[CW: suicide, r*pe, internalized fatmisia]

I come to this page with absolutely no idea how to say what I want to say. But I’m here, and I’m gonna try.

First: let me stop assuming that everyone who comes across my work is familiar with my backstory. I’ve realized of late that I write as if the reader has been on this journey with me; I make vague allusions to events but never really flesh them out except in my own head. To describe the journey I’ve been on for the past 9 years will require a lot more context than I’ve been inclined to provide in the past. This will be long, but maybe, satisfying. And aren’t those the best?

Second: let me stop being flip like I was right there. This is silt churning, catharsis. It needs a delicate hand and mind.

I’ve been “political” since I was a young femme. I first got into environmentalism when I was about six. I was heavy into whales and other sea life, and I loved plants and nature and nonhuman animals in general. (I loved human animals too, but I’m trying to highlight that humans are also just animals!) The ozone layer crisis (this was the early-to-mid 1980s) worried the hell out of me and I made my mom buy non-CFC hair spray that she hated because it took so long to wind up. I also put a brick in our toilet tank that I’m pretty sure was still there when we left that apartment.

I ended up starting an environmental club at school, and we brainstormed on what we could do to save the planet with our elementary selves. There was a bad drought here in California at the time and my mom’s bank was giving away these envelopes filled with stuff like water-storing crystals for plant soil and pink food coloring tablets to drop in your toilet so you’d know if it was running and wasting water. I took a TON of them (because no one was taking them anyway) and we handed them out on the street.

My awakening to other issues that impacted my identity took place in popcorn fashion: staggered, bursting into view. At eleven I read about riot grrrl through the Prodigy message boards, and I became a feminist. At thirteen I began learning about Black liberation struggle and our African heritage; and at fifteen I admitted to myself (and my mother) that I was queer. I had been fat, to various degrees, since I was six or so, but didn’t connect the way I was treated because of it to any larger oppression until I was around fifteen as well, because it was around this time that I circled back around to riot grrrl and feminism. Riot grrrl led me to punk, which exposed me to anticapitalist ideas (but it wasn’t until this year that I actually read Marx).

(It should be noted here, that troubling these upper layers of ideology was a dark undercurrent of “pathology”. When I was eight I was raped by an older classmate, and became a survivor. When I was fourteen I attempted suicide for the first time, and became a survivor of a different type. I found feminism for the first time because of my experience with rape, and I found it again because of my experience with craziness.)

Riot grrrl and punk were kind of tarnished for me in the late 90s and early 2000s, around the time I was awakened to trans folks’ struggles. I made a really precious friendship during that period with a white trans woman who had some questions on race and who offered to answer my questions about gender in exchange. I’m still friends with her and I am so appreciative for that experiential skill-share. She and other queer and trans friends of mine were involved in the Camp Trans protests of the Michigan Womyns Music Festival because of their “womyn-born-womyn” policy. They would go around to different artists’ shows who played MWMF and draw attention to the issue. I was still recovering from my second suicide attempt and in some intensive therapy to process a second rape that was inflicted on me in 1999, so I was never able to participate in the protests (and I still feel shitty about it). But I stopped buying the music of all the bands that supported MichFest, which included one of my favorite bands at the time: Le Tigre. Hence my disillusionment with riot grrrl; Kathleen Hanna was a real idol of mine when I was a teenager and seeing her support a space that deemed my friends unwelcome hit me hard.

By the time I was twenty-five (2005) I had finished intensive trauma processing and was looking ready to enter the workforce (again, after a brief stint from nineteen to twenty). Once I entered the workforce again, my politics started to slowly bleed out the window. The more it looked like I was going to be able to be a productive member of society, maybe be able to have a career and an investment portfolio or whatever, the less I cared about radical shit. I never became a conservative or anything, but I definitely was trying to be normative. I was trying to fit in with the folks at my office, who were all obsessed with the milestones of life, with meeting societal expectations, but they didn’t know it. And neither did I, because my political awareness never actually ran that deep. I hadn’t made all the connections. I hadn’t rooted my understanding of these systems and their impact inside myself. I still thought that if I just tried hard enough, I could overcome. Because I was exceptional. Or at least, I could be, if I got my shit together.

