What does it mean to be “productive”?
As someone who has struggled with life-long depression, and other problems that cause a depletion of spoons, one of the ways that I’ve shamed myself most is with this idea of productivity: feeling low when I believe I haven’t been productive enough. And I…
Respectfully, I think it’s important to acknowledge that many people, not only outside the US but within it, simply do not have the time or luxury to not be productive. In other words, they don’t have the time/ability/financial freedom to take some time to “love themselves” and give themselves “breathing room.” This piece reads as extremely privileged even as it seeks to address the privilege of the able-bodied and able-minded.
And it’s a sad world we live in when workers aren’t even given the chance to enjoy the fruits of their labour. It’s like that anecdote of the fisherman and the businessman, where the businessman suggests a long line of random work just to end up doing what the fisherman’s doing already.
Also with the current job market, ironically it can take a certain amount of privilege to get a job - being of the right race, the right class background, having mobility, having health, being able to access the education that is sometimes required for jobs, having a car (urgh all those job ads that make drivers licenses and/or cars mandatory!!), knowing the right buzzwords, knowing the right people - is it really your fault if getting a job isn’t so straightforward for you?
It reminds me of a dilemma I’ve talked about with regards to lifestyle design: some people end up taking on that path out of necessity, because the “conventional life” isn’t working out for them. Yet the biggest proponents of lifestyle design, the voices we hear from, are all very privileged people - Western White upper-middle-class men who would face very little issues travelling overseas or finding work anywhere if they wanted. For them it’s more of a choice than for someone like, say, me (with my bridging visas and 3rd-world-country passport etc); yet the end result is often the same - working outside the traditional job grid, being flexible, having an unpredictable life.
We just got rocked by this whole Dave/Naomi fecal matter storm(What? I’m trying to reduce the profanity.) And now comes news that Trey Pennington, a well-known and well-respected social media consultant (who lived not even one hour south of me — not that this is in any way important or germane) took a gun to his church yesterday and, after the police arrived and begged him to put the gun down, killed himself with a single shot.
He leaves behind six children and at least one grandchild that I know of, as well as other relatives and a grieving community.
For all the arrogant dismissal of the social media, consulting, and marketing worlds and their principal participants, some things must be noted now.
First and foremost, there’s this: Depression is an evil, insidious disease that prevents many of its victims from reaching out for help, even when that’s what the victims need the most.
Depression paralyzes. It silences. Not just out of the social stigma surrounding it (though that can’t be denied), but of its own initiative and accord. It will not let the sufferer reach out for help in many cases.
This, tragically, leaves those of us who survive the victim despondently wondering, “Why didn’t he TELL anyone? Why didn’t he get some help?”
Well, for starters, it would appear he did, in fact, reach out for help and got it, after an earlier attempt this year.
Depression was stronger than the treatment he received.
Let’s not forget that. In our desperate, compelling need for understanding, let’s not allow ourselves to give hurtful voice to our baser feelings — our anger, in particular. It’s perfectly normal tofeel anger after a loved one kills himself, but we don’t need to give a public voice to it. Deal with it privately, because that kind of angry dismissal and condemnation after someone commits suicide is simply not helpful. To anyone.
Instead, I’d like to suggest a radical idea. I don’t mean that as sarcasm. It is a truly radical idea, radical like Jesus was a radical (and don’t doubt that for a second):
For every “player” in the suicide tragedy, it is possible to find and voice some compassion. If we could all do that, and not allow ourselves the quick and easy (and damaging) condemnation route, I believe we could get a real conversation going about suicide and depression. And that, I am 100% positive, is the only way to prevent suicide in the future.
Recognize and accept this one fact, if nothing else gets through:Clinical depression, resulting in suicide, is so severe that the pain is the only thing the victim is aware of. Stopping the pain is the only thought the victim is capable of holding more than a few seconds.
It isn’t a failure of ethics. It isn’t a failure of love for others or for life. It isn’t selfish and it isn’t the coward’s way out. It’s an utter and complete inability to see any other way out of the pain, a shortwire in the brain that keeps the victim from realizing the temporary nature of that overwhelming pain.
