In which I ramble about my job to distract from my misery

In case you wondered what I do all day:

Actually, lately I can’t do a lot of door-knocking because of my mobility issues, but I train interns and volunteers on how to canvass.  Occasionally I’m able to get out and knock doors for a little while.

I also do a lot of the organizational stuff behind canvassing.  Those clipboards in the video?  Someone has to assemble the packets that go on them.  First, I do what’s called cutting turf.  There are certain people that the campaign wants us to reach out to–they’re called targets.  They vary based on the stage of the campaign, the area, and the goals.  It’s always Democrats and sometimes unaffiliated voters who lean Democrat.  (Massachusetts has the greatest percentage of voters who aren’t affiliated with a party of any state.)  Sometimes we target people who almost always vote, but mostly we target people who vote sporadically so that we can urge them to vote.  (The perfect/excellent/likely voters are probably going to vote even if we don’t talk to them.)  So I get on Votebuilder, the data management system used by pretty much every Democratic campaign, and pull a list of those people.  Often, HQ will give us particular wards or precincts they want us to work on in particular towns, so I narrow my list to just those people.  Then I get a map, and each house is a little dot.  Depending on our goals and the number of canvassers we’re expecting, I have to cut turfs anywhere between 40 and 120 doors.  You want the houses to be close together so it’s easy for the canvassers to walk, and if you can, you want to avoid steep hills and long driveways because they slow people down.  In some places, you also have to beware of sketchy neighborhoods.

I can’t take a screenshot from Votebuilder because it’s got all kinds of private information, so I created a similar image.
turfcutting1

This is what it looks like when I first start cutting a turf.  It’s a street map, and all the houses are dots.  (And yes, this is my town, and it really does have a park called Mary Brown’s Dingle.  I have not been able to find out why.  New England is weird, man.)

turfcutting2

This is what it looks like to cut a turf, only in Votebuilder, the lines are nice and straight instead of looking like they were drawn by a four-year-old.  I’m not an artist, okay?  Basically, I have to make sure that each turf (one outlined in red, the other in blue) have roughly equal numbers of doors and are reasonably easy to walk.

I spend an absurd amount of time every day doing this.  It’s not difficult, but it’s fiddly and labor-intensive.  And don’t get me started on how labor-intensive it is to get our printer to work.

We also make a lot of phone calls, so I have to cut the lists for those, too.  That’s a similar process but without the maps, so it goes a lot quicker.

After canvasses and phone banks, all that data has to get entered into Votebuilder so all the campaign staff know who we’ve talked to and what they told us.  A lot of that gets done automatically–we try to get canvassers to use a smartphone app called miniVAN (VAN is another name for Votebuilder), which lets them record their results and instantly sync it to our Votebuilder database.  Most of our phone banks are done online, either through Votebuilder’s virtual phone banks or through an awesome predictive dialer called HubDialer, which lets us talk to 5-6 times more voters in the same amount of time.  But we do have canvassers without smartphones and phone bankers without laptops, so I end up with big stacks of data.  The results of each call or door has to be entered manually.  Again, labor-intensive and fiddly, but not difficult.

I also make a lot of recruitment calls (asking people to volunteer) and confirmation calls (calling people who’ve signed up to volunteer to make sure they’re still coming).  I collate data–campaigns are obsessed with metrics, and you have to report in frequently.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they added “milligrams of caffeine consumed” and “cumulative sleep debt” to our metrics–they want to know every single detail, as long as it can be numericized.  (Is that even a word?  Whatevs.)

Plus, because my boss’s boss knows about my hatred of lawn signs, he thought it would be hilarious to make me the “yard sign coordinator” for our entire region.  That means any time someone requests a yard sign, the call or email gets forward to me.  I have to act like yard signs are awesome and say how sorry I am that we just gave away our last one because they’re going like hotcakes.  “But there are lots of other ways you can help our Democratic ticket!” I tell them.  “One really great way is to spend a couple hours knocking on doors.  Would you be able to join us on Election Day?”  Inevitably, they won’t–they just want to “help” the candidates passively.  I swear to you, my boss did this entirely for his own amusement.

