Always Tired

I kind of wonder if I’m sick. I’m so exhausted all the time. Really it’s probably just from not eating very well or lacking exercise, but it’s hard to do those two things when you’re broke and also tired all the time. I know I just need to make an adjustment, budget better so I’m eating better, and find the time to exercise even when I’m tired. But I never seem to wake up. But today, this morning, was fraught with interrupted sleep. Kids got me up 5 times between 4:30 – 7:40am. Two of those times were me getting my butt back to my bed after falling asleep in O’s bed.

With summer upon us, I am taking the time to read Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic. I have other articles on the agenda, as well as taking the time to start doing GRE practice tests once a week.

I am so exhausted right now. I can barely keep my eyes open.

Well, enough talking about what I plan to do. I am starting now.

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Empathy as Minority

As I dive back into reading for self study, I find that I often have to pause in what I’m reading because it makes me so angry. I made it only halfway through the New Jim Crow before I had to return it to the library (I plan to finish it eventually) because every other page I had to put it down. It is so frustrating and anger-inducing how society as a whole is so inhumane toward people of color.

Right now I’m in the middle of reading Dr. Jonathan Rosa’s “Standardization, Racialization, Languagelessness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies across Communicative Context.” In it he describes how during field research at a predominately Latinx high school, the Latina principal – who herself is bilingual in English and Spanish – pushes the idea that to be ‘bilingual’ is to be of an “inferior status.” There are excerpts of dialogue between Dr. Rosa and the principal where she says that bilingual education is utilized as a ‘crutch’ and that full immersion into English speaking classrooms should be used instead. As Dr. Rosa writes, “there was no formal way in which their Spanish language abilities were recognized as academically useful.”

That, dear reader, just sets a fire inside of me.

He also writes, “…[W]hile bilingualism is understood as a valuable asset or goal for middle-class and upper-class students, for working class and poor students it is framed as a disability that must be overcome.” I must state that Dr. Rosa argues against this idea, and whole concept of raciolinguistics (as so far as I have read thus far, which is admittedly minimal), is that multilingualism for racially minoritized people is demonized because of their “inability” to reproduce ‘standardize’ language when compared to white people, even when they linguistically are able to do so. I know I’m not describing it very well, and I plan to get more into what that means later, but for now, I’m writing about my FEELINGS.

My FEELINGS are anger, frustration, disbelief, incredulity about how callous WHITE PEOPLE can be toward POC who speak a little bit different from white people. There are so many examples out there of ways in which white people try to use language as a means of demonizing or controlling the narrative about POC. Here’s one.

It’ll be interesting for me to come to terms with these seemingly majority-held beliefs – as in, trying to power through reading about it. I didn’t think that my empathy was something that only a minority of people hold, but I’m quickly finding out otherwise. Me, a white person, am very much in my feelings of discomfort at this epiphany. I’m sorry there aren’t more empathetic people out there who are taking action to combat the inhumanity of white supremacy. But I will do what I can, learn what I can, to help dismantle it.

Linguistics is Where the Heart is.

It’s easy to be discouraged about hopes and aspirations. Following academic twitter is both a blessing and a curse, for you get to see first hand how people are fucked over in multiple ways. But then you also see awesome comradery (comraderie?) and people geeking out over geeky things, and it reminds you why you want to become an expert.

I keep having internal tug-a-wars over whether I want to pursue higher ed. I know who I am as a person – I am weak, I struggle with finding and holding to a routine, I have mental illness that doesn’t take a lot to trigger. I know that higher ed is demanding and hard and requires an almost herculean effort.

I also know what I want, what I really really want. (So tell me what you want, what you really really want.) I want to be an expert in linguistics. I want to have that knowledge, because _I_ want to have that knowledge. And I know that I can utilize that knowledge in a way that could be beneficial to other people. But mostly it’s because it’s something I – me, myself and I – want. Is there really any other reason needed to pursue a thing beyond that strong internal desire?

