Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Just Sucks Ass

So here I am, in the middle of writing a post (which I will finish soonish), when it comes time to call my boys. I love my boys so very much, but it is really hard to talk with them on the phone.

For one, my one year old has recently started talking - yet something else that I am about a ten hour drive from - walking being the last one I missed. Not to mention Christmas and his first fucking birthday.

And for another, the eldest is really bent on coming to live with me again. I can't tell you how hard that one is. I am trying desperately not to say anything nasty about his mom - though she has no such compunctions about saying nasty things about me. I am also trying not to say anything that will make things any harder for him, so it's really hard to figure out what the hell I am supposed to say to my very upset seven year old, about why we don't live a hella lot closer together.

Finally, it's really hard not to choke and let on that I'm crying too - I'm just grateful that the one year old didn't cry this time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Post Wizard and Doctor Update...

It was a very interesting and stressful day yesterday. Therapy was pretty intense for me, as usual and the visit to the doctor was pretty intense too - though I really think that the two on the same day is rather helpful. It helps to deal with both on the same day, because both are hard to deal with and getting them done together is much easier than trying to go through this shit on two different days. And it also puts everything firmly to the forefront, so I can really provide the doctor with solid perspective.

Last night I didn't take the Seroquel. I'm still a little off, but feel better than I have since I started taking it - and that even though I started my new meds right away. Before I talk about those though, I really want to be clear about something. Just because Seroquel didn't work for me, doesn't mean it's not a good drug. It just means it wasn't a good fit for me.

I recently reconnected with an old friend. Back when she was part of the group of friends I spent a lot of time with, nine years ago or so, she was pretty extreme in many of her behaviors. And she was also pretty obsessive. When I ran into her about a week ago, she was really stable - a huge difference. As soon as I mentioned this difference she said that changing the influences in her life and therapy had helped, but that the biggest help was from her meds. When I asked her what she's taking, she said Seroquel.

And that's the thing about psych meds (or most meds really), what works for one person, may not work so well for another.

So now I am continuing on the Ritalin and occasional Xanax, while replacing the Seroquel with Welbutrin and Clonidine - we shall see how it goes...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Talked to the Eldest's Therapist - really not happy...

I have but a moment, need coffee and gotta head to see the therapist. But I just got to talk to my eldest's therapist and wanted to rant just a little more.

Amy is not at all keen on talking to me, even about the boys. So I just found out that he has officially been diagnosed bipolar and the drug they have him on is Abilify. Please keep in mind that my eldest is seven years old. Seven. On a psychotropic and with a diagnosis that will follow him for the rest of his life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Drawn Out Meltdown

I will hopefully be getting back to more blogging soon. I'm definitely pressing towards switching off the Seroquel, realizing that I have been in meltdown mode since starting on it. I see the doctor again tomorrow after my therapy appointment and hopefully things will level off some.

It is really frustrating, because there are a lot of things that I want to write about. But I turn around and get flustered because I can't figure out what to write about Right Now. This is very frustrating for obvious reasons - so I just don't write. This is frustrating for a number of reasons, not the least being that writing is very important to me.

The other issue I am having with the medication, is that it is making it very hard for me to compartmentalize - which is why I have been having quite a few breakdowns. I suppose this is as good a time as any to explain the shit my life has been for the last few months. The possibilities for legal resolutions are now gone and that was the big thing keeping me from writing much about it. I was planning on letting myself get to this point with my posts about me and why I am the way I am. While I will get there, who knows when I will work my way through that far.

Back in November, my family and I lost our home in Portland. There were some serious psychological issues going on with both my partner and I, coupled with serious work issues that left us pretty well broke after a while. I had spent weeks trying to get both of us, especially her, psychological help - but every fucking call I made was another apologetic voice telling me that there were simply no funds available to help either of us. I will probably talk about the last ditch effort we made to keep it together, but I am not sure I am comfortable talking about that - we'll see. Bottom line, we were losing our home and had no possibility for the help we both desperately needed there. So after we lost the apartment, we stayed with a friend for a couple weeks while I got things lined up for us to come back to MI, where we could get the boys stable and get the help. Mid-November we took a train and moved in with my parents temporarily.

By this point Amy was doing really badly. She hates the midwest and really didn't want to come here - but it was the only option we had and ultimately a place where, in spite of having very little funding - we could actually get psychological help. I was basically in charge of making everything happen. I got our eldest enrolled in school. I job hunted. I applied for assistance. I got enrolled in school. I found the place for counseling for the eldest and his folks. I found the sliding scale medical clinic so we could see a doctor.

I did all of this, while trying desperately to keep my head together enough to manage it.

The eldest was having a lot of trouble adjusting. We had done a lot of work with his school in Portland, his therapist and best we could at home, to set him up for success. It was working towards coming together here, but it was a very rocky start. He was finally settling in here with my folks, knowing that we would be moving into our own place fairly soon. And more importantly, things were finally settling a bit with school.

Then came the day when I had to go for my placement assessment for school. I went in to take it, my dad gave me a ride - Amy and the baby were left alone at home. Less than twenty minutes after I walked out the door to do the assessment, Amy, her sister and brother in law were at the eldest's school picking him up to run off to TN. I didn't even hear from them for almost three weeks. I had a pretty good idea where they had gone, but didn't have any way to contact them - the landline to her sister's was down since they switched to cell phones.

The legal situation was and is a fucking nightmare. The jurisdiction for the custody case was in OR courts. I went through them and did what I was supposed to do, but couldn't afford a fucking attorney to actually go into court with me. I got help through legal aid, but that was minimal. Because of the volunteer attorney who helped me, I was able to get all the paperwork ready and go into court. The judge I saw decided not to even look at the filing for emergency custody, because none of us planned on living in OR. But she refused to clarify that in her denial of the motion, so I could possibly take it to either the MI or TN courts. Her clerk was appalled, the volunteer attorney was completely unsurprised.

