Goodbye: A Closing Thought

(Trigger warning: suicide.)

Over two weeks ago, I posted about the unexpected loss of someone I knew, and less than a week after that I mentioned him in a post where I was talking about suicide. The juxtaposition is ironic now that the ruling of his death as a suicide has become public. I wouldn’t have written about this if it wasn’t for the fact that I heard/read so many people call it “selfish” and condemn him, and that’s never okay by me.

You see, when you are in a suicidal headspace, you are usually thinking of yourself as a terrible burden for the people who love you. You are convinced that they will be better off without you. You are certain that you can do nothing right, that everything you do and are is wrong, and that it would be better for everyone if you disappeared.

I know this because I have thought this. I have said this to myself. I have found myself hard-pressed to find a reason to stay alive–but I have been lucky enough to have people around me who have been able to help me weather the storm.

I once heard that suicide is choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and I am honestly not sure how I feel about it. But as someone whose decision-making has been greatly impaired during depressive relapses, I don’t know that I can really consider it a choice. When you depression has zapped you of the ability to make your own choices in a logical manner, in a normal manner, are you really making a choice at all anymore?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I know this: I won’t blame him, or anyone, if that is how their life ends. Be it assisted suicide/euthanasia or what we traditionally know as suicide, it is not for me to judge.

And as for heavenly judgment? When he chose to perform a funeral for someone who had committed suicide, my family’s pastor said that he was certain she had asked for forgiveness–and that God would not have denied her. I find that I feel the very same exact way.

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…well, that didn’t take long.

(Trigger warnings: self-harm, depression, suicide, bullying, sexual assault, dark side of fandom.)

As you may have seen either here or on my Tumblr, my last post dealt with a Tumblr shitshow regarding people receiving anon hate and being pushed towards self-harm. While that was awful enough in itself, it has come to my attention that those “suicides” were actually “pseuicides”–as in, people were pretending to have hurt themselves for reasons that I cannot comprehend. (You can find a thorough summary and explanation here, with bonus commentary regarding the hot mess that is Andrew Blake here.) No matter what you think your motivation is, doing something like that is unequivocally fucked up because the anon hate you post for yourself can be triggering for someone else (as it was for me), and because you have just shot down people’s willingness to believe in those who reach out for help because they are worried they will harm themselves.

Allow me to elaborate.

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Damn it all to hell.

(Trigger warnings: self-harm, depression, suicide, bullying, dark side of fandom.)

This is a really difficult post for me to write because of the content matter… but also because I am not as involved in day-to-day fandom as I once was. I read fic on my Kindle before bed, not interacting with anyone, and my Tumblr use is limited to the occasional dashboard scroll/reblogging and to clicking on links my friends send me. So by the time I see that something is happening in fandom, it has been happening, and I usually do not feel remotely qualified to comment on anything.

But today is different.

Over the past few days, I have seen rumblings on Twitter about things getting really ugly in Supernatural (SPN) fandom on Tumblr. Due to the work of the loud few, I have found that SPN fandom has made me feel unsafe even as a bystander–too many personal attacks over things as inconsequential as ship wars–so I have distanced myself from it in general. Heeding the trigger warnings that accompanied many of the posts retweeted in my Twitter timeline, I have stayed away from whatever’s been going on. But today, the tweets increased in desperation and despair… so I clicked.

And holy crap, is this awful.

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Because your memory is already a blessing…

…I sit here with my heart in my hand and tears in my eyes… but I can’t cry. The tears will come, but they will not fall… and still I ache every time I hear your name.

We were not close, I know, so I know that there are others who feel your passing much more acutely than I do. But I still remember your smile, and the kindness you showed the uncomfortable, insecure girl I was in front of you. I remember the pride in your face as your children ran around us after hours at the ballroom. I remember the looks you and your wife stole when you thought no one was looking. I remember your laugh as you joked with the other guys while you worked… I am hard-pressed to remember a time where your face was not lit up with a smile.

And every time I remember that you’re gone, I ache.

I do not know how you left this world, only that you have, and it breaks my heart to know that your four children lost their father so close to Christmas. But I know that you will be watching over them, and over the team, and over all of us who had the great privilege of knowing you in any way.

Rest in peace, sir.

Being Boricua in the Mainland: A Follow-Up

A week after my post on being boricua, I am happy to report that I have received wonderful, positive feedback across various platforms from other boricuas who felt the same way. I’m so glad that my post was able to touch so many people!

That said, there is something about it that has been nagging at me and I would like to address it.

On Sunday night, as I worked on an assignment for my (most exciting yet) grad school class, Cross-Cultural Studies for Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, I realized that author Sonia Nieto makes a really powerful point about citizenship and Puerto Ricans that I overlooked in my previous post.