I lived in this way for about four years, striving, considering myself middle class, considering myself on my way to something: acceptability, or respectability, or maybe even prosperity. But my body began to protest again, straining under the pressure of normality, a reminder. In 2008 I had a reproductive health scare and a lot of associated pain; in March of 2009 a doctor’s negligence in not treating my hypothyroidism led to my gallbladder needing to be removed. To top it off, I was laid off from my job a few months later.

And then, because disruption loves to cluster, my marriage unraveled. I was left alone with myself and what I had accepted as my life. That pain catalyzed me to really begin the work of decolonizing my mind. In response to years of repression, I spent a few summers on unemployment being queer and fat and Black and loving it. I also started to reconsider a lot of things about myself, starting with the origin story of my crazy. I still wasn’t making the deep connections yet, though. I acted as if I loved myself, as if I had begun to fully embrace all of my being, but that was just the confidence of others flaking off onto me. Once I was still and alone, I didn’t really know who I was.

(A year or so after my ex left is also when I started withdrawing from all the psych meds I had been on. Having been unemployed for a couple years, and coming into a full realization of how fucked the health insurance system in the U.S. is, I was really worried about being so dependent on it. Meds aren’t cheap, and the doctor visits to refill the meds are even more expensive. Plus, I disputed that I actually needed them, to be honest. Part of my newly reborn radical consciousness thought my craziness was a product of the meds, and that I didn’t have any debilitating problems before that. That’s not the case, but I’ve already talked about that elsewhere.)

The generosity of the government started to run out, so I folded myself back into acceptability and went back to work. I was eating well because I was trying to support my body through the withdrawal, and my mom had gotten breast cancer so we both went vegan together. As a result of these changes (and my increased activity level because I took a lot of walks to quell boredom at work), I lost a bunch of weight from 2012-2013. I also met my current partner. In spring of 2014, I went back to college for computer science. Again, I was sure I was on my way to something. It wasn’t as much about respectability this time, but it was definitely about prosperity. I really thought I was going to be financially stable, wealthy even.

Nah. I just got laid off again. And I got pregnant, and got awful all-day morning sickness that made me drop another twenty pounds. By the time I got an abortion, I weighed as much as last I did when I was ten years old. So that was wild.

(I think, though, that getting laid off that time was the last boot out of respectability I’m gonna take. I’m really not trying to go back.)

I ended up going back to school full time after that and that’s where I’ve been since. I now live with my partner in an apartment, because the big house my mom and I got went into foreclosure and we had to split. Having to actually manage a two person household, make sure rent and lights are paid, etc. has definitely radicalized me. There’s so much I probably knew was bullshit, but didn’t have to navigate until the last 3 years. Going back to school also helped me make more connections and understand how oppressions are related and perpetuated in a much more native way. And, honestly, this motherfucker who is currently President of the U.S. made me realize a few things about how useless civility and conflict avoidance are, and how norms are kind of bullshit. (I wanna write about that, but later.)

What brought all this up for me was that recently I started wearing sleeveless stuff again. Before this summer, I hadn’t worn anything sleeveless since 2011 or so. Back then I was writing about fat a lot, which led to me hanging out with a lot of amazing fat femmes. I felt bolstered by their beauty, and like I said before, their confidence was contagious. If you asked me in 2011 why I was wearing sleeveless shirts I’m sure I would have answered with something that was proudly body-positive, something quotable. It was a veneer, because I didn’t really know in my soul why. I’ve worked so long and hard to subjugate this body and contort it into proportions that society deems appropriate. I’ve done it as a punishment for my perceived fault in being raped, I’ve done it as a form of self-harm in order to soothe, and I’ve done it under the guise of health. Why would I not consent to hiding the evidence of my failure?