If that isn’t worthy of your compassion, then do the rest of us a solid and stay silent, please. Because we’re all hurting, too, and we must get through the already-painful process of grieving a loved one or a respected colleague and friend with the additional burden of coping with the stigma attached to a suicide.
Special note to Brandon Mendelson: Please take a deep breath, and reflect. Be quiet and still, and reflect on what you’ve written. Your thoughts are supremely unhelpful. You have no idea how the people who are writing about this feel … you are not qualified to pass judgment on the sincerity of those feelings, because no one is except the person feeling them. Mashable reported on Trey’s death because it’s news — because Trey was a highly respected member of his profession and because the fallout from his death is vast and wide.
Second, there’s this: If you find yourself wondering about a friend, a colleague, or a loved one … thinking to yourself “I wonder if everything’s really OK with her…” or “I hope he’s doing OK …”, then please take a deep breath and gently ask. Ask as often as you need to. Don’t take anything at face value. At the start of a suicidal slide, many people struggling with depression arereachable. Many will answer honestly and be open to getting help.
The truth is, I don’t know what will help those who feel that much pain — pain so overwhelming that it overcomes the hard-wired need to keep living, to keep breathing.
I do know we can’t ignore it. I do know we need to keep talking about it, and stop sweeping it under the rug. I do know we need to treat clinical depression for what it is (a neurochemical disease) and not for what we’d like it to be — a failure of willpower, a failure of thinking, a failure of perspective, a failure of religious faith.
If you are the one feeling this way, please try to open your heart to the possibility that this overwhelming pain is only temporary and there is a way through it other than ending your life.
It’s often easier to talk to strangers instead of loved ones, whom we’re fearful of disappointing or worrying. So, one more time, then:
I stumbled across this story … God, was it only a day ago?
And ever since, I cannot get it out of my head. I tried. I really, really tried. I tried to blog, I tried to engage in new conversations on Twitter and Facebook, I tried working.
But this story will not stop buzzing inside my brain. So I’m hoping by writing about it here I can let it go a little bit.(NB: I’m writing it here because, although it does revolve around the world of internet marketing, my thoughts are way too scattered for me to write about it intelligently at Pajama Productivity.)
It’s not a pretty story or one with a happy ending. It doesn’t have an ending of any kind yet. And maybe that’s what’s driving me crazy.
Here’s the story, to the extent I know it:
Last year sometime, Dave Navarro of Rock Your Day (the internet marketer, not the guitarist) left his family — no, he left his wife and his children. That’s an important distinction, as you’ll see. He didn’t update his blog for a long time, he was silent-ish on Twitter, and no one really knew what was up.
Then, apparently, his brother set up a website. I’m not linking to it. You can find it. It’s called Letters to Dave Navarro. And its soleraison d’etre appears to be publicly shaming Dave to return to his wife.
Dave was successful at what he did. (And yes, I use the past tense because I don’t see any way he’s ever going to resume the career he’d so carefully built up online, thanks to his brother’s actions.) And as will happen with successful people, others really wanted to tear him down.
So a lot of folks started interacting with the brother’s site, leaving letters of their own ostensibly to Dave and complaining of various business misdeeds they alleged Dave had committed.
Then someone apparently told the brother that Dave had been seen with Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz at a recent convention. Somehow, it went from there to “Dave left his wife for Naomi. Naomi left her husband for Dave.”
And then another website (again, I won’t link to it – it’s Salty Droid) jumped in for reasons of their own.
At some point, Naomi decided to push back. She wrote this. Salty Droid rebutted her assertions of death threats on that site.
Then yesterday Naomi posted this. And reading that post — all about how Dave and his brother had lost their mom when they were kids when their father hired hitmen to kill her (theysucceeded, eventually) and how Senior was now spending the rest of his life in prison — made me go back to the brother’s website and look again at some things he’d written in a very new, very chilling light:
There may be other examples but frankly, I feel ill just copying those three.
Reading them outside the context of what we know now from Naomi’s post yesterday — that the “mother” Dave’s brother keeps excoriating and reminding Dave of was actually fleeing a man who ultimately hired people to KILL HER — reading themwithout that knowledge, you might be tempted (as I initially was) to sympathize, if not completely, at least a little with the brother and surely with Dave’s wife and sons.
