I’m running through a field, occasionally glancing back to make sure the horror is no longer following me. But it’s always there. It’s always just at my back with claws extended and gaping maw. It will devour me if I don’t keep running and I know this. Some days, I fall back and catch my breath, almost in the hopes that the horror will catch up with me and eat me alive. I can’t outrun it. I can’t escape. I will never escape. And then other days, I know that I have to run and run and run, even though my side aches desperately and the tears of made me eyes prickly and puffed. I have to run and keep eternally outrunning. I will win this fight. I will survive… but some days, I don’t want to.
I called a friend of mine up in a panic today on my way home from submitting applications and feeling true despair at the totality of my situation. She told me that I wasn’t allowed to panic. We would brain storm about things later together. And then she said to me, “Just don’t panic; you can go on Don’t Panic, but you can’t actually panic.” So, here I am.
Yesterday, I received the news that I knew was coming from the office of unemployment. I was no longer eligible for unemployment benefits and now, I have to become a “welfare bear” in the hopes that my family and I can survive the harsh reality of our situation. I cried. There’s no other words for what my reaction was. I just cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. And I can’t help but wonder how many other people are in my situation, crying their eyes out as they try to find something that allows them to survive in a country that has “no jobs” and is itching to cut the very benefits that will keep people like us alive? I can’t help but be angry at the situation – it sucks – but in reality, I feel very betrayed and disenchanted with everything this country is supposed to stand for.
We hear the politicians talk about how unemployment rates are lower than they were. All right, yes. I’m sure the rates are lower, but the only reason is because people have passed their extended benefits and are no longer eligible, whether they are employed or not. The break down isn’t discussed. You just hear this magic number (I believe it’s 7.8%) touted about and everyone pats each other on the back. “Look what we did! The unemployment rate is down!” But how many of the people who have fallen from unemployment are still looking? How many of those people are living off of state aid in an effort to stay with a roof over their heads and food on the table? I seriously doubt I’m the only person in the entire country facing this crisis.
Did you know they did away with the third tier benefit? And that’s probably the real reason why the unemployment rate is so low.
When you’re filing for unemployment or are living off of the state assistance programs, they actually make you go and take classes at your “local career center.” This is a euphemism for a dark, shadowy place of imprisonment that has absolutely no desire to help you find a job. They tell you about the classes they have and they tell you about using their computers and they update their job postings every day! These are half-truths and outright lies. For example, I have applied for the same job three times via their resource list that cut off hiring in August. In August. (I keep applying because by the time I get that low on the list, I’m drunk with typing and thinking.) Their computers need to be signed up for days in advance, but that’s no big deal. And the classes? They’re typing 101 and they’re how to write a resume 101 and all the next levels to these classes. How are they supposed to get you a job?
Why not have a class about what to wear to an interview? How about a class on proper E-mail etiquette when you’re fishing for a second interview? What about a class on how not to feel like a complete fuck up and loser while you’re going through this crisis? Why not offer counseling services for your mental and emotional well-being instead of all of these “skill set” classes? For the most part, I have to assume that they get enough students for the classes. And I have to assume that they are well received by the local and federal governments because the local career centers are still getting aid at the state and federal levels. So, obviously, this is all well and good in the eyes of politicians who don’t understand what it’s like to have to worry about where the next meal is coming from and what’s more important: gas in your car or toilet paper for your ass.
I am so angry and frustrated all the time. I hate feeling this way. I really feel very similarly to how it was just before MEH and I officially broke it off. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am hurt. I am bewildered. I am scared. And always the same advice from friends and family, “when the doors closes, a window opens.” What they forget to tell you is that you didn’t bring a flashlight, the window is probably a thousand miles down some tight corridor, and you have to find it in the pitch blackness of reality. I hate that phrase right now almost as much as I hate the phrase, “have some hope.” Have some fucking hope?
Everything is wrong and evil and stupid and I am so fucking angry. I am beyond angry. I want to hurt that company so badly. I want to stick it to them. I want their pens to dry up; their computers to be attacked by viruses; their questionable fucking practices investigated on a state level; and I want them all to suffer. I want everyone who threw me under the boss and everyone who still works there and everyone who kisses ass over there to hurt and be angry and know what it’s like to be thrown under the bus after nearly two years of committed service. I want every single one of them to know what it’s like to get interview after interview that lead to nowhere. I want every single one of those selfish twats to see me crying as I panic and worry and have anxiety attacks about how I can’t possibly raise or take care of my family.
