In an episode of the This American Life podcast, Ira Glass (the host of the show) first told a story about a woman who’s a therapist. And given these weird times that the entire world is currently in, many of this therapist’s clients literally have nowhere to turn in terms of getting some space from their romantic partners. And so, by the time that many of these couples see this woman therapist, they (the couples) are really struggling to keep their relationships with each other together. And so, as Ira Glass, along with this therapist, are demonstrating for podcast listeners how discussions go in this therapist’s office, we’re able to get a glimpse of how these couples that we’ve heard, actually become stronger as a unit. And this part of this episode of This American Life is moving to me, because in some of these cases, the fact that the world has literally forced people to slow the fuck down, is what also forces couples to communicate with each other in a helpful manner.
In the next segment of this episode of This American Life, a story is told about what at first seems like a love story. But as the story continues, we the listeners learn that there’s a lot more than love in this story. It turns out that a man from another country was married to a woman from a different country than him; the two of them had two children together. But unfortunately, the country that the man was from, was hated by the country that his wife was from…and that fact made their story one of tragedy. Because both of their children ended up getting taken away from them and the wife was likely imprisoned, for being in a country that she was not a native of. And while it seemed like this couple’s story might have a happy ending, that wasn’t actually the case. And in fact, the last bit of information that this story provided us with, was to say that the country in which this man was originally from had encouraged its citizens to totally stop talking about this man and his family, even if they had information that would make this man happy. I definitely cried; and in fact, I cry easily nowadays…much more easily than I used to. And that’s kinda surprising because when I was younger and far less of a crier, I was told that I’d mellow out, the older I become. But the thing is, whenever I’ve been told that, the people that have said that to me don’t know that I’d kept a lot of shit in, for most of my life…and that it’s only been within these last three years that I’ve learned that showing emotion is a great thing, no matter what it is I’m feeling or the complexity of my feelings.
In the last segment of this episode of This American Life, someone who works with Ira Glass, follows up with a paramedic that Ira Glass had spoken with on another recent episode of this show. And during this particular conversation with this paramedic, someone asked him (the paramedic) if his job has become any easier, now that it’s been a week or so since this pandemic has gotten so serious. And not surprisingly to me, he said that his job has not changed…but then also, he said that that particular truth is not a bad thing, as it shows his humanity. And I definitely agree with that.
In the latest episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, the host of the show, Shankar Vedantam talks with a man in the medical field. This man and Shankar specifically talk about loneliness being a very serious problem in our world. This man tells Shankar Vedantam a story about how as a young kid himself, he witnessed firsthand what it meant to deeply connect with another human being. In this particular story that he tells, he shares that his parents are also in the medical field; and one of their patients had just died. And so, even though this had happened late at night, this then-child, along with his siblings and parents, drove to the house of the family who’d just experienced this devastating loss. And even though this guy’s parents, the two medical professionals, didn’t know the wife of the deceased man very well, in this moment, these parents comforted her as if she was an immediate family member of theirs. And this man who’d told this story on Hidden Brain, explained that this particular experience has stuck with him because before this had happened, he didn’t realize the importance of human beings connecting with one another.
In another story that this man tells Shankar Vedantam and us as the listeners, we learn about someone that this man had connected with when he was a child. So he tells this story of how he and this other kid would spend time together; this friend of his would talk about how he loved architecture and also about why it was that he loved architecture. And the man telling this story, mentions that at the time this story took place, he’d honestly taken this particular relationship for granted. And eventually, we the listeners find out that this childhood friend of his ended up killing himself because he felt deprived of human connection…or he felt like he wasn’t getting enough human connection. And this part of this Hidden Brain episode was hard for me to listen to, simply because I physically felt the awfulness of these stories that had been told by the day’s guest on the show. But even so, I think that loneliness is an important conversation for us as a society to have.
But before I go into my personal story about how loneliness has looked in my life, I want to talk about something that this man highlighted in his conversation with Shankar Vedantam: and that is the fact that as we come into adulthood and experience loneliness, we can totally feel like we don’t have control over that change in our lives. But in reality, as this Hidden Brain guest pointed out, we can actually control the way in which we respond to this unwelcome new part of life. And the way to do that, is to become intentional about keeping our connections with people we love strong; and doing this particular thing can certainly be easier said than done…but intentionality is what we have to make happen, if indeed we want to help ourselves feel deeply connected to humanity again.
