Saturday, June 18, 2022


A note from Morgan:

Hello, Invisible Audience. I haven't been feeling well lately--as you'll read below--so instead of writing separate blog posts to you and my Semi-Invisible Patrons on Patreon, I'm just sharing my latest blog I wrote on Patreon below. When I'm run down I post there first for the people who have paid to subscribe. If you want to become one of my Semi-Invisible Patrons, you'll get access to even more of my posts for as little as $1.50 a month.



Hello Semi-Invisible Patron,


I have not been well.


Nearly two months ago, I got a cold. It didn’t go away for about three weeks. Then I had oral surgery. Then the cold came back. It brought massive headaches with it, and some supreme irritability. And fatigue. So. Much. Fatigue.


I went to the walk-in clinic twice. First, they thought I had swimmer’s ear, which I probably did, but that wasn’t the whole problem. The second time, a different doctor told me he was pretty sure I had TMJ, brought on by the oral surgery. He prescribed steroids that I decided not to take, knowing that they suppress the immune system. And this last week I went to my doctor and she’s pretty sure I have a sinus infection that I’ve likely had for the entire two months.


I went to my chiropractor the day before I saw my doctor. He tried to tell me that if I got more exercise I’d feel better. I very much respect this man, and I felt really let down by the entire discussion. I told him I’ve been so tired I could take two naps a day; he said maybe I should take one and exercise instead of taking the second one. I felt deflated; almost betrayed.


It feels important for everyone to know this, Semi-Invisible Patron. More exercise isn’t always the answer. As I’ve watched my weight rise over the past several years, I’ve been increasingly panicked and frustrated by not only that number—because of what I’ve been taught it means about me: lazy, unmotivated—but by how I’ve been treated. Even as I’ve been diagnosed with Lyme disease and relapsing fever and mold illness and now a sinus infection, going to a healthcare provider is always a roll of the dice: will they treat me like I’m worthy, or like I’m fat, and therefore unworthy?


I’ve recently started listening to Maintenance Phase and reading Ragen Chastain’s Weight and Healthcare blog. They have blown my mind, Semi-Invisible Patron. Did you know there’s not a single diet on earth that works for more than 5 percent of participants? That dieting of any kind makes someone MORE likely to gain weight in the long run? That the BMI is based on Scottish military men, or that the reason we adhere to a 2,000 diet is because that was the average people reported they ate in some study, but no study has ever actually measured what amount of calories people actually eat?


I have not written about this until now because it makes me feel so helpless. I can’t change everyone’s mind about something so entrenched in the culture, especially in the face of a multi-billion-dollar diet industry. But I feel it every day, when I berate myself for resting when I’m tired when I think I should be out exercising. I think about it when peoples’ gazes slide over me as if I don’t exist; when doctors tell me the reason I have whatever medical malady I’m coming to them for is because of my high BMI.


I want to scream and cry into the void about this, but who will it help? Who will care? Who will listen? More importantly, how do I get myself to listen? How do let myself off the hook so that I can heal and spend my time and energy on getting better instead of trying to solve an insolvable problem or convince people who do not want to be convinced? Even more importantly, how do I realize that even if I do convince them, it won’t make a damn bit of difference if I can’t convince myself, too?


Do you know what this post is really about, Semi-Invisible Patron? Helplessness. It’s the place I go when I am too beat down to be able to make choices anymore. It’s the place I’ve found myself a lot lately, as I try to run a business with a skull-crushing headache, operating on no energy, in the face of the wettest June I’ve ever seen in North Central Washington and in the wake of ongoing mass shootings at the same kinds of schools where I teach my classes.


This morning, I decided to write a list of things in my journal that were working.

·      I love my house and my landlords (this is no small thing; I have moved five times in the nearly eight years I have lived in this area)

·      My car works and gets great gas mileage because it’s a hybrid

·      My cats are adorable, entertaining, and in great health

·      I can support myself

·      I have completed two of the three steps to have an implant tooth put in where I’ve only had empty space for nearly 10 years

·      I have access to a pool for both exercise and stress relief

·      I have hired great people that I trust to help me with my business

·      I am better at boundaries than I have ever been

·      I have people I can talk to that I care about, and who care about me in return


It helped, making this list. It helped me remember that life is not all the doom and gloom that it feels like it is when I’m struggling and failing to find the energy to do a small simple task.


Can I be honest? A lot of the time I feel like I’ve gotten the shit end of the stick. And sometimes, I’m so tired of continuing to try, Semi-Invisible Patron. Not in a suicidal way, but in a “what exactly is the point in this grind of a world we live in?”


That’s when I really have to narrow my focus. I have to open the door and let the smell of the lilacs come in. I have to find a good book that reminds me that the world is a beautiful place full of many good people. I have to put down my book and hold my cat who’s curled up on my chest, feeling his purr reverberate through my body and into my heart.


