Green Privilege

Oh wow, it’s been awhile since I posted. My other writing projects are going so well, I just haven’t felt like blogging much. But I want to take a moment to say a few words about cannabis. And Netflix.

I rely on cannabis. It is by far the best medicine I’ve found for managing my anxiety disorder. I’ve used it nearly every day since 2008. I’ve smoked it in joints, in bongs, in pipes, in bubblers. I’ve vaped it, eaten it — I’ve even dabbed a few times. Compared to insulin or my allergy medications — the other medicines I rely on — it is fun. So much colorful paraphernalia, so many silly names for strains. My goodness, it comes as candy!

But there’s a dark side too. A history of oppression, motivated by racism and greed. Lack of protection for patients in their apartment rentals or their jobs when using legally within their state. A phenomenon I call canna-bigotry, when ordinary people or, worse, doctors, can’t see past the plant. When researchers or science journalists do a shoddy job in their work to confirm their own bias. Is cannabis damaging me in some way, even as it helps me hold down a job and pay bills and taxes? I don’t think so, but I don’t actually know. No one does.

But as my home state of California hurtles onward toward full recreational legalization, I find a disquiet brewing in me. Radio DJs talking openly about using — alright, that I dig. Billboards for dispensaries popping up everywhere — eh, good for them. Finally coming out of the shadows. Safe. Legal. I’m not wholly comfortable with them just out in public like that, any more than I am with billboards selling alcohol. Kids can read billboards too, after all, and unless they have epilepsy or cancer they have no business using the stuff until they are eighteen.

Stories of people who have been involved in the black market for cannabis — mostly people of color — being kept out of the new white market. That’s more troubling. Come on, cannabis has a culture and it is diverse.

But the most disquieting thing so far is Netflix. Today is the last day you can buy Netflix-branded strains at Alternative Herbal Health Services in West Hollywood. And I don’t mean someone else decided to start naming their strains Poussey Riot (inspired by Orange is the New Black) or Prickly Muffin (inspired by Bojack Horseman). NETFLIX THEMSELVES are in on this one. For three days only, they are advertising their new show Disjointed by selling nine strains of cannabis at this “pop-up event”.

I feel like I should be excited. What other new, cool things are unbridled, white market capitalism going to bring to cannabis? But…this is my medicine — I use it because my brain chemistry is not normal. And this is a thing that has gotten countless people, disproportionately of color, thrown in prison. It still gets people denied housing, jobs, and respect. Just five years ago, Daniel Chong, a college student, was kept in a holding cell for five days with no food or water because he had been at a pot-infused party in my own home city of San Diego. He broke his glasses, carved, “I’m sorry mom,” onto his own arm, and then ate the glass in an attempt to end his suffering. And now Netflix wants to cash in with their trendy strains for three days?

This is what privilege looks like. Ableist privilege. White privilege. Poussey would riot, alright.

Just…let’s get the nuts and bolts ironed out before we run too far with this new fun thing called Legal Cannabis. Let’s make sure patients don’t get turned down for a job or kicked out of their apartment because of a drug test. Let’s make sure patients can use in multiple states, not just their own, so they can travel this great nation like everyone else with their medicine in their luggage. Let’s make sure formerly convicted non-violent users and sellers are able to get in on this business. Let’s make sure formerly convicted non-violent users and sellers are all released from prison, and their right to vote is returned. Let’s make sure prices don’t go up and up and up, driving the poor and sick back to the black market because state and municipal governments want those sweet, sweet cannabis business taxes. Let’s make sure good research is being done into how cannabis helps people, and how it hurts people. My God, let’s make sure hemp is being grown for use as paper, fiber, and food again!

Then maybe we can all Netflix and chill.

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Art & Lit Dump #2

Today brought the news that Mr. Trump’s new budget will slash funding for the arts if passed. So to stick it to The Orange Man and go high, here are some drawings I did and some short works of fiction I wrote last year. Enjoy!

ART:

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“Column” and “Unguent” are in ink pen. Both were inspired from nouns I got from Give Me A Noun (Art Dump) — Unguent happened to be the name of a D&D character my husband plays, unbeknownst to the person who gave me that noun. So that was convenient. “Heidi”, “Benson”, and “Killer” are in India ink and watercolor. They were gifts for my sister and her wife. They are portraits of their pets. “Honey Glowfang” is ink and art marker. It is an in joke from the same D&D campaign as Unguent, and was made as a label for a gift of homebrew honey cider. My husband brewed the cider, and did the calligraphy.