So yeah, this is the stuff I spend 14 hours a day doing.  It ain’t like campaigns on The West Wing or anything–not as romantic as some people think it is.  It’s probably not actually interesting to anyone but me, but I needed a distraction tonight.  So you get 1000 words about it.

biden_dealwithit2
(When will I ever not find an excuse for a Joe Biden gif?  Never, that’s when.)

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existential exhaustion

Last night, I dreamed that I was at work on Election Day, and my bosses kept giving me more and more stuff to do, and I just couldn’t keep up with all of it.  A lot of it was stuff I’d never done and didn’t know how to do, and no one would teach me how or help me at all.  Then we lost the election, and they were all angry at me and said it was all my fault.  Then I had to walk home.  It was cold, and I kept falling down because my legs wouldn’t work.  I had to crawl part of the way.  When I finally got home, the power was out, and somebody from the power company was yelling at me for being useless and not paying my bills.

I mean, I also dreamed that I signed Mary Poppins up for a canvass shift, so clearly my brain is kind of nuts.

But the first dream…it’s pretty clear what that’s about.  No need for interpretation there.  It’s how I feel about myself: I’m a failure at everything, my life is falling apart, everybody either already hates me or is going to hate me when they find out what a fuck-up I am, and even my body won’t do what I need it to.  I’m going to be left alone in the dark and the cold because I’m an unlovable failure.

I’m just so tired of fighting so hard and never getting anywhere.  I’m just so tired of everything.  I don’t want to do it anymore.

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Rational

Everything is so dark.

I keep wishing I would die.  A car accident, a murder, my colon suddenly rupturing.  I don’t really care, as long as I don’t have to do it to myself.  Eventually, if I don’t die, I will do it to myself, once the election is over.

I wanted to live, but I can’t.

I tried, I really did.  I tried so hard for so long.  Sometimes things were better, but now there’s no hope of that happening again.

The three hotlines not answering last night was my breaking point.  I can’t try anymore.  I’m sorry.  I’m not going to survive this.  I’m mostly okay with that.  I mean, it makes me angry because I want to be able to survive.  But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t, at least as much as anyone can come to terms with that.

I’m not crazy, and I don’t belong in a hospital.  Suicide is a logical response when faced with hopeless, unlivable conditions.  All the rhetoric around suicide (driven mainly by organizations funded by drug companies that get filthy rich by selling us antidepressants instead of addressing the socioeconomic and traumatic origins that underlie many cases of mental illness) says you can’t be suicidal and sane, but I am perfectly sane.  Lack of societal acceptance of a behavior doesn’t mean that those who demonstrate that behavior are insane.  Not that long ago, homosexual acts were seen as an indicator or insanity.  I’m suicidal and sane.  It’s the only real choice left to me.

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I tried three different suicide hotlines and a chat.  None of them answered.

How am I supposed to not take that personally?  How am I supposed to not see that as a sign that I’m meant to kill myself?

I feel like the whole world wants me to get it over with already.

I mean, I fucking called a suicide hotline.  I fucking called THREE of them.  Knowing there’s a chance they’d sic the cops on me to drag me off to the hospital.  Having had that happen before.

But nope, no help for you, Kyra.  Not even the last resort people give a shit about you.

How much more am I expected to do?  How much harder am I supposed to try?

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Can’t.

I can’t do this anymore.  Life, in general.  Anything.  Everything.  I just can’t.

This morning, I had to clean my roommate’s blood off the toilet and the floor.  SERIOUSLY?  I mean, it’s not like I’m the world’s best housekeeper, but I don’t leave my fucking blood for someone else to clean up.  That’s pretty much inexcusable.  If I could see it, she damn well could too.

My bank account is overdrawn, like every month.  I have power and cell phone bills to pay.  I still have no internet at home because I can’t afford it.  After the overdraft fees, I’m not sure I’m even going to have enough to pay this month’s rent, let alone oil and pellets for heat.  It’s getting worse and worse every month.

And I’m also out of food stamps money.  I don’t get any more until November 8, so I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to eat for the next two weeks.  I guess I’ll just starve myself.  Clearly I don’t matter enough to feed properly anyway, so why bother?

I didn’t get the job I applied for.  I got a “dear applicant” rejection email.  So there goes any hope of my financial situation getting any better.

There goes any hope for anything.  I have no hope left.  Hope is nothing but a cruel joke.  So is my life.

