i had a hard time choosing from the million files for this part

I recently saw a video of a young woman talking about all of the reasons our generation, the Millennials, sucks and that’s she’s sorry for what we’ve become. Here is my, a fellow Millennial, response:

You say we’re just ‘existing’ and not ‘contributing anything to society.’ The oldest Millennial is 34, the youngest is 12, we haven’t had time to contribute anything yet. We’re trying to survive in a world that no other generation has had to grow up in, with a tanked economy and most of our childhood hearing nothing but war in the Middle East on the news while also being profoundly connected. We didn’t do that.

You say we’re no longer polite, we don’t say ‘no, sir’ or ‘no ma’am’ anymore and we no longer hold the door open for our elders or women. We also don’t expect low-paid workers to break their backs for us, or at yell at them when they make a mistake, like my 60-year-old grandfather does. We say ‘no problem’ when there’s a mistake in order, and politely stand by while the 40-something-year-old soccer mom huffs and rolls her eyes as the new girl struggles to punch in the correct code.

You say our music objectifies women and glorifies drugs and criminals. There has been no significant change from the songs that were once sung or the singers who sang them. Many of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s performers were drug addicts, womanizers, and criminals in their own right. Elvis Presley was child abuser, John Lennon raped his many girlfriends and most of the music I grew up listening, which was 80’s rock, were performed by habitual drug abusers. Let’s not pretend like human nature took a drastic turn when 1983 rolled around.

You say we cuss to prove a point. We, as a generation, have learned it’s not the words we fucking use, it’s the passion in them that we care about. As a generation, we’ve become more interested in politics and the world around us, cursing is minor problem when we consider the political climate the older generation has plunged us into.

You say we use ‘bae’ to describe the ones we love. Bae, originally, means ‘before anyone else’ which is incredibly romantic in my opinion. Bae is also hardly ever taken seriously, it’s a jokey way to talk about someone you love. Language changes, I doubt people were happy when we changed ‘wherefore’ into ‘why.’ The greatest injustice we can do to our language and culture is not allow it to evolve and grow with us.

You say we idolize people like Kim Kardashian and shame people like Tim Tebow. Kim Kardashian is a business woman who had a private video she made with a lover illegally revealed. Instead of fading into obscurity, she stood tall and did not let the sexual shaming she endured stop her and now runs a multi-million dollar industry, is married to one of the richest men in the world, and had two beautiful children. Tim Tebow is a Christian who was criticized by a few people for praying in an open stadium while most people just wanted to see a game.

You say we’re lazy and entitled, we want to make a lot of money and get a free education but we’re not willing to put in the work. We are not lazy. I cannot tell you how many people I meet who have gone to school full time while working a part or even full-time job just to make ends meet. We’re not entitled, we’re bitter. In the 70’s, you could work a part time job over the summer and pay your way through four years of school because tuition was $400, now just to walk in the door of your local community college you need to drop $14,000. We have kids who aren’t even old enough to drink, yet are already $20,000 deep in debt. Debt that won’t go away because even filing for bankruptcy won’t erase it. And even with that education, there’s no guarantee you’ll find something in your field. I have a friend who has a degree in microbiology and she’s making $9 an hour selling $15 candles. I have another friend who has a masters in Sport Psychology and Counseling. She’s a bartender. My parents bought a three bedroom house in the suburbs in the late 90’s while my generation is imagining apartments with breezy windows and trying to get enough money to get food while we scrounge up less than $8 a week.

You say we spend more time online making friends and less time building relationships and our relationship’s appearance on Facebook is more important than building the foundation that relationship is based on. We are a generation that is profoundly connected and no other generation has seen this before. We have more opportunities to meet people from all over the world and better chances to understand other worldviews and lifestyles. Being able to stay home and talk to people over the internet is cheaper and more relaxing than having to force yourself to interact with people in public settings after a long day of minimum wage labor. The people I talk to more over the internet are people I have been friends with for years. It’s easier to talk about the day’s events over Skype or Facebook Messenger than arrange a day to meet in person when you have conflicting schedules. I truly don’t believe most people care what others think of their friendship or how their relationships ‘look’ on social media. Most often what you are calling ‘our relationship’s appearance on Facebook’ are documented and searchable memories.

You say our idea of what we believe in is going on Facebook and posting a status on Facebook. Not everyone can join in with the crowds of protesters. It’s easy to see what others have to say through the comments and argue back without the threat of violence. And when this generation does organize events to stand up for ourselves, it’s met with childish name-calling or being reduced to a ‘riot.’

You say we believe the number of follows we have reflects who we are as a person. It’s nice knowing there’s 20 or 50 or maybe even 100 people who care what you have to say or think. We live in an age where we can and will be heard.

You say we don’t respect our elders, that we don’t respect our country. Our elders grew up in one of the greatest economic booms in history and in turn made it the worst economic situation since the 1930’s all while blaming kids who were only five at the time for it. We stand on our flag because it means nothing, it’s a pretty banner for an ugly lie. We’re a country that says you can make it if you just work hard enough while, in the end, that will almost never happen. We’re a country that becomes irate at the idea of 20-something college kids standing on some canvas dyed red, white, and blue but seem to shrug off the millions of homeless, disabled veterans.

You say we’re more divided than ever before. Ever before what? When black folk couldn’t drink from the same fountain as white folk? When women couldn’t vote? When white southerners fought for the idea that they could keep black people as slaves? We’re a generation that is done with injustice and when you fight for social change, you will divide people.

You say everything that was frowned up is celebrated. What does that mean? We frowned up gay marriage. We frowned upon wives being able to say no to sex with their husbands. We frowned up interracial marriage. We frowned up black folk being allowed to go to school with white folk. We frowned upon women being allowed to vote. Are those things not worth celebrating?

You say nothing has value in our generation, that we take advantage of everything. We value friendship more, we value the fists of change, we value social justice and family and the right to marry those we love. We value the right to be yourself, wholly and fully. We value the right to choose and we value the idea of fighting what you believe in, even when everyone older than you is telling you you’re what’s wrong with the country.

You say we have more opportunities to succeed than those before but we don’t ‘appreciate’ them. We are a bitter generation. You can finance a boat for 3.9% but you have to pay back college tuition plus 8.9%. We may have more opportunities but those opportunities cost money we don’t have.

You say you can see why we’re called ‘Generation,’ but we’re not Generation Y, we’re Millennials and we do feel entitled. We were promised a strong economy and inexpensive education. We had the world in our hands and we were going to make it better. And it was ripped away from us because of incompetent rulers, illegal wars, and greedy corporations and we get blamed for it. Crime has gone down, abortion and unintended pregnancy has lowered, people are living longer, people are more educated, people are less likely to die from violent crime or diseases, yet my generation is touted as the worst generation and for what? Crimes that we’re accused of that happened before we could even wipe our own ass? We were raised better, and we were raised in a society that treated, and continues to treat, us like garbage. And we are done. We are not sorry, we did nothing wrong.