While I keep getting distracted and allow myself to slip back into lazy mode, I keep coming back to This: Linguistics. I have had other careers in mind during my lifetime – astronomer, Japanese translator, writer – but this one is all encompassing. I still want to be a writer and plan to work on that as I can. And, since I need to learn another language anyway, my Japanese will come to a point of fluency that will fulfill part of that other yearning. But I feel, in my heart of hearts, linguistics is what will keep me afloat during those tough times.

I’m super lucky too because my husband is just as geeked out about linguistics as I am. We love to talk about it, theorize and babble and make jokes. It fuels us, and his interest in it will help me when I am feeling the pressure.

And so, next week, hubs is wrapping up his school year and summer vacation will start. I will spend a few weeks dumping as much time as I can into self study. I will find a way to save $200 to take the GRE. And I will get a job to save the money needed to go to LSA Summer 2019 conference/camp.

I have been taking a winding road for a while, but it’s starting to straighten out a bit. The focus is becoming clearer, nearing tangibility.

My Life with Depression

Anthony Bourdain died today. He supposedly took his own life. Twitter is now a flutter with threads on suicide, mental health, reaching out, etc. It has me in my feelings, so I’m writing to bear all about my own struggles with mental health.

I think it is so easy for people without depression to make assumptions about what will or won’t help people with depression. Like humanity in general, people come in all different shapes and forms, and I think depression may be the same. But for me, personally, a lot of what people throw out there as ways to help with suicidal people isn’t at all helpful. I don’t know what the solution is, but “reach out”, “call the suicide hotline”, “get help” aren’t helpful when a person is in the depths of suicidal ideations.

I’ve suffered depression since I was a teenager. I go through cycles, where twice a year I am just unreasonably depressed and don’t want to do anything. It lasts for about two weeks to a month, and then life resumes as usual. Prior to having children, I would just allow myself to shut down. I’d skip classes or call into work, just lay in bed and sleep it off. I chose not to take medication because I didn’t want to have to be dependent on it. I was foolish that way.

When I had my first daughter, my depression got worse. Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation brought me to a point where I was making plans. I spent hours each night trying to get my daughter to sleep, and as I was stuck in the dark with her, I thought of ways to make it all stop. Giving up sounded so much easier than dealing with the bullshit I was dealing with. It was at that point that I got into contact with a doctor and got on medication.

Not all medication will work. I was on Zoloft first, and that medication made me seriously insane. I was rolling around on the floor, putting my feet on walls, and I couldn’t get myself to stop. It was bizarre. But I changed medication, and I was good for a while. When I got pregnant again, I stopped my medication because it wasn’t approved to take with pregnancy.

The day my second daughter was born, I asked my midwife for a new prescription for Prozac. She refused to do it. I don’t even remember why, but it was stupid and I was absolutely pissed off about it. It took me several months before I got bad enough again to reach out for medication.

One of the side effects of Prozac is increased suicidal thoughts. For me, it takes about two to three weeks before those side effects subside. But I was also struggling to remember to take it, so I kept having to start over, kept having those increased suicidal thoughts.

It got bad. Real bad. I was so depressed, so sad, so apathetic, so ready to just be done. But I didn’t want to leave my kids without a mom. I thought about taking them with me. Taking my husband with me. Those stories you hear about whole families dying in murder-suicides… you realize that maybe this is why. Life gets so hard, and you just don’t want to have your family suffer too… so you make a command decision to let no one suffer. I don’t condone it, but I get it.

January 2017, my apathy for life reached such a heightened point that I had to do something. Run away? Take my life? Take everyone’s life? I was desperate. I needed something, anything. I shaved all my hair off. Two feet of hair, gone. It was liberating, but it didn’t solve the problem that my brain was still broken. Is still broken.

Two months later, I hit that low point again. It’s hard to care about getting better when you just want to be done. If I hadn’t had a family, young children to care for, people who cared about me and people who relied on me to care for them, I might have gone through with it. But I didn’t. Instead, I called a mental health place to ask for a psychiatrist. I figured that’s what I needed to find the best medication for me.