I think I’m going to kill myself after the election.  I don’t see any other way, and believe me, I have tried.  I have tried and tried and tried, and now I just can’t try anymore.  I would kill myself sooner, but I have commitments to this campaign.  It’s only a week until election day, but even keeping myself alive seems like more than I can manage.

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Stress

All the pre-election stress is kind of getting to me right now, unfortunately.

I got through a very long day, but I didn’t finish all the things I needed to finish.  I’ve already got a list of things to do tomorrow that I know I won’t get through, and I know my RFD and FO are just going to keep adding more and more to it.  And EVERYTHING is top priority.  They’re throwing things at me constantly.  One will ask me to do something that needs to be done ASAP, so I’ll stop what I was already working on to do the new task.  Then the other will ask me when I’m going to be finished with the first task.

To be fair, they’re not angry or mean about it or anything, and they’re working just as hard too.  And I think some of it’s due to my utter lack of working memory–I honestly cannot hold more than one thing in my mind at once without things falling through the cracks, and I’m being asked to hold 15 things in mind at once.

There’s also a power bill I can’t pay.  And I don’t know how I’m going to pay it next month either.  Every month, I’m just getting farther and farther underwater.

And I’m really triggered by a discussion on a forum that got taken over rape apologists who think it’s perfectly acceptable to make women totally responsible for rape prevention.  Seriously, if you ever feel the need to mansplain rape prevention, just fucking don’t.  And the mods/admins won’t do anything about it.  They don’t care that this is creating a hostile, triggering environment for survivors of abuse and rape.

And I’m pretty sure my PMDD is kicking in.

Right now I just want to do something, anything, to turn off all these fucking feelings.  I want to cut or OD or binge and purge, or something.  Just make it stop.

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Things Political Organizers Want You to Know

So, most of my first of ten 14-hour days is almost over.  I handled it a lot better than I thought I would, especially considering I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night.  (In that respect, caffeine helps.)  I’m fatigued and shaky now, even though I’ve spent all day sitting down, but that’s okay.  Hopefully I’ll get some better sleep tonight.

So, since I can’t rant at people on the phone, I have a rant about things that drive organizers crazy/things we want you to know.  (And by “organizers” and “we,” I basically mean me, although I know a lot of these things drive other organizers crazy too.)