Two problems. One, I had the audacity to walk into her courtroom without an attorney. Apparently she is a believer in the notion that justice is for those who can afford an attorney. Two, I have a penis instead of a uterus. The attorney was clear that had I been the one to run off with the boys and Amy had come to court in my position, there would have been no questions asked - but I'm dad. Never mind that as their mom was losing it more and more, I was the primary emotional support and dealing with the logistics. Never mind that I was the one who was involved in the mental health issues of the eldest. Never mind that the boys were living in a house full of fucking cigarette smoke. Never mind that their mother was still out of whack and not on meds yet. Never mind that her sister is also very unstable.

I have a penis, therefore should have less rights when fighting for my children than momma does.

Momma's on meds now, but has a history of quitting them. She has a job for the first time in quite some time and my kids are at a babysitters for the first time in their lives. Still living in the fucking smoke house. The eldest is in therapy at a day school for kids with Severe Emotional Disturbance and other issues, having gotten a diagnosis of SED. But they don't want to stop there, with a diagnosis that won't necessarily follow him for the rest of his fucking life. Oh no, they want to also diagnose my seven year old son with bipolar disorder - at seven fucking years old. And that fucking bullshit will follow him for fucking life.

His therapist. who also wanted to talk to me about our genetic history of neurological issues won't return my fucking calls. I want to discuss some of my concerns and figure out exactly what the fuck is going on with my child. I know the paperwork went through, wherein Amy gave the therapist fucking permission to talk to me about my own child - I've talked to a couple folks in his school about it.

I have not been dealing that great with any of this. But I have managed to compartmentalize it enough to fucking function. Since I've been on the Seroquel, this has not worked out so well. I have had to pull over more than once because I was crying. I have missed class because I just couldn't handle it. I am not doing a lot of things that I need to be, because I am fucking paralyzed with anger and depression and utter fucking hopelessness far too often lately.

I really fucking hope that tomorrow will bring some definitive change.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I am rather up and down about reading Pharyngula. I really enjoy many of the posts, but one of the pleasures of blogs is discussing what's been said and that is kind of strange over there. Which is, in turn, kind of strange coming from me - because I'm kind of an asshole a lot of the time. But I really enjoy a lot of Paul's posts and wander on over once in a while. This post rather struck me, especially the following:
This is what religion is: they angle for fresh prey, and once they snag you, they swallow you up. You are embraced in the rugae and crypts of the gut of the church, all warm and pink and soft and wet and intimate, and each of the members is like a little villus — a multitude of villi brush adoringly against you, each telling you how wonderful and delicious you are, and each leeching away a little of yourself, your individuality, your independence. It feels good as you are slowly absorbed. Then at last, when your will is gone and your dependence is complete, you are digested by the body of Christ, and there you will be for all of your productive years. Eventually, when you are old and no longer active, you'll take residence in the colon of the church, serviced by occasional visits from a priest or a volunteer, in hopes of one final ka-ching from your will…and then your empty husk will be shat out into the church graveyard, with the leavings of other past meals. The churches of your community all ought to be viewed as predatory animals, some lazy and sated, others restless and hungry, but all eyeing you as potential fodder to keep the beast alive.
Even a year ago, it is likely that I would have actually argued about this. But the argument would not really have been an argument that this is inaccurate, it would have been an argument of motivations. And the thing is, the motivations are still there - the point is still valid, but it doesn't actually refute a damned thing written in that paragraph.

The fact of the matter is, as is the case with most other woo - the victimizers are also the victims. Yes, there are a great many scam artists and pretenders - in the clergy and congregations. But there are also a whole lot of Christians out there who are honestly and earnestly seeking to save you from what they believe will be your eternal damnation and suffering. They truly believe that if you don't go to church, follow the dogma and believe/worship who and how they do - you're going to suffer horribly.

I know how they feel, I've felt it - I've been in those shoes. I was ok with being mocked, because I knew that what I had to say could go somewhere someday. If my small part to play eventually led to their salvation from eternal suffering, well, who cares about a little mockery at my expense? I know how they feel, because I spent years with an underlying terror that my own dad and eventually my brother were going to hell.

This makes it very difficult for some people to withstand the deluge. If you haven't read the whole of PZ's piece, do so. He describes a couple of situations, one written about by one of his readers and one that happened to him. I have been that proselytizing jackass, astounded that someone could be so blind to the obvious. I mean it really did seem so obvious to me and it was very confusing when people just didn't see it after I explained it all.

I was very good at helping bring people into my Faith, because I was so very genuine. Because no matter the sorts of mischief I got into - and I got into a lot - I genuinely cared about other people and really wanted them to avoid eternal suffering. I was obviously imperfect, yet entirely confident that my god loved me anyways and it was all ok in the end. I was trying and that was what mattered. That and I genuinely cared about the people I was proselytizing to - and it showed. That showering love fest that PZ describes is entirely accurate, but it's also far more nefarious for being genuine.

I feel genuinely sad for many of the people I went to church with who know that I am not a Christian. They genuinely love me and also believe absolutely that I am going to suffer eternal damnation if I don't accept their Faith. Even worse is my mom, who obviously loves me and wants me to avoid the eternal suffering that she believes is what people who do not Believe will suffer.

But it just is what it is - and isn't what so many Believe it is.

I am still working on my first post about things that kept me holding desperately onto my faith. But I think this actually can qualify as a prelude of sorts, because it was the loving community that made it very hard to leave - not to mention the disappointment of a great many loved ones.

I am going to continue with the post I was actually writing, but honestly can't say how quickly it will come. I have actually been doing things that aren't school or writing and have to get school stuff done too. And focusing is still a huge pain in the ass - exhausting even.

Speaking of, it is way past my damned bedtime - goodnight...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Off to see the Wizard and other thoughts...

So I am getting set to see my therapist shortly. I do have a post in the works, hopefully for this afternoon - one that rather steps away from most of my recent posts. I am working on a post about Meaning post Faith. I intend to write several posts over the next few months, detailing some of the issues that helped hold me back from shedding my Faith, we'll see how it goes.

