Coronavirus Coping Mechanisms

There’s nothing quite like having your entire life flipped upside down to elicit some really bizarre, new anxiety coping mechanisms. Seeing as I suddenly have tons of time on my hands, I’m not surprised that things are starting to get a bit weird. Sure, there are plenty of people who are using their newfound free time to ‘become a better person’ or whatever that means, but I rue the capitalist undertones of using my time to be ‘more productive’ or ‘find my value’ in a rapidly changing economy. Sure, I’ll probably start working on my novel again soon. Maybe look into online freelance writing because, fuck it. But that hasn’t happened yet because I’ve been spending all my free time trying to cope with my anxiety and the looming sense of doom and gloom. Which isn’t very exciting or sexy, but it’s gotta get done. I wonder what the long term effects of this will be on my mental health, which was never very fantastic to begin with. Sure, I get to work out every day, which is nice because my goal is to get cut the fuck up by the time I come out of quarantine, but I’ve also noticed that this, perhaps, is just a fun, new way that my body dysmorphia is presenting itself. Seeing as I’m having anxiety about going to the grocery store – since grocery stores are hella crowded, making them hotbeds for infection, and also my anxiety about my financial future has made reticent to spend money on absolutely anything – this is going hand in hand with my body dysmorphia, and I just don’t really eat that much anymore. It comes and goes, but it’s easy to just starve myself nowadays, something which I refer to as my newborn ‘coronarexia.’ So, that’s been cool. I haven’t been drinking up a storm like I thought I would, but who knows, these wild coping mechanisms are sure to mutate over time. I’m not at the point where I’m begging for any sort of attention on the Internet, but when that does happen I noticed that Chat Roulette is still an active website, so I’m gonna stick that one in my back pocket for the time being.

In the meantime, I would just like to state for the record that, no, I don’t plan on contributing to a society which is currently crumbling before my eyes, I just plan on being myself and doing the same shit that I always do, because I’m an actualized person so the things I care about now are the things that I have always cared about and will always care about: the people I love, writing shit, and beauty in every form. I’m not going to come out of this a changed person (that is, on an emotional level – on a physical level, I plan on being unrecognizably hot), I’m going to come out of this more myself.

Privilege & Pandemic

There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to show you what people’s true priorities are.

My first pet peeve of this pandemic is all the posts that shame people aren’t sheltering in place. Yeah, I get it, these people are endangering themselves but more importantly they’re endangering others. However, this tone of shaming people isn’t really what we need right now. There are a lot of reasons why people aren’t sheltering in place right now. Some people might be less informed than others based on how they consume media. Things have been changing pretty rapidly, and keeping up has been pretty exhausting. Some people have unplugged because of all the doom and gloom, so perhaps not everyone has gotten the memo. Although, that does seem unlikely one week in, but seeing as we live in a country that foments a basic distrust of the media, it’s also highly likely that plenty of people think this is fake news. There are a lot of reports, statistics, anecdotes, scams, and fear mongering – of course it’s easy for people to think that this is an overreaction. Plenty of people believe it’s an overreaction as part of their coping mechanisms. Shelter in place can be traumatic for a lot of people in different situations, especially here in the Bay Area where income inequality is high, housing is expensive, and a ton of people just lost their jobs. A certain level of denial isn’t surprising, and expecting everyone to immediately adapt to shelter in place, a wild concept for which most of us have no precedent, was always going to be unrealistic. Because it’s easier for people to be in denial about what’s happening because then they can be in denial about the larger truth, namely that this might last for months. So many people don’t have the resources, emotional or financial, to plan for three months of unemployment. This shit’s fucking frightening. Sitting alone at home is going to force a lot of people to truly examine their life decisions, and if you’ve made bad life decisions then you probably don’t want to sit at home in stultifying social silence. Shelter in place is going to be detrimental to many people’s mental health in ways that we might not even know already. I’ve heard that people are still drinking a lot, just at home, alone. I’m not surprised to hear that people are still attending church, especially churches with older congregations, because the elderly can be socially isolated already, and church can be an essential part of their well being. Other people are panicking because their living situations aren’t ideal. Without public transportation or Lyft, some people do not have easy access to food, and even when they do get to the grocery stores they might be wiped clean. Some people are living in a house with an abusive partner, abusive roommate, or an otherwise hostile or unsafe environment. It’s not surprising to see people resorting to unsafe behavior in order to remedy these things. Because reports say that 80% of people will only have mild symptoms, some people aren’t afraid of getting it, which, yes, I know it’s selfish, it’s a horrible excuse. But many people are weighing their various needs against the framework of shelter in place and looking for ways to fulfill their needs within these swiftly shifting times. If you see someone endangering themselves or others, shaming them through vague posts on social media isn’t helpful for anyone’s morale. Be compassionate and have the conversation with people you care about.

