Feelings and shit

I haven’t blogged in awhile. I don’t really have anything to say most of the time and no one reads this so I’m thinking about just making it my ranting place.

I’m so tired. I just keep going and going and going and all I want is to stop. Every little thing pushes me over the edge. I laugh and I joke and I pretend I’m ok. If something is really bothering me I may vent to someone occasionally but mostly I hold everything in. I’m realizing that I want to die far more often than I should. I used to come up with reasons like, what about my family? What about the cat? What about the boyfriend? How much longer are my parents going to live anyway? The cat doesn’t care who feeds him twice a day, as long as someone does. The boyfriend deserves a better person than I can be. He wants children and a house and a nice life. Not the kind of life I’m built for. I don’t want to give birth to depressed, anxious children with fibromyalgia and learning disabilities. I really don’t. I’m on medication I don’t feel safe going off of but would have to if I get pregnant. Occasionally I consider having kids when I see my best friend’s nephews or my friend and coworker’s daughter. I see the magic in them but I just don’t think that magic is for me. I’ll just fuck them up in immeasurable ways because that’s what I do with basically everything I touch.

People tell me I shouldn’t feel like this, that I should have grown out of angst after my teenage years but it doesn’t seem to work that way for me. I kind of just feel like a burden on everyone and like I’m never going to stop being unhappy for long enough for it to matter. Not really sure how to talk about how I feel with anyone without being judged as overdramatic or people taking my unhappiness personally. I’m just tired of going to sleep with the hope I don’t wake up and I’m not sure if there’s a way to make that stop.

Small Town Life

I know that no one reads this, why would they? But I still like to write as if someone does. Lately a story has been circulating regarding the escape of 15 buffalo from an Upstate New York farm…I just attempted to find the New York Times article but when I searched the name of my hometown something else came up instead, something else that I feel it wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge.

The first result my search yielded tells the story of something that happened almost 10 years ago, that I still think of every day. The link to the actual article no longer works, but the summary reads “Two people died when a house exploded about 10:45 a.m. yesterday about 10 miles south of Albany, the police said. Firefighters found the bodies of two people, described as young adults or teenagers. Neither victim was identified by officials…”

The bodies were identified. One was my childhood friend, Jolene. The other was a friend of hers not from our hometown. I was on vacation with my family the day Jolene died, but the way the story goes, the day she died the whole town shook. The explosion could be heard for miles. Her mother and stepfather were not home, her younger sister was in the shower and this somehow saved her life. I don’t know where Jolene was in her final moments, but I always imagine her sitting in the kitchen, drinking black coffee, smoking a cigarette. Her friend is there too, also drinking coffee and smoking, but her coffee has cream and sugar in it. I guess I imagine them like Laurel and Claudia, in Francesca Lia Block’s The Hanged Man where she describes the two of them sitting at the cafe. She says, “Past the café where Claudia and I drink coffee (mine black, hers sugary and milky brown) and smoke at the window booth with the sun dusting in like some kind of drug we want to put in our noses and mouths and veins.”

Jolene and I hadn’t been close for a long time. She had begun spending time with friends who got her into trouble, she had even left our school for awhile. We had drifted apart and never really come back together. But when she died so suddenly a part of me died too. I can’t explain it because she had not been an active part of my life for so long. I guess it was one of the first concrete examples of young mortality, and that even in our safe, quiet town a faulty hot water heater could blow up a house in a second. I had only experienced the death of the elderly and those with terminal illnesses prior to Jolene. I had never experienced loss due to a seemingly random, accidental cause. I know that it seems silly to those who have lost parents, siblings, spouses that this situation has stuck with me like it has. And maybe it is, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Jolene. I remember her laugh and the hours we spent talking about boys. I remember her being my partner for the crayfish unit in 5th grade science class, I remember how she was good at math and I wasn’t. I remember how she taught me all the words to the first verse of Can I Get A…by Jay Z. I can still sing it perfectly, thanks for that, girl. I just heard You Get What You Give by The New Radicals and remembered how her favorite part was when they yelled, “give it to me now!” in that weird, high voice. Jolene, “you’ve got the music in you.” You always did, and maybe someday I’ll see you again.

The original topic of this entry was another event that shook my hometown (figuratively this time) 15 buffalo escaped from GEM Farms. Yes, 15 buffalo, from the buffalo farm in my hometown that few people actually believe exists, made a break for it. Their ending was not a happy one. The story can be viewed here, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/nyregion/15-bison-escape-from-new-york-farm-cross-thruway-and-are-shot.html?_r=0

My hometown has only made it to the New York Times a handful of times, and most of those times were in the late 1800s/early 1900s when people were actually concerned about railroads. I come from a tiny town on the Hudson, it’s on the railroad line. I love falling asleep at night to the sound of train whistles and being near the river, I love the wide open spaces and the farms and the trees. What I don’t like is all the gossip, knowing that if I see someone at the grocery store the whole town will know what I was buying and what I was wearing. I don’t like the sheltered people who have never left, yet think they know everything. I have a lot of feelings toward my hometown. They range from embarrassment and disgust to pride and admiration.