And with that being said, when I very first moved to this new state, I felt incredibly lonely. And that was weird as fuck to me because honestly, loneliness was not something that I’d prepared for. It feels silly to write that down now, but it’s the truth. I’d been so busy thinking about what my life was going to look like in terms of how I’d be able to live a meaningful life, that I spent literally all of my energy on the positives of making this physical move. And so, once I’d actually gotten to this new state, I’d have conversations with my then-boyfriend that expressed my frustration at the fact he was literally the only person I knew in this state. And even though he’d tell me that this experience of mine was to be expected, that didn’t ease my depression one bit. So I made sure to keep myself busy with working on getting things in order in my new location because I knew that it would take time for me to actually get settled in. And it definitely did: but thankfully with time and through going to college, I eventually felt less lonely. But man, that time when I’d experienced the worst loneliness of my entire life, was something I felt would never go away.
In a podcast called Family Secrets that I’ve written about here at least a couple times before, I listened to an episode of this podcast that was about a woman who was terminally ill…but she’d decided to keep that news from her children. But throughout this particular story, John (who’s the husband of Marla, the terminally ill woman) tells this family story in a way that makes it easy for me to see things from multiple perspectives. So on the one hand, I can empathize with the decision that Marla made to keep this huge secret from her children who were not even teenagers when Marla’s health trouble started in their family. On the other hand though, I was in awe of the fact that Marla lived her life like she could win over cancer. I mean, I too used to have Marla’s attitude of “mind over matter,” but ultimately, I came to the realization that I was only hurting myself by living that way. But even so, this particular Family Secrets episode was worth the listen. Sadly though, Marla ended up dying in December 2019…but according to the way her husband John tells their story to Dani Shapiro (the host of Family Secrets) his and Marla’s children were relieved that neither of their parents told them that Marla was terminal. The kids even talked to a family of now grown-up children who told Marla’s and John’s kids that they were told about their parent’s awful diagnosis…and they, those children, were unhappy about receiving that news.
In yet another episode of Family Secrets, the show’s host Dani Shapiro spoke with Lisa Brennan Jobs (who is the daughter of Steve Jobs, the main founder of Apple). And honestly, the quality of this interview was not the best-sounding one; so this meant that in order for me to really catch what Lisa was saying, I had to hold my phone fairly close to my ear. But it was interesting to hear what she had to say, mostly because I’ve known that many people viewed Steve Jobs as a callous person. In fact Lisa herself even said that that was true; but at the same time, she also realized that her dad did care for her in his own way. The most moving thing she discusses though, was how on Steve Jobs’s deathbed, he tells her that he takes responsibility for the things that he’s done throughout their relationship with each other. And for her, hearing her dad say something along those lines seemed to give her closure about this situation as a whole.
Wednesday evening I talked with my therapist; they asked me a long list of questions that were designed to help them understand where I came from/how I got to where I am now. And TBH, some of the things that came up for me then were a bit uncomfortable to discuss. For example, I was molested as a child; so I talked about that and how I’d actually come to meet the person who’d molested me. And I also went into detail about the abuse I suffered at the hands of my bio mom and other family members of origin. I made sure to tie everything I talked about, into who I am now/how I move through the world now. My therapist asked me if I felt like the things I’d told them about influenced my journey as a whole. I of course said a resounding “yes” to that question. I even talked about the things I’d worked on in therapy when I was still in San Antonio Texas; and after this session with my therapist was over, I smiled to myself, just thinking about what a hell of a woman I am.
Thursday evening I talked to my Primary Care Provider; we just had a follow-up with one another to make sure that everything is going well for me. Because something I don’t think I wrote about here, was that back in late January/February of this year, when I couldn’t get my medication refilled, my life was pure hell. I was throwing up all the time and I couldn’t even sit up for a minute, without vomiting. But also, my mood was totally off, due to the amount of physical pain I was in. But the reason this all started, was because I’d unintentionally neglected my own medical care. Because since the summer of 2019, I was busy being there for the woman I call Mom. She was battling cancer and I wanted to be there for her as much as I physically could. I didn’t intend to neglect my own healthcare needs in the process of being there for someone else…but that is exactly what happened. But once I’d gotten my medication situation straightened out in early February of this year, I’ve been maintaining my medical appointments. And fortunately or unfortunately, the fact that I nearly died in February, really shook me up. And I learned that I literally cannot afford to miss doctor visits. Because when it comes down to it, I am not a healthy person.
