I am April Ludgate.

I am coming to the slow, but groundbreaking realization that my life runs parallel to several television characters. I guess it I am relieved to have some sort of framework in which I can explore my true self. Blah Blah Blah introspection blah blah blah self-inventory.

AND NOOOOOOW SOME GIFS n’ PICS! Because who gives a flying fuck what I have to say and I honestly don’t feel like using words, grammar punctuation. Let’s begin.

April Ludgate and I have a lot in common:

1. We have at least one Puerto Rican parent.

2. We hate our jobs (but then secretly like them sometimes).

3. Love three-legged pitbulls.

I was on a conference call today trying to work with some organizers on getting a women of color dialogue session going in their community. HOLY HELL, BATMAN! I forgot one crucial thing: they were dudes. Dudes do not see the value of bringing women together because they’re assholes. And since they were Black men not understanding why women of color need empowerment, I thought to myself sarcastically:

 

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FUCK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THAT ONE, PATRIARCHY. I tried really hard to BUILD BRIDGES and FIND THE POSITIVE IN EVERY STATEMENT and use bullshit tactics like, “WHAT I HEAR YOU SAYING IS”, but all I really wanted to say was

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So, I am working really hard to control my compulsive overeating. I tend to eat when I am angry or sad, which is ALL THE FUCKING TIME, ergo henceforth with all that being said that means…. I eat

all

the

time.

Well, I am working a program to address this issue and at first I was all sad because it means less food for me….

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THAT’S RIGHT, SUCKERS. I don’t have a drinking problem so I can drink as much as I want to and quit any time. Because I don’t suffer from alcoholism it was totes normal that when I hung up from the conference call from hell, all I could taste was sweet bourbon in my mouth.

Tonight I plan on doing this:

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Drinking alone is normal and healthy. It’s safer than shooting up heroin in a drug house. April agrees.

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Yesterday I went to see my therapist for the third time. I don’t think these sessions are going well because I have zero desire to be there with her. I hate the way she spells her name. She called me, “Kiddo”, once and she also refers to me by last name, which she (AND EVERY OTHER NON-SPANISH SPEAKING PERSON ON THE PLANET WHO ENCOUNTERS ME) confuses for my first name. Every time she ushers me into her poorly appointed office, my eyes convey:

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I revealed a couple things to her about my true inner self. One:

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Two:

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Three:

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I also revealed that I am more selfish and power-hungry than I was consciously willing to admit.

 

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Her response to all this self-analysis (THAT MY INSURANCE WON’T PAY ME FOR) is some bullshit response along the lines of” “You’re introspective.”

Uh…what? I saw bill the other day and at $410/hour, I’m thinking:

aprilludgate-what

 

I walked out of her office feeling depleted for reasons I won’t go into here, but I just wanted to go up to a McDonald’s drive thru and give the person at Window 1:

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But, I didn’t because I can’t. Which sucks, but I know these two things to be true:

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And by “handle it” I mean I’m going to go home and make a high ball.

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Graham Cracker in a Toilet

I feel stale.

Stale like an opened pack of graham crackers that you put back in the box, forgot about and then went back to eat and realized you left the plastic wrapper open and you eat the graham crackers anyway, but you wish you had some milk because that would help camouflage that dull chew of stale graham crackers.

Stale and running on fumes. You know what is frustrating? Knowing that I am depleted and feeling no desire to rejuvenate myself. This sort of inertia–the cognizance of it–is very painful. From my shitorgetoffthepot perspective, I am badgering myself to either kill myself or find happiness if it kills me.

I have spent some time thinking about how I define happiness and I keep coming back to the question, “Who cares about being happy?” I seriously can’t understand what the point is in being happy. Happiness, to me, feels like an obligation I have zero desire in pursuing. This persistent numbness is draining my energy. I never thought I’d be facing some existential crisis. Mainly, I find this sort of navel-gazing a waste of time and egotistical. It reeks of some sort of “Whooooooa is me” that does nothing to change the world or make things better for humankind.

