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First off, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, except the people who think I’m going to hell for being a sexually deviant mentally ill Jewess who works outside the home and makes sexy art in her spare time. I hope those people burn their tongues on their Christmas cookies.
It’s been a rough week because I’m in a bit of a rolling mixed state, psychiatrically. I’ve been medicating and medicating it but sometimes it is nearly intolerable.
From my journal this week:
I feel it just under my right shoulder blade. it’s an electrical uneasiness spreading through my entire body, insistent, inescapable, excruciating in multiple ways: in the bare experience of it and in my inability to do anything about it and in the indescribable strangeness of it. Along with it comes a sound that is not a sound but is the sound of everything in my head screaming. It makes me want to peel off my skin and tear out my hair. Sometimes I double over from the pain, and sometimes I just cry, and sometimes I lie down and cry. It steals my breath and overwhelms me with a singular desire: to make it stop, any which way I can.
It’s like there’s a demon trapped right there in my body and it desperately wants to get out and it’s a miserable feeling and yes, I am considering what can be done in the way of an exorcism. Also along with it I’m getting a little bit of formication, which basically feels like a lot of invisible insects are stinging me repeatedly all over my body, and no, there definitely aren’t any actual insects stinging me.
It’ll go away, eventually. I like to think it’s all aiding me on my way to Enlightenment. Every day I sit still for a little while and feel the demon struggling and count my breaths and watch each tiny illusory insect sting arrive and then slowly fade, leaving, like everything does.
In other, disturbing news, yesterday I got an ad on Instagram from the Department of Homeland Security, encouraging me to participate in something they have hashtagged #WearBlueDay, nominally in order to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Everything about this is terrible:
Yes, that’s DHS, the massive and basically unaccountable national police organization that makes us remove our shoes every time we fly, that has the right to extrajudicially invade our privacy at borders, that demands papers and deports and imprisons people and takes their children from them. Don’t believe they’re that bad? Go read this Guardian article about it.
Yes, they describe their mission as “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.”
Yes, I too wonder which specific values.
And finally, yes, that’s the color blue, like the Thin Blue Line and BlueLivesMatter. Yes, this is specifically about trafficking and specifically in the context of rising hate speech and violence against Queer people, specifically accusing us all of being Groomers and therefore also human traffickers. This is an entire social media campaign enlisting people in informing on their neighbors.
Apparently DHS also has SeeSayDay where they encourage you to learn the signs of suspicious activity and to make sure you have their tip line in your phone.
Please don’t call the Department of Homeland Security, ever. That’s a terrible fucking idea.
Apropos of WearBlue and the sex trafficking libel against Queers and specifically Drag Queens and trans folk and Drag Queen Story Hour, here’s an essay by Nina West about Drag Queen Story Hour and why Queer people should not just turn on that single activity and believe if they denounce it then they won’t continue to be persecuted. To throw away Drag Queen Story Hour in the interest of saving our skins is to allow those who hate us to dictate the terms by which we may exist in the world, and they will put us in smaller and smaller boxes until we are not allowed to exist at all.
It’s not about Drag Queen Story Hour, it’s about tying everything the extremists hate to the abuse of children because that is an effective way to cause people to feel overwhelming emotions that make them more likely to believe lies and more likely to act with violence and hate.
You know how I know Drag Queen Story Hour is not the real issue, that the real issue is the existence of Queers at all? I know that because Mrs. Doubtfire grossed 450 billion dollars, and while it was rated PG-13 here in the US, that was over some spoken lines in the movie, it was not because the mere fact that Robin Williams was dressed in drag was offensive, or “adult”, or because anyone believed that the movie was “grooming” children.
This is always the playbook: it’s not that you’re x, it’s that you do y, but the y keeps expanding until you have no y left to do and therefore cannot, practically speaking, exist as x. But the y was never the problem, really.
Here’s a tweet about terminology that resonated with me this week:
On a similar note, I have a t-shirt that says “not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck the police”. I’ll be honest, though, I wouldn’t walk around outside the house wearing it because actually I’m pretty afraid of the police.
Like everyone else, I’m brave in some ways and not in others. Or sometimes brave and sometimes less so. It’s easier to be brave when surrounded by other people who are also being brave. That’s why we build bravery by building community and solidarity. Am I especially good at this? No, I am not. I am pretty bad at it. But I do try.
