Fine, You’re ALL “Irredeemable.”

Writing

Oh Hilary.

I voted for her during the primaries in 2012 (and happily switched my vote to Obama when the time came). At the time I didn’t think her’s and Obama’s platform were that different and I thought she had a better shot of being effective. I was wrong. So when I got the chance to vote for a real democratic socialist (I’m not a Marxist you guys, at best I’m a moderate European style socialist, so Sanders was the closest I’ve gotten to vote for my ideals ever) I took it, expecting him to lose and to be working for the party, as I have for every election since I was 18, in the fall. I was ready to happily support Clinton. Then our shit show of a primary happened, the party disenfranchised and demobilized their own people and now I’m stuck trying to defend and support someone whose best claim to the office is just that she’s not Hitler. And I’ve been doing that job because I know that it’s innocent people who will be hurt by his presidency and not the rich party establishment. But some of Clinton’s supporters aren’t making my job any easier, so I’m asking you to help me, help you.
The most efficient way to start that would be for you guys to get some message discipline together and stop alienating people with your self righteousness and bigotry.

Which means you have to stop talking about “coal people.”

No more comments about how irredeemable half the country is.

No more alienating the left and telling them they can’t criticize her (if she can’t be criticized, she’s the fascist).

You don’t put an establishment candidate with a bad track record up against Hitler. You put a Saint up against him. And we had one and not only was he dismissed and treated poorly by the media, but his supporters were demobilized, suppressed, mocked and ridiculed. So now she has a situation where she has to earn people back who were voting for Sanders because of how good a person he is and she’s running around talking about how half of her opponents’ supporters (quarter of the country is how people heard that, btw) are irredeemable.

It’s her job to be the good guy this election and she’s gotten away with being pretty far from perfect. Frankly, if she weren’t up against Trump she’d have already been disqualified from several things she’s done this election, including the party’s suppression of their own people’s votes. And I say this as someone who is helping to register voters for her. I’m not Bernie or Bust but we can’t really afford these mistakes right now. We can’t afford to have her alienating people like this if she plans to be president, and if she can’t muster message discipline then she doesn’t deserve to be president anymore than he does.

But I also have a bigger issue with this  comment and I’ll explain why.

If half of Trump supporters are irredeemable because they are racist and sexist than more than half this country and some percentage of Hilary Clinton supporters (half? A quarter? You don’t want to know my estimate) are also irredeemable. Just because they say things in academic language doesn’t change the nature of what they say. A Black Democrat told me people like me didn’t need to go to college and it was Bill Clinton that instituted and carried most of the tough on crime polices that are leading to over incarceration and police brutality.

Who’s the bigger racist?

1) the old man sitting in a trailer park watching Fox News all day waiting to die on his meager Social Security payout while watching his children die from drug ods and poverty who says stuff like, “I hate n——” in that trailer.

OR

2) the real estate agent in the Bay Area who didn’t sell houses to black people in Palo Alto and who I’m sure was an incredibly nice person and usually a democrat who said things like, “oh, they just aren’t comfortable living next to black people.”

I think they are both about equally racist and equally disturbing and equally in need of education but one has more power to carry their racism out than other. And that’s how systemic racism works and frankly systemic racism, classism and sexism have all done far more damage to me and the kids I grew up with than the racists in Rio Linda. Those people we could just laugh at and ignore, not the case when it’s your principal who calls you trash and keeps you locked out of AP classes.