Is that too lofty? It’s too lofty. I don’t care about being happy, but I still wish for world peace when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake. There is some value somewhere in my mind that tells me that making others happy is important. What the fuck does that mean?

I think it means that I find power in having purpose. I believe that wanting purpose is core to being human. I suppose that the more I contemplate purpose, the more I will find my path to happiness. I feel like Sophia in Season 6, Episode 8 of the Golden Girls. In this episode, Sophia enters a convent after her close friend, a nun, dies. Sophia is thirsting for purpose and believes that God called her into The Order. The other women reluctantly oblige her while questioning if she is sane, authentic or really clear on what she’s getting into. She passes the Rorschach test the “admissions” sister gives her and she’s in. Sophia, of course, is Sophia so she causes all sorts of shit in the convent. So much so, that Mother Superior tells Dorothy that they want her out. In Sophia’s room, Dorothy breaks the news to her mother and Sophia is so disappointed. She laments that she has a life without purpose. Dorothy counters and says that she does indeed have a purposeful life and lists all the things Sophia does that happen without being part of a convent. Touching as fuck.

I think what I learned from all of this is….I’m really more like Sophia than Dorothy. Not really, but then there was the episode when Dorothy and Rose get into it with a plumber and the guy storms out leaving their new uninstalled toilet in the living room. Sophia walks in and well…watch for yourself at the 2:20 mark. No truer words have been spoken.

 

You know you’re a spinster when: First Edition

  • There is an incredibly hot and sexy man who attends my parking lot. He is the shade of chocolate that elicits plantation era fantasies of him running away and getting caught and us breeding lots of slave babies together. That shade of chocolate. He is fine. Rather than asking him out or some sort of thing that the kids are doing these days with the texting and whathaveyou, I talked to him about whether or not he uses sunscreen. I worry about his skin. I conversed back and forth with myself about asking him to become a fuck buddy (I may be a spinster, but my plumbing still works), but then I thought about the shaving and plucking and exfoliating and the sexytime sheets and the panties and I just got so exhausted that I dismissed the thought right from my head. I had to get a shandy, turn up the central air and literally lie down.
  • Speaking of panties. I went to the LB to exchange some bras. Spinsters love buy 2, get 2 free bra sales. Especially when they’ve gone up a cup size and need proper fitting replacements. Well, there was also a 5 for $25 sale on panties. You should see the shit they’re putting on underwear these days. I almost stormed out when I saw this pair. Who is going to see that? I stick to my neutrals and animal print (which is a neutral in my world). I don’t need writing on my ass. It sorta speaks for itself. And let me tell you about the exceptional customer service! The older I get, the more I love me some good customer service. As a Black woman, I’m used to getting followed around in stores so when I get someone attending to me not as a loss control measure, but because they actually want to sell me something, you can knock me over with a feather. Now, I’m not one of those Yelpers or Trip Advisors. My thing are those surveys you get on your receipt. I love those. I name names and I just picture when that employee gets a heads up that they did a good job. It’s the spinsterly thing to do.
  • About clothing. I gotta say, one of the questions from my receipt survey hit it on the nail for me. “Do you dress for style or comfort?” The sad thing is that for most women it’s zero sum. The contraptions women use to get dressed and stay in form are tortuous. The shoes. I used to dress for attention and it was uncomfortable and the ROI was not worth shaking a stick at. Nowadays, I dress mostly for comfort and myself. Now if that’s an outfit like this or this, so be it. Other days, it’s an outfit like this. There is something freeing in being able to dress at your whimsy and not in an effort to attract romantic attention. Spinsterhood is freedom from sartorial choices dictated by the male gaze. I mean I have all but given up on trying and you know what? Haven’t noticed a damn bit of difference. I still wake up alone on my side of the bed (WHICH IS ALL THE SIDES) whether I shellac my face or let the hyperpigmentation shine through. Not a lick of difference.
  • I’ve got too many lemons and not enough gin.
  • Sundays are best spent doing home pedicures and watching a young Tom Selleck. Hell, old Tom Selleck can get it, too.