I am definitely thinking that Seroquel is not going to work out real well. I know a couple of my wonderful blog friends are into neurology and/or pharmacology. I have discussed this with one of my pharmacology friends who recommended that I discuss the possibility of switching off Seroquel in favor of Clonidine and Welbutrin. If others have any thoughts on that, I would love to hear them. I have a week before I see the doctor next and would like to have some solid ideas to discuss with him.

The lowdown on my problems with SSRI's is that I had sex drive problems - on steroids. The lack of sex drive really isn't a problem for me - indeed at the moment it would be kind of nice. But mine went beyond mere lack of desire, I actually experienced discomfort in the genital region. A sort of dullness that was accentuated by a prickly feeling. I have been told that I probably wouldn't have the same problems with Welbutrin, but that it is a possibility. It may seem a silly concern, mainly because I just can't really know until I try, but I would prefer to avoid trying anything that is extremely likely to be a problem - I am paying out of pocket for my scripts and on student loans this is not a small concern.

Back to the wizard.

I am going to be discussing the meds of course, but also will be delving into the problem of feeling. I really wanted to write another post on how DuWayne got to where he is, continuing my series from last Thursday, but the damned Seroquel was not making that easy. I am going to try to get on that in the next few days, because it really seems to be useful for me. We'll just have to see.

The big issue that we have been running up against, is my issues with really delving into my feelings. I had this inane notion that I was pretty solidly in touch with my feelings and emotions, but have been realizing that this is not entirely accurate. Rather I have been very keen on dancing around my feelings and focusing an awful lot on others, to the detriment of my own personal connections to me. We'll just have to see how it goes, I'm definitely going to try.

I would also like to apologize to those who have been writing me this week and not gotten a response. I am not ignoring you, I just have not had it in me to write much. Also, I would really appreciate it if folks wouldn't IM me. I really hate to message like that, with very few exceptions. Please feel free to email and I promise I will get to you eventually. Messaging is just a little too much for me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day three...

Much better day, though I am really uncomfortable at the moment. I got a lot of crap done today, mainly revolving around buying a van and taking care of the most egregious irritation, the doors that didn't open from the outside. I got it mostly figured out, I could tell what was wrong, but couldn't figure out the fix. Then he figured out why they had slipped in the first place and with the help of a couple of well placed paper clips, we got that fixed. With a clear head it is unlikely that I would have had much of a problem figuring this out. But that's the sort of thing friends are for - we got it fixed. Now there are just a dozen or so other minor issues to deal with. I can't really complain though, I got a pretty good deal.

Being on the go seems to make a difference, we'll see how that translates to school tomorrow. I have a couple of midterms and hopefully will get a chance to meet with the prof for my online class. Trying to get motivated to do anything at the moment is not working out all that well. I really want to get several things done, including continuing with my series on how I ended up this way. But I am just not feeling up to doing shit right now. I am going to eat something and watch an episode of Stargate SG1 and see where I am then. I'm ready for school tomorrow, so it's probably fine. But my space is still a mess (I reorganized, mostly) and I didn't get the inside of my van cleaned - the carpet and windshield really need some loving. I could at least finish my reorganizing, but my impetus is fading...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seroquel: Day 2 Night 3 on my new meds

Sorry, there is some cursing going on here and I am not really feeling up to mucking about with the HTML to put it under the fold.

So on Friday, I went not only to my normal Friday therapy appointment, I also went to my doctor. I can not begin to explain how wonderful it is to be seeing the doctor I grew up with (or a doctor at all for that matter). I am not able to see him for general health concerns, because the visits are out of pocket. But to be able to deal with him for my psych meds is just so much easier, than dealing with the sliding scale clinic would be. Dr. T has known me since I was a relatively small child and knows a lot of my proclivities. He is also aware of my substance abuse issues and takes that into consideration.

Above all, it is really great to be dealing with a doctor who exemplifies everything great about family GPs. And who is also a licensed clinical psychotherapist and psychiatrist.

We spent about half an hour discussing my concerns and fears about going on a mood stabilizer. He was very clear that whatever we end up with, I am going to have to accept that some of what I am afraid of losing, is going to be lost. Ultimately, some of what I am afraid of losing is part of what is holding me back. I understand this, but it is not easy to accept - but then there are those beautiful little boys in the last post and it's a little easier to accept. So I am now taking Seroquel.

That said, I almost didn't take my new meds again last night. I don't like this, feeling like this and not feeling like I usually do. I am fucking angry and frustrated and really don't like it. Yesterday was fucking awful. Four or five times I just broke down and cried. I couldn't think straight to save my life. Today was a little better and tomorrow should be even better - we'll see. But I am also supposed to increase my dosage here soon, not as quickly as a lot of people do, but still. I really don't want to have another day like yesterday.

I am coming to understand it, but it boggles my mind that I got through thirty-two fucking years without really accepting or understanding what the hell is happening in my head. I chalked it up to the ADHD and honestly never really bought into the bipolar diagnosis. I mean I accepted that I may well be bipolar, but I never really grasped the actual impact it has had on me. I brought this up to Dr. T, because while there has been a several year hole, he's known me for almost twenty-five years.

He suggested the very thing that I brought up in my first of a series on Thursday, I have been dealing with this since I was born. I have had my entire life to learn ways to compensate. I didn't have a sudden onset as a teen or tweener, I got a leg up on them by working through my childhood on being less atypical. And I had the ADHD to blame for what I couldn't manage.

Fuck! I just took my pill for the evening ten minutes or so ago. And I am just fucking drifting now. I can focus, but I am not able to focus - it's really hard to explain. The bitter irony, there was a time when I would have been thrilled to have this shit. It's a fucking high to be sure. But I don't control it. I would love nothing more than to flush this crap down the fucking toilet and get a bag of weed. It may not be as effective, but at least I have control of my high. And the first half hour to an hour with weed doesn't make me keep getting weepy. Though I have to admit that that too is not as bad tonight, as it was the first night, or even last night, which wasn't as bad as the first.

I am going to give it the week at least, probably more. Even if it doesn't work out, we need to know exactly what kind of problems I am having with it, so we can move on to the next with a higher likelihood of success. And the few nights I've taken it are just not a reasonable assessment period. But this really fucking sucks.

