The Horse is (Not) Alright

Exiting the roundabout, I crane my neck.
I have to see the horse, traffic be damned.

He stands there in his meadow-like pasture, outwardly indifferent to the traffic.
Selectively nibbling on the verdant grasses and sweet-smelling flowers, he’s alive.

The horse is alright.

How do I know the horse is a he?
He’s strong, muscular, virile, powerful, secure in his solitude.
Those are masculine traits.
Aren’t they?

Another long day, another fretful drive “home.”
Please let him be there.
I only need to see that

The horse is alright.

Exiting the roundabout, I hold  my breath.
Craning my neck, I scan the field.

Nothing.

I risk another look.
Fuck it; if he’s not alright, I’m not alright.

The horse is not alright.

I can’t find him.
Has he given up?

Frustrated and empty from his solitary jaunts,
Today, he doesn’t leave his stall.

His handlers cajole and prod, first sweet talking, now scolding.
You need to get outside, horse. It isn’t good for you us to see you holed up inside all day.
Keeping to yourself.
Why don’t you go outside, seek new grasses and flowers.
And pretend you aren’t still keeping to yourself.

The horse is not alright.

I enter the roundabout with trepidation.
If he’s not there today…
If the horse is not alright…

Exiting the roundabout, my arms tremble on the steering wheel as I turn to look.
He’s there. He’s there.
I exhale a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding,
Dash away tears I didn’t realize I’d been shedding.

And I breathe a sigh of relief,
Of grateful reassurance, because

The horse is alright.

It’s All About the Hustle

I’ve been hustling. And I do mean hustling hard. I’ve got two side hustles going on, on top of the full-time job (which I’m actively seeking to replace with a different full-time job elsewhere – never satisfied anymore, it seems).

One is the tutoring gig, which is frankly more trouble than it’s worth at this point because of an extended commute and a low cut of the pay. But I’m committed to seeing the school year through. They’ve got another month in these parts.

Second hustle is a writing thing I’ve been doing. Fluffy SEO padding shit to trick google. (They probably think I don’t know what’s up, but it’s fairly obvious it’s all bogus to do some hardcore SEO driving. You know, bolding keywords here and there. Burying a “moneylink” in a sea of non-competing, vaguely related links. Appending exactly three license-free stock photos and one embedded YouTube video. Yeah. Fun stuff.) But you know what? I’ve decided that I don’t care. I’m not screwing over any people with the BS articles and blog posts. I’m helping to trick a search engine that tricks people anyway. And while it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, at $15 a post…I can’t afford to linger too long on my reservations. I figure…keep this up a couple of months, and I’ll be back to salient. Quite frankly, that outweighs ethics at this point (to a reasonable extent, anyway).

What does bug me is that the hustle further stymies my own words, because damnit I’m churning out four to eight of those suckers a day on top of my day job. But I don’t know how long the little gig will last, so I’m gonna milk it for all it’s worth.

I think…I just needed to vent that. And say that, no…I’m not trying to disappear. Again. Doesn’t mean I won’t. But it’s not my intent.

One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hustling to do.

Warnings

Warn me
before you listen to hip hop,
Country one said.

Warn me
before you curse,
Christian one said.

Warn me
before you befriend me,
Aloof one said.

Warn me
before you laugh,
Stoic one said.

Warn me
before you believe,
Atheist one said.

Warn me
before you love me,
Jewish one said.

Warn me
before you trust me,
Brown one said.

Warn me
before you cry,
White one said.

Warn me
before you become,
They said.

Warn me
before you exist,
They said.

Warning you
that I’m done,
I said.

Review(ish): 6 Reasons I’m on the Fence about 13 Reasons Why

Last night, I finished a show called “13 Reasons Why.” Now that it’s all said and done, I’m frankly not sure I should have watched it. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. Did I like it? Not really. Did I hate it? Nah. Too harsh. Did I need to watch it? Not sure. Is it topically important? Yes. Absofuckinglutely. Was said topic handled properly? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. On the fence here.

