Category: Articles

If You Don’t Work You Don’t Eat: On Being Compulsive In The Face Of Abundance

wpid-wp-1476039086224.jpgI’ve been going through a hard time lately. Kind of because my business closed, but not really. The real reason is something I started to realize years ago, but like all deeply ingrained and compulsive coping mechanisms, it’s never just one realization that does the trick.

I think I might be a workaholic. I know, how silly. Every person between the ages of 20 and 35 right now is a workaholic. Every woman in business, every person of color, transgender person, everybody who grew up in poverty, immigrated here from somewhere else, or grew up with alcoholic parents. We all know the reality of what it means to be completely abandoned by a system we’re still expected to work for every day like we were never thrown out with the trash, or like we wouldn’t be thrown out now if circumstances changed. The truth is, outside of a few select white children and straight dudes, human life has no inherent value.

If you don’t work; you don’t eat. We’ve all heard that before. When the shit hits the fan, you have to buckle down. You get another job, you sell some stuff, you do what it takes and that’s just another part of making it through. The thing about having no economic safety net is that if you don’t have money for food, you don’t get food. If you don’t have money for rent, you don’t have anywhere to sleep. So you do what has to be done. You get up every day and you say yes to everything and no to nothing, and you don’t need safety standards because OSHA doesn’t pay the electric bill, and you don’t need work/life balance because without work there is no life.

And the same companies and industries that will hire someone to work full time without paying them enough to live full time devour a worker like this. A person without boundaries, who regularly chooses the job over their own health and safety. We are the band-aids this broken system relies on to keep itself together. We shine bright and we get promoted and given the big projects, because the company knows that we will be complicit in our own exploitation. Because we will be. Try to put a workaholic at a normal company and it gets real uncomfortable.

Which is where I am right now. I have nothing feeding my workaholic tendencies and it’s ugly. At the same time, I honestly wonder if there even is such a thing as a workaholic. Because that is some pre-recession white bullshit if I ever heard it.

People of color don’t get to be workaholics. Women don’t get to be workaholics. The workaholic was invented in the 1950s when, for the briefest of time certain subsets of middle class white dudes lived in an economic paradise built on union labor on the one hand the racist and sexist exclusion of non-whites and women on the other, and therefore experienced the phenomenon of abundance above and beyond anything they had ever been prepared for as middle class people. In this random accident, some of the white dudes missed dinner even though they didn’t have to, and thus the workaholic was born.

But that’s exactly the kind of shit a workaholic would say. I’ve been around addicts enough to know that crack has the uncanny ability to make everybody who smokes it suddenly realize that addiction is a racist conspiracy theory cooked up by the government to keep us in our place.

What I do know is this:

  • When I can’t use constant work to distract me from myself, old coping mechanisms like anorexia and self harm are right there, ready to be the solution they were before I had work.
     
  • I am no longer happy with the way I feel about my work, something that used to be the only thing that made me happy.
     
  • Even though I’m unhappy with it, I still obsess over it, making sure that work is constantly the focus, wherever I am. There’s no relief.
     
  • I really do fear that my life will fall apart if I were to stop working or making things, even briefly.
     
  • I feel calm when I’m horribly ill because I finally have a reasonable justification for not working. Which is actually progress, I used to think that even illness wasn’t justification enough.
     
  • I frequently think that it’s better this way because working and making things is the only thing I’m good at anyway.
     
  • I (not so) secretly believe that food and sleep are allowed to me on the condition that I have accomplished something. And I have trouble seeing what’s wrong with that.
     
  • I cling to the belief that compulsive working is somehow the only positive outcome from the neglect I experienced in childhood, and if I were to stop this now, it would be nothing but tragedy all the way down.
     
  • I am unable to justify my existence without work.
     
  • As a union woman, and a fierce defender of workers’ rights, I honestly believe that I am an exception to the labor laws and standards I would literally die to protect.
     

But the recession…

But my childhood…

Surely this compulsive working is just good sense after everything I’ve been through. But of course it isn’t.

I know better than most that the coping mechanisms you come up with in a crisis can’t be your coping mechanisms for good. Indiana Jones survived a nuclear blast in a refrigerator one time in a movie. That doesn’t mean we should all saddle up the Kenmore and bring on nuclear winter. Stuffed in a fridge is no way to live long-term. You do what you have to in order to survive so that you can do better later. Not to relive the same trauma over and over again until it finally kills you years after the fact and without even trying.

