Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Middle Schoolers Coming Out

The NY Times has a pretty long article about coming out in middle school, including some interviews with kids in Maine.

I was guilty of my share of [disbelief], too, the first time I met Kera — then a 12-year-old seventh grader — and her 13-year-old best friend, Justin, last spring in a city in New England. Kera had small, delicate features. Justin had freckles and braces. They seemed like kids. Yet there they were at a bookstore coffee shop after school, talking nonchalantly — when they weren’t giggling uncontrollably about one of their many inside jokes, that is — about their sexual identities. Kera said she was bisexual. Justin said he was gay. The effect was initially surreal to me, and before long I heard myself blurt out, “But you’re so young!”

It's a thoughtful article, and the author acknowledges his own prejudices; the basic message is that the world isn't quite ready for these kids, but it can't stop them. I like that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby pears

No, really. Baby pears.

I don't usually link to kottke articles but I couldn't resist.

Baby pears! Baby pears!


I need to mention that at some point this month, this blog passed the 10,000 views level. I don't know what I think about that, but there it is.

Also, I think I've passed my four-year blog anniversary, even though the site only seems to be archived to early 2006. I distinctly remember blogging about Meg Perry's death, which happened in December 2005... so there's that.

It's an exciting time here in jennyjeezland. Keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Med management

So a friend asked me recently about my experience with medication, based on what I have written, and I thought it might be helpful to share my response to them here. There may be other folks wondering the same thing and not wanting to ask outright... and also I want to talk about this stuff, publicly.

Because of what I wrote before, I've actually had several people share their own experience with depression and medication, and that's been great. I think that talking is a big part of eliminating the shame around depression and anxiety... and for me, talking has helped ease some of my own disappointment that this is not something that I can treat without medication. There is such a thing as a chemical imbalance. I don't like taking a pill every day, but I can't deny that doing so makes me feel like I can exist--unlike my own untreated feelings, which sometimes make me feel like I can't exist.

I don't think that medication is a permanent solution for me, but it's a tool that I'm using (along with really active therapy, exercise, and better communications in my personal relationships) to reroute the old thought patterns that got me into trouble.

So anyway, here's what I wrote to someone asking more specifically about my experience with meds. I edited the name of the medication out because I am uncomfortable sharing my current prescriptions publicly, but if you want to know leave I'll leave my email in the comments so you can contact me and I'll tell you:
The medication I take (an SSRI) was prescribed primarily for anxiety, with the added benefit of treating my depression. I'm not sure I made that clear in the blog post... But I think that my out of control anxiety made me depressed, so treating one actually was treating the other. And for some reason it's harder to talk about anxiety than depression.

What the medication did was kind of narrow the range of my mood, but not in a bad way. So I still get anxious or depressed sometimes, as people do, but it's like the volume got turned down and the feelings/moods are manageable. The other thing that I think the medication did is to make therapy more helpful, because once the volume was down on the feelings--once I wasn't in crisis all the time any more--I was able to talk about some of the things which *cause* the feelings, and that reduced the anxiety & depression even more.

I started with ****, which is almost exactly the same thing as the thing I'm currently taking (and a lot cheaper), but the pills have lactose in them, and apparently I am extremely sensitive to it.

I have taken other medications in the past (Paxil, Wellbutrin, and imipramine), but those were only for depression, and they didn't work well enough to endure the side effects--things like difficulty being creative, sexual dysfunction, weird body sensations, and increased anxiety. I also wasn't in good therapy while I was taking them, so that makes a big difference. I don't personally believe in medication without therapy.

But while there I have had some side effects (a bit of weight gain, some forgetfulness, a change in the way my body reacts to alcohol, and some stomach sensitivity to coffee), the benefits FAR FAR outweigh them.