  • We’re actually not all that excited about knocking on your door or calling you at home.  In fact, a lot of volunteers and even paid organizers have perennial anxiety about it.  I mean, it’s everything most of us are taught not to do in polite society: don’t bother people, don’t talk to strangers, don’t talk about politics.  We do this because we believe it’s important to get people engaged with the electoral process.  In the 2012 election, only 57.5% of registered voters actually voted.  In the 2010 midterms, it was only 42%.  We do this job because we truly believe that our government will work better and represent us more accurately if more people get out and vote.
  • There are also statistical reasons we get up in your business before elections.  We have studies that show people are mostly likely to vote if someone knocks on their door and talks to them face-to-face.  Phone calls also increase the likelihood that someone will get out and vote, although not as much as face-to-face contact.  We also have studies that show that the more times someone is contacted, the more likely they are to vote.  With inconsistent voters (people who vote in some elections but not every one), it takes an average of three contacts to ensure that they vote.  So yes, it’s probably annoying to get a bunch of calls from us, but we do it because it works.  There’s math and science and stuff.
  • But we really are sorry we annoy you.  We don’t mean to.  We just believe in our candidates so much and value your vote so much that we really want to make sure you do go and vote.  Think of it this way: your vote is your voice, and we really want to hear your vote.  When we call you a bunch of times, it’s because you’re important and we value you.
  • Please be nice to us.  Really, we’re nice people.
  • Even if you don’t want to talk to us, you can still be nice.  It’s not that hard, I promise.  I’m basically an asshole, so if I can get cussed out and say, “Okay, well, you have a nice day,” then you can be polite too.  If you don’t want any more calls, all you have to do is say, “Please take me off your list.”  We’ll do it for you, even if you don’t yell or swear.  We have a little checkbox on our computer and everything!  We’ll still think you’re serious and take you off even if you’re polite about it.  (I actually think it’s an FCC regulation, but even if it weren’t, we’d still do it for you.)
  • Also, you don’t have to lie to us if you don’t want to talk to us.  It’s really okay, and we’re not going to force you to listen.  You can just say, “Thanks, but I’m really not interested.”  Don’t say, “Hang on” and then hang up.  Then I’m sitting there for two or three minutes thinking you’re going to get the person I asked for, in which time I could’ve made two or three other calls.  When you’re trying (as a team) to call 25,000 people every night, two or three minutes really does make a difference.
  • If I ask for your spouse and you yell to them, “It’s somebody from Jane Smith’s campaign,” to them, we can hear you.  We can also hear your spouse when they yell, “I don’t want to talk to them.”  So when you come back and tell me, “Oh, s/he’s asleep/in the shower/not home,” I’m going to laugh at you as soon as you hang up.
  • When I say, “Hi, my name is Kyra, and I’m a volunteer for Jane Smith’s campaign,” you can just tell me that you don’t support my candidate.  You don’t need to yell, “Awww, SHIT!” and then hang up the phone, or say, “Joe Smith sucks” and then hang up the phone.  You could just say, “Thanks, but I’m voting for John Jones instead.”  I won’t even be offended, even if I think you’re wrong.  I get calls from candidates I don’t like too, and sometimes I want to tell them what I think of their candidate, which generally involves a lot of swear words.  But you know what?  I don’t.  Callers are people too, and they’re just doing their job.  Most of them don’t even get paid for it; they do it because they genuinely believe in their candidate.  So if I can politely inform them that I won’t vote for their candidate, you can too.
  • If you really like my candidate, tell me!  Canvassers and phone bankers really like to engage with enthusiastic voters.  Generally, we do this because we’re enthusiastic about the candidate too, but sometimes it can get exhausting and demoralizing.  Enthusiastic voters give us a little cheering up.
  • We also like it when you’re kind to us.  Little things make a big difference.  For example, my intro on calls is always, “Hi, my name is Kyra, and I’m a volunteer with Jane Smith’s campaign.  How are you doing tonight?”  I really appreciate it when people also ask how I’m doing.  It’s also nice at the end of the call when people say, “Have a nice night” or thank me for the work I’m doing.  I always make it a point to say these things when other phone bankers call me, even if I don’t agree with their issue or candidate.  Kindness, people.  It makes the world go ’round.
  • We like to hear a little bit of your story about why you’re supporting the candidate (e.g., “I’m a schoolteacher, and I’m supporting her because she wants to guarantee universal preschool”), but I really don’t need your whole life story.  It may sound cold, but I don’t have the time to make a personal connection when I’m canvassing or phone banking.  As I mentioned earlier, we often have huge goals for the number of people to talk to, and we can’t meet those goals if we have heart-to-heart conversations with a lot of voters.
  • Don’t tell us how we should be running the campaign.  Seriously, don’t.  We have a campaign manager for that, and consultants, and a field director.  These are people who have gone to school to study this stuff, and they have a lot of experience on a lot of campaigns.  We have studies and data that tell us what works and what doesn’t.  Also, with the rapid pace of technological advancement, the best ways to reach voters are constantly expanding and changing.  We base the decisions on how to run the campaign on lots and lots and lots of data.  Also, the person who just knocked on your door or called you is probably a volunteer, and we have no say in those decisions.
  • We can’t control the ads that other candidates or PAC’s put out.  I’m really sorry you think our opponent’s ads are too negative and are dragging down the tone of the campaign.  I happen to agree with you.  But what, exactly, do you think I can do about it?
  • I also can’t tell you why any other campaign is running their campaign the way they do.  I don’t have access to their data and internal numbers.  If I’m calling you on Election Day, I don’t know what the results are until they’re officially released.  I am not psychically connected to my campaign manager, any other campaign managers, or voting machines.
  • I won’t tell you anything about our internal numbers.  That data is confidential.  No, I’m not kidding.  If we wanted everybody to have access to those numbers, we’d put them on our website.
  • If you’re worried that the poll numbers are really close, come help out!  The more volunteers we have, the more doors we can knock on and phone calls we can make.  The more voters we contact, the more votes we win.  Do you understand the math here?  Just complaining or worrying about the polls doesn’t help, but working to shift those numbers in our favor really does make you feel better.
  • No, you can’t get a yard sign.  I have a whole rant about yard signs that involves studies and data, but the gist is that yard signs are a ridiculous waste of money.  If you keep asking about or glorifying yard signs, I will shove a stake up your butt and you can be the yard sign.

