Taboo Topics: The 2016 U.S. Election

Yep, I’m going there. I just want to have a quick, honest discussion about who and what I’m considering and why.

I am not voting for Donald Trump. Based on his comments about Mexican immigrants and Hispanic judge Gonzalo Curiel and a BuzzFeedNews compilation comparing his general quotes about women with the way Obama has spoken about women, I perceive Trump to be a bigot and a misogynist, and I refuse to vote for somebody who so blatantly represents an attitude I don’t respect.

I was originally set to vote for Hillary Clinton simply because my family is Democrat and I have liberal leanings, but after this whole email debacle and her escaping charges, I don’t know if I want to vote for her because so many of my friends distrust her. I don’t have a real opinion of Hillary myself, so it’s possible to be swayed by the people around me, the people I respect, and so many of them are extremely offended by her using her private email (instead of State Department email) to discuss classified material. My best friend, who is an Army veteran, then explained to me the Benghazi incident and how that factored into her distrust of Clinton, and I can’t pretend like her opinion doesn’t have an effect.

Apparently there’s no way to gauge if Clinton learned her lesson—who says she’d do things like this in the future?

Do we condemn not for what she has done but for what she could do? Do we murder Caesar just because of what he might do? Well, yes, if you’re Brutus and Cassius and the other conspirators. And half of the American people, I guess.

I still maintain that we don’t know that she would repeat her mistakes, but it’s true we also don’t know that she wouldn’t, so I can see people not wanting to take the chance.

“She already had her chance,” they’d say, “and she blew it. More than once.”

But I am a Christian. Isn’t our religion based on forgiveness? It’s kind of funny for me to be talking in a broad sense about forgiveness because I have such a hard time with it personally.

Can’t she redeem herself? Isn’t there anything she can do to prove she’d be a good president? For me I think there are things she can do. For you it might be a different case, and I respect that.

But after her that leaves Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, about whom I know literally nothing other than his name. And that he called Trump a “pussy.” LAWL

I talked to my mother about voting for Johnson and she said not voting for Hillary would basically be a vote for Trump, as she predicts Johnson won’t get enough votes to become president.

Well, damn. So what’s the friggin’ point? It seems like it’s not going to come out good either way you slice it, so why bother voting at all? It’s not like one little vote is going to matter in the long run…

I know, I know. This is not how young people are supposed to be thinking. We’re supposed to be thinking about the people who fought and died to give us our God-given right to have our voices heard and counted—I especially should take notice considering I’m both a woman and a person of color. There were times when people like me were only counted as 3/5 of a person, and I have the audacity to take advantage of my position in society now and say that I don’t want to vote? I know it’s societal blasphemy, I know, but it’s how I feel. I didn’t say I wouldn’t vote, but am I excited about it? Do I feel like my vote matters? Not really.

I’m not normally a cynical person, but whenever it comes to politics (a subject about which I admit I know next to nothing), I just think to myself that whoever wins is going to have some small victories that everyone will look past due to whatever awful mistakes they’re going to make. It’s not like that’s not all the media and the people focus on anyway: the negative. You never hear about anything good Obama’s done anymore—it’s just about why the Republicans are glad he’s leaving this year. Yeah, really looking forward to more coverage like that: pissed off people whose problems seem to be going nowhere because the president and Congress can’t get themselves together.

On Facebook I told one of my friends that I didn’t want to vote. I told her what my mother said about the Gary Johnson situation.

She replied: “I don’t vote on who I think is going to win, I vote for who I think is right.”

Her statement is a powerful one, don’t you think? I do, and I think she’s right. It’s the principle of the matter. If you go down, you go down doing what you think is right.

The only question is… who is right for our nation?

Some days I think I’ve made up my mind on Clinton. On other days I feel guilty supporting her and lean toward Johnson. Then the next day it’s like, “Does a third party vote even matter?”

I hate this. Politics. It makes me come off like I’m stupid and don’t have an opinion on my nation but the truth is that I kind of don’t. I just want equal rights and opportunities for everyone and support for the middle class. And who’s going to get our country that?

Who?

Whoever I think will, that’s who I’m going to vote for.

Who are you voting for and why? Why do you think it’s important to vote? If you’d care to, I’d love have some comments on this topic.