On a scale of 1 to 10

“How are you doing?”

There is no question that makes me cringe more. I’d rather recall the details of my last gynecological exam than answer a question about my emotional disposition. In the span of less than 24 hours, I have avoided that question four times. Another variation of this question is, “How is your day?” Regardless of whether it’s a casual ask that is masquerading as a greeting or a genuine inquiry from a friend, I respond with a grunt and shoulder shrug. 

Years ago, I dated a woman with borderline personality disorder. She told me that one of the worse questions you can ask a person living with a mood disorder is, “How are you doing?” Because this question is like poking at an open wound. “How am I doing?” How am I doing? I don’t fucking know. She told me that she learned that rephrasing the question to reflect a scale of 1-10 is better because you can gauge the person’s….emotional shades. The variations of shitty. 

I know that friends ask because they care. Others ask because it’s a safe space in which to engage in small talk. I get that every, “How’s it going?” is not an invitation for me to talk about my suicide fantasies. But even mustering up some banal retort takes up what little energy I have. My mind has to do some serious contorting to arrive at a positive perspective.

Even the thought of thinking about how I’m doing (bear with me) is tough. It requires some degree of self-reflection. What depressed person wants to do that? Why does my medicated mind even care? It doesn’t right now. I don’t know how I’m doing, nor do I care to know how I’m doing.

I am about a 5 as I write this. Yes, back to the scale. So a 5 in my world is probably what constitutes a good day. I can’t recall in my entire life a day I was at a 10. Ever. I have tried and tried to remember a 10 day and I can’t. I have come close, but my emotional odometer has never got the needle to a ten. I suppose that’s OK because I haven’t determined that reaching a 10 is a life goal. 

What is the point in being happy? My brain can’t process what life would be like if I were a 7, 8 or dare I think it: even a 9. I have spent so many years in the grey, that any other colored lens is incomprehensible. Every time I say, “I’m doing alright”, two things could be true: I’m lying or alright means not wanting to kill myself that day. 

Being on the bipolar spectrum makes the question even more difficult. I’m swinging between states of outrageous irritability or soul-crushing sadness and apathy daily, weekly, monthly. When I am high I am usually irritable; there are no euphoric states. I don’t have the “pleasure” of having a bipolar condition that allows me to be super happy and creative and productive. How am I doing? I dunno. That’s open to interpretation on my part, I suppose. What day is it? Is the sky blue? Can I spin a wheel and buy a vowel?

There are those look on the bright side people. They try to look at every obstacle as a could have been worse. I tried that. I mean, I could be living in Syria or the Gaza Strip. My life could be in perpetual danger. Le sigh. If I were, I could care less. My desire for survival is nil. That sort of count your blessings thinking is moot for someone like me or those like me. Perhaps it’s something I should do as an exercise. A way to re-tool my thinking patterns. It could be worse: I could be unemployed or physically sick or homeless or….you name it. Then I’d have something to be sad about. That’s the guilt in that line of thinking. What do I have to be sad about? The guilt leads to shame. Makes me feel like I’m ungrateful or weak. 

That’s why I hate that question. 

Yosemite Sam or Eyeore. I could make little flash cards with their pictures on it. I could carry around numbered paddles and hold up a number. Anything but actually talking about it. It’s just too painful. 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the worst that can happen? Well, everything.

I don’t recall the incident exactly, but I recall the feeling. My mother had promised to take me somewhere and for factors irrelevant to my childhood mind, she couldn’t do it. I was crushed. There was a physical feeling of pain and emptiness that rumbled from my head to my chest to my stomach. My face burned in that way when it readies for an eruption of tears.

I was disappointed. Painfully so and it is a vivid memory of experiencing an emotion for the first time.

Disappointment has stayed with me since then. It runs a spectrum. I am disappointed when I drop the last bite of my favorite food to being disappointed that a relationship is ending. Last week, I got disappointing news. I wasn’t selected for a job I really, really, really, really wanted. I really wanted it. I have wanted nothing more in years. For the first time, someone remarked, I looked and felt excited about something. I didn’t get it and I settled into a numbness. I think partially because 1) I started a new medication which prevents me from feeling much of anything, and 2) I had mentally prepared myself for disappointment.