Criminal Minds AU Episode 8: Profiler, Profiled

-Episode Guide-

Previously On…

@dontshootmespence @sassygeek77 @sophiiev @britneynicole28 @determinedpines @onebigfangirlworld @milkandcookies528 @malaklovesunicorns @trollitis @the-slytherin-ice-queen @hanny-bananny @bulldozed88 @cherrybombs-and-rabbitholes

—–

Part 5

Allyson made her way back towards the interrogation room, hoping that her absence hadn’t been noted (although she supposed she could use Spencer’s phone call as an excuse), but realized that she’d been caught as she rounded the corner and saw Hotch standing in the hallway, looking through the glass at Morgan.

Allyson hesitated slightly, wondering if she was going to be reprimanded for leaving after Hotch had asked her to stay and observe. However, as her superior caught sight of her, standing frozen in the middle of the hallway, she was surprised to see his expression soften.

“Needed a break, Agent Reid?”

Allyson opened her mouth, about to mention that her brother had called (which wasn’t a complete lie), but stopped when she realized how stupid it was to be anything but completely honest with Hotch. “I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized. “It’s just…watching one of our own be interrogated like this…”

Hotch nodded. “I understand. Believe me, I hate having to grill him like this. But he’s hiding something. And unless we find out what that something is, we’re not going to get anywhere with this case.”

As much as she hated to admit it, Allyson knew he was right. She didn’t like to think what this awful secret could be that Morgan didn’t want to tell any of them, but she also hated the thought of him spending time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

“Well, there is some good news,” Allyson added, figuring they could all use a little pick-me-up right about now. “My brother called. He said Morgan’s family backs up the story about what happened with Rodney. They said Gordinsky’s been after him ever since.”

“What do you think?” Hotch asked.

Allyson shrugged. “I definitely think he’s doing everything he can to fit this profile to Morgan.” She felt her stomach drop unpleasantly as she added, “And as much as I hate to admit it, there are parts of it that do fit him. But even still, Gordinsky’s stretching. It’s clear he is not a huge fan of Morgan.”

“Well, until we can give him another suspect, he’s going to keep stretching,” Hotch replied. “And until Morgan tells us what he’s hiding, we aren’t going to find one.”

“JJ has Garcia digging right now,” Allyson said, feeling another unpleasant twinge as she realized how hard this was for Garcia to go delving into her best friend’s past like this. “Spence also said that Prentiss is going away to the local Youth Center. Apparently Morgan spent a lot of time there as a kid, and he likes to visit every time he comes home.”

“That’s a good idea,” Hotch said. “Damien Walters frequented that Youth Center. It’s possible someone there might know something.”

Allyson glanced back into the interrogation room, and her heart sank as she saw Morgan hunched over the table, his head in his hands. She just wanted this whole thing to be over. But for that to happen, they needed Morgan to be honest with him. She understood the whole need to keep secrets (better than most people), but if her talk with Hotch nearly a year ago about what had happened with Marcus Rooney had proven anything, it was that sometimes even the darkest of secrets had to come to light.

“Hotch, why don’t you let me talk to him?” Allyson suggested. “It’ll be a new approach on the whole thing. We have a close relationship.” She paused slightly and added, “Plus, I know a thing or two about keeping secrets.”

Hotch looked for a moment like he, too, was remembering that day in his office when she had sat across from him and spilled about the worst moment of her life. He knew how had it had been for her to make herself that vulnerable, but he also knew that it was therapeutic in a way to finally come clean to someone who wasn’t her brother. In fact, if she had never become pregnant and subsequently lost her child, it’s possible even he would have never known about what had happened to her. The thought of keeping that secret for so long…

“All right,” Hotch said. “See what you can do.”

“Thank you, sir,” Allyson began, but Hotch stopped her briefly.

“I need you to remember though, Ally. He is your friend and he is our colleague, but right now, he is technically a suspect. And if he won’t give up this information, you might have to treat him like one.”

Allyson hated to see the pain in his eyes when he said this, but she realized that he was exactly right. She nodded to show she understood, took a deep breath, and made her way into the room.

Morgan looked up, no doubt expecting to see Hotch or Gordinsky again, and Allyson saw his eyes widen and then soften slightly as he looked at her.

“Ally?”

“Hey,” she said with a small smile as she sat down opposite him. “Thought you might need a break from all the drilling you’ve been getting.”

Morgan sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. “Ally, this is ridiculous. You know I didn’t do this, right?”

Allyson thought for a moment about what Hotch said, but she pushed it out of her mind as she shook her head. “Of course I know that. We all know that. We just want to help you. But in order to do that, we need you to help us.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do!” Morgan exclaimed. “But Gordinsky is so convinced I did it that he won’t even listen to me!”

Allyson bit her bottom lip and closed her eyes briefly before throwing the file on the table. “That’s probably because of this,” she said. “It’s a profile Gideon drew up for him a couple months ago.” She took a deep breath. “Gordinsky said this profile is what led him to you.”

Morgan’s eyes widened slightly as he pulled the profile towards himself, quickly scanning the pages. “Gideon profiled me?”

“Not you exactly,” Allyson said hurriedly. “And trust me, there are definite pieces of it that don’t fit you at all. The others agree with me that Gordinsky is trying to pin this on you. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” She swallowed past the lump that had reformed in her throat, choosing her next words carefully. “Morgan, I need you to be honest with me.”

“Honest about what?” Morgan said, but the tone of his voice suggested that he knew exactly what she was talking about.

“Listen to me,” Allyson began. “If you’re hiding something, you need to trust us. Trust us enough to tell us about it.”

Morgan shook his head. “Ally, it’s not about trust. It’s about privacy. Keeping something to myself. Why is that so hard for people to understand?”

It took Allyson a moment to answer as she realized that those were very similar to statements she had made every time Spencer had asked her why she hadn’t told Hotch about her past. “Believe me when I say I know a thing or two about wanting to keep things buried,” she said. “But this is your life we’re talking about, Morgan. What could be so bad that you’d be willing to risk everything?”

The silence that followed stretched for what seemed like hours. Allyson had about a million scenarios going through her head about the contents of this secret, each one more horrifying and devastating than the last. Who was he trying to protect? What didn’t he want them to know?

Finally, Morgan stood up, his back to Allyson, his voice low. “Ally, I’m only saying this because I love and respect you. But I need you to drop this. Please.”

The corners of Allyson’s eyes began to sting, but she blinked away the tears before they had a chance to fall. She got to her feet as well, and for a brief moment, she thought about telling him everything. Even if he couldn’t relate, even if the nature of his secret was nothing like hers (or, God forbid, worse than hers), maybe being open and honest with him would make him realize that keeping this bottled up wasn’t good for anyone. She needed him to realize that he was not alone.

Before Allyson could say anything, however, the interrogation room opened again, and they both turned to see Hotch entering. Allyson wondered for a moment if she had said something wrong or if Hotch thought she wasn’t being direct enough in her quest to get answers from him.