I told myself it was because my the skin on my arms is all wrinkly and crepey and hanging now since losing and regaining so much weight. I told myself I should have learned to love myself earlier so I wouldn’t have fucked up my skin with dieting. I told myself all the things that would convince me that this was my problem, that it was my fault, and I should take the L and wrap up my arms and probably my whole body and also just drop off the face of the planet because I was never meant to survive anyway.

But this summer is so fucking hot. And THAT is not totally my fault. In fact, I have spent my whole goddamned life ringing the alarm bell about environmental shit. That’s one thing I’ve never lost sight of. And the heat finally drove me to connect the dots and uncover my body again. I realized that if these capitalist motherfuckers are going to burn down the planet in their own quest for prosperity, I’m not going to consent to covering up my fat in this blistering heat, sweating it out in penance for not meeting a standard of beauty. That realization opened the literal floodgates. I’d already been spending the last year or so thinking about all the fuckshit I do to myself that makes my life worse in exchange for upholding the status quo. But my body hate and shame is deep rooted, entwined with shame about being a survivor of multiple rapes and assaults and as a result being sexually dysfunctional for the majority of my life, placing others’ pleasure and comfort ahead of my own. It took being off the meds for an extended time, I think, to catalyze this for me. Being able to think a bit more clearly, and also the benefit of age, has seared the connections between the way I treat myself and systems of oppression/social control into my mind. I can never go back.

Y’all, can I just say that I hope the rest of the world wakes up faster than I did? How I be around this stuff, writing about this stuff, but not actually knowing this stuff in the core of my being? I still, still don’t feel like I have this wholehearted embrace of every part of my body, but I am resolute in my intention to sit with my discomfort. I have a reason, now. I know why I’m doing this. I’m a child of god and I deserve to live my life without the fetters that humanity has laid on me. I am glorious, even if I can’t see it through the veil of socialization into white supremacist capitalist imperialist cisheteropatriarchy.

I invite you to join me as I work through this process of self-reflection & transformation. Next up: breaking down my attitudes about my disabilities & divesting from a cure/control/contain model.

I made a decision recently to extricate myself from a couple projects that I took on while I was on an upswing, and no longer have the energy to be a part of. When I did this, I knew I was doing what was necessary given my recent struggles. Still, I’ve been ruminating over the decision, flogging myself for having not lived up to some external ideal of productivity, and for having let people down in some way with my departures. Depression feeds off rumination, especially rumination over the manifold ways in which I am not free—and by indulging this rumination, I realized I am allowing myself to get uncomfortably close to the abyss. I decided that I needed to shift my focus away from society and consider my role as personal master, jailer, and oppressor.

This is not to say that I’m now dismissing the ways in which society binds me; rather, I want to embrace the ways in which I can free myself. I want to live as freely as possible, within the scope of my current ability, and I want to reject ideas that stifle freedom. I can’t ask more of the Universe than I’m willing to do. If I can’t cultivate freedom within myself, how can I help birth it into the world?

This is a proclamation of my intention to work towards self-emancipation. These statements counter messages I am told by society; messages I have internalized and let take residence in my psyche, that now manifest as insecurities. Now I bring those messages into the light, refute them, and start the slow process of rooting out my subconscious acceptance of them. In this process I’m speaking mainly to myself, but I also want to reach out to anyone else who might need a nudge towards freedom in one of these areas.

I am free to be wrong

Even if I should know the answer, sometimes I don’t. That’s fine. It’s fine to forget in the moment, to remember five minutes later, to never remember. It’s fine to have never known. Only by being wrong can I test the limits of my knowledge and expand them. It’s also fine to be wrong in my actions or speech towards someone else or towards myself, as long as I recognize my wrongness and make amends. Just avoid being loud and wrong if at all possible. No one is free to be loud and wrong.

Our/my fear of being wrong is probably ableist, anyway. Subconsciously I’m probably recoiling from looking foolish, or feeble, or intellectually weak. Freedom is a place where being wrong—but being honest about it and open to learning within your capabilities—is encouraged.