I wasn’t suicidal at the time I called, but a week or so before I had been. That’s why I was calling. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. It was past time to find a new medication. The woman on the phone asked those screening questions:

“Have you had any suicidal thoughts in the last month?”
Yes.
“In the last week?”
Yes.
“Do you have a plan?”
Kind of?
“What kind of plan?”

I am ashamed to write this. I don’t want to hurt my children. It is the last thing I would want to do. They’re so young and beautiful and so full of life. But the plan involved them. Them first, then me. I have no guns in the house. My plan involved a bathtub. Just a thought, though. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t watch them struggle. No way. But it was just a thought.

I shared, because I wanted to be honest. I thought that would be the best thing to do. They wanted to get me in that day. I couldn’t, because I had no ride. They made an appointment for the next day. But, being depressed and sad and uncaring, I didn’t get my sleep-deprived ass up in time to drive my husband to work. So I called and rescheduled for later in the week at a time where I knew I could make it. But I guess that wasn’t good enough for them. They tried calling me, but again, depressed, I didn’t answer.

So they sent a cop to my house.

And that cop spent hours trying to tell me how much I matter, and how “clearly you wouldn’t let this house get so messy” if I was mentally healthy (um excuse you?). He forced me to call my husband and demand that he come home. He threatened to take me to the hospital for mental health evaluation. I was so embarrassed and angry. I managed to convince the cop that I wasn’t suicidal, I just wanted different medication. I told him I had rescheduled, and he called the facility to confirm. He seemed a bit annoyed himself that they didn’t bother to tell him this information when they had him come out. But whatever. He didn’t take me away from my home, but he did hold me accountable for going to that appointment. Which I would have done anyway.


It is so difficult to talk to non-depressed people about suicidal ideations. They don’t get it. So I don’t talk about it. I keep it to myself, and I suffer silently while putting on a face of… well, ok-ness. I’m OK, just a little sad, but inside my brain I am constantly battling with those thoughts. I think the brain has multiple parts of thinking, and the area where the suicidal thoughts permeate is right next to that part of logic that says, “you don’t really want to do that.” You argue with yourself, constantly, on what the better choice would be. And sometimes, sometimes… there’s a longing to just. be. done.

When you talk to nondepressed people about depression, they want to fix it. Or they want to pity you. They want to tell you the cliches of how much you’re valued. I shouldn’t call them cliches, but it kind of is. For me, it’s not what I want to hear. I don’t know what I want to hear. It isn’t, “I’m sorry.” It isn’t, “Oh no!” It isn’t, “How can I help?” I think what I want to hear is just…normal stuff. Like the sort of thing you’d conversate about that kind of shows that there’s a future in store. Things like, “How are things progressing in (area of interest)?”

When I’m depressed, I just want to be left alone. Which is probably the worst thing to do when depressed. I don’t want to be pitied over. I don’t want confirmation of being valued or whatever else. I definitely don’t want the police called on me. When I’m at my worst, the last thing I would do is call a suicide prevention number.

When I was 14, I was on the very edge. A knife held to my wrist. I had been talking to a friend on AIM about it, and she talked to the guidance counselor at school, who then pulled me out of class. I was so angry. She did right, but it just made me not want to ever talk to anyone about it. I don’t want to be subjected to that.

I read today someone suggested that if you’re with someone who is depressed is to just sit and be silent next to them. I think I would appreciate that. I think that’s where I would find my value. That even at my lowest, you’re not there to fix me. You’re there to be with me. To make sure I’m ok, and that I don’t do something stupid. That would take a sacrifice on the part of whoever was with me, to be there and be silent. It would probably be hard for that person. But at least in my silent suffering I wouldn’t be alone.

I think, ideally, it would be nice if someone else could advocate for a person with depression. To go out and get that medication. To talk to a counselor on someone’s behalf. To have mobile counselling so that the people who cannot even get themselves out of bed could at least be seen at home without having to go through the grueling task of going out into a world that isn’t kind to the depressed.