 

WRITING:

SAINT PETERThis short science fiction story popped into my head wholly formed, and I wrote it all down in one go.

THE BARROW WITCHLosing entry for Fiction War Fall 2016. Eh, I still like it. The requirement was a story of no more than a thousand words inspired by these words: “I can’t leave her now. She’s already gone.”

SYMPATHETIC GESTAPOThis writing exercise was given to attendees of the 2016 Pima Writer’s Workshop by Michael Carr, an agent from Veritas Literary Agency. Writing exercises aren’t something I would normally share, but the subject matter seems appropriate.

Darkness and Light

It’s a dark time of year. The nights are longer, the days are darkened by storms, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is raging. Not only that, but it’s been a dark year. We’ve lost what seems like an unusual number of beloved celebrities (David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, etc.), and if you’re paying attention to politics and world events you are probably feeling frustration, anger, perhaps even despair.

You’ll notice I’m using “dark” in both a literal and a figurative sense. Actual, physical darkness, the absence of light and sunshine. And emotional darkness — uncomfortable feelings of loss, sadness, and rage.

To stick to the literal for a moment, it has also been a dark year in that darker skinned people have often dominated the news. Black Lives Matter rose to prominence. Native Americans managed to at least postpone ecological and spiritual disaster on their lands in the forms of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Latinos and Muslims were undeservedly blamed for our country’s woes by the GOP and their leading candidate, our President Elect.

And it’s been a light year if you look at Donald Trump. His glass towers filled with gaudy gold rooms. His candy floss hair and orange skin. He’s a badly-aged sun god, and that’s not what Evil is supposed to look like. Evil is a Dark Lord, in a Dark Tower, with dark skinned, dark haired, black-clad minions.

That’s what fantasy tells us, starting with Tolkein. Dark is bad. Light is good. The Dark Lord Voldemort. R’hllor, Lord of Light. We know we’re not supposed to turn around and apply that to real people, people who come in all shades from albino to ebony. But can you really avoid it, when it’s that ingrained?

That’s what my rabbi asked at services this past Friday Night. She asked a room of largely light-skinned, dark-haired people to consider breaking with that metaphorical use. It’s not even part of our culture. In Judaism, everything starts in the dark. Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, starts at sundown, as does every Jewish holiday. Before God said, “Let there be light,” there was only darkness. Before a plant can grow, its seed must be planted in dark soil.

Dark is comfort, closeness, time to gather round and rest and enjoy. We build ritual huts called sukkot for the festival of Sukkot, temporary structures that field workers once used to rest in the shade during harvest time. The creamy white pages of Torah are given meaning by black Hebrew letters. The days turn, the seasons turn, and without that turning we’d be stuck in either lightness or darkness for too long, to our detriment.

My rabbi asked her congregation to decouple our thoughts about light and dark from the metaphorical baggage they have accrued in the English language. So, at this physically dark time of year, I would like to echo her plea. If you’re a writer (and with social media, we are all writers), don’t fall into the hackneyed temptation to create yourself a Dark Lord or a Lord of Light. Don’t lean on that tired old metaphor to color your prose, your poems, or your posts. Because with that aging sun god entering our White House, we are going to need a much more nuanced understanding of good and evil to get through the year ahead.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and peace and love to all.

When Our Icons Betray Us

What a week. There were terrorist attacks in Jakarta and Istanbul, there have been more disappointing results in the cases of law enforcement officers who injured or killed people, those discontents are STILL holed up in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, the environment…well, let’s just not go there.

And we lost David Bowie AND Alan Rickman. (Rest in peace, Metatron — I guess God wanted his Voice back.)

And then, because we all needed the emotional whiplash, a story emerged (re-emerged, really) that Bowie (hardly even cold yet) committed statutory rape with underage groupies back in the 70‘s. And he was accused of rape once in the ‘80s as well.

So what is anyone supposed to feel, morally, about that?

First, if you have strong feelings about this kind of thing already, you are totally entitled to them. Sex crimes are, by their very nature, a highly emotional topic. If you are most comfortable spending the rest of your life avoiding the creative works of Bowie or any of the many, many singers, musicians, actors, writers, directors, artists, etc. who have committed a sex crime, I understand.

But for me, it’s getting more complicated than that.

Like many people, I do have what I’ll term an “Ick List”, a set of celebrities whose works I try to avoid. Some are known sexual predators or abusers (Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Chris Brown, R. Kelly, Terry Richardson). Some have done legal but icky things (JD Salinger used and abandoned a series of college-age English majors; Katy Perry wore some very derogatory Jew-Face for her “Birthday” video).