-BP

P.S. To whoever’s our future president:

Please, please do your best to do right by the American people. All of them. Not just the whites or the blacks or the 1%. All of us, because it’s only as a nation that we can stand together. And at the end of the day I want to be proud of what we stand for, not ashamed. Keep us together as best you can. Don’t divide our home.

Millennial Nostalgia: Good Burger

 

Come on, say it with me now:

“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”

In case you need a refresher, the dim-witted, literal-minded fast food worker Ed is portrayed by Kel Mitchell of the sensational duo Kenan and Kel. Both Mitchell and Kenan Thompson were part of an all-star cast on the 90s/2000s hit sketch show All That. Ed’s shtick became popular enough to foster a big-screen debut in which he and fellow employee, Dexter (portrayed by Thompson of course), take on a whopper of a competitor in the form of the industrialized “Mondo Burger.” Linda Cardellini, Abe Vigoda and Sinbad appear alongside them. Shaquille O’Neal and Carmen Electra also have cameos.

Oh the joys of the summer job. The histrionics of adolescent angst. The silliness of a simpleton. It’s all here in Good Burger. It’s got a nice pace, a consistently goofy tone and a rad and rockin’ soundtrack. Admittedly the story’s average, but we’re here for classic Kenan and Kel hijinks, right? And we get them in spades, from cross-dressing to a dance number in an asylum. But what’s at the core of the nostalgia for Kenan and Kel is also the best part of the film: the natural chemistry between the two stars. It’s effortless simplicity. Their jokes are straight-forward but delivered earnestly enough to get you to crack a smile or two. Trust me. The kid in you will find your memories of this movie delicious.

Some of the best lines:

“I’m a dude, he’s a dude, she’s a dude, ’cause we’re all dudes, HEY!” (I know you sang that.)

Kenan’s famous “WHYYY?”

“Kurt is now your mother and your father.” “Kurt must look pretty funny nekkid.”

“bloobity, bloobity, bloobity, bloobity, Bloobity, Bloobity, Bloobity, Bloobity, BLOOBITY, BLOOBITY, BLOOBITY, BLOOBITY, BLOOPITY, BLOOPITY, BLOOP!” (I know you sang that too.)

“It’s okay, people! Her butt…is fine!”

(And you’d be right to chant this one) “Ed!” “What?” “Ed!” “What?” “Ed!” “What?”

 

What do you remember about Good Burger? Tell us below in the comments if you’d like.

-BP

Guilty Pleasure: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

It’s really not as bad as it sounds.

When this creepy little midnight movie debuted six or seven years ago, I knew nothing about it except the DVD cover and the final image of the trailer—the one with three semi-nude people inexplicably connected to each other—freaked me out. I’m sure I vowed never to explore it.

This year, however, I got on iTunes searching for a review podcast that would share my views on Twilight. (In case you’re wondering about those views, allow me to quickly say that I regard the Twilight series as a franchise whose popularity I cannot stand and whose main character I despise. Listening/contributing to rants on Twilight is another guilty pleasure of mine.) I found an entertaining podcast entitled Yeah, It’s That Bad, which’ll get its own coverage on the blog later this year, and immersed myself in the archive. Soon I came upon an episode that covered The Human Centipede.

I listened tentatively, and though things were described in reasonable detail, I found myself more captivated by the material than grossed out. I’ve been a horror fan since I was about 12, so the horror and torture-porn genres are not unfamiliar to me. They’re a guilty pleasure for me because of my religious roots; I feel bad that I like some dark things, but it’s not like darkness and pessimism aren’t a part of my nature, and I am aware horror movies are just movies. A lot of times I like to see how they’re done, and it’s not like I actually approve of murder or want people to be killed in real life. No, it’s about the execution of story, character and predominantly the acting, as there are many character actors in horror whom I love (like Brad Dourif and Robert Englund), and I couldn’t get the guys’ rave review of the lead actor, Dieter Laser, or the core concept of a “human centipede” out of my head. Nervous to proceed, I desensitized myself by listening to more spoiler reviews of the movie and decided to rent it on iTunes, even eating ice cream before I watched—ooohhh, risky!

Even though it holds a 4.4 on IMDb and a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and had virtually no story, I enjoyed it. Why?

*MODERATE spoilers abound*

1. Actors Dieter Laser and Akihiro Kitamura. German actor Dieter Laser portrays the antagonist in this film, Dr. Josef Heiter, a retired but renowned surgeon who once separated Siamese twins but now envisions a procedure to produce a “Siamese triplet”—three beings joined together by the gastrointestinal system. A freaky idea, no? No freakier than the actor who sets it all into motion.