“Carl Buford,” Hotch said.

Allyson knew that name as the man who ran the Youth Center. The man who had taken Morgan in under his wing after his father’s death. From what Spencer had told her, he had a huge impact on Morgan’s life. He owed him everything.

However, the look on Morgan’s face when Hotch said that name suggested that none of what her brother had said was true. Instead of feeling happy at hearing the name of the man who, from the sounds of it, had helped turn his life around, Allyson saw Morgan’s entire demeanor change almost instantly. His body became tense, his hands gripping the edges of the chair so tightly that his knuckles were burning white. His skin visibly paled and his eyes widened just slightly.

“What did you just say?” Morgan asked. Even his tone was different. No longer strong and certain. It now sounded small and meek. Almost like a child’s.

“Carl Buford,” Hotch said again. “The man who runs the Youth Center.”

Morgan straightened up and folded his arms, but Allyson could see that his hands were still shaking. “Yeah. What about him?”

“Why don’t you tell me?” Hotch asked. “He’s the reason your criminal record got expunged. Wrote a letter of recommendation for you. Pleaded your case very heavily.”

“That’s right,” Morgan said, his voice fighting to stay steady. “I played football for him for years. He got me into college. So what?”

“He runs the local Youth Center,” Hotch continued. “The one you visit every time you come home.”

“Hotch—”

“Makes sense that you would stop by there. Pay your respects to the man who gave you everything.”

“Hotch!”

“Yet, Buford is saying that it’s been years since he last spoke to you.”

“That’s enough, Hotch!”

“Seems odd to me that you’ll take time to go visit the Center, but not to talk to the man who helped turn your life around. Kept you out of prison. Got you into college.”

Morgan slammed his hands down so hard that Allyson jumped nearly a foot in the air. There was a fire in his dark eyes as he stood toe to toe with Hotch, looking angrier than Allyson had ever seen him before. “I’m warning you, Hotch,” he said in a low voice. “Back. Off.”

Allyson didn’t need to be told twice, but Hotch looked for a moment like he wasn’t going to listen. Allyson put a hand on her superior’s arm, but it was unneeded as he turned around and exited the room. Allyson looked back at Morgan to see that he still looked angry, his breathing heavy, his hands curled into fists. He turned his back on her again, and she took that as her cue to exit the room as well.

She and Hotch made their way back into the lobby where JJ was speaking with Gordinsky, who had just finished bidding good-bye to two people who were leaving the precinct. The woman was Damien Walters’ mother. Allyson recognized her from the file. The older man with her was unfamiliar. He looked too old to be Damien’s father.

“Thanks again, Carl,” Gordinsky said, shaking the man’s hand before heading over to the agents.

“Carl?” Allyson asked. “Was that Carl Buford?”

JJ nodded. “He came with Mrs. Walters to help her through the interview process. He knew Damien really well.”

“Morgan too,” Hotch said, and Allyson could almost picture his brain working on what had just happened in the interrogation room.

“What did he say about Morgan?” Allyson asked, also trying to make sense of what had just happened.

“Said Morgan was one of the finest young men he’d ever known,” JJ said. “He’s shocked that the police would even think of charging him with a crime like this,” she added, shooting Gordinsky a very nasty look.

“But he also said that he feels bad about expunging his record in light of what’s happened,” Gordinsky said, returning her angry look with a satisfied smirk. “I can’t tell you how many times Carl’s come through for me, ever since I started here. He knows the kids in this neighborhood more than anyone I know.”

As he said that, Allyson’s mind suddenly flashed to the profile. “He knows a lot about the kids in the neighborhood,” she echoed. “Spends a lot of time with them. They trust him. He doesn’t appear intimidating to them.”

Gordinksy realized what she was trying to do, and his smirk was instantly replaced with a frown. “Hey, don’t go trying to pin this on Carl just so you can try to save your boy in there!”

Allyson shrugged. “I mean, I’m just applying pieces of the profile where I see them. That’s all you’ve been doing, isn’t it?”

Gordinsky frowned at her, but she saw JJ catch her eye and wink at her, satisfied. At that moment, the door to the office opened, announcing the return of Prentiss, Reid, and Dennison. Gordinsky, thankfully, left the group to go and discuss things with Dennison. The two appeared to be heading back towards the interrogation room to check on Morgan. Prentiss and Reid came to join their group.

“What did you guys find out?” Hotch asked.

“Well, I stopped by the Youth Center,” Prentiss explained. “Spoke with one of the boys there. James. He was a good friend of Damien’s. Said he’s been trying to get a hold of Derek all day to talk to him about what happened.”

“He didn’t know about the arrest?” JJ asked.

Prentiss shook her head. “He was just as shocked as the rest of us. Said that Derek always comes by to talk with him and the other boys. He’s given a couple of them his personal number and told them to call if they ever need to talk.”

“Did you ask him anything about Carl Buford?” Allyson asked, unable to get Morgan’s anger out of her head.

“Yeah, but he didn’t say much,” Prentiss replied. “Said Carl runs the place. Coaches football. He’s trying to get kids off the street.”

“Something doesn’t add up,” Hotch said. “From the sounds of it, Morgan owes his life to Buford. Why would he react the way he did ab—”

But he was cut off as Detective Dennison suddenly came running down the hallway. “What? We just cut him loose?”

Hotch and Allyson exchanged a brief glance before they hurried down the hall and peeked into the interrogation room to see the door opened and room vacant.

Morgan was gone.

Loving someone with anxiety

Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time.

Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that.

It’s understandably confusing at times, so consider this your cheat sheet. 13 things for you to remember when loving someone with anxiety.

1. They are more than just their anxiety

No one likes to be defined by one attribute of themselves. If you truly want to be supportive of someone with anxiety, remind them that you appreciate the individual behind the anxiety. Recognise that they are more than just their anxiety.

It sounds like it would be common sense to do so, we don’t go around seeing people by one solitary attribute in most cases, but people have a tendency to become blind-sighted by mental health issues. They are still a human being with all the complexities that everyone else has. Please, remember that.

2. They can get tired easily

Anxiety is exhausting. It seems like the only people that understand how tiring it really can be is people with anxiety themselves. Anxiety causes people to live in hyper-tense states. They are always on alert, their mind is very rarely settled, and their body is always ready to fight or flight. With the hypertension comes fatigue. Situations that people without anxiety can just breeze through are more tiring for those with anxiety.

Ever had a stressful work week, where every day you woke up thinking “wow, I really hope I get a break soon”? That’s an anxious person’s every day, and it’s tiring. Remember that next time you’re pushing someone with anxiety to be more ‘productive.’

3. They can get overwhelmed easily

Tying into the previously noted hyper-tense state, they’re also overwhelmed easily because of it. They’re aware of everything going on around them. Every noise, every action, every smell, every light, every person, every object. For someone existing in such a hyper-alert state a situation that doesn’t seem that overwhelming (e.g. the thought of more than a handful of people talking in a room) can cause their head to spin. You can read more about that here.