social isolation

 

Because if you have the privilege to be able to shelter in place, if you’re not facing dire financial consequences, if you have a nice home, if you’re there with people you love, if you’re not suffering from mental health issues, if you have access to food, if you know you’ll be able to make it three weeks or three months – lucky you. I just don’t want to hear about it. Say or do something helpful.

The Death of Hook Up Culture (Or, Is Hook Up Culturing Deadly?)

I deleted all my dating apps yesterday because, well, I’m having a lot of mixed feelings about dating during a pandemic. I found myself in the midst of my pandemic-panic, locked into my phone, looking at my messages on Hinge, when I realized: maybe I should just talk to people that I already know and care about. What am I going to do on Hinge – carry out a three week courtship with someone I swiped right on? And what would it look like to start dating someone new in times like this? Do you just start a relationship with a base note of global panic and take it from there? That sounds like a lot of weird, uncharted emotional labor to me – do you find someone with whom to have a mutual panic attack? Do you look for your doomsday prepper bae? Are people just on there pretending to be normal still? Are dating apps just a terrible echo chamber of amplified loneliness right now? What a way to truly get to know a person. And seeing as I’m terrified of getting to know people, maybe I should just hit the pause button right now. Which is fine by me. I’m definitely the type of person who goes on dating apps for the daily validation and not because I’m looking for dates. But seeing as I’m a huge fan of hook up culture, regardless of whether or not I participate in it, there’s a twinge of sadness in my heart knowing that hook up culture will fully disappear for at least a few weeks here. No more late night, bar crawl meet cutes. No more dating app hook ups. Are people still having casual sex? I mean, yeah, of course they are, duh, but now that everyone’s gotten serious about this whole ‘shelter in place’ and ‘social distancing’ thing, I’m curious as to how many casual relationships and fuck buddy situations had to go down the hard road of, ‘I don’t care enough about you to want to weather out this storm with you.’ Yeesh. Sure, there are still plenty of people who throw caution to the wind and are still doing whatever they want – that’s a pretty basic tenet of hook up culture. Hook up culture just attracts a certain type of person. Usually: incautious, lonely, antisocial people. So, for all my fellow members of hook up culture: dawg, I feel you, this shit sucks, but, don’t worry, we’ll be back at it soon enough. :*

Anarchy & Anxiety

Why, yes, of course I like watching the world fall apart! Living through the collapse of Western society has been a lifelong dream of mine, and now that dream is finally coming true!

Granted, it’s a lot less violent than I thought it would be. But, then again, this is just the beginning. This first few days have been the amuse-bouche of global panic as everyone around me tail spins into “What are we going to do about toilet paper?” Me? I’m gearing up for the fun stuff. You know what I’m talking about.

Dating at the beginning of the end of the world has likewise been interesting. My Hinge matches are drying up, probably because we’re all ‘social distancing’ nowadays. (No we’re not. It’s the East Bay. Oakland will forever be grimy as fuck, and seeing as this virus wreaks havoc on the old, this pandemic has become a cause célèbre of the younger generation. And I love a good reason to party, so, party on, Garth. Party on, Wayne.) Coronavirus is really wreaking havoc on hook up culture, which bums me out because despite the fact that I don’t actively participate in hook up culture on that level anymore, it was always comforting to know it was there. Kinda like driving by your middle school. No, I’m not going in, but I like the flood of memories and nostalgia for the good times I get every time I see it.

Granted, this pandemic is really thinning out the crowds out there. Everyone who’s at one of my favorite bars this weekend is definitely a self selected bug chaser and/or gift giver, which also means they’re all fucking freaks on some level because bug chasing/gift giving isn’t a new thing. That’s some post-AIDS epidemic shit. Far be it from me to parallel these two widely different virus outbreaks, but that is some next level “I don’t give a fuck” that came from a previous, more freakadelic generation. We straights can act like we’re being hardcore, but are we? Really? It’s not even in the same ball park. Although, one part of me wonders: is that hot? And am I really going to…nah. That’s between me and the next person I fuck.

