Category Archives: Soapbox

Alive – The Glut

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I like living, I really do. I’m hopeful. I hope the world learns from history and things are actually getting better and we just can’t see it yet.
I’m hopeful for a future where things are different and good and that humanity is evolving toward a better, kinder existence. I don’t actually believe so, but I hope so, and that’s close enough.

Today is a nice day, it’s sunny and clear and I’m talking to a beautiful woman across the other side of the world who tells me she loves me and has such a big heart and is excited about going to dinner with another beautiful woman

And there are colourful yarns and I’m listening to music, music that is so bountiful I could listen to a new song every three minutes and never ever have to repeat one

And I am healthy, and relatively young, and I have touched and been touched by some of the most brilliant minds ever to be totally unappreciated by the world, and there is art, centuries of art, cataloguing all that the human race has ever done

There is architecture and philosophy and poetry and cooking tv shows and Gordon fucking Ramsay and christmas carols which I hate except for when I don’t and people crying at airports and orgasms and news anchors who burst into tears on live television because they saw a picture of a dusty young boy pulled from the wreckage of his home and

metal rulers and movies about slavery that make me cry at 2 in the morning and memes and stupid articles about Apple headphone jacks and beach breezes and a Cute Pancake Girl who may stay or go but right now she kisses me

And family, blood and found and chosen, and pretzel sticks, and drinking water from rivers and bacteria and very pretty rocks and very plain rocks and wine bottles being recycled into glass walls for glass houses and cruel politicians and the goddamn KKK and whirling planets and songs about Voids and boys with body issues and girls who write porn

And dalmatians and pallas cats and wine and anthrax and
This world is a glut, my loves.

None of it matters, and all of it matters. Everything hurts and there is joy all around. We’re all going to die someday. The whole human race will die someday and all of this? Everything? This is all history that we’ll leave behind, and whether we’re alone in the universe or if there’s some kind of life out there, these abstract passing functions of our existence will outlast us.
Is there a word for being simultaneously hopeless and hopeful?

This is what we are. Neither good, nor bad, just… Alive.
For a brief moment. Alive.

But you don’t look…

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I’m borderline, bipolar, and autistic.
You’d think that between those three, there wouldn’t be any common ground. There is, oddly enough, a lot of shared symptoms and triggers- but that’s not my point. The commonality I want to talk about today isn’t what happens in my brain, it’s what happens in other people’s brains.

The most common phrase I hear is, “But you don’t look…”
But you don’t look autistic.
But you don’t look bipolar.
But you don’t look borderline.

The question I always want to ask in return is, “Well, what did you expect me to look like?”

I’ve had people think that I’m too smart to be autistic, too kind to be borderline, and altogether too human (I know, right?) to be bipolar. I’m expected to be completely socially inept, or emotionally manipulative, or downright violent.
These are signs of social stigma, not of who or what I am.

Autism is a spectrum. It varies wildly from person to person, and even then, from situation to situation. Personally, I feel like an alien much of the time, because unspoken rules go right over my head. I’ve had to learn most of them, and I’m still finding many that I don’t know about.
Moving house with another human? How the hell do you navigate that?
Most of my noticeable autistic traits are more to do with sensory differences. I find great pleasure in simple things like fur and water. I struggle immensely with loud crowds, because I can’t differentiate between noises. Sometimes it hurts, and I’ll cry.
I have never been violent.

Borderline personality disorder is a tougher one.
I’ve had many, many people- too many, really- tell me that when they first met me, they kept their distance. Apparently I surprised them by not being a cruel, aggressive, emotional wreck of a person.
Borderline has a terrible reputation for extreme and vicious mood swings, irrational overreaction, and manipulation taken to sociopathic levels.
What it actually is, is a rawness of emotion. We feel everything very intensely, and yes, there are a few of us who explode and take this pain straight to the perceived source: you. The main aspects of BPD are intense fears of abandonment, problems with self-identity, and suicidal ideation.
NOT, as most people have come to think of it, bunny-boiling serial killer women or sad-eyed Winona Ryder having adventures with a psychopath.
I am not an external borderline. I used to be, long before medication and therapy, but much of my borderline traits are and have always been internalised. Rather than hurt other people, I am more inclined to hurt myself- and I haven’t self harmed in a very long time.
I have never been violent.