I am free to fuck up

Of course I’m going to try not to make mistakes, but I will. If I didn’t, that would mean I was habitually doing things I had done way too many times before. I am human. I make mistakes. I just try to learn from them. Sometimes I don’t, and that’s valid too. I enact and embody my freedom by rejecting our individualistic, achievement-obsessed culture’s devaluation of “stupid questions”, mistakes, and failure.

I am free to take too long

This is more on nonlinear time; I’m also thinking about nonlinear/nontraditional life trajectories and “nontraditional” brains here. I might take too long to get out of the house because I was crazy in the morning and so I’m late to school. I might take too long to get through school because I was crazy for a decade and so I’m late to graduation.

I am free to say no

By saying no to opportunities I feel lukewarm about, I dodge roadblocks that might impede my ability to make room within time to accomplish things I feel passionate about. By saying no to participating in actions I’d rather not, I reinforce my boundaries and solidify my sense of purpose. Too many of us do not have the ability to say “no” in manifold arenas of our lives. Where we can, we must. “No” is a freedom word. The word “no”, when propelled from the mouth at a right angle, vibrates at the exact same frequency as Harriet Tubman’s soul. Or so I’ve heard.

I am free to change my mind

Yes, I said “yes.” But I’m saying “no” now. Absent guilt. This, too, is an embodiment of freedom.

I am free to define my own values, and I am free to reject values that aren’t mine

I no longer have to play enforcer of societal standards and values. I can keep the values I agree with, discard those I don’t, and adopt a multitude that aren’t important to the society I live in. Because it’s in the interest of white supremacy and capitalism and patriarchy that I flog myself—

for not living up to an ideal of financial stability and respectability,

not being hyper-productive,

not being ashamed of my fatness, my queerness, my craziness, and my blackness,

not being willing to work twice as hard to get half as much,

not being willing to perpetually starve myself to obtain a socially acceptable body,

not being willing to humble my desire for a collectivist world at the feet of my need for long-term security,

not being willing to transfer the pain of seeing the world as it is into a misguided defense of the status quo

—and that is precisely why I can’t engage in it. Values derived from a white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy have traceable ties to my bondage, past present and future.

I am free to think of myself first as long as that doesn’t result in irreparable harm to someone else

Discomfort is going to occur for other people when I insist on firm boundaries or when I reclaim my energy and time. Discomfort is not irreparable harm, though. I have to recognize that although it is uncomfortable for both myself and whoever is on the other end of my self-protective act, ultimately I have to power through our discomfort and take the action that is best for me in the moment. No one is served by a miserable martyr.

I am free to survive thrive by whatever means are available to me in the current system

I want to live my best life, by any means necessary, and avoid hurting others in the process (at least as much as is possible in this world). Since I’ve rejected cultural values that aren’t mine, that also means I’ve rejected cultural values about what I am allowed to have access to as an oppressed person and how I’m expected to obtain material items. Corporations are now people, right?—and corporations are allowed to be financially irresponsible with no moral penalty. So I’m appropriating the right to financial amorality corporations enjoy.

I am free to make art that is shit

Without stabbing myself in the gut every time I look at it. Without wishing I had never made it. If I don’t make shit I’ll never make anything worthwhile, because I won’t know worthwhile from shit.

I am free to do something that someone else has already done as long as what I make is mine

Derivativity has to be authorized. My fear of retreading ground has killed so much inspiration. I know I have already written about things hundreds of people have written about, yet I use potential derivativity as an excuse to shoot down ideas. I should allow ideas to live their lives, give them shape, and see how they evolve. I can’t judge their originality until after they have matured. And even if I did make something completely derivative, that doesn’t discount its worth as an expression of creativity, only as an embodiment of originality. In my view, as long as what I create has honestly been synthesized in my own head, then it is creative, it is art. It might not be good, but I’m already free on that axis.