From the moment Laser’s craggy, square-jawed profile shows up on screen, I was spellbound. This guy is not playing. From his menacingly attractive face to the way he stands to the way he moves and drawls, he has a truly spooky and imposing presence, one that persists throughout the movie. He also plays an unstable yet duly focused mind so authentically…it’s quite impressive to behold. To unnerve your audience but also to make your crazy character low-key funny , in a strictly black humor sort of way  (at one point he calls Katsuro a “chicken” and proceeds to squawk at him), takes a great deal of talent, in my opinion. I loved him! Loved his voice and his faaaace. I thought he was the optimal choice for such a commanding character. The man must be somewhat of a mad genius himself to be able to play such a sick scientist…O_o

(Or not. Don’t worry. I’ve seen plenty of interviews where he appears to be quite a nice man.)

Akihiro Kitamura bears some similarities to Laser in that he transcends language barriers (he only speaks Japanese in the film) with universal expressions and staunch commitment to his role, which can be summed up in one word: defiance.

Like his fellow captors, the spiky-haired Katsuro is taken early on in the film. He spends most of his waking hours struggling or screaming at Dr. Heiter or both. When that doesn’t work he finds other ways to rebel against the dog-loving surgeon, like refusing to bring him a newspaper and biting him. He bites this crazy dude’s leg! You see it and you’re just like, “YEEESSS!” But it’s just the dirty and dejected looks he gives the doctor that make Katsuro’s resentment so apparent.

The end of the film is really where Kitamura shines. He attacks the doctor with a funny fervor and takes charge to make an escape with the women. He also gives a speech in which he imagines his treatment is punishment for the way he’s conducted himself in life. It’s a moment of self-reflection you don’t normally get in these kinds of movies, and Kitamura portrayed it with the right amount of poignancy.

2. Lindsay and Jenny’s friendship. Sure the characters are kind of annoying and naïve. Yeah, the actresses had some questionable line reads. But they did a good job screaming and crying and whimpering, and they did well to cultivate a believable friendship between their characters.

Lindsay and Jenny are two American women on a European road trip. Between breaking down on a backwoods road and wandering through the woods for help, the duo gets a lot of arguing done. An annoying amount in fact. It’s not until they’re captured that the women’s chemistry takes on a more empathetic slant.

There’s a point in the film where Lindsay has a clear chance to escape. She stands poised in front of a broken window, torn between achieving freedom alone or going back for her best friend. She eventually decides to descend back into the basement to retrieve an unconscious Jenny. I knew it was the wrong choice but respected her for trying. She was thinking of her friend before herself.

Later, when there’s nothing left to say or do, they hold hands for comfort, or Jenny would reach out and grip Lindsay’s shoulder. I liked that, seeing these two friends in an impossibly horrible situation, fighting the despair by soundlessly supporting each other. I find that also rare to get in a horror film—actresses playing friends that come off as actual friends. Lindsay even reached out to check on Katsuro by rubbing his back after a particularly horrific encounter with the doctor. They’re not “dumb bitches.” Just poor decision-makers. (I mean, Dr. Heiter’s first line to them is “Are you alone?” -_-) But other than being naïve, they just didn’t know how to change a flat tire. I don’t either! Doesn’t mean any of us deserve to be in a human centipede. Anyway, I wasn’t rooting for them to meet nasty fates. Quite the opposite. But you’ll have to watch to find what fates they do receive…

I watched the movie, like, two to four times during the 24-hour rental period and ended up purchasing it. The commentary’s not super interesting, but the little nine-minute behind-the-scenes video is neat! You get Dieter Laser’s insight as to why Dr. Heiter creates a pet, secrets to make-up effects and a soul-train centipede at the end. What does that mean? You’ll have to rent the DVD to find out!

But honestly, there’s hardly any blood, no sighting of excrement and obviously fake butts. It’s shot well, there’s an eerily airy soundtrack running throughout and the conclusion may just catch you off guard.

I give The Human Centipede (First Sequence)  a 6/10.

What do you think? Will you give The Human Centipede a chance to scurry into your living room? Why or why not? Let me know in a comment below.