Before I begin: If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out. Right now. Right. Fucking. Now. You aren’t alone, and there are people who are fucking eager to help you. Don’t wanna talk to anybody? How about texting? Some awesome people who realize phone calls can be scary have set up a texting crisis line. Go. You’ve got nothing to lose if you’re at that point.

The Premise:

High school girl commits suicide. She leaves thirteen cassette tapes (well, thirteen sides) explaining why she chose to end her life, hence the title. The show follows one particular student as he listens to the tapes, which leads to at least half of the show being presented as flashbacks to when the girl – Hannah Baker – was still alive.

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13 Reasons Why I’m on the Fence (spoilers ahead):

  1. The blame game. No sense in saving this one for last; it needs to be addressed right away. Hannah (and therefore the show) strongly asserts that there are thirteen people responsible for Hannah taking her own life. Not Hannah, the girl who sat down in the bathtub and opened her wrists. Not Hannah, the girl who baited her guidance counselor into failing her. Not Hannah, the girl whose mom asked more than once if anything was wrong. The reason I’m on the fence? Well, that’s easy: it’s realistic. It’s extremely realistic for troubled people, regardless of age and stage in the whole hormones and puberty thing, to seek out people to blame. I think it’s more realistic for us to blame ourselves, but we do point fingers. If only that motherfucker hadn’t… If only she’d listen… If only he’d stay… If only they would pay attention… If only… They all hate me… They’re better off without me… Why do they all treat me like shit?… It’s so. Fucking. Realistic. The problem lies in the fact that teenagers and other people who are in highly susceptible states of mind are watching this show (based off of a book that I didn’t know existed until the end of the show), and they’re thinking…yeah! Fuck those guys! I’ll show them! So where do we draw the line between depicting realistic scenarios and being socially responsible? Do we only show one type of suicidal narrative? Do we avoid it altogether? Do we allow the conversation to occur in all forms? Was the show irresponsible? Or was it honest? Or…was it both? I’d say both. It was honest to the narrative of some and irresponsible to all. Does that mean it should be censored? See what I mean? Fence-rider.
  2. Dangerous implications that are never addressed. There are things shown or implied in the show that never get proper treatment. For example, toward the end, the boy who plays a photographer / stalker is shown stockpiling weapons in a secret compartment at the bottom of a clothing trunk. This is never addressed, but the implications are clear. There isn’t one gun. There are several. And the picture the mind paints in this post-Columbine society is one of an impending black trench coat and a troubled, bullier / bullied boy, going out in a “blaze of glory” in the middle of school, taking out as many students and teachers as he can before he aims the muzzle at his own head. Again, these are conversations that need to be had. The problem is that we are shown one or two images that imply these things, but there is never any discussion about it. It’s merely displayed there and left to you to understand that this is yet another terrible type of fallout from bullying and exploitation.
  3. Soft-core pornification of rape. Two girls in the show are raped: Hannah and her one-time best friend, Jess. As with the previous two points I broached, I’ll also say that this is yet another topic that needs to be addressed. It’s all too often swept under the rug, hidden away as something shameful and secret. So I’m okay with the fact that the show discussed rape, the rape mentality and the conflicted emotions felt by victims and witnesses. What I’m not okay with is the way one scene in particular was drawn out. When it gets to Hannah’s rape, it seemed like the scene would never end. Were producers trying to convey the endlessness of victims’ experiences? Were they trying to make viewers feel as much discomfort as possible without showing rape-porn? Perhaps. And I understand that – we need to be uncomfortable. We need to be confronted with shit we try to hide from; otherwise, it will never be addressed. But the soft lighting? The endless slapping sounds as he took her from behind? The close-up camera zoom on Hannah’s breasts as the perpetrator fondled her and slipped her bra down? Or the zoom on her ass as he pulled her panties down? Was that really fucking necessary? “Hey guys, I need you to get a better shot of her ass! Wait, hang on, there’s not enough tit in this scene! If we’re gonna show a real rape, we need to show WHY THE FUCKING RAPIST WANTED HER?!?!?!” What. The. Fuck. And how long are we supposed to sit there while we watch her body rocking back and forth, back and forth, as she’s being raped? I sincerely think this was mishandled. And that isn’t me saying we shouldn’t talk about rape. We should.
