Thoughts on math, music, grief, toxicity, trauma, Anne with an E and awesome memories

I recently listened to the rapper Eminem’s newest album and while I can appreciate the album in its entirety, it definitely isn’t among his best albums. I’ve literally been listening to one specific song on it called “Godzilla.” What I love about this particular song, is everything from its instrumentation, to the way Eminem’s rap and Juice World’s rap just blend so well together. I’ve actually given the entire album a second listen before writing about it here on my blog, because I wanted to see if I could articulate more of an explanation besides “I just don’t fucking like the way the album sounds” but that’s all I can honestly say. Because I don’t dislike the softer, reserved Eminem at all. In fact I think it’s great that he’s willing to be vulnerable and show different aspects of his humanity; and I honestly wish that more artists would be similar to him, in that way. Because when people tell stories, whether it’s through music, some other form of art or just through conversations that they have with people, story telling is one of the most powerful things in the world.

Recently I listened to an episode of TED Radio Hour that talked about numbers. Now, I need to tell you folks that I’m not a fan of math–I’ve actually had numerous traumatic experiences throughout my life that were math-related. Some of those traumatic experiences were caused by my biological family members making fun of me for not knowing how to solve math equations easily, while other traumatic things I experienced relating to math were me feeling incredibly self-conscious any time I was trying to work on math of some sort. Like, I remember being in high school algebra class and on one hand, I was thankful that this class was at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired because the number of classmates I had was less than 10…and that meant that only a few people would give me grief. But then on the other hand, I felt horrible all around because I totally sucked at math. Hell, even to this day, any time I’m adding something up, I use my fingers to keep track of whatever the thing happens to be. Or if it’s a huge amount that I need to figure out, I use Siri or Alexa to do the calculations for me. And so all this to say, I can’t stand math. But even so, listening to the TED Radio Hour episode on ways that people have come up with to engage others in learning about math, was interesting. Sometimes though, the guests’ explanations became too science-oriented for me to fully understand what they were talking about.

I listened to a recent episode of the Hidden Brain podcast where its host Shankar Vedantam discussed how we as a society think about money. The first person he talked to on this episode was a man who explained that before money existed, people would trade things with each other; these things that folks traded though, were always things that they needed. And so for example, if one person needed firewood and another person needed a baby crib and those two people connected with each other, it would work for them to trade those items, only because they’d been honest with each other about having those particular items in the first place. But say that another couple of people had claimed that they could trade needed items with one another, but that it turned out that one person was actually lying. Well, in that case, it wouldn’t work for those people to trade anything because what I’d call a mutually beneficial exchange, couldn’t actually happen. And TBH, this Hidden Brain episode forced me to reflect on my own experiences/views of money in ways I never have before.

And one thing that this Hidden Brain episode encouraged me to think about, was the fact that numerous men throughout my life have silently expected that because they are dating me or because they’ve helped me with things I need help with, that all of this means that I owe them sex…or money…or food. And the thing is, back when most of these men were in my life, even though it was just a few short years ago, it hasn’t been until I’d made the decision that I was going to leave Texas for good that I started thinking about all of this on a conscious level. Like, even though most of these men didn’t explicitly say to me “Chelsea, since I’m helping you with this thing, you owe me something in return,” their expectation was definitely present, not to mention loud as fuck. And being around men who had this viewpoint, was exhausting…but as I’ve said, for the most part, I just took that shitty treatment from them. Because at the time, I seriously thought that men just acted that way by default…and so me finding their treatment of me problematic, was just me expecting too much of them. But yet I felt like my feelings were valid; but I was too scared to open up to anyone about them because I thought for sure I’d be shut down. And come to think of it, I did tell a caretaker of mine how I felt about constantly being objectified by men. But even she dismissed my feelings, saying “boys will be boys!” And like, that was supposed to be the end of our discussion; and in fact it was the end of the discussion…because I didn’t feel confident enough in my feelings to push the subject with her any further.

And so as I’ve said, it took me making the decision to leave Texas for good, to also realize that the way many men had treated me throughout my life, was totally wrong. And the thing was, even though I’ve said that I’d get away from that type of toxicity by moving to a different state, that wasn’t completely true. Because the man I was dating at the time I’d moved, had incredibly toxic beliefs…and still does. And one of those toxic beliefs of his happened to be that since he and I were together, that meant I owed him things. Like, if he’d pay for something for us, he’d literally say to me “you’ll pay me back someday, don’t worry about it.” And such comments from him always made me feel uncomfortable because I was fighting with the part of my brain that inwardly kept repeating “you two are a couple; this means that you’ve mutually agreed to support each other however you are able and willing to. But no matter what the relationship dynamic is between people, no one should ever feel obligated to pay someone back or treat someone to a meal; but rather, people should do things because they genuinely want to do so, period!! But my then-boyfriend didn’t share that belief of mine which ironically helped me admit to myself that I couldn’t be with someone who felt like the two of us were both nothing more than ATM machines.