But I haven’t put Bowie on my Ick List. Or Michael Jackson. Or Woody Allen.

So why? What’s my excuse? It isn’t just because I happen to LIKE Bowie, Jackson, and Allen. The Catcher in the Rye meant a lot to me as a teenager because I could identify with Holden Caulfield’s struggle with depression. I suspect I’d like Polanski’s films if I saw them. Full disclosure — I even like a few of Perry’s songs.

It isn’t because Bowie, Jackson, and Allen were cleared by the courts. Rape is notoriously hard to prove, and while I would like to believe that those three men were innocent of rape (or that Bowie’s underage partners were, as Lori Mattix insists, so willing they can’t possibly be victims) I don’t know that. No one knows but those men and the people who might or might not have been their victims.

It isn’t contrition. Allen has continued to say creepy things about his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn. I don’t know if Bowie ever publicly regretted his statutory rape, and his flat denial about raping Wanda Nichols may have only earned him more distrust from the Femterweb if it was a current event.

Seriality has something to do with it — Salinger’s many misused girlfriends, the many accusations leveled against Cosby. Character definitely has something to do with it. Richardson always comes off looking like a sleaze, Polanski fled the country, and Perry does have a penchant for very problematic lyrics. Kelly and Brown just strike me as bad men, certainly not the kind I want serenading me.

Meanwhile, I saw/rode Captain Eo again last time I went to Disneyland, and Jackson seemed so sweet and pure-hearted while fighting that crazy spider woman with the power of love, dance, and muppets.

So I have my own moral algebra — I make no excuses for it, it is what it is — but it gets more complicated than that. Because one of my favorite current pop stars, Lady Gaga, decided to work with Kelly and Richardson. And I really liked the song she did with Kelly, and the clips of the abandoned video with Richardson intrigued me. My understanding is that Gaga decided to work with these two known abusers BECAUSE they were abusers and she was working through her own rape. But she still funneled more money and fame their way, empowering both Kelly and Richardson in a way that they did not deserve.

That’s really the problem with watching, listening to, looking at, or otherwise supporting known abusers. Whether the creator is a separate entity from their creations or not*, sexually abusive creators don’t deserve all the money, power, and fame. They don’t deserve the satisfaction of knowing that millions are enjoying their work. They don’t deserve to be lofted up above their victims by society. They don’t deserve to be legitimized while their victims are de-legitimized.

So the question becomes, “Does your personal boycott matter?”

Maybe? We’ve come to the point where at least 95% of our society has condemned Cosby. His reruns have been pulled off the air, he lost gigs, and media-wise he’s very rarely anything but the butt of others’ jokes now. This only happened because a lot of individuals personally refused to watch him perform.

But unless the members of your particular Ick List reach Cosby-esque proportions of wrong-doing — unless guilt is certain, chronic, and unrepentant — society probably isn’t going to care about your personal boycott. It will not, in the long run, make one jot of difference.

Yet I maintain my Ick List. I’m not about to go buy myself a copy of Black Panties, even though Kelly’s voice was so beautiful on Gaga’s “Do What You Want”. Why? Because I want to feel like I have some control in this sometimes awful, always chaotic world. I can’t stop terrorism, or decrease the endemic racism in our justice system, or teach rural ranchers about the big picture, or end climate change.

But I can change the channel, flip the station, put down the book, click elsewhere, and get away from the art that represents a person who has transgressed.

The moral of this blog post? Avoid or enjoy any media that you want, because your relationship with the media you consume is all about you.

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*I wanted to say more about this philosophical question here, but I had to kill that darling for sake of flow. I’ll just have to write another blog post about it.

Star Wars Awakens: A Film Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is good. It’s really good. It has so many clever flourishes and amazing moments that it isn’t just a movie, but a film. It’s art. A+ for JJ Abrams and his cast and crew. If you haven’t seen it yet, go. Go now. Definitely don’t read this first, because it’s full of SPOILERS!!!

Okay, so you’ve seen the film. Good. Here we go.

From the opening shot of a shadowed star destroyer flying over and blotting out a bright planet, we know The Force Awakens is both the Star Wars we know and love (not that Prequel nonsense), and that it’s about to get turned on its head.

Sure, we’ve got the mechanically inclined future Jedi scrambling around on a desert world full of aliens and ‘droids. We’ve got an even bigger Death Star. We’ve got Storm Troopers and blue-tinged holograms and light sabers. We’ve got the Sith Lord and his far more interesting Apprentice. We’ve got the clash between light side and dark that is central to the Star Wars mythos.