  4. Okay so I’m not done with the blame bit. How many times are we told that Clay, the main character who listens to Hannah’s tapes, is responsible for Hannah’s death? Sometimes he’s told, “We’re all responsible.” Okay, fair enough. Fine. But right before Clay begins his own tape, he asks Tony something like, “Did I kill Hannah Baker?” And Tony tells him that yes, he did kill Hannah Baker. A few fucking minutes into the tape, Hannah says YOU SHOULDN’T BE ON THESE TAPES, CLAY, BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN US WAS MY FAULT. And yet, the narrative through the rest of the damn show is that yes, Clay did kill Hannah Baker. Is being shy, nervous around girls and somewhat introverted a crime? He didn’t kill Hannah Baker; he only hurt her by his inaction sometimes. Yes, he could have stood up for her a couple times. But fucking hell, is there zero room for “mistake” in life? Not according to this show. You so much as breathe around someone who dies the next day, and it’s your fault. Yeah, we need to have discussions about our roles in each others’ lives. About how we treat each other. About compassion and empathy. But you fucking killed Hannah Baker because you left the room AFTER SHE TOLD YOU TO LIKE A HALF-DOZEN TIMES? Piss right off.
  5. The treatment of authority figures. Throughout the show, the students / kids are taught a myriad of lessons. Whether they stick or not isn’t my issue – it’s realistic that most people aren’t gonna fucking change. And it adds to the true story of how horribly we treat each other, and how we all need to do a gut-check. The kids are shown discussing these matters, though. They at least get chances at redemption, telling the viewers that they deserve another chance. The authority figures? Hmm. Let’s see. Over the course of the show, we watch as Hannah’s perception of her parents grows more and more negative, though I will say they are treated the kindest. Them and Clay’s dad (though he is a bit oblivious, but not criminally so). (Oh, and by the way, of fucking course the victim’s parents – victims themselves – are painted with a soft brush. God forbid they have flaws aside from extremely common arguments over finances. No, let’s save the flaws for everyone else in the show – every last one of them are murderers! Until they kill themselves, then Hannah’s parents morph into villains, too.) Alex’s dad, the police officer, has no redeeming qualities. He’s proud that his sons fight people. He let’s them break the law, regularly. He’s constantly looking for a way to escape responsibility, for himself and his boys. Is this realistic? Yeah, for a lot of people it is. But he’s not even a three-dimensional character. There’s no depth to him and no opportunity for reflection or growth. He’s a stock stereotype. (Oh, and by the way? Alex shoots himself in the head at the end of the show. With one of his dad’s guns. AND WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT AT ALL.) Justin’s mom and her boyfriend, another set of stock stereotypes: abusive, neglectful drug addicts. Yes, these people exist. But in the show – all the kids get a chance to own up to shit they did and change their ways. Repeatedly, in fact. “Oh you won’t be reasonable in this episode? Well, you’ll get a chance IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE REMAINING TWELVE EPISODES! Your parents? Man, fuck them. Adults suck.” The guidance counselor? He never fully accepts his responsibility and his role in his students’ lives. Realistic for a lot of people, fine. But again, young and susceptible viewers are validated, “SEE! THIS is EXACTLY why I won’t go see Mr. Smith. Guidance Counselors are a fucking joke. AND SO ARE ALMOST ALL ADULTS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.” There are a lot of shitty adults. Because, all too often, shitty kids turn into shitty adults. But a show that claims to want to help the suicide epidemic is making it worse by telling kids that adults are useless.
  6. How peaceful they made the act of suicide look. When it came time for Hannah’s suicide scene in the denouement? It shows the whole scene set-up, from start…to finish. And it fucking wrecked me. That part, I’m not gonna take umbrage with. It should have wrecked me. People need to be wrecked to take this shit seriously. It’s fucking serious, and people are in danger. The problem I have is that, once Hannah slits her wrists (which it shows – explicitly), there’s no real demonstration of pain. Maybe there is no pain – maybe she’s too numb and in a state of shock to feel it or express it. But you know what’s fucked up? How g-damn peaceful they made it look. I even thought, “Damn. Maybe…I mean, look how easy that was… WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, STEPHANIE.” I knew right then they’d fucked that part up. She shivered. Hannah shivered. She fucking shivered, then closed her eyes, slid down a little, and peacefully went to sleep while the bathwater turned a warm shade of pink. Yes, suicide is a private thing. Probably often done in silence. And there’s a complete sense of being abjectly alone. But I think creators of a show like this had a responsibility to make it not look like you’re TAKING A FUCKING NAP IN THE BATHTUB. Look. Just LOOK at how EASY it is: a momentary wince and then a nice little nap. <—THAT is irresponsible.

