Just When You Thought We Would Get Out of 2016 Without a Mayor Of Casterbridge Post, Here One Is

Yesterday I finished reading The Mayor of Casterbridge, the fourth Thomas Hardy novel I’ve read in the span of a little over a year and a half. I liked it less than I liked the other Hardy I read, but I really liked the other Hardy I read, so this is kind of like saying it was my least favorite Ruth Bader Ginsberg fact or least favorite Lin-Manuel Miranda tweet. At the end of the day, I really, really loved it. Anyway.

There was a moment in the book where (hopefully not giving anything away) a character’s reputation is spoiled and he/she dies that very night. I was thinking about how that happens all the time in Victorian novels: dying of grief, that is. This happened all the time in the 19th century. Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel was so sad when he ran for office again, she died of grief, and it’s made into an excellent jab in the musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

I assume this wasn’t really what happened. Try as you might, you can’t actually die of sadness. But as I was thinking about it, and I was thinking that I sort of wish you could. There should be a limit to the amount of sadness a human being is expected to bear before the body just gives up. I mean, right?

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I have had relatively few struggles in my life compared to most people, but there are still times when you want to be like, “Okay, I’ve reached my limit. That’s all I can take.” Even for Job, there’s a limit to all God takes away from him before he starts giving it all back.

But I think the truth of it is that there is no limit to what human beings are asked to endure, and there’s no happy breaking point where God or Vishnu or the universe or a slightly morose Victorian novelist who shares a name with one of the stars of Mad Max: Fury Road comes in and says, “Alright, you’re done. You’ve handled all the suffering you can take, that’s it, you can collapse into a heap of tears and dissolve now. The story will go on without you.”

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“AC, how are you so good at finding gifs?” “I’ll never tell.”

Only the more I think about it, the more I think that that is actually pretty great. Because what that means is, just as there’s no limit to human suffering, there also is no limit to human resilience. Try as it might, there’s no way sadness can actually destroy us, unless we decide to destroy ourselves. Human beings can deal with an immense amount of crap and still beat on, as Fitzgerald would say. We’re designed whether by nature or the divine to withstand an intense amount of pressure, and sure our mental health can affect our physical health in some ways, but there’s no way for sorrow alone to kill us.

I told my therapist about the suicidal thoughts I was having when I wrote, “I Am a Walking Garbage Fire” and she was like, “You know, sooner or later, you’re going to have to give those up.” And it was weirdly revelatory for me, maybe it was just the right time for that idea but I was like, “Oh, if I’m ever going to get healthy, I have to stop thinking of that as an option.” Should I not be talking about this on the internet? Probably not, right? But anyway I’ve just been thinking about how it’s not necessarily my fate to devolve into a pool of tears one day, because sadness itself can’t kill you. Only we can. The human spirit endures.

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Anyway, Hillary sent me a very nice poem/letter this week that is now hanging on my wall, and I sent her a letter back this morning that won’t have come yet. It means so much to me that this stupid thing I’m doing means something to you guys, so thanks. I love you all, deeply and with the sincerity of Thomas Hardy preaching on the dangers of alcohol consumption, which is very sincere, because he hated it. A lot.

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How to Tell the Difference Between Yaz, the 80s Band, and Yaz, the Popular Brand of Birth Control

  • I do not have a box of years-expired Yaz the 80s band sitting in a drawer on my bureau.
  • Yaz the birth control is never featured in a cool montage on The Americans, which happens at least once to Yaz the 80s band in season 3, and I think maybe more. Don’t know — gotta finish it.
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Not birth control

  • If you are driving late at night in a city, it is a good idea to indulge in some Yaz the 80s band to make the driving go smoother, but it is probably not a good idea to indulge in some Yaz the birth control, which should be taken once a day, if prescribed by your doctor.
  • If someone says, “I tried Yaz and it made me super depressed,” they are probably referring to side effects from the pill. (BIRTH CONTROL CAN CAUSE DEPRESSION. STAY WOKE.) However they could also be going through a breakup and listening to a lot of emotional music with synthesizer thinking wrongly that it will help things. Use your discretion.
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No synthesizer

  • Yaz the birth control is in no way related to Depeche Mode.
  • In May of this year, more than 10,000 people filed a lawsuit against Yaz the birth control claiming blood clot problems. This has never happened to Yaz the 80s band.
  • Yaz the birth control is not marketed in the U.K., but Yaz the 80s band is from Essex, and goes in the U.K. under the name Yazoo.
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Not birth control, unless looking at this picture causes you to abstain from sex, which would make it 100% effective

  • When I asked my gynecologist whether Yaz would cause the same severe depression I experienced with NuvaRing, he said, “We can’t be sure.” My gynecologist and I have never discussed Yaz the 80s band.
  • Yaz the 80s band is featured on the soundtrack of the 2011 Topher Grace comedy Take Me Home Tonight. To the best of my understanding, Topher Grace has no connection to the drug Yaz.
  • One of them is a band.
  • One of them is a pill.

ALSO: Yazz with two z’s is a British pop star from the 80s whose song “The Only Way is Up” Benedict Cumberbatch once said he wants played at his funeral. In addition, there is a baseball hall-of-famer named Carl Yastrzemski who also went by Yaz. He is neither birth control nor a pill, and I can’t help you there.

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Lines From This Month’s Vanity Fair Cover Story on Benedict Cumberbatch Where I Nodded to Myself and Said, “Ah Yes, Quite Good, Quite Good.”

“In a hillside town near Darjeeling, he taught English to Tibetan monks, giving himself a crash course in improvisation as he conjured up instructional games.”

“By the third night, Cumberbatch recalls, ‘I started to have really weird, fucked-up dreams, and felt things were happening in my sleep. I wasn’t sure if I was conscious or awake.'”

“They drank rainwater squeezed out of moss, because they’d read it was safer than river water.”

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Who told him this was an attractive pose?

“He’s huge in China, where fans refer to Holmes and Watson as Curly Fu and Peanut.”

“A Twitter user has posted: ‘Sometimes when I’m sad I picture a shirtless Benedict Cumberbatch slowly eating an apple fritter. Try it!'”

“He might as well be describing his own curious appeal: part Mr. Darcy, part cyborg.”

“’I didn’t know that Sherlock was big in Kathmandu, but apparently I was wrong.'” [said by costar Chiwetel Ejiofor]

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Ah yes, just reclining casually in his old beat-up leather chair thinking of the time he was kidnapped by terrorists in South Africa

” ‘The first time I stepped onstage in front of an all-male public-school crowd was dressed up as queen of the fairies, Titania, with a Cleo Laine wig and a pineapple crown.’ ” (Okay, I already knew this, but it’s still good)

“Because he resembles a sun-deprived habitué of the London Library . . . ”

“Convinced these were his last moments, Cumberbatch pleaded for his life. After several minutes of silence, he realized the men had left.”

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When you’re walking straight down the middle of the street all moody-like but it’s COLD OUT so you gotta pull up your collar

“The sparrow is still flitting around the hotel lobby, suddenly alighting on the chair behind me. ‘Jesus Christ!,’ I yell, embarrassingly startled. But Cumberbatch, unruffled, hops up from his chair, walks over to the terrace door, and props it open with a rubber wedge.

‘That might give the bird a chance,’ he says, backlit by sunlight.”

Here is the whole article.

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My Trenchant Take on the 2016 Election

I made a political comment recently and my mother said, “That’s very good. You should do a blog post on that.” She has never read this blog because she does not want to. I have not made any overt political stances on this blog, because I do not feel it is the correct space. I don’t know–it’s probably innately political just due to the kind of person I am. However, I am going to break that pretend ban to tell you the really astute observation I made to my mom.

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Remember this moment when this gif was the most political stance on Mansfield Snark

To understand my comment, you will have to first be aware of Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen’s straight-to-VHS film Our First Video. It is a series of music videos made by the Olsen twins before their more popular straight-to-VHS films The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and while I never owned it until I was in my twenties*, I owned the soundtrack on cassette.

There were a lot of great songs on this cassette. “Brother for Sale“, “I Am the Cute One“, hit after hit. However, there was one more overtly political song in the oeuvre. That song was “No One Tells the President What to Do”:

Okay, you don’t want to watch the video. The song starts with a terrible Bill Clinton impersonator playing “Hail to the Chief” on saxophone. You still don’t want to watch it? Please. It’s amazing, I promise.

Okay, fine, I will tell you about it. Basically the twins are tired of being told what to do all the time by the grown-ups. One day, when they are president, they will make their own rules.

No one tells the President not to slouch.
No one says, “Don’t put you feet on Mr. Lincoln’s couch.”
No one tells him “Company’s here. Use your fork and spoon”
Unless they want to be the next Ambassador to the moon.

Now it’s obvious that this song betrays the twins’ basic misunderstanding of how government works. Everyone tells the president what to do. All the time. Congress. The press. The American people. Can the president slouch? Absolutely not. If the president didn’t use a fork and spoon when he had Angela Merkel over for dinner, do you think he would get away with that?

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But here is the really smart thing I said to my mom the other day:

“I feel like Donald Trump just listened to ‘No One Tells the President What to Do’ and was like, ‘That’s a good idea–I’ll do that!'”

Because he keeps promising things that I don’t think he can really deliver on, and I keep being so confused by everything he thinks he’s going to do. It’s like, there are checks and balances, dude. I feel like he just likes the idea of being president even though he has no idea what it means.

So I will refrain from saying anything too overtly political in the future, since I know you’re all obviously voting for Trump and this was really difficult for you to read.

Here is a gif of Prince George refusing to high five Justin Trudeau, while we are on the subject:

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*I dislike that you are judging me for purchasing this film while I was in my twenties. Haven’t you heard of Pokemon Go? Nostalgia is huge for millennials.

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Kanye Lyrics I Intend to Embroider and Frame as Decoration In the Giant Mansion Where I Will No Doubt Live Someday

I’m not doing his tweets, because we all know all of his tweets deserve to be framed and hung over the mantelpiece of every stately home.

  • In one of the walk-in closets to get me ready for the day: “You got to do something man, your ass is grown.” – “We Don’t Care”
  • Over a large bay window looking out over a lake of some kind: “That shit cray.” – “Ni**as in Paris”
  • In the guest house: “To all the girls that got dick from Kanye West, if you see ’em in the street, give ’em Kanye best.” – “Famous”

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  • Technically for the vacation home: “How you gonna be mad on vacation?” – “Bound 2”
  • Over a large portrait of myself: “Everybody know I’m a motherfuckin’ monster.” – “Monster”

Side note: Perhaps a typewritten transcript of the Nicki Minaj verse of “Monster” or just “Pink wig thick ass give ’em whiplash” would go well in the hallway.

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  • Could go anywhere, so long as it is LARGE: “Huh?” – almost every song, but particularly in the spirit of “Jesus Walks”
  • For the kitchen: “I wanna fuck you hard in the sink / And after that give you something to drink.” – “Bound 2”
  • Preferably in the master bedroom: “WE WANT PRENUP!” – “Gold Digger”

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  • Near my award shelf: “It’s crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow, to everybody on your dick, no homo.” – “Run This Town”
  • Over the bathroom mirror: “I’m aware I’m a wolf.” – “Black Skinhead”
  • Probably near the bookshelf, next to some Simone De Beauvoir, Judith Butler, et. al.: “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches.” – “Bound 2”

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  • In the foyer: “You should be honored by my lateness / That I would even show up to this fake shit.” – “Stronger”
  • Over photos of me doing all of my rich people activities: “Because my life is dope and I do dope shit!” – not actually a lyric, from a story Dave Chapelle told on some talk show, and I shouldn’t be including non-lyrics here, but still, probs my fave quote from him
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How to Be More of a Woke Bae When Your Friend Is Dealing With Mental Health Problems

I am doing pretty shitty lately. Hopefully it’s okay. Maybe it’s not. But I haven’t blogged in over a month, and I thought maybe I would feel better if I blogged it out.

I feel like if you’re reading my blog you’re trying to be an ally and that’s great. Here are some ways to be more of an ally, if that is what you care to do. This is by no means an exclusive list, and these are just my thoughts. I may be full of shit. You may disagree with me. If you do, please be gentle and use a low voice because I am bad at handling criticism. Also is me using the term “woke bae” appropriating from the black community or is it okay? I’m not sure.

Anyway t0 liven it up I have inter-spliced pictures of goats. Goats are great. Nobody disagrees with a photo of a goat.

Validate their feelings. That’s not the same thing as saying, “You’re right–you’re a piece of shit.” But it does mean that when someone comes to you and they say, “Everything makes me unhappy and I don’t know what to do with my life,” saying “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way. That must be tough,” and not “You have no reason to feel that way. Look at how great your life is,” or “You need to stop feeling that way because it will only bring you down.” Just accepting that they are feeling feelings and those feelings are real is huge.

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Don’t try to fix it. “Have you tried x?”, “What’s your plan in case y?” may be helpful to you personally, but if someone is dealing with a mental health crisis, it may be the only thing they’re worried about is how to get out of bed in the morning without crying. The best thing you can do is just listen and try to understand. You can help them work on a plan when they’re feeling more together, but don’t tell them what to do. Chances are if you start listing off ideas they’re going to shoot them all down, not because they’re not good ideas, but because it’s difficult to think about that right now.

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Reach out. I work really hard to let people know when I’m having a bad day/week/month because I know those relationships are what keeps me going. But a lot of times, I feel like if I let people peek behind the curtain too much, they’re going to stop talking to me whatsoever. Also sometimes, I feel so awful, the energy it takes to reach out to someone when it’s not okay is too much. If you are feeling like someone is not okay, gently ask them how they’re doing. Don’t be like, “Omg you seem like a fucking trainwreck lately–what’s your damage?” Be like, “Hey, how’s it going? Everything okay?” Knowing people care about me is literally what keeps me going. Nothing means more to me then when people check in.

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Jokingly referring to mental illness as slang is not cute. “I made a list because I’m OCD.” “The weather in this city is so schizophrenic.” PLEASE STAHP. That is not even what those disorders mean. Did you make a list because you were counting every crack on the sidewalk to stop your family from dying? Does the weather in your city hear auditory hallucinations? It may feel edgy and hip to use those words as slang, but it painful for those who have been affected by it to hear. So stop. This is my least favorite thing people do.

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Disclosing someone else’s mental health issues to another person is a no-no. If I tell you what I’m going through, great, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to share with the class. I try to be really up front and blog about it and let everyone know, so I’m a slightly different case, but still even I don’t want other people I haven’t told knowing about my shit. Assume what was told to you was told in confidence.

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Referring to suicide as cowardly and selfish makes the problem worse. I get it! That’s how you see it! Sure! But when someone is thinking about suicide, their self-esteem is already pretty low. Name calling will only make them want to kill themselves more. Also, I challenge you to see this differently. It’s an imbalance in the brain. It’s a sign that the brain isn’t functioning correctly. That is all. Viewing it as cowardly and selfish negates the illness.

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You are already doing great. Just by reading this blog post, you are trying to be a woke bae, and therefore an awesome person in my book. You are trying. It is hard. Good for you.

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