Why it hurts so much to lose Anthony Bourdain

Every time I hear about a suicide I hurt. While I have never been suicidal myself, I have been so unhappy with my life that starvation seemed like an appropriate response. And some of my closest friends have encountered similar struggles, where everything in life feels impossible. So, I know the pain, and I know how difficult it can be to love someone who is feeling that pain.

I have been particularly torn up about Anthony Bourdain though. It’s not that I was a huge fan of Bourdain’s; I never watched his TV shows and I’ve read only a few chapters of Kitchen Confidential. (I do watch a lot of CNN though, so I’ve seen enough commercials for his shows to last me a lifetime.)

Maybe a week ago my boyfriend joked with me, after seeing another Parts Unknown commercial, “What will happen when Bourdain has visited everywhere in the world?” To which I responded, “He will always find new places.”

And I suppose it hurts so much to hear that Bourdain is gone because it means that even the man who got to travel the world, meeting new people, exploring new places, and trying new foods, couldn’t do it anymore. He had seen enough. He had had enough. There was nowhere else he thought he could go, so he left.

Aside from that sad realization – that even the most privileged and free among us can feel vulnerable and trapped – I liked that Bourdain was a bad ass who didn’t seem to give any fucks, and wasn’t afraid to voice unpopular opinions. I like to think that I don’t give too many fucks, and he exuded a confidence that did not verge into condescending narcissism.

I’ve read a ton of think pieces now about Bourdain, and many of them mentioned how he taught Americans to explore beyond our comfort zone. His show was a great demonstration of how much we actually have to bond over, despite all the rhetoric and noise that tells us we should isolate ourselves from anyone who is different.

On top of Bourdain genuinely being interested in other people and their lives, Bourdain care about the people who are so often overlooked in the restaurant industry. He cared about the migrant workers. He cared about the busboys and the dishwashers. Even more than that, Bourdain was self-aware enough to know that he had made mistakes, and wanted to correct for them. He used his privilege to stand up for others. And in a world of negativity and selfishness, it’s reassuring to know that there are still people who care for others.

I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain. I wouldn’t even really consider myself a big fan. But I’m going to spend some time over the next few days thinking about the good that he did and how much he cared. And remind myself that it’s often those who care so much, who are giving so much of themselves, are hurting themselves.

Reach out if you need help or have help to give.

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When an R&R brings the opposite of R&R

It’s a revise and resubmit. How hard can it be?

 

It feels impossible.

A revise and resubmit feels worse than starting something new.

Especially this revise and resubmit. I was asked if I would be interested in writing something for a special issue of a journal that I should be publishing in, and because I am a fool, I agreed. Then I procrastinated on the assignment for months. Eventually I cranked out what I considered to be a pretty shitty essay, and sent it off.

And I forgot about it, until a couple months later when I got the reviewer comments back and was asked to revise and resubmit. I quickly glanced over the reviewer comments and filed the email away, because I didn’t have time to go back to that essay in the middle of the semester. I would get to it when classes ended.

Well, classes have ended, and now I’ve procrastinated again, so that I’m left with one weekend to revise this essay into something worth publishing.

 

I complain about how impossible it feels to tackle this R&R, and my colleagues just stare at me, disgusted. As they should. I have been gifted with an R&R, and I should be thankful for it. But the anxiety involved in going back over this paper is overwhelming. My chest hurts as I squirm in my seat, trying to figure out where to start.

I open a new Word document, try to convince myself to start typing. Just write something. Nothing comes out. I grab a notepad and start writing down the issues I need to address – my R&R to-do list. I turn back to the Word document – surely I will have words now that I know what to do! But still, there are no words. I stand up, walk around my office, trying to shake myself out of the funk. I start making an outline on the white board on my wall. Just put everything in order and it will start to flow, I tell myself. I sit back down at the computer, and there’s still nothing.

I grow increasingly irritated with my inability to do any work, and my irritability only makes it more difficult for me to think and to write. I become angry. I tell my boyfriend that I am having a hard time, and he tells me we all have bad days.

I try self-care. It’s okay. You can write tomorrow. 

Except you’re running out of time because you put this off for two months!

You’re depressed, the compassionate side of my brain counters.

No, you’re lazy. You use depression as a crutch. You’re a lazy, worthless, piece of shit. You don’t even deserve a revise and resubmit. You’re not good enough for academia and you never will be. You should just quit now.

 

There’s not a winning side in that argument. I tie myself into knots trying to figure out which part of my brain is correct (Am I depressed? I’ve been depressed before and gotten work done, so obviously I’m just lazy.). At the end of the day, I still haven’t written anything, but I am exhausted.

 

 

I want Obama back.

I gave up social media – Twitter and Facebook – for Lent. So it was only through Washington Post email alerts that I heard about the shooting in Parkland, Florida. It didn’t really register to me what had happened until I got home, turned on CNN, and was flooded with footage.

Hysterical parents.

Teenagers running for their lives.

A suspect put into the back seat of a police car.

It shook me harder than other recent mass shootings. I’ve seen the cable news coverage of too many of these shootings to be truly shocked, but this one disturbed me greatly. Maybe it’s because school is supposed to be a safe place, but I know that it’s not. Maybe it’s because I have a cousin who is 14, a freshman in high school, and I cannot imagine losing her. Maybe it’s because those students are only a few years younger than the ones I teach. I think of the potential, the lives cut short and it cuts me to my core. I prayed. That’s all I could think to do.