In her 2010 work Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives, Nieto points out, “history is generally written by the conquerors, not by the vanquished or by those who benefit least in society,” with the result being that “history books are skewed in the direction of dominant groups in a society” (p. 81). She then gives the following example: “Many Puerto Ricans remove the gratuitous word granted that appears in so many textbooks and explain that U.S. citizenship was instead imposed, and they emphasize that U.S. citizenship was opposed by even the two houses of the elected legislature that existed in Puerto Rico in 1917″ (ibid.).

I immediately ran back to re-read my own post and find what I had written about the subject.

While the U.S. acquired the island in the 1898 Treaty of Paris, it wasn’t until 1917 that President Wilson signed the Jones-Safroth act to grant United States citizenship to Puerto Ricans–but everyone born on the island after March 2, 1917 has received citizenship and been assigned a Social Security number, ostensibly to help with the war effort by making us eligible for the draft.

Reading my own words after reading Nieto’s felt a bit like a slap to the face. I did use the word “grant”! And, while I could say that this is because the source (itself quoted in Wikipedia) used that term, the fact is that I do genuinely think of it in those terms at first thought–the United States granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and therefore the opportunity to participate in the privileges that said citizenship offered.

You guys, I think I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid–at least to some extent.

But, of course, things are never that black-and-white, that stark, and so I took a moment to examine my reaction to my own word choice.

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El chip en mi shoulder se llama Puerto Rico.

As I’ve been spending some time ranting about having depression and being Jewish, two of the driving identities in my life, it seems only fitting that it’s time for me to start ranting about what is technically my first identity, and the one that has been probably the simplest one for me to come to terms with. And today is the day to do it, as I spent some time fielding questions about my eligibility to vote yesterday. (No, we’re not going to talk about the elections themselves–I’m too upset about the IL governor results.)

Anyway, about my first identity… to quote a song that then inspired a film: Yo soy boricua, pa’que tu lo sepas. 

Yup, I said it: I’m boricua, Puerto Rican, born and raised–just so you know. I’m not Mexican or Dominican or Spanish (although I have nothing against any of those places or their people), I’m Puerto Rican and there is a difference. The words you choose make a difference–words have power. And I will harp on that distinction just like I do when I label myself Latina and not Hispanic because I value the contributions to my heritage by groups other than white Europeans from Spain.

…yeah, okay, so being Puerto Rican maybe isn’t quite as simple as I made it seem at first. Let’s take a look at what that means (versus what people think it means).

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The Night Before #NaNoWriMo~

I’ve been radio silent this week because life has been insane–between a mountain of grading, getting back in the saddle for this new grad school class, freaking out about my evaluation, and dealing with a new crush (I know, I know), I just haven’t had much time to sleep, let alone blog.

And, of course, there has been that whole prepping-for-NaNoWriMo thing.

NaNoWriMo, for those of you who are still uninitiated, is my favorite name for November, and it stands for National Novel Writing Month. During 30 glorious (and often excruciating) days, writers all over the world attempt to write at least 50,000 words on a project of their choosing. As insane as it sounds, it’s something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time–and something that I have continuously sabotaged for myself.

Here are some of my excuses for the past, oh, ten years of NaNoWriMo failure:

  • I don’t have time for this because of work/school/life/the universe. (Uh, who does, really?)
  • My idea isn’t going anywhere.
  • I got too far behind to catch up.
  • I forgot to keep up with it.
  • What I had wasn’t good enough to keep going.
  • I can’t do this.
  • I got distracted.
  • I wrote X amount of words, just not on the project!

The truth is that, every time I have decided to begin working on a NaNoWriMo project, I have punked out using one of those excuses–so I haven’t even really given it an honest try (except for kind of doing so in 2012, but shhhh). But that all changes this year!

This year, I have a novel that I am thrilled to begin writing. I wrote the hook for it a few months ago, started doing some world-building and research, and then let it marinate–and now that I’ve started outlining it, the book won’t shut up. Several of you have already heard about this book because I can’t shut up about it either–I keep flailing on Twitter and telling everyone who will listen… including my stylist when she was doing my hair on Wednesday. (She loves the idea and signed up to beta read.) This book is so ready to exist that I’ve literally had to force myself to not write it before NaNoWriMo started so that I could give it all my energy this month.

I have also been working really hard to prepare so I can meet the previous years’ setbacks head on without faltering. I spent a lot of time going over Nick Thacker‘s Guide to Writing Fiction to make sure I had my structure right and I could outline, and then I buckled down and outlined most of my novel. I just signed up for Timothy Pike’s 12-Month Author Challenge to make sure my commitment doesn’t end on December 1, and I’ve already started going through some of the materials. I have researched places and people, written down the rules for my magical world, and reread lots of book for inspiration. I’m ready to go–are you?

Ready to come along on this adventure? You can follow me, my book, and my word count over at NaNoWrimo–and/or you can stay tuned here for (at least) weekly updates. Encouragement, kudos, and coffee are greatly appreciated.