It’s Star Wars reborn; all the old, beloved stuff we grew up with fresh and new on the big screen again. The Prequels may not be expunged from the canon, but they are utterly irrelevant.

So what’s new?

Diversity.

Not that the original Star Wars movies didn’t push the envelope with Lando Calrisian and Darth Vader both played by black men. But Vader the character is white when his helmet finally comes off, and Leia seems to be the only woman in the Galaxy after Beru is murdered.

By comparison, the Resistance is richly diverse. Male and female, human and alien, Caucasian, Asian, Indian, African. I haven’t seen  a more diverse cast of one-line characters and extras since The Matrix.

In sharp contrast, the First Order is pointedly homogenous. They got the women-in-the-workplace memo, but anyone with a little extra melanin had best keep his white helmet on, thank you very much. And aliens aren’t wanted. I don’t even remember any ‘droids among the First Order.

Since every other setting is rich with aliens, ‘droids, and humans of every color, it becomes clear that the purely human, overtly white First Order is a creative choice. Abrams has given his evil army a Nazi-ish vibe, emphasized by their military trimmings, their whiteness, and their chilling, bent-armed variant of the Heil Hitler salute. And before you roll your eyes at the Jewish director casting Nazi-analogues as his villains, remember that we have a certain political party campaigning on a platform of fascism and xenophobia*.

Think about it. Nazis are way more relevant now than when Captain America was punching them back in 2011.

Star Wars wasn’t so political before, but it was never meaningless space opera. It was psychological. The story of Episodes IV, V, and VI is a basic hero’s journey, and everyone undertakes their own inner hero’s journey when they decide to start fighting their inner demons. And Abram’s Star Wars remains psychological, the politics an extension of the discussion about light and dark.

The locus of that discussion isn’t Rey, or Finn. It’s Kylo Ren.

Having watched the film twice now, I’ve got to give a shout out to Adam Driver for his amazing performance. He’s suave, menacing, pathetic, and completely unhinged by turns. In Driver’s capable hands, Kylo Ren’s emotionality and fragility emerges slowly, until he’s outdone by a kidnapped, restrained, and untrained Rey.

Kylo Ren is the realization of what George Lucas attempted — and utterly failed — with Anakin in the Prequel Trilogy. We only see Ren near the bottom of his fall from the light, but we can picture his childhood with two famous, demanding parents and the threat of assassination over all their heads. We can imagine young Ben (his true name) training with Luke, asking questions about the nature of light and dark and receiving unsatisfying answers from his half-trained master. We can see Snoke entering the picture, the first to tell Ben that all his fear and anger is okay, even desirable.

Unlike Anakin’s fall, Ben’s transformation into Ren makes sense even if it doesn’t happen before our eyes.

As the good guys, Rey and Finn still stumble and struggle and don’t always have the courage to face what they fear. Yet they are strong in the light — they will follow their Hero’s Journeys to their end. But Ren? Who knows. I can’t predict if Kylo Ren will follow the full circle of Anakin/Vader’s path from light to dark and back to light, or if he will emerge as a more confidant Dark Lord in Episode VIII, or if madness will take him down some murky third path.

I’m guessing, obsessing over a character that could have been a complete joke.** There aren’t many stories that get me so involved.

Holy crap, I love The Force Awakens.

I love the new characters and the old ones. I love the nigh seamless mix of CGI and traditional effects. I love the costumes and the sets. I love the story, and Abram’s audacity to actually kill Han Solo. I love the performances. I love all the brilliant little moments; Poe Dameron looking back in interest at his jiggling blaster bolt as it hovers, caught in Ren’s power. Rey’s bread rising up out of a bowl of water and her “quarter portion.” BB-8 unveiling R2D2, and looking so small and sleek beside the older ‘droid. Ren’s red light saber jittering against the steady blue of Finn’s and Rey’s. Luke saying nothing at the end, but speaking volumes of hesitancy and pain with his gaze alone.

If I had to give The Force Awakens a critique, the only one I can offer is that the main characters never take a break. They run straight from scene to scene without the time to sleep, or eat, or even take a bathroom break in between them.

And that’s it.

Sure, there’s a good deal of Deus ex Machina, and the characters are awfully competent, and really, a whole planet has been terraformed into a giant sun-gun? But no one can honestly complain about such things. That’s Star Wars. That’s what we all wanted, and it’s exactly what we got, only made richer, contemporary, and unexpectedly relevant. Thank goodness, and thank Abrams.