And as I watched the coverage, I wondered, “Where is the President? What is he doing?” The answer is not providing any comfort to those who are mourning, and just as importantly, not providing any solutions to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. I’m glad that I’m not on social media right now, because I don’t want to know how little Trump cares. I don’t want to know what he’s doing instead of leading the country.

It’s moments like this that make me miss Obama. Was he perfect? Of course not. But I at least felt like he cared. Trump… does he care about anyone but himself? That’s not evident to me.

So for now, I revert back to Obama consoling us in our grief.

Period stains. (Also, I’m back?)

[Caution: Period real talk ahead.]

I had my first period when I was 12 years old. I’m 28 now, and even accounting for the  years of my life when I didn’t menstruate on account of my eating disorder, it’s been well over a decade since I first started dealing with this monthly visitor.

So how is it that I still manage to stain at least one pair of underwear a month? And how is it that I manage to stain the underwear in different ways every single time? Let me count the ways.

  1. There’s the starting your period in the middle of the night and waking up to a pool of blood. Okay, it’s not actually a pool, but it is not pleasant, and it’s especially obnoxious because not only do you have to clean the underwear, but you also have to wash the sheets.
  2. There’s waking up and realizing that your pad was rendered useless during the night because of how much you toss and turn in your sleep. There are few things more annoying than waking up to find a dry pad and blood-stained underwear.
  3. A real classic, there’s starting your period during the day and being caught without a tampon or pad. It is surprising how difficult it can be to find feminine hygiene products when you’re in need, and sometimes you don’t know that you need something until YOU REALLY NEED SOMETHING.
  4. Of course, there are times when you’re fully prepared, but because you’re stuck somewhere, you can’t get to a bathroom quick enough to prevent the blood from getting everywhere. How many times have I told myself that I could definitely just wait until the end of class, only to find out that I definitely could not? Too many.
  5. And then sometimes you feel like you are prepared – you have your tampon in and everything seems great. Except for whatever reason your flood is EXTRA HEAVY and you bleed through that tampon in no time at all. Should’ve gone for super plus.
  6. Or maybe you think your period is over (free at last! free at last!), except your uterus is playing games with you and decides that there should be one more round of blood before this cycle ends. A sneak attack.
One of the fantastic photos from Rupi Kaur’s series, “period.” You can find the rest here.

So once a month I prepare myself for the very real possibility that I will inexplicably find another way to “ruin” another pair of underwear. I am not ashamed of the blood; I grew up in a family dominated by women where period talk was commonplace. I am annoyed by it though. I am annoyed at the impromptu load of laundry that comes with a stained pair of underwear. And mainly I’m annoyed because I know if men had periods, someone would’ve come up with a solution to this problem a long time ago.

#MeToo and JFC I Can’t Even With You Dudes

Political Science Bitches

Today we tweeted about Liam Neeson’s claim that #MeToo has started a witch hunt – that witch hunts have historically targeted at women and it seems absurd that men are expressing how scary it is that they think they’re the target of one. Mostly, the responses we got were supportive, but of course, OF COURSE, we had a few tweets from men arguing that witch hunts are also/just as bad for men.

Now, I’m not trying to shame any individual tweeters, because I’d hate to start a witch hunt (lol see what I did there?) but honestly, men. I can’t even with you.

Okay, let me give you the benefit of the doubt. You’re concerned, like Liam Neeson, that casual contact like touching someone’s knee is going to lead to a man losing his job.  Leaving aside the fact that why the F would you be touching her knee in…

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No, I don’t know if he’ll be in.

I am but a lowly non-tenure track instructor, and so I do not have the privilege of having my own office. I have moved up in the world though- instead of sharing an office with seven other graduate students, I share an office with one other non-tenure track instructor. And I am rather fortunate in that the instructor with whom I share this office prefers to work from home and is rarely in the office, so about 90% of the time I have an office to myself.

The running joke though is that even though I am in this office about six days a week, close to eight hours a day at least five of those days, I do not hold the power. When I moved into this office my male friends told me that I needed to urinate on everything to establish my dominance. I think they were only half kidding.

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A sense of dread

I have sent in over 50 applications for this job market cycle. I still have at least 20 more to go. But with every day that passes, there’s a little voice in the back of my head that grows a little louder.

There are no jobs. You won’t be getting any calls this year.

I was lucky last year, in that I got calls (even if they didn’t turn into offers). And maybe it’s an act of self-preservation that I keep telling myself there will be no calls this year. But I feel it, deep in my gut. Last year I was hopeful. I was anxious, but my whole life was ahead of me. This year I feel defeated and I don’t want to be reduced to begging.

The anxiety is making it impossible for me to get my day-to-day work done. Regardless of whether I get calls or not, I have two classes to teach twice a week. But I can’t sit still long enough, can’t focus long enough, to pull together slides or create an in-class assignment. So I have to stuff the anxiety deep down and keep going, though the quality of my work is in steady decline.

A watched pot never boils. And I suppose a watched phone never rings.