A series of unfortunate pop culture references.
Aww You Shouldn’t Have by Ripley Soprano
No Such Thing as Stasis
Despite some of my worst efforts, I haven’t been able to leave the house on my own in months. I got hit with a nasty case of vertigo, anxiety, and agoraphobia back in July, and have needed help walking as far as the bodega to feel like I’m not just gonna topple over. Without physical mobility, I feel totally stuck in stasis. Ironically, vertigo is the hallucination of movement. It can result in dizziness and panic attacks – I wouldn’t wish this shit on my worst enemy. You can read about it if you Google “meniere’s disease” or “labyrinthitis.”
I’ve tried everything I’ve heard of to treat the vertigo symptoms, which I’ve had in one form or another since I was a child. Once a week for the past few weeks, I’ve been going to myofascial release therapy for treatment. This particular treatment focuses on restrictions in the fascia, the tissue that encases all of our muscles and bones, even our brains. According to my physical therapist, restrictions in the fascial tissue can be a result of a lot of things, including traumas we may or may not remember, and she thinks that addressing my restrictions might help me with my vertigo.
The other week my friend agreed to take me to my appointment. I called her up the night before because she’s never really seen me have an episode before, and wanted to give her the lowdown on what I’m like when I take the train (sweating, shaking, grasping for something to keep me upright). “I have a car. I’ll just drive you.” I’m reminded of something that the physical therapist said the week before: “When fascia is restricted, it is more rigid and less pliable, and can create pulls, tensions, and pressure as great as 2,000 pounds per square inch.” Talk about material support.
When she picked me up in her bluminum car, the back seat was taken up by a huge duffel bag. She’s one of those girls always looking like she’s on the run. Most recently, she got these highlights in her hair from her chin down, she kind of looks like Ariana Grande.
“What’s your thing about Ariana Grande?” I asked her.
“I think she’s hot. She likes queer people and animals.” I resist the urge to reply, and donuts?
Later that day, during a long unproductive stretch, I watched this interview with Ariana Grande from 2014. When asked how she felt about being a ‘gay icon’ following the release of one of her big radio hits, she said it was her favorite thing anybody had ever said to her in her life. “I was hoping they would like that song.”
Still, I don’t think I could actually name one of Ariana’s solo tracks but I’ll always remember how she was featured on that song in Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint because I listened to it for the first time on New Year’s Day. It was so fucking freezing out, but then again I was wearing only one pair of sheer tights. I remember thinking this Nicki and Ariana song is definitely about sitting on somebody’s face. But the first song on the album is what really stuck with me. “All Things Go” is by far the most honest I’ve heard an artist be, and I say this because my favorite art is always when the artist doesn’t try to make themselves look good.
Almost compulsively, and for a long time, I couldn’t tell a story retrospectively where I looked weak, or regretfully “fucked up.” I also couldn’t reach out for the support I needed – I wouldn’t even tell people when I was having an episode because I felt to embarrassed to ask for a hand. Now I know these are often the only stories worth telling. For instance, Nicki’s “All Things Go” is all about the heartbreak of disappointing people:
“I lost my little cousin, to a senseless act of violence
His sister said he wanted to stay with me, but I didn't invite him
Why didn't he ask, or am I just buggin'?
Cause since I got fame, they don't act the same
Even though they know that I love 'em […]
And that's the reflection of me, yes, I get it, I get it was all me
I pop a pill and remember the look in his eyes, the last day he saw me.”
I wonder if we are a reflection of all the people we have let down, or a reflection of all the people who value us enough to carry us to our doctor’s appointments.
Nicki’s storytelling kneads at her own restrictions, cluing us into her emotional vertigo. That weight of supporting somebody, or failing to do so (just like asking for help) is as heavy as the fascia around our muscles, or that massive duffel bag in the back seat, which was totally empty by the time I came out of my appointment. I guess there’s no such a thing as stasis. Flipping her hair, my friend with the bluminum car said she had spent the hour flipping clothes at a nearby thrift store and made something like $140.