It’s a survival mechanism of sorts. I resist hope with every fiber of my being because I fear and loathe disappointment. Hope leaves me vulnerable. Open to the unexpected and I lack the ability to cope with the unexpected. I don’t have emotional flexibility, nor am I able to navigate the emotional waters that come with bad news. It physically hurts me. When I think about the root of all my fears, it comes down to being afraid to be disappointed. Rejection by others and failure to accomplish something all connects back to disappointment. I am disappointed that my hope for romantic acceptance isn’t going to happen. I am disappointed I didn’t earn that fellowship or job or get the last slice of pizza or award or raffle prize or civil rights. You know how it’s said that the number one fear in people is public speaking? I would consider myself part of that group. It’s not the getting up in front of people part, it’s the chance I’ll be disappointed by their reaction to me. What if they don’t like what I’m wearing?  What if I say something stupid? I hope I come off looking like an attractive genius, but I’ll be disappointed if no one perceives me the way I expect them to. There is a sense of worthiness tied to my disappointment and when I am disappointed, I question the value of my existence. It’s a tricky place to be.

Expectations. There is something about these things. I have slowly started to whittle down my expectations for everything, almost. Especially for myself and for others. I have learned that expectations are the number one cause of disappointment. I used to have expectations for myself. I used to set goals. I was just asked to assess myself by my new boss. I hate self-assessments. A depressed, suicidal person with an anxiety disorder should not have to be forced to assess herself. It’s not fair. Perceiving my own value, assigning it a negative or positive connotation is painful. “What are you most proud of?” Getting out of bed today. Huge accomplishment. If I set the bar low, failure doesn’t feel so bad. Expecting growth or areas of improvement for me into a space I don’t want to be in right now.

Pride. Risk. Disappointment. I have another thought here. Being proud of my work is impossible. It’s not something I am capable of doing and yet I keep myself in a major rut by refusing to take risks. BECAUSE risk —>vulnerability —> possibility of disappointment. And you know what? If I do manage to accomplish something, I downplay the achievement because pride in this moment will – in my mind – lead to a future incident of disappointment. And I must avoid that at all costs.

I can’t tell if I’m in a transitional state after receiving my sucko news. I can’t determine the permanency of my numbness. There is some freedom in it, I’ll admit. I’m just afraid of what happens if it wears off.

When I think about it, I put a lot of effort into avoiding hope. I wonder what is more taxing: avoiding disappointment or working my way through it? However, at this point I’m too tired to figure it out.

 

 

 

Other People’s Kids

Spinsterhood clearly implies childlessness. As a modern spinster (or ModSpin for short. In fact, I ™ that. It’s mine now.) Where was I? Ah yes, as a modspin, I prefer the term childfree. As this denotes a choice in not having children. One can’t discuss spinsterdom without talking about children, or lack thereof.

I am fortunate, though, to have many friends with children. I can safely say that unlike many single women, I understand, advocate for and in some way, empathize with moms. Working moms, single moms, gay moms, new moms, old moms. I know them all. I have a shit ton of respect for them because being a mom is hard as hell. Being a mom in the United States in 2013 is hard as hell. 

But being a mom also rocks. 

Yet, I still don’t want to be one. I was talking with an ex of mine and we came to terms with the fact that the main reason we are no longer together is because I absolutely refuse to bear his children. 

Fair enough.

So that leaves me with other people’s kids. I dig other people’s kids. For the most part. Some of my friends’ kids are straight up assholes. They bring out the “backinmydaywedidn’t” in me. Which, of course, only emphasizes my spinsterness. Rather than dwell on those kids, I spend time fawning over the ones I like. They are precious things. Little people who remind me of the women I love and cherish. Tiny packages of awesome that make me marvel at genetics and nature and nurture and the universe every time I see them.