Finally, bipolar.
Extended periods of mania and depression.
Why does bipolar have such a negative reputation?
You know what I do when I have manic episodes? I spend a lot of money, and then I clean the house at five am. Really, manic me is amazing. Last time I was manic, I studied basic chemistry for three days straight. The only thing I harm when I’m manic is my bank account.
When depressed, I’m just… Well, depressed. Everyone knows the basics of depression.

I’m running out of steam here, but that’s because my brain has been playing with words all day and needs a break. I’ll cut to the chase in a moment.

The point I’m trying to make is maybe I don’t look mental because you don’t know what that looks like. We are just people. We aren’t more dangerous, more hurtful, more self-involved than any other person. If anything, we’re more likely to hurt ourselves.

Apparently yesterday was Bipolar Day, and I figure that something needs to be said. Maybe the reason I don’t look the way you expect is because you’re looking for something that’s not there.

I’m tired of being told I don’t look autistic/borderline/bipolar.
Because I do. This is what it looks like.
Just a person, just like you.

Protestation versus Education

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The following is simply a comment I posted in response to this video, posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. I say a few things I feel very strongly about and I figure I should probably keep this blog alive, so in the spirit of trying to start living again, here you go.

Small hints of truth wrapped up in a lot of needless sensationalism.
I can see where you are and how you think, sweets, but this video is not something you want to say sums up your view, because then your view is heavily biased, selective of information, and incapable of change or adaptation.
The thing is, most people do understand the great machine we’re a part of. Most people do grasp these things. The problem is that people don’t like change, and they don’t like a lack of security, and they don’t know how to manage without a world that has been hundreds of years in the making.

Also no, a world without pharmacology would not be better. A world without global trade would not be better. A world without global communication and technology would not be better.
Instead of eradication, you must think in terms of adaptation and gentle change. The aggression in this video, the patronising voice of so many of the people who believe in it… It will get you, and them, nowhere.

You’ll find that if you educate people in how to survive outside of ‘the system’ they will tend to move towards doing so. People don’t like being trapped but they do love the safety provided. If you want change, educate. Teach. Teach skills as hobbies. Teach advanced skills for those who want to take it further. Don’t yell about how broken the system is, everyone already knows that and the people who don’t are the people who don’t want it to change.
So teach. Instead of this video, share TED talks about survivalism. Share pop culture like Naked and Afraid. Show people what cool things you can do with a pocket knife, or how you can make ink from mushrooms, or how to make their own soap. Educate them in how penicillin is made, and what plants work best in their climate. SHOW them the world they could be living in and they’ll do all the work themselves….
All you have to do is provide the start for an autodidact and ask them to teach what they know to others.

Change is happening. It’s just slow, and you can’t push hard. A little information, a little hope, and that’s all you need.

I plan to write more on this.

Maybe I’ll explain soap making, or how my gardening is going. Perhaps I’ll post my plans for my ideal home, or what new things I’ve learned. No doubt, mental illness and autism will show up from time to time. I talk a lot about these things, why not here?

I still write. I’m still writing. I just want to add a little variation to this blog, make it more… blog-like.

SO there you go.

Everyone you meet is a broken person.

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Everyone has baggage.

See, people start off as whole human beings, before all the cracks start to appear. For some, their first crack is when they’re born, the circumstances into which they are born or the condition they are born in. They start early and the fates decide how much more damage they’ll take- maybe life will be easy for them. Maybe not.

Sometime they are lucky enough to get through most of their lives without being damaged, although I think living a completely safe life is a form of damage in itself.

Things like loss, like death, they happen to everyone. Everyone dies. If you have family, they will die. If you have friends, they will die too. You will not go through life unharmed by natural occurrences. You’ll be damn lucky to go through life unharmed by unnatural occurrences. To date, I’ve not met anyone who has been untouched.

The longer you live, the more people you meet, the more damaged they will be. Life is long and many things happen in it. You might meet a 14 year old who is more troubled than a 50 year old. Age has nothing to do with experience, although it does have an impact on maturity. The longer you live, the more you get to feel, to see, to encounter, and the more you’ll recognise in other people. You’ll see cracks in them that mirror the cracks in you. You’ll feel their pain- or you’ll be repulsed by it. Your reactions are up to you.