2015 Year in Review

The previous years in review are here:
2014
2013
2012

You may have noticed that I’m not posting 5 days a week anymore. I might start again, but the truth is that the blog was a creative outlet in a world where I had no creative agency, or at least I felt like I didn’t. Since I started blogging, I started my own business, moved to Oregon, and have been doing a lot of creative work in my daily life, leaving very little time or imagination for anything else. In December the business turned three, and in May I’ll have been working at it full time for three years. I have plans in place, and fully expect to be more management than creative by that time, and I already have more free time to make long-term decisions and planning than I ever have before.

In the midst of making that transition from lone freelancer to manager, I basically scooped my entire brain out and documented every piece of it for our standard operating procedures, and I’m not totally done yet. As long as the business is mine, I will never be. Everything grows and changes, although I’m entering a period of less intensity than I have ever known, and it feels really good.

Does that mean I’ll come back to 5 days a week? I have no idea. I do know myself, and I know that I can’t stay dormant for very long. But I also feel really tired. Not just because the end of our “start up” phase is maybe not near, but at least conceivable, but also because I got in a car accident at right about the bottom of my recovery arc from writing the SOP and enacting those policies and processes. That was two weeks ago, and my back still hurts. Not excruciatingly, but enough to distract, and I’m still dealing with recovery, and insurance, and everything else. I went from tired to barely being able to function. It takes all my energy to do the bare minimum to keep my company running right now, and I am completely surprised at how much this has taken out of me.

I always wondered what would happen if I were to get sick or suffer some kind of physical issue, and this is just a tiny picture of what that must be like. The discipline with which a person has to budget out their energy and ability is baffling, and it’s really helping to highlight how I overwork and how tenuous a skill that really is. It’s more clear now than ever that I have to build a stable system that can operate largely without me if I ever want to be successful at this business.

I’ve also been having some intense dreams that are doing all that much more to hammer on the point that if I don’t stop working night and day, my life will be gone and I’ll have nothing to show for it. I dreampt the other day that I died, and instead of actually dying, I cut my skin off with a linoleum knife and went back to work. In the dream, I wasn’t really human, but my insides were made of clay, which would break off and stick in the keyboard while I typed. In the last part of the dream before I woke up, Ben was trying to get me to put my skin back on so we could go to my funeral and all I could think was that I had so many deadlines I needed to wrap up before I was really dead.

So what does this mean for the blog? I can tell you that the posts I wrote this year were a combination of the best and worst yet. The best because my writing has finally gotten to a place where I feel proud of my ability as an essayist and a commentator. I am definitely still completely terrified to try and write fiction and what I write in that regard is completely off the mark of what I want it to be, but that’s not what I would consider to be the worst. The worst posts were the ones I made myself write while half out of my mind with exhaustion, wasting the time and energy of everyone involved in order to make a piece of shit filler post that wasn’t good. All because I had an arbitrary and no longer useful mandate to publish 5 times a week. Whatever happens with the blog going forward, I’m definitely not going to do that again. If I ever publish 5 times a week again, it’ll be because I have something to say 5 times a week, and for no reason else.

As a result of me having nothing to say and blogging about it anyway, we had 72,000 pageviews this year. Down 7,000 from 79,000 last year. My most popular month was March, with 4,300 page views, followed by July with 2,900. February and April tied for third most popular month with 2,600 views each.

My most viewed day was Tuesday, March 24, when I got 1,800 pageviews. This is an increase of 400 pageviews from Monday, June 9, 2014, my most viewed day in 2014, which only received 1,400 views.

Unlike 2014, 2015 had less spikes in visits, which I attribute to me not posting the blog on Reddit after May. This is backed up in the fact that 40% of my social traffic (which was 26% of my total traffic) came from Reddit in 2014, and only 36% of social traffic (24% of my overall traffic this year) came from them in 2015, with almost no clicks happening after May. Both this year’s and last year’s most viewed days were blogs I linked to relevant Reddit threads, which is why they performed so well.

2016 won’t have any Reddit traffic unless someone else links to the blog for me, seeing as I was shadow-banned for self promotion, and only allowed back if I promised never to post my own blog again. Something I took a lot of exception to, since I did more writing on Reddit in those days than I did on my own site, in addition to moderating two subs, and posting a lot of other relevant information. Since then, and their subsequent firing of Victoria, the AMA manager that everyone has pretty much forgotten about, I couldn’t see clear to give them any more of my time, and have largely ignored Reddit. Especially as the company has been taking more and more of my time and energy.