I have an appointment later this month to talk to my doctor about new medication and getting into counseling. This is something I’ve decided I’m ready for, and before this moment I wasn’t ready. I don’t think I’m a strong person. I’m quite weak minded. But I might be stronger than others. I have managed to keep on keeping on, despite the multitude of times I’ve thought about doing otherwise. In all honesty, and I believe this to be true in this moment, I don’t think I’ll make it to old age. I think that darkness of my mind will take me out prematurely. I’m hoping the new meds and counseling will quell that feeling.

I certainly will never stigmatize any person – rich, poor, successful, just getting by, anywhere in between – who chooses that moment when they’ve decided it’s just too much and they have had enough. Life is hard. It is so hard. Especially for anyone who has depression. It’s amazing that we have the fortitude to power through it. Truly amazing. The brain can be such a dark place. It is so convincing of awful lies that we know, in our heart of hearts, to not be true, until it gets to a point where it can overwhelm that logical part of us.

This is all just to say there isn’t a magical “one size fits all” solution to depression and other mental illness. Everyone is different, and what would work for me isn’t what would work for someone else. It took me a long time to figure out what was best for me, and even now I’m not even sure what would be best. I still need to find a counselor who meshes will with my values, who will talk to me in a way that won’t make me feel guilty or ashamed or angry. Medication helps, but I still feel there needs to be some adjustment to find what will work just right for me. At some point I’ll figure out how to eat right and exercise and get solid sleep and all the other ‘simple’ things that make dealing with depression easier but is hard to get started when you’re in the depths of it.

Life is hard. Living with depression makes it harder. You do what you can to survive.

A New Path to Linguistics

A week ago I emailed my number one grad school choice to ask about their program requirements. Although I was afraid I was asking a stupid question, I received a very encouraging response.

Admission requirements include four classes, only one of which I have successfully completed. The others are not readily offered, and while there are two nearby universities that offer the classes, one is ridiculously hard to get into and the other is at an inconvenient distances. Not to mention costs involved.

I had spent the last two weeks pondering ways to get these classes I needed under my belt. I was (and maybe still am?) planning to attend a local state college (60 miles away) for three quarters to get five classes under me (one is a prereq for the classes I need and would be useful, the other is just a class I’m interested in). The costs involved is kind of ridiculous though, especially in terms of childcare. Altogether it would cost me about $20,000 to go that route.

The response from the grad school offered an additional option: attending Linguistic Society of America‘s (LSA) summer institute. It’s four week program that offers a variety of linguistics courses to help further develop linguistic knowledge. To my luck, they offer introduction classes.

With this new alternative presented to me, I can get the requirements I need for a fraction of the price. Added bonus is that the hubs and the girls would be able to go visit Grandma and Grandpa who live in CA. If I can spend the next year saving up the money we need for the summer institute / mini vacation, I can plan to apply to grad school in fall of 2019, attending fall 2020.


I’m currently reading a book about creating habits so I can better manage my time at home. I highly recommend no one ever take four years off of work if you have depression, no social life, and poor time management skills. I tell you what, it is a sure fire way to make you feel terrible about everything. I feel lucky that social media exist since I have received quite a bit of encouragement there.

As I work toward building better habits, I will most likely blog about that in an attempt to reinforce them. I’m really awesome at making plans and really terrible at following through. Hoping I can change that about me.

RL application of racial knowledge

I got into an internet argument with white people today about their racism. It didn’t go over very well, as most conversations about racism tend to do. But, for me, it was a learning experience.

fbracism

This is how it started, and it devolved into calling the red image ‘racism’. Which it isn’t.

I don’t regret calling out racism. That is my duty as a white person. Maybe I could have gone about it a little differently, but after quietly watching the black community engage with racists for several months, I took it in stride to approach it the same as they do: directly pointing out in what ways they are perpetuating systemic racism.

I was told it was too confrontational. Yes, and no. When people are already engaging in a way where they are being outright racists, it’s hard to provide the emotional labor needed to put them in a place to listen. They already aren’t listening, and they don’t want to listen. But that won’t excuse them from not being called out as a racist.