You may ultimately be more hurt by life than anyone else you meet.

You may be more whole and complete. It will not feel that way, even if you can see it yourself. All of life is subjective, nothing can ever be objective. It’s just not how these things work.

You might never get to see what parts of a person are hurt. You might never know the things that get them down or make them angry or keep them awake at night, and it’s not your place. You should feel as honoured to know what hurts them as what pleases them. No one has a duty to interact with other human beings who probably will not understand, but they do anyway.

We reach out regardless of what we carry with us. Some more than others, some less. No matter what you think, or how your past has treated you, it is always a risk.

How you treat people is up to you. You don’t have to be kindly, just as you don’t have to be cruel. There’s no black and white in our reality, whether you like it or not.

Just remember, everyone is damaged. Everyone was once a whole person.

No one goes through life unscathed.

Perhaps… You should treat them accordingly.

Gay Marriage on the news today.

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The Catholic, Anglican, and Greek Orthodox churches are uniting against it.

They had nothing more to say than “You just can’t change it. If you do change it, then bad things will happen, and it’ll be in our schools. Marriage is between a man and a woman.”

You know, I read it on the net all the time and it doesn’t get to me so much. There are morons on the net. There are morons in the real world, but I never really run into them.

Somehow, actually hearing someone say it- their actual voice, as I sit and watch their actual face on television- causes me great pain. It’s not like reading it on the internet. On the net, people are faceless. I can ignore them. When they’re right there and I can see them, and see that they are human beings, it hurts me. I recognise them as other human beings. I know, if I hadn’t heard them say that, I could be friendly to them. I could treat them with respect. I could smile and charm and we might have something in common.

I like to believe that all people have some good in them.

Watching their faces and hearing their voices as they protest so loudly, so ignorantly, against marriage… Against letting people who love eachother to swear to eachother their eternal devotion, to visit eachother in hospital, to have children, to feel safe…

Listening to them say that, it takes a moment, but I realise that it’s me they’re talking about. That it’s my closest friends they’re talking about. My father, my mother, my family. My sisters. Good people. Good, true, strong, honest people, who love just like they do. People who might even believe in the same god, and go to the same church as them. People who breathe the same air. People who deserve the same level of respect as these people on the television take for granted.

The person in the screen is someone I would go out of my way to treat kindly, and he is telling me and mine that we are wrong.

That we do not deserve to be treated like he and his wife, his children, and grandchildren are.

That we are threats.

That we are abominations.

That if we were somehow born to fall in love with someone with different genitals to our own, that only then would we be worthy of kindness and respect.

That because we were born (or made) as we are, we are less than human.

And all I can do is sit there and try not to cry, and wonder, “What did we ever do to you?”

It’s just love. Just… love.

What is so scary, so threatening, about love?

A Big Sister’s Rage is a Terrible Thing

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So today I was browsing tumblr and stumbled across the above image.
It’s common knowledge. It’s commonly accepted.

There is nothing that makes me as psychotic a pro-body feminist vocal activist type of person, except this. Except my love for my little sisters.

Robyn is 9. Renee is 13.

Renee wears more make-up than I ever have in my whole life. She wears playboy bunny outfits and talks about how she can’t eat foodcourt meals because they’ll make her fat, and that would be unappealing. My thirteen year old sister.

When I tried to explain to her that she doesn’t need it- any of it, the makeup, the diet, the skanky clothing- to be a worthwhile person, she gave me a look that broke my heart. She genuinely could not comprehend what I was saying. The music she listens to, the clothes she wears, and the attention of the boys at her school are what make her her. I can’t help feeling that I somehow failed as a sister, so see her like that. I mean, by all means, if you want to wear playboy and an inch of foundation because that’s what you want to do, do so! Just please, dear gods, don’t do it so other people will see you as worthy.

It’s made worse because (I know everyone says this about their siblings, but this is backed up with legitimate testing) she has an extremely high level of intelligence. She’s smart. Very smart. She is working in mathematics three or four years above her grade. She can understand and manipulate concepts that I, at 22 with university education, can’t quite grasp. She’s also beautiful in that sort of nordic-maiden way. Tall and graceful and blue eyed and blonde haired. Of all the people in the world, she does not need these image and identity issues, and certainly not at the age of 13!