I can’t wait for Episode VIII!

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*Bernie Sanders, you’re our only hope.

**I love Kylo Ren, but I also love Emo Kylo Ren, who has one of the funniest Twitter feeds I’ve ever seen.

Screw You, Ken Kesey

I’m loud and proud about pretty much any aspect of my life, but when it comes to the lives of those close to me I’m hesitant to spill their secrets publicly. Hence my few, vague allusions to “family stuff” keeping me busy.

But hey, I have permission to spill! And I’ve got something important to say while I’m at it.

Just what was the “family stuff” going on? Well, my husband has been very ill. His depression and anxiety got much worse earlier this year, much worse than my own has ever been. After trying everything else to save him from his inner demons we decided he should try electroconvulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock therapy, and also known as ECT.

(Spoilers: My husband is doing great right now. He’s even started in on the 3rd draft of an excellent sci-fi novel, the first in what will likely be a long series — goddamn he writes fast!)

This seemed risky, because ECT has a checkered history. It was invented at a time when hysteria was still thought to be a real disease, and much of what was done to “help” the mentally ill amounted to torture.

But unlike hydrotherapy or lobotomies, ECT actually works, and after centuries of refinement has become quite safe.

It began with an observation: epileptics don’t get depressed, despite their plight being rather depressing. This led to the use of chemicals to trigger seizures in “hysterical” patients back in the 1700s, and later to the use of electricity for the same effect.

It worked, but there were risks. Most notably broken bones from thrashing about, and memory loss. So the process was modified. Drugs were added to prevent physical convulsions; muscle relaxants were used first, and then later increasing amounts of anesthesia until general anesthesia became the normal practice. Smaller and smaller amounts  of electricity were used, and in different ways, until confusion and memory loss were minimized.

Nowadays, it can be an outpatient procedure. It’s totally safe; the patient is only cautioned not to drive at all if they are getting multiple treatments per week. My husband got some severe headaches and nausea after his treatments, and he’s had some memory loss — nothing important, just little things like what groceries we bought, or that he has a doctor’s appointment. But that’s it. The only risks are those posed by general anesthesia, which are quite low. And long term, his memory should return mostly, if not wholly, to normal.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about just how effective ECT is. Wikipedia says 50% of patients receive some benefit, and of those half become severely depressed again and go in for another round of shocks a year later. The hospital’s informational video said “more than 70%” of patients receive some benefit, and “some” relapse. Of the patients we have spoken to, whether they have depression or bi-polar disorder, 100% benefited.

And my husband has benefited immensely, which is the important part.

So, why didn’t he try this miracle treatment sooner?

Well, it’s unpleasant, expensive*, and disorienting, so it’s a last resort. And I’ve heard from a few sources that as recent as the ‘80s ECT was a whole different beast. The memory loss was worse, the recovery times were longer, they weren’t using enough anesthetic yet to prevent all that scary thrashing. It frightened some of the health professionals (my sources) who administered it.

Oh yeah, and there’s this little book out there by one Ken Kesey. You might have heard of it, it’s only the most famous novel about mental health facilities.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Hey, a book! Literature! Now I can tie this back into the theme of my blog. So here’s that something important I wanted to say.

Literature is powerful, and screw you, Ken Kesey.

If it weren’t for that stupid book, my husband might have gotten the treatment he needed months earlier. See, our healthcare system works a lot better if someone is birddogging the doctors on your behalf. And I didn’t birddog for ECT early on because I was still correlating it with crucifixion and submission to the man, thanks to Kesey’s potent imagery.

To be fair, Kesey isn’t the only one who has made mental health facilities look like evil, awful places. American Horror Story’s second season insisted that asylums were full of rape and demonic possession. You almost forget how helpful the hospital and its staff are for Girl, Interrupted once she stops fighting the system. And for a long time, maybe even in the ‘60s, mental hospitals were evil, awful places. Some of them (county health**, cough cough) still are evil, awful places.

But that’s due to under funding and the general stigma we have about mental health in this country. And putting One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on high school reading lists doesn’t help.

I’m not advocating a book ban. That’s not how I roll. But it needs to be taught in historical context, not just handed to kids. And in general, writers need to stop using scary looking mental health treatments as a symbol for the struggles of normal people against fate or the government. I don’t know how this became a thing, but it sure is. Twelve Monkeys, Penny Dreadful, the whole concept of Arkham Asylum in the DC Universe. None of it paints a favorable picture of mental health care. All of it makes it look like something we don’t really need any more.

