Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Come Back, We'll Rummage



I know there are many articles and talking heads out there who have addressed Robin Williams' death better than I, but I need to write about this as someone who deals with Depression on a daily basis.

The thing is I know the list of despairing lies that went through Robin's mind towards the end. Actually, there are millions of people out there who know because we fight them every single day. Some days we have nice thick armor and boxing gloves to fight back. Other days it takes so much effort to get out of bed, we have no protection or tools to fight the lies. Also, you learn a way to deal with Depression then your illness adapts finding new weaknesses. You are very lucky if you're able to spot what is going on before it gets you in a Death Grip.

I have tried to kill myself several times. I have been in therapy off and on since 2001. I have been on medication since 2005. I used to have a drinking problem as a way to self medicate before I was officially diagnosed. The absolute worst depressive episode I had was after my stroke. The way I see that time is that I was stuck in a dark tunnel where I could not see anything. I started fantasizing about being hospitalized. Not the sane reality hospital with lots of machines, wires, pain, and fear. No the fantasy hospital that allows people to completely leave their lives getting away from all their worries and stress. 

One day, driving home I was indulging in that fantasy and a voice deep inside me said, "Wait a minute, you have been in hospitals and it was horrible." I had to pull into a parking lot and just sob. As I was freaking out about what was going on with me, I realized that I had stopped taking my blood thinners for weeks. You know, the one medication that would prevent a second stroke. This is how a major depressive episode works. It isn't several conscious decisions, it's the circle of despairing lies and your subconscious sabotaging you.

Depression is an illness just like diabetes or liver failure but the public sees it as a personal failing and something to be ashamed of. That misconception is so insidious and evil because if you have Depression, the despairing lies always poke you with "You're so weak" or "Why can't you just feel better?" Public perception feeds and echoes Depression. I have a theory why the perception is so screwed up. America was founded by people who believed if you work hard, you will be rewarded. Plus, Americans brought over their religions and culture. I do not know a single culture in the 1700's or 1800's that had a compassionate approach to mental illness. We have a come a long way on social issues but not that far on mental health.

Robin Williams' death is horrible because it is so familiar. A tremendously talented loved person was felled by an illness we still whisper about. I would like to scream about this burden, shake people by their shoulders, and find some zillionaire to help fund mental health services nationwide (since our government won't). Depression isn't a first world problem afflicting the weak or lazy minded. It's your mom. Your brother. Your child. Once we stop othering the mentally ill, maybe those demons telling us just to end it all will be weaker.




Friday, August 01, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review [SPOILERS]


I saw the movie this morning and overall it is fantastic. I am definitely going to see it again. I heard that 3D wasn't that good except for the long space shots. I would say the movie is good for 8 year olds and above: shit, asshole, subtle masturbation joke, cartoon violence with little gore. There is a dying/dead mother storyline that could be tough for little ones. 

The Good

The soundtrack - if you like 70's and 80's rock, you will adore the music in this movie. It is actually a plot point so enjoy the meta.

CGI characters - if you told me twenty years ago pixels would make me cry, I would say you're crazy. Seriously, Groot and Rocket Raccoon steal the whole movie!

Heart - this isn't a movie about heroes or winners who are amazing at everything they try. It's just a bunch of messed up folk who wind up doing the right thing. There is also a bit of hope mixed into the pain. I liked the lack of cynicism and cruelty.

Chris Pratt - he is really excellent as Peter Quill. Like a combo of Han Solo, Arthur Dent, and Andy Dwyer. He sells all the notes from comedy to drama.

Dax the Destroyer/David Bautista - from the commercials, I thought he would just be the head busting tank of the group but he was surprisingly funny!

Set design/special effects - great locations, amazing spaceships which look so original and vibrant.

MCU connections  - Thanos and The Collector show up so there is a vague web of something going on that ties to the other movies. 

Kosmo!

The Not So Great

Gamora - she has a back story and a lot of dialogue but I didn't really connect with her character.

Ronan - I know Loki is a tough act to follow but this guy is like high drama Darth Vader. I love the actor but maybe he's such a face actor, all the makeup sucked away what he was trying to do. Seriously, how can Lee Pace act without The Eyebrows?

Dialogue - it's great but very fast so I missed chunks of exposition or character moments.

Emotions - if you don't want to cry at a Marvel movie, avoid this. It's tough when right in the beginning you get hit with a huge emotional body slam and that is echoed throughout the entire movie. Groot entirely obliterated me emotionally with his final line. Then there's more sadness! It ends happy but man that roller coaster is very bumpy!