KKK violent level racists are rare and we all think they are abhorrent but “half” of Trump supporters don’t fall into that category anymore than the tech dudes who don’t hire black people but who won’t vote for Trump do. And even if they did, I’m about a hundred percent certain that with the right resources we could reform even the most virulently racist asshole in the bunch, but I can’t do that work and the rest of the anti-racists can’t do that work if we tell these people that they are “irredeemable.” Irredeemable means unteachable and inhumane and its just NOT acceptable for the next president of the United States to call half of her own citizens irredeemable in any context, but it’s especially not acceptable to scapegoat them for racism when she hasn’t exactly been and her supporters haven’t exactly been anti-racist champions. If they had the perfect high ground on that one then maybe it’d be ok but even then I’d tell them to stop because this is an election year and we can’t afford those kinds of mistakes when our opponent is Hitler. If it’s going to alienate a huge percentage of Americans and we don’t stand to benefit from doing it then I don’t know why we are doing it. It’s important to remember that most of these Trump supporters are somebody’s grandma or Dad. So even if you think their beliefs are truly abhorrent, there’s really no good reason to refer them as “irredeemable.”

There’s no room for error right now and she’s been given more room than just about any past candidate in living memory because frankly, she’s had enough scandals that would have taken out previous candidates. I mean, Gary Heart got disqualified for a picture of his mistress on his lap. I’ve had to push down my personal bar for candidates so far, I’m not even sure where it is anymore. We aren’t exactly a forgiving people about election scandals and she’s had a lot. And I suppose it’s better for society that we have been forgiving about that because our other option is Trump but it’s not something I’d point out to the average American if you want their help.

This is her job and this is also America where you get fired if you don’t do her job so I don’t want to (and no other working class person does either) wants to hear about how hard her job is. Obama, FDR, Carter, none of these people ever complained about having to do their job and they had pretty serious circumstances to work through. Real leaders don’t make excuses, they just do what has to be done. Real leaders educate.

Dealing with these people and educating the masses is part of her job, and if she can’t do it then I suggest they bring on someone to the campaign who can because they keep alienating working people with the stuff they say and we don’t have time for this.

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A Comprehensive List of Reasons We Aren’t Having Kids

Writing

Since getting married, people keep asking me and my husband if we want kids. Since neither of us has ever expressed even the slightest interest in procreation, it seems odd. But the really odd thing is when people argue with us about it after we try to politely demure. You could stop with the question when we say no, and I politely talk about how grateful I am that other people have them, but instead you keep interrogations going. Since we are getting tired of repeating ourselves, here’s the list of reasons.

Prepare to be horribly offended.

  • We don’t want to.
  • Kids will cramp our style? Why? Because our style is called “being irresponsible” and “sleep.”
  • You all frown on people who smoke weed around their children
  • People keep telling me how brilliant our child will be, and that might be true, if we win the genetic lottery. But they’ll also be insane, and we’ll possibly produce a Lex Luther.
  • Don’t you all think I’ve done enough damage to my body?
  • Listening to the cries of children gives me horrible flashbacks to my childhood.
  • I’ve already taken care of lots of kids, so I know better.
  • My husband straight just hates kids, you guys.
  • OR… we can both write.
  • We’re just a pair of selfish assholes.
  • OR… I can continue to play subversive aunt to all of your children
  • I literally can’t do it all without dying and frankly I like writing and activism better than raising kids.
  • Between my husband and I there is only one fully functioning adult and we both agree it’d be best to raise kids with two.
  • I wouldn’t wish my medical conditions and epic-genetic trauma on my worst enemy.
  • Just general laziness.
  • Neither one of us wants deal with the fallout of possibly having a douchebag. Which is to say, we’d have to hate our own child.
  • After 28 years, I’m finally getting good sleep. Fuck you for asking me to give it up.
  • Children aren’t fluffy and they expect to be fed more than twice a day on a regular schedule.
  • Our cat wouldn’t like it.
  • Christmas and Disneyland are usually involved in our descriptions of hell.
  • Do you REALLY think it’s a good idea? I mean, if you know us? DO YOU?!!
  • Because we are too irresponsible but also responsible enough to know we are too irresponsible.
  • It’s all fun and games to tell children to rebel against authority until you are the authority.
  • Children’s birthday parties.
  • Pregnancy, for either of us.
  • We’ll never like our child as much as we like each other and we’ll both also do a poor job hiding it because of aforementioned laziness.
  • “No, honey, Santa isn’t real. He’s just something some white people made up to get people to spend money. Sure, go ahead and share that information with the masses.” Do you really want my child in school with your child?
  • Children are like biological weapons factories and my body is basically virgin soil for the all the good my immune system does me.
  • I don’t actually carry the gene that makes me addicted to baby smell, because I’m a mutant.
  • I secretly hate taking care of kids even though I’m really good at it.
  • I’m also really good at physics but I have yet to see such a mass campaign to get me into scientific fields.