And I hate feeling this way.
I’ve worked a very long and hard time to gain adequate control over my emotions. I’ve probably taken that control a little too far, to the point where crying actually physically hurts sometimes because I just… don’t. But I prefer to be in complete control over my emotions instead of being the insane raging beast that I used to be. I much prefer this to that, in all honesty. And the fact that I am always angry, hurt, bewildered, scared, anxious, and panicking drives me fucking insane. All of this drives me fucking insane.
The politicians who think they’re doing a good job.
The people who think they can give advice when they really don’t know the situation well enough to give me advice.
The people who offer me the same old platitudes.
The people who aren’t around to watch me suffer.
The people who did this to me.
I am so fucking insane with rage that all I want to do is shake someone or something all the time. (I suddenly understand BFMA’s intense desire to throw shoes at a door whenever she gets upset on such a better level now.) I don’t do this. I scrub the counters. I scrub the toilet and the bathtub. I do load after load of laundry. I sit down and I fill out endless applications. I sit and I fret, but I don’t shake anyone or anything. I don’t throw shoes at a door. I end up crying instead and have panic attacks.
This is the reality of unemployment, people.
Keep that in mind, too, when you vote on November 6th.
P.S. In case it’s not clear, this isn’t some random “VOTE FOR ROMNEY” ad or anything. Romney can eat a bowl of dicks. I lived in MA when he was governor and he was next to useless. His stance on things like Planned Parenthood, abortion, and his belief that his “business savvy” make him ideal of president are laughable. What I’m saying is DON’T VOTE REPUBLICAN.
This post is brought to us today by idiots on Tumblr. (FOOD FOR THOUGHT OVER THERE.)
Today, someone I follow over there was discussing about needing help to learn to live, preferably on her own, with bipolar disorder. I was talking to her prior to her outcry for assistance in finding places that would be capable of helping her. I told her that in my life, with BFMA, I was the buddy that she had to get her to live on her own successfully. (HI BFMA.) However, as the person pointed out, she doesn’t have a buddy in her area to do that, so to go her own, she’s looking into halfway houses for such a thing. A young child made a commentary on her post that was, well, young. That person’s comments were pretty hilarious and also very dangerous chatter, in my opinion. When young’ns come into something not knowing a damn thing about a mental health disorder but feel like they can just spout out whatever they can type as quickly as they can type, we have a problem. Life experiences are kind of more important to such things as mental health disorders than, say, being able to look shit up on WebMD or Wikipedia. But, really, what got to me was when someone said something along the lines of, “Who needs a diagnosis? I think everyone is a little bipolar everywhere.”
And I lost my fucking shit because I’m BFMA’S BUDDY.
I lived with her before she had a diagnosis. I got to watch her break apart every two weeks when she went into a depression cycle. I got to watch her start a shit-ton of projects that never got done when she was in a manic phase. I got to watch her try to kill herself when she was in one of her depression cycles. I got to watch her talk about how she was going to buy a fucking set of bagpipes because she would learn them when she was in a manic phase. I got to watch this tear her apart because she didn’t know what was wrong. Technically, she had a diagnosis – she was depressed and she suffered from ADHD! What a hellacious way to live your life. It was the worst fucking thing to watch her think that she was just batshit insane and no one would understand, the doctors didn’t care, and everyone kept walking away because it was “too much” or “too overwhelming” for them to deal with it.
Prior to a an official diagnosis, she went on and on about how she felt like she was crazy with no real reason. She had people tell her that she was insane – inventing things. Her own family and doctors would infer or out right tell her that she was melodramatic. I watched as people walked into her life and then right back out again. I watched as people from previous relationships warned new boyfriends and friends away from her because she was “way too melodramatic; fucking crazy.” She had the stigma of being “too overwhelming” and “too melodramatic” or “too paranoid” prior to being diagnosed. It was hell on fucking earth watching her go through that and trying to help her get through it one day at a time, one step at a time. It was fucking hell.
Never mind what the doctors did to her. Invariably, they all pretty much called her crazy or making things up without actually coming right out and saying it. Or, they would tell her that she was making things up for attention. As if having severely suicidal tendencies after a week of feeling like you’re on a constant high is something to do so that you can get attention. They never listened to her. They never thought there was something more wrong than the depression. They weren’t interested in listening to the one person who could explain all of the symptoms clearly. And it was because, on her chart, it says that she was melodramatic, overwhelming, and given to flights of fancy.