When trying to encourage someone with anxiety to go somewhere, just keep in mind that the stimuli you enjoy can just as easily be overwhelming for them. Try not to lock them into the situation. Ensure they know they can leave and are capable of doing so at any point.

4. They are well aware their anxiety is often irrational

Being aware of the irrationality does not stop the thoughts from racing. It does not stop the thinking of hundreds of different worst-case scenarios. If it was as easy as saying “okay, that’s irrational – no point worrying about it,” the majority of those living with anxiety would not have problems with it anymore.

One of the worst things about anxiety is how aware of the irrationality they can be. Pointing out that it’s irrational doesn’t help – they already know this. What they need is compassion, understanding, and support – very rarely do they need advice on how irrational and pointless their anxiety it (because that’s not even advice.) You can learn more about that here.

5. They can communicate how they feel (you just have to actually listen)

Having anxiety does not mean that they are incapable of expressing or communicating. (Unless they’re panicking, in which case they likely can’t. Don’t try to get them to either!) They still like to talk and they still like to speak for themselves. They will tell you how they feel.

Often when people think someone with anxiety, or really any problem whatsoever, can’t or won’t communicate – it’s because they’re choosing not to, and it’s usually because the other party has been entirely dismissive the last time they opened up. So next time when you think they’re incapable of speaking for themselves, bite your tongue and give them the opportunity to actually speak. Then take the time to listen.

6. They don’t need someone constantly asking “are you okay?” while they’re panicking

When you see someone panicking and you know they have anxiety, do you really need to ask “are you okay?”

You already know the answer. Their heart is pounding a million miles an hour, their hands are clamming up, their chest is tightening, their limbs are vibrating from all the adrenalin and their mind has just sunken into the limbic system’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Honestly? Part of them probably thinks they’re dying. So instead of asking “are you okay?” try something a little more helpful and constructive. Good examples would be:

“Remember your breathing”
“Remember <insert whatever technique that has helped them before>”
“Would you like help me to help you to somewhere quieter/safer/calmer?”
“I’m here if you need me.” (At this point, you should leave them alone unless they ask)
“You’re panicking, it won’t last. You’ve got past this before, you’ll get past it again”
But the key to all of this: If they ask you to leave them alone – leave them alone! They are experienced in handling their anxiety; let them get through it however they see fit.

7. They appreciate you sticking by them

Anxiety is rough on everyone involved, which means you too. They understand that, they understand their irrationality; they understand you’ve not done some things you would’ve liked to because they couldn’t. They’re not oblivious to what it takes to support them.

If there’s one thing in common that you’ll find across the board for everyone with anxiety, it’s that they over think – they over think a lot. Part of this over thinking always comes back to the people that have supported them, always. Your support doesn’t go unmissed – no matter how subtle you may think it’s been.

8. They can find it hard to let it go

Part of anxiety is the constant over thinking, but to really understand this we need to understand where the over thinking stems from. When anyone is faced with a traumatic incident in their life, which most people with anxiety have had more than their fair share of, the memory (if not properly dealt with) can end up stored in part of the limbic system of the brain that the mind uses to determine if we are at ‘risk.’ You can find out more about that here.

The memory is stored in a completely different manner and region of the brain in comparison to an everyday memory that gets filed away. This causes the brain to react differently to the memory. The brain is actively seeking to make links between the traumatic memory and the present situation it’s in (partly the cause of the hyper-tense state.)

When the brain is caught in this cycle, letting go of things can be very difficult. When the brain is trained to remain in this cycle through prolonged anxiety, letting go of pretty much anything can be a tough task. People with anxiety cannot always just ‘let it go,’ their brain won’t let them, so please don’t give them a hard time about it.

9. They can find change difficult (even if it’s expected)

Everyone has a comfort zone, anxiety or not. Pushing that comfort zone can be difficult for even the most well-adjusted person, so for people with anxiety it can be even more challenging. This is not to be confused with the sentiment that those with anxiety dislike change or pushing their comfort zones, because they will likely thrive once they’re actually in the process of doing so. They can just find it a lot more difficult to bring themselves to do so.

The one relief people with anxiety tend to get from their anxiety is when they’re allowed to be in their place of comfort with nothing major changing around them. When they’re faced with a big change and uprooting, it can take them a lot longer to settle back down and establish that zone again. Just remember to have a little more patience and understanding for those with anxiety. They’re trying, they really are.

10. They aren’t (always) intentionally ignoring you

Part of managing anxiety is controlling the inner monologue that comes with it. Sometimes this can be a very attention-consuming act. The strangest things can set off obscure thought patterns for those with anxiety. If they suddenly drift out of the conversation, there’s a good chance they’re over thinking something that’s just been said or they’re trying to calm their thoughts down. Both take immense concentration.

They’re not ignoring you; or not intentionally at least. They’re just trying not to have a mental breakdown right there in front of you. You don’t need to ask “are you okay?” and you especially don’t need to quiz them on what you just said. If it’s important, try gently bringing it back up when they seem more attentive.

Their mind can be a war zone at times. They will drop out of conversations unexpectedly and they will feel bad for doing so if they realise it. Reassure them that you understand and ensure they’ve fully digested any important news you may have discussed, especially if it involves them handling some responsibility (maybe make a note of it too!)

11. They aren’t always present

As mentioned in the above point, they’re not always present in a conversation, but it’s not just conversation that can trigger this reaction. Everyday events can cause everyone to get lost in contemplation at some point or another, but for those with anxiety almost everything can serve as a contemplative trigger. They will recede into the depths of their mind quite regularly and you’ll likely notice the vacancy on their face. Contrary to what romantic movies suggest, it’s not always cute to come up and spook them while they’re lost in thought (though sometimes it definitely can be!)

Gently nudge them back to reality regularly. Remind them where they are, what they’re doing (not literally, they’re anxious – they don’t have short term memory loss), and to appreciate it. They’ll greatly appreciate you doing so. You can learn more about mindfulness and how it relates to anxiety here.

12. They don’t always see it as a limitation (nor should you!)

It’s okay to be an anxious person. Sure, it can be a struggle at times, but it’s not always a limitation. Anxiety has molded part of the person in question and ultimately has the potential of bettering them as a person. It can cause them to see the world in a very different way and often this can be for the best. The symptoms can suck, the over thinking can suck, the missing out on certain events can suck, everything in life has the potential to suck. Just because it can doesn’t mean that those with anxiety choose to see it that way; at least, not all the time.

Remember that part of their personality is the anxiety. Remember that part of them, the compilation of life experiences that they are made of, is the anxiety. It can have some benefits too, and many people with anxiety (when getting ‘better’) choose to see them. You should too.