I am, by the way, going to continue writing that series I started on Thursday. But it is going to be in my own time. It's not all that easy for me, though it is extremely valuable to me. And I would also really like to write about the issue of these "conscientious" objecting pharmacists, who don't want to fill scripts for meds that they think are wrong, but honestly, it just makes me so fucking angry that I have a hard time writing about it rationally. I already blew up big time at Abel's TerraSig and started to really lose it at Pal's White Coat Underground. Sorry guys. But I would really appreciate it if you would take a look at their posts and after, take a look at this clearinghouse for proposed and passed state legislation about conscience clauses for pharmacists and other health care pros. I would like to say that I will get around to posting about it, but it's highly unlikely - I have way too much on my plate. Two midterms on Tuesday and homework I haven't touched since Friday, because of these fucking meds. Not to mention home repair projects for a couple of very supportive friends, that are piling up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Which DuWayne Explains His Rage, Anger and Fear...Part One

I really don't have the time to do this now, but the way things are going, I never will. And I need to. The following series of posts (interspersed with other posts) will probably include a great deal of profanity, it will certainly include a great deal of information that will likely make some readers uncomfortable. I am going to talk about what many would perceive as rather dark aspects of human sexuality and even darker aspects of the human brain - namely my own. I am a very dark and lonely place

I want to be very clear to those who choose to read the following, that I make no apologies and carry no shame for who and what I have been. I am who and what I am, who I have been got me here. Quite honestly, given the opportunity to do it over, I am not certain that I would do a damned thing different. I have always done my best with the tools I have, though all too often those tools have failed me or my ability to use said tools has failed me. More...
Here I am, fucking naked again. More naked than before.

Of my first twenty-four hours out of my mother's womb, I slept just under ten. Before my eyes could even focus enough to see anything more inches from my face clearly, I needed to see it all. My mom hated it when I actually took a nap, because that would inevitably mean I was going to sleep even less that night. And when I woke up, I was always absolutely awake and ready to see more shit. My brother Jack taught me to read when I was two, at which point I began to incessantly devour books like they were food and water in a time of famine. I read Paddington Bear when I was four and was onto philosophy and theology by the time I was nine.

When I was nine, I learned about people. I learned how to read the people around me, not just what they expressed to me - I learned to read the truth of them. I had ideas. Always hammering me relentlessly, on top of each other, around each other and in and out of each other - it never fucking stopped, not even for a moment - but it slowed a little when I was explaining some bit or another. It made it better for that little while. When I was nine, I learned that when I was bouncing ideas off of the people around me, they didn't have the smallest clue what the fuck I was talking about.

When I was nine, I begged my god to take me home. I just wanted to die, rather than to go on without even the tiny abeyance that came when I was explaining it to someone else. But my god just wouldn't do it. So I retreated into a special world that I created for myself. A quiet place that was filled with the people I came to love so very much, the characters in my books. The times, places and realities that were not my own, but that I could borrow for a time. As a little boy I slipped away from this place and into a place of wonder, where I wasn't so very stupid and slow.

When I was ten, I took ownership of a very special sort of freedom. I no longer wanted to die, but nor was I afraid to die. This body wasn't the whole of me but I don't think that mattered even then. Had there been nothing more than this, the this I had had to that point would have been enough. But at the time I knew it wasn't. Not fearing death and being the singularly arrogant person that even then I was, I felt no real fear of any temporal authority. To be sure, I felt beholden to my own moral framework and the dogma of my Faith. But I was beholden to these, to the exclusion of all other authority.

I loved my god with every bit of my being. There's a very good reason for that, two really. For all of my study into the bible and theology, I created my god in the image of my idealism. And for all of my awe and wonder at the world around me, the world that my god had created, my observation of reality was also shaped to fit the reality of my god. Even though I dearly loved the people around me, everybody around me, People were an abstraction to me. Later, when I became more fully aware that People were people too, my god creation changed - But I digress. At that point in my life, the reality I perceived and inhabited was entirely my own creation.

The reason that the betrayal of my church (see a much earlier post) was such a traumatizing event for me was not so much the betrayal itself, it was the shattering of my own, perfect little reality. It became unglued, untenable - while I was desperate to hold on and keep it together. But I couldn't keep it together and everything was hammering me again. Because in the act of creating and maintaining, I burned enough of my energy, used enough of my brain to stem the tide of thoughts and ideas to a peacefully babbling brook - contrasting the non-stop flash flood that opened up on me, even as my reality collapsed.

Then I discovered cannabis and alcohol. And before long, sex.

I will continue this in another post, for the moment I just need to stop. But I would like to take this moment to explain something. In a previous post I mentioned balancing the sensory overload of music and drugs, with the additional sensory overload of sex. Someone very special to me, who I am coming to adore and care for very much, mentioned the contradiction of that, when I sent her the post before I actually put it up. She later wrote me and asked why I hadn't changed that (I told her I would). I couldn't answer at the time, because I really didn't grasp entirely why I didn't feel right changing that.

I think I understand it now. I meant exactly what I said, even though I really didn't consciously understand why. My life has generally been various states of sensory overload in a rather delicate balance, with one thing playing off another. Through this process, I have slowly learned to ride the balance of the tide, as it rushes through my head. The conscious and unconscious largely interchangeable. And after decades of running from it, I have finally come to embrace the rush. With the last vestiges of my creations falling to dust around me, I am finally riding the reality of me.

At thirty-two, I am both a very old man and a swaddling infant - but I am free. I am, finally, me. This is why I am afraid of going on more meds. Ultimately, I am just finally getting the opportunity to know me, with my filters stripped bare.

I know that it will be ok and I know that I need to do it. No matter how many ideas and sculptures of words flow through me, I am unable to do a fucking thing with them as it stands. And I fucking have things to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Damned Misogynist Bastards!!!

Or not so much...

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who reads my blog or catches my comments here and there, that I am a pretty big fan of Dr. Isis. I like her blog for a number of reasons, first and foremost being: I'm a dad. I like the cutesy stories about rocking smart kids being, well, cute. I also like stories about parents being, well, good parents who are proud of their children.