-BP

My Favorites: Bonanza

Like many before me, I grew up on reruns of this classic western. The show lasted for fourteen seasons—from 1959 to 1973—during which it depicted the often-heroic exploits of the rich, ranching family of the Ponderosa, headed by patriarch and three-time widower Ben Cartwright and his three sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe (later the series added on ranch-hand Candy Canaday and adoptive son, Jamie Hunter-Cartwright to increase viewership). Barring some first-season aggression, the Cartwrights soon came to embody the best of the Old West, namely the hospitality and progressiveness of good men in the pre-Civil War era.

Ben is the definition of a self-made man, turning from sailor to settler in a bid to establish a mutual relationship of give-and-take with the land he came to love in the Nevada territory. His eldest son, Adam, represents the coolness and confidence of a stern, learned mind; he was the only one to attend college and eventually disappeared from the show after six seasons to go to sea and beyond (as Adam’s actor, Pernell Roberts, wanted off the show). Middle brother Hoss is big and benign, a good-natured animal-lover who was absent from the show’s final season due to actor Dan Blocker’s untimely death; the show literally could not survive without its heart. Joe evokes the sharpness and vivacity of youth all the while being a “daddy’s boy”—as a “mama’s girl” myself I can relate to the warmth and vulnerability one reserves only for one’s same-sex parent, and it makes Joe all the more endearing (not that he needed help in appearing endearing, especially to the ladies…).

There’s really only one reason I love Bonanza. It’s not for the action and it’s darn sure not for the time period (keep your expectations for dynamic female characters low even though there are a couple here and there, eh), it’s because I love the characters; I admire their courage and their compassion, their cleverness and their work ethic, but to delve deeper into the family dynamics and why I love the characters requires me, for one, to mention how much I love the relationship between them, particularly that of Hoss and Little Joe.

Though six years apart the duo is very close, often entangling one another in crime-prevention schemes or outlandish ways to make money or claim livestock. They tease and test each other at the same time they’re so ardently protective over one another, with Hoss looking out for Little Joe especially. Hoss instinctively knows when to give Joe space, when to shut him down, when to let him go and when to move him along and away from swindlers, brutes and “loose” women, my goodness. There’s just something that touches me about the “protective big brother” archetype even though I know nothing of sibling dynamics, having been raised as an only child. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because on this show it’s done a couple of different ways. While Adam often proves protective of both Hoss and Joe, he goes about his mentoring with rigid rationality whereas Hoss and Joe put a different kind of feel into it. They both wear their hearts on their sleeves and share an unabashed bond of mutual care, and it’s beautiful to see, especially when the atmosphere is so rough and other men are so ruthless.

To me these characters epitomize what love between men should look like. There should be passion, there should be humor, there should be expression, even fight, and there should be respect and a will to compromise. That’s what a good man is to me, and I would love to be able to create with my writing bonds featuring the kind of love and strength they portray in each episode. I fear that I won’t be able to, though, because I don’t have a lot of experience being around men. Sure, I had a grandpa who loved me, excellent teachers, coaches and role models in high school and I have close male friends, but that doesn’t mean I understand a homosocial atmosphere. Or maybe I should treat my male characters less like “this is what a man should or shouldn’t be” and more like “here’s a three-dimensional character with this type of personality and this type of story—stop genderizing and tell it.” Hmm.

But in case I need a base for my idea of a man’s man, I’ll always have Bonanza to turn to, thankfully, ’cause I’m gettin’ this series on DVD, woot!

Which classics move you? Why? Feel free to leave a comment below if you’d like to share. Thanks!

-BP

Currently Awesome: Empire

The family that plays together stays together, right? Not this season.

*Minor spoilers follow*

Between Lucious’ incarceration, subsequent release (and those telling snippets of his childhood) to the creation of Lyon Dynasty and Hakeem’s reign as CEO of Empire, season two hasn’t shied away from playing up the daily power struggle of the “first family of music” that is the Lyon family. In the midst of backstabbings and power play Jamal and Hakeem fight to spread their wings (with Mirage a Trois and Freda, respectively) while Lucious battles the board as well as his own flesh and blood and inner demons to take back control. But will the king have the queen by his side when he regains his rule? I don’t know—there’s still the finale to go.

What makes this one-hour drama such monster hit? Well, having a monster at the heart of it doesn’t hurt.