Thankfully, Robyn seems to be finding her own way. If anything she’s taking after me, only with Renee’s intelligence and a quicksilver wit. My little sisters will grow up to be amazing human beings, so long as they can do it and stay true to themselves.

I am at a loss, my dears. I am so, so very at a loss. There must be something missing, something that we are missing, for childhood to be lost so quickly. Something is wrong if we lose our identity and pride and childlike joy before we even start middle school/highschool. There is something wrong if girls like my beloved Renee and Robyn think that what they look like, what they listen to, and how sexually appealing they are to others influences their worth as human beings.

Help me. Please, help me understand.

I don’t know where to start to help change this.

Soapbox Time

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“Pale Death beats equally at the poor man’s gate and at the palaces of kings.”
– Horace

I hate it when celebrities die.

I don’t hate it because I’m reminded of the mortal coil and our steady but relentless progression down it, or because the celebrity was a particularly meaningful person in my life. I hate it because of all the things people say in response to it.

Right now I’m seeing the occasional message remembering Whitney Houston. Most of the time, I’m seeing comment about how a famous wailing junkie doesn’t deserve all the attention because she finally dropped off the perch.

Don’t even get me started on my whole ‘respect for the dead’ spiel, because it wouldn’t end. I cannot stand people’s need to defame and slander another person’s name when they deserve forgiveness for their past mistakes. Death is a punishment in some countries. It’s often considered the most severe, and certainly the most final of all sentences. Should the dead not be given a moments peace removed from their minor misdeeds and drama?

That is not what this post is about.

This post is about the comments about the soldiers. About little-known scientists who created something great. About the starving children in Africa. About the saints and the sinners and the people in between.

No, I’m not saying they deserve more attention than Whitney. That’s what this post is about.

Everywhere, all over the world, people are dying.

People are dying of disease, of famine, of addiction, of heartbreak. People are dying in wars and rebellions. People are dying slowly at the age of ninety-four. People are dying quickly at the age of two hours. Many people are taking their own life, or having it taken by another. There is not a place in the world where death is not happening.

Every single one of those people is a person of importance. You may not have heard about them, you may not feel emotional attachment to them, you may not even have liked them if you knew them. That doesn’t make then unimportant. The soldier dying in the midst of a short, sudden battle is no more important than the little old man dying alone in his bed in his spartan apartment. The children freezing in the streets are no less important than the great leaders who are dealing with their fatal but slowly progressing disease.

Can you even comprehend the numbers? Billions of people ceasing to live. Billions.

Every single one of them deserves to be acknowledged and remembered. Every single one of them had a life and a story. They may not have been good people. They may not have been strong people. They may have had addictions and vices and anger issues and a tendency to leave the toilet seat up. Some of them would have beaten their children. Some of them didn’t even have children. A great many of them died trying to care for their children. Many more of them died thinking about their children, or lack thereof. They may have died with regrets, or with great pride in what they had done.

Can you imagine the stories they could have told you?

Can you grasp the adventures they may have had?

Do you know who they were, what they feared, who they loved, where their passions rested?

No?

Did you know Whitney Houston, beyond her image on a screen or on a stage?

No?

Did you know every one of the soldiers who fell and never got back up?
No?

Do you know the names of every individual child suffering deadly malnutrition and hunger pains?

No?

Perhaps that is why you cannot mourn for them all at once, and that is okay.

We as human beings are actually incapable of seriously understanding anything on that scale. We can quantify it, we can describe it, we can count and manage and organise it, but we cannot comprehend it.

The best we can do is understand what is near and dear to us. Mourn the dead celebrities. Respect the fallen defenders of freedom and justice. Do what you can to ensure that this year, the numbers of the dead on the streets is significantly lower. Feed the world, y’know?

Death is an excellent equaliser.

Just don’t run around saying that one death is more important than another. Don’t demand more attention for one person like the other doesn’t deserve it because of their failures in life. Everyone has done something in their life that other people wouldn’t approve of. That’s not the point.

You cannot mourn every loss in this world. Mourn your own losses, allow the people around you to mourn theirs, and never, ever tell another person that their loss is less important than yours.

Show respect for the dead. All of the dead. Even the ones you didn’t know.

Okay?