Speaking of the next person I fuck, it’s probably going to be the same person I fuck because, well, there’s nothing quite like a quarantine to make you realize, “Yeah, I can Netflix and chill with this person for the next two months.” Which isn’t shade by any means, but, rather, just not my usual approach to dating. I was planning on doing what I always do when I date someone: hem and haw for 6-9 months about whether or not this is worth my time, then dump him for a month, then get back together, then dump him again, then get back together with him, and so on and so forth until both our resolve has dissipated into mutual bitterness and angst. However, given current circumstances, I’m going to have to recalibrate a few things. Who knows, maybe a good, old fashioned quarantine is just what I need in order to surmount my toxic dating habits. Doubt it, but who knows!

I just want someone who will hold my hand and cough into the world with me while we watch all of this burn to the ground. True romance.

Reclawed

I was lying in bed, licking my now almost nonexistent wounds, talking to some boy about what the fuck it is he’s going to do for me when I realized, oh, wow, what is this? Blood? What do we have here? Are my claws back? I immediately sat up, turned on the light, looked in the mirror, and – why, yes, there they are, sharp and glistening in the light. I couldn’t help but grin. It’s me, baby. I’m back. After having been effectively declawed by my depression, hunting season is back on.

“Don’t forget who you are,” I whispered to myself as I plunge myself into a spree of antagonization and humiliation via text message. Here I go, indulging all my most sadistic and antisocial personality traits, demanding love from people who don’t even know what the fuck is going on here.

Party time.

Edge Playing With Myself

I was sitting at the bar with my iPad out, ready to order some lunch, because that’s what I do. I know most people at most bars these days, so despite what some people might say, getting lunch alone at the bar while dressed in frills and silks is a fairly safe endeavor for me. Of course, it comes with its occasional bout of bullshit. Such as that day.

There was an unattractive man in his mid 30s or early 40s sitting two seats over from me. We exchanged the perfunctory polite pleasantries that two daytime bar patrons would normally exchange, after which I ordered my lunch and started getting to work.

“Working remotely, eh?” he said.

“Mmmhmmm,” I replied.

“I’m working remotely today, too,” he said, proffering his glass of wines for a cheers. I smiled and kept click clacking at my keyboard because, oh, okay, here comes some bullshit, right? Right.

“Hey, when you’re done working, we can talk about working remotely,” he said.

“I’m cool,” I replied, starting to feel a bit miffed that someone who clearly knows that I’m working feels inclined to impose on what is obviously my work time.

“Cool? Cool about what?”

“Talking.”

“Oh.”

Fantastic. There I was, five minutes into trying to get some work done at the bar, when: poof, my sense of safety and resolve were immediately stripped from me. I gritted my teeth and tried to focus on my work, but that simple request for ‘talking’ to me had dissolved my ability to concentrate on sending out these annoying little emails because all of a sudden my head was occupied with, ‘I really hope that this guy finishes his wine and leaves because now I feel incredibly uncomfortable, just totally conspicuous, like if I stop typing for just a minute I’ll suddenly be obligated to talk to him or subjected to being made to feel like my presence here is an open invitation to be treated as today’s floor show about working women at bars, so now I have to get all this work done while fretting about this man sitting next to me and if I finish my work I’ll have to pretend to keep working just to keep things comfortable.’

Wow. Talk about a flurry of inconvenient emotions that I was not ready to surrender to at noon on a Tuesday. I had shit to do, and fuck that guy for making me feel uncomfortable even as he chats it up with the bartender and orders another glass of wine. Part of me was afraid that at any moment he’d call me a bitch, to which I’d have to respond, “Yeah, I don’t care,” because there’s something about men at bars that just make them seem so entitled. Although, as I sat there typing away, I wondered who felt more uncomfortable in the situation: him or me? And I resented him for putting both of us in an awkward position, and then I resented myself for feeling even slightly sympathetic to him after I rejected him because that’s just what we’re supposed to do, aren’t we? Why hasn’t feminism totally fixed this problem for me already? I have shit to do! I can’t waste anymore precious time internalizing and analyzing the fear that I feel just because one man at a bar talked to me while I was working. Fucking bullshit!