1. Characters/Cast. “Lucious is a beast” is what I keep repeating to my mother, who watches the show with me. He is, and Terrence Howard portrays the beast beautifully. Here we have a man so arrogant and yet so ardent that he pulls from me both admiration and repulsion. He’s despicable and close-minded and, as we now know, the sympathetic son of a sufferer of bipolar disorder. He’s easy to hate and hard to hate. Now that is an artist. Not unlike Lucious is his ex-wife, Cookie, into whom Taraji P. Henson injects soul in every beat of the lioness’s heart. And fist. Whenever I dare question the queen I’m drawn back in by her love for her family, the base on which her boys still stand. And Andre, Jamal and Hakeem still stand, whether it’s with their parents or against their parents. They will not be manipulated…and if they are, it’s only because they’re usually a step ahead. They remain true to themselves in an industry where the opposite sometimes seems to be a requirement. Trai Byers, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray remain true to their characters too—to the logic, to the compassion and to the fire.

2. Tone (pun intended). The music is phenomenal—for most fans I feel like that goes without saying (even though I just said it), but I also like the energy of this show and how passion is at the core of it all. Everything—rage, grief, joy, guilt—is perpetuated by passion for the beautiful, twisted jungle the Lyons live in and call home: their music.

I have passions—music is and was one of them. I need to remember the fire, to join with it, to boil and burn and fire messages out into the night like shooting stars…

I need to stand strong on the throne of my own empire.

You can’t sit out your life.

By virtue of being just what it is, the show is kind of inspirational. It doesn’t just play music, it is music. Every dirty, glitzy, greedy, wondrous bit.

How can I relate it to my writing? Here is a drama where the family is not just a family unit—the members are also individuals. I’m intrigued with characters whose loyalty and lust seem to only go so far. But why? Is it because blood is truly thicker than water or for another selfish, sinister reason? Who indeed runs this? Is it the person holding the gun? Holding their tongue? Holding someone hostage? The person holding the strings? Or the person cutting them in half? I want to develop family dynamics as layered as this. I’ll allow my characters to be true to themselves without sacrificing one to another. I need to not be afraid to make antiheroes or even downright villains. You never know what someone’s capable of until they’re pushed, and I’ve got to push my characters and myself in order to create a story worth telling, and Empire has a story worth listening to.

The finale airs Wednesday, May 18 at 9:00 p.m.

-BP

Addendum: MODERATE spoilers below

Of course now that I’ve raved about Empire, the finale disappoints me. Laura decides now, because of some gangster’s appearance, that she can’t be with Hakeem? Are you kidding? I mean, she’s too good for him, but seriously, how convenient for the end of the season. Speaking of the end, what was that? Come on. I can accept the forced marriage, but the soap opera cliffhanger? I personally expected more. Or less. Whatever. Something different. Again, whatever. It’s not like I’m not going to watch season 3.

 

This May Interest You: Giving Blood

This post may be thought of as an addendum to the previous one, which addresses the ravages of depression. Giving blood is something I like to do when I feel like participating in community service without exerting myself too much physically or socially, or when my feelings take on a graver tint and I feel like my life doesn’t matter at all. This is a way to make it matter.

In case you’re interested or, heaven forbid, feel the same way, let me take you through the highlights of the process of donating blood. Maybe something you read will interest you enough to try this out for yourself!

  1. If you haven’t given in a while or have never given, you probably won’t get notices letting you know when the next blood drive is. If this is the case, you’ll want to go to redcross.org and click on the “Donate Blood” tab. This will lead you to a box that’ll ask you to type in your zip code to help you “Find a Drive.” Next the site will present you with both a list and an adjoining map of upcoming drives near your area. If you click on an option you’ll be asked to create an account to schedule an appointment or, if you’d just walk in, you can you mark down on a calendar the drive/time you choose.

(I’m almost always a walk-in. I’m too lazy to make an appointment despite the fact that those with appointments take precedence over those who walk in. Meh. We all get in eventually, but if you’re strapped for time, you should definitely consider scheduling a time.)

You can also order a blood donor card on redcrossblood.org. If you don’t wish to, I think you’ll have to bring with you your driver’s license or another form of ID.

  1. Next comes preparation. They’re going to test your hemoglobin when you go, so if you’re anemic or worry that you may have low iron, you need to prepare beforehand to avoid being rejected.