Anyway.

The top 5 posts of 2015 were:

1. The Prices of Organic Food at Three Major Supermarkets

2. How to Sync Samsung Note 3 with Evernote

3. The Joy of Storytelling, an Interview with Justin Lazaro

4. Female Masturbation Techniques (for the fourth year running)

5. Hickey Cover Up Tutorial

Only one of the most popular posts of 2015 was written in 2015. The other four most popular post of 2015 written in that year would be:

2. Dove Chooses Obnoxious

3. 5 Movies You Need to Netflix Before They’re Gone

4. The Fuckable Butch: An Commentary on Ruby Rose Fever

5. Sweet Bro Things: The latest chapter in Jake and Jessica

Last year, my goals were to write more commentary and I did, although not as much more as I’d have liked. I counted 44 entries in the category commentary for 2014 and 50, only six mroe in 2015, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m hoping for even more commentary going forward since I really enjoy that.

I also said that I wanted to separate the erotica reviews from the main part of the blog, which I did, but I also stopped writing them. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I want to start that up again. I haven’t even had time to read lately, and to be honest, now that my life is going a lot better and I feel happier and more secure in my career, I don’t have the impulse to hide inside books like I used to. They were an escape from a stressed out place where I was barely making enough money to live on, and that’s not my reality anymore.

I also said I wanted more professional security and an opportunity to work with communities again, which have both happened for me. The local business community has been amazing in providing meaningful relationships, and opportunities to feel connected and involved again.

Next year, I want the company to earn enough money to justify us becoming a true corporation, and I want to be able to hire and pay a living wage to at least one staff person. I have a pretty solid plan for at least one of my contractors to transition to full time employee, and I feel confident that we can get there. It’s going to be a lot more hard work on a level I haven’t worked at in a long time, if ever really, but I’m looking forward to this next phase of the business.

For the blog, I want more quality posts and less filler shit.

Smart Answers to Stupid Questions People Still Ask Me About My Mother

Most of us who have separated ourselves from the narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive people in our lives have been asked some really dumb questions about that over the years. Especially if the person in question is a mother. I don’t know if it’s run of the mill misogyny (“but women are naturally nurturing, a woman could never be an abuser!”) or some deeper, sadder reality (it is possible that most mothers are really awesome and we got the unfathomable end of the stick), but the concept of a child who doesn’t speak to their mother is extremely difficult for most people to grasp. Especially once the person in question learns that my abusive mother is dying.

Why can’t you just forgive and forget?

It usually shocks people when I tell them that I have forgiven her. Years of shitty daytime dramas and moralizing cop shows have lead them to believe the way abusive relationships work is that when the abuser is dying, you come to their hospital bed, forgive them, and then they die peacefully while credits roll and everybody gets to feel safe in a world where consequences are largely rhetorical and people who love each other can’t possibly hurt one another.

Forgiveness and reason are not mutually exclusive. I can forgive the stove for burning my hand, that doesn’t mean I’m about to snuggle with it. My mother is a shark. She was very literally tortured from an early age. She’s been places no person would knowingly send their worst enemy. Only an idiot would forget that about her. That she does the things she does is understandable, that I would walk back into that situation with open arms is suicidal. I can forgive her, accept her, and still stay away from her. These things can and must coexist.

But don’t you love her?

For a long time, I felt like I shouldn’t. That only a moron would love someone who had been and continued to be intentionally mean to me. But my life isn’t a reaction to hers. For awhile it was, but it doesn’t have to be and it isn’t today. Loving someone or being loved by someone isn’t a license to treat them however you want, and it’s only the fact that I was raised by abusive people who were themselves abused that I would even think that.

But she loves you, doesn’t that matter?

Of course she loves me. Lots of people love me. I am extremely fucking lovable, but just like my love for her, her love for me does not make it okay to treat me like shit.

She used to tell me that no one would ever love me like she did, and it would scare me because I was legitimately worried that no one would. When I met her, no one had ever treated me like I was valuable, or like I mattered. She told me I was precious, that she loved me, and that she would always love me. For the first time since she abandoned me, I felt like I belonged to someone. So, when she started to criticize me, when she told me that she thought I was retarded, that I was emotionally unstable, that I was incapable of doing anything but staying with her and taking care of her, I started to think she was right. When she told me that I would die without her loving guidance, I totally believed it.