Then, she was diagnosed about six years ago and everything magically clicked.
It all began to make sense. She wasn’t over dramatic. She wasn’t overwhelming. She wasn’t really anything that people labeled her as because she just had a chemical imbalance in her brain. She had a reason for her outbursts. She had a reason for the suicide attempts, the stays in hospital, the random spending sprees, the being unable to hold down a job, the entirety of her life began to make sense. The pieces fit together instead of being jammed together with scotch tape and glue. Everything began to just get so clear and so obvious.
Do you know how sad it is when your best friend calls you up, excited and thrilled because she finally had a real diagnosis for all the shit she had been going through and putting others through? No? Well, I can tell you that it is a very bittersweet moment. On the one hand, you finally have absolute clarity for things that never really made a lot of sense. And on the other hand, it is so fucking sad and depressing that you get excited over a doctor finally listening to you, after years of fucking ignoring you when you say, “something is wrong.”
However, on the other hand of the spectrum, there comes a whole new host of issues that you didn’t really understand. You have to work hard and do a lot of med checks to get the right dosing. Some of the side effects of those drugs are hilarious but not when they’re happening to you. (The lactation. The being unable to feed yourself because you have the shakes so bad. A serious case of death.) And then comes the fun part of explaining to people that you are the way you are because you have a chemical imbalance. And you get to watch yet more people walk right the hell out of the door because they can’t fathom what it’s like to have to deal with this in a relationship, in a friendship on a daily basis.
So on the one hand, you get to think that you’re fucking insane for no reason whatsoever without a diagnosis. And on the other hand, you get to think your fucking insane for a very serious reason that no one can understand or is willing to cope with.
I’ve mentioned that I always wanted to be a writer. I literally cannot remember a time when being an author wasn’t my super secret, most wanted career path. I answered the “what do you want to be when you grow up” with various responses, but being a writer was always something I craved. And I was sure to keep it secret because it was my desire and I didn’t want others encroaching on that territory. I don’t think it was the fame so much as the ability to create entire worlds just by imagination alone and then being able to bring others into that world be virtue of utilizing words. This is, by far, the most accurate reason for my excessive articulation. I know so many words, and utilize them, because of my writing capability and my reading comprehension. I mean, before writers were telling wannabe writers to read like crazy, I was already well on that train, hanging out and taking names.
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, the real reason why I started writing was to escape.
I didn’t actively start writing down my worlds until nine, but I had been creating stories in my head for a good deal longer than that. I say, definitively, that I began when I was seven, but I know it was earlier than that. I would read a book and my eyes would grow too tired to continue, so I would shut off my light to fall asleep and let my imagination carry me away on the backs of unicorns, flying through the trees, or rescuing hapless damsels in distress and on the flip of that, being rescued as a hapless damsel in distress. I was writing and writing and writing all of these things in my head, as a kind of precursor until I started doing the real deal. The reason, though, that I began to write was a form of escapism. Y’see, as a small child, watching your dad die, it really evokes a lot of unknown emotions inside of you that you can’t handle. So, I escaped into worlds of my own creation.
My mom tried the escapism bit by getting me into dancing. I know that’s the reason I started ballet classes. It was a way to get me out of the house for an hour each week. I got exercise and I got to make friends (though not really because I was never the friendly type, more the wallflower type). But, while I enjoyed the weekly out-of-the-house adventures at my dance class, I was already well into doing that by writing stories in my head.
The places I created and the worlds I lived in, they were real to me. I could distinguish easily between reality and fantasy, of course, but they were very real. They were a place as real to me as the dance studio to get away from the constant negative energy fluctuating throughout our apartment. It wasn’t my parents’ fault for being angry and mad at each other and then, you know, continuing that with sadness and horror as we watched my father slowly die in front of us. So, I created a place where things like AIDS didn’t exist. I created entire homes and friends and strangers and creatures and places that didn’t have things like that to encroach and destroy so visibly. Sure. There was drama and there were problems to be overcome and there were arguments in those worlds and between those people, but they were always easily fixed. I just had to do a quick edit, a little addition and a little deletion, and ta-da! The problems were overcome and everyone would live happily ever after.
And yes, by the way, the “happily ever after” part stopped after the death of my father. I tended to leave the endings of my stories then rather ambiguous. And they got instantly darker.