But in the cold light of historical fact, knowing that this “jezebel,” this “adulterous whore” Dave’s brother keeps bringing up and dismissing, was murdered for the simple act of trying to gain her freedom from a marriage that was, quite obviously, a bad one — these references, in that light, make my blood run ice cold. They make me fear — actually, honestly fear – for Naomi and Dave’s safety.
Knowing, also, that Junior tried to get his little brother committed — why? Because Dave did something he didn’t approve of, and when Dave (quite rightly, I’m thinking) declined to engage him any further, he decided “well, he must be on drugs, then”???
Is there some other conclusion I could draw on these facts? I’m not being facetious here. I honestly want to know. I don’t enjoythis growing, climbing, expanding sense of WTFOMG. I don’t likeknowing that there are unhinged people out there masquerading as caring, loving big brothers. (Especially seeing as I have a caring, loving big brother of my own. But that’s my thing, totally.)
Tell me what I’m supposed to think about Salty Droid & his users/readers who write shit like:
I don’t know whether Naomi really received death threats but after reading the entire page the above quotes (which — trust — are not the worst of the bunch) were pulled from, I don’t doubt it, either.
I feel like throwing up. I feel like doing some public shaming of my own. Then I feel horrible for feeling public shaming is appropriate in ANY circumstance. I feel scared. I feel angry. I feel … UGH.
I feel like I want to scream.
Because here’s the thing we cannot get around, no matter how much we might want to: It doesn’t matter whether every single word on the brother’s site is 100% true. Death threats are NOT OK. EVER.
This is so ugly. So wrong, on so many levels. Putting aside the questions of “who’s telling the truth,” it seems to have escaped dear brother’s attention that what he’s doing SIMPLY WILL NOT EVER ACHIEVE HIS STATED GOAL.I won’t even touch the whole “how in God’s name could someone do that to his own brother?!” thing.
Don’t be fooled. This has everything to do with misogyny, of the most frightening and dangerous kind. Against Naomi. Against a murdered mother. Against women in general.
I am painfully aware of the inadequacy of my own words.
I guess that’s about all I can say on the subject, at least for now.
UPDATE: there’s a petition I support and have signed here, and would like to encourage you all to do your own research, and if you agree with the many of us who think this is an ongoing travesty, not to mention official cover-up of same, to do the same.
Let’s get this out of the way with right off the bat: I believe Texas executed an innocent person seven years ago.
The man who was killed — Cameron Todd Willingham — was charged with three counts of capital murder in the deaths of his three small children in a raging house fire. I won’t go over the complex science behind the charges — you can read about ithere at The New Yorker — but suffice to say that three weeks before his execution, one of the nation’s top experts in arson investigation raised major concerns with the prosecution’s theory and evidence. Earlier this year, a commission established by the Texas legislature to investigate the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system in that state looked ready to agree that the prosecution’s investigator used flawed methods and came to improbable conclusions.
And then, predictably, the Texas Attorney General (who is a politician first and foremost — they all are) stopped the bandwagon from rolling down the “innocent” road. How? By concluding that the Commission — which was formed in 2005 — could not investigate cases that took place before it was formed.
A technicality that’s stunning in its razor-thin sharpness, that ruling is seen by many as pure political cover for the AG’s “guy” — Texas Governor Rick Perry, who’s running for President. Perry was instrumental in this derailment of justice:
What does this have to do with Rick Perry? In 2009, the Texas Forensic Science Commission was set to hear a scathing repudiation of the science behind the arson investigation that sent Willingham to the death chamber:
The finding comes in the first state-sanctioned review of an execution in Texas, home to the country’s busiest death chamber. If the commission reaches the same conclusion, it could lead to the first-ever declaration by an official state body that an inmate was wrongly executed.