But it’s inescapable, isn’t it. I realized as I sat on the couch with my friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple years with his hand on my thigh. Oh, I know what this means. He wants to fuck me, which isn’t surprising, but why do I feel like an uncouth teenager all over again, clumsy and awkward and forgetting how to say no to something I don’t want to do. Put up walls. Put up walls. Make it uncomfortable. Be weird. Run away. Or – am I going to do something I’m not terribly invested in just so things won’t be awkward for twenty minutes? No, that’s not me, but the fact that it crosses my mind irritates me. How come after all this time, and all this life experience, and all this education on consent and feminism, I still feel like this. Why does rejecting someone’s light, innocuous advances feel like an insurmountable moral conundrum?

Like the man who asked to come over and watch a movie with me. I’ve been entertaining a dalliance with him for two years, but nothing had happened because I just hadn’t felt like letting anything happen. But I realized as soon as I opened the door and let him in: oh, this will perceived as consent. As I sat there, in my own bed, next to him, watching some movie, I wondered: do I actually consent? Do I actually want to do this? Am I actually attracted to this person? Do I have the energy to say no right now? Didn’t I know this was going to happen? If I’m going to say no now, why didn’t I say no earlier? Oh, I know, it’s so fucking exhausting being inside the head of a woman who is well aware of her options but still too fucking frightened to exercise them. Can I be coerced into saying yes? If I am coerced into saying yes, will I feel good about it tomorrow since I’m toying with the idea of saying no so much? And then whose fault will it be. So I laid there, and I felt like someone else’s conquest in which I was actively participating.

Maybe this is all baggage from my last relationship. Which I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about because I’m so sick of talking about it. But aren’t any of these situations just an extension of the situation I put myself in last year? You know, the one where he had keys to my apartment so he would come in at five or six in the morning, coked up and coming from who knows where and from doing who knows what (or whom), to fuck on me or fuck at me or whatever you want to call waking me up in the middle of the night to fuck me in that heaving, skin crawling, post cocaine state of dissociation. It was, as he liked to remind me, ‘part of the kink.’ If it was part of the kink, how come I never got off?

I hate feeling like a victim. I hate that I have to carry around these bad habits, and I have to find some forcible way to shake them off me, much like I have to shake off strange men breathing down my neck. This is so boring, and it’s not really who I want to be, but I guess I can admit to a certain amount of emotional tail spin that is dragging my sexuality into a whirlpool of post break up din. Guess I should sit down, meditate, and redefine my boundaries with the entirety of men in the world.

Like the colleague that my friend told me is just going to try to fuck me.

“Has he tried to fuck you yet?”

“No, but I’m sure he will,” I replied.

“Well, at least you know.”

Oh, I know. I know that I’ve been feeling really sorry for myself, and I know that it’s making me feel angry, and when I get angry I just want to…demoralize a mother fucker. Oh, this will be fun. Time for me to hurt some feelings and call it female empowerment. Watch out, world.

Marked (Part II)

A bruise. Oh, great. Just what I need. To be single and have a bruise. A bruise that isn’t easily explainable. A bruise that obviously isn’t from bumping into a chair. This thing definitely looks like a bite mark. Fuck.

I kinda wanna call this guy and tell him that bruise are for mains only! But I’m not sure what the implication there would be. Is the implication: you are not my main, don’t do it. Or is the implication: now you gotta be my main. That’s too much. I don’t want to think about that. I just want to not have this bruise so I don’t have to think about what kind of lie I might have to tell if one of my other dates asks my why I have a bite shaped bruise on my leg.

Or maybe I don’t want to think about it because I secretly like it. How bold. How kinky. What nice little reminder of a fun little time. I do like being covered in bruises, head to toe. Leave your mark on me. Let the world know who I belong to.

Although, no, isn’t that what I want to get away from? Isn’t that what’s been pissing me off all week? Getting yelled at in the street like I’m somebody else’s discarded property. My date getting accosted for being seen in public with me. The last vestiges of a wild kink from a failed relationship: getting off on being someone’s property. Like an immutable object that was meant to be possessed. I don’t know if I’m mad that various denizens of Downtown Oakland still look at me like I belong to someone I’m no longer dating. Or if I find it to be endearing. He certainly did put a lot of time and energy into making that kink feel real as possible if I’m still experiencing it two months after the fact. How thoughtful of him.

So, as with all things, I am large and I contain multitudes. I guess there’s no avoiding having a sexuality tinged with disgust and violence. Might as well embrace it for the concrete floor covered in shattered glass that it is.