My Year in Captivity

To say that 2020 was a hectic and insane year is a massive understatement. A pandemic, social unrest and political turmoil made the year exhausting, scary, uncertain and with many many days spent inside. There are lots of things I’ve learned about myself and others and the world as we approach the anniversary of when this whole thing kicked up in the U.S. and we assumed this should be done and finished in no more than a few weeks. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, things I’ve come to appreciate and hardship I’ve been through this year.

Don’t Be a Dick

I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever ordered so many things to be delivered to my door. I finally get to live my dream of being like the Onceler in The Lorax and just order in all the time and never again be held down by the tyranny of pants or a bra. But with this newfound freedom I’ve found that people on the outside, unfortunately, are still terrible. There have been a few instances where orders have been wrong or items have not arrived on time and each time, thanks especially to the barrier to technology, I’ve been able to just stay chill. I used to work retail and I’ve learned that being cruel to front-end workers is never the way to get anything done. And honestly, not being a dick has carried over into my personal life as well. When my friends seem to need more time to vent or are acting in a way that seems unlike them I am quicker to be more understanding. These are insane times for everyone and it’s important to be mindful of that. You never know what someone is going through: best to air on the side of caution and exchange the grace you may need yourself later on.

Indulge, The World is on Fire

I woke up with a desire for sweet and sour chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city: and thus I ordered it. I’ve been more mindful of my budget but the benefit of not being able to go out shopping all weekend if a more balanced budget and more wiggle room for indulgences. Now, I admit the amount of privilege I have; however it is nice to be able to splurge every once in a while. The world is on fire. There’s a pandemic outside, white supremacists, people who don’t think the pandemic is real and racism, sexism and homophobia all still exist: even when you haven’t left the house. 

Routine Can Be a Comfort

The times I can think of that I really struggled during the pandemic was my brief stint of unemployment when I had no solid routine. I applied to jobs, laid on the sofa all day, napped like a spoiled house cat and rarely ate anything of substance. The structure of having to clock in for work even if it’s from home and having to take medicine and then getting off of work to have an evening up to my own devices was incredibly important for me to survive the days that all rolled together and continue to do so during the pandemic. It’s hard for me to compel myself to a rhythm sometimes, thanks to years of depression and anxiety, and it’s much easier for me to have a structure set in place for me and then I figure out how to make it my own and bend it to my will. 

Don’t Self-Isolate

It’s an easy thing to do when depressed: close yourself off, ignore humanity, coil into yourself and shun those who care about you. Luckily for me, I have a very insistent friend and family group that refuses to let me climb into the little box of sadness for too long. If a few days pass without contact, someone certainly is messaging me or calling me to make sure that I am still amongst the living and have not fallen into a puddle of self-loathing. And if my friends or family are for some reason busy, I’m fortunate enough to know myself right before I fall off that edge of misery and know when to reach out and say that I’m struggling and need a lifeline. No one has to go through this alone and really, no one should: you are worthy of help if you need it. 

It’s Okay to Not be Okay

How anyone manages to leave the bed without some resistance nowadays is a genuine surprise to me. I often lay there begging the clock to go back, let me rest and try to fill a fatigue that is never relieved. But I still get up but the feeling I have is something in between just existing and being just sort of a grey color. Malaise, I think is what the French would call it. I’m fine but only just so and there are plenty of reasons inside and out that would add to a feeling of not being anything more than “existing” or “alive”. The world is a scary place and even though I think I don’t internalize the anxieties and atrocities of the modern world, I do. I hold onto them and they root deep in me and come up as fear usually right before I try to sleep or in the moments my brain is quiet. But what’s amazing is to talk to my other friends and know they have similar fears: we’re all scared. We’re all aware the future is uncertain and the present is strange and nebulous. I was not and am not alone in being less than peachy and that was remarkably comforting. It’s okay to not be okay within reason; really, is anyone right now?

I’ve spent a year indoors and the last 3 months even more isolated, rarely leaving the house due to either illness or injury. I’ve spent a year rarely seeing friends and rarely seeing family. I’ve been closed off from the things I love doing and I’ve had to find strength in myself and trust in those who want to help me. It’s been interesting: finding small ways to return to normalcy, the little indulgences I’ll allow myself, the small breaks I take when I finally leave the house and for what reason. I’ve done a lot of baking, a lot of podcasting, a lot of writing and talking to my friends but I’ve mostly spent time with myself trying to work through many of the bags I’ve been carrying with me for the past 10 or so years. What else should I do with this vast expanse of introspective time? 

Thank you all for being with me during this year: you’ve all made it a little easier to face the future. 


Why I’m On My Phone While On The Bus

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ― Albert Einstein.png
There’s a woman on the bus route I take into work because I refuse to drive and face the evils that is downtown traffic. She’s an older woman and she’s very nice. When she catches me before the sun rises on my way to work, I’m normally on my phone, with my headphones on. She usually compliments my dress: I have to pause my music to address her and we smile and nod and go about our day. One day as she praised one of my many dresses, she said something that stuck with me.
“Go back to your little world.”
That phrase hit me like a ton of bricks and not just because it was dismissive. It did so because if you were anything like me as a teenager: you’ve heard this before. My aunt would often chastise me for being on my phone or listening to music (then with the help of an iPod or CD player, yes I know I’m old) in car rides or during any time of stress. There was a lot for me to tune out back then.
So hearing that from another person honestly was emotionally hurtful. I never mean to appear aloof (except for all the times I do). And in that spirit of explaining myself because this blog is where I air my laundry, Here are a few of the reasons if you see me in public that I may be on my phone.