They got mad that I called them racists. They in turn pointed out all the ways they experienced “racism” toward them. They brought in “my black friends”, they brought it “racism is a crutch”, they brought in “You’re being a racist.”

Essentially, they did the typical white defense against being called a racist. I pulled out my bingo board to see what I had.

casualracistbingoboardmarked01

Damn, not quite bingo. If only my board had been arranged a little differently…

Regardless of them not being in a place to listen, I gave book recommendations on how to address/see their racism. I don’t expect them to read it, but who knows, maybe in 5-10 years, if they have a change of heart, they’ll try to remember what those book titles were. Hell, I even put it out there that I’m still willing to engage if they’re willing to reflect. But I’ve seen and experience the ultimate Waste Of Time it is to fight with an uncompromising wall. (What other kind of walls are there?) Ain’t interested.

Either way, I think I might start a series of posts here, or on fb, or both, where I write about the things I’m learning about racism. Ijeoma Oluo does a fantastic job about framing racial issues in a way that makes it easy for the White audience to understand. But she’s also a black woman who is doing a lot of emotional labor that she shouldn’t have to do. I know this is what she chose to do. I am her target audience. Now it’s time for me to utilize that knowledge to engage with the White audience who are willing to engage but may not necessarily be willing to accept the reality of our White Supremacist society. I don’t expect this to be a fruitful adventure. I expect it to be a lot of talking to walls. But I hope I can put some dents or cracks in there. We’ll see.

Finally Getting Started

You know how when you first get into something, you look like such a noob by how you talk about it?

Yeah, last post. But, I guess that’s how you learn and grow, right?

I’ve been talk talk talking about what I want to do, and haven’t been do do doing. Over the last few days I’ve narrowed down my starting points on how I’m going to jump into the linguistic side of my studying. I’m already fairly involved in the race/racism side while recognizing that I still have much to learn. But I feel like I have a fairly solid foundation on which to continue building. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out Ijeoma Oluo’s newest book, So You Wanna Talk About Race, from the library. I look forward to reading it.

As for the linguistics, I’m going to start by learning Phonology. After putting out a tweet asking about the intro book I have, I realized that I already have enough intro knowledge that it would be a huge waste of time to continue down that path. I need to jump into these intermediate “classes.” Also, I purchased Raciolinguistics but it’ll be a while before it gets here. I currently have sixteen different papers/articles lined up for reading, most from the same author, but I’m dipping my toes in and will plan to expand my point of view as I look at the citations.

Anyway, the purpose of this post was mostly to ramble my not-yet achievements so I can get the previous post pushed down. My kids still suck at sleeping, so I don’t get much time to myself to work on these things. Plus sometimes just don’t want to work on it while those cute little people demand an enormous amount of my time. These are the privileges awarded to me as a stay at home mom — read when I want with no deadlines. But it also means I rarely get shit done.

So, off I go to get shit done.

There’s a field for that: Raciolinguistics

After writing the previous post, it was as if the universe decided to answer my questions through the announcement of a new academic book: Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race by Jonathan Rosa. I found exactly what I was looking for through Nelson Flores’s tweet,

Raciolinguistics? It seems so obvious now.

I’ve been doing as much research as I can, time allowing with two sick little people and a raging bout of depression. Raciolinguistics is such a new field of study that there is relatively little to be found about it. According to WikipediaDr. Flores and Dr. Rosa coined the term in the 2015 academic paper, “Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education“, which I am currently in the process of reading. H. Samy Alim, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball edited a book called “Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race“; I plan to purchase when there is some extra cash to be had. Once Rosa’s book comes out, I will be purchasing that as well.

I’m supplementing my studies by following Dr. Adrienne Keene’s wonderfully free course on Critical Race Theory. I’m actually starting there, since I’m forever broke, and so far I think it’s a fantastic place to build on.

 

I really think this is the niche I’ve been looking for. This whole summer has been spent learning about systematic racism and white supremacy, and I’ve been interested in Linguistics and Rhetoric since the last year of my undergrad program in 2011. I definitely would have not found the intersection of these two topic until this point in my life, but I’m glad to have found it. I will be dedicating any time my brain isn’t feeling like exhausted mush on learning as much as I can about CRT, Linguistics, and Raciolinguistics.