13. They are awesome!

Just like everybody else on Earth, they are awesome! (That’s why you love them, right?) It’s pretty easy to get focused on the doom and gloom of any issue, especially ones involving mental health, but part of overcoming them is remembering the awesomeness that came before and will come after the issue.

Choose to see the benefits. Choose to see the upside of the situation. Choose to see the awesomeness. If they can, so can you.

Cheat sheet over, done, finished. Keep these in mind and your whole experience may be a lot easier – then again, it may not be either. We’re humans and we’re unique. What works for one may not work for the other, but there is one thing that always works: loving compassion. If you take anything away from this article, just let it be that everyone – especially those struggling – deserves loving compassion, so spread it around.

Got anything you’d like to add to this article? Anything that was missed, misconstrued, or similar? Just drop a comment below. onegoal45

fate is a very weighty word to throw around before breakfast.”

Summary: In which Will is the son of a psychic, Nico is a life-long skeptic, and the universe has everything under control (more or less).

A very, very odd take on a soulmate AU for a lovely anon.

It’s not the first time Will has heard the words, “This whole fortune-telling thing is a bunch of bullshit.” It is, however, the first time someone’s said them directly to his face.

Well, that’s refreshing, Will says, blinking tiredly at the boy in front of him. Honestly, this whole situation was more than a little uncomfortable to begin with; it’s not like this is the first time a student from Will’s school has shown up for a reading, but it is the first time it’s been someone with the notoriety of Nico di Angelo.

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FanFic: The Farkle Files-Rucas One for her,One for the Other

A/N:  @missyk-graduate12 asked for Lucas’ thoughts during Farkle’s speech in Balancing the Scales. Lucas’ thoughts are in italics. Please check out So Hello from the Other Side by Harrythe. I paraphrased a quote from the Lucas chapter. It was quite simply the perfect line for what Lucas I wanted to say.

One for her, One for the other (Lucas POV of Balancing the Scales)

Zay left Topanga’s and headed home. Farkle stayed behind to talk to me. I knew this was not going to be a pleasant conversation

“Lucas… I need to know something”. Farkle asks hesitantly.

“What Farkle?” I answer as I prepare myself for what’s about to happen.

“How could you possibly compare your library conversation with Riley to a moment at the campfire with Maya?” Wow… he went right for the big question. I figured he would bring it up…. impressed really that of everything that just happened, that’s where he chose to start.

“What do you mean?” Play stupid Friar. You know this is not going to be easy.

“I want you to think about this for a moment…don’t answer me right away.” Not a problem because I don’t even know how to answer this in a way that even a genius like you would understand.

“During that whole jellybean thing, why did you try to keep it “even” between them? I get that you don’t want to hurt them but this? This will destroy all of us but most especially you.” Funny enough, I’m trying to avoid hurting anyone at all. Never really considered myself in that equation.

“This is a decision that only you can make and you don’t need any of us around you when you do it.” Ha! There isn’t even a decision to be made. No one will understand what I am doing.

“Yes, Maya pushed her but you caught her. If there wasn’t anything there, you would have said you’re welcome and that would have been that. Neither one of you believes in coincidences so you have to know that there was something else to that meeting. Maybe you wouldn’t have met on the subway, maybe the first time would have been in history class. Are you saying that if you met her for the first time in class you wouldn’t have been interested?” Doesn’t matter where or when I met her. I was interested from the get-go. How can you not be? Between the smile and those eyes? Then once we started talking, I was hooked.

“Lucas, you had her pegged during the homework rebellion. Do you think that was because of Maya pushing her? That conversation in the library, when you could’ve talked to her forever? That was between you and her, no one else. You talked about things that were important to you, things that were too important to text.”  I really could’ve sat there all night. Probably would’ve spilled everything I ever knew too. The government could use her to get spies to spill their secrets. There is just something about the way she seems to hear….no…that’s not the right word…. absorb…that’s what I’m looking for. There is just something about the way she absorbs every word you say. Like she’s a sponge and wants to soak up every bit of information she can.

“And since when do you laugh at Maya’s ha hurs? They’ve annoyed you for the longest time. It used to bother you when she called you Huckleberry. Now you think about it all the time?” Still bothers me but I needed to say something that could possibly make me laugh.

“The moment at the campfire? You said it was a moment, a very brief period of time, and that nothing happened. You said that for the better part of the time you were alone at the campfire your conversation was about Riley.” I still can’t believe she called me her brother. Even now, knowing why doesn’t make it any easier. She made it seem so effortless. It wasn’t until after New Year’s Eve that I realized how hard she was trying to hide what she was feeling. I was too wrapped up in trying to understand what went wrong. How we ended up standing only inches apart physically but universes apart emotionally. I was ready to move forward and she was ready to move on. “I should have pushed her harder in Texas, forced her to face the fact that we were never going to be brother and sister, not in a million different years or a million different lifetimes.” (Quote paraphrased from So Hello from the Other side by Harrythe   https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11658202/6/So-Hello-From-The-Other-Side)

“I know how difficult it is to choose between them. I never could and I promised them that I never would. I promised to love them equally. That is not a promise you have made.” That is a promise I never would make because I know it’s not one I could keep. Care for both of them? Absolutely. Love both of them? Absolutely not.    

“For every question, we asked you, the first answer included Riley every time and then you would add something for Maya.”  Of course, she was the first answer every time. I could live without the other one if I had to, and I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I couldn’t live without her.

“I know all three of you. I’ve watched all three of you since the beginning. I’ve watched even closer since Texas, I’m telling you right now. There is no way that scale should have been even.” Ahh, Farkle, if you only knew buddy.

“Stop trying to be Mr. Perfect. Stop trying to be the guy who just goes along with everything. You need to fix this. No matter what happens someone is going to get hurt. The time is now, this is hurting all of us and it’s getting to the point where we won’t be able to fix this. Honestly? I think you already know that there was never truly a decision to be made. Stop trying to keep things even because the way you are heading things will always be even …because you will lose them both. You have to decide Lucas. If we are all going to stay friends after this? You need to do it now.”

No there was never a decision to be made. It’s always been her. Scarily enough, I think someday it will always be her. How do I explain this to Farkle? I know he said he couldn’t choose but for me… there was never a choice. My feelings have never changed. This whole "balancing the scales” thing? I don’t want to do it. I don’t need to do it. They shouldn’t be balanced at all and they really aren’t, some of those answers should have been worth multiple jellybeans. It’s her, it’s always been her… But she’s the one who asked me to keep things “even”. How do I not do as she has asked? This was what she wanted and as far as I’m concerned? This is how it has to be until she tells me otherwise. 

Trust (Part 4/?) (Rogers/Avengers)

Part 3

“When will this stop hurting so much?  Why can’t you make it stop?”

“I’m doing as much as I can without hurting you, Steve.  If I push too hard, you could lose the memories that you want to keep along with the bad.”

“Maybe it would hurt less if they were gone,” he whimpered, squeezing his eyes closed and dropping his head into his hands.  “I can’t live like this.”