I am free to meander through life and not have a clear plan at all times

“Meander” isn’t necessarily a good way to describe why my life trajectory is skewed, but I feel like it’s describing my behavior recently. I made a shift in my plans for after I finish at UCLA, and I’ve been shaming myself for it occasionally, even though I know it’s in my best interest. The shift is further away from a guaranteed source of high income, and so I find myself reinforcing capitalist ideas about my self-worth being tied to my ability to generate profit for someone else (and in turn, generate some level of financial security for myself). Carving out a way to follow my passion is necessary for me to continue to exist in this world on any meaningful level—this I know. And I know the guilt I feel for taking so long to find my path is not intrinsic to me. It has wormed its way into my subconscious, but it isn’t my own.

I am free to be a “late bloomer”

Our culture, my culture at least, is obsessed with early achievement. We laud child prodigies and the “30 under 30” types. This has to be connected in some way with our culture’s inability to think long-term, our attitude towards our survival that sees burning out as preferable to fading away—or to constraining our consumption so that neither occurs. Briefly, I had a glimpse of prodigiousness as a child, and then it was gone, and it was just darkness for years. I’m coming back into the light, wary of its power but eager to take in its warmth. I cannot allow the sweetness of this moment to be soured by social expectations of age-appropriate achievement that aren’t even based in reality.


In these small ways

I am making space for abundance in my life,

I am cultivating a dialogue with my demons

that acknowledges my role in nursing them,

and I am instantiating freedom in small plots

where otherwise it did not grow.

Even before I stopped taking medication, I stopped going to therapy. I didn’t have a therapist through most of the withdrawal process; only at the very beginning did I seek out a psychologist because I thought it would be safe. But I just found myself arguing with her, as we had such different worldviews and experiences. I could never get her to understand that given my history and my positionality, my extreme emotions were rational and evidence-based. I know there are radical therapists out there, but I just don’t have the time to find one by trial and error, and my insurance situation is such that I can only go to Medi-Cal approved providers or UCLA doctors. I did go to a psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner while I was going through withdrawal because I still needed that script and because I figured they might have some knowledge worth sharing. Once I was done with the meds, though, I found no help in continuing to visit a mental health provider. I know therapy is, maybe, supposed to be a place to have your views challenged, but I don’t think therapy should be a place where your essential humanity is challenged. Most therapists are viewing me through the medical model or a similar paradigm, and likely have varying degrees of allegiance to the status quo. This is evident in their disbelief of my experience.

Before I went back to school, my desire to disengage from the mental health enterprise was not an issue. I didn’t see myself needing to verify for anyone that I’ve got the crazy. I figured that in a work scenario, I would continue to—like most people–use clever little white lies to get the breathing room I needed for myself. When I first started back at community college, I dodged needing to request accommodations for my crazy when it came to assignments, accessing services, and the like by leaning on financial and temporal support from my mom and my boyfriend. Their help allowed me to arrange my life as such that I could focus solely on school. That combined with my school being on the semester system rather than the quarter system (meaning we had 16 weeks to complete one course rather than 10) provided me enough cushion time to perform my self-care activities and fall apart when necessary, but still do the homework, meet deadlines, and get high marks.

the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house, but they WILL build a kick ass shed miles away, in the woods.
the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, but they WILL build a kick ass shack miles away, in the woods.

I first realized I would have to notify the system that I was, indeed, a person who has historically been labeled “mentally ill” by practitioners at the end of last spring, when I was investigating how to get to UCLA. For some reason, simply living off-campus doesn’t entitle you to the ability to buy a parking permit. You have to go through this bureaucratic process that involves applying for the permit several months prior to the start of the quarter—with the potential to not be approved—and paying for it regardless of whether or not financial aid has disbursed. At community college, permits were cheap and plentiful; they issued them without regard for lot capacity. I spent a lot of time circling, but at least I didn’t feel like I had to fight to get a permit at all.

