Tag Archives: story

Gendered Perspectives on USA Culture

The train doors slid open, and I moved through them with everyone else towards the elevators up to the surface streets. We strangers waited in silence for the elevator to arrive. When it got there, those with bicycles entered first and the rest of us filled in around them, although there was still ample space. Someone leaned heavily against me despite the empty part of the elevator. I fidgeted to clarify with motion that I was not an elevator rail. The leaner’s back remained pressed into me.

“Excuse me? Hi, yes, I am a person, not a wall.”

The leaner looked around at me, then shuffled off a few feet away into the big open space in the middle of the elevator. My eyes met those of another person standing on the other side of the bicycles. This was a person who looked like a woman in this culture just like I did, with eyes which held empathy for me. Silently, we admonished the patriarchy in that moment, both of us acknowledging and lamenting that this was the latest one in a series of events just like it.

That is what it is like to be treated the way USA culture treats a woman. To be unseen by men to the point of being treated like furniture in a very literal sense, and to have a sense of community with women which is quite unlike any other community that has welcomed me. American women’s culture has a lot more shared context than American culture in general, and that affects communication. A silent moment of eye contact and a pair of nodding heads with a particular facial expression was all it took for us to both know we were thinking about sexism, the atrocities of how women are treated, the obliviousness of men, and the fact that talking about it out loud in a closed space with this person still there was too dangerous to risk even with the other strangers present. After all, sometimes the people who do these things are also rapists and murderers. We’ve all heard the stories. The shared fear is part of the shared context.

Some years later, after I began my testosterone treatments but long before my facial hair grew in, I injured my foot. I was in a lot of pain, but I had an errand that could not wait. I dragged myself to the bus. As I entered, I saw someone rise from the handicap section and turn to talk to someone. I slid around behind the riser to take the only empty seat on the full bus, relieved by the instant reduction in foot pain.

“Hey! I was going to sit there!” said someone who looked like a woman. The person who had stood looked like a man, and had risen to give my admonisher the seat I occupied. Normally, I would have stood at that point.

“I have a foot injury,” I said. “I need to sit.”

“Yeah well I have had brain surgery!” the admonisher responded emphatically.

“Maybe if you ask someone else to stand up for you, they will,” I said.

The admonisher gasped and hemmed and hawed and made comments about how rude I was being, but did not ask anyone else to give up a seat. I looked down, unsure how to respond. After all, I had already mentioned my foot injury.

The admonisher fell silent and avoided looking at me until two stops later.

“Have a good day, Sir,” the admonisher said cheerily and exited. I was surprised by the complete 180 in how this person was treating me.

“I’m not a Sir!” I called out but it was too late; the person was gone.

It was not until that final exchange that I understood the conversation we had been having, because up until that point, I had thought that I was being perceived to be a woman. Women are so accustomed to being taken advantage of by men behaving in excruciatingly selfish ways that my admonisher probably did not believe that my foot was injured instead of taking my words at face value the way people had before I started testosterone. My lowered gaze was probably seen as an averted gaze, and that combined with my silence was probably interpreted as being yet again ignored by a man when trying to speak up about something important, rather than as the pensive confusion it was. If I had been seen as a woman, the other person might have recognized the confusion and checked in with me about a possible misunderstanding instead of continuing down a defensive path. The sudden cheery departure was probably a response to the common fear of being followed by a mean man from a bus.

I spent the rest of the bus ride disturbed by what had happened, and wondering how I was supposed to know how to interact with people if I can’t tell what gender they think I am. Even now after years of additional testosterone treatments, I still get both “Ma’am” and “Sir” every time I go to the grocery store.

The experience of being treated like a woman involves being ignored by more people than just men. Before I transitioned, I could say the same thing five times, in five different ways, trying desperately to get someone to listen to me, only to be either dismissed or totally ignored. I regularly spoke directly to groups or individuals of various genders and got silence in return, complete with a total lack of body language acknowledgement. I made regular asides to myself under my breath thinking no one could hear them.

Then I began my testosterone treatments. People started answering my muttered comments. I was astonished – and quite a bit embarrassed. Now, if I begin to speak, people of various genders will stop what they are doing to listen to me, even if I am not speaking to them directly. It’s as if I have stepped into a spotlight that follows me wherever I go. I intentionally relearned how and when to speak in order to handle that kind of power responsibly.