When I finally moved out of her house, it’s not because I realized that she was lying and manipulating me. It’s because I was going to kill her and myself anyway, and I thought I might as move out first and die a free woman.

She still texts me sometimes, and one string of angry condescending texts from a couple of years ago ended with an emotional reminder that no one would ever love me like she did. I just laughed. I fucking hope that no one ever loves me like she does. If I had one wish for the future of humanity, it would be that no one ever loves anyone anywhere the way she loved me.

Okay, but why do you have to tell everybody about it?

If you’re reading this, and you’re thinking “TMI,” you have the option to fuck right off, and you don’t have to ever come back. If you don’t want to hear this shit, that’s cool. It’s totally not for you.

In a perfect world, my mom is a freak anomaly; the only one of her kind. But I know for a fact that’s not true. Not only do other people with parents and partners like her contact me all the time and tell me that my writing helps them, new generations of abusers are being born every day and that’s why I write about this shit. Not everybody is safe where they live. Not everybody can talk about it yet, or maybe they’ll never talk about it like I do. If even one person reads this and it helps them, the other 7.125 billion of you can go to hell.

She’s dying, doesn’t that change everything?

What normal people don’t realize is that narcissistic abusers don’t play by the rules. No decent person would pretend to be terminally ill for attention, but we’re not dealing with decent people here. Sickness and death are both pretty great ways to control people and avoid consequences, especially the relationship consequences that come with being narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive.

I met my mother in 1994, and one of the first things I remember her telling me was that she was sorry she wouldn’t be able to see me grow up, since she would be dead in two years.

So, for the last 22 years she’s been dying. Sometimes quickly, sometimes only when somebody wants her to do something she doesn’t want to do, but dying all the same. And the thing about lying about dying is that eventually, you’re telling the truth. She’s been diagnosed with cancer four times, each one more dire than the last.

At first, I did change my behavior. I asked myself what a good daughter would do in this situation, and I did my best to be the loving, responsible and supportive daughter I wanted to be. Not because of her, but because of me. I spent a lot of years reacting to her and using her shitty treatment of me as a justification for being a really terrible asshole to my own mother. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who blames other people for who I am and what I do.

So, I made exceptions to a lot of the boundaries I’d put in place in order to be supportive and available for her in her time of need, but then I realized that she was using her cancer the same way she used her health issues before cancer to manipulate people into doing what she wanted. And she would practically levitate off her “death bed” if someone didn’t fall in line. She’s been banned from one of the best cancer hospitals in the US for attacking a nurse there because they didn’t do things her way.

If dying had actually changed anything for her, it might change for me too. But it clearly hasn’t. Dying is just another tool she can use to control people and situations, and she’s using it to the best of her ability. It was naive to think that, after all she’s been through cancer would have any effect on her.

How would you feel if you had a daughter?

Sometimes people are asking this question because they want to see me realize that if I don’t reconcile with my mother, my future children won’t have a grandma. When, in fact, she’s probably the deciding factor in why I don’t have kids yet.

Other times people want to know what I would do if, in the future, my daughter refused to talk to me. But that’s a false equivalency. I am not my mother, my future children are not me. We’re going to have a completely different relationship than the one I have with my mother. I will say that if at any point, I think it is okay to neglect, abandon, abuse, allow other people to abuse my children, or if I ever choose drugs over them I will deserve it when they never speak to me again. And if they ever do decide to reconnect with me at any point after that, I will doubly deserve to have them leave me again if I continue to be abusive to them. Because that’s how relationships work.

How are you going to feel when she dies?

Obviously, I have no idea. How could anybody know that?

What I do know is how I feel today. I feel safe in my home today. I am confident in my abilities both personally and professionally today. I have self esteem and I have hope for the future, which are all things I earned since leaving her house and setting firm boundaries against her being able to come into my life and say abusive, shitty things to me, attack me or my family, or demand that I pay her bills, or whatever other crazy thing she thinks I am suddenly obligated to give her or do for her.

The space between us has been equal parts agonizing and liberating. At the end of the day, I’m just a person. I love my parents like anybody else does, but I don’t have any illusions about who they are.

For years I let the hope that she could change or had changed keep me in a holding pattern, close enough for her to lash out at, far enough away that I managed to dodge a lot of the really crazy behavior. But it was tearing me apart. I’ve done a lot of work to get to the point where I don’t openly hope anymore, but I know that when she does die, whatever is left of that feeling will be ripped out of me. And it will be horrible.

