in charge clearly care more about their own reputations than they do the good of their constituents, or their country. Hopefully it has become obvious to everyone that our priorities are completely mixed up. More value needs to be placed on our teachers and our service industry workers.

Money doesn’t disappear. It flows upward and is all still there. The only reason we’re in a depression is because the wealth has been distributed mostly to the people who see no reason to spend it on the greater good. All the companies who have temporarily shut down and stopped paying workers are still paying their CEOs. THEY still have money. And they will still amass more of it, while the rest of us watch our savings (if we’re lucky to have any) dwindle away.

We have an opportunity to make a better system. Will we do it, or will we put our blinders back on and go about business as usual?

Another airplane just flew by.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

ALBATROSS!

Here’s the deal, I’m not an Economist. I’m not a Sociologist. I’m not even THAT smart. But I have a very strong feeling that shit is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

What I’m about to say isn’t based on years of research. It’s just based on my observations of history and our economic situation over the 40 or so years I’ve been around.

First of all, I want to say that I KNEW the CDC was withholding information long before it came out that our Reality-TV-Star-In-Chief was ordering them to withhold information. I knew that whatever numbers they were reporting, the actual numbers were much worse. It was in their best interest to “prevent panic” by downplaying the risks. The great irony, of course, is that by attempting to prevent panic, they made the situation much, much worse.

I have also been saying for YEARS that we are going to face major social upheaval in the country, the likes of which we have not seen before. I believe that the only reason the people haven’t truly risen up before now is because most of us can’t afford to. The best way to keep a population compliant is to keep them barely paid (check), barely fed (check), barely educated (check), and barely healthy (check). We have a massive and growing population living at or near the poverty line BY DESIGN. This isn’t a mistake. This is absolutely how the powers that be want it. And they have won. I realize the statistics don’t point to a majority of our country being under paid, fed, educated, and cared for, but the numbers are still remarkably high for a country that claims to be the one of the richest nations in the world and a global super power. These are shameful numbers, and, I believe numbers high enough to cause unrest. Though, again, I’m no expert.

When people are hungry, tired, sick, and barely getting by, they can’t afford to protest. Sweeping change in this country (and throughout the world) has ALWAYS been made on the backs of the poorest people. Whether it has been by slave labor, or by the cavalier attitude that the poor will continue to keep their heads down and do the work no matter what. A single parent working three jobs and deciding which bills to not pay so they can feed their family doesn’t have the luxury of walking off the job to storm the castle. She has to keep working.

When we see massive social unrest in other parts of the world (like the Arab Spring, for example), it happens when the majority of the population doesn’t have anything left to lose.

The reason Occupy Wall Street didn’t work was because the people occupying Wall Street couldn’t afford to live in tents for weeks on end. The brokers still went to work, and people still poured their money into the markets. More importantly, the legions of working poor who cleaned the toilets of the assholes at top couldn’t afford to just stop going to work.

Even without this pandemic (which, to be clear, in case I haven’t been already, it’s not the virus that’s the problem, it’s the massive economic toll the fallout is going to create) we were already facing a massive housing crisis (which we already have), when this generation of gig economy hustlers “retires” with no pension, social security, healthcare, or proper savings. I don’t know what people are expecting. We’re like a country of ostriches with our heads in the sand. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE GET OLD AND HAVE NO SAFETY NET? You think the homeless situation is bad now? Just wait. When our streets are lined with senior citizens with nowhere to go, then we’re going to be in some serious shit.

If we even get there.

So, here’s what’s going to happen: The government is going to toss us some pennies to keep us momentarily sated. Then, when the virus passes and the dust settles, they’re going to pump “stimulus money” (our tax dollars) into the airline, health insurance, and oil industries. Once again, just like they did with the banks in 2009, they are going to bail out the least in-need. They are going to line the pockets of the richest men in this country. MEANWHILE, potentially millions of working poor will have lost their jobs and/or significant income. THEN we will see massive and sweeping riots across this country. Once people have nothing left to lose, once their jobs won’t be on the line because they have lost those jobs, then we will see the pitchforks coming out. And it’s not going to be pretty.