But, besides creating entire worlds where I could escape from the world and my reality, I also created friends. I created people who would rescue me and take care of me. If I was walking through a wood, there would always be a little cottage on the other side with someone willing to listen to me cry or listen to me laugh. The characters I created were people who I loved and cherished in my own, childish way. There was evil afoot and we would have to defend the honor of a maiden or evil would be afoot and we had to slay that evil. It didn’t matter what it was. There were always characters around to hold my hand and tell me it would be okay. I never believed them because, you know, in a story-world of a child who is trying to contend with the very real problem of watching her father die, I knew nothing would ever be perfect. But, for a short while, perfection could be achieved.
And with the best friends in the whole world: the ones who understood me because they were my creations.
To this day, I remember all of the characters I have created. They’ve changed and morphed. They’ve made appearances in various short stories under real-people names. I created archetypal characters who could be easily morphed into a real person, if necessary, and usually, it was. I took the things I had learned as a child – the creation of worlds, situations, and people – and utilized it often in high school to better understand things or to help me get over some things. I would use them to help me emote the things I was feeling from the death of my father and onward without really knowing what it was I was feeling at the time. (Suffice it to say that a lot of my shorts in high school were, uh, pretty dark. And the fantasy world I still visited regularly, just as dark or more so.)
Someone said today that you can’t be a real writer if you remember all of your characters.
I remember all of mine. They were my friends, as I said. They were people who helped me through some of the darkest, most heinous moments of my life. They were people who hurt me and abused me, but ultimately, were shown the light so to speak. They’ve morphed and changed from evil to good and back again. They have held my hands. They have watched me shed tears. They have been the cause of my tears, sometimes. I remember all of them because they were more real to me than anyone I knew in reality some days. They were more real to me than the reality of watching a father die and watching a family fall apart at the seams because of it. They were more real to me than the reality of being a wallflower, misunderstood and bullied.
So, to anyone who thinks that you should write about people that you can ultimately throwaway, I say fuck you. To anyone who ever thought that you shouldn’t be able to remember plot lines and twists, you shouldn’t be able to remember when you started or why, for all the people who think that you shouldn’t be able to remember your first story, I say fuck you. I’m as real of a writer as anyone else and maybe even more so because I loved, hated, and bled along with my characters.
Not knowing how you feel isn’t really a rarity. As teenagers, we’re taught that our emotional development is out-of-whack in direct relation to our hormones. We go through our adolescence assuming that, one day, we’ll know exactly how we feel, though possibly not why. However, as we get older, the emotions don’t necessarily work themselves out. In fact, I have long periods of having feelings and not knowing exactly what they are and mostly, never really knowing why in the first place. Emotions and all that’s related is pretty fucking complicated – there’s no manual, unfortunately. I’ll tell you, however, that a manual could come in handy right about now.
This morning, I was sent an E-mail from my uncle with the title “passing.” In it was an obituary for my biological, paternal grandmother. Unh. Shit.
As anyone who knows me or who has read this blog knows, the family member that I’m talking about, I do not know them. For those who are unaware: My biological father was not around when I was born at my mother’s behest. He had a chance to make his presence known in my life when Daddy adopted me after he married my mother. A notice is sent to the biological father (or that’s how it was done in the 80s), alerting them that someone wants to step into their shoes. The biological father has the option of showing up to the hearing and contesting the adoption. My biological father never showed up. I’ve always felt that this was a telltale euphemism for any relationship I may have ever wanted with the man.
Don’t get me wrong, as a teen, I wanted a relationship. I was lost and alone and feeling awful inside all the time. For some stupid reason, I thought forging a relationship with a man who didn’t want me was a good idea. I never actually did anything. I had the house number and called a few times. When I got the answering machine every time, I figured it was a sign that I shouldn’t fuck up someone else’s life. It also didn’t feel right, really. My daddy was dead and had been, at that point, for seven years or more. The man I was thinking about would never fill the shoes my daddy was supposed to be filling. And as interested as I am in knowing things like the genetic and cultural heritage of my biological father’s family and as much as I really kind of need to know what sort of genetic diseases I may have passed onto my kid, I’ve left it alone.