I also really like her blog, because she discusses the balance between being a mother and the domestic chores that entails, and her career - a career that is pretty demanding. I can relate to a lot of what she discusses because I'm a single dad who is balancing a demanding new schedule of studying, with the domestic demands of being a parent - the parent to my kids, when I have them.

And I really like her blog because it is often a forum for discussing social gender roles. A topic that is rather near to my heart.

When I wrote this post, little more than a month ago, I failed to really explain why this was such a big deal to me. I'm a born and raised midwestern boy. In the midwest, boys just don't step out of the archetypal male gender constructs. It's not as bad now, but when I first put on a skirt in the mid-nineties, it was pretty radical. Especially given that I'm not into playing with other boys. So when this happened to me and I liked it so much, it was really kind of confusing - especially given that I had met my first transgendered person not all that long before it happened. As stupid as this might sound, it just hadn't occurred to me that a guy could wear "women's" clothing and still be a guy.

I have some very strong opinions about gender and gender constructs. I use the same language to discuss these issues as a lot of feminists use. In part because I am a feminist and in part, because this language (in modern usage) has largely developed in women's and subsequently gender studies programs. I pretty firmly believe that a lot of these last vestiges of actual misogyny in our society are a result of the lack of focus on men's studies. I really want to see that change, so I spend a lot of my time talking about it. And this is not just online, I talk about it here in the outside world too. I wear skirts on occasion, because of the conversation doing so fosters (and because I love skirts and look pretty hot in them).

But often times, when I start using the language appropriate to gender discussions, I turn a fair number of people off. And not because they're misogynists or even disagree with anything I have to say. They are turned off because they have had shitty experiences with people who use that same sort of language, who also seem to believe that any and every criticism of them is misogyny.

I am all for calling misogyny when I see it. I am even for calling people on making unintended misogynistic statements. Such as:

"Damn, women are just stupid." or "Here, let me change that tire for you - I'm sure you'd rather not get dirty."

The first is pretty blatant misogyny. The second is misogyny by implication, the intention is not inherently misogynistic, but the effect and implication most certainly is. And for the former, I am all about letting loose my inner asshole. For the latter, I would be inclined to politely take them to the side and have a little talk. But this:

I don't know. There seems to be a limited overlap between what she writes about and my interests and her general tone rubs me the wrong way (reminds me of too many people I've known), but I'm willing to give it another shot. A few suggested starter posts?

or this:
I've had a similar response to it. I found it grating, even though I wanted to like it.

or even this:
Nice to know I'm not completely alone here.
her blog came across to me as:
"I was washing [the shit off my baby's] beautiful little bottom and he got a little erection, then he did a wee all down my front, and I thought to myself 'This is it, this is what life is all about'."
Some of us have other priorities.

Are not misogyny at all. They are legitimate criticisms that explain why those individuals didn't care for Isis' blog. Accusing the people who have those opinions of misogyny, is not any different than religionists who refuse to discuss any criticism of their faith, because that's their faith and off limits. The fact that there are people out there who criticize me and the things that I happen to talk about, does not make them man hating misandrists. It just means they don't like what I have to say about something. OTOH, if the criticism of me was basically, "DuWayne's friggin stoopid because he has a penis instead of a uterus!" that would qualify as misandry.

The problem that I have with this off the cuff, bullshit use of the word misogynist is twofold. Most importantly, it makes the word entirely meaningless. When anything and everything that criticizes any feminist is magically considered misogyny, effectively calling out actual misogyny becomes pretty much impossible. The other problem I have with it, is that it associates me to that kind of bullshit, when I am using the language of gender issues. I have shit to do, trying to make my community a better place, an easier place for people to live and be, regardless of gender or where they fit in gender constructs. Assholes who cry misogyny at the drop of the mildest critique, make that much harder for me to do.

Monday, March 9, 2009


So this is my topic proposal as it stands, sans preliminary bibliography. Unfortunately, I think that JLK is spot on about narrowing the focus even more. I have to keep reminding myself that I should stick well inside the parameters of the assignment. I have a lot of other things to deal with right now, making a huge production of this paper is really just a distraction.

Male Depression and the problem of feeling. Archetypal male social gender constructs are abusive to men and by extension, society as a whole. They create in men a certain inability to adequately recognize and express their feelings, most notably depression. This fosters a psychological environment that makes it difficult to diagnose and treat depression and other mental problems. It also fosters an environment in which men are less capable of adequately expressing their feelings in interpersonal relationships, which can feed back into feelings of depression and isolation.

Does biology dictate archetypal social gender constructs, or are they entirely social constructs by nature? / What is biology's role in said gender constructs?
Do/How do the archetypal male social gender constructs effect the ability of men to recognize and functionally deal with depression and other feelings?
Assuming that there is some biological contribution involved, how much of the problem of men and depression/feelings is biological imperative, as apposed to social imperative? / Can this even be discerned?
Can deconstructing/reconstructing male social gender constructs foster positive changes that will help solve the problems of depression and feeling?

The eighty-eight years since women achieved the right to vote in the United States have seen a great deal of progress in the realm of women's rights and equality. The forty-five years since Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was published have seen an explosion of women's studies that has led directly to the development of non-archetypal female gender constructs. These periods have also given rise to significant changes in social views of gender in relation to sex, sexuality and sexual orientation. It has opened the doors of acceptance of people who don't fit into archetypal gender or sexual constructs. The overall effect of these movements has been the creation of an environment that is far more equitable to women, transgendered people and non-heterosexuals. Yet for all of this progress, there still persists an underlying social misogyny.

In all of this progress, there has been a distinct lack of progress or focus on a large segment of society: heterosexual men. While heterosexual men have been told that they need to accept the new gender constructs of others, no significant changes have been made to archetypal male gender constructs. Yet the very nature of archetypal male gender constructs are in many ways, fundamentally at odds with the changing face of gender in society.