(Personally I take iron pills every day for week. I also include more iron-rich foods into my diet during that time, such as pork chops and fish (salmon specifically). You know what’s a good food to eat for a couple days before you give? Chili made with kidney beans and lean beef, both of which have iron. It’s also smart to stock up on Vitamin C and other sources of protein and, of course, water.)

  1. Finally the time has come.

(Be sure to bring your phone or a book unless you want some time to think—you’ll have plenty of opportunities.)

After following the signs with big red arrows you’ll go up to a table and someone will ask you if you have a donor card. If you do, you’ll give it to the person and he/she’ll scan it. If you don’t, I presume you’ll give them your driver’s license/ID—I don’t actually remember—and you’ll provide the volunteer with whatever basic information he/she requires of you. Next he/she’ll hand you a packet of reading material and ask you to have a seat in the first waiting section near the check-in desk.

(If you’ve never read the “educational materials,” you should to make sure you are in fact eligible to donate, but if you’re not new to the process and haven’t traveled extensively, it’ll do to just skim it. It’s usually all the same stuff.)

You’ll hand the packet back to the staff and he/she’ll give you a number and direct you to the second waiting area near the cardboard partitions. Your number (or letter, in some cases) will label you as either a walk-in or someone with an appointment, the latter of which the staff will ask for first. But this is the part where you’ll really want your phone or book because the music they play may get old after a while.

  1. Once again, finally, the time has come. Someone takes your number (or letter) and leads you behind a black cardboard partition, where you’ll find a small desk, computer, an iron meter and various other medical supplies await you and your nurse. You’ll sit on the side of the table and he/she’ll ask you for your name and date of birth before he/she starts the mini-physical. He/she’ll ask to look at both your arms, will take your temperature, your pulse and your blood pressure before pricking one of your fingers to test your hemoglobin…It’s just a prick. It hurts, but only for a moment. Plus I have no pain tolerance, so it might not hurt you at all. I know many of us aren’t fans of needles, but isn’t it worth it to face a couple if you can save lives?

(My last stats were 98.7, 106 and 112/80. My pulse rate was high—it’s supposed to be under 100—so my nurse offered to take it again within five minutes time. I was nervous about being rejected for low iron; it’s happened a lot and it embarrasses me that I didn’t prep well enough. My iron was 13.8 [it needs to be 12.5 for women]and my pulse went down to 84.)

  1. Next your nurse will ask you to complete a series of personal questions on the computer. You’ll flip a “Ready” sign over when you’re done. The questions have to do with your medical, sexual and travel history. You’re not allowed to give if you’re pregnant or homosexual (I know, that sucks!) or if you’ve traveled to one of those exotic countries known for one of those oh-so exotic diseases. After you flip the sign, you’ll be waiting again, la la la, haw haw haw, but after a while a nurse will sit down—it’ll probably be a different one than the one who collected you—and ask you your name and birth date again before checking to make sure your answers are acceptable enough to continue the process. If they are, you’ll sign an electronic agreement and follow your nurse to the collection of beds.
  1. You’ll lie down and your nurse will give you a squishy item and ask you to give it a couple of squeezes. He/she’ll mark your vein and grab the blood bag and vials, all that good stuff. Then he/she’ll coat the crease in your arm with iodine before inserting the needle.

(I know, I know. Yes, to me, it hurts but again, only for a couple moments. As long as your nurse does it with confidence, you’ll be fine. I usually like to watch the nurse do it—pressure him/her into being careful, YEAH.)

  1. And so the process begins. You have music or your book or phone or, if you’re lucky, witty nurses to entertain you while you squeeze for four counts and rest for another four, then squeeze for four, and, well, you get the idea. Here, the waiting’s not so bad. You’re doing what you came to do and you’re surrounded by people doing the same. Plus it’s all uphill from here.
  1. When you’re done the nurse will ask you to stop squeezing, take away your squishy and unclip your blood bag. He/she’ll fill some vials, as you’ve agreed to allow your blood to be used for research, and then remove the needle. He/she’ll press a gauze pad to the site and ask you to both apply pressure and raise your arm in the air. You’ll hold it for a minute before the nurse straps it in place with tape. Then you’ll get the cool wrap bandage, the colored one with the scratchy fabric. Your red badge of courage…I hated that book. Anyway, you’ll sit up and the nurse will hand you a pamphlet you’re supposed to use in case you experience complications upon going home. If you prepared at all with food and water, I’m fairly certain you’ll be fine.