When I was living in Texas, my uncle (the same who sent me the E-mail this morning) sent a letter with a newspaper clipping in it. The person features was my previously unknown half-sister. I was shocked and startled. What got me, too, was that the two of us look a lot alike. I’ve always been under the impression from the few photos I’ve seen of my biological father (from the 70s) that I actually look very much like my mother with little hints that a guy helped to make me. Seriously. However, after seeing her picture, I saw a lot of myself in her. The picture in the article reminded me of a class picture I took in the 7th grade. (Mom? Remember that one? You were so mad at me for wearing that green sweatshirt.) After finding out about her, I sent her a letter with information about who I was, where I was living, a little about myself, and ways to contact me if she felt so inclined.
She did, actually, contact me.
I have a sneaking suspicion she never told her parents, though.
So, there I am, reading this article and reading about the family. I got to learn what the full names of my biological paternal aunts are and their kids. Apparently, I have a second cousins now from that side of the family, too. It’s a very interesting article, giving me the basics of what my paternal biological grandmother did and what she left behind. I just spent a little time with my mother, asking her what this woman was like. She’s a complete enigma to me. Sure, technically, she’s a bit of my genetic heritage, but I don’t know anything. All I have from that side of the family are three 70s photos of my biological father at a family picnic at my maternal grandparents’ house and some family heirlooms (wooden birds, a couple of dishes, and some hurricane lamps). That’s the gist of what I know, aside from the pieces I’ve gotten from my mom since my half-sister is curiously incapable of telling me anything I want to know… like what kind of genetic diseases may run in our blood. (I don’t get it.) It’s not much.
It all comes down to, though, not knowing how to feel about this. A person I never knew and would have never known about if my daddy had his way (and you know, didn’t die) has died. She’s technically an ancestor of mine. Do I honor her? Do I muscle in on the funeral they have? Do I try to find out any details from the half-sister who doesn’t seem willing to discuss this with me? Do I do anything? Should I care? Should I have any feelings whatsoever?
I don’t fucking know.
Life is way too complicated and emotions? Doubly so.
Recently, I started hanging out on Tumblr. I had tried it once or twice, decided it wasn’t my cup of tea, and deleted my original blogs. I don’t remember what preempted me into going back there, but I did. Initially, I was aiming for a Tumblr-companion to my religious blog. Then, when I realized Kemetic info is sorely lacking over there, I decided that I would go with the info-giving and Tumblr-companion to my religious blog. I started following a bunch of people and then, suddenly, realized why I had given the place up initially. It’s a hot-bed for bullshit.
Now, let me level here, a lot of the people I follow are young. I mean, Internet presence for people over the age of 25 is pretty rare. It’s mostly a teenage hangout. I legitimately try not to let that phase means, though. The kids want to learn; they want to read and experience. Some of my dearest followers over there are in the kid mentality that I’m talking about. They’re sweet and kind and can make me feel better on a bad day. They post pretty pictures, interesting content, and commiserate when a day goes bad. Some of them, as young as I tend to think of them, can even see what I’m talking about or are in similar situations. That’s a boon, there. Still others are curious and not afraid to ask me for help about X, Y, and Z. That’s another boon, right there. But what gets me are the little, little kids who just don’t get it.
There are lots of “ready-made” activists over there. However, all they care to do is “educate” others and leave it at that. And almost in its entirety, they’re little activism moments regards “proper word usage.”
Now, anyone who has known me long enough knows how I feel about “proper word usage.” I’ll sum it up for anyone who isn’t sure. Anyone who is gonna go preach to me about how I use a word and its proper context can just go eat a big, fat bowl of dicks. And I’ll be gracious and classy enough to not mention that bowl full o’ dicks being disease-ridden… maybe. But I sure as hell ain’t a fan of kiddies trying to be politically correct about shit, whether they think they can be or not. If I don’t allow it from my peers, I sure as hell am not going to allow it when kids have ten years to go before they’ll be in my age range. No, sir. But let’s talk specifics instead of generalizations. I sure do hate them broad generalizations.
Now, before I get going, I’m going to mention a thing or two. In an effort to grab attention, I began following a bunch of people with a pagan slant to their stuff. One person in particular alerted me to the “misuse of words” almost from the first day I was on Tumblr. I started following her because I was intrigued by the native American-Irish-Romani chit. I’ve come to regret that intrigue. As cute as she is, she’s got the youngest perspective out of many of the children over there. She’s like a puppy that’s been kicked too much, able to go rabid at a second’s notice. I keep her ’cause she’s cute, but I’m mighty tired of her preacher persona. So, from MizzEe, as I’ll call her, I have learned that I can’t use the words “totem” or gypsy” and that I shouldn’t use aspects of other cultures in my spiritual practice because I’m stealin’.