Shortly before the commission was to hear the report, Perry (who declined to grant a last minute stay-of-execution to Willingham in 2004) replaced three of its members, and installed a close ally on the panel. In spring 2011, the commission released a draft report acknowledging that fire science has changed, but abstaining from issuing an opinion on the Willingham case. Perry continued to maintain that “clear and compelling, overwhelming evidence” made the case against Willingham; he called critics of the investigation“latter-day supposed experts.”
(From The Chicago Reader website.)
Make no mistake: that “clear and compelling” evidence has been viewed as fatally flawed by the top expert on arson investigation, who don’t just call into question the methods used by the investigators in the case — they conclude that the fire wasn’t even caused by arson in the first place.
In other words, it’s not a question of “did they get the right guy for the crime?” but rather of “was there a crime at ALL?”
In the wake of Damien Echol’s reprieve from death row last week (which many — including me — believe will eventually be proven yet another case of an innocent person condemned to die), it’s worth a moment of our time to sit and reflect on the death penalty, the total lack of evidence supporting its effectiveness as a crime deterrent, the jaw-dropping racial disparities in its imposition, and, yes, the unthinkable risk we take that an innocent person may be murdered by the state.
Has it already happened? Texas certainly doesn’t want to find out. While criminal justice may play out in shades of grey, this one’s black-and-white: that’s just wrong.
This past Friday morning saw a fascinating collision of my three past lives with the release of the West Memphis 3.
Back in ’94, I was a law student, closely following this (and other, to be sure) major trials across the country. But something about this one nipped at my core in ways OJ and Susan Smith just didn’t. Probably because I, like the defendants, had listened to Metallica (hell, I got backstage at one of their concerts) and had read everything I could get my hands on regarding a variety of religions, including Buddhism, Wicca, and Judaism.
Through the years, I went from “skeptical of their innocence” to “rationally certain the verdict was against the weight of the evidence” to “absolutely convinced of their innocence,” and there I stayed for the last several years, particularly after the DNA evidence was tested and failed to connect any of them with the crime scene or the victims. (But did link one of the boys’ stepfather, a strange man named Terry Hobbs, to the scene.)
So when I first saw the web rumblings of a “mystery hearing” scheduled for Friday morning in this case, I was immediately intrigued. The rumors from an unnamed source “closely linked” to the case seemed to be suggesting something called an Alford plea was in the works, but damned if I could figure out how that would be the case.
Here’s a little legal tidbit for you: Alford pleas are a weird little hybrid in American criminal law. What a defendant who takes an Alford plea is saying, essentially, is “I am 100% NOT GUILTY, however I recognize that the state has enough evidence that a jury might find me guilty, and I’m not willing to risk that.”
In my view, this is not a guilty plea. A guilty plea has a common requisite across state lines: that the defendant allocute in court to how he committed the crime. That’s not possible in an Alford plea.
However — and this is where it gets truly weird — the Alford plea istreated like a guilty plea for sentencing purposes.
So my inner ex-lawyer was trying to puzzle all this out Friday morning, seated at an imaginary table, surrounded by imaginary law books, pounding back the Peets Dark French Roast, sorting out what the ramifications of this kind of resolution might be, and where (if anywhere) there was any precedent for it.
(Answer: to my knowledge, none. Certainly folks have been released from death row — usually due to DNA evidence, often pending retrial. But that’s not what happened here — there was no finding of innocence or a grant of a new trial. Arkansas corrections officials have verified this hasn’t happened in that state before. I’m still looking at other states. I can’t help it. You can take the girl out of the law…)
So that was my inner ex-lawyer, and we’ll leave her there, surrounded by books and notes and a half-empty coffee cup.
My inner writer, on the other hand, was just captivated by the circumstances these three guys found themselves in. Four days before, one was on death row, having been there for over 17 years and thus almost certainly facing the needle sooner rather than later. The other two were serving life sentences, and had been in prison half of their lives.
Now, they were facing release. Into this world, this world that had changed so dramatically since they last saw a sunrise. This world has smart phones, iPods, an internet that would have dropped jaws back in 1994 … One (Damien Echols) was married in the intervening time, and the others have families whose lives revolved around freeing their sons and brothers, but otherwise continued after their incarceration.