I have chosen depression and the problem of feeling as a focus for this paper, because I believe that this is the heart of the failure of archetypal male gender constructs. While this topic only tangentially relates to the underlying conflict of archetypal male gender constructs and post-modern society, I believe that it is the most important place to begin a fundamental reworking of hetero male gender constructs. The idea that men are autonomous of their emotions is the very core of the archetypal masculine paradigm. It is also the most abusive aspect of that paradigm, both to society and the men who attempt to exist within that ideal.

The fallacy of emotional autonomy leads men to suppress feelings that are natural and uncontrollable. People cannot help what they feel, they can only control their expression of those feelings or suppress their experience of those feelings. Males are taught at a very early age to bury their experience of feelings and emotions, until they come to no longer recognize any feelings or emotions excepting the very extremes. This often lends itself to an escalation of feelings that persist until they either become extreme enough to be noticed, or they cause a psychotic break. At best, this suppression causes isolation and alienation, an environment in which men have a difficult time honestly expressing their feelings for the loved ones most close to them.

Depression is a particularly solid focus. There is more research to draw conclusions from and there is a solid body of work on depression as a whole, from which to draw comparisons. While it was previously thought that women have a significantly higher incidence of depression than men, research is finding that men experience and express depression differently, not necessarily less frequently.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Men Are Like Onions...

...There are layers.

So I am working diligently on my topic proposal for my next paper. The general topic is gender issues and men's studies. The specific topic is working out to be a sight more complicated. I have between six and twelve pages, double spaced. Currently, my thesis statement is looking a little daunting for the page restrictions. And I don't think that going to nine or ten point font is going to help any. Not to mention it might get me in trouble - wasn't a problem for my intro paper, but my instructor is wise to my tricks...

Male Depression and the problem of feeling. Archetypal male social gender constructs are abusive to men. They create in men a certain inability to adequately recognize and express their feelings, most notably depression. Further, the results of these social gender constructs are directly responsible for the lingering endemic problem of largely unconscious misogyny.

And the worse part? I have to fit a graph or table in this somewhere. Thankfully, I can probably get away with making that small. But I think I'm probably going to have to amend my thesis statement to narrow the focus. The thing that sucks, is that the part I reasonably should trim, is the whole reason I got interested in writing this damned paper in the first place. And it leaves me with little to persuade anyone of - because I don't think the notion that male social gender constructs are abusive to men is all that controversial - least ways I should hope it isn't.

Reading What isn't there - Figuratively and Literally

I should mention that I actually got the material I was looking for, thanks Becca.....

Before I go very far, I am hoping for some help. I really need an article out of a journal that is not part of the databases I have access to. Because I am uncertain I will actually want to use it, I don't want to buy it. So if you have access to the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity I would really appreciate it if you would email me. If I actually end up using the article I am looking for, I don't mind buying it. But if I'm not, I'd rather not spend the money.

So I stuck foot in mouth a bit yesterday. Being in a strange state of focus lately, I rather read an awful lot into some comments at Greg Laden's blog. What annoys me about this is not the embarrassment of having to admit to my mistake and apologize. Being rather egotistical, I appreciate having the opportunity to be humbled. I am annoyed, because I just don't do this - reading in things that are not actually there. I get really irritated when people do it to me, being one who tends to mean very specifically what I actually say.

I much prefer to have to admit I was wrong about something, because someone else convinces me that my reasoning was flawed or my evidence is wrong. I really hate admitting I was wrong, because I jumped to conclusions by inference. The fact that most of the time the conclusions are correct, does not make it any less obnoxious or sloppy.

Having been somewhat focused on this line of thinking, I realized that I have been guilty of this a lot lately. While this is the first time it's really come to bite me, I am doing a lot of reflecting on how I have developed this habit. Stress is at least a part of it, but I tend to think that there is something more going on that I need to delve into. This is not the only "not DuWayne" issue that has arisen in the last few months.

The problem with this is there are so many factors involved, that it's really hard to differentiate and sort through it all. And it is really important that I sort through a lot of it, because I am finally trying to really deal with the negative aspects of my neurological make-up. It is critically important to me that I maintain the best balance possible between functionality and retaining who I am. But at the same time it has become increasingly apparent that my neurochemistry needs more help than Ritalin and the occasional Xanax are providing now.

Going much beyond the minimal constrictions of my current regimen really scares me. It hurts like hell to be me, quite a lot of the time. It's hard sometimes to sort through the constant barrage of ideas, words and music that inundate my mind. It's frustrating to get sent on tangents that distract from what I am trying to accomplish at a given moment. But it's me. It's who I am, what I am. I don't know how to be not me.

But I also don't know how to be me and succeed in the ways that I must.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Deconstructing Social Gender Constructs.....

*Or, as was pointed out to me, I was just being oversensitive due to issues that are entirely unrelated to the thread mentioned below. Not the time-out needed part - the anti-feminist accusations I was reading into some of the comments, that do not in fact exist. Because I do believe in owning my stupidity, I am not going to remove that bit. The rest of the post is valid and topical to ongoing discussions.

See the inspiration for this post here - be warned, this link is to scientists and other very bright people acting like bloody obnoxious little children who need a time-out. Included in the attached thread are people who are attacking the totally hot Dr. Isis, for actually being a shoe-loving domestic and laboratory goddess. This is, supposedly, anti-feminist

Give me a break.

See this post (if you haven't) and come back - this current discussion will still be here.

We are who we are and there is nothing wrong with that. It is not in any way counterintuitive to actually fall into certain archetypal social gender stereotypes, while trying at the same time, to deconstruct those stereotypes as actual social gender constructs. Indeed, what is counterintuitive is denying ourselves and who we are, in the name of said deconstructions. Who the hell is going to want to actually accept such deconstructions if it means pretending to be something or someone we're not?

Deconstructing archetypal social gender constructs is all about the meaning we put into who we are and what we do. My love for hunting, power tools and such doesn't define my gender, any more than my love of skirts and tendency to be very sensitive to feelings, mine and others, defines my gender. Deconstructing social gender constructs does not mean we need to defy those constructs, it means we need to deny their ability to define gender. It really is that simple.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This Made Me Very Happy. Very, Very Happy.....