I still live a lot of my life on the incorrect assumption that if I could only say, do or be something more than I currently am, that I could cure her. That if I could somehow prove how smart, caring, strong, and capable I am that I could earn her kindness, her consideration. It’s only my heart that feels that way. My brain has spent thirty-one years studying her absence, her presence, her rage, and her pain.

It took me so long to accept her as she is. And love her as she is. And know that, just like the hot stove, she will always burn me. And I also know that a lot of other people have the same struggle that I do. So next time someone asks you a stupid question about your abusive mom (or dad, or partner or whatever), feel free to give them the link to this blog. Because it can get a little tiring telling strangers this kind of shit.

Food Diary

So I guess you’ve heard. Hot young lady founders of trendy up-and-coming companies have started posting their food diaries for the likes of Elle, and Elle. Being a hot young lady founder myself, I thought I’d give you guys a little peek at my daily food journey.

UPON WAKING

I make every effort to wake up as close as physically possible to when I have to leave the house at 8am because I find that the heart-pounding excitement of showering in three minutes or less while largely unconscious is as good a morning work-out as any.

PRE-BREAKFAST

Occasionally, I’ll drink ardent gulps of water straight out of the detachable shower-head while I rinse the sleep gunk out of my eyelashes. Because I’m a multi-tasker.

BREAKFAST

20160209proteinbar

Most days, breakfast is chewing gum and regurgitated stomach acid. A tradition lovingly passed down to me by my father, who learned it from his mother, and probably her mother before her, but we don’t know who that is. However, a rare excursion to far away Beaverton and a quaint little market Bazar the locals called “Kost-Co” had me coming home with two industrial-sized boxes of Nature Valley Protein Bars and Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, which I tend to slap back to back and devour in as few bites as possible while negotiating morning traffic and breathing at the same time. It’s this unique daily oxidizing process that keeps me looking youthful and feeling positive as I power-fuck the rest of my day.

LUNCH

On gum days, I stagger out of the office in a caffeine-induced haze. At this point I have about 27 seconds to shove a drive-through burger in my face before all that cold coffee I drank between meetings comes flying back into the world with such a violence that it adds yet another reason on the very long and exhaustively researched list of why I won’t be having my own biological children. What I’m trying to say here is that everything that comes out of me does so at the relative speed of a Spring Break t-shirt cannon these days.

I know the right answer would be to chew the food while I eat it, but that is just not going to happen with me ever.

SNACK

20160209trident

If I’m fortunate enough to be driving from meeting to meeting, I chew another piece of gum while I drive. This helps with road rage. I keep the bag of partially eaten McDonald’s from lunch on the passenger side floor so that I can spit my gum into it while I’m parking at my client’s office. It’s really easy to do and it keeps your carpets from getting covered in gross gum.

DINNER

I usually text back and forth with my partner regarding who has time to drive by Taco Bell, or whether or not Nut-Thins can go bad. Sometimes I get lucky and whatever work-thing I’m headed to at dinner time has free appetizers.

FITNESS

Multiple times between when we get home at 10pm and when we go to sleep at 1am, our 5-year old rat terrier, Pepper Martinez will demand to be let outside and then make us stand in the cold while she doesn’t potty because she is silently punishing us for not walking her enough. A fate we completely embrace because we deserve it. We are terrible dog parents.

DESERT

At our house, togetherness is important, so we like to silently chew handfuls of gummy bears while watching Drunk History before falling asleep side by side on the couch.

BEFORE BED

Listerine is basically a sleep aid.

Why My Abuser Isn’t Invited to My Wedding

Friend Lisa shared this really well written article by a Ellen Burns, who isn’t inviting her mother to her wedding because they’re estranged, and she explained, perhaps better than I can the conflicted feelings a person can have over their estranged mother. Although there is a weird bit about how she’s going to make sure everybody knows her dad’s girlfriend isn’t her mom, which seems like a stressful and time consuming project, but whatever.

You guys probably know this if you’ve read the blog before, but I’m also estranged from my mom, and she is also not invited to my wedding.

It took me a really long time to come to terms with the fact that my childhood was abusive. When I was growing up, I vacillated between rationalizing that abused people on TV always ended up in the hospital, and nobody ever took me to the hospital so I was fine, and thinking that I didn’t cry every time somebody hit me like those pussies on TV. I read books about domestic violence, I saw billboards about it, but as far as I was concerned, those were all for somebody else.