And speaking of me living in Texas, when I was in San Antonio selling the remainder of my furniture, I made a comment to someone that I literally wanted to get rid of everything that was in my apartment. And this person’s response was “well, don’t you want to save some of these items for when you come back to visit people here that you know?” I still remember the exact tone of voice with which I answered this woman’s question: I was matter-of-fact yet stern. And I said “no, I don’t want to save anything other than what’s already been packed; I have no desire to ever come back here!! The only way I could see myself coming back here, is if I’m in a bad situation and someone brings me here against my will.” This woman was extremely religious and conservative…and I’m certain that my brutal honesty made her uncomfortable. But also, when I’d made my last statement to her, she sounded quite taken aback. But the thing was, she wasn’t someone I thought of as being close to me; she was someone who I’d met who’d visited me when I was in the hospital in 2016. And I very much appreciated that gesture of hers; but when she asked me the seemingly-simple question of if I wanted to save any furniture or other items and then heard my response to that question, her entire demeanor had changed. Like, her demeanor had changed in such a way as to show me that she really had no earthly idea of the extent of the repeated brutal trauma that I’d endured in San Antonio. Like, I’d tried to have conversations with her about it but no matter what I’d said about the woman who’s my biological mother, this woman couldn’t handle my words. And that was one of the big things that proved to me that maybe this woman wasn’t worth keeping in my life, if she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that family estrangement was a part of my life that I needed to be supported in, rather than made to feel wronged for or flat out being told that I’m the problem.

I posted the below message on the woman’s FB who I call “mom.” That message reads:
I miss her every day. I feel selfish for asking this, but I’m forcing myself to do so. I’m blind, so I can’t enjoy all the pictures of her that are here; I did listen to audio from SoundCloud that someone posted here recently. But I wanted to ask that if folks have/know of other audio of her that I can listen to, I’d appreciate you sharing it here. Or if anyone would like my email address, LMK and I’ll provide it. I would just really like to fully participate in who she was…and audio allows me to do that 🙂

I then tweeted about this experience, saying:
I just did something that was hard for me: I made myself work through the feeling of shame, to ask for something from other folks who are grieving this loss with me. And I haven’tt tweeted about it until now cuz TBH I haven’t felt there’s been an easy way to make space for it…here, in the midst of the craziness that’s been going on in the world publicly. Cuz TBH, even all that, has been hard for me to get through/to feel OK about. But I’m finally at a decent enough place that I can talk about grief, shame and how for the most part, society gets…both of those things wrong. Folks seem to love to tell each other how they’re grieving incorrectly and to tell each other that there’s only a specified amount of time that we human beings are allowed to grieve for. That’s complete bullshit, I say!! It’s bullshit cuz there…is not only one way to grieve or to deal with shame. And grief and shame do not necessarily look the same for every human being…and that is OK!! But basically what I wanted to say, is to encourage folks to support each other exactly where we as individuals are…not where‪…you may want us to be, not where you think we should be…but where we actually are. And if you follow that advice of mine, you’ll most likely find that both grief and shame are life-long processes that do not go away…but that ebb and flow, just as other emotions do.‬

I also recently posted the following thread on Twitter which reads:
There are a couple potential blog posts that I’ve done for other people’s blogs. And the anxiety I feel about “will those things ever go live,” is real. I know I only feel this way cuz I don’t have much activity going on in my life right now…but that doesn’t change the fact…that I feel this way. If you see this thread of me expressing myself in this way and you happen to be someone I’ve written a potential blog post for, please don’t take my self-expression personally or think that I don’t get that you have a busy life outside of your online life. I do get that, especially being that I too, have things that get in the way of my life plans. It’s just that for me, writing is my outlet and I’m really feeling anxiety right now about those potential blog posts I’ve written. Cuz I always put my heart and soul into everything…I write…and those things are no exception.‬

There was a topic on the childfree FB group that talked about someone being betrayed by someone they were in a relationship with, who’d said that they wanted kids, even after knowing that their partner did not want any. So the childfree person stayed with this particular person…and then the CF person discovered that their partner had lied to them after an entire year of the two of them being together. I wrote a response to that particular topic which reads:
First, to the OP, I’m sorry your ex lied to you–please be good to yourself during this rough time. Second, it’s always been interesting to me that people claim women have a “motherly instinct.” That’s something I’ve never felt before, personally. Ugh, just the thought of me being left alone with a being under the age of 18 makes me cringe.

On another thread in this CF group, someone commented saying that they flat out can’t stand children. The response I wrote to that comment of theirs reads:
You are not alone in flat out just not liking kids. I am the same way, though I don’t have nieces or nephews…that I know about. I say ‘that I know about’ because I’m estranged from both sides of my bio family…and my brothers are teenagers that I hope never have kids. My brothers are toxic, just like the family they come from. But I wanted to let you know that there are folks out there such as myself who, like you, can’t stand kids…though I’m kind to kids whenever I interact with them.