I think that’s all my rants for tonight, but expect more in the next 9 days.  Apparently ranting is how I cope with basically everything, especially since I have to be nice and not offend anyone in real life.

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Scattered Thoughts

  • I’m not sleeping again.  The past week it’s been pretty bad.  I just don’t feel like there’s any point in trying to fix it.  I’m used to sleep deprivation by now, and I can deal with it.  I’d rather just deal with it than go back on meds that leave me foggy all day long.
  • Don’t pick a chauvinist fight with me on the internet at 2:00 am.  I get pretty punchy.  And if you’re dumb enough to provoke a fight by being a sexist asshole, then don’t think you’re going to win by insulting me and trying to shut me up.  It’s not going to work, and you’ll look like an idiot because I can dance rhetorical circles around you.  And I will laugh about it the whole fucking time.  Especially at your pathetic insults and attempts at intimidation.  I work in politics, and I talk to people much, much scarier than you, Princess Poop-for-Brains.  You’re gonna have to really step it up if you want to scare me.
  • I went to a meet & greet with our Lieutenant Governor candidate and several state senators and representatives.  I went with a friend who lives in the same ward as I do, and the city councilor from our ward was there.  He came over and said hi, and he said, “You’re the only normal people here.”  Um, thanks?  I don’t often get called normal.  Ten minutes later he called me a unicorn, after I said I was one of those rare voters who is persuaded by facts and hard data rather than abstractions and fuzzy-wuzzy feelings about a candidate.  (We’ll leave my huge Platonic crush on Joe Biden out of this.)  So apparently I’m a normal unicorn.
  • My gastroenterologist’s office called and said my labs all came back normal.  Uh, then why can I still not stand up for more than two minutes?  I just want a definitive answer about what the hell is going on with my body.  Even if it can’t be treated, even if it’s going to get worse, I want to know.  If I know what’s going on and what I can expect in the future, then I can accept it.  But how can you accept something when you don’t know what it even is?  How can I make plans and learn how to deal with it if I don’t know what’s happening?  It’s just so frustrating.
  • My new case manager is somewhat better than the last one, but she never asks how I’m feeling or how I’m coping.  I can’t find it in me to bring up on my own how much I’m struggling, and I can’t ask for more help on my own.  But if she would just ask, then I could tell her.  But she doesn’t, so I can’t.  I hate how powerless that makes me sound.  Hell, I hate how powerless it makes me feel.  But for now, that’s the reality of the situation.

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“Just a little easier.”

I never imagined at $55,000 a year, I’d have trouble making ends meet. And my wife brings in another 25. My son’s in public school. It’s no good. I mean, there’s 37 kids in the class, uh, no art and music, no advanced placement classes. Other kids, their mother has to make them practice the piano. You can’t pull my son away from the piano. He needs teachers. I spend half the day thinking about what happens if I slip and fall down on my own front porch, you know? It should be hard. I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s-that’s a man’s job. A man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. ‘Cause in that difference is… everything.

–The West Wing, “20 Hours in America”

Tonight/last night (it gets fuzzy; I’m not sleeping again) was good.  We had a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) summit for the coordinated campaign, and I finally feel like I’m back in the loop again.  It turns out that I was right–I basically got lost in the shuffle when things got rearranged for the coordinated campaign.  The field organizer I’d been working with got shifted out toward central Mass, and they pulled the field organizer from that part of central mass out here to western Mass.  (Don’t ask what the logic is there.  I have no idea.  Welcome to campaign life.)  But we have a dry run this weekend, and I’m all signed up for that.