You know what? I’ve just talked myself out of almost any redeeming quality about this show. It’s irresponsible and dangerous. Hell, I knew what it was about going in – and my reaction when it was over? “I should not have watched that show.” I even said that same thing to two people: “I should not have watched that show. I really shouldn’t have watched it.” I was a fucking wreck. And I’m a grown-ass woman with at least like, one or two coping mechanisms. And it fucked me up at the end. I can’t imagine what it’s doing to kids. No, I won’t go so far as to say: ban it. Not gonna do it. But is the show irresponsible? Fucking right it is.

P.S. I’m fine now, by the way. At least from the effects of the show. I’m more concerned with the impact it’s having on kids – or adults who aren’t currently strong enough to fight.

 

Stephellany Update: The Good, the Bad, the Terrible, the Fucking Lame, and the Motherfucking Awesome (A Post of Random Catching-Up Pigshit)

Good Evening dearest Peopleaneous. Let me start with the most important point to be made in this post: Pigshit. Yes, that’s right. Pigshit. I’ve recently replaced “bullshit” with “pigshit.” I find it good and pleasing and shall henceforth deem bullshit pigshit. Until I replace it with doveshit (isn’t that like the ultimate dichotomy? OH MY GOSH THAT WOULD BE A PEACE OF SHIT! GET IT? GET IT?) or dungbeetleballs. Ooooo. DungBeetleBalls! New word! New word!

Okay dudes. This post is going to be the epitome of “stephellaneous,” a veritable smorgasbord (damn it’s been too long since I used that word) of random updates. I know I have been MIA for 14 years, 3 months, 2 days, 11 hours and 28 seconds. And I also know I have 18 billion comments to reply to. I haven’t forgotten y’all or this space. It’s just. Well. Let’s take this Stephanie Style, shall we? (No, that’s not a new sexual position. Although…aaaaand she’s off!)

TOP UNKNOWN NUMBER OF REASONS THAT I’VE BEEN MISSING IN ACTION. OR MISSING IN INACTION. OR SOMETHING. I’LL LEAVE THAT TO YOU,PEOPLEANEOUS. FUCKIN’ HELL, WHAT IS MY PROBLEM WITH HEADINGS. BETTER YET, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM WITH HEADERS? LONG HEADINGS ARE MY JAM, MAN. OR MEN, WOMEN AND KAITLYN. SHUT UP, YOU KNOW I’M NOT PC. SO KISS IT. PEACE OUT, HEADER.

Where-the-fuck--Have-you-been-meme-13097

Number 1: Ha. You think I’m gonna use a normal numbering system. That’s cute. Anyway. As I mentioned in some weird, typo-laden pone-post, I can no longer post from work. They’ve done some security update that renders WP’s security certificate obsolete. Whatever hardcore security they have does not apply to my laptop. But I do my writing at work, when I’m slow (which is often). By the time I get home after work and tutoring, I don’t have much time to write after food, chores, packing, applications, conversing, etc. Wait, ohmygosh, those were spoiler alerts. Fuck me, man. (Seriously.) So. Number 1 could be condensed as such: Because my work computers suck dungbeetleballs.