Howard the Duck

In summary, I hope this movie breaks all box office records. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has been green lit which needs to end pointing them towards Earth so Avengers 3 can be the big team up. Obviously Thanos is trying it collect the Infinity Gems for the Infinity Gauntlet. The tesseract is one, Loki's staff is another gem, the aether from Thor 2 is the third, and in this movie we see the fourth. But is The Collector trying to stop Thanos or is he working for someone else? I hope in Guardians 2 Peter will meet his father.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I GOT A JOB!!!


I had an interview Tuesday downtown in the 92 degree heat. Speaking of, here are my tips on how to survive that situation:

1. Schedule interview as early in the morning as possible
2. Check out the interview location on google maps and identify the closest Dunkin Donuts.
3. Use a messenger/laptop bag.
4. Pack a T-shirt, sneakers, water bottle, and damp facecloth in a ziploc bag. Plus resume etc.
5. Dress for a normal interview but try to use breathable fabrics.
6. Get to the interview vicinity an hour early then cool down in a Dunkin Donuts.
7. Interview
8. After interview, change out of interview outfit into sneakers and a T-shirt.

Obviously, these steps are gospel since I got the phone call job offer this morning. In the job search unwritten rule book,  hearing something within the week after an interview means you'll get a rejection. I was gearing myself up for that then the ending of the sentence changed. What I expected:

"Guy and HR lady met after your interview and decided to pursue another candidate."

What happened:

"Guy and HR lady met after your interview and decided to offer you the job."

I am so relieved and happy readers! This was my first interview since June 10 and I had two other interviews lined up next week (if you're looking for analyst jobs, I can give you leads). The job is in a new industry for me, pays more than my last job, and is in HR - a discipline that I had wanted to pursue for years. I have a couple weeks to wait for offer approval, get through a background check, and physical. So, hello stress-free summer vacation! 

So, unemployed people out there, it can happen. You just need time, flexibility, and a lot of support from your family and friends.







Thursday, July 03, 2014

Don't Be A Dummy

Remember how we have had basically 8 months of winter? When there was no sun and we were basically indoor creatures. Our skin remembers! Oh yeah, if you started taking a new medication during the 8 months of winter, make sure you check to see if there is a photosensitivity side effect.

I'm talking about all this because I had my first trip to the beach Tuesday. 5 hours of fun. I forgot to reapply sunscreen after two trips in the ocean. I seriously need these babies:
I had a ton of sunscreen in my bag and brought an extra towel so I could dry off before application. But coming prepared does not matter if you're forgetful. Here is my goofy version of the forgetful results:


I've been indoors for two days recovering. It's very lucky that all the burns are on my front and no sun poisoning. My legs were the severest burn to the point where I had trouble standing. Here are some tricks/tips I've learned:
  • Take a lukewarm shower to cool off - NO SOAP. Cold shower feels like needles stabbing you.
  • Only pat dry
  • Drink a lot of fluids
  • Those aloe gels cool off the skin but make skin feel really tight
  • The absolutely best salve is coconut oil with a couple drops of lavender. The coconut is a great moisturizer and absorbs easily. Lavender seems to cut the pain somehow. I've only used on torso, not face
  • For face burns sun lotion works
  • Try to sleep only on cotton sheets
  • I'm looking for any tips for scalp burns
I think since tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, I will be able to go outside! Thank goodness I'm unemployed because I can't imagine wearing work clothes with this burn... If you have at least one red head in your family and you have freckles, please accept that you will never be a golden brown beach bum and treat the sun like a radiation emitting enemy. Seriously y'all, I'm basically a walking melanoma.



Friday, June 27, 2014

History Nerd Alert

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. This murder lead to World War I which lasted four years and lead to deaths of 37 million people. World War Two gets a lot of historical significance and attention (probably because we still have veterans and survivors nowadays). But World War One was basically the first act of a three act war.

The first time I ever became aware of World War One's significance was thanks to this book:

It's the final book in the Anne of Green Gables series and focuses on her youngest daughter. If you didn't cry reading this book, you are dead inside [SPOILER] Walter! Sob![/SPOILER].

The other way I learned about The Great War was thanks to my sophomore year high school history teacher (who was THE BOMB basically why I'm a history major). He had this exercise for the class. We were all broken into five groups/countries. We needed to appoint an ambassador and various government officials. We had a fact sheet on our country. Here's the twist - only our ambassador could communicate with other countries. There were rounds where we got updates on what was going on. We'd have to huddle with our ambassador and give him/her instructions. At the end of class, my country, Freedonia, was part of a tripartite treaty against two other countries then our teacher informed us that we had missed the whole point and had started a world war.  So mutual defense treaties are bad mmmmkay?