I did move out of my house when I was still in high school but it wasn’t because I suddenly realized my mom was abusive. A friend told me she was abusive and it seemed like she was probably thinking more rationally than I was, so I listened to her. I knew that I had stopped fighting back months before, I knew that I had done everything I could to avoid the outbursts, I knew that if it went on much longer, either my mother or I would be dead by my hand and I knew I probably had a far better chance of ending my own suffering than I did hers. But I still didn’t think it was abuse.

Before I lived with my mother, I lived with my grandparents, and when my grandfather would punch me, he’d do it once or twice, always in the head, always above my hairline where no one could see any marks. I never thought that was abusive because he had the restraint to rabbit punch a little girl only one or two times.

When my mother would attack me, it was mostly psychological. She would keep me awake all night, or wake me up by dragging me out of bed and across the floor while screaming. She would block the door with her body and call me worthless, accuse me of ridiculous crimes like drug running or prostitution (where I was supposed to have the time or energy even to suck a free dick with the shit she did, I’ll never know). But she never punched me in the head, so it wasn’t abuse. She just threw things at me and shoved me and drove extremely recklessly at very high speeds when I pissed her off in the car, or she would trick me to get in the car thinking everything was fine just so she could get on the freeway and scream for 40 straight minutes while dodging in and out of traffic like a cheap Mexican Transporter.

One year at Christmas, she tried to fist fight me on the front lawn of her house, then drove me home like she was trying to kill us. A couple of years later at Easter, she tried to punch/kick out the windows on Ben’s car. Easter happened because I didn’t remember the lesson I learned at Christmas, which is that the only way to completely ensure my mother doesn’t go on a rampage is to stay the fuck away from her.

Despite her absence, or maybe because of it, the wedding will be far from motherless. The real mothers in my life are invited. Ben’s amazing mother, and the extremely close pack of awesome mothers she runs with are invited. My wonderful and supportive friend Carrie, Kate’s mom Lois who took me in when I moved out of my mom’s house, both of my grandmas, and Ben’s grandma are invited in addition to the aunts, friends, and others who happen to be mothers, if not mothers to us. We will have a surfeit of mothers at this wedding.

The woman who terrorized and abused me for years, who has done absolutely nothing to inspire me to believe in even one of the multiple transformations she’s sworn she’s gone through is not invited.

I’m having a lot of feelings about that. It’s sad on a level I can not describe accurately. There is a ragged, endless hole in me that will never heal. Should never heal. As many loving, supportive mothers as I have in my life, there’s only one person in this universe who could make that better and she never will because she doesn’t have the capacity.

I knew exactly what Ellen Burns meant when she said that her mother could be warm and charismatic. As terroristic and horrible as my mom can be, she can be equally engaging and uplifting. Before I learned about manic states, I described her like a spiritual experience. People in mania can make you feel like you’re flying. It’s so exhilarating and everything is beautiful and new and you’re perfect and they’re perfect and the love you feel for them and them for you is just radiating back at you from everything everywhere you go. But that’s just a precursor to the screaming and not sleeping and all the words that were used to nurture you and embrace you get turned around to cut you until you’re just this dead little meat-wad on a cosmic yo-yo of pain.

Which is why she’s not coming to the wedding. And it’s why, as much as it hurts, I don’t feel any guilt or uncertainty about it. No one can shame me about this, and I don’t recommend they try.

Anybody who thinks I’m cold can eat a dick because it’s my wedding and abusers aren’t invited.

Who is Rigoberta Menchú?

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage month, which started on September 15. I guess we get two-half months instead of a whole month just like we get two half-terms (Hispanic, which means Spanish-speaking and Latino, which means Latin American) for our collective grouping, which is ironic since we’re mostly descended from the original peoples of both North and South America, but get to be half citizens in our own countries. Thanks irony.

Anyway, this lady:

      She’s Guatemalan Maya, and has spent her adult life talking about the plight of the Maya people, who were victims of a genocidal terror perpetrated by their own government against them.
      She is best known for the 1983 book I, Rigoberta Menchú, an oral autobiography she dictated to anthropologist Elisabeth Burgos-Debray over several days while she was in Paris as part of a political delegation. In the book, Menchú talks about her life as an indigenous person in Guatemala, where her people are severely oppressed. Her brother, mother and father were all murdered by the land-owners or the government. The book helped to elevate world-awareness of the situation in Guatemala, and several of the leaders during this time have now been tried and convicted of genocide.
      She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
      Conservative backlash against her stated that she lied in her autobiography. While it does look like her claim that she was kept out of school school was false, and she may not have actually witnessed her 16-year-old brother’s execution, her description of it matches what happened to him and many boys like him for decades. Most of her detractors have proven to be sour-grapes racists with far less integrity and far more questionable stories of their own.
      She’s run for president of Guatemala twice, in 2007 and 2011. She was the country’s first indigenous presidential candidate, although she got less than 3% of the vote both times.