 

If you wanna take pity on my poor ass and give me a Christmas/Birthday gift (my birthday is December 30th), would you consider getting me one of these books? I ain’t holding my breath, but it would be a nice surprise. 🙂

Using Linguistics to Eradicate Racism

That’s what I want to do.

Been spending an enormous amount of time on Twitter. I’m getting inspired left and right by the POC community and the Linguistics community. But then I run into articles like this (‘I don’t think there’s anything darker than doing a PhD’), and I’m forced to stop and reflect.

The most important question to myself is

What do I want to dedicate a chunk of my life to?

On my POC twitter feed, where a majority of the people I follow are academic/intellectual black women, I constantly see disdain and derision toward so-called “allies” who do nothing more than type behind a computer screen about how much they hate racism, but won’t do the difficult and uncomfortable part of actually challenging people’s racism. And they have every fucking right to feel that way. When was the last time you remember a white person calling out another white person for their racism? You don’t.

If you have, go give that person a high five. If it was you, you’re awesome.

But not enough white people DO anything to combat systematic racism.

I don’t want to be that person.

 

I am super geeky about rhetoric. Thinking about it excites me. I think learning about language linguistically will give me another angle, a fuller angle, to examine rhetoric in a way that an English degree would not give. Semantics, pragmatics, and a sociolinguistic examination of rhetoric would be the foundation I start building my skills.

I recognize, and am not all that interested in, the linguistic deconstruction of racist rhetoric has already been examined by multiple researchers. And while that research will be prevalent in the crusade I want to embark on, it’s not enough to deconstruct. I want to reconstruct. Or, perhaps even destroy and rebuild anew.

Essentially I want to see how – and at what scale and at what point in one’s life – we can use rhetoric to decrease the likelihood of becoming a racist. Or I want to know if we can train teachers/police/general populace to actively rework their speech patterns to lessen subconscious racism/colonialism.

Something along those lines. Most likely there is a flaw in my thinking somewhere, but the end goal is to use linguistic techniques to eliminate racist thinking.

 

Is it possible? Has it been done? Is someone working on these things now? What do I need to do to find these things out? What type of schooling/training do I need? Which university would best the path I want to take?

Help!

My Husband

Tonight I looked at myself for the first time in quite a long time. I mean, really looked at myself. My eyes, my cheeks, my nose and lips. They’re me, but now they have evolved into the adult version. Woman with a capital W. It’s kind of shocking to see. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

Aside from physical appearance, I am enjoying getting older. I know 31 almost 32 really isn’t old, or even older, but it’s a fine age to get into deeper self reflection. I’ve always been a reflector, critical thinker. But with age comes wisdom, as they say. An idiom I hated in my youth but find truth in now.

I thought to myself earlier tonight, “What would you be doing if you didn’t have a husband or children?” Before I could even begin to ponder, I countered, “Why do you have to not have a family in order to do what you want to do?”

Touche, brain, touche.

But there is something to that freedom. No responsibilities other than yourself. I didn’t even get to realize that fully before I entered into a relationship with my husband. But really, I didn’t need to have my own place to do what I was already doing: mostly hanging out on the computer in my room.

I actually am thankful to have the husband and the children I have. Without my hubs, I wouldn’t have grown in the ways that I have. He brought to me a whole new level of critical thinking that I think is a reflection of who he is. I brought him misanthropy. My bad. But anyway, when we get into really deep conversation, we really explore all avenues and present to each other a perspective that the other would not come up with on their own. I have always loved our conversations.

In college, he took English Lit classes and anthropology. I really think my love of language – grammar and linguistics – was born out of him. The fire was deep within, and he knew just how to talk about it in a way that ignited a passion. Kudos to my love for showing me love and the things I love. Love. Lobe. &&&

The path I would have chosen as a singleton would probably not intersect at all with the path I am on now. It may have been just as worthy, but maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. It was a silly question to ask myself anyway.