I’m Avoiding Unwanted Attention
I’m fortunately enough to be only passably attractive which means I do not get catcalled often but the times that I have were exhausting, demeaning and tiresome. If I’m on the bus early in the morning, I do not have the time or energy to deal with a man who wants to chat with me or a woman who wishes to chat about the wonders of a certain flavor of Jesus.

The World is Loud
There is a certain social contract that reads if the sun is not up, thou must not rant about thine boyfriend’s sister’s hairdresser. The world is noisy and loud and by the time I lug my undead corpse from my apartment, I do not want to deal with such things. I face enough noise in an open office: my morning and evening bus rides are a great time to decompress and get ready for the day or for bed.

I Am Anxious
I’ve joked about getting one of those little vests that some small dogs get that say “I am Anxious”. I would love one of these. I’ve been very candid about having anxiety and the world is terrifying. The noise is scary, my own thoughts are scary, existence is scary: Swedish EDM and Pokemon Go make the world a little less scary. It gives me something to do. I can sync my heart to the beat of the drums and I can focus on catching Pidgey rather than did all my bills get out okay or if my parents are resting comfortably in the afterlife.

As a social media manager, I’m always worried that I am not present enough. I worry that I’m too attached to my phone because I know proper etiquette means not being on my phone all the time. I give my little cousin a hard time for being on his phone while also swiping messages away from my smart watch. I want to make memories that last and sear images into my mind that will remain with me for the rest of my days. I also want to play Jurassic World Alive and save the dankest of memes.
I will continue to try and find a balance between staying alert and protecting my mental health. In so many ways, the screen is just another buffer. One of the last arguments a former friend and I had was over the fact that I was active on Twitter while I didn’t talk to him. I flat out had to say it didn’t take effort to post on Twitter while it did to speak to him. Introverts like me do not gain a ton of power from people and noise is exhausting and takes up a huge amount of my energy. I regain some of that power by disengaging via podcasts, audiobooks, writing, reading or playing games on my phone.
Escapism isn’t new but that doesn’t mean I will be rude. If someone does address me, I speak to them. I remove my headphones. I make good eye contact and I do all I can to keep my phone off while at meals, especially if I am with someone else. I don’t play Pokemon Go unless I am with someone else who is playing or I am by myself and I tend to only reply to messages and then promptly turn my phone face down on the table again. It’s a good compromise just in case I need to answer a call or message urgently (a hangover from having chronically sick family members all my life) while also forcing myself to be present in the moment.
So, to the woman on the bus who told me to “go back to my world”; I will, happily. Like Alice in her return to Wonderland, I will return to a world that is more comforting than the one I currently face. Like the teen I was who used music to hide cruel things said by family, I used a tool to help ease some of the pain of my current reality.
There’s a little bit of insight as to why, if you ever catch me out in public, I may be on my cell phone if you do.

Tony Stark. Table for 1.


“If you're lonely when you're alone, you're in bad company.”

So the title does feel quite a bit like another blog post I worked on. But that was more of a discussion on being a somewhat mostly orphan. This post is about dining alone. I’m a mostly solitary kind of girl. Since moving to San Antonio I’ve kept a few close friends but many are busy and I spend a lot of time in splendid isolation. I eat lunch often times alone. I spend a lot of time in my apartment alone. When I spend time out of the house it’s often by myself. But I don’t say all of these things as a bleeding heart. I’m an introvert, I like my own company. And honestly I’m usually talking to someone while I’m out and about or at home but that person usually just isn’t directly in front of me.

I want to talk about why we are so averse to seeing someone alone.

The first response is usually to pity the poor thing. Oh how tragic, this poor tiny woman sitting at alone at a busy bistro. My response to that is I’m fine. I’m usually fine. I’m either listening to an audiobook, a podcast or reading. The second response is often a morbid curiosity. Why is she sitting alone? Is she okay? Did she get dumped? Was she left at the altar pregnant and without a dime? No no no no no and no. Just sitting alone at Starbucks. That happens. It’s not 1920. Women are allowed to sit alone.

While this seems like the rantings of a very angry tiny woman over a likely imagined threat it wasn’t until recently that I started feeling guilty for sitting alone. Normally, I never let it bother me. I sit alone, it happens sometimes. But it was at lunch recently that I felt the judgemental eyes of the masses upon me in between sips of a soda and bites of a salad made of not the finest greens. I was listening to the Welcome to Night Vale novel and enjoying the story but when people would walk by they almost expected me to be sitting with someone else and when that simply wasn’t the case they looked nearly disappointed. They were almost disappointed that a woman sat alone. And in their disappointment, it seems as those they removed my agency: sitting alone was my choice.

This isn’t high school. I’m not the frumpy comic nerd who eats alone in the library and even when that was me during high school that was my choice: I was anime club president, I spent lots of time in the library donating and organizing the books and manga.

And here’s where I’ll make a distinction: introverts do get lonely. I do sometimes wish I had a partner to eat with. But most of the times I am seen out and about I’m usually okay. What matters is the issue of agency.  And let’s be honest: between my cellphone and friends all over the country and the world I am almost never alone. Just because someone isn’t sitting across from me doesn’t mean that I’m not having a rousing conversation about gender, depiction and diversity in various pop culture artifacts.

If it’s my desire to sit alone and read manga then that’s perfectly acceptable. If I chose to sit and have tea and sake with a friend then also perfectly acceptable. I’ve written about this actually more than once and introversion isn’t a fault: just a trait.

Now if you’ll excuse me…Carlos was telling Cecil how much he loved him and I really really want to figure out what’s up with these flamingos and King City.