Numéro deux: Doesn’t the Bible say something about there not being another flood of biblical magnitude? That book lied. I got lucky, not even gonna pretend I didn’t. Most of the houses in my neighborhood flooded. Well, at least half. The water came within roughly an inch of coming into the house. But it didn’t, since my house is far enough off of the ground. The car flooded up well over the seats. But mold and stinkies pale in comparison to the people who were stranded for days. It pales in comparison to the lives lost. It pales in comparison to the hundreds of people now displaced and homeless. So. Yeah that’s kinda put a damper on trying to blog.

Idadi ya Tatu: My health is being a fucking dick. (As an aside, why is it okay for us to use “dick” as a curseword, but we balk at using “pussy” as such? At least I do. Whatever.) Seriously. Y’all know I broke my left foot last summer, and the cause of the pain (the two breaks) weren’t discovered until the MRI in January. I was only supposed to wear the frankenboot for three weeks. But that bitch still hurt like a motherfucker, so I kept wearing it. And wearing it. And wearing it. And then my right foot started hurting. I mean, big time. I did some digging, and it turns out I wore it far too long. Apparently, it’s common to sustain injuries on the opposite side if one wears frankenboot for too long. (I also think the damn thing was too big for me to begin with.) I can’t prove my right foot is broken yet. But I seem my rheumatologist Friday. Something tells me he’s going to order another MRI as the right foot is now bruised and swollen and incredibly painful. This in addition to daily headaches returning in spite of following some awesome advice (thanks Ms. Fever!). And my tiny little finger/toe bones hurting. And the massive chest pain that started as soon as my Lamictal was updosed. I see that bitch on April 2. I’m going to request that I be incremented down and then off of EVERYTHING except the drug that helps me sleep. And then I’m going to start the long hunt for someone who knows what they’re doing. (Trust me, this is the right move. She most recently tried to prescribe an anti-psychotic that was only just approved in fucking October. Also. PSYCHOSIS. WHAT? And she also diagnosed me as in the throes of a full-blown panic attack………….because my leg was bouncing and I was restless. Yeah. Can we say Quack Attack?) Enough of that bullshit. Next!

A bit angry – posting it for one reason: the line, “What the fuck is wrong with me?!”

Nommer Vier:Uhm. What’s next? Ah. Job hunting for the Greater Seattle Area. I started out on my own, but I felt incredibly overwhelmed (anxiety for the win!). So I reached out to multiple recruiters up there. The first one was an utter quack. Fo’ real yo. So I moved on. The next one to contact me was super eager, so I’ve been working with her. She’s covering the southern part of the Greater Seattle Area and has now put me in touch with another recruiter to cover the northern part. We were going to have a team of three, but she thinks we’ll be good. So far, we have about a dozen applications outstanding. All are still open and haven’t hit their deadlines yet. So between the three of us, hopefully I’ll at least start landing interviews soon. Been tweaking my resume, cover letters and prepping for interview questions in the meantime. Also. That woman has me applying to stuff at twice the salary range I thought I could land. She told me I was way underselling myself. So yay. But that’s yet another reason I’ve been busy and MIA.

Номер пять:I’ve had to put off listing the house. First, I’m having trouble with some repairs that need to be done. The ex was supposed to do them (as his name is still on the deed, even though I pay all bills). But he’s stalling. Big time. But with all the flooding, even the most basic repairmen are price gouging. I’m doing what I can on my own, but there are things I’m just not able to do. Also. Speaking of the flood yet again, the houses in my neighborhood that did flood still have all of the detritus of their lives lining the roads: furniture, walls, carpet, did I mention walls?, keepsakes, etc. So it would not behoove me to shove a for-sale sign in the front yard until the city takes care of the debris. But once it does, at least I’ll have the advantage of saying this house didn’t flood.

Numero kuusi: (That one sounds so sexual. Is it just me? It’s just me. My bad.) Met an online friend that I’ve known for a decade. He says six years. Whatever. It was our first time meeting up in person, so that was pretty fucking awesome. I’ve never done anything like that, so I can’t say enough how superfuckingawesome it was. (I know you’re reading this. So. I’ll just say: Hi!) Also, he’s gonna do a guest post for me soon. Kickass writer, so y’all will dig it. Trust.