“Is that what you really want?  Do you really want her erased, along with all of the joy and love that she brought to your life?  Because I fear that without those parts of her with you, you would have killed both of your friends that day.”

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C) Everyday Sadism

When a limo cruises New York City, the financial capital of the world, equipped with a massive sign painted on the side reading “Kill the Poor,” is this “irony” or is it something else altogether?65 When Ted Nugent conducts a “Trample the Weak” rock tour, what kind of person attends the concert?66 Is this intended as “entertainment” or as agitprop? Since 2008, we might want to consider whether the answer has taken on new significance. In order to shift the frame away from offhand dismissal of some trifling stunt to something a bit more profound, I would like to quote the premier philosopher of cruelty on the wellsprings of that urge:
An equivalence is provided by the creditor’s receiving, in place of the literal compensation for injury, a recompense in the form of a kind of pleasure—the pleasure of being allowed to vent his power freely upon one who is powerless, the voluptuous pleasure de faire le mal pour le plaisir de la faire, the enjoyment of violation. This enjoyment will be the greater the lower the creditor stands in the social order.67

Friedrich Nietzsche derived the will to punish from the world of debt obligations, and not vice versa. If one were to take this version of psychology seriously, it suggests that the exacerbated asymmetry between imperious creditors and distressed debtors that has widened since the crisis has freed up an antagonistic field of cruelty that may have festered in a more repressed state during more prosperous times. Clearly, by this late date everyone is aware of the multitudes unceremoniously turfed out of their underwater houses mortgaged beyond all rescue, the one in five children reduced to poverty in the United States, the newly disenfranchised filling the homeless shelters and Wal-Mart car parks at night, the mute beggars standing at street corners with their crude handmade cardboard signs, the sheepish families crowding the food pantries, the superannuated, the forlorn, the downwardly mobile. One way to live in this grim harsh world would be to tell yourself that all these people are just collateral damage, and that no one bears them any particular animus for it, that it is just the unfortunate result of transpersonal forces: in Rawls-speak, there but for the grace of God go I. Such would run the exculpation of the classical liberal.
This, I would suggest, is not now the predominant mind-set in our neoliberal era. Instead, the culture of everyday neoliberalism tends to foster a set of attitudes reminiscent of Nietzsche’s creditor psychology, and has plumped for a different morality: it extends beyond a defensive schadenfreude of the Great Contraction, if only because it predates the crash. Since the 1990s, not just the rich, but almost everyone else who still has a job has been galvanized to find within themselves a kind of guilty pleasure in the thousand unkind cuts administered by the enforcers of trickle-down austerity. Since, as we argued above, the poor no longer are held to exist as a class, it is easier to hate them as individuals. They are the detritus of the market. Those wretched souls subsist at our munificence, it is hinted; therefore it is the indigent who owe us, it is implied; hence we qualify as the righteous and willing audience at the theater of cruelty. Through this guilty pleasure, people of modest means are ushered into the vicarious experience of what it feels like to be extravagantly rich in an era of decline. For a brief moment, the working class can empathize with the imperious creditor, even though they lack the assets to maintain the charade. In a sense, one might approach this phenomenon as an elaboration of Thorstein Veblen’s basic insight in his Theory of the Leisure Class: “An invidious comparison is a process of valuation of persons in respect to worth.”68 The theater of cruelty becomes an emporium of conspicuous consumption.
But beyond a little virtual reality, the normalization of everyday sadism fulfills deeper functions as well. The “double truths” of neoliberalism outlined in the last chapter cannot be permanently confined within the ambit of the NTC, but tend to leak out as barely repressed contradictions in quotidian life—between populism and plutarchy, between freedom and control, between smug ignorance and fervent conviction, between Christian theology and norms of efficiency, between kosmos and taxis, between the enjoyment of pleasure and the deployment of pain. These contradictions could not be confronted directly by the larger populace without fomenting utter disenchantment with the promises of neoliberal order. To get around the cognitive dissonance, cultural outlets square the circle by staging little neoliberal allegories in the public sphere, directing anger away from intractable predicaments in the political sphere and toward the victims. As one analyst put it, every system of cruelty requires its own theater.69
In the neoliberal theater of cruelty, one torments the poor or indigent precisely because they are prostrate. Everyday sadism of this sort is enshrined in every crisis-porn news story that dupes the victims into “sharing their feelings” over their eviction notices and job losses; it reared its head when the Nebraska attorney general un-­self-consciously compared recipients of unemployment benefit with “scavenging raccoons”;70 it is there in the ridiculous obligatory “upbeat” ending to every failure narrative so as not to unduly derange our complacent spectatorship. It is rampant in every suggestion that relief offered by religious charities (accompanied by the obligatory sectarian message) renders the predicament of the downtrodden and disenfranchised bearable. It underpins the argument that the poor must of necessity bear the brunt of austerity now, because it will only get worse for them later if they do not.71 As a political ploy, right-wing think tanks began their counteroffensive against a rising chorus pleading taxation of the rich in 2011 by disingenuously twisting the evocative rhetoric of “equality” in pointing out (in a fit of indignation) that a large proportion of the poor do not “pay their share” of income taxes (viz., none at all) and thus lacked “skin in the game”; this echo chamber of contempt ricocheting throughout the news media was so extravagantly over the top that it became the target of satire on many of the usual cable outlets, such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.72
In the current climate, it seems there is almost nothing you could do to the poor that would earn you opprobrium and ostracism from polite company, (maybe) short of sexual molestation of children. Prior to the 1980s, the practice of “salary purchase,” aka “payday loans,” had been outlawed; but a concerted effort beginning at the state level progressively legalized this particular form of predatory lending. As of 2008, there were more payday lender outlets in the United States than there were McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants combined, with turnover that dwarfed casinos, the other major poverty vampire operation.73 What is astounding about such operations is that they are no longer treated as reviled bottom-feeders by both the media and politicians, but rather as exemplary of the types of legitimate businesses that provide opportunity and salvation in the current contraction. Given the vast hollowing out of the income distribution, it makes sense that the working poor constituted one of the only substantial customer segments that left any room for expansion:
Jared Davis [CEO of Check ’n Go] … pulls in around $20 million a year making loans of $300 or $400 or $500 a year to the working poor but he had brought his brother into the business and it was his father’s money that had gotten him started. “I don’t consider myself wealthy,” he tells me … There were photos around his office of him shaking hands with George W. Bush and John McCain and behind his desk hung stylish black-and-whites of his young children blown up so large that they were distracting. I watched the YouTube videos made by former Davis employees who felt horrible about how they made their money (“I resigned because I could no longer stomach the lies, and I could no longer continue exploiting customers, making hard lives even harder,” one said), I had spent the better part of a day with a former store manager who had saved some of the crass directives she had received from management (lend “to anyone getting social security,” one read, even if a customer only had “one dime to their name”). I only got to spend two hours with him before I was shown the door—barely enough time to even get into the lawsuit his father has filed against his two sons charging them with bilking him out of money … A district director who used to work for him called a press conference a few years back to talk about the company’s methods for choosing new store locations. “I have been responsible for selecting sites for new stores in D.C. and northern Virginia,” he said—and to those who claim the company doesn’t target minority communities, “I can tell you emphatically that it does.”74

