It's Kind of a Funny Story

I am sitting in a quiet outside section of a coffee-bar by my apartment. It's called Buzzmill and the the aesthetic is very Frontiersman. There's rusted metal hanging from old wooden fencing. Unfinished tables that look like the legs could give you a splinter if you brushed them the wrong way. I wonder if the space is meant to feel masculine or just unassuming. Unpretentious.

They make their own infused alcohols, some of which are amazing in iced coffee. I got myself an iced coffee with vanilla almond whiskey to start with. It was the smoothest drink I've had in a while. Now I have a mimosa by my side. There are less frills to it than the one drunk by the guy that inspired me to get one. His had fruit bits floating in it. I think I'll just buy a bottle of cheap champagne on my way home and get some fresh fruit for myself. I needed to stop at the store anyway. I need toilet paper.

I came here to read and study with my cutest and sweetest friend. We discussed our disappointment about the election results instead. We decided we would be invigorated. We would use this as a catalyst to live better and more civically involved lives. It was already part of my 20 year plan to go into policy. God, I'll be pushing 50 at that point...but whatever.

She had to run, to do some errands, and I decided to stay back for another drink and consider my path for the rest of the day.

I signed up for a few meetings tomorrow.

I became aware of a harsh beeping as I tried to read my book about a depressed sub-urban teen in New York. I looked up and realized that there were some people doing construction on a nice looking apartment building. Or maybe it will be condos. These condos will likely justify a large rent increase for me in 6 months. The people working on them chattered happily in Spanish. I mused on their skin being more similar to mine than the white college kids that would eventually inhabit the space they were building. That were pushing out people who looked like us, people in their industry, the people that used to inhabit the east side of Riverside and made it "the kind of place you didn't walk around in alone at night".

Then I considered my walk to this bar. How very nice it was. Cool crisp air. Peppered with the earthy smell of transitional mulch. It's finally getting cold. It's been raining more. The world reflects this in a rich scent of death that promises renewed life in 4 to 6 months. It's Texas so a lot of the world is still green. Greener, maybe, than it would be in summer. There are still butterflies. As I took this all in, trotting to meet my companion for the afternoon, I felt safe. I felt like I belonged.

And then I heard some bro voices, and for the first time in a long time I considered that maybe I shouldn't be walking outside alone. As a girl, this is something you intermittently experience in life. Regardless of how attractive you might feel, or perceive others perceive you, you know that the only real thing that stops you from being harmed is a perceived vulnerability. It's not a good time. It makes you feel crazy to think that it's you against the world. It's even less fun if you're genetically predisposed to depression and anxiety. It leads to a lot of tense walks, and reassuring yourself that if you are attacked, if you can't run fast enough, you have to fight back. Dirty and vicious. And it's better to try to ensure the other person is unconscious.  And then you have to call the police right away and hope they believe you. Because it's not just you against this person, it's you against the police, too, because an unconscious person can't defend themselves, and when it's a girl bashing a guy's head in that seems more suspect than when it's a guy sticking his penis in. This impulse will ebb and flow, but it never really goes away for anyone I know. Right now I wasn't in that mind set- and then, with the sound of young white men I became very aware that I am a Hispanic woman walking alone in an increasingly gentrified space. The re-emergence that this could be a problem was more upsetting than the problem itself.

I want to stop talking about this election.

I want to move on.

I want to hold on to a feeling that I am over-reacting, and there's really no difference between my walking down the street today versus a few weeks ago.

Do I want greek food or a burrito? How well will I finish up the semester? What could I write a 10 minute set on? Should I just start attending stand-up shows? Even if I don't want to do stand up? Is it okay to want to influence policy but not be a politician? Are judges considered politicians?

I want to focus my attention elsewhere. I can relate in a lot of ways to this sad 15 year-old white boy from New York, my new fictional friend. I can relate to the "Cycling". I can relate to the "Tentacles". Although, I tend to eat more when I am not happy. The ways in which I can't relate make me feel like I'm making it all up. And then I can relate to his feeling that he's making it all up. Being dramatic. Blowing things out of proportion. That the world is not waiting to collapse down on us because we are mediocre and unworthy.

So here's another story- I think I touched on it before: I think I was 16. Maybe 17. I was 5'6" and 120lbs and my mother was badgering me about losing weight. I think after 6 or 7 years of this conversation and being forced to do weird exercise videos run by women whose skin was unnaturally taught and bronzed, I just had enough. I took a bunch of tylenol, which is silly, and in conflicting reports will not kill you. I threw it all up anyway. And then for whatever reason I ended up being goaded by my mother into explaining why I was suddenly sick. And then we went to the hospital. My mother doesn't drive at night, and I think my father was working a late shift, so I remember my sister driving. I don't think I felt that bad, I don't really know why we had to go since they made my stomach hurt initially and I threw them up almost immediately. We got there, though, and I was put in a room. And things were kind of a blur because they were out of my control. They put a tube down my throat and filled me with charcoal to get out the last bits of what I had ingested. And that was awful. That was when I started to feel bad. And I think vomiting up the charcoal ruined my clothes. I don't think she apologized. This is another way in which I differ from a white suburban teenage boy. My dad was very sad when he finally got there. He was sad and scared for a few days. My mother I think blamed me for being dramatic. That feels fair. I think she was also upset that I upset my father. That also feels fair.

Immediately afterwards I was given the option to stay there. They considered keeping me briefly. I think I backed out of the idea that I was trying to kill myself. "I just had a headache" has been the narrative since I realized that "I wanted my head to stop thinking forever" would have much graver consequences. So I had a headache. I was over-zealous with trying to appease my brain. And I definitely did not need to stay. I definitely, definitely, did not need to be admitted. Everything was fine. My mother eventually blamed my friends and crushes for my stupidity and conceded that I would not need to be kept by the hospital. In this, I wonder if I am lucky that one of the more Hispanic habits of my family is to discredit medical professionals. So I went home.

And I tried again a couple of times. I tried to take combinations of my medications and sleep inducing cough syrups. I took drugs. I drank easier chemicals. When I left my parent's house I had a penchant for drinking until I finished a bottle and using the broken glass to cut into my wrists. Now I fantasize about car crashes, that I feel too guilty about to carry out. And mostly I think this is all quite stupid. I don't really see why I have this impulse, and I want to move away from it. I can relate to the "shift" but for me it's always seemed like a switch. Someday. Sooner, rather than later, hopefully, I would be able to have the thought that flips the switch. And the clarity would last longer than a few weeks. The drive and motivation would stay for good. Euphoria would take over. Inner peace.

I've been hoping for that switch even more lately, but I am coming to terms with the fact that it's not going to happen. And I like the goals I have now, and don't want to let go of them. So I'm going to have to push through until one way or another it gets to be too much. Until I can't get out of bed, or managing this state of mind just becomes second nature. People like to tell me I have potential. I like to hear that. I don't want to waste it- so medication or not, I am going to push myself further. Especially in this new world, where there will be a lot of people with tangible reasons they need help.

So greek food, or a burrito? I think whichever I can make most spicy.


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