Hoo, boy; chitlin’s young.
Now, prior to following MizzEe, I didn’t know much about the word “gypsy.” I never used it and aside from that garish television show on TLC about weddings, I had never come into [knowing] contact with any Roma/Romani people before. So, I was a little shocked and startled when I was informed (a lot of times) that it was a racial slur. I decided to look this one up myself, just in case. My first step was looking up the etymology of the word itself. Taken from Etymonline, “c.1600, alteration of gypcian, a worn-down M.E. dialectal form of egypcien “Egyptian,” from the supposed origin of these people. As an adjective, from 1620s.” All said and done, the word hasn’t been around long enough to carry too much of a negative impact, but the etymology doesn’t tell me if its derogatory or not. I had to keep looking. Now, according to this Google search, it appears that is the case.
Color me schooled, but you know, I just can’t help but think that an American kid wouldn’t be able to interview every Roma/Romani person in the world. So, I did a little bit more digging. And I honestly couldn’t find anything but opinionated essays stating that the word has a negative association. Now, I know some history. And I know that the Nazis added the Romani to their genocide during WWII. I also know that gypsy tends to be viewed in a negative light, very similar to how Jews are often portrayed: stingy, is what comes to mind. The word “gypped” stems from the word “gypsy,” which we can assume is where a lot of its negative associations come from, just like how you “get jewed” when someone rips you off or holds out on you. Interesting how monetary practicality instantly gets a negative association with the ethnic group it’s referring to, but neither here nor there. Where the fuck did this racial slur start up?
Now, while digging around, I couldn’t find anything concrete about organizations referring to themselves as gypsies, aside from this piece from the Smithsonian. I’m going to have to assume they have some form of concrete information here, but they say, “Several groups, all known to outsiders as ‘Gypsies,’ live today in the United States. In their native languages, each of the groups refers to itself by a specific name, but all translate their self-designations as ‘Gypsy’ when speaking English.” And that’s kind of the general feel I get about this. I’ve heard here and there (and I’m not lookin’ because I don’t want to) that there are organizations in various countries that utilize the term “gypsy” in a positive light. And the Smithsonian as all but said that quite a few of these groups refer to themselves in that way, as well. I think that the negative association here is more from an outsiders’ perspective and the general tonality of outsiders employing this term…
…but that doesn’t mean that the people themselves object to it. It could be like black men and women using the n-word to refer to one another. They’re taking it back kind of like Justin Timberlake and sexy. Oh wait. He was bringing it back not taking it back. But whatever. The correlation works here. While on a personal basis I can see that someone may become upset by this term, but as a generalization, we have to tread carefully. Until MizzEe or her compatriots have interviewed every person who self-identifies with the various ethnic and cultural backgrounds that would be deemed as “gypsy” and their personal thoughts and feelings regarding the term “gypsy” we cannot just assume that it is only a racial slur and that is should never be used, ever. (And I saw MizzEe schooled in this by someone who self-identified with one of these groups of people who referred to themselves as a “gypsy” and telling her, in effect, to fuck herself because it was none of her business. But this ready-made soap box instructional was “correct” and the person who was claiming gypsy decent was wrong.)
Now, let’s talk the word “totem.”
I started off with the Merriam-Webster definition of this word, which is, “1a : an object (as an animal or plant) serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry; also : a usually carved or painted representation of such an object; b : a family or clan identified by a common totemic object; 2: one that serves as an emblem or revered symbol.” Then I went and did a search on the etymology of the word, “animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan, 1760, from Algonquian (probably Ojibwa) odoodeman “his sibling kin, his group or family,” hence, “his family mark;” also attested in French c.1600 in form aoutem among the Micmacs or other Indians of Nova Scotia. Totem pole is 1808, in reference to west coast Canadian Indians.” INTERESTING STUFF HERE.