I do not believe that white cisgender men, having never experienced that contrast, understand the disproportionate power of their voices. And I don’t think most people recognize that they contribute to that power difference by listening to men and ignoring everyone else. Yes, non-men and feminists of all genders and political leanings do this too. After all, it is difficult to overcome cultural indoctrination. I am working to overcome this in myself by questioning whether I am truly listening with respect in my heart every time a woman speaks.

I refer to white cisgender men in particular above because cisgender men of other races are systematically silenced in a variety of contexts in ways that are often similar to what white women experience here in the USA. I recommend reading about that sometime.

My understanding of men’s culture is still in its infancy. The few all-men spaces I have been asked to join are uncomfortable for me. The values are so different from the values of women’s culture that I have trouble navigating these spaces due to the unfamiliarity. The things men do that I consider rude and hostile happen with far greater frequency in these spaces, and I wonder whether they see these things as rude and hostile. With the isolation caused by this pandemic, I have been unable to continue exploring these spaces. This is unfortunate, because that perspective would help round out this article.

Men, women, and nonbinary people each have a very different set of shared experiential context to the degree that it has created separate co-cultures. This affects how people speak to each other within these groups and also between them. Men and women who can also be either cisgender or transgender, which creates an additional overlay of shared experiences, and this also impacts communication. Thus I have found that while I prefer to just let people make assumptions and not bother with filling them in about my gender, this creates communication issues because it means that strangers and I are not on the same page about which communication culture I am coming from. This, to me, has highlighted the very different co-cultures associated with genders here in the USA in a way that contradicts everything I was taught in school about how wonderful it is that we have gender equality here.

This topic was selected by the author’s Patreon patrons.

First Show, Last Show

For the past five years, a small local theater has put on something like an open mic night every fourth Friday under the name “No-Shame Theater,” and invited all forms of original creativity. Singers, actors, and all sorts of other performers would show pieces that ranged from depressing to hilarious, from cute to offensive, and from truly terrible to delightful. Entry was free, and folks are strongly encouraged to drink from the bar. Last night was their very last round of this evening of fun and the end of No Shame Theater.

A friend of mine works closely with this theater and has attempted to bring me along for the past several months. This was the first time I could make it, and it was really quite an experience. There were all kinds of different pieces. Many of them focused on the artist’s emotions regarding the end of No Shame. One in particular re-wrote the lyrics to “This Land is Your Land” to be about the family nature of No Shame. She played it on an accordion and passed out lyrics. The sing along had a wonderful community feel to it.

I wrote a song a few years ago called Menstruation Rag which makes fun of the experience of menstruation by being brutally honest about the situation without ever actually saying the words “blood,” “menstruation,” “cramps,” “mood swings,” or “period.” No Shame Theater seemed like just the right place to share it with an audience, so I signed up to perform.

I watched the others as my turn neared. With each performance I felt myself moved, but the nerves began to grow. The only time I had tried to perform my song prior to last night, I ran off stage in the first stanza due to stage fright. I promised myself this time, it would be different.

There were pieces that were lovely, pieces that were sad. Pieces I didn’t understand, and pieces that I couldn’t tell if they were serious or trying to be really bad for the sake of laughter. Others were genuinely funny. It really was a wonderful experience, despite my shaking hands and clenching heart. What was I so afraid of? Nothing about performing could cause me actual harm.

Finally it was my turn. I took to the stage. I was in a pool of light surrounded on three sides by darkness filled with people silently watching. Waiting. I reminded myself that when Menstruation Rag had been named aloud in the beginning by one of the MCs during a listing of the night’s pieces, the pun-y title alone had already gotten laughs. I told myself that this audience wanted to hear my song. I told myself they were all drunk anyway.

I took a deep breath. I started to sing. My voice was so tiny and shaky, that I wondered if they could even hear me. My eye caught on someone in the front row who seemed to be listening to me with sincere intensity. I used that to bolster my courage and sang louder. People began laughing at the hilarious honesty. I relaxed ever so slightly. The second stanza fell from my lips and laughter came at me from all three directions. Excellent!

Transitioning from the second to third stanza, my voice faltered. I couldn’t remember the next words in a song that I sing to myself every month because I get a genuine kick out of making light of my period. (Ha, ha! Get it?) I paused. I verbalized “I’m sorry.” I tried again. It didn’t work.