But we need it. It saved my husband’s life. So this is an open call to all writers, directors, and media creators. I get it that the asylum of horrors is a fantastically fun trope. But please consider painting a more authentic and modern picture of mental health treatment from time to time.

Who knows? You just might save a life.

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*This blog post brought to you by Obamacare. Obamacare: helping Millennials with pre-existing conditions get affordable insurance so they don’t have to move back in with their parents if they get sick.

**County Health does not mean to be evil and awful. But they are deeply underfunded, so they can’t provide many actual services. Mostly they are short-term jail for the poor and delusional.

You’re Not Yuccie, You’re an Artist

I came across this article this morning on my Facebook feed.

TL;DR*?  That’s okay, I’ll summarize.

In “The hipster is dead, and you might not like who comes next”, David Infante coins a new word to describe himself and people like him; Millennials living in urban areas who are willing to take uncertain, poorly paid positions so long as they allow for some form of creative expression/fulfillment/validation.  These folk want to start their own artisanal businesses, and hopefully get rich quick off their creative talents.

And despite their financial struggles, these folk are ultimately privileged.  They trust the system (and their families) to carry them through hard times.  They’ve never been screwed over enough to give up their dreams and take a sensible job.

Infante calls himself, and those like him, Young Urban Creatives, or “yuccies”.  (Like “yucky”, get it?!)  More sensible than the hipster, poorer than the yuppie, but full of “creative entitlement”.

This is myopic, self-hating nonsense, and I’m tired of it.

The problem is not the “yuccies” themselves, but a dwindling supply of good, stable jobs on “traditional career paths” coupled with a complete lack of respect for creative types.  I’ve experienced this lack of respect first hand, and it nearly destroyed me.

I can’t just watch this crap go viral without responding, so here’s my story.

At fourteen, I discovered my deep love for creative writing, specifically long, speculative fiction.  I had always been good at writing, I loved to read, and I had a penchant for literary analysis — maybe I should have figured out who I was sooner, but I managed it at fourteen.

I started telling people.

My high school was entirely unprepared to help me achieve this kind of goal, and actively worked to quash it.  A surprising number of people thought it was supportive to talk to me about “day jobs” and “alternate careers”, and to remind me that the odds would not be in my favor.  It’s no wonder I wound up clinically depressed and burdened by generalized anxiety by the time I was fifteen.

I spent the next decade “finding myself” — that is, turning into a failure.

I dropped out of my prestigious university.  I moved back into my parents’ home, jobless and unable to function.  I took random classes at a community college, hoping that bit of structure and the achievement of completed classes would galvanize me into… something.  I floated, cushioned from real hardship by the incredible luck of having a generous and loving family, but bleak and barren inside.

And my psychiatric medication killed my creativity, the very thing that would eventually help me pull myself back together.

From my perspective, Infante’s “yuccies” are functioning much better than I did.  Privileged or not, they’re making pragmatic choices.  They’re walking a thin line between self-expression and “making it”, and managing it as creative work is increasingly outsourced overseas, underpaid, or divorced from any kind of stability.

Infante decries his own choices and the choices of other young, creative types — but that’s just whining, wishing he could have his stable job cake and decorate it too.

He decries the privilege of “yuccies”, but just how useful is all that child-of-middle-class guilt?  It isn’t going to break down income inequality, raise minimum wage, strengthen our social safety nets, get us universal health care, bring paid vacations, sick leave, and family leave to American workers, end racism, classism, or sexism, or even feed, clothe, or house the needy.  Know you’re privileged, be grateful for it, be generous to those you meet who aren’t, and vote socialist so we can share the privilege around.

He decries his need for constant validation — well, that’s almost a good point.  “Yuccies” may be needy, but that’s a perversion of their natural creative drive.  We’re told we need to make something of ourselves — and make money — and are given few opportunities to do it without killing our souls.  Public funding for the arts is pathetic.  Try to talk STEAM instead of STEM, and everyone but Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks you’re coddling drug-addled theater majors.

It isn’t easy to be an artsy, creative person.  If you can be something else, that might be in your best interest.  But if you can’t, if your soul will sicken without self expression, take your genius by the horns.  Every career path is uncertain now, so get that artsy degree.  Turn down that boring job.  Don’t worry so much about the opportunities you’re missing, focus on the ones you have.

You’re not “yuccie”, you’re an Artist.  And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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*for those who aren’t hep to internet acronyms, this one means “Too Long; Didn’t Read”