Plus, I snagged some rally signs for my Halloween costume.  I’m going to be a yard sign, and on my back it’s going to say, “I’m a yard sign.  I can’t vote, so go knock some doors.”  I haaaaate yard signs, and the old guard organizers in my area are obsessed with them.  They started in on it tonight, and I wanted to stand up in a chair and yell, “LET ME TELL YOU A THING.  Yard signs do not work in anything bigger than small-town school board elections.  I don’t care that you think they work because I can cite four peer-reviewed studies that say you’re just WRONG, so please, for the love of the old gods and the new, can we SHUT UP about yard signs?”  I didn’t, of course.  I just covered my mouth and laughed silently until they shut up.  And then some guy started in on, “When I was in Bangkok, they advertised on the ice cream trucks that would drive around all the neighborhoods.”  At that point I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS I CAN’T EVEN.  Just because you’ve been working on campaigns for the last 60 years doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing.  The demographics have shifted, the technology has shifted, and we have lots of studies proving that the things we’re asking you to do work and the things you want us to let you do don’t work.

Political organizing has taught me many things, but patience is probably not one of them.  I mean, I can tolerate it, but not especially well.  And at some point, something snarky would slip out of my mouth because sometimes I just can’t contain it.  Like, “Hey, this is not Bangkok in 1955,” or “If you mention yard signs one more time, I will impale you on one and you can be the yard sign.”  This is also why I’d never get elected to public office.  Remember Joe Biden in the 2012 Veep Debate?  Multiply that by ten and add a bunch of words they’d have to bleep out, and that would be me.  I’d probably be all composed and smart for half of it, and then my opponent would say something really provocative, and I’d slip.  It would be hilarious, but it would make me unelectable.

biden_malarkyJoe Biden is my snarky Platonic soul mate.  But if you think he’s a loose cannon, I promise you, I’d be like a loose…I don’t know, ballistic missile launcher or something.

(I swear I’m not actually a serial killer or anything.  I wouldn’t actually impale anyone.  I just get really sick of people who have no idea what they’re talking about hijacking meetings run by people who do know what they’re talking about.)

Anyway, it was cool because somebody I’d worked with on the Obama campaign in 2012 showed up.  She was our neighborhood team leader, and she became a bit of a surrogate mother figure to me.  We’ve been in touch sporadically–she now runs a pro-choice group–but our paths haven’t crossed in months.  It was really cool to catch up with her.  And she invited me to a meet and greet tomorrow night.  It’s our lieutenant governor candidate, our state senator and representative, and some other state senators and reps.  I’ve met most of them before, at least the ones from my district, but meet and greets are always kind of fun.  But the location is this diner where nobody under 70 goes ordinarily, and they play Fox News.  Interesting choice of venue for a Democratic party event.  *shrugs*

Then, because I was feeling pretty good, I decided I was going to go online and apply to the state university near me to go back and finish my undergrad degree.  They use a common application, so I went to that site and started doing it.  First of all, they want a $75 application fee.  I can’t even pay to heat my house, and that’s almost two weeks’ worth of food.  You can apply for a fee waiver–but your high school guidance counselor has to verify your financial need for a waiver.  I graduated in 2004, for fuck’s sake.  I don’t have a high school guidance counselor.

Then they want your parents’ entire life history.  Well, okay, their educational history.  Which meant I had to Google my father’s resume.  The father who sexually abused, raped, and tortured me for 16 years.  The father who was a cop.  The father who’s now the chair of the criminal justice department at a Midwestern college.  I thought I was going to die from a heart attack–I don’t even want to know how high my heart rate jumped up–but I managed that.

But the final straw was standardized test scores.  You can’t submit the application without test scores, but you can only enter test scores going back to 2009.  I took the SAT and ACT in 2003.  I remember what my scores were, but I don’t have the proof anymore.  And it won’t let me enter them because the dates are invalid.  Oh, and you can’t submit it without contact info for your high school guidance counselor, which, as previously mentioned, I don’t have.

The whole thing is clearly meant for high school kids.  I know I cannot possibly be the only nontraditional student trying to apply to college, but they’ve made the application literally impossible.  I probably shouldn’t have even bothered trying–I’ve been in such a bad place, and I know my sanity is very fragile right now.  But I tried because I’m an idiot, and now I feel totally hopeless.  I feel like the whole world wants me to fail, like they don’t want me to be able to get a degree so I can never get a job that will let me escape poverty.  I feel like they want me to kill myself because I’m a worthless burden on society.  I know that’s crazy, bordering on paranoid, and yet…I can’t convince myself out of believing it.

I hate my brain.  I really, really hate it.