More thoughts - post Wizard

Just to be clear, I am not even considering quitting school. I am going to far way too fast to quit and the reasons I am tempted are much better served by me getting my education. I will see about blogging about the problems in the near future, probably would do me some good.

So I managed to get a good kick in the ass. And to give you an idea of the quality therapist I have, it came from where she thought it should, not where I did. Total bloody blindsided me - while still getting me where I needed to go for today.

For one thing, she made it very clear that a big part of the problem, is probably far more chemical in nature, than I have ever really considered. We discussed quite a bit about the cognitive aspects and she just smacked me hard - "You have the cognitive down, you need to think chemical." This was not put very politely....

And I realized this is true. I do have a firm handle on the cognitive issues (these specific ones, not all of them). But I have never really considered the possibility that my neurological proclivities could have an affect on what I have always viewed as a cognitive problem. But the Wiz is quite patient with me and suggested that when I go back to the Doc next Friday, that I discuss the possibility of looking in a different direction medication wise. Doc is also a psychotherapist with some previous experience in my head, so I think it could work out reasonably well.

I am also very glad to have taken the xanax today, because she really was firm about some aspects of what is the very worse experience of my life, which I am going through right now. Not things I wanted to hear by a stretch, but things that I really needed to hear. And because of the interconnectedness of all things DuWayne, it will probably impact some of my academic decision-making for the time being. Which could be good, because while I am not exactly straying from the path I am developing, it may be cause for adjustments that will make the experience less stressful, though no less wrought with seriously hard work.

The direction I am heading now, sans adjustments, is going to put me in a solid place career and educationwise, but would also put me in line for some serious discontentment among my future colleagues. And the more I pay attention to the politicing bullshit that most great grad programs are rife with, the more I actually get a bit concerned about it. I am not concerned about gossip per say, but I am concerned about outright attempts to sabotage.

Of course nothing is in stone at this point and it may become moot. The issues that are pushing me to push myself, may iron out to something more reasonable. But regardless, I am trying to accept that what will be will be - that there are a lot of factors that are just entirely beyond my control.

And I apologize for being so damned cryptic, but I really don't feel much like delving into the heart of the worse of my life right now. A few of you know what it is and for the moment, that will have to suffice. Just realize that it is really hard for me not to do a lot of really stupid things right now, including, but not limited to dropping out of school....

Random thoughts before I go to see the Wizard......

Sometimes being me is a pain in the ass. I have a lot to do right now - a lot lot. And I am getting a lot of it done.

But par usual, I am focusing way too much energy on the things that are of relatively lower importance. I know that I am going to get a basic four point. My remedial algebra class, ironically, would screw me, but it doesn't count as a non-transfer, non-degree supporting class. But I am obsessing over my last paper - even though I will get a high enough score to get full points. I am obsessing over another paper for my humanities class, even though it really isn't that important either. And I'm obsessing over my next English paper, even though I really don't need to.

I am moving forward on my side project that will, ultimately, be far more important to my educational and career goals, but I am not focusing nearly as much as I should be on it. In part, I suspect it is because of this fear of success bullshit that has been plaguing me for years. I have this stupid damned habit of sabotage through attrition.

I was a very decent actor, lyricist and pretty boy, when I was living in St. Louis. I was regularly interviewed on public radio. I had a chance to get in with an agent, who would have started me in adverts and moved me up from there. But when it came time for my major interview - I showed up fifteen minutes late, mildly drunk and coked up. While being in that state worked reasonably well for performances and public radio, it didn't so much for the execs from a major marketing agency. They were suitably impressed with my body and my ability to spout off, but my inability to sit down and the speed with which I spoke was not so impressive.

I am a very good songwriter. I actually made some money at one point, writing Christian worship music. Then it came out that I'm not actually a Christian and the publishing house actually talked about suing me - many of the churches that were using my music quit using it at all. I was also working on getting in with a marketing firm (pays really damned well), but managed to screw that around, because I was too focused on where I was already making some money, little as it was.

I really need better flexibility so I can kick my own ass!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kerlikowske: Is Heading the Director of Drug Control Policy Position Appropriate?

While Gil's not without his faults, I have to say that overall I've come to rather like Kerlikowske, the more I read about him. We'll start with some of the bad, to get it out of the way, then we'll get into the good. But ultimately, I have to conclude that Drug Czar isn't the right position for him.

In 2001 Kerlikowske made some errors in judgment that led to one death and several injuries, some critical during a Mardi Gras celebration. He did not take decisive action and allowed his second to order officers to pull back when the celebration started getting violent. However, Kerlikowske also accepted full responsibility for what happened and admitted that mistakes were made. Small comfort for those injured and the family of the young man who died, but at the same time decisions made in the heat of the moment are not always the right ones.

Kerlikowske also has a record for supporting fairly extreme gun control measures, something that I tend to have mixed feelings about. While I certainly see some gun control laws as critically important to public safety, I also believe very strongly in the right to own and in many cases carry firearms. Some of the discussion surrounding Kerlikowske's position on gun control has made me a bit uncomfortable. This is especially ironic, given that in 2004 he left his own weapon under the seat of his car while shopping with his wife - which ended up being stolen from the car.

There are a lot of other tidbits that do paint Gil in an unfavorable light, but ultimately I don't think you're going to find an effective chief of police anywhere that doesn't create a fair amount of controversy. And to counter the negatives, Kerlikowske has some very positive marks.

Gil Kerlikowske has a solid record for effectively supporting harm reducing public health measures. He changed the policy of having police officers watching needle exchange sites, a practice that previous to his administration was a matter of policy. He also instituted a policy of making misdemeanor cannabis arrests a low priority, even before I-75 passed in Seattle, a ballot measure reflecting the voting public's support for that policy. Seattle journalist Dominic Holden lays it out clearly (link above):

The bigger issue—and safer issue, politically—is replacing enforcement with public services. On that issue Kerlkowske has incubated a revolution. Seattle implemented two programs that get drug users off the street before they get arrested. Most notably, the Get Off The Streets (GOTS) program hatched in the Central District when Lieutenant John Hayes (now a captain) set up a table as an arrest-free area that people with criminal warrants could visit for health and human services.