“I’m sorry, I’m just so nervous,” I said. The whole room erupted with cheers and applause.

“YOU’RE HOME, BABY!” roared someone in the back, “YOU’RE HOME!”

“DEEP BREATHS!” someone else shouted, as the cheers died out so they could listen.

I felt their support, and thanked them for it. It was amazing. Instead of feeling like one giant block of fear and anxiety, I felt like only about 90% of me was comprised of such things.

I backed up to the transition lyric, re-sang it, and people already started giggling. I got through the next stanza and finished the rest of the song. My hands were still shaking. I was a total wreck. But, I finished it. I did not run. Fear lost. I won. Mission accomplished. I sat down to cheers and whistles.

During the next performer’s piece, I shook in the arms of the person who’d come along with me while my friend across the room nodded at me in support. Adrenaline. Who knew? I closed my eyes, put my head on my friend’s shoulder, and reminded my animal brain that nothing around me was going to hurt me. I was safe. Deep breaths. Calm down.

The last performer took the stage. This piece was a neat little speech about the performer’s experience with No Shame, all tied together with themes taken from the very first piece the performer had ever performed at No Shame. Towards the end, he gestured at me and told the crowd that this was part of why No Shame was so inspiring and important. He talked about the courage to get up and risk failing.

I thought about how the fear of some nebulous, undefined concept of “failure” had filled me with anxiety to the point of causing some version of said “failure.” I thought about how I fearlessly tackle much bigger things in my personal and professional and student lives. I decided once again that fear of failure really is an absurd fear, as real as it is. “Failure” really can’t hurt us, at least, not this kind of failure. I renewed an old promise to myself that when making decisions for myself, the fear of failure will not outweigh the potential benefits when real danger is not a factor in the failure. I hope everyone reading this finds the courage to tell a needless fear, “Here, dear, have a seat and watch me do the thing.”

The Smile

This morning in a paved courtyard at a church acting as part of local food bank network, people of all ages were seated on benches, steps, and planters scattered about the edges. They talked quietly with one another while a small band of 3 musicians played live music in one corner. Having danced for as long as I have, I can often spot fellow dancers in any situation with live music. Sure enough, the elderly man who always sits on the same bench every week with a frown on his face and a WWII veteran’s ball-cap on his head gave the telltale signs of a dancer listening to the rhythm. I walked over.

“Do you dance?”

“What’s that?” he said, sounding grumpy.

“I said, do you dance?”

“Yes, what of it?” he asked defensively.

“Would you like to dance with me?”

“No,” he said, quite firmly. I nodded and walked away.

I spotted another probable dancer in the crowd, and went to ask for a dance. This time I got an enthusiastic yes. I hoped that watching us dance would change the veteran’s mind about dancing. I wanted to give a smile to that frowning face.

For the dancers reading this, this dance was one of those dances where the first 20-30 seconds is spent finding a way to match rhythms and differing skill sets. It would have happened much quicker if I had let go of my preconceived direction for the dance sooner. Our connection was mediocre. We had a lot of fun, but dancing together a few more times would probably turn our connection into something much smoother.

The crowd cheered. We traded off leading and following. Every time one of us spun the other, there was laughter. Whenever I took the lead, I could hear folks mentioning it to each other. My partner was having a blast, and so was I. Our dance finally began to respond to the music. A grin slowly spread across my face and stayed there. When the music stopped, we hugged and went our separate ways, as it was time to line up to get our numbers. Each person I passed looked at me with smiling eyes and said that had been a lovely dance to watch. I thanked them each. I was trying to give one elderly person a smile, but instead my partner and I gave smiles to an entire crowd. I was not expecting that with my rusty dance skills.

After I got my number, I wandered across the courtyard to where the veteran was sitting. His friends had arrived and were talking with him.

“You don’t dance all that great,” he said, teasing. We all laughed. “I could show you a thing or two,” he said.

“Show me!” I said, pointing towards the open space in front of the band. “I’d love to learn. Dance with me?”

His eyebrows shot up in surprise and he turned me down again, but this time he was smiling. Mission accomplished.