To get a permit the “normal” way for fall quarter last year, I would have had to apply for the permit in May or June and pay for it in August. I didn’t even know for sure that I would be driving there alone (rather than carpooling or using the vanpool) until August, because I wasn’t able to register for classes and thus couldn’t know what my schedule would be. And I sure didn’t have almost $300 in August, since that’s the month Rob doesn’t get paid and I don’t get any financial aid until the end of September. For a couple months, I was wracked with anxiety over the prospect of having no way to get to school, and I realized that I shouldn’t have to deal with this. No one should have to deal with this. No one should be going through this big step, going from community college to university—a step notorious for being a stumbling block for many students—and also having to deal with uncertainty on such a huge issue as transportation. Living 30 miles away should get you access to a permit, period. So, I decided to use the fact that my anxiety has been labeled pathological to make my life a bit easier. I got a letter from my last doctor vouching for my disability, and I applied for a permit via the Center for Accessible Education (CAE). CAE allows you to get a pre-approved application pretty much anytime during the quarter, so as long as you can get the money together, you can get a permit. But, I had to consent to be labeled in order to secure this luxury for myself. I had to admit on paper that I couldn’t navigate the obstacles the school erected in my path without an unacceptable level of suffering.

CAE also offers other services—and professors will grant you accommodations like more assignment time—if you submit to their more in-depth application process. At first, I thought I would just need the parking, but lately, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t make it easier on myself and just allow my diagnosis to serve me. UCLA is on the quarter system, so everything is accelerated, and it’s far, so getting there and back drains my soul. I’ve found that here, circumstances are such that I need to leverage my diagnosis to secure breathing room and refuge from unrealistic demands. The idea of expending valuable energy on the application process and potentially having to defend my choice not to take medication is intensely unappealing, however. What I really wish is that universities would stop simply accepting the inequality in society and perpetuating it, and start modeling what a better world could look like. Part of this might involve not forcing differently abled/neurodivergent/neuroatypical etc. people to engage with or submit to the medical system in order to prove their suffering would be increased without accommodations, especially when doctors are the source of that suffering for so many. A better path would be to simply disengage from capitalism and the culture of individual achievement and hyper-productivity it has produced. But since universities themselves are metamorphosing into profit-making enterprises, I suppose that might be asking too much. What’s really frustrating, and borders on gaslighting, is that the rhetoric the administration and faculty deploy around being more inclusive and supportive of nontraditional and historically underrepresented students does not reflect the structural reality. From jump, I have noticed obstacles that make it more difficult for students who don’t live on campus, who have jobs or kids or just the desire to not completely destroy their health over trying to meet the extracurricular and academic demands of being a “successful student”.

Part of me wants to try to change this system while I’m in it, to help whoever comes after me. I realize, though, that I just don’t have the energy to expend changing an institution I’m not even sure needs to exist in the first place. I don’t know that these sites of formal education are the best way of disseminating knowledge through a populace. I don’t think they are; I don’t feel like they are, but I’m willing to be wrong. As mechanisms for producing more individuals to fill socially acceptable occupations, universities don’t have a place in my ideal world. In my experience, formalized education processes out creativity and true contemplation in favor of a kind of diversified groupthink that passes for critical thinking. I would like to see a much more individualized educational system that allows learning to happen naturally. I don’t think we all need to know the same things. I do think we should all know certain things—a true history of world societies, economics, and exploitation for example—but I don’t think we’re currently teaching those things in school when we need to be, which is at the elementary level. In any case, my survival strategy for the remainder of my stay in the educational system has to be conservation of energy. I will leverage my diagnosis when need be to counter any structural obstacles both at the institutional and the social level that cause me unneeded suffering, but I won’t seek to transform the institution itself.