Damien, when asked for one televised interview what he missed the most, said, “Rain. I miss the feel of rain on my face.” Fitting, then, I suppose, that it was threatening to storm all Friday morning while they were going through the legal two-step that would let them walk free.
People are different. Everything’s different.
My inner writer found herself wondering, “What happens when the camera crews leave? What happens tomorrow morning? The morning after that?”
We’ll leave the inner writer-me sitting in an imaginary hammock, enjoying the mountain breeze with her pen and her comp book, furiously scribbling thoughts and impressions and character studies.
Now, meet my inner ex-actress. She was wondering one thing: “Who’s gonna play Echols’ wife, Lorri, in the movie?”
Yeah, my inner ex-actress is a shallow little bitch.
Moving back to the bird’s-eye view for a moment: all of these competing lines of mental inquiry converged in my head Friday morning and bounced off each other like some random game of laser tag was going on up there, when one thing above all others jumped up, leaping out of the fray, hovering up there like the sun.
And it was this: “Jessie Misskelley needs some help, fast.”
What I saw that prompted that thought: At the press conference following the hearing, the focus jumped from Echols to Baldwin to the lawyers back to Echols back to Baldwin back to Echols hugging Baldwin … skipping right over Misskelley, who sat huddled in the middle, in between Echols and Baldwin, hugging himself, his head bowed.
Then reports of what-happened-next came filtering in. Apparently Baldwin and Echols and their families/friends/lawyers spent the night in a posh hotel over the weekend.
Misskelley? Went … shopping for sunglasses.
If you know anything about the case, you’re probably aware that it was Misskelley’s “confession” that led to their convictions (completely improperly but that’s another post). He was interrogated for 12 hours, he had an IQ of 75, he had the equivalent mental functioning of a five-year-old, according to this current lawyer. What he said in that “confession” at least initially was so far afield from the facts known at the time that the judge refused to issue a warrant on its basis — it was that off the mark. Only after the police plied him with the answers they were seeking did he eventually (after two more tries) get it “right.”
OK, that much we know. Now, eighteen years later, what I want to know is: Does he blame himself?
Do the others blame him?
Is that why he was so silent at that press conference? Why he looks like he’s about to cry every time the camera panned to him? Why he wasn’t at the hotel with the others?
As for the way my brain worked on Friday, I guess, ultimately, that’s the way it should be — that people should matter more than issues or intellectual debates or creative projects, even, and that’s why this thought jumped over all the others.
On a more basic level, though, I hope I’m wrong in my suspicions. I hope he enjoys all the support the other two do. I hope they allget whatever help they need to readjust themselves to living in the rain and shopping for sunglasses.
(I’d have gone with the mirrored aviators, personally, but maybe that’s too close to “prison guard” for his comfort.)
Soooo….. I had a birthday last weekend. (Forty-five, if you must know.)
In the midst of this insane day — long story, brother and sister in law in town, Princess getting ready to go back with them for a visit for a week, lots to do — this package from Amazon gets dropped off outside my door.
Now, I’d ordered a few books for HRH a few days ago, so I assumed this package was for me. Also, it’s right outside MY door, not the landlady-who-lives-upstairs door. Kinda big for 2 little books, I thought, as I carried this box inside. But it is lightweight.
So, I opened it. As soon as I saw another box inside, and realized what it was, I cringed, and started to carry the whole thing upstairs to my landlady, ready to apologize profusely for opening her package by accident.
Because, of course, it had to be hers.
Because, of course, it certainly wasn’t mine.
Because it was a brand new one of these.
And then this little slip of paper wedged in between the inner box and the outer box caught my eye.
I pulled it out, and read it. And that’s when I realized it was, in fact, for me. From … hm. I need a new pseudonym for this one. Let’s call this friend “Z.”
Now, Z and I have known each other for over 20 years now, making our friendship one of the longer lasting ones I currently enjoy. (This stuff becomes important to you, I find, once you start creeping past the four-decade mark.) And Z had shot me a little email a while back informing me that a birthday present — “a small token” — was on its way.
That Z, such a sneaky one, with her little word games. Because “small”? CLEVER, Z. Verrry clever.
I was thinking “Basque-to-English dictionary.”