“That was, at that time, a very edgy approach, and the chief was willing to let one of his people staff the program,” says City Council Member Nick Licata, who soon seized on the idea, passing legislation to fund the project permanently. “It was a stage where Gil could have stopped it from [getting funding], but he allowed it go forward,” he says.

I also really like Kerlikoswke because I am a very strong advocate for community policing, which he is as well. Under the Clinton administration he was director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services of the DOJ. During this time he developed a strong working relationship with then Deputy AG Eric Holder, now Obama's AG. He has fostered solid, positive community policing strategies in every police department he's worked in.

That pretty well defines my support for Kerlikowske. While he certainly doesn't support legalization, no one who does is going to get this slot. But Kerlikowske is a strong advocate for harm reductionist drug policies and seems to have a record for listening to the science and basing his decisions on evidence. But there are two very good reasons why I think Gil's the wrong choice for Director of Drug Control Policy.

First, he's a cop, not a public health expert. While I think his respect from law enforcement leadership across the U.S. is a major advantage, I still believe that having a public health expert in the field of illicit drugs would be a much better direction to go. Doing so would show a firm commitment on Obama's part that his desire to shift the focus of drug policy to public health is absolute. Appointing a police officer to the position, even one with a solid record on public health sends a very mixed message.

But most importantly, I think that Kerlikowske would be far more valuable in a law enforcement position that is in desperate need of new leadership. The DEA is in dire need of leadership that will reflect the priorities of the Obama administration. And there are several reasons why Kerlikowske would be a excellent choice for the role, not the least being - he has an interest in the position.

The respect he commands from the law enforcement community would be just as useful in the head slot at DEA, as it would as DDCP. This is an agency that often works in cooperation with local law enforcement, having a leader who is well respected by cops across the country would go a long way towards smoothing the often rocky relationships between federal and local law enforcement officers.

Kerlikoswke has a solid relationship with AG Holder. I have no doubt that he would also develop a fine relationship with the public health expert who should get the DDCP position, which in turn would help develop reasonable priorities for the DEA. But most importantly, Gil Kerlikowske has a solid record as a law enforcement leader. While he has listened closely to the communities he's worked in and public health experts, he is not a policy maker. He's a policy enforcer and top notch leader.

I suspect that Kerlikowske will make a fine DDCP. I definitely think his appointment signals a serious commitment on Obama's part to the shift of focus in drug policy. But I feel very strongly that Kerlikowske's skills would be far more valuable, focused on enforcement instead of policy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Social Gender Roles, Feminism and Men

To develop a solid focus for my next paper, I am reading Terrance Real's book I Don't Want to Talk About it. I will definitely delve into the book itself in a later post, probably after I finish the actual paper. For the moment though, I want to delve into where exactly I'm trying to go with this paper - which will be eight to twelve pages in APA format. On page twenty-three he delves into the heart of where I am going.

For decades, feminist researchers and scholars have detailed the degree of coercion brought to bear against girls' full development, and the sometimes devastating effects of the loss of their most complete, authentic selves. It is time to understand the reciprocal process as it occurs in the lives of boys and men.

I will take this a bit further and assert that this study that Terrence is calling for is as important to women's studies and modern feminism, as it is to men. It is not nearly enough for feminists to tell us what we are doing wrong, how we are oppressing women. It must be understood that in any discussion of gender issues, all sides of the equation need to be addressed. The solutions to many of the issues facing women and modern feminism, are inexorably tied to solving the problems of male gender constructs.

Dr. Isis recently posted the letter of a male reader here. And this is an important discussion. While I take serious issue with the writer's use of the phrase "reverse discrimination," this is a semantic issue - important to be sure, but not fatal to his underlying point. The issue of discrimination against men based on social gender constructs, is just another facet of the issue of discrimination against women based on the same social gender constructs. The male gender doesn't exist in a vacuum, separate from the female gender - the social constructs are intertwined, they interact with and impact each other in very complex ways. Simplistic dichotomies cannot and never will be able to address the fundamental problems inherent to both male and female social gender constructs as they exist in society today.

On all fronts changes are being made and progress is being made, but that progress is dramatically stunted by the fact that nearly all of the focus is on studying women and female gender constructs. There are probably no more than a handful of colleges in the United States, or anywhere in the western world, that do not have a women's studies program. In contrast, there are probably no more than a handful of colleges that have men's studies programs. While there are general gender studies programs, those are generally focused on women's studies, transgender studies and queer theory, with little emphasis placed on men's studies.

I am very glad that JLK recommended Terrence's book. I am also most grateful to her for fostering the gender discussions. It has definitely made for some interesting lines of thought. I Don't Want to Talk About It is an intense read thus far. Terrence is a very compelling wordsmith, on top of having truly awesome insight into the issues of male depression and the underlying gender constructs that allow it to remain largely hidden, even from the men who suffer it.

So on top of some repair work with my first addiction paper, I now need to work out a basic thesis and set of research questions for my next paper. I actually have a pretty solid preliminary bibliography already, I just need to develop the actual topic proposal. If I can, I want to get finished with the abstract and outline during this week of spring break. We'll see what happens...

In Lansing/East Lansing, to see Richard Dawkins

So I came into town yesterday, to see a friend in a play and spend time with old friends and play a little music. Today will be much of the same, while tomorrow will involve less visiting for fun and more substantive discussion. I'll be meeting with someone I've been interacting with online, about addiction. Then tomorrow evening, I get to see Richard Dawkins at the Wharton Center at MSU.

I am on spring break, but it looks like a fairly packed week for me. I have some time in a friend's woods with a chainsaw lined up, three books to read and a small paper to write, as well as getting the preliminary biblio and my thesis/research questions ready for my gender paper. I am hoping to get the intro and initial outline done as well - we'll see. But I am definitely get a post about our soon to be drug czar up, as well as another addiction post and a gender post. My mind's something of a whirl at the moment and wanting to get some informal writing in this week. I do enjoy the papers, but the style and formality of academic papers is fairly restrictive.