When this article about 15 rogue buffalo hit the news I was amused but also embarrassed. I wasn’t sure I wanted my New York City friends and coworkers to know that this is the type of place that I came from.

On the other hand, coming from a place like this makes me unique and has given me knowledge that others don’t necessarily have. I have had to inform my coworkers that not all poor people are of color and live in housing projects. I have explained to them that there are poor White people who live in trailers, who drink and use drugs, and also have their children placed in foster care. The numbers of children of color in foster care in New York City are absolutely higher, but this is not the case everywhere else. I have explained that our ways of saving money are often different, that we grow our own gardens full of fruits and vegetables, or use the woodstove rather than turning on the heat.

I had close friends who lived on dairy farms, I had close friends whose families owned vegetable farms. They grew corn, they grew strawberries, they grew apples, they grew cucumbers. I never wanted for fresh produce straight from the source where I grew up. I have brought people their very first apple cider doughnuts, something I thought was a staple in everyone’s life come Fall. I have explained to people that every summer my mother makes her own jam, and they think it’s so “cute and rustic.” I have explained to people that others actually live like this. I have explained time and time again that yes, there is a farm in my town that raises buffalo, and yes, they are raised primarily for their meat, and no, they are not big, loveable, fuzzy, friendly pets.

I am not one to advocate for the raising of animals for meat. I have been a vegetarian for half my life and do not even eat fish, or gelatin, or wear leather. I have however had drilled into my head from a young age (as I think all of us who grew up in Schodack do) that the buffalo are dangerous. I am aware that they are to be admired from a distance and that they cannot be petted no matter how fluffy and kind they look. I am aware that one cannot even enter the field on foot, but must be riding on a tractor. Did I want 15 buffalo to die on that day? No, of course not. But I understand the reality of the situation. They were terrorizing a village, they swam across the river, they ran across the Thruway almost causing multiple accidents. They charged through police barricades. Something needed to be done, and unfortunately these animals are not domesticated and are not pets. They cannot be herded like cattle, they cannot be tranquilized due to their large size and thick skin because a person cannot get close enough to them to administer the dose without risking his or her life by doing so.

I have made the mistake of reading internet comments and have become enraged by the backlash the farm owners are getting. Despite an expert from Cornell saying everything that I have said, I have been challenged, saying how do I know what I’m talking about? Well, I grew up in Schodack, that’s how. We have been taught about the Buffalo so we can stay safe in a situation like this one. I know that this family did not want to lose half their herd and I know that this decision was extremely hard on them.

And I can’t stand these wealthy, small private liberal arts college attending hipsters who go spend a week on a farm making jam and petting lambs, who think that everything is so “rustic and scenic,” telling me that what the experts say, what the farmers say, what I say, is wrong. We all wanted a different outcome, but not every story has a happy ending. I, and the entire town of Schodack, stand by the Mesick family.

In fact, someone had already started a Go Fund Me page not an hour after the incident (it has since disappeared, I’m not sure why). It was the same when a local dairy farm burned last year. Another farmer was there immediately to take the remaining cows to his farm, dinners were held, t-shirts were sold. The whole town joined together to help. We may not always get along, we may be a little sheltered, but we always take care of each other. Even though I’ve moved on from there and wouldn’t dream of going back to live, I respect that way of life. My emotions may oftentimes be mixed, but when I see the way we rise to meet each challenge, and the loyalty we share, I am proud to be from a small town.

Today’s Rant is Brought to you by Unfair Expectations of the Western World

Recently my appearance is having a huge, somewhat unhealthy impact on my life. From the moment it was pointed out to me that I had gained a little weight I’ve been doing various forms of crash dieting and wallowing in negative emotions. I admit it.

Being a White, American woman I have had ingrained into my head my whole life that I need to be thin. My 5’4″, 113 pound high school self spent too many hours crying because I happened to have a friend who was 5’10”, weighed less than I did, and essentially looked like a model. This had me convinced that I was fat and ugly and therefore worthless. At this point in my life I’d like to think I’m past comparing myself to others or valuing their opinions so much, but the truth is I’d give anything to be 113 pounds again.

I feel very guilty when I get upset about this because there are people starving all over the world and I am lucky enough to be born in America and make just enough money not to go hungry. But the counter argument is that due to being an American I have this pressure on me from society. If I had been born somewhere else I might not be expected to be a stick. Unfortunately, due to being a part of this culture I have in my mind that if I cannot see my ribs I am not beautiful and I am not good enough.