At UMass Amherst, I took an amazing course about World War I. The textbook was so good, I never bothered selling it back. The Treaty of Versailles chapter just gave me chills. You know how hindsight is 20/20? Now we know the reparations and punishments against Germany fanned a rage and nationalism that lead to another world war. Apparently back in 1918, ambassadors and leaders knew how vindictive the treaty was. Ferdinand Foch said, "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years." World War Two started in 1938.

So, how are we doing now? Well, we have NATO and a growing nationalist, right wing, xenophobic movement gaining ground in Europe. It seems like Germany is sane and stable now. Russia looks like it wants to be the new/old Germany. The EU is simultaneously unifying and also pissing people off. The European economic recovery hasn't really stabilized (I blame austerity). It is my hope Europe is old enough and tired enough just to sit out and complain during the next war. They'll let the new kids annihilate themselves.





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Confessions of A Liberal

I'm a lazy liberal. My beliefs and attitudes are just what I grew up with. There was never a question about who we were voting for each election, it was always not Republican. I remember walking home from school in first grade debating with my friend Steve about Reagan. I liked Mondale because he had Geraldine Ferraro as a running mate. This weekend highlighted an area where I my liberalness is lacking.

My parents had gay friends when I was growing up and I have many friends who came out after college. So gay rights is a no-brainer for me. Gay is not a foreign scary concept for me. People fall on a Kinsey scale and it isn't my business how they want to define themselves. That takes care of the LBQ community but....

What is foreign/confusing for me is transgender. Just figuring out HOW to talk about that community feels like hopping from sharp stalagmite to stalagmite over a pit of lava. I discovered this gap in my liberal cred thanks to the combination of the new season of Orange is the New Black and the latest episode of Oprhan Black. Orange has the character Sophia played by Laverne Cox. Orphan introduced a character named Tony who was born Antoinette. From some online discussion forums I have learned that "transgendered" or "transexual" are incorrect terms. And posters who even tried to float "shim" or "tranny" were shut down quickly. I also learned that some people aren't transgender but just choose not to gender self-identify. Which was news to me because I had just assumed the women with beards were just in the middle of their transition to some destination gender.

Basically, I have never met a transgender person so I guess this is how a liberal in Montana would feel about gay rights. You understand the mechanics, the psychological aspect, and believe people should just be allowed to be happy but there is a HUGE gap in real world experience. Sub confession, I also get men to women trans a lot more than the opposite way. Maybe it's because men to women transgender is so much more prominent in entertainment? Or I'm just such a feminist, I can't fathom giving womanhood up?

I got into a discussion with a fellow confused person where we talked about if a trans person should reveal their status on a first date. Me being a dummy idealist who thinks love is love believed that could be revealed later. But my friend pointed out the fact that revealing that information could get the person murdered. So what do transgender people do? Is there any hope?















So, here I am a liberal with gaps in my real world experience who just supports a concept, not a person and that bums me out.


Friday, June 06, 2014

What D-Day Means to Me



Seventy years ago, my grandmother was weeping for joy in Budapest.  My father was 11 years old and he had two brothers with one on the way. My family survived World War Two thanks to the Allies and despite the Allies. Hungary was a Nazi aligned country, unfortunately, but my grandparents worked to help their Jewish friends escape death. Yes, civilians in the Axis knew what was going on with the Jewish population.

My family fled Hungary to avoid the Russian "liberation". That liberation killed others in my family. My family fled into Germany.  Very stupid now that we know how things progressed in 1944 Germany. My family survived multiple RAF bombings.  One of my uncle's first memories, as a three year old, is emerging from a bunker to a city burning around him. My family got to Bregenz Austria by V-E day.

I would not be alive if D-Day hadn't happened. Eternal thank you, God bless you, and hashem yevarech otcha. As a child of a World War Two survivor, food and safety were huge concerns growing up. I was a member of the clean plate club because my father was starving in the war. The idea of a bug out bag didn't start with the recent zombie apocalypse fad. No, it began with survivors of a massive worldwide conflict.

One of the reasons I converted to Judaism was thanks to the stories I grew up hearing. Jews weren't seen as The Other. They were seen as fellow survivors with the weird unpronounceable names. When I read the Diary of Anne Frank in third grade and found out she died in Bergen-Belsen, it felt like I had lost a best friend.

Nazi Germany has shaped my origins and my upbringing. I am so grateful and blessed that the Americans landed on Normandy. My family fled a regime that tortured and spied on its citizens. That is why I expect more of America and why I cried when I saw the Abu Ghraib photos. America is the country that has shaped my future. I would hope it's the kind of country that landed on Normandy, not the kind of country that debates whether a soldier is patriotic enough to rescue.