We May Be In The Upside Down

We May Be In The Upside Down - Among The Olive Trees
Photography by McCall Olsen

Y’all, I am struggling.

I don’t know how else to tell you than very plainly.

But before I get into it, let’s make it clear that I’m not actually struggling.

As I mentioned in my last post, the few things I’m mourning are first-world category privileges. And I’m keenly aware that while I’m grieving reunions and travel, others are grieving the lives of their loved ones. There’s a tension to processing this pandemic and its endless drain while also acknowledging my ongoing employment and good health.

In large part, the security I am experiencing has spurred me to “do my part” by donating to organizations I trust and brainstorming opportunities to feed children who are not in school (more on that to come).

But when I’m dredging through the day-to-day, I honestly feel like one inconvenience short of laying in the fetal position in bed and giving up entirely. This is constant. Each day, I get through what needs to be done and do the laundry and deliver communication collateral, and hell, this week I even pitched article ideas to the likes of Business Insider and The Huffington Post but when I go to bed at night, I know I’m merely cobbling my efforts together while resisting exhaustion and the dread of powerlessness against structures like capitalism, and oh I don’t know, political corruption.

I think Covid-19 took the wind out of all our sails sometimes around early May when it became clear its impact would continue to ripple through the fabric of our lives instead of going away like his Supreme Idiocy said it would.

Speaking of the Spud in Chief, let’s take a look at some of the headlines the USA is making this week:

Trump Wishes Well For Human Trafficker and Long-time Pal Ghislaine Maxwell

USA on Track To Reach 1 Million New Cases of Coronavirus in 2 Weeks

Unidentified Federal Agents Deploy Tear Gas Against Portland Moms in Support of Black Lives Matter

Kanye’s Bid for Presidency is Shadowed by Manic Breakdown

Florida GOP Representative Calls Respected Congresswoman AOC a “F*cking B*tch

I think I need to go lie down after typing these out.

Roy is convinced I have to stop reading the news entirely for the sake of my peace of mind. I imagine my compulsion I feel to keep my pulse on the Doomscroll is some 21st-century form of masochism.

I am going to try to focus on the activities and content that cultivate joy the rest of the month, and surprise — the news just ain’t it.

This brings me to an introduction of a series I’m bringing to this space called “Yes and No”. This series will explore, in a very simple fashion, the things I’m saying yes or no to any given week and invite you to share the same.

This new world demands an acute understanding on the particular brand of bullshit we’ll entertain and the kind that was never designed to serve our goals and development.

Wouldn’t you agree?

So, here goes. Here’s a list of the bullshit I’m leaning into and whatever makes the ‘NO’ list is to be bagged with the trash.

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This week, I’m saying YES to:

Philip Picardi’s podcast, Unholier Than Thou.
Picardi’s podcast covers faith, spirituality and God from the essential perspective of a gay nonreligious specter. I’ll share a post next week about one of the episodes that got me absolutely hooked.

Watching Bethenny Ever After on the Peacock app.
It’s no secret that BravoTv has been my indulgence of choice during quarantine. I finished the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills series franchise in a little under three months and am now working on the Real Housewives of New York. Bethenny Frankel is one of the OG castmembers on the show and her journey from plucky underdog with only $8,000 in her bank account to multi-million dollar empire owner is one for the books. No, seriously, she’s been asked to write books about it.

Anyway, indulging in a series that features NYC before 2020 ever-changed it and taking inspiration from her ball-busting ways breathes life in me unlike anything else. I can’t recommend the series unless you’re intereted in her as an individual because it’s kind of slow but this brings me to the Peacock app which is a new source for streaming movies and films that won’t cost you anything. Although they don’t have an app for Roku at the moment, consider downloading it on your phone or iPad to check it out.

I am hard on myself and others. I’ve been trying to find some discipline to run or go to bed on time, and each day I find myself relenting to the same creature comforts. And I am giving myself a pass.

The pressure and anxieties I feel sneak up on me. I might be working in my living room one moment and feel like it’s the easiest day ever when a series of emails or bills in the mail can change the atmosphere in my workday entirely. This takes a lot of communicating with *myself* and loved ones around the fact that the stress I feel may not be an accurate representation of the demands I’m actually accountable for.

One thing that keeps me balance is staying open to opportunities to support others with my time, energy or resources. This may sounds counter-intuitive because if one is stressed and feeling maxed out, then more opportunities to rise to are the last thing they need. However, feeling like I’m benefiting the lives of others keep me going.

This week, I’m saying NO to:

Being apologetic or dishonest about the struggle
Come. On. We are living through a pandemic and an unrelenting years-long series of constitutional crises. I’m gonna be whiny on this blog for the foreseeable future. You should give yourself permission to do the same for a maximum of 20 minutes and then put on some lipstick to deal with whatever fresh hell you’re being served.

My compulsive obsession with following the news
Enough said.

Homemaking pressures
Lately, I’ve all but abandoned any illusion of cooking meals for Roy and myself. If it takes more effort than reheating, I’m not interested. There have been multiple times when either one of us has had to retrieve a towel from the basket we’ve neglected. These days, I think we’re successful if we have them clean at all.

Being polite to people without masks
I see the exhaustion in service employees and retail employees. I’ve witness tense conversations between them and customers that don’t care about anything but their own convenience and comfort. I’m not here for it. The $8 an hour they earn does not compensate them for the labor of policing the behaviors of patrons. Just. wear. a freaking. mask.

Despite it all—despite my exhaustion and frustration and disappointments—I’m convinced that hope is the most precious commodity.

I am here to say I see you if you feel like you’re barely surviving. I see you if you’re over it. I see you if you’re angry, broken, and overwhelmed. I am here to tell you you’re not alone despite every shed of evidence that might imply such.

You’re not alone.

The world is going through the thick of it. You and me might be going through the thick of it. But I believe we will make it to the other side to wash all this mud off, and that’s worth keeping forward for.

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Author: RJ Bohyn

My name is RJ, I'm a writer and consultant based in the South. If you're reading this, you've arrived at the corner of the internet I've cultivated to share life, reflections on faith, style, and just about everything in between with those generous enough to read.

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