Anyways, there are busybodies and informants everywhere, folks, willing to call the cops on you for anything they happen not to like, so stay vigilant, and remember: don’t talk to the police. Not Homeland Security, and not the regular police either. If you read this and thought, really? Just don’t talk to them? the answer is yes, and here’s a video in which a former police officer turned law professor explains why.
If you think my views on the police are radical and impractical, dangerous and unrealistic, well, 2.2 billion Christians are this week celebrating something far more impossible-seeming than, say, giving less money to the police and more to feed the people. Pretty sure that guy was into that kind of thing, too, the feeding of people, but who am I to tell other people what their god thinks?
Okay, what else is on my mind this week?
I found a 4 minute voice message I sent to myself on the evening of July 20th. Do I listen to it?
pro: that’s gonna be some CRAZY shit, whatever it is. July Amy is maximally crazy. (Why? complicated reasons, mostly encapsulated by saying that I experience July as a month-long mixed episode, so it’s a real wild ride).
con: what if I discover that July Amy is a Nazi sympathizer? That would be such a twist, especially since I’m Jewish. Then again, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner are both Jewish. Being Jewish doesn’t protect you from being antisemitic, just like being a woman doesn’t prevent you from being a misogynist.
Anyways, here’s a poll. I pledge to abide by the results of this poll, even if it’s obvious that bots voted in it or if the results of the poll are not ones I like.
I’m joking. I’ll do whatever I want, I just thought the poll would be fun. Personally, I voted for Dionne Warwick to become the CEO of twitter.
Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about Shabbat.
I don’t keep the sabbath regularly anymore, and I never kept it according to especially strict rules, but… maybe I should again. The constant hustle and grind is exhausting. We are under relentless pressure to sell ourselves as a product or a brand, to sell our labor, to allow our data to be sold, and for our eyeballs and attention to be captured for the purpose of selling — everything of us poured into the insatiable maw of The Economy. Of course we can’t escape it entirely, but we can reclaim some of our time from it. We can reclaim our time so as to experience ourselves as Humans, rather than as Human Resources, as Consumers, as Talent, as Workers, as Cogs.
An important thing about the sabbath is that the purpose of it is not to rejuvenate us so we can be more productive when we do return to the reality of our economy, to work, as we must. That is a side effect. It is not the goal. The goal of keeping a sabbath is for us to remember who and what we really are, to touch Being, not Doing.
For Jewish people, the definitive text on The Sabbath remains Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. There are other more recent books that touch on the idea of sabbath as the radical practice of rest, in many religious traditions and secularly, but I haven’t read any of them myself.
There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.
— Abraham Joshua Heschel The Sabbath: Its Meaning For Modern Man
I absolutely admit that it is very easy to sit here admonishing myself and others about the benefits of a sabbath as a means of connecting with the present, with our inalienable dignity and right to exist as our full selves in this world. It is much harder to do it.
Still, as the year winds down and I continue to think about what intentions do I have for next year and what habits I could build that would be most meaningful to me, the sabbath keeps coming up. But, last week I was sure the most important thing was to invite others to regularly be uncomfortable with me. The fact is, it’s very hard to decide what, of the many things I would like to do differently in my life, which of them are actually important to me and which are just things I think I ought to care about, and which are feasible for me and which less so?
As an example of something that feels feasible, publishing some of my writing each week. As an example of something I really think I should do and which has so far proven to be infeasible: leaving my apartment every day. Keeping some sort of sabbath? Probably feasible in some configuration, but I’m not sure it’s the most important thing.
Really I want to be doing everything everywhere all at once. And, a part of me knows this is actually okay, part of who I am. At work I am constantly harping about focus and prioritization and reducing work-in-progress and getting a thing all the way done before you move to the next thing, because at work I am playing by Capital’s rules, and those rules urge efficiency.
But … I can choose or not choose to focus and prioritize in my life outside of work, because I do not have to live my entire life attempting to maximize my output. I might choose to, but I don’t have to. I can go ahead and be inefficient. I can change my mind all the time. I can drop things. I can be slow. I can do a shitty job. I can be useless.
Finally, finally, I like this Wendell Berry poem.
Thanks for reading and/or listening, and have a happy new year.
PS: there is no audio for this because I didn’t have the emotional energy to produce the audio. maybe next time.
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