Rhif Saith: I’ve been playing around with fiction, which doesn’t really come easily to me. I’ve been told it’s because I haven’t freed myself to do it. My self-perception hinders my progress. Or clouds my view of what I’m capable of or what I’ve already done. But I’ve been playing around. Even wrote something for a friend the other day at his prompting. Perhaps I’ll throw it up here after some tweaking. We shall see.

Númer Átta: I have a trip in April that I’ve been planning, slowly but surely. Mid-April, I’m heading up to Seattle for a visit. No interviews yet, just gonna have a look around. And a lot of you know the main reason I’m going for a visit. So that’s been overwhelming for me and has taken my head out of the blogging game for a bit. I already have tickets and hotel room booked. Got a little carry-on travel bag – that’s gonna be a serious challenge for a woman. Fuck worrying about stereotypes; it’s fucking true. How am I gonna pack three pairs of shoes, more clothes than I’ll wear in six days, a book or four, my 18,000 meds, ahhhhhh. Yeah, that’s gonna be a huge challenge. But I want that bitch to be a carry-on. Fuck paying to check a bag. Plus wheels get broken and shit. Fuck that noise.

Nummer neun: Perhaps the most important of all, I’ve been trying to figure out who the fuck I am. What makes me tick. What I want. Where I’m headed. How I matter. What my purpose is. Why I’m here. What my future looks like. City life is NOT what I want. I hope to live as cheaply as possible and bank mad savings so I can live a peripatetic life in the forests, woods, beaches, cultures of the world, and a cozy little shack to return to now and then to recharge my batteries. But the shit I wanna do takes money. The experiences I wanna have takes money. Fucking money. I fucking hate money. I hate the constructs of this false existence. I don’t want to exist. I want to live. I want reality. The real reality. And the bitch of it is, the fact that I see things for what they are is a huge source of my anxiety and depression. Cool how that works, huh?

paripatetic
This applies to my soul, my dreams, my desires, my all. Give me a peripatetic lifestyle and a soul-lover to share it with, and I’ll be content.
Số Mười: I’ve been in another depressive phase, basically since I wrote that post about having a major panic attack and spiraling downward. So I have zero faith in the current med cocktail I’m on. I’m not saying I’m averse to trying something else. But this shit is not working. Not kidding. I’m damn near back to where I was before I started this mental health journey. I wish I had the blinders on that so many others seem to. In the meantime, I’ll just keep trudging along. Treading water is surely better than drowning in it, yes? Most days that’s what I tell myself.
Disclaimer: I don’t have time to edit this right now. Forgive egregious errors. Meds kicked in, and I’m out. Also, the douchenozzle that is WordPress is fucking with my spacing between words and lines. Looks fine in my editor. Fucked to hell and back on the actual site. Fuck it. I’m out! Night my friends!

Stupid Fucking WordPress

My dear Peopleaneous –

1. I’ve been swamped. With work shit. With house shit. With flood shit. With car shit. With recruiter shit. With personal shit.

2. Most of my downtime is at work (one of the reasons I detest my job). So that’s when I tend to do my writing and catch up on comments and posts and such. But it appears as though something has changed with WP. Either that, or corporate is toying with their security policies again. Yous see, they block a myriad of sites. Like…Kotaku or Instagram or Redtube. But you can spend your entire day on Facebook or Twitter or CollegeFootball.com (welcome to the South) should you wish. But now. NOW. Since sometime early last week, I’ve been able to get to my dashboard or whatever. And it appears I can make a post. But only in the HTML section. Not in the “Visual” section. And when I try to check comments or look at other sites? I receive this message:

Secure Connection Failed

The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.

The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity
of the received data could not be verified.

Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem.

Isn’t that delightful? I’m trying to find a workaround, y’all, because this is a buncha pigshit.

Also…if this even publishes (because I can’t even preview) – in the meantime, love and harmony and music and wombats illicit things.

Word.