I won’t lie, I have been hoping for a moment like this for many, many years. I am a big consumer of post-apocalyptic fiction. I believe that our need for STUFF is unsustainable. We don’t need tomatoes in the winter. We don’t need the newest Iphone delivered same-day. Especially when those things come at the cost of real human lives. It would behoove us, the population of the planet, and the “environment” to return to localized economies.

But now that the moment seems very likely at hand, I am not holding my breath with anticipation. This is not fun or exciting. I believe it is necessary, but it’s going to cost a lot of lives and it’s not going to be pretty.

I suppose I imagined that when this moment came, I would have a house on land with a water source. I imagined that I could hole up with my family, house some friends and family, and keep the rest away with barbed wire and a shotgun. But I don’t have a house, or land, or a water source. Or a shotgun, for that matter. I live at the mercy of a large property management company. I can not grow my own food. If I turn on my faucet and clean water doesn’t come out, I have maybe a week’s worth of water stored in the cupboard. If I’m forced to run, I won’t make it very far. I have always said that in the Zombie apocalypse I’ll be one of the first ones to volunteer to be shot in the head and left behind. I know what it would take to survive on the road without shelter, and I’m not designed for it.

I hope to goodness I’m wrong. I hope I’m being a paranoid alarmist. I don’t think I am. I have tended to be quietly right about this shit. It doesn’t take an economics degree to understand it. All you have to do is look at history. Hell, look at the past two decades of world history. You don’t need to go back to the time of The Spanish Flu or The Plague. Look at the countries that have squandered their economies on the wealthiest people, overlooked the majority of their citizens, rolled back rights, denied access to proper housing, food, education, and healthcare that have collapsed under massive social upheaval in the past few decades.

We will survive this. As a people. But we’re going to have to take a long, hard look at how we live and agree together to make some pretty serious changes.

Until then, let’s all send out thoughts and prayers to The White House. May everyone inside it come down with the Coronavirus. Except for the people who take out the garbage and clean the toilets.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s okay. I’m okay.

I did not book the thing I flew back to NYC for. I know it’s not a matter of my talent or hard work, and everything else is out of my control. Something else will come along. It’s okay. I’m okay.

Something else better come along. I’m quickly running out of money.

I have never been good at money. If I have it, I tend to spend it. The concept of saving is foreign to me. It really only occurred to me the other day that on the past two major gigs I had, I should have been putting a significant portion of each paycheck into savings. But, alas, I did not. Instead I was like, “Money?! I haven’t had this in long time!” and I did things like take Monty to Disneyland, and buy expensive cheese and shoes I didn’t really need. And flights to NYC for callbacks… It’s okay. I’m okay.

To be fair, I only bought a pair of Converse and a pair of Adidas. It’s not like I’m running around buying Manolo Blahnik’s. And 95% of my clothes come from thrift stores. It pays to be chronically behind on fashion!

I emailed my literary manager yesterday basically saying, “How do I write things?” She hasn’t replied. Probably because she’s like, “Bitch, I don’t know!” (Actually, she’s incredibly nice and supportive, and she’s probably just busy with her clients who are emailing with actual finished pieces…). It’s okay. I’m okay.

It’s looking like we’ll be shooting my short film in the next month or so. If we can raise the money. We need about $30,000. Easy! Mike Bloomberg spends that every time he wipes his ass. I assume he wipes his ass with money. It’s about as practical as spending millions to run for president for two months instead of putting your money behind, I don’t know, Elizabeth Warren? Dick. Anyway, we’re going to be making my movie. So that’s pretty exciting.

I was thinking this morning about how awful and nasty it’s going to get when the Democratic nominee is finally chosen. There is no attack too low for Trump and I’m scared of whatever rhetoric he’s going to spew. I want to crawl into a cave until it’s over. Instead I’ll be doing whatever I can to get him out of office. I am TERRIFIED of what another four years would look like.

Okay, I literally just exhausted myself with that thought. I’m going back to bed.

It’s okay. I’m okay.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment