Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pajama Jeans and ableism

So I was wasting time, I mean, visiting other websites so I could learn more about the world. Wasting time.

One site I check out daily or so is It's like Cracked, only there's less funny commentary - most of the things presented in the lists are done without comment, or just a basic description. Like today's is a compilation of photobombs, and there is no writing, just the pictures and links to the sources.

Yesterday was "12 Strangest Jeans" and one of them really caught my attention and made me go, I want that!

Number 11 is "The Pajama Jeans" and the write-up isn't very mean or anything -
Hate having to change out of your SpongeBob pajamas when all you want to do is eat at the hotel's breakfast buffet before heading back to your bunk?

Of course, as a college student, I see nothing wrong with wearing said SpongeBob pants out and about. However, I am quite dignified and only wear my pj pants on Saturdays, my laundry day. I figure if they get dirty, no big deal. I thought it was funny last Saturday, as I walked towards and then with a big tour group - "Look, it's a college student in pajamas! Just like on the teevee!"

Right now I rotate weekly between a blue plaid pair with my name on the leg and a just a pair of black loose drawstring pants. My awesome neon green plaid pants (with a pocket!) had some holes in bad places, and I was mature enough to throw them out. (I did wear those to class maybe last spring or the fall before - I'd slept through my first class and it was 15 minutes or so into my French class. I threw my old ratty jacket on over my PJs and went to class. I wear a bra to bed, but it's looser than the ones I wear with clothes.)

Here is the infomercial:

I want these pants. I have 4 pairs of jeans - expensive, good quality, but I haven't worn them in at least a year due to pain. Yes, I'm fat and my weight has gone up, but even if I went out and bought jeans that fit (which is what I did with these 4), they'd still hurt because of the waistband. And if they didn't hurt, I'd be holding on to them because I didn't consult my male cousin on how to dress in jeans that are too big for your body.

I do not understand the hatred for sweatpants or yoga pants. When I think of sweat pants, I think of the sweat suits we wore in Iceland - cuffed at the leg and wrist, and purple (for me, I think) or pink.

I do not think of comfortable cloth pants that have a little flare at the end, like itsy bitsy bell bottoms.

I do not get the hatred for pants like that. If it's not khaki, denim, or part of a suit, it's either "yoga pants," "sweats," or "pajamas" and they are just icky. For the record, none of my pants have "juicy" across the butt.

Those kind of pants are very comfortable for me, due to my abdominal and pelvic pain. I imagine they're comfortable for other people with physical disabilities, any that would make buttoning/zipping a hassle, and people who have enough trouble getting dressed (for whatever reason) and want as few steps as possible.

So I want these pants. I don't have enough comfy pants, and I do miss wearing jeans and look! pockets! It's more variety in my wardrobe!

And not that's it anyone's business, but, despite the name, they would not be pajama pants. They're too fancy! When I don't have school, I try to get dressed. And it's important to have a division between pajamas and "dressed" clothes, especially since most of my pajamas are "dressed" clothes, just in different colors. (Bra*, panties, pants/shorts, t-shirt/tank top) It's an important thing, part of a ritual, and also important when depression has me in its grip. "Look, I got dressed! I did something!"

So I googled pajama pants, because the link was just a site saying "Hey, check these out!" The first link was to the official website, the second to the commercial, and the third, ooh, the title alone pissed me off, I just had to click on it. It said "What do 'pajama jeans' say about Americans?"

I knew the answer - we're fat and lazy - before even clicking. But I had to.

First of all, he says they seem like a "hoax" SNL commercial.

He then quotes another crueler blogger who says that the pants say, "I'm an idiot who can't deal with even the most mundane of day-to-day adult responsibility like a pair of jeans that are secretly pajamas."

And they're lumped in with the snuggie and footie pajamas (not for me, my feet always got too hot) as a sign of how lazy and indulgent we are, because we need even more things for lounging around the house in.

Plus, these are expensive, at $40 US. I say if they last and they're comfy, they're not too expensive.

I can't figure out where this guy is going - we're lazy and we're so lazy we're going to spend $40 on pajamas that look like jeans.

The ableism is there the whole time, and he does call the pants "crazy" (as opposed to expensive velour sweats) because they are pajamas.

But the final sentence pissed me off so much.

Exactly. If you can't get out of your pajamas to go out of the house, and have to buy pajamas that look like jeans, then don't leave the house.

Excuse me, I should not even leave the house? Well, fuck you very much Aaron Crowe.

Oh, no, I just had to keep looking. The comments at another site are disgusting - sizeist (only gross fatties wear sweats), classist (it will free up space in the trailer... WTF?), and just ugh.

The actual post is disgusting on its own, the comments just make it worse. (Though yay for the people saying, nope, I disagree those look comfy.) These pants make the author ANGRY and that you need to GROW UP because you are DOING SOMETHING WRONG if you even think of wanting these. (All caps his.)

The ableism and privilege on display at these two sites are disgusting.

And no one has told me why wearing sweats out and about is so disgusting. They cover everything (including my pale, hairy legs) and they're not going to attack you in your $100 designer jeans and make you look like me. People associate them with sleep (which is gross, I guess?) or exercise (so you sweat) and assume that if you wear them anywhere but bed or the gym, that you're too lazy to change. Because they know everything about you! Assumptions are fun, y'all!

And aren't skinny pants and leggings worse on a "bad pants" scale? Sweats are loose, but leggings can give you "moose knuckle" or "camel toe". Not that I care, no one's forcing me to wear them, and no is forcing you to wear sweats.

I wasn't paid by anybody to write this (one day... nah, never going to happen), but I seriously want a pair of these. XL, in case the pajama jeans people are reading.

*Anyone ever hear you can't wear a bra to bed or your boobs will stop growing? I wish. Something that isn't a myth but drives me up the wall is body hair and shaving. I don't shave my legs - it's too much hassle, hello I can't see! But there are parts on my calves where I did shave a few times, and you can tell the difference because the hair that grew back is indeed a different texture and a bit darker. Considering how pale my legs are, it really stands out. But I don't care. As for pits? I've been shaving them for years, and those hairs definitely come back jet black and hard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Medication for Bipolar Disorder and TV Shows

Disclaimer - I am not saying people should be forced to take medication. I am talking about my experience with one drug and my objections to how my situation (and part of my life) is portrayed on TV.

I have bipolar disorder.

It's never been formally diagnosed, and I haven't taken an internet test to "prove" it. I just know. It's more than "just" depression.

I started a new medication about a month ago. My doctor said it was anti-seizure, and he wanted to see if it would work on my pain, since my pain is most likely nerve-related, and I'm pretty sure nerves have something to do with seizures. (But I'm not a doctor!)

I asked at FWD if anyone had any experience on it. (I know, I won't look up a new drug, but I'll ask people online. I don't understand it either. I'm weird.) One person said it had been prescribed for their moods, not pain, and it was working. *file info away for later*

It's done zilch for my pain. The last two weeks have been hell, as has the last month and the month before... the pain's getting worse.


It has worked on my mood swings. I saw the prescribing doctor today and I was trying to describe the continued effects and one word I used was "stable" as in, I'm stable. He said that was key, that was very important. It makes me happy to see and feel the results of a medication, particularly a daily one. (I can tell when the benadryl workzzzzzzzz.)

I've been on anti-depressants for a few years, and Clonazepem, which is a something or other.

But this is the first time I've noticed a real change. Actually, I didn't notice until Mom pointed out that I had changed, and then I was like huh, so I have.

Before, it was like... possession. Now, when I get angry or sad, it's organic. (Weird way to put it, it's all in my head anyway.) In 2006, I had my first bout of suicidal ideation. The best term for the thoughts was "alien," even though I still don't fully understand what I meant or what those thoughts meant.

But with my mood swings, the "alien" idea made more sense. A better metaphor is a switch. A switch is flicked, I get so pissed off. Switched again, I don't want to do anything. Switched again, back to baseline. No control. Which got a bit annoying, because I'd be mad at somebody. They'd get mad at me for being mad at them for no reason. Then I'd get mad at them for being mad at me when I had no control over the original anger!

Now, the part about TV. People who have bipolar disorder on cop shows never want to take their medication because it puts them in a fog, or they can't feel anything. (Also, people with "TV schizophrenia" do this as well.)

I can't speak for anyone but myself, because nobody is alike, and no brain is either. You may react to this same drug in a horrible way, I don't know.

I just don't like the dominant storyline that medications for bipolar disorder are inherently bad. One blog post won't dispel the myth, but I really wanted to write this.

Another metaphor - I was the rope in a tug of war, being jerked from side to side. Or I was in my sister's car. Zing!

ETA: Another problem with the dominant cultural storyline is that it leads to fear of medication (again, not pushing it for everyone), fear of even trying it, and assumptions made about bipolar people who do choose medication. Perhaps if the narrative was more realistic, people would be less afraid to admit they have bipolar disorder. I mean, I'm taking a big risk by saying it here. Depression is gradually being accepted, I feel, though some people will say one day, "I understand" and the next tell you to just smile. Sigh.

Monday, April 05, 2010

How 'bout them Yankees?

Oh yeah, that's right. They lost. To the RED SOX!!!!! Go Sox, boo Yankees.

I know some people who like the Yankees. They're good people otherwise, but they need to be deprogrammed soon.


"Do ya feel it? It's like a dahk, smelly cloud descended on us, somethin' rotten... somethin...


Confused pause from the man who does NOT get it.

"Ok, I give up."

"The Yankees opened the season at Fenway Pahk last night."

