And Other Thoughts I’ve Had Since December…
Throughout different periods of my adult life I’ve experienced several forms of depression. There’s the kind in which I don’t talk to anyone for weeks on end and I feel like the world is an empty wasteland of fake people with false intentions and there’s a conspiracy against me designed to force me into a paranoid state of self-loathing and inescapable solitude until finally I die and I’m found lying next to a bag of lime Tostito’s and my roommate’s cat has eaten my face off.
There’s also the manic kind, in which I feel slightly more hopeful and I spend my time pondering all the ways I could be enjoying a better life if I could only change everything about it. It’s nice because it feels productive even though I’m doing absolutely nothing.
And then there’s the kind in which I’m so exhausted by the latter two forms that I find every way of distracting myself from thinking at all so I could just get through to the next day. I go to work, I come home, I stream the most mindless content I could find and I eat. A lot. I do that until it’s late enough in the evening for me to turn the lights off and try to sleep.
I’d say it’s the most comfortable form of depression. It’s not too flashy so others don’t tend to notice. It’s sleek, elegant, easy to ride. Not to mention leather seats and power steering. Unfortunately, I’ve been in this one for so long that I went up a dress size, everything hurts, and I have the constant desire to scream.
So today I’m forcing myself to publish an essay. Despite everything inside me telling me that my writing is shit, I also know that it’s not. Creating art and sharing it is the only way I’ve ever known to cope with life. Baby steps…
Remember my last post, in which I said I’d be getting my tattoo removed? Well, I meant it.
In fact, last week was my fourth treatment. My appointment was running twenty minutes behind schedule because the technician was in the next room giving a sales pitch – I mean “consult,” to a walk-in customer. By the sound of her inflection, one would think she was voicing a Barbie commercial. She explained the process in detail,
“The sessions only last about two minutes, but they’re the most painful and expensive two minutes of your life.”
“If I’m honest, it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever felt.”
“It’s like digging a hot knife under your skin!” she concluded, her gleeful delivery not once matching this grotesque depiction.
I wondered for a moment how the fuck I ever agreed to do this. Then I remember…
While this company describes its staff as a team of “highly trained technicians,” a more accurate description would read, “super savvy saleswomen… armed with lasers.” They are expert at peddling the company-branded herbal supplement purported to assist in “drawing ink out of your tattoo,” (it doesn’t), the company’s skin care line (overpriced Jergens), and lastly, the product to which I fell prey, their package deal. Sign a contract in which you’re billed monthly for a set number of sessions and get a discounted rate! During my consultation, I was so hypnotized by the technician’s unflinching enthusiasm that only now do I realize that I agreed to give away five months of rent in exchange for two years of high priced masochism.
Sales aside, the technical part leaves much to be desired. I was able to brush off some of their indiscretions as mere oversight. For my first session, they mistook me for a different client by referring to the wrong file and nearly used the wrong laser. For my second, despite it being noted that I have to lie face down, the technician insisted it’s better that I sit upright. When I protested it was revealed that she simply didn’t know how to collapse the table. It then took three of them to figure it out. But ultimately, they proved just how inept they are when during my last session, half-way through burning my flesh off, the technician paused to inquire, “Hey, why don’t you wear eye protection?”
“I… I’ve never been offered eye protection,” I replied, my face still pressed through the hole in the table, unable to affectively express my disdain.
“Oh!” she laughed, “We’re really not supposed to do these without it.”
Does nothing alarm these women or am I just neurotic? The answer is both. I wish I’d known better. I would have avoided this altogether and just lived with the lotus.
Speaking of masochism, today I thought I’d change things up by going to the fancy restaurant across the street from my apartment instead of my usual haunt, the coffee shop by my gym. Like many other hip Brooklyn establishments the space has been decorated with an assortment of found objects. But unlike most places aiming to achieve the aesthetic by stocking up at a Pier 1 Imports, these folks seem to have actually found their objects.
The bathroom features a menagerie of thrifted bric-a-brac like a spread from an I-Spy book: an old sewing machine, a pair of roller skates, hanging dried roses, framed butterflies, vintage gardening books, and an oyster tin repurposed to serve as the garbage can.
This effect takes a thoughtful eye to achieve and to their credit, they’ve done a beautiful job. So to their detriment, or perhaps quite fittingly, they’ve staffed the place with bored, bitchy millennials. It is now noon on a Sunday, which means that if you aren’t here to stay for brunch, then surely you are a masochist.
Upon entering, dressed in my finest Forever 21 workout leggings and a ripped Dolly Parton tee, it’s obvious the category into which I fall. I’m greeted by a server, a handsome gay man in a chic vintage button-down who quickly assesses me and offers a reluctant sneer.
“Are there any seats in the back?” I ask, knowing that there are nothing but empty seats in the back as it is 90 degrees outside. Offering no response, he pivots. A kick-ball-change would’ve been nice but I’m not worthy of such theatrics, just subtle gestures of irritation.
We get to the patio and as I predicted, it is desolate. He holds a paper placemat that lists menu items I can’t afford like their kale quinoa salad and croque madames (grilled cheese for grownups). He pauses before setting it down knowing full well that I won’t be ordering any food. I am not just an eyesore, I am a waste of time.