And I have to hope, Semi-Invisible Patron, that tomorrow is better than today.


Love and hopeful kisses,


Sunday, June 5, 2022

What Your Kids Have Taught Me


Hello, Invisible Audience.


The shooting at the elementary school in Texas a couple weeks ago really shook me, Invisible Audience. Maybe more than the other ones, but maybe not. I have often marveled at humanity’s ability to recover from tragedy, and not often in a good way. We can only be profoundly sad for so long before our instincts try to remind us of the many other things we’re here for: caring for the children; getting something to eat; doing that small, completely unnecessary task because it was on the list, and somehow, when we’re grieving, that list—and the distraction from pain it represents—becomes all-important and all-encompassing.


Is that why we focus so much on productivity in our culture, Invisible Audience? To distract from all the shitty ways the world is progressing? I have visited, spent time in and lived in several other countries, and not one was as obsessed with productivity as we are. Most have much deeper practices for dealing with death; better relationships between the old and the young; much better work life balances. And far, far fewer people who walk into elementary schools to gun down children.


As I have been mulling over this post in my head, I’ve been trying to decide whether to rail against the mechanisms that make our country into what feels like an increasingly hopeless shitshow. What stops me is all the posts I’ve seen on social media that already do this—all the people posting what needs to change, as if the algorithm isn’t making sure the only people who will see those posts are the ones most likely to agree. So instead, I’m going to write about what I’ve learned from some of your kids, Invisible Audience. Because sometimes the best way to rail against death is to remind people how much life is in it. 


Four days a week for most of the school year, I show up at one of two elementary schools in North Central Washington, right before the end of the school day. I wait for the bell to ring or I gather the kids from their classes, depending on their age, and I walk them to where we’re going to have weekly Spanish class that I teach them.


At each of these classes, these kids ask each other how they are in Spanish, as I’ve taught them to do. And each week, they say things that surprise me.


Most of the kids answer the question in one of two ways: feliz, or emocionado/a. (Boys say emocionado; girls emocionada.) That’s right: when asked how they are, the kids say they’re happy or excited.

When was the last time you told someone you were happy when they asked you how you are, Invisible Audience? Even more mind blowing is when the kids say things like, “feliz y cansada,” (happy and tired) or “feliz y más o menos” happy and so/so. Because they seem to remember what we’ve forgotten: that it’s ok to have more than one emotion at a time, and that those emotions can be happiness and something else that isn’t so happy.


At the beginning of the year, I’d go get the kindergarteners from their classes at the end of the day. As we walked through the school toward the classroom that they’d use, one of them would inevitably yell, “HI JASON!” to someone they had just spent the whole day with. Because they were excited to see this kid again, just for a moment. By the end of the year, they’ve stopped doing this as much. I have to admit that it makes me sad.


Some of my classes ended last week. One class in particular was a tough one. I’ve had several of these kids in my classes for years; some will be moving on to fifth grade next year in the middle school, and I won’t teach them anymore. But it was hard to focus on that, Invisible Audience, because these kids were so far past capacity that it was nearly impossible to teach them in the end. One particular student—one of my favorites—broke down nearly every day in uncontrollable laughter. It took me until now, after class had ended, to wonder if it was easier for him to laugh than to cry. 


We’re asking so much of these kids, Invisible Audience. We asked them to stay home during a pandemic, then come back to school. We masked them, then vaccinated them, then unmasked them. We tell them to be quiet; to keep their voices down; to pay attention. We told them what was expected, then punished them when they didn’t deliver, even as the world changed, and the expectations with it. 


I am so very tired, Invisible Audience. I adore these kids, and I am past capacity with them. I am tired of trying to shush their enthusiasm. I am tired of trying to keep them engaged when they’re past their capacity to be engaged. I’m tired of trying to keep them productive. And thank all the stars in the heaven that I have a job that allows me to take a break from teaching; to have an ebb and flow. Because I need it, and so do they. I’d argue we all do, although it’s not something our culture is interested in admitting.


I wanted to end on a hopeful note, but I guess it’s not going to happen. For the last several weeks I’ve looked at these kids—with their missing teeth and the way they guffaw over the joke of calling their dads “papa” (potato) vs. “papá” (dad) and the way they raise their hands to tell me some inane fact that has nothing to do with the question I just asked—and my heart squeezes when I think about anyone hurting them. I think about how it just feels like hurting kids is exactly opposite of human nature. I think about the key cards that I use to get into the school buildings where I teach after school classes, with the bullet-proof glass set up between the outside world and the secretaries, and the doors that lock. And I wonder how any of us do it—the parents, the teachers, the kids. How we get up every day and try not to wonder if the random odds are going to fall against us that day. How anyone could even think about snuffing a single giggling child off the earth, and how little it feels like is being done to protect them.


Love and children’s kisses,