The mantra “your debt is not my problem” has permitted other bottom-feeding organizations like personal debt collection agencies to revive the once-banned practice of debtor prisons.75 As people fall behind in their debts and are often unaware of being subject to lawsuits, any arrest whatsoever now can trigger jail time, often for sums as small as five hundred dollars. Hundreds of fly-by-night firms scoured databases to find those falling behind in their mortgages, and hired offshore phone banks to endlessly call and promise false hope, only to swindle them with false stories of help with principal reductions, stealing from them fees they could ill afford. Yet no major media outlet has mustered even a scintilla of outrage for what is, at bottom, cheap illegal ways to harass and torture debtors.
How has this theater of cruelty been made to seem so unexceptional?
Martijn Konings has pointed out that the dark underbelly of the bright shiny neoliberal self is the daily spectacle of the public put-down.76 Not only must the truly entrepreneurial life embrace the risk and insecurity of a constantly revised self tossed hither and yon by market forces beyond our ken; the fundamental narcissism encouraged by neoliberalism demands that we participate in an active externalization of the experience of insecurity and vulnerability to revaluation. The complement to a culture of celebrity has become therefore the unabashed theater of cruelty, the public spaces where we gaze upon the half-speed car wrecks of the lives of others in the throes of failure, Nascar for the politically challenged. In one sense, this programming of everyday sadism explicitly aimed at the poor and distressed is so ubiquitous that one need hardly recite the titles: The Jerry Springer Show, Dr. Phil, The Apprentice, Shattered, Unbreakable, Big Brother, Hell’s Kitchen, Survivor, American Idol—it is hardly worth the minor effort that it takes to disparage it. A moment’s reflection reveals it is pervasive in American culture. Unremarkable people, desperate for some sort of acknowledgment and validation, yearning for some promise of escape from the stale and commonplace, offer themselves up on the altar of abject humiliation to an audience of millions; smarmy celebrities berate them to their face; and the spectacles proliferate because they are cheaper for the networks to program than either scripted fiction or news. In many instances, the audience is even encouraged to pay to “vote” for those to ostracize and banish—a clear simulacrum of the neoliberal marketplace. Game shows used to reflexively reward the poor; now pay-to-play reality TV crushes them. Computer gaming used to be about triumphs of virtuosity; now, as in Grand Theft Auto, it is all about debasement of the losers. Rather than engage in the kabuki of high dudgeon, it might be worthwhile to meditate briefly on the possibility that this genre is indicative of some relatively new lifestyle under everyday neoliberalism.
One rather common approach is to describe this theater of cruelty as essentially a ruse: it diverts attention from the real forces at work in the impoverishment of people, set in train by the three decades or more of increasing inequality and wage stagnation in the West. This might be construed as a somewhat kindred version of the “bait and switch” argument of Tom Frank, only now with the theater of cruelty as stand-in for the culture and religious themes he identified as weapons of mass distraction. This appears to be the position taken by Konings:
The culture of self-help that is so crucial to neoliberal governmentality involves a dialectic of continuous affirmation and rejection, seduction and denial … Neoliberal governmentality involves the creation of chains of disciplinary pressures, networks composed of acts of everyday sadism and expressions of judgment that serve to distract us from the resentment provoked by our submission to authority structures we do not fully understand and experience as oppressive and constraining. This re-direction of our anger and discontent serves to … contort our notions of self-realization and responsible living in such a way that we end up ascribing a spiritual dimension to balancing the household budget.77