These are the trade-offs we make every day as revolutionary-minded crazy folk. We consciously choose when we engage with labeling and when we disengage; we decide when to deploy it in order to mitigate some of the harm structural inequality and access barriers cause, and when to reject it when it degrades our humanity. Hell, these are the trade-offs we make every day as black women, as queer and trans people, as people of color and other oppressed folks. Systems of oppression all have release spouts, features that allow oppressed people within them to use the system against itself in small ways. For example, as a queer femme cis woman, I could potentially leverage sexism and patriarchy to get a free meal on a first date if I was broke and starving (and single!). But no one should be starving in a world of abundance. My pseudo-privilege doesn’t negate the immense and disproportionate harm patriarchy does to cis women versus cis men, and it doesn’t negate the fact that the harm I would be attempting to mitigate was inflicted by an unjust social structure. I see the “accommodations” I can access similarly, in that I am addressing a harm that derives from our society’s embrace of hyper-productivity and white supremacist capitalism. It doesn’t negate that harm, but it makes it just a little bit easier to live with.

In this moment, that has to be enough.

Time is a major fuel for my crazy—I worry about how much I have left in my life, how much we have left as a society, and how much we have left on this earth. Most often, though, my anxiety around time is centered on how little of it I have in each day that I can truly call my own. Being in school means my time is fragmented; although I only have to commute to campus two days out of the week, the rest of my time is primarily occupied with reading, writing, and adulting*. a Black woman bares her teeth at a frowning clock and a calendar giving her the middle finger I have these competing demands for my “free time” at home, and it generates anxiety because I feel like I can’t get everything done, like there’s not enough time.

One day, I was doing dishes late, past my bedtime. I felt that familiar temporal anxiety creeping up my sternum, into my throat. I failed at time management yet again, it was 11:30 pm or whenever and I still hadn’t finished these damn dishes.

I said to myself,

[Why is a robot not doing my dishes yet?]

I know, right? No, actually, I said:

I never have enough time

And I realized two things.

1. Time is not mine to possess; and
2. Time is infinite, I merely move within it.

Since then, I have tried to use “time is infinite; I move within it” as a mantra when I feel the temporal anxiety rising up again. I also connected this concept to my experience of time as nonlinear in some ways, how I often live in past/present/future simultaneously and how that shapes my perception and interaction with the world. Often this manifests via my crazy. When I recall past events, if I remove the protective filter I have learned to construct around my memories, I feel acutely, as if the events were occurring in the present. I feel events I imagine will happen in the future similarly. So I believe time is not actually linear, it is only consciously perceived to be by many people.

I think our society’s ideas about linear time—about what activities are worth our time and what aren’t, about whose time is worth more than others and who is worth our time, about what free time is and who deserves it, and the classist/sexist/racist/colonialist/capitalist/etc. nature of those ideas—are oppressive. I want to reclaim time for all of us, since it ultimately belongs to none of us. Linearity is associated with scarcity, in my mind. Living in nonlinear time is living in abundance.

This is all fine and good, but in the society I’m at, they still use linear time and the 24 hour clock and all that racket.
– Me, 2018

Yeah, I know. I know this is abstract. But it helps me, honestly, to think of myself as moving through time fluidly, choosing what I want to experience and making space for those experiences within time, rather than thinking of myself as a temporal miser, a fourth dimensional Scrooge always worried about how much time she has, greedily trying to grub up enough to watch Deep Space 9. This is part of being kind to myself and others, trying to live in the future now by modeling what I think future social relations could look like. I think a remodeled conception of time might have an impact on our conception of the world. What if time was determined subjectively? What if you went in to your “job” (I put this in quotes because in my ideal world every day you would spend the majority of it doing whatever you felt called to do, so I don’t think it could be considered an actual job) not at the start of business hours, but whenever you felt ready enough in the morning to face the day with a clear head and open heart? What if your ability to be present—or your need to be absent—dictated what time it was?

These are the possibilities I think a world without linearity has to offer, honestly. But, I’m just dreaming and using that dream as a salve for my crazy. I’ve added this tool, this vision of a world without linear time, to my repertoire. I’m on an upswing now, so it’s hard to say how it will work when I’m in the dark. So far, though, I’m finding it soothing. I like the idea of swimming through time, like a temporal mermaid, so I try to envision that along with saying the mantra.

Hopefully, I can learn to permanently drop the scarcity complex when it comes to time, and live in the abundance.