Messages in a Bottle #15: Sharkna-Don’t-Mess-with-Me

After a few blessed days of rain, it has resumed being entirely too hot to live, and my creative juices are currently leaking out my ears and puddling on the floor.

But, at least my brain is only melting, rather than being constructed entirely out of (presumably also melting) cheez whiz. I am fully lucid and aware of how miserable heat intolerance is making me. This is an improvement over this time last year. I can imagine (and can roughly estimate from prior blog posts wherein I also cheated and posted Messages in a Bottle because heat melted my faculties) that it was miserably hot in the 9th Circle of Hell and in the Northeast in July of last year – and I can imagine that that heat did the same number on me last year as it is doing this year. But, as with much of the summer of 2018, the climatological details are presumably either gone forever or locked in some “here there be dragons” region of my brain.

My brain is capable of losing a lot. It did not, however, misplace the knowledge it gained in 2018 that Shark Week is a thing that exists. It spontaneously decided to remind me of that previously acquired knowledge today, suprisingly still in time to actually watch the majority of Shark Week this year. (Or rather, in time to fall asleep to the majority of it this year, as what little I remember from it last year was mostly that it made for excellent bad media trance time to surrogate for sleep when true sleep was also a journey to a place of, “here be dragons.”)

And – because dissociation is the filler-post gift that keeps on giving – I discovered that I had written a blog post about Shark Week in 2018. It’s clearly a post from 2018, but it is more of a rant than a tribute to abject despair. From anything written in summer 2018, that’s a minor miracle! It is a bit ranty for where I am mentally right now, but, then, I’m sarcastic and a practitioner of the dismal science even at my most cheerful. I called myself a cheerful nihilist long before it was “Facebook hip” thanks to many years of life experience and statistical training.

On the one hand, I am so much happier and safer in 2019 than I was in 2018. On the other hand, I’m still fundamentally a misanthrope behind the bad puns. I probably would write a less ranty version of mostly the same fundamental list post if I wrote this same post today. Yet, I also stand by everything I wrote back in 2018. It’s still 90+ degrees with 60% humidty and a 90% chance of dystopia outside.

I don’t have an exact date for this post, but it was written during Shark Week 2018.

July, 2018

The dystopia is officially upon us. Scientists have given up on government funding and now see it as a more viable option to go on television as “ecological entrepreneurs” and beg venture capitalists to fund their research by creating marketing tie-ins for conservation research. Apparently, that is what it takes to get serious university research funded in the days since the Trump administration has removed most references to climate change from official government websites and slashed EPA, NOAA, NIH and pretty much any other non-military research funding. “Sexy scientists” now shake their booties in custom-themed pink shark-print leather hot pants (available for purchase from the lab website for only $65 each!) for science! This is what it takes to “make science accessible to the public interest” and attract funding in the “Shark Week Meets Shark Tank” grant off. Oh, and somehow doing all of this also increases younger women’s interest in traditionally male-dominated areas of science like paleozoology?

I can’t really blame that “sexy scientist” for strutting her stuff if it will keep her in her salary for another year. I’ve had research jobs where my salary was only as secure as my ability to write it into funded grants. It does not put the “fun” in funding. I am clumsy and self-conscious, and, yet, if I could guarantee by simply shaking my booty in shark-print that I’d have funding when I return from leave while the rest of my coworkers get the axe, then I’d say hand a pair of those tighty wrongies right on over…

But let’s be entirely clear: the day three serious PhDs are willing to strip to their near skivies – and more – on national television to continue research that would probably be a little too close to “climate” research (because climate change affects sharks, too!) to otherwise be funded is the day we’ve officially become Idiocracy. (Except, not even, because my Partner likes to remind me that President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho was actually willing to 1) recognize when he didn’t know something, 2) openly hire a man he knew to be smarter than him to be his advisor and 3) take his advice over the outrage of his electorate because it was the right thing to do. Given the current administration, Camacho 2020 all the way. The fictional President Camacho was a truly inspirational leader for his people, when you think about it, especially in comparison to what we’ve got currently on both sides of the aisle.)

I sympathize with those three scientists shaking their money makers in the Shark Tank. I also sympathize with their sharks. ADHD, Ehlers-Danlos and Dysautonomia all are associated with higher rates of anxiety and a need to constantly subtly move to maintain upright posture, prevent overwhelm and self-soothe. I normally say my spirit animal is my cat, but I’m open to the idea that it also might instead be a shark. I mean, some species basically must never stop moving and don’t sleep. That’s pretty much my life right now. Also, for those sharks that can only “rest” not “sleep,” presumably they also can never truly relax, with is also a very ADHD thing.

Maybe next year someone should go on Shark Tank and request research funding for ADHD under the guise we’re basically sharks at heart. (It has got to be better than that awful “Squirrel!” stereotypical mascot imposed on us by neurotypicals, right?) I mean, I can think of at least 10 ways I’m basically a shark-out-of-water landlocked in Hell right now:

  1. The aforementioned “can’t stop moving” thing
  2. The additional aforementioned “can’t sleep at all” thing, which is pretty much why I’m watching Shark Tank to begin with!
  3. They are very flexible because they have cartilage instead of bones. (I do have bones. My collagen is less-than-functional and doesn’t hold my bones together very well – while a shark’s cartilage is highly adapted – but the net result of being very flexible applies in both cases! Also, there are zebra sharks, and I’m a zebra human.)
  4. Sharks have a remarkably well-developed predator-sense even when they are still embryonic because they grow up around, erm, a bunch of predators who want to hurt them. (Basically, per the Discovery Channel, sharks are born with a specialized electrical organ to manage their constant hypervigilance.)
  5. Sharks – even the ones that can stop moving – typically are very active at almost all times. Except when they are not because they’ve been put into a state called tonic immobility, which is the shark version of the freeze trauma response when they have no other options. (Seriously, dissociation might be biologically related to tonic immobility.)
  6. I’ve been in a tornado. (And, unlike Sharknado, this is an entirely true thing that truly happened to me!)
  7. I do not function well in land-locked areas (especially Middle America.)
  8. Like a Tiger Shark, I’ll eat anything once. Also, like a Tiger Shark, a lot of what I want to eat isn’t good for me.
  9. Sharks are very light sensitive. (However, I’m highly myopic while they are probably far-sighted.)
  10. People keep doing idiotic stuff around me, then acting surprised when it has consequences! Unfortunately, usually other people’s poor choices often catch me up in the same general net…

As one of those Shark Tank venture capitalists noted, “entrepreneurial ecology” is the only way to get the public to treat otherwise misunderstood creatures with respect and afford them proper accommodations. If that’s what it takes, I’m “game.”

I am capable of being very patient in service of gathering “data” that even the regulatory officials of the 9th Circle of Hell can’t (oh God please…) continue to ignore about some land-lubbing poachers of a different sort who have been preying upon vulnerable populations of a different sort. And, most importantly, in addition to all things above, I am – like the shark – an ambush predator. And – like a shark – I fundamentally just want to be left alone and am usually more in danger from other humans than a danger to them. But, that’s not for lacking of trying. If you mess with me or those I care about, I will bite, and I will feel no remorse whatsoever if I manage to take a chunk out of someone. I only bite in self-defense, and, when I do, those humans absolutely deserve it.

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out my Glossary of Terms

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3 thoughts on “Messages in a Bottle #15: Sharkna-Don’t-Mess-with-Me

  1. Heya! Shark week is certainly interesting! I watched a few things last year, and might do so again this year! I am not sleeping, maybe somethings on right now, about sharks 😛 we can hope! Hope you cool down soon hun! xo

    Liked by 1 person

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