I don’t expect things to be easy.  Like the quote at the top, I think things should be hard.  But not like this.  My life right now is too hard.  It’s impossible for me to succeed.  It’s the Kobayashi Maru, only it’s not a simulation and it doesn’t end once I accept that I can’t fix the impossible situation.  Making my life work should be hard, but it should be just a little easier.  But I don’t have the advantage of running into any White House staffers in a bar who can craft policy inspired by my difficulties.  I barely have a voice, and nobody who has power to change things really notices me, not enough to see how hard things are.

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Hypersensitive?

I don’t know if I’m being hypersensitive or if my roommate is being a passive-aggressive asshole.  Or possibly some of both.

I know I tend to be overly sensitive, especially with people who’ve triggered my PTSD.  Once I’m in that state of heightened alert, everything seems like a potential threat.  I know I’ve been wound up more than usual since her screaming-on-the-phone-and-banging-around-for-hours thing a few days ago.  My anxiety’s been through the roof, and my depression has been worse than usual.

Then this morning I get this text: “Not to be a pain or anything cuz I’m sure your [sic] busy knitting or something but my older sister is stopping by tomorrow night for dinner so I’d appreciate it if there was some type of usable communal space on the counters or living area so that I can be able to cook and quite frankly I’m not going to make her eat in my bedroom.”

I’ll ignore the blatant abuse of the English language here, but this whole thing comes off as really snide to me.

For starters, half the crap on the counters is hers.  Yeah, I had some empty boxes and stuff, but that took all of about 30 seconds to get rid of.  I’ll wash the dishes I left out.  No big deal.  Meanwhile, has she cleaned up any of her stuff off the counter?  NOPE.  Has she even taken the trash or recycling out a single time?  NOPE.

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I told her from the get-go that I’m disabled and can’t always do a lot around the house.  I never made that any kind of secret.  In the three weeks she’s been living here, I’ve had three doctors’ appointments and an ER visit, so it’s not like she doesn’t know I’ve been sick.  The fatigue has been really bad the last few days, and I’ve barely managed to make it from my bed to the bathroom without passing out.  Doing anything more than that has been virtually impossible.  Still, I cleaned the bathroom last night, on my hands and knees, because it was gross, and I didn’t want her to have to live with it.

This morning, I tried to clean up more, but I had to sit my butt down on the kitchen floor because I was about to pass out.  And if you’ve ever tried to sweep or mop while using a cane, you’ll know that’s pretty much impossible.  So if she wants to floor clean, she can damn well do it herself.  As far as I can tell, she’s done no cleaning since she moved here.  Ordinarily, that’s not a huge deal to me as long as things don’t get gross.  But then she wants to act like it’s all me?

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(Yes, I think I am going to illustrate this whole post with Joe Biden gifs because of reasons.)

But I think what really got me was the line, “I’m sure you’re busy knitting or something.”  I don’t know how to read that as anything but bitchy and passive-aggressive.

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Again, this is a case of, “You knew from the get-go that I’m disabled.”  I never hid that.

Most of me wants to jump in with, “Nah, bitch, I’m organizing a third of the state for a fucking election in two weeks, much of which, yes, I do from home.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not fucking real or important.”

But the truth is I haven’t been doing much organizing the last couple weeks because I’ve been too sick and fatigued.  And you know what?  That’s fucking okay.  I don’t have to justify my goddamn existence with what I do.  I get that she has a regular nine-to-five job, and I don’t.  But that doesn’t make me any less of a person.  It doesn’t make me any less worthy of respect or compassion.  Just because I don’t get a paycheck the same way she does doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t also important.

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(I do have Biden gifs that aren’t from the 2012 VP debate, but that debate was just so glorious.)

But I have Chronic Nice Girl Syndrome, so I’ll go clean the whole kitchen and living room, do all the dishes, and pretend like none of this bothers me.  I’m so afraid of conflict that I’ll literally sacrifice my health to make Roommate happy.

But after this, I’m done.  She’s done no housework, so I’m not going to either.  Eventually she’ll get the point, or so I hope.  Just because she has a regular job and I don’t, that doesn’t make me automatically responsible for all the cleaning for an apartment we use equally.  If she’s not going to do any work, then I’m sure as hell not going to either, especially since it takes much more of a physical toll on me than it does on her.

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