When I started working primarily with people of color, I was made fun of for being too skinny for the first time. But even after I started to gain some weight and was told I was “getting thick” (which is absolutely a compliment) I freaked out. I had finally been validated by them but I was going against the standard for the typical, White, 20 something.

My relationship with food has always been a little complicated. I love food. It’s practically all I think about. I go to bed thinking about what I’m going to eat the next day. On the other hand, I’m also able to restrict my food intake in very unhealthy ways when I put my mind to it. I’ve been regressing into those patterns the past couple of weeks because I feel like it’s the only way I ever lose weight. My typical pattern is losing weight and then gaining it all back trying to eat enough to appear normal in front of other people. Essentially I find myself starving to please others, and then eating to please others also. Where is the balance?

I guess figuring that out is part of the journey. I apologize for the self pity and self loathing but that’s just where I am right now. I’m nauseous and guilty from the ice cream I ate but shouldn’t have and achy from the run I went on that should have been much longer, and just wondering where to go from here.

The Bus was Worse than the Prison

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that despite my grumpiness and dislike of people…I’m a social worker. And I actually love my job! Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either. It also doesn’t make sense that I write as if someone is actually reading this.

Anyway, yesterday I had my first experience of taking children to Rikers Island to visit their incarcerated mother. I was very apprehensive, not about going to a prison, but about traffic. This is completely normal when you live in the five boroughs. I wanted to leave with the children from the agency by 9:15am. The foster mother swore up and down that she would get them there. The children did not get there until 9:45! The reason of course being, TRAFFIC.

I grabbed the hands of both children, grabbed the car keys, and ran out the back door with them. Upon reaching our assigned car I discovered two things. One, that it was the one with no radio (I have no idea why I am constantly given this car, but it’s cruel and unusual. I need my tunes!). Two, that there was a car seat in the back that was in the way of the children. First obstacle, I frantically unlocked the trunk and found three more car seats! Apparently the no radio car is where my agency hoards all of their car seats! Somehow I managed to stuff a fourth one back there. I’m not sure how, I must have turned into the Hulk for a second.

In addition to cars with no radios and excessive amounts of car seats, my agency has some other problems involving cars. The first being, we have at least five cars at a time crammed into the world’s smallest lot. We often can’t get out without someone else moving at least three cars and all of us are constantly hitting things. The switchboard employees enjoy watching us struggle to back out on camera and mocking us for our supposedly poor driving skills.  Luckily someone had already moved the minimum three cars; however there was still one parked pretty much perpendicular to the one I was trying to take. This involved excessive struggles going backwards and forwards upwards of ten times. The other flaw in the system is the dreaded gate. To get out of this lot one has to turn the car off, take the keys out, and walk over to unlock the automatic gate. Then you must back out and get out of the car and do it all again to close the thing. Way too time consuming when you’re already running late.

I did all this, and finally we were off! The next obstacle in my path was that I proceeded to hit every possible red light all the way to the highway. But once I got on the highway I was flying, right? Not so much. Our agency states that our cars are equipped to flag all drivers who go over 55 (or it may be 65, but I can’t remember and am too paranoid to test it). 55 on the Grand Central all the way to Exit 5. Even those stupid dollar cabs were passing me.

When we finally arrived at the entrance to Rikers I asked the guards where we were supposed to meet the ACS people. They told me at the large parking lot I had just passed, and then proceeded to berrate me because a 6 year old child was not in a car seat. I explained that he was taller than he looked because he was slouching and that he would not sit in a car seat and there hadn’t been one available that was big enough for him. They did not seem impressed. Whatever. I had other things to worry about.

We parked the car and it was only 10:09am!  We are told to meet at the Queens side of Rikers at 10:15am. Not only were we not late like I thought we were going to be, we were actually 6 minutes early. It was too good to be true!

Then we boarded a school bus. It seemed pretty innocent. Little did I know that this was the school bus from hell that put all my bad childhood school bus experiences to shame.

We boarded this bus where almost every seat had an infant sized car seat in it. We were finally able to find two empty seats and figured our journey would soon begin…

WRONG. So wrong. We sat on that bus for an hour before it moved. Babies were crying, adults were antsy. I will never understand what took so long for us to move. After being on the bus about 15 minutes the younger of the two children I was escorting began whining that he was thirsty. Promptly every two minutes for the next 45 he would say “I’mmmmmmm thirstyyyyyyyy.” I explained to him that he would be getting a drink when we got to the visit, but that I did not have anything for him at that moment. That did nothing to deter his single minded crusade to whine about how thirsty he was. I tried to explain to him that he was wasting his saliva and was tempted to tell him to shut up and drink it, but held it in. When I informed my coworker of my plight, he told me, “If you were really a good caseworker you would offer him YOUR spit!” Then attempted to “make me feel better” by letting me know me that he was at home, on the couch, watching TV. I do know for a fact that he’s been very sick all week, but come on, way to rub salt in my wounds! Thanks, CHRIS.