 

 

Practical, Realistic Suggestions for Exercising with Chronic Pain

Writing

Working out is super hard under the best conditions, but especially hard when you are a chronic pain patient. Over the last year and a half, I went from being bed-ridden to being functional on most days again. I work out probably 5-6 times a week (unless I’m injured) and I’m continuing to reach a healthy weight. If your goal is to lose weight, I can’t help you. The reason I can’t help you is because MY goal was to create a sustainable lifestyle so I could be healthier again. Research will tell you that exercise doesn’t matter for weight loss, and maybe that’s true but I know for a fact that it matters if you want to be healthier. So please don’t expect that I can tell you what to do about the number on the scale. That number might be perfectly fine and healthy for you, it might be too high, it might be too low. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I wanted to be able to dance again.

Now, up front, there are some basic barriers to this that the social justice community needs to take up as part of our list of causes. A lot of my success has depended on access. I’m able to exercise BECAUSE my pain is better managed and my pain is better managed because I can exercise. My pain is better managed because I now have access to medical marijuana and acupuncture and supplements. For people living with chronic pain in poverty, this challenge is a lot harder. Medi-Cal covers acupuncture but most doctors won’t take it, medical marijuana isn’t covered by insurance and that access depends on where you live. Supplements aren’t covered, though Vicodin and the like are. The most likely outcome as a chronic pain patient with Medi-cal is that they will shove prescriptions at you and hope for the best, because that’s what the government covers. Yet another reason we need universal health care, especially as research is currently implicating the exact drugs chronic pain patients are on as part of the health crisis among poor whites. So before we start lecturing anyone about how I did it so they can too, you can put some hours into fighting income inequality and poverty.

With that said, there are some pretty practical things that can help a lot of people that took me a while to figure out on my own, so I’m imparting that knowledge.

  • Go slow

The goal isn’t to do CrossFit tomorrow (OR EVER! WHY GOD WHY!), the goal is to be more functional and in less pain. The best way to start is to start out small. I started with short walks before they became long walks which then became yoga, which then became dance. 5 minutes became 15, 20 became an hour. OVER SEVERAL MONTHS. Especially with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, the goal is to avoid injury because injury sets us back and also makes us want to avoid exercise in the future. Injury in Ehlers Danlos is also permanent, so it’s NEVER worth whatever the push was for. Stop when it stops feeling good.

  • Have fun

A lot of chronic pain patients develop justifiable fears of movement because they exacerbate their conditions. We’ve developed negative associations with exercise because of past injury or poor pain management. The goal is to find things that you can develop positive associations with so that your brain and body start to associate exercise with a positive experience. For me, this means that I also had to think around social anxiety too. So planning around this, I knew I didn’t want to do competitive activities that involve a lot of social interaction. So I started doing yoga based on youtube and books, and walking. I love to dance, so when I was able, I started incorporating that too. After some time, I developed such positive associations that I kind of hate when I don’t get to work out. Coming from someone who grew up in a family that mocked me for yoga, this is a huge improvement.

  • Please for the love of God don’t push yourself to work out when you are ill

Pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, other people will encourage you to push past this. These people do not live with chronic pain and aren’t fragile and likely to be injured. These people should not be giving sick people advice. The goal is to be able to do more over the long term. It’s not a race and you don’t win by being injured.

