I'm currently reading Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich. Like all books that speak to things I already feel, this book is infiltrating my thoughts. Despite my past dabbling in Treasure Mapping, I really have always hated the idea of the secret laws of attraction, and Bright-Sided is the perfect antidote to that. It is appropriate, then, for it to worm its way inside my head and to encourage hearty "hell yeahs!" and occasional sharing of choice quotations with others. I think too, it may be appropriate to counter a world chock full of the encouragement of faulty thinking with a list of complaints. Thus...

  • I may very soon lose my health insurance and so will my husband. He is making more money this semester and we will no longer qualify for Medicaid.
  • We qualify for Medicaid because he has been in graduate school the last 7-1/2 years, which is incidentally how long our son has been alive, who is incidentally also a reason for which we qualify.
  • My husband's 7-1/2 years in grad school have resulted in something to the tune of $140,000 in debt. I think. That's a guesstimate.
  • He doesn't have a job yet.
  • I spent the months between May 2009 and February 2010 trying to get my son an appointment to get a palatal expander so that he can wear it for 6 months to a year before having it replaced with bone from his hip sewn into the roof of his mouth. He still doesn't have the expander, but has at least had the molds to make it done. Any day now...
  • I think I have a sinus infection.
  • It's hard for me to complain sincerely when I understand my immense privilege in this world.
  • No war is a good war. I can hardly imagine an instance where any war is a just war.
  • The inefficacy of our government is tiresome.
  • I hate cooking. Eating is something that carries great ambivalence for me. I love food. I hate preparing it and am extraordinarily picky, oddly. I cannot bear flavors that are too strong. No stinky cheese, no stinky beers, nothing too spicy. I like salt, sugar, carbs, and kale. I do not gain weight, or rather, mass.
  • It might be obnoxious to give each complaint so much context. They hardly read like complaints.
  • I fully believe that capitalism is derived of patriarchy and that both cause most of the problems in the world. It is unfortunate to recognize this and yet have it be the water I swim in.
  • My children are driving me insane lately. Nearly to violence. I have strong beliefs about kindness and community and collectivity and all things gentle and honoring of both the individual and the group, but lately I want to tear them limb from limb and throw them about. I'm certain this is the fault of February.
  • I loathe February. It is the longest month of the year, even though it isn't. It is agony to be in February, stuck, cold, sick, hating life, hating each other, hating everything, in the darkness, in the gloom, the gray glow of sunlight bouncing off the snow doing nothing for anyone, feeling, inevitably, ill at ease, itchy, aching for a better, brighter, more well-rounded and fantastic life.
  • Somehow, I've been feeling not at all accomplished, not good enough, glaringly imperfect of late.
  • Part of this glaring imperfection is the wanting to tear children limb-from-limb: it causes me great concern, makes me wonder if I am the only one not enjoying this parenting thing enough and if there is something not entirely wrong with me because though I am an unschooler, I seem to be doing very poor with the unschooling, or the exploring of the world, rather. Perhaps this is February and illness and crushing debt and joblessness and the immense privilege of sitting on high examining the problems of the world (and personal life) with a fine toothed intellectual comb, or perhaps I'm just a very bad pessimist and poor facilitator of life.
  • Self-doubt is particularly agonizing in the gray gloom.
  • My right hand, still mostly numb from having severed my median nerve three years ago, feels like a cold dead weight and makes it difficult to type (particularly the "m" key), pick up small objects, not burn myself, and impossible (I believe) to put a clothespin back together once it has come apart.
  • Sebastian is still not pronouncing all sounds correctly and it's making me worried that waiting him out is a stupid approach.
  • Aleks wants more interaction with other children. Sometimes specific children. If this is not fulfilled, it is my fault.
  • I am the only person doing much cleaning in our house these days. I am also the only person that takes the children anywhere ever. I also pay the bills, do the taxes, run all the errands, do most of the cooking, and stock everything we need. I also do the "homeschooling" and am heavily involved/buried in a volunteer gig outside of the home. This is highly irritating, but the only solution given certain circumstances.
  • I feel emotionally exhausted.

  • Thinking positive will do nothing to remedy any of that, except, perhaps, the self-doubt. Any foray into positive thinking to soothe said self-doubt may simply result in deluding or failing to motivate myself. That does not sound like a desirable outcome for my skeptic self.

    There also seems to be an over-riding theme of general ambivalence. There are rationalizations galore available for all of the personal issues (though none at all for the global ones), but it seems impossible to pinpoint actual causes or to project results from a course of action.

    I should also note that despite all the personal complaints, our life is genuinely excellent and complaining in the context of being a white-identified American is without a doubt, whiny and obnoxious. It is also, fortunately or unfortunately, the truth.


    Unknown said...

    Well, you summed up my life pretty well. LOL I am currently blaming it on February, hanging on by my teeth until the end of the month, and giving my self occasional pep talks/kicks in the ass.

    I'll still do my Treasure Map this year, but as always, it is an aid to see what I want, where I want to go, and how much that has changed since last year. Though from time, I do wish for the magic wand approach...


    lijhe said...

    I really enjoyed reading that. Not that I enjoy the fact that you are unhappy, but just the fact that you admitted it. I'd like to admit it myself, loudly, but don't because it makes people uncomfortable or they act like you're making too much of it for the sake of attention or, yeah, that privilege thing.

    The "think positive" thing gets me too. That's like saying it's all in your head, and you know what, it's not. Things have *effects*. It's like saying oh, it's your own fault that you're feeling pain from having been hit by a car. Bullshit. On the other hand, it is possible to overly wallow, those chemicals feed on themselves... and perspective is a real thing too. Anyway, I like Barbara Ehrenreich, putting it on my library list.

    Anonymous said...

    I like the bullet-point format

    anna kiss said...

    I think you'll enjoy the book, Linda.

    Thanks for the empathy, all. Things will look up again. Likely once the weather changes and my health improves.

    Rachel said...

    Yeah, February is rough. I love your honesty, I love to read your blog precisely for these reasons. You say things that I do sometimes feel too, although I guess I veer a bit toward the positive thinking, so that I try to let myself notice these thoughts and then move quickly away from them. I heard an interview with Barbara Ehrenreich about this book, and I think she is brilliant. I've read other books by her, but not this one yet. I was actually wondering if you were reading this when you made a previous post on SB&W about discussing positive thinking with another person. I have days when I am also filled with doubt about what I am doing, but when I am having them, I keep it pretty internal, probably too exhausted or overwhelmed by the thoughts to write them down. Which is why I love to read your posts, because you articulate those feelings beautifully, you spell out the messy hard parts that most of us do experience. And hey, I'm going to be really annoying here and bring in a positive observation about one of your complaints: you are able to do amazing things with your hands, considering the damage to your nerve. Those origami birds for your countdown are evidence.

    anna kiss said...

    Thanks Rachel! It's not that I'm against positivity. It's that I'm against the illusion of it. Plus, honestly, our life is so stressful so much of the time that laughing at it in total fear is the best I can do.

    I do love to complain though. It's just so satisfying. And it helps me work through stuff. Positive Thinking was sort of invading my brain lately - partly because of Bright-Sided and partly because I was seeing it everywhere. Dayna Martin has a whole thing about it in her book and that really pissed me off, which inspired the other post at SB&W. I have more to say, but you wrote a lot at the other blog, so I think I'll go there!

    Rachel said...

    Hee hee, "a lot" is sort of an understatement, isn't it? :)

    anna kiss said...

    Naw. Definitely not too much. No such thing. I relish the conversation.