Just as in the case of Frank, while this may sound plausible on its face, it too readily partitions the landscape into a self-regulating economy as separate from hierarchical structures and cultural epiphenomena that putatively merely surround it. The spectacle of shaming is not merely a lightning rod for burning resentment; nor is it just an inconsequential occasion for rubbernecking by people with truncated attention spans; it is also a technology for recasting economy and society. After all, what is the vast industry of “job retraining” than a government-subsidized walk of shame? The economy and the theater of cruelty have been merged into a vertically integrated conglomerate. It is a parable of the droves and the wishes. It can be deployed in a myriad of ways under a variety of circumstances; the question here is whether there is some special common denominator in the ways it has been used in a didactic sense in the last three decades. Shock jock or shock doctrine, it cannot be written off as merely a surefire expedient to divert attention. To paint it prematurely as cynical sideshow forecloses the option that everyday sadism is not just some facile prestidigitation of the hand invisible, but serves other more targeted purposes, such as teaching techniques optimized to fortify the neoliberal self.
I expect many readers will immediately object: stylized sadism as extravaganza is nothing new, and therefore (it will be said) bears no necessary relationship to neoliberalism. Spectacles of cruelty are literally timeless. Of course, much art aestheticizes violence, as does much politics; but this line of argument tends to deflect the inquiry into areas irrelevant to neoliberalism. Perhaps the reflex dismissal of anything distinctive about the modern theater of cruelty seeks to appeal to putative distinctions between high and low culture: low-culture violence tends toward the literal, whereas high-culture violence is symbolic or allegorical, and thus subject to critical interpretation. Greek tragedy linked sadism and fate, but attempted to draw lessons from it concerning the defects of the virtues. Likewise, the highly stylized middlebrow theater and film of Lars von Trier and Neil La Bute are notorious for their fascination with evil as an abstract category, and debasement as a form of salvation, but that also ends up being beside the point. None of these constitute bona fide instances of the neoliberal theater of cruelty. Moreover, we are not talking about satire here (interestingly, mostly a non-American phenomenon, such as How to Get Rid of the Others or Un Mundo Maravilloso). Everyday sadism within the theater of cruelty in the neoliberal era has been crafted into a much more finely tuned and precisely targeted instrument, providing a necessary counterbalance to the proleptic upbeat stress on the magic of self-fashioning transformation. It is not so much that explicit portrayals of violence or aggression need to be paraded (although the entertainment values cannot be discounted), as it is that pageants of the ostracized appear to accept the dictates of the market as final, and also in the audience coming to appreciate that it is legitimate for themselves and others to take advantage of those who fail.
The modern neoliberal theater of cruelty does not seek to plumb any deep pathologies of the human psyche, precisely because it does not endorse any solid notion of an invariant persistent self. Typically, it is uninterested in depth characterization of personality, dealing instead with the most superficial stereotypes. In this way, it departs from the anatomy of shaming inscribed in most self-conscious art. Pace the acolytes of Adam Smith, neither is it concerned with interpersonal empathy, nor evocation of the impartial spectator; it is unconcerned about any glue to bind society together. To recapitulate Nietzsche, it deals in the pleasure derived from gazing upon those reduced to helplessness by their overwhelming pecuniary obligations or failure in their quest to fashion a pleasing persona. The allure of the neoliberal theater of cruelty derives from the essential distancing of the audience from the spectacle: becoming complicit with the cruelty merely by being willing spectators, deriving pleasure from the wretchedness of the scapegoat; throughout the experience, the actual onus for the pain is inevitably diverted onto faceless collectives—this is the simulacrum of capitulation to the wisdom of the market. Furthermore, the audience is guaranteed to shed any residual guilt they might feel in their enjoyment at the distress of the unsuccessful and the destitute through reification of the invisible fourth wall; the lesson reiterated is that it is fine for the audience to bear witness to distress, because the mark entered the arena “voluntarily,” and the verdict was delivered through the “wisdom of crowds,” and in the last instance, there is money to be made and gratification to be experienced at the expense of the loser. Their shame in abject failure becomes a fungible commodity, albeit one of the least rare commodities on the planet. Defeat is not stoic nobility planted on this stage; it is instead the human compost of conspicuous destitution, the fertilizer of economic growth. Losers must learn to let their defeat be turned by others into something that will, at minimum, make money for third parties. Soylent Green is people!
Antonin Artaud wrote in The Theatre and Its Double,“Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle, the theatre is not possible. In our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds.” Artaud probably did not mean to preach actual torture or cruel affrontery in his text; but the neoliberals do. Their dramaturgy is that the castaways should not affront us; rather, we should affront them. Staged acts of everyday sadism do not seek to confront the audience with an inconvenient truth they refuse to recognize; rather, they promote the reign of a double truth by appealing to a convenient rationalization that the audience can feel under its skin: If the losers, the poor, the lost, the derelict, and the dissolute would only exit the stage after their fifteen seconds of notoriety, having abjectly accepted their status, never to be heard from again, the world would seem a much better place, wouldn’t it?
To drive these lessons home, a spectacle must be made out of random outbreaks of misfortune. Thus the erstwhile war on poverty has become a guerrilla war on the poor in the contemporary theater of cruelty. Past standard harassment, there really would otherwise be very little point in subjecting the destitute to further irrational punishment, unless, of course, the purpose of the exercise was instead to exemplify, titillate, and instruct an audience. We need to feel their pain, but only in an abstract vicarious fashion. It is all the more poignant when administered through an absentminded procedure. One index is the willful catch-22 character of the official determinations tendered along with the torment:
In Colorado, Grand Junction’s city council is considering a ban on begging; Tempe, Arizona, carried out a four-day crackdown on the indigent at the end of June. And how do you know when someone is indigent? As a Las Vegas statute puts it, “an indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance. One person who fits that description is Al Szekeley. A grizzled sixty-two-year-old, he inhabits a wheelchair and is often found on G Street in Washington, D.C.—the city that is ultimately responsible for the bullet he took in the spine in Phu Bai, Vietnam, in 1972. He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until December 2008, when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night looking for men with outstanding warrants. It turned out that Szekeley, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs, or cuss in front of ladies, did indeed have one—for “criminal trespassing,” as sleeping on the streets is sometimes defined by the law. So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail. “Can you imagine?” asked Eric Sheptock, the homeless advocate (himself a shelter resident) who introduced me to Szekeley. “They arrested a homeless man in a shelter for being homeless?”78

The sheer cantankerousness of the torment of the poor for the edification of the comfortable shows up in a thousand little ordinances and prohibitions found in every small town and suburb across America, like the one in Fresno, California, that specifically prohibits the homeless from panhandling on median strips of roads, while explicitly permitting richer people to solicit contributions for their “good causes” on the very same strips.79 The confrontation with losers in the neoliberal sweepstakes must necessarily be tightly scripted and closely supervised in the neoliberal theater of cruelty; it cannot be left willy-nilly to those spontaneous orders that the NTC loves to extol.
We would be remiss if we did not point out that the theater of cruelty sometimes is staged in an actual theater. One of the more bizarre developments of the post-2007 crisis is that filmmakers have sought out terminal urban dereliction and poverty to serve as backdrops for their popcorn epics, lending a special frisson of revulsion. Graffitti-defaced walls and garbage-strewn streets are no longer sufficient to signify destitution, since they are literally a dime a dozen, ubiquitous in urban experience. Consequently, some dying cities, such as Detroit and Gary, Indiana, are exhorted to parade their squalid decay and long-abandoned structures to satisfy an aesthetic of grunge porn cultivated among the prosperous in search of an “edgy” experience.80 Locals are employed to offer themselves up for a pittance to lend authenticity to the postapocalyptic landscapes. No film company or photographer thinks to offer to clean up any sites after they have finished their shoot, it seems. And as one now expects, Gary does not even have one functioning movie theater to show the films that have used it as gruesome backdrop.
One of the most commonplace entryways into the theater of cruelty is the ambuscaded introduction to debt peonage. These days, young people are involuntarily initiated into its mysteries when they are offered student loans to attend university in the U.S. (and increasingly, other countries). The expansion of university attendance for the poor has been inflated in much the same way as the earlier mortgage bubble, but with one big difference. Student loans stipulate posting neoliberal human capital as collateral, and legally define it as something that can never be repudiated, reversing centuries of bankruptcy reform. More astoundingly, in 2005 the provision was extended to for-profit companies who make student loans. Over the last two decades, student loans have been retrofitted to enforce a pitiless twenty-first-century version of indentured servitude. Even if disease strikes you blind after graduation, existing law forces you to run a gauntlet of one degrading court appearance after another, to see if you might possibly qualify for a standard called “certainty of hopelessness”; and even then, there is only a slim chance to have the debt repudiated.81 I cannot think of a more depraved and decadent theater of cruelty than having to repeatedly prove before an audience and some smug judge that your life has become “hopeless.”
With mortgage defaults, banks seize and resell the home. But if a degree can’t be sold, that doesn’t deter the banks. They essentially wrote the student loan law, in which the fine-print says they aren’t “dischargeable.” So even if you file for bankruptcy, the payments continue due. Hence these stern words from Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. “You will be hounded for life,” he warns. “They will garnish your wages. They will intercept your tax refunds. You become ineligible for federal employment.” He adds that any professional license can be revoked and Social Security checks docked when you retire. We can’t think of any other [debtor] statute with such sadistic provisions.82

What better way to have the university teach the home truths of neoliberal life?

—  Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste
Don’t Remember...Don’t Forget (Part 2/?) (Steve Rogers x reader)

Hi Bonnie! I was wondering if you could do one where the reader was a former avenger missing in action, but turns up without any memory in a normal life. I’ll leave how they got into that situation to you, but If its cool and works with the story Steve fluff would be awesome! I love your work!  I forgot to say that I’m cool with any angst/drama I don’t want to limit you if you think it’s better for the story

Oh, yes, I think this works nicely to make a little series…

Part 1

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