  • Listen to your body

One of the degrees you get as a chronic pain patient trying to exist is in ignoring your body. “The pain is always there so I just ignore it.” “I can’t work if I don’t ignore the pain.” Even perfectly healthy people do this because we live under an industrial system that is frankly quite brutal. But your body is pretty smart and it does know what it needs if you learn to hear from it. Doctors gaslight us into not listening to our own bodies or health needs but this is a HUGE mistake if you want things to get better. You have to plan exercise around what works for you. On days when my shoulder hurts, I need to walk instead of doing yoga or I need to do a different form of yoga. I spent a lot of time also meditating and working on my anxiety so that I could listen to my body again, and because I spent that time I was able to create a system that worked without injuring myself.

  • Routine is your friend

This one is really hard because sick people never get sick on a routine schedule and because some of us (me!) didn’t grow up in a house with a whole lot of routines. This isn’t about always doing the workout or doing the workout at the same time every day or to the same level of difficulty. It’s about knowing that it’s better to do a little bit more often than to do big long workouts that tire you out. It’s about self-care routines like baths (hot water therapy is my best friend in the whole world, besides Epsom salt, but they are in a committed relationship with each other). You have to make exercise a sustainable life-long habit for it to work, so don’t try to show up to 90 minute fitness classes with perfectly healthy people if that doesn’t work for you. I don’t dance in a studio. I dance like I’m from North Highlands in my bathroom. But I do these things most of the time as part of my routine.

  • Your mental health matters too!

You know what makes it super hard to work out? Anxiety. SO HARD. So I had to actively start treating my anxiety. Depression makes it hard too. So does a whole host of conditions that can be brought on just from being in pain all the time. Again, this is something that we need to improve access to, so before you go around telling people to “get over it” I’m going to ask that you put some hours into expanding mental health treatment access. Your environment also matters a lot! We think we can just “power” through whatever, but we can’t. You have to reduce stress in your life to deal with the health issues and environmental factors make all the difference, so again, let’s work on poverty. But assuming you have some resources, I would encourage you to take up meditation and get your mental health issues treated like the real condition they are, because they will inhibit your ability to exercise and make routines. I don’t have a medical degree, so I don’t know that they would work for everyone, but there are free meditation apps like Brainwaves that I’m having a lot of success with for anxiety. Some mental health problems are also nutritional, I’m taking a B12 supplement (I have deficiencies both from my body being weird and my childhood) that has helped both my anxiety and energy levels. Some feelings come from having just experienced a lot of terrible stuff, in which case, there are a lot of promising treatments for most forms of PTSD. I’m not saying that things will be perfect. I still have lots of bad nightmares and flashbacks and all sorts of fun stuff but the goal here isn’t to be perfect, it’s to be happier and healthier.

 

  • Get a new doctor if yours isn’t helping

This is harder because there are real access issues here, but if your doctor isn’t giving you the resources to improve, or doesn’t take you seriously, get a new doctor. It’s not conducive to you healing to have a doctor that gaslights you and a doctor that believes in you and works with you to achieve YOUR goals is going to make a huge difference down the line. Seriously, this is what they are paid to do, to heal you. Fire them if they aren’t working on that. And not to be too biased, but until male doctors step their game up, I’m going to say that I’ve had A LOT more success with female doctors at the helm. They’ve been more likely to treat me with compassion and respect and like an equal partner in the process. YOU DESERVE THAT, SO DEMAND THAT. If your doctor makes you uncomfortable, report them too. Just because they went to school for a long time doesn’t give them all mighty god powers. They are human beings, and while I suggest that you find a doctor that you feel you can trust to not micro-manage (I do whatever my doctor tells me now because she has already been successful, so I don’t question her except for clarification), I also will very loudly encourage women to self-advocate in the medical office. Every experience with your doctor shouldn’t be stressful hell. Stressful hells are not conducive to healing.

 

Bottom line here is that exercise is part of self-love and we are all learning that concept again after a lifetime of being trained to treat ourselves cruelly for the sake of production. So I’ll end with this reminder: you are a human being. This is beautiful. This is more than enough.