An ass-kicking at Shea would be cruel, but I forgot the name of the Yankees stadium. But having them here in Boston? GO SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Memphis has the RedBirds and they get/give players to the Cards in St Looey. But Atlanta's just as close And what about Houston? All we have professionally are the Grizzlies and they suck. We did jump on the XFL bandwagon, because we're effing geniuses.

College? All the college football players go to Knox if they stay in state. The basketball players come here but Calipari cursed us and now we'll never enter the playoffs again! (My mom will see this and demand to know where a pic of Pastner is. Her latest crush.)

Friday, April 02, 2010

More school paper news!

They did publish quotes from my letter and the phone interview in an article about the school elevators. (We're getting 2 million US$ over the summer for fixing, but no new ones.

I don't feel comfortable posting a link to the article here, because my last name is used.

The last student quoted pissed me off, so I wrote another letter to the paper!

Here is what she said (emphasis mine):
Senior PRE-MED major X said she believes students without disabilities should use the elevators as little as possible and reserve them for those who absolutely need them, especially when traversing up or down a single floor.

My response, and I forgot to ask, who determines who "absolutely" needs the elevator? I mean, I can physically take the stairs, why should I use the elevator? Guilt is no fun!

My letter (name changed because I'm not a jerk)

X's ableist comments in today's article about the elevator cannot go without comment, especially as she is pre-med! We do not need more doctors with attitudes like that.

I use the elevator to go up one floor all the time. It is what is best for me. I have an invisible disability. I am not going to wear a sign saying that, so you have no idea.

I used to live on the 3rd floor of Richardson and felt retroactively guilty for all the times I took it once I moved to the 9th. But now I don't. Some days the stairs would not be a good option for many valid, medical reasons. Sometimes I was lucky, and the elevator opened as I passed. Laziness is not a crime.

Also, how are non-disabled people supposed to move in or out if they only live on the 2nd floor?

I know X, she lives on a high floor, so she has a "right" to use the elevator, even if she's perfectly healthy.

She is not alone in her views, because I have seen disgusting ableist and sizeist graffiti in the RTN elevators by the 2nd floor button. The worst said "Get Yo Fatass on the stairs," while the other merely said "don't touch this" with an arrow. Because no one comes down from the 10th floor to the 2nd.

I wanted to respond, "Get your butt on the stairs if the elevator stopping at floors bothers you."

I used to sigh a bit when it stopped at the 2nd floor, but now I don't. People don't know me and they don't know my whole complicated health problems. Who am I to judge? It's too much energy to do that, and it's pretty useless.

All I can do is correct people, like I did this week when (after the offender got off) a girl said to me, I hate it when people take it the 2nd floor. I told her we don't know that girl's story, there are many good reasons to take the elevator, even if you don't "look" disabled.

I hope the campus becomes more physically accessible, but I also hope that ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities) becomes part of the annual "Why do you hate me?" week.

I forgot to add, and it's something I've often wondered, why don't people like X and the graffiti girls and other bigots make it so the elevator does not stop at the lower floors. (Use the guidelines post-fire alarm - girls who live on 2-5 take the stairs, 6-10, the elevator.) Surely there are enough bigots in power. Oh wait, a girl who uses a wheelchair (and sometimes a walker) lives on the 2nd floor. We'll just move her up to the 6th, except the elevators don't work anymore. Whoops.

Eff that noise. X's privilege is showing - she is able-bodied, to my knowledge, and she has "elevator" privilege, living high up in the Tower, so she can take the elevator, but no one on the 2nd floor should. Bull. Shit.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I love voting.

When I voted with my mom in 2004 (pressing the Kerry button), I'd learned so much since the last national election that even though I couldn't vote as I was 16, it was still an awe-inspiring moment.

My ancestors, and most of my relatives today, are not rich.

I will never own property.

I will never be a man.

But I still get to vote.

This fact must explain my behavior when I voted early in 2008. I didn't have anything to read and no ipod or mp3 player, but I wasn't bored in a bad way. And I was so excited when I got to vote.

I think of all the fights that guaranteed my right to vote, and the even worse fights for the POC next to me, and it makes me proud to vote. Even if my vote "doesn't matter" because we are in Tennessee. I still voted.

I will be voting this November. I did vote in 2006, but it was by a mail-in ballot, so not that same sense of something important.

I am not saying you should vote for democrats in November (or in 2012) - though that would be awesome!

All I'm saying is that most of us couldn't vote when this country was founded, and we can now. We should exercise that right.

(Yeah, not timely, but whatever. It's still something I'm in awe of, even months away from an election.)

ETA: Perhaps the inspiration was the census. I looked forward to it so much, I am participating, I will be counted! And it took about 5 seconds longer than voting itself (not counting the line). They didn't even ask what TV shows I watched. Just name, race, address, boring. But I'm part of our democracy, I get to be a part!

It doesn't take much to excite me.

By the way, a form I have to fill out for a new doctor - no excitement. Snore.