All that happened while we sat on the bus was that staff members took our IDs somewhere and brought them back with ACS IDs attached to them and handed them out, and all snacks and diapers for the babies were put in clear plastic bags. That was all. That does not take an hour even if you try!

Anyway, when the bus finally moved all we did was go over a damn bridge. At two checkpoints we were commanded to raise our IDs in the air. My children thought it was hilarious to raise imaginary IDs and I had to reprimand them even though it was kind of amusing. They were also playing imaginary video games. They’re quite creative children really. I believed we were going to drive to the appropriate facility and get off the bus. My hopes and expectations were dashed again. We sat on the bus for another half an hour waiting outside the facility. I texted my boyfriend and my father to  report that I was never leaving this bus and tell them goodbye and I loved them. I really thought it was the end.

Finally we were released from the bus, that was of course after being threatened that if we lose our badges we will not leave Rikers Island, and being warned that if we have anything on us that could be considered contraband upon entering the facility it’s between us and the guards. I should note that ANYTHING is considered contraband. You cannot even have a piece of paper in your pockets.

We entered a dreary, dark room where we were reminded that these are parent/child visits and there is no casework business allowed. We sat for about 10 minutes waiting for the name of our inmate to be called. It was freezing, the children were shivering since we had been told we had to leave our coats on the bus.

When they called the name of the children’s mother I went with the children into another room that had tables and chairs set up. The children ran to their mother, who immediately began crying. I almost cried too. The whole scene was incredibly touching. I may be highly grumpy, but I can recognize a beautiful family reunification moment when I see one.

Caseworkers were instructed to sit off to the side and observe the visits and talk amongst ourselves. I used this time to find out about other foster care agencies since my place of employment does not believe in raises and come this summer I will have been there a year.

Then came the snacks. Oh my goodness were there snacks. The CHIPP program suddenly seems useful when you see the array of food that is provided to children and parents visiting at Rikers.  (And then to the caseworkers once all the kids and parents have had their pick!) There were all kinds of chips and fruit cups and cookies and fruit roll ups and crackers. It was Heaven for both the children and their parents who are probably very tired of prison food. Once the program staff fed me my heart opened to them a little more. The way to my heart is always through my stomach. I was especially excited about the dinosaur shaped cheese doodles because I am also 5 years old.

We talked, we ate, we observed. My birth parent spoke to me and I was reprimanded and told to schedule a case conference. *Eye Roll*

When the visit was over there were some emotional goodbyes, and then all the babies in the group became emotional when they saw that dreaded bus again. Luckily we drove away pretty quickly, got through the checkpoints with ease, and soon it was all over.

I drove the kids back to their foster home and that was the end.

My conclusion is this: The bus is the true prison. That is all.

So I started a blog…

I’m not quite why I’ve started a blog. I don’t really expect anyone to read it, I’m not trying to promote myself or anything I’ve accomplished. These are just the lame rantings of a human grumpy cat.

On People, Alienation, and Social Media:

I make it no secret that I don’t like a lot of people. Various people in my life make fun of my rage and my grumpiness. I’m impatient, I can be antisocial, I like the majority of literary characters more than I like actual real life humans.  I also prefer animals to human company a lot of the time. My cat does enjoy biting me out of nowhere, but at least he looks cute and fluffy doing it.

What I do keep a secret is how much it hurts me when someone I thought I got along with rejects me in some way. I’ve been struggling a lot with this lately. I expressed to my coworker this morning that if I started a blog I did not want it to be the return of my teenage live journal, but I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS! (She doesn’t even go here!)

I was going to go to an event put on by a group I was part of in grad school, but I realized someone still part of this group rejected my Facebook friend request. Being logical, I have decided that no one likes me and that I might as well not go because no one will care if I’m there or not. This sounds irrational as I write it, but this is how my mind works. If there is one thing I hate, it’s people who smile in your face, but refuse to have a relationship via social media. Who posts their innermost feelings on Facebook? I only reject friend requests from strangers and from people who are my true enemies. I go out of my way not to hurt others in that regard because I know how much it hurts me when I find out someone doesn’t even like me enough not to block me on Instagram or accept my friend request. Apparently other people do not think this way.

Does the fact that I consider these things mean that I like people??? Oh no. Please don’t tell anyone. I have an image to uphold here!

People Exist