The Parable of the Anachronistic Alchemist

A prodigy graduate physics student at UC Berkeley in California’s bay area worked secretly to create a time machine. The device was designed to transport up to two people and their clothing, two small cases of gear, and enough fuel for a return journey through time and space. Calculations regarding Earth’s location in space over time were integrated into the operating systems, allowing the driver the ease of entering a date, time, and Earth surface coordinates into the console.

Our student had a fondness for alchemists from history. Their obsession with such goals as turning lead into gold did not blind their judgement when it came to the process of discovery. In fact, these individuals began to carefully record the results of their experiments, and ultimately created the fundamentals of what is known today as the scientific method.

When the time machine was complete, our student dressed in destination-appropriate clothing, bid adieu to the cat in ancient Greek, and arrived moments later outside Alexandria in the middle of a summer night in the year 176. After an incredible adventure that is not relevant to this story, our student returned to the vehicle with a new friend who was an alchemical practitioner, and a deeper understanding of the ancient Greek language.

Our student brought the alchemist to Berkeley’s campus, sneaked him in to the chemistry library, and showed him the wonder of one of her favorite collections of knowledge.

“Nearly two thousand years of exploration and discovery have lead us to this and more,” our student said in ancient Greek.

The alchemist looked around with eyes full of wonder. Book after book the alchemist pointed out, and our student translated the title. Sometimes they read in the books. As time went on, the alchemist grew wary.

“This cannot be,” he said. “Elements that are not alive? Metals as discrete, separate elements that do not mature into precious metals? Everything here is based on these concepts, and these concepts must be false. Therefore, this library is full of nothing but lies.”

Our student was perplexed and tried to discuss the matter further, but the alchemist wished to return home. Our student complied, leaving him back in ancient Alexandria where she had found him. Back at home, our student contemplated the situation. It did not make sense for someone who was dedicated to truth and reason to dismiss something just because it conflicted with previously held beliefs.

Graduation finally came, and our student took the podium. After thinking over time about her encounter with the alchemist, it flavored her speech to her fellow graduating scientists.

“…truly embracing discovery can be difficult because it means letting go of preconceived notions, and preconceived notions are comfortable. They help us understand the world, so losing them is scary. As we go forth into the real world let us remember, in former president Roosevelt’s words, that ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Go forth. Let yourself be afraid. Discover truth.”

An Amazing Food Bank Day

Food Bank Food

Saturday morning, I woke with the sun in my eyes, just rising over the hills outside my window. Excitedly, I hurried to dress and fetch my reusable bags. Today was the day I would finally get good food to eat. Food that would not be rotting. Food I would enjoy eating.

I drove across town to the church where the distribution would be. It doesn’t start until 9am, but some folks had already been there for two hours when I got there at 8. I placed my bags on the ground behind the line of bags of those before me, and dashed into the bathroom. Before I got back, they started handing out numbers, so I lost my spot, but I was still #437, and they started that day with #413, so there really weren’t many people ahead of me.

I walked through the courtyard in search of a patch of warm, direct sun. People, mostly 40+ (and probably half of them were 65+) intermingled, laughed together, and partook of free coffee and pastries provided by the church program. That atmosphere was so much more pleasant than the one of the Wednesday morning location – despite a large degree of crossover in the user group – that it struck me once more as being a beautiful bit of social engineering.

When my number was called, I took my place in the food line. I wrote my name on the sign-in sheet, a little “1” for number of people in my household, and “0” for number of children. Every time I do that I pat myself on the back for good choices. Some folks make poverty and children work out okay, but it’s not a thing I desire for myself.

I looked up from the table to see a line of food tables down the middle of the church gymnasium. Each one was piled with food, with volunteers standing on one side to control portions and to help stack more food on the tables as they emptied. A line of hungry people stretched through the gym on the other side of the tables, slowly trickling along.

The first table I came to had two coolers so big I could probably fit inside them – and I am rather tall. Each was filled with packages of raw meat, most of it from Trader Joe’s. As I was only one person, I was limited to one small package, but I got to choose which one I wanted, and that is part of what makes all the difference about this location. I am treated like a person there. Folks address me by name, and ask about my life, and assume that because I am a human, I will have my own tastes and preferences in food, and that this is normal and to be respected. They even refer to the process of going through the line for food as “shopping.” The fundamental ability to choose is really far more humanizing than a lot of people understand, I think.