There’s been so much for me to write about Anne with an E, that something I haven’t talked about in the show, is that there are horses in it. This is significant because I’ve always loved horses and I still do, to this day. Like, whenever people ask me what my favorite animal is, I always answer “horses.” And what is it that I love about horses, you ask? The short answer to that question is that they remind me a lot of myself. The more detailed answer, is that they are free spirits like me. They choose whether or not they’ll let people pet them/ride them, based on the energy/vibes that people give off, when horses sniff them. When they accept human beings, they love them completely, just as when they don’t like people, they won’t have anything whatsoever to do with them. And I’m a lot like that, minus the sniffing part, of course. LOL.

That being said, it’s been over a decade since I’ve actually ridden a horse. In fact the last time I’d ridden one, was when I was a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB). All of us students went with the staff to Jaspar Arkansas, where we stayed at a dude-ranch which, for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the term, it means that the ranch functions as a resort where people vacation. And so we LCB students and staff stayed there; and that ranch was where we rock climbed, hiked up mountains and rode horses. And since this trip was considered training, just as other trips we took were, everything we did was under blindfold. Well, at least those of us who had some eyesight were blindfolded.

And as I’ve said above, being at this dude ranch was the last time I’ve actually ridden a horse. But riding a horse at that facility was definitely one of the funnest things I’ve ever done in my life: because being blindfolded meant that we used our ears completely. And to be honest, at first, I didn’t believe that totally blind people could ride horses without any sighted help whatsoever. Because literally every other time I’d ridden horses, adults were close by so that they could step in if need be. So needless to say, the first time I’d had a shift in perspective about this, was when I had to reevaluate my thinking. So as you all can probably imagine, I was terrified to think that my fellow blind LCB students and I were not allowed to accept any input from sighted people at all, once we’d gotten on horses. And the thing was, being that LCB makes a yearly trip to this particular dude ranch, the people at the ranch were familiar with how LCB trained students non-visually. So the people at the facility didn’t struggle, in terms of trying to give us students feedback which I found interesting. But all in all, having this particular horseback riding experience taught me that those of us who were blind, didn’t actually need any feedback from sighted folks…because us using our ears would, and did, give us all the information we needed about whether the horse we were on had veered a bit to one side or whether we were in line with our classmates. I don’t know many blind people outside of the ones who were at LCB with me, who could say that they’ve enjoyed the opportunities they’ve had, to learn non-visual techniques.

But going back to Anne with an E, as Diana and Jerry’s potential romance seems to blossom, there comes a point where Anne and Diana get into a fight about that. Because Jerry tells Anne that he and Diana have been seeing each other in secret…and it’s at that time as well, that Anne learns that Diana might not be her best friend after all. And what prompts Anne to think this, is that Diana never told Anne about this potential romance that she’d been having with Jerry; and that particular thing is also what causes Anne and Diana to fight with each other. And when I say that these two girls fought, I mean that they were both livid about the role they were sure that the other girl had played in this disaster. And then as if that wasn’t bad enough, Jerry ends up finding out from Anne, that she (Anne) had confronted Diana about her potential romance with Jerry. And so then Jerry becomes livid once he’s learned that Diana had never even told Anne that the two of them (Jerry and Diana) were secretly interested in each other.

You all may remember that I’ve mentioned the fact that Anne writes for the Avonlea school’s newspaper; well, the second article that she writes for said publication, ends up causing all kinds of drama to happen. What I mean, is that because Avonlea is a small conservative-leaning town, everyone knows everyone’s business…and then when you add gossipy women like Rachel into that mix, that certainly doesn’t help matters any. And so even though Anne wrote about the feminist beliefs that she has, saying that everyone deserves equal rights, that particular thing was what caused the town of Avonlea to become chaotic to the point where Anne’s reputation seemed to be ruined. And as if that in itself wasn’t chaotic enough, some of the Avonlea townspeople burned the printing press that was used to print out the Avonlea newspaper. And in addition to that, some of the townspeople also burned down the Avonlea school that Anne and other kids from the town, regularly went to.

Within the last week, my caretaker made this delicious cake for us. The cake was strawberry and it had butter cream strawberry icing on it too. And it tasted delicious–I honestly wish that there was a way I could package its taste into this blog entry. It was truly that good!! And to think that the only reason my caretaker tried this particular cake/icing, was because I’d suggested it to him. I’d told him that it’s one of my favorite kinds of cake and I even secretly hoped that he’d come to agree with me. And fortunately for my sake, he did!! So hopefully this translates into us having this exact kind of cake again, at some point down the road.

My caretaker and I just finished eating salad with one another, per my suggestion of course. And the things I’d had on my salad were spinach, feta cheese, assorted kinds of peppers, olives and green onions. The type of dressing I had on my salad was Chipotle Southwest because that’s the one that sounded good to me, when my caretaker was giving me the available ranch dressing types. And fortunately, said ranch dressing was delicious!! I have to say that I have more energy now, after having had this particular meal, than I’ve had in awhile. In fact I don’t even remember the last time prior to today, when a meal has made me feel so great. So hopefully my caretaker and I will be able to have this kinda meal more often.