I was maybe thinking “Kindle??!! ZOMG!!”
I was categorically not thinking “most awesome laptop on the face of the planet.”
So, I kinda stood there in the laundry room connecting my downstairs apartment from the rest of the house upstairs for several minutes, looking at the box, looking at the paper. Part of me starts yelling at me (kinda rudely, to be honest) that there’s no way I can accept this … that I have to be kidding … that this istoo much …
Fortunately, I was able to wrestle a sock into the bitch’s mouth, slap some duct tape on her, and stuff her in a closet.
I have named her Alice. (The laptop. Not the sanctimonious, pearl-clutching inner-bitch-stuffed-in-the-closet.)
And Alice is fabulous. After a twelve-month desert-trek, I have found the bountiful oasis of working video and quick start-ups and “no, I DON’T care if you have Word plus fifteen tabs in Firefox open, I can handle it just fine, thanks.”
Oh. And SOUND. I have sound. I have good sound.
And it’s so light!
Thank you, Z.
So I had this dream last night. (Right here, I should confess I toyed with the idea of presenting this as a real thing that happened, just to mess with your minds, but then it occurred to me that in written form, in the light of day, it doesn’t seem nearly as realistic as it did while I was dreaming it, and you’d never buy it. So — yeah, a dream.)
I was living in a motel with the Princess. (Been there, done that.)
And I was trying to steal $100,000 or $50,000 (the amount kept changing) from said motel. I’d gone to the front desk clerk, a pretty girl with long dark hair who kind of looked like a cross between Sarah Silverman and Demi Lovato, and asked her all these questions about the money — where it was, how someone could get at it, what the security was like.
And then the police came and arrested me.
Here’s where it all went way too real for me. I felt the handcuffs going on, the hand on the top of my head as they put me in the back of the blue Crown Vic, the whole shebang.
And I remember thinking, “ZOMG, whatthehellamIgonnadomykidmykidmykid…”
And I was panicky, and talking probably way too fast.
See, I knew that somehow, they’d taped that conversation with Sarah-Demi, and how in the world was I gonna explain THAT?
Then — aha! — it occurred to me. I am a writer. I am also an actress. I can pull this off, totes.
So I started talking. “Oh,” I said, blinking, furrowing my brow. “Are you talking about that interview I did with Sarah-Demi? That? That was just research! I’m a writer, and I’m working on a novel about this homeless guy who steals money from a motel and …”
They weren’t buying it, either.
I woke up with the sound of my own voice echoing in my ears, protesting that I was innocent, pointing out there wasn’t any money actually GONE from the motel, was there, so how could I have actually done it and just having a PLAN to rob someone wasn’t illegal, was it, if nothing was actually taken and I didn’t actually take any steps to steal it? I mean if it WAS illegal to have a plan, then wouldn’t you have to arrest every TV and movie writer in the history of the modern world who’d written a script about stealing from a real place? Wouldn’t George Clooney and Brad Pitt be in jail for that whole casino heist thing?
But the worst — the worst — was the desperate line of thought running through my dream-head the whole time: “What am I gonna do about Princess? She’s going to be so scared…what do I DO?!”
But at least I didn’t steal the towels.
(Speaking of towels, you really need to read this.)
This one’s just a quicky little one-off, if You will. Nothing huge. Promise. (Not like last month’s ill-advised if fervent requests for Michele Bachmann to make more batshit-crazy remarks. I kinda regret that one, though I appreciate You coming through for us humor-lovers and all.)
So, I hear through the digital grapevine that Kate Plus 8 got the axe from TLC. Praise You for mercies big and small. No, seriously, that was a solid.
Now, do You suppose You could make that whole Quiverful crapfest juggernaut follow Kate and her You-awful ‘do into oblivion? I mean the Wannabes and the Majors. All those “yay, we’re FERTILE and we’re gonna keep poppin’ these puppies out ’til we make SERIOUS bank!” shows, AND all the quieter, behind the scenes types who took that whole “be fruitful and multiply” thing of Yours waaaaay too far. Just dropkick their butts through the goalpost of syndication, ‘kay?
Thanks ever so.