Why I Won’t Be Sharing that Missing Persons Post

When I was in high school and my abusive mom would kick me out of the house and tell me never to come back, or keep me awake all night with her terrifying ranting, I’d go somewhere else so I could sleep. When this happened, or sometimes when I’d just gotten up and gone to class, she would call my school and several of my friend’s and parents claiming that I’d run away. She has a narrative that I am a sick person, an abuser who uses drugs, steals things, and will say or do anything in my power to get money and valuables out of people in order to further my own ends. As my mother, she of course loves me with her whole heart and is only sad that her own former life as a drug addict has lead me to this terrible end. Which is why any person would of course tell this dangerous personality the exact whereabouts of the troubled daughter in question.

This is something that a lot of abusers do. The abusive personality is obsessed with control. Even when it makes no sense, they need to know the location of their target. Sometimes, and when they have the means, they use this knowledge to stalk their victim. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 76% of women who have been murdered by their partner were stalked first. Unfortunately, it looks like the majority of statistics on stalking and murder have to do with female victims who were killed by a partner. Of course anybody knows that stalkers can be any gender, and that parents can be stalkers too.

This is why, barring an Amber alert, which we all get on our cell phones anyway, I will not be turning my personal online network into a signal boost from someone I don’t know sharing information I can’t verify on someone else I don’t know. I tend to believe that if your child ran away from you, or if you say your child ran away from you, it’s for a damn good reason.

Providence Health eXpress Is Actually Really Cool

I want to be clear: This is not a sponsored post. I was wrong, and I’m writing to correct it. You know nobody would ever pay me to write this blog anyway.

You may recall the minor shit fit I had over some interactions with Providence Health & Services week before last.

I admit, I actually feel bad about how bitchy I was. I’m used to shit-fitting over much larger fish like American Express and McDonald’s. I knew about Providence because I was born in a Providence hospital (shout out to Little Company of Mary in Torrance, CA), and assumed that any hospital that would birth yours truly would surely belong to a massive operation.

On the one hand, this is the case. Providence operates more than 62 healthcare facilities across Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon and California as well as a science magnet high school in Burbank, CA, and several senior living facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

On the other hand, they are much more a mission-based non-profit than a capital H Healthcare provider. They were founded in 1859 by Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Providence with one mission: Helping the Poor and Vulnerable, and their objective remains unchanged after all these years.

I’m so used to any organization bigger than 20 people (and most of the ones smaller than that) paying lip service to their mission statements that it literally never occurred to me that a company on social media would have a philanthropic intent.

All to her credit and none to mine, Providence Communications Director Mary Renouf-Hanson decided to be the bigger bro and reached out to make this clarification, among others.

I had assumed the product they were promoting, Health eXpress, was only for people with Providence healthcare. Not even close. It’s actually for everybody. Even, or maybe especially the uninsured.

In our phone conversation, Mary explained that “Health eXpress is a digital opportunity for us to provide healthcare to anybody and everybody in a way that people want it.”

Any person in Washington or Oregon can get seen by a doctor from the comfort of their own home for $39 via the website or the app, which is available for Apple or Android devices. They do take insurance, but for many of us, $39 is actually cheaper than our co-pay would be anyway. And, if the Health eXpress doctor can’t help you, they refund your $39.

As of this writing, service is only available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time. The goal is to have 24/7 service across the entire Providence network, but the program, which is relatively new and unique, is being road tested in the tech-savvy NorthWest.

“A lot of people don’t have time to visit their primary care doctor, even when they’re healthy” Mary said. “We’re going after tech guys who live at their desks, moms for whom it can be difficult to get out of the house, and people who avoid urgent care.”

About the strategy of tweeting at sick people she said “We wanted to get people the moment they needed us, and it did work sometimes. We had a mom who’s baby was sick, but she was alone and didn’t want to take her toddler with them to the urgent care. She was glad we reached out to her.”