Someone responded to the recent topic I’d created in the Have a Gay Day FB group in a way that left me feeling both conflicted and appreciative of this person’s sense of humor. Because in their response to said thread, they made what I’d initially thought of as a joke, about how I should charm women by letting them know that my senses are hightened and that that might ultimately make me a better lover. And so, what I wrote to this person reads:
While I found this comment of yours funny, just in case you really do think that being blind is a superpower, please don’t believe the media’s ableist crap about blindness. My senses are no better than anyone else’s; it’s just that I have to use them differently than most people do.
In the Disability Wisdom Discussion Group, someone created a topic about feeling left out from certain activities, given the times we’re in. And I wrote a response to that topic that reads:
Please try to stop telling yourself that it is stupid for you to be bummed about this. The fact that we as disabled people live in a world that is mostly not made with us in mind, really is as bad as we think it is. I think that the first thing you should do, is send a note/message to your choir director to let them know your exact predicament. I think they need to know how bummed you are about this requirement that it’s impossible for you personally, to meet. Because in my experience, people often do not realize what a real problem lack of access is, until they are hit with directness from someone in any minority group speaking up/out about it.
I recently submitted a feedback report to Apple because for awhile now, Imessage alert notifications don’t always ping as soon as I actually receive them. So this means that there have been times lately when my caretaker texts me…but I won’t necessarily be aware that he’s texted me until I physically unlock my phone to do something. So like, if I’m watching something on a streaming platform and someone who uses Imessages texts me then, I haven’t been getting those notifications until I open an app or unlock my phone. But the thing is, I’ve been forgetting to report this bug to Apple, as this particular thing has been happening since at least the past few iOS updates have hit our phones.
The singer JoJo has recently released a single called “Lonely Hearts” that’s going to be on her upcoming album. But given the amount of hype that was made about this song in particular, I expected to like it way more than I actually do. And so honestly, this has me worried that I may not like JoJo’s new album as much as I’d hoped to. I mean, I know that “Lonely Hearts” is just one song off the album that I don’t like…but she’s been tweeting a lot about how this album as a whole is going to be so worth the wait, that I wouldn’t be surprised if this album’s songs hit me differently than I’ve expected them to. But that being said, since I can’t remember whether I’ve written about the title of JoJo’s upcoming album, I’ll tell you now that it’s called “Good to Know.” And I do love that title, TBH. I think it’s perfect, considering everything that she’s been through in these last several years.
And in other music news, I recently found out that Kehlani is going to release her new album in just a couple weeks. This bit of news surprised me though, given that just a few weeks ago, she tweeted saying something like “I’m not even concerned about my new music, given the state of the world that we’re dealing with right now.” But now that she’s given us an album release date, along with the title of said album, I wonder if what she’d tweeted weeks ago was part of the plan: to keep us stans of her music anxiously awaiting more album news. She seems like a smart woman, so I wouldn’t be surprised about the intentionality of this on her end. But in case fans of hers read my blog, her new album is going to be called “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t.” That album title alone has me knowing that its tracks will absolutely be fire. I have no doubt about that because in my opinion, Kehlani is one of those rare artists who creates lovely music through and through. Like, I’ve literally created a playlist that contains all of her albums, along with the songs that have been featured on soundtracks or songs by other artists that she’s been featured on. I can’t wait to add this new album of hers to said playlist.
In yet other music news, Zedd (an Electronic Dance Music, EDM creator) tweeted about the fact that he’d planned to make one of his recent concerts available for free, on a streaming service that’s called Twitch. And of course I had to watch this concert; but unfortunately, using the Twitch app didn’t work as well as I’d hoped it would. So what I mean by that, is that I ended up having to get my caretaker to make the livestream play because it didn’t autoplay on its own. But the thing was, whenever I double-tapped to start the livestream, an advertisement started playing which made me think that the concert would start playing right after the ad had finished. But as I’ve said, that wasn’t the way things actually happened. But initially I was waiting for the livestream to start, when I told my caretaker that I didn’t want my phone’s screen to lock in the middle of my phone streaming this event. So I had him go into the settings on my phone to ensure that my phone wouldn’t time out…but then once that was done, I still needed him to start the livestream for me. And so, I’m pretty sure that the concert had already been going on for a few minutes at that point which was annoying as fuck because I feel like I missed out on some of it.