So, the word itself is a direct take from a native language. All right, but the belief behind the work is not native American in origin. While Wiki is a shitty source a lot of the time, just looking at the page for “totem” gives you a bunch of different areas of the world that have similar belief systems. As taken from Wiki, “Similar totem-like beliefs have been historically present in societies throughout much of the world, including Africa, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Arctic polar region.” So the word, itself, has become part and parcel to the English language when conveying a particular spiritual concept. There’s your appropriation: some anthropologists went around naming things in a frame of reference that other anthropologists could understand. But, the use of it in regular culture now is… well, in a pagan context, it’s pretty damn extensive. One would think that the use of a word of a tribe would be exciting because every time it’s used, in a way, we are paying homage to the Ojibwe tribe.
But, apparently, no, this is wrong.
I’ll be honest, I don’t use the word. I prefer to refer to whatever the hell animals may be in my life as a sort of “animal spirit,” which is in similar context although not the same as the word totem. But getting all bent out of shape because we’re using a word that was originally made manifest by a specific tribe, to me, seems like an awful waste of energy. The soap box educator is burning out all of her circuits before she hits 25! Why not get angry over something else?
But, okay, I’m white. So, what do I know?
What I do know is that wasting your time in trying to school the Internet on something is about as useful as holding your breath for ten minutes. You’ll pass out long before anything is achieved.
As for the use of other cultures’ religious beliefs in my practice, I’ve done talked about that where it belongs. But, I’ll reiterate something I said on my religious blog about it: You tell the lwa I work with that I’m appropriating their fucking culture and tell me how that works out for you. And in case I’m not clear on where I stand with this whole appropriation thing, it’s a bunch of fooey. It’s a bunch of childish rhetoric trying to maintain a personal identity in a world where we’re rapidly becoming more and more conscious of ourselves on a land or nation level than on a personal level. So often I see these children going on about how we shouldn’t look to ourselves on an individual basis via countries, but that we all share the same thing: we’re all human. But when it comes to making this a reality, they get all bent out of shape about losing their culture.
Well, which one is it? Do we all get together, hold hand, sing a few happy songs, and revel in the fact that we are all human or do we retain our cultural and ethnic identities to the point where no one is allowed to learn anything about anyone else?
I’ll mention this. I don’t think that deep mysteries should be taught to anyone who asks. I know that there are numerous mysteries in native practices that we should never, ever be able to convey or should be able to learn. Case in point is voodoo: how the big stuff is done is specific to each individual society (in a native American context, in each individual tribe, I guess) so how I may learn it in a society is not how someone else will learn it in another society. And that’s their prerogative. Just as that’s those tribes’ prerogative to keep that to themselves and I commend them for it. You shouldn’t give such high knowledge to anybody who wants to learn. But, when it comes to more general and face-value like terms and dream catchers, well on that score, I think we should stop gettin’ up on those soap boxes and just let what has come and gone be.
And as I said before… damn those kids are so very young.
But, I’ll be honest here. The thing that bothers me the most about all of this soap boxin’ is more to do with the fact that all they ever do is bitch about it on the Internet. All they ever do is sit around and bitch about how shit is just wrong and people should be educated. So, my thoughts on that is that maybe you should go off and educate. Start a class. Make a petition. Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus; MLK, Jr, well, he had a dream; and W.E.B. Du Bois wrote prolific works, started the Niagara Movement, and founded NAACP. None of those people sat around (with the notable exception of Rosa, that being the point and all) and hoped changes would be made while they sat around watching shit just turn bad. They got up. They took a stand. And they made shit happen.
If it’s that important to you, then maybe, you should make shit happen instead of preaching to a bunch of twits on the Internet.
Note: I’m just venting, so I really don’t want to know if I hurt your feelings.
I put it off as much as I can. But, I know that sometimes, something is going to happen that means I have to call the people in charge, so I try not to put it off too long. I find myself sulking and depressed whenever I click on the link. It gets to the point where I just don’t want to. I keep telling myself, this week, I’ll have the job I need and want, whenever I click the unemployment link. But, you know, each week I apply, I still don’t have a job. And I still feel like the world’s worst loser in the shittiest lottery contest known to mankind.
And whenever I talk about it with other people, employed people, they tell me lots of things that are meant to make me buck up and get on the horse. They’ll remind me that the entire nation is going through a shit time with employment thing. They’ll remind me that I just have to have hope. They’ll tell me that I did pass down some jobs since I’ve been hunting for one. They’ll tell me to suck it up, grow thicker skin, just keep at it. They give me loads of advice. I appreciate the fact that they’re still willing to give me advice when I get so very, very, very low about this job hunting thing. The fact that I haven’t scared them off with my depression regarding my unemployment is an amazing thing. However, I have to say? There are lots of days where the advice fucking sucks.