After meat was the dairy table. Beyond that they had an entire table dedicated to the specialty grab-and-go sort of things that expired that week at grocery stores, but were still good to eat. Sometimes they have sushi. Prepared salads are the most common. After that was the one table in the whole row that has nonperishable food. We are usually given our choice of one small bag of one type of grain, and our choice of one can. It totally destroyed my image of what poor people get from programs like these.

The next three tables were covered in fresh fruits and vegetables. Whatever is in surplus from local farms, or about to expire in local grocery markets, is what we get to eat. This place (unlike the Wednesday place) never gives us rotten vegetables with the expectation that we should be happy we are getting anything at all. Vegetables at Saturday’s location may look a little droopy sometimes, but when that happens the workers all look apologetic, which I find adorable and heartening. Again, this place is humanizing in ways all the others could take a lesson from.

The last table was covered in dessert items. Cookies, pies, cupcakes, even sheet cakes sometimes, and more! The last thing after the tables was bread. There was a set of wheeled shelves that has the freshest bread, and each household got their choice of one loaf from that, but there was a row of boxes along the far wall with the rest of the surplus bread. We are usually asked to take as much as we want from those boxes, lest the surplus be thrown away. The only exception is when there is less bread than usual and/or more hungry people than usual.

When I got home, I took the above photo of the food I had chosen. I will eat very well this week. (In fact, I already have.) Not only that, but the way this place runs their program has boosted my mental health by giving my self esteem a dose of validity, and that is just as valuable to my success in life as is the nutritious blueberries and pork chops. Indeed, it is more likely to boost me towards a life where I don’t need their services than the food itself.

Snippets from the Week

Any names presented have been changed.

A Morning in Line

This particular food distribution location is my favorite one. I intend to write a post in the future about the full extent of why, but one of the reasons is that folks there are pleasantly social. This distribution location doesn’t use lines in the traditional sense. Instead, they use a “take a number” system. The result is that folks actually talk to one another. With the freedom to move about a pretty church courtyard from group to group, it almost feels like a family reunion full of folks you’ve only ever met in passing.

Ages of patrons waiting for food ranged from 20s to way too old for estimation. Most folks looked well over 40. Many of them had long-wrinkled skin and used wheel chairs or other mobility assistance devices. Several of them asked my name, and I began making new friends.

As usual, I managed to be using the restroom during the morning prayer. I wouldn’t call myself an atheist per se, but I also do not have a desire to pray to a God I don’t believe in. Silently refraining from joining the group prayer prior to food distribution earned me nasty looks from other patrons on my first few visits. Conversely, the folks running “God’s Pantry” took no apparent offense to my discrete abstinence from prayer.

I emerged from the restroom with freshly washed hands clutching my numbered ticket. I asked one of my new acquaintances if I had missed anything important during announcements. He told me that there was a registered nurse there that day, and directed me to her.

I asked the nurse about some concerning symptoms I had. She urged me to see a doctor at my earliest convenience. I thanked her, and went back to waiting my turn.

An Afternoon in Class

My calculus teacher wrote the number of students who received each letter grade on our first test on the white board:

  • 6 – A
  • 6 – B
  • 12 – C
  • 5 – D
  • 4 – F

“What a lovely bell curve,” I thought to myself as I awaited my exam. The teacher walked about, placing each one face down on the desks. Finally it was my turn.

I stared at the back of my test, then flipped it over as if I was ripping off a bandage. My heart danced a little with joy at what I saw.

“What did you get?” asked my study buddy from the desk behind me.

I showed him the big “96% Nice Job!” across the top of my page. He grinned. His score was a 97%. High-fives were had.

An Evening in the Store

I am a superstar at the retail store where work. I’ve got the brain of a problem-solving engineer and the heart of a compassionate teacher. The combination makes me perfect for any employer who wants proactive employees.

I can do anything on the sales floor except work in the coffee shop, including all the things with special training, which means I often don’t get my assigned tasks completely done. My bosses are okay with that, though; they know I am putting out fires.

On this particular evening, the line at the returns desk became wondrously long, so I hopped back there to help out. My last customers consisted of a couple who had come to return their coffee maker because the latch button which allows the coffee to be poured from the carafe had broken off. Their receipt had not expired, but we were out of stock on that model.

It took some convincing as they had their heart set on that exact model, but I walked the couple back to the coffee display to see if we could find something similar that they liked. We couldn’t, but I got an idea, and I pulled out my walkie.