“Thank you so much,” I smile.
My mother taught me to counter cunty with kindness. Not because it works but simply because it makes me feel better; in these sorts of interactions I walk away feeling somehow enlightened.
I order the iced coffee, a glass of ice with 2 ounces of leftover drip priced at $6. He rolls his eyes. I say thank you again, but it’s now clear that my meek attempts to intenerate him have only made him bolder.
Yes, daddy, now spit on me when you bring me that coffee. What made me think this was a good idea? At my usual place, a far less persnickety environment, I can sit down soaked in sweat, smelling like a locker room and not receive the slightest bit of judgement (at least not perceivably). Last week I actually attempted to clean myself up before heading over there and promptly learned that it’s best to let a good thing be.
Before going to the gym I packed a change of clothes and a towel, I had even planned to use whatever makeup I had in my purse to take the edge off my tired old face. What I didn’t factor into this plan was that I wouldn’t be able to dry my hair. It had been in braids for three days and was starting to look a little… lived in. But I’d prefer to go out in slightly damp braids than soaking wet hair so I left them in while I showered. Afterward, seeing that the bathroom was empty, I took the opportunity to stick my head under the hand dryer. The blast of air onto my scalp sent me into a state of bliss.
Until I was startled by the sight of a woman who had been patiently waiting to dry her hands. I made way for her but not before smacking my head on the bottom of the dryer.
“Oh, god! Did I scare you?” she asked.
Trying to laugh off my embarrassment I explained, “Yes! I’m sorry. I know this looks crazy.”
“Oh, don’t worry! It’s not crazy at all, you’re totally fine.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” I thought. She left. I was alone again. I walked over to the sink and looked in the mirror to admire the results of my efforts. My braids remained intact… except for nearly every piece of hair in the front of my head which were now standing upright as though I’d stuck a fork in a socket.
No, not crazy at all. Needless to say I skipped the cafe that day…
But I digress! Back at Chez Fancy, my iced coffee arrives, brought out by a different server, a much friendlier person who’s kindly relieving the former of my burden. In what seems like an apology for the behavior of his coworker, he attempts small talk.
“You’re a brave one for sitting out here, it’s a sauna,” he remarks.
“It is! But saunas are healthy in small doses.” Not the most clever thing I’ve said but what am I supposed to say? “Yes, it’s hot. I know. I’m sorry. Just tell me where the kitchen is and I’ll serve myself.” Still, he chuckles, (a courtesy).
“Well, just be sure to come in before you pass out.”
“Oh, come on. If you have to drag my body inside you’ll at least get a good workout.” He laughs, this time a real laugh. Okay, I suppose this was worth it.
Two days later this lovely man appeared on my Tinder feed. I froze and closed the app. On the rare occasion that I’m presented with someone whom I’ve encountered in the real world, I prefer not to swipe at all. If I see them again I’d rather not know whether or not they find me to be dateable. It’s a level of awkwardness to which even I am not immune.
I’ve been on many Tinder dates of late, and I always come home exhausted and wondering how anyone ever finds real connection through these dystopian means. Perhaps I’m just not the type of person to find a date with a stranger to be an appealing proposition. If I’ve never interacted with you prior to meeting for drinks, it will always feel like a two-way interview, and there is nothing sexy about that. Not that that deters anyone. At this point I continue to date as a means of gathering data. It’s research, damn it! I’m writing a dissertation on Woman’s Desire to Maintain Her Perceived Value After Turning Down Sex versus the Willfully Tone Deaf Persistence of Male Sexual Coercion.
A few weeks ago I went on a Tinder date with a guy who had beautiful arms, a sweet smile, and an even sweeter dog, Betsy, a large black lab mix who was featured in at least three of his profile photos and sadly, the most interesting thing about him. She was the first thing he talked about when we started texting and he continued talking about her when we met for a drink.
So it was no surprise that when we were about to part ways I got roped into going back to his apartment… to walk the dog.
Once we got back from the walk I tried to say goodbye which, as my research shows, is interpreted by the male as his cue to counter with sexual coercion. I, a woman, conditioned by a terrible fear of disappointing anyone, even someone I’ve only just met, pretended to be simply charmed by this. I playfully rebuffed his advances while wishing such pretense didn’t exist and we could just do this like animals. In the animal kingdom, when a female doesn’t want sex she doesn’t politely decline. She snarls, she bites, she all but kills the clueless creature attempting to procreate with her. Alas…
After three minutes of polite protest ignored – I’m on all fours in his bed.
Ten minutes later – okay, five – I’m calling an Uber and searching for my blouse.
“I had a really great time tonight.”
“Get home safe, okay?”
It didn’t dawn on me that I hadn’t put my bra back on until I saw it hanging from Betsy’s mouth. Now the underwire in my only nude bra is chewed but at least one of us had a good time.
With all of that said and done, I finally caved and ordered myself a vibrator. I am temporarily resigning the idea of finding a human with whom I can have satisfying sex so for now I’ll just fuck myself. Maybe then I’ll marry myself. What comes after that?
Okay, I’ll just stick to the vibrator.