Ultimately, it wasn’t a winning plan. “When you’re sick is when you’re most vulnerable. Sick people don’t want to register for a site and download an app. Now we’re working on getting healthy people to sign up before they need it.”

Providence is still working out the best social media strategy for them, and they are relatively new to the game. When Mary joined the team in 2014, after being the Director of Social Marketing at T-Mobile, and XBOX before that, the healthcare provider was not interactive online. She joined Providence because of the mission, and because she saw an opportunity to build something new. “I looked around, and I could have gone to Starbucks, but Starbucks already does social well” she said.

Considering the recent clashes between service providers, vulnerable communities, and religion, of course I had to ask her if the explicitly Catholic healthcare company would be turning away certain groups, or refusing to treat specific conditions. “We do not turn people away.” she said “We absolutely provide birth control and family planning services without judgement to anyone who needs them. We also provide end of life care. We believe in dying well. People are surprised when I say we’re Catholic and progressive, but there are very few things this organization is not behind.”

So let’s see…

Caring for the poor? Check.
Does not discriminate? Check.
Got unfairly bitched out on social media by this humble blogger? Check and Check.

Go sign up for Health eXpress. Next time you have a UTI pay $40 bucks so you don’t have to drive across town and sit in a waiting room for hours. Your UT will thank you.

Providence Health & Services: We Are Not Friends

I was not a popular child. Despite all efforts to the contrary, I find myself to be a pretty friendly adult. It’s rare I have to tell someone we’re not actually buddies. In general, I welcome friendship. A person never has too many positive relationships in their life. Except in the case when a random healthcare provider tries to bro me without knowing me in a really creepy way.

When I’m up sick at six in the morning, I usually welcome some encouragement or well wishes from my Internet friends. Providence Health & Services, you are not my friend. Internet or otherwise. So, when I tweet this:

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-13-22-37-16.jpg

It is in no way cool for you to tweet this back at me:

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-13-22-36-37-1.jpg

Are you just trolling the Internet for sick people so you can tell them the kind of services they might be entitled to if they were Providence Health users? And what kind of weird robot script are you running, because why are you talking about second opinions?

Or is “Sounds horrible!” the first opinion? What would the second opinion be? “Yeah, that sucks, bro.”

When a person is in extreme pain after hours of suffering and days of similar suckiness is not the best time to educate them about your services. Especially when they aren’t your customer, haven’t initiated contact with you, and don’t in fact know you from Adam.

Those of you who know me know that social media management is just one of the things I do professionally in my real life, and this is maybe why this is bothering me so very much. I can’t decide if Providence Health & Services let the intern run their Twitter account, or if they let the 60 year old director run it after one 45 minute seminar put on by the American Marketing Association.

Pro tip: Organizations founded in 1959 may be a lot of things, but on the cutting edge of digital marketing is not one of them.

Tweeting weird and disjointed copy at me on my early morning sick-bed is the social equivalent of pressing your face to my bedroom window and whispering “You should have gone with Providence…” through the glass.

Especially when I point out just how creepy this is:

And get this little slice of psychopathy:

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-13-22-34-11-2-1.jpg

No, bad healthcare service provider. I already called you out on being fucking creepy. You don’t get to wish me anything. At all.

In the analogy where Providence Health & Services is panting against my bedroom window, this tweet is them leaving me flowers after I chased them away with a broom and told my neighbors to keep an eye out.

The first rule of the Internet is there’s no girls on the Internet. But the second rule of the Internet is to try and keep the creepiness to a minimum. I know it can be difficult, it’s not like we can see each other and pick up on micro-expressions or tonal shifts here, but for fucking real, who thought this was a good campaign plan?

They’re doing it all over, not just to me.

20150913providence

This is legitimately their social media strategy: creep on people one at a time until someone signs up for their service. How’s that ROI chart even look? Who’s in charge here?

Don’t answer that. Just stop creep tweeting me.

UPDATE: It continues….

20150914providencecont

Portland’s Mad Dildoer

It seems like the world has finally caught up to what we Portlanders have known to be true for months now. Our awesome city has been gifted with a mystical dildo fairy who I choose to call The Mad Dildoer. I’ve been keeping abreast of the situation on my personal twitter for some time.

I, for one welcome our new dildo overlords. So much so that I made them a thing:

dildoportland

This is free to use by any dildo fans.

Anybody who is not a fan of the dildecorations is obviously just jealous.