“Nancy, do you copy, Nancy?”

“Go for Nancy,” my manager responded.

“I have some folks with me who would like to return a coffee maker, but we are out of stock on the model they want. It’s just a small piece on the carafe that’s broken, though. Is it okay if we just switch it out for the display model’s carafe?”

“Is theirs still in good enough condition that our display will look nice?”

“I think so. It shouldn’t be too hard to glue this piece back on for display.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. Go ahead and do it.”

I peeled the sticker off the display carafe, and handed it to the customers in return for their old one. They left after expressing their happiness. In the break room, I used a cleanser which contained hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the coffee scent from the inside of the pot. It worked remarkably well, although there was still just enough of a hint of it that I hoped it might help drive more sales. When the outside was clean, I put the sticker from the original display model on it. It shined beautifully.

A Night in the Emergency Room

“I’d like you to stay on a clear liquid diet for the next 24 hours or so,” the ER doctor said to me.

I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

“I can’t really do that, but I’ll try,” I said.

“Clear liquids are things you can see through,” the doctor explained. He must have thought I had not read the papers the nurse had handed me. “So, things like Jell-O, and…” I interrupted during his pause.

“No, you don’t understand. I live off of food bank food. I don’t get a choice. I will do my best, and I’ll try to be gentler with the food I eat, but there’s no way for me to get my hands on clear liquids other than water. They don’t give us Jell-O at the food bank.”

“Oh…okay…” the doctor said, then went about discharging me. Long story short, suffice it to say that the CT scans show I did not have a concussion or internal bleeding, and the blood work was negative for everything, which is a fantastic combination. I know that “Obamacare” has hurt a lot of people in the middle class and probably could have been implemented better, but if it wasn’t for our current healthcare system, I would never have been able to afford a brain scan when nausea and other problematic symptoms followed a head injury.

A Typical Food Bank Day

Today was the first time I have managed to get to a food bank distribution location in over two weeks. My supply of vegetables was almost completely gone when I got in line this morning, and any bread that was left got thrown in the trash with its colorful mold right before I left the house.

Standing in line at a local church, I watched as a handful of volunteers packed paper bags with identical proportions of perfect kale leaves, damp potatoes, questionable onions, beautiful carrots, and fresh broccoli. On top of the vegetables, they added small boxes of tiny tomatoes and yogurt. A plastic bag full of various breads was tossed on top of each.

When it was my turn, I walked into the room that served as an office, and wrote my name and address on the sign-in sheet. I wrote a small “1” in the column for number of people in my household. The person working the desk handed me a card that said “1” and gestured at a nearby table with a pile of garlic french bread.

“You can take one of those if you like.”

“Thanks, but I am allergic to those.”

The worker directed me to a stash on the windowsill of the precious few loaves designed for folks with allergies. I took the one with the most variation in grains. When you live on food bank food, you never know when you’ll be lucky enough to get a balanced diet. Variety is important for staying healthy. Staying healthy is important for doing well in school. Doing well in school is important for breaking out of the cycle and making a life that will one day allow me to buy my own food.

I walked back out of the room and handed my card to the attendant before waiting on the painted line. I mentioned that I have food allergies, and would need to go through the food and give back what I can’t eat. I know I have friends I could give it to, but that just feels wrong when there is a whole line of hungry people behind me.

The attendant told the volunteers that I needed 1 bag of food, and a place to go through it. A volunteer took me to a nearby patch of sidewalk and set the paper bag with its plastic bag crown on the ground in the sun. I mentally thanked my body for its silence as far as my old sports injuries are concerned. Some days, I would not be able to sort food on the ground. Today was not one of those days.

I soon handed the plastic bag back to the volunteer, as nothing in it was edible for me. The yogurt went back, too, as did the tomatoes. I put the vegetables that did not look like they were beginning to rot into my shoulder bag, and handed the rest back in the paper bag.

When I got to my car, I texted my friend what I had gotten today.

“Cashew milk, brown rice bread, onions, cabbages, tiny potatoes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower.”

“Yum!”

“Yep!”  I replied. “All two food groups are delicious.”

A part of me feels like I shouldn’t complain. After all, I get enough food to not feel hungry most of the time. I don’t, however, get a balanced diet. I don’t get what I need to be healthy. I think that’s worth complaining about.