(One thing that really works for nausea is lying on your back and raising/propping your legs in the air—that’ll take it away right away.)

Then you head over to the snack table! Yay! And they’ll give you good stuff too: oreos, trail mix, fruit snacks, juice, water.

(Cheez-Its and water are my go-tos.)

Here you’re supposed to relax for 15 minutes, which creates another opportunity for you to partake in some self-provided entertainment. That’s perk number one, the free food and drink.

Number two? No exercise or heavy lifting for the rest of the day. YES. An excuse!

And finally perk number three, literally…you just potentially saved three lives. WOOOO!

I gave today for the 16th time. It’s such a good feeling, so fulfilling, and such a simple way to give back.

So be proud, and be brave. Give again! It matters. It really does. And so do you. This is just another way you can.

-BP

Taboo Topics: Depression

It exists, and it’s a chronic, life-threatening disease.

I hear it’s hard for people to understand what it’s like if they don’t have it. So what does it feel like?

  • It feels like you’re waiting for your life to be over. You lie in bed all day, either praying to die or willing yourself to oversleep because it’s the acceptable alternative to suicide, though it’s not like you don’t think about death all the time anyway.
  • The passion you had for your most beloved hobbies and activities feels like it’s been sucked straight out of your soul. If you can even remember you once liked engaging in a certain hobby, you then force yourself to do it with the stale hope that your love for it will come back, just as I am forcing myself to continue writing these posts.
  • It feels like there is no future, at least not for you. You’ll never get married. You’ll never find work you love. You’ll never feel beautiful and worthy. You’ll never be noteworthy. All the future holds is new opportunities to underachieve/fail again.
  • You believe there is no reason to be here. You have no purpose, no self-esteem, no self-confidence, and you’re too damn tired to try and muster some.

It’s not about being ungrateful. You genuinely enjoy the good moments of your life but you can’t help but wonder when they’ll end, which instantly drains some of the joy out then and there.

I’ve had depression for over half my life. All through middle and high school. All through college.  Now, when I’m in the prime of my life and should be happy for having finished my first novel, I’m not happy at all. I feel more like a failure than ever. I have little energy, little motivation to do anything, including attend therapy, and no real concept of a healthy future. When we were told in school to imagine ourselves five years from now, I couldn’t do it correctly. I was always amazed I made it through each milestone because I couldn’t imagine myself at 16 or 22, like I now can’t imagine making it to 30. Not really. But inevitably it’ll come…even though I don’t know if I particularly want it to.

Of course, you say, if someone feels this way, he or she should seek help. I agree and I have. I’ve had five therapists over the course of 10 years. What does therapy feel like?

  • The positive perspective feels like a lie—like you’re lying to yourself if you dare to be optimistic. Negativity feels like realism, even when you’re aware it’s not. It is, however, a well-worn and unfortunately comfortable path to follow so you’re always in danger of giving in to it.
  • You feel like your therapists make a lot of good points, but you’re not sure if you’re strong enough to make the mental changes necessary to save your life. They’re telling you you have to force yourself to change beliefs that are over 20 years old—to change almost everything you think you know about others and about yourself. And it’s not that you don’t want to fight your prejudices or that you’re too scared to change (well, maybe a little), it’s that you might not be as strong as you once thought because you find to be so hard…Maybe you’re not sure you’re worth it.

But somewhere deep inside, part of you hopes you are, so you cling desperately to that hope, as misplaced as it feels, and take a chance and keep on going. You remember that it’s hasn’t always been all bad and that with time there comes change. That means there will be good changes too.

The pain won’t last forever. It can’t. It won’t

Depression takes all of your strength to battle. Every bit of it, and it makes both warriors and peace-seekers of us all.

God bless those of you struggling with psychological disorders and issues. I’m sorry you feel the way you do. All I can say to you for now—all I can ask from you now—is hold on. Hold on to your hope. Hold on to your life. You are here for a reason, and just because you don’t know what that reason is now doesn’t mean you never will. If you can’t find a reason, make one. I’m making mine: a YA superhero series. Who knows if anything will come of it? But I want to try. I want to try and to try, I have to live. If you want to try, you have to live. Let us borrow each other’s warrior strength and work on our thoughts and our nerves and our faults. Nothing’s ever going to change if we don’t move.

I hope you hear my hope and make it your own. Don’t let this disease win.

-BP