I don’t really give two shits about how the rest of the country is fairing. Just because I, logically, know that I’m not the only asshole in the entire state going through this at this moment in time doesn’t make it any easier. I’m not going to reach out to Unemployed Jane Doe and Unemployed Joe Blow and commiserate over a bunch of beers. I’m not going to sit around and join some forum for unemployed assholes. I’m not going to do any of those things, so why keep reminding me that this is a country-wide pandemic? Again, I have to say that just because I consciously know that the rest of the world is fucked economically and that like 8% of the whole country is also unemployed, like me, and probably not even for “terrific” reasons like myself, that doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve mentioned this in my religious blog and I’ve said this to my friends: MY PROBLEMS; MY MISERY; MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYONE ELSE.
It’s not that I’m trying to be an asshole with that statement but just because we know that someone else is going through similar situations doesn’t mean that it will impact how we feel. It doesn’t mean that we’ll magically get better. It doesn’t mean that we’ll end up feeling better about the entire situation. When it comes to our depression, our misery, and our pain, there is nothing greater than our own misery. This is intrinsically true with teenagers – I’m thinking of a certain lady who reads this with a teenage daughter. And it doesn’t make any difference later on in life. The misery we experience is the only misery that matters because it’s the only kind we can feel. Sure, we might feel sympathy or empathy for people going through a similar experience to our own. We might be able to understand another person on the same level because of the similar experiences, but just because Person One and Person Two have gone through similar experiences doesn’t mean it’s a bonding experience. It doesn’t mean that things are going to look brighter tomorrow. It just means that they’ve both been shit on in similar situations. But the core concept is still the same: the misery of Person One is more important than the one of Person Two, and vice versa.
I know in this economy that passing down of a job is pretty taboo. How could I dare to have standards? But it’s not really that. Some of the jobs that I’ve talked about have all had issues with scheduling. In effect, they’re at night. I guess I’m biased or stupid here, but I want to be able to raise my child. In one of the instances, TH’s mom told me that if we had to do sleep overs for R over at her house so that I could work late, then we’d do it. I appreciate the offer. I appreciate everyone’s offers of assistance. But, call me a bad person for wanting to raise my child. Call me a horrible asshole for wanting to be there with him, at night, feeding him dinner and arguing about whether he’s taking a bath. I guess I’m just a bad person for wanting to be his mother and not letting other people raise him. Sure, right now, TH is out of work. So, I could go back to work and I could work nights. But I remember those days at Greed, Inc. Before I became a manager, I worked second shift and I never saw my child. Or, if I did see him, I was too tired to do much more than the basics. That seems wrong and horrible. It impacted me relationship with my son and it impacted my self-worth because everyone under the sun was doing the raising and I was just some background noise.
It’s really different being unemployed when you have a child.
But, I think the worst is when people tell me to have hope. They tell me to buck up, chin up, keep on keepin’ on. I understand the viewpoint. And yes, I am still doing that. I’m still going around and doing the applications, sending out the resumes, sending out scouting letters and all of that lovely stuff. I’m on the websites that I use to job hunt between three and eight hours a day, depending [on whether things have been updated or not]. I light my candles. I pray before I send out these things. I hope. I have faith. I constantly tell myself that this will be the week that a job comes my way. I have all of those things, but you know, sometimes I just have dark points. I cry and I rage and I feel like my worth is in the negative range. It’s not because I don’t do the praying and the faith-ing and the hoping. It’s just hard. It’s so hard to maintain a one hundred percent positive outlook when everything always seems so bleak.
It’s just hard.
And today, I got to file for unemployment again. In the next two weeks, I’ll have to sign up for another extension, and I think it’s the final one. And I have to hope that something comes my way sooner or later. I’m at the point where DD and its minimum wage is looking appealing because, maybe, I can go in for the six in the morning shift. But is even that worth it? Is going back to work at minimum wage worth it if I’m not sure I can pay all of my bills and rent and maintain a good household and keep on keepin’ on? I make more on unemployment than I would working a minimum wage job, but it’s starting to look appealing because I’m almost desperate.
And I hate the feeling of desperation.
I just want to raise my kid. I just want to make enough money to live. I just want to be able to succeed somewhere. I just want things to look positive for once. But it’s hard because, at least four times week, I’m too busy feelin’ like a loser.