Babies are truly fascinating creatures. You just want everything for them. Even the big babies. The ones graduating and going off to college. I worry about them. I hope for the best. My heart swells at times when I think about Other People’s Kids. I can only imagine with it must feel like to be their mom. Because my mind works the way it does, I have spent hours thinking the worse and being afraid for Other People’s Kids. I think about what I’d do in a car accident or how I’d rush into a burning house. I have even thought about what I’d do if I had to choose between my friend and her child. I know she’d want me to choose her child, but…but…the agony of made up dangerous scenarios! So I filter this anxiety into over-orchestrated clothing purchases and baby shower fetes. I mean…if I get the right balloon bunch, nothing bad will ever happen, right?? Say, right, dammit. 

Despite this, there is comfort in loving Other People’s Kids. Something that says, I am still capable of feeling and adoration for things….beings outside of myself. I think my ability to love another child — one foreign to my biological fiber — speaks more to my capacity as a woman and potential mother than if I ever had babes of my own. 

So therein lies my issue with the discussion around singleness and childfreeness and that whole….shit stew of a discussion. I consider my decision to be a spinster somewhat political, but really it’s out of inevitability and an almost innate predilection for bowing to reality. However, when one asks ladies who desire a childfree lifestyle, they spew vomit about me time and high thread count sheets and trips to Provence.

I’m embarrassed for them. We lose the chance to have a decent conversation on choice. We could finally FOR ONCE have a discourse on the fact that pro-choice extends beyond abortion and that choice encompasses how and when to have a family. AND what life looks if you don’t create one. This really shouldn’t be about material sacrifice or protecting a lifestyle you love. It should be about supporting women in their pursuit of spinsterdom or motherhood or whatever existence lies in between. 

And what does this line in the sand do, really? Jack shit. It sets up a false dichotomy where one choice is supposedly better. Do I want to deal with your kid(s) while I’m eating my 2 for $20 special by myself? No, not really. However, I can also see that you’ve only had one bite of your meal and your husband is too busy looking at the game on the TV by the bar to notice. It makes me realize that the decision to eat out rather than cook in still resulted in you working your ass off. THAT is about working the “second shift” and that’s unfair to the whole family, especially Mom. 

Being a modpsin allows me the time to think about this crap. It’s what makes me buy my mom friends alcohol. I believe in surrounding myself with mothers because it keeps me balanced and informed and alive. Mothers give me perspective. 

If not this, then coin collecting.

He was sitting across from me Dangerous Minds style minus the backwards chair. I knew exactly what was going to come out of his mouth, but I glared defiantly at him daring him to – secretly desperate for – a different declaration.

“You expect the worse out of everyone and everything and I don’t know why you do this.”

Likewise, he knew this would elicit a dramatic eye roll coupled with crossed arms.

Dr. B and I have a relationship that has the sort of intimacy that comes when one person is sortakindacrazy and the other prescribes them medication. We have an understanding of sorts. He knows I know better and I know that he knows that I know better. He is this short, energetic man and I don’t know much else about him because I shouldn’t: he’s my psychiatrist. When I first met him, I expected a Fraiseresque experience, except I wasn’t calling in and I wouldn’t dare lay on the couch (the germs…from other people and all) but instead I got straight talk and a diagnosis +3. He laughs at me because sometimes he doesn’t know what else to do.

More importantly for me, he knows that in most situations I am right. The problem, he says, is that life doesn’t respect right and fairness. My indignation is pointless.

“Get a hobby. Something. Do you write?”

“No. It’s stupid and have nothing to say.”

“You need an outlet. Something that keeps you going. Needlepoint, canoeing, coin collecting. Something. Think about. Keep me posted.”

It was eerily empty in the hallway where he left me. It seemed as if the physical space was reflecting how I felt. Empty, but functioning.

So this is me keeping going. I will inevitably give up on this. You can place bets on how many posts or months before I let this wither away, forgetting my password. For now….for now it’s an attempt. When you have the mental state that I do, attempt is in itself a victory.

Alas, my first post.