So, basically, it's unfortunately a bit of trial and error with medications to see what you'll tolerate best. But I would recommend talking to the doc or psychiatrist who you want to go to about what side effects you're worried about and choosing one that doesn't have many of those. I like the site at, where you can look up medications and basically get the same info they give you in those printout things you get in the prescription bag at the drug store.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama to Letterman: I Was Black Before the Election

I sometimes don't think it's possible for me to love the president more than I do, and then something like this happens:

Dan Savage (whose voice is the voice of my conscience, btw) says this about the above video

... just because Obama was black before the election and still managed to get elected doesn't mean that racism isn't a problem and that racists don't exist. Remember Obama Waffles? But politically Obama has to avoid the angry-black-man label—which is why he's being baited with racist images and slurs and will go on being baited until sometime after 2012—because it would hurt him with middle-of-the-road white independents who don't want to believe that America has a race problem still.

So our first black president can't call clearly racist insults or acts or motives racist. He needs a crazy ol' cracker like Jimmy Carter to do that for him—and then he needs to go on TV and dismiss and downplay Carter's comments. And Americans are simultaneously upset with Carter because he's right and grateful to the president for letting them—and the country—off the hook.

Savage is exactly right. I've been reading Obama's writing, and it's given me a little understanding of where he's going. He's opposed to the radicalization and separation that is happening with our political parties; he's a community organizer through and through. And I have a great appreciation for his understanding of race politics, and his bravery and willingness to be the trailbreaker.

Also, he's hot. And I don't even swing that way.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Become pencils after you pass away...

Become pencils after you pass away...: "


Nadine Jarvis's 'Carbon copies'... A little morbid, but a clever idea

Pencils made from the carbon of human cremains. 240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash - a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind. Each pencil is foil stamped with the name of the person. Only one pencil can be removed at a time, it is then sharpened back into the box causing the sharpenings to occupy the space of the used pencils. Over time the pencil box fills with sharpenings - a new ash, transforming it into an urn. The window acts as a timeline, showing you the amount of pencils left as time goes by.

I don't think it's morbid. I think it's lovely. Write about me with me after I'm dead. via

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happiness Survey

A little while ago I agreed to participate in a study that uses my iphone (have I mentioned I got an iphone? iphone iphone iphone) to track my happiness. I responded to short surveys about 80 times over a period of several weeks about what I was doing and how happy I was.

I just got my first report back, and the results are interesting. And, they come in the form of charts, which you know I love.

Though I often feel lonely, I am apparently only slightly happier with others than I am alone:

% Happy

It's no surprise to me that I like small groups bigger than large groups:

# of people interacting with?
% Happy

What is surprising is that the amount of sleep I get has almost nothing to do with my happiness:

Hours of sleep

Have an iphone? Sign up for the survey here. Don't yet have an iphone? Writhe in jealousy, my friend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I am now an adult... but it still strikes me at odd times. Like last night, when I realized that what I was most looking forward to was finishing the dishes and having a cup of tea in the backyard. Not that household cleanliness and hot drinks are bad, necessarily. But having that be the great joy of my evening--instead of, say, staying up till 1 around a campfire, or being kept awake by the torments of loooooove, or writing bad poetry about either of these two other things--felt suddenly very Grown Up. I immediately felt the need to go get a tattoo AND shave my head.

Except, you know, my job. And stuff.

A few weeks ago I had a long discussion with a friend about the difference between being a grownup and being an adult. Grownups have dead souls, was the implication. Grownups are done growing, and done changing. Grownups in the Little Prince grande personne sense. Which doesn't feel like what I am, but maybe I'm deluding myself? I do feel more stable, less volatile, more certain of myself and of the world. I am calmer and more likely to take pleasures from the contrast between hot tea and cool evening air than from uprooting my life on a whim. Maybe that looks like soul-death from the outside.

And then Jenny Holzer, as part of her work Truisms posted this message on Twitter the other day:

While I've accepted most of her other truisms as, well, true, this one stuck in my gullet. Which I says more about me remaining partially adolescent than it does about the truthfulness of the statement.

I want to end with a conclusion that starts, "But then I..." Unfortunately, there is no conclusion. My self is in tension with myself. Is becoming an adult like selling out? Did all of the adults I knew as a young person--people who seemed so together and responsible and boring--all feel like this? Yes, and yes. Looking forward to more of this.


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