On Predictability and Hercule Poirot


The Poptart: food which defines my depression. I know there are 300 better things I can use to nourish my body, but there is something so comforting about the pre-portioned package that requires no work, has not changed since I was young. I had stomach problems for a long time, and I know this one food is always safe.

There's something to be said about the comfort of predictability. When things are gray, I know it's happening by the food I eat, the books I read, the sweaters I wear. Going back to something familiar -  something that has brought me joy - is a small attempt at holding onto control. Because depression so often feels like the lack of control. 

I wonder lately if I am sharing too much with the internet.  Am I coming across as "too depressed" - whatever that means? It's refreshing to witness vulnerability and realness on the internet, but what happens when it's not just a season? When it's something chronic, a cloud you will carry with you even on the sunniest days. Does it become too heavy a burden to keep putting out into the world?


I pick up Hercule Poirot when I'm depressed - Agatha Christie's brilliant Belgian detective series. There are over 30 books in the series and it's a comfort knowing there are so many adventures to have with Poirot (until it's not and I think of the day where I've read each and every one). I like mysteries when I'm gray because it gives my mind a problem to focus on outside of myself. And again, it's predictable. Not the story or the puzzle itself, but the ending where everything is revealed and laid out bare. I like that there is closure. Answers. There is more beautiful writing in the world, but you have to hold close the things that bring comfort. There is so much I want to say about Poirot, but I don't have the words.

Ah, but life is like that! It does not permit you to arrange and order it as you will. It will not permit you to escape emotion, to live by the intellect and by reason! You cannot say, ‘I will feel so much and no more.’ Life... whatever else it is, is not reasonable.
— Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie

This week I started a new medication. My third attempt at bottled contentment. The symptoms of moving from one pill to another were startling, but not unforeseen. This time, though, it felt like there was electric wiring wrapped around my brain. I've since learned that these are called brain zaps or brain shivers, and they can happen when you are waning off an ssri. Scary, right?

I should clarify: I don't say 'bottled contentment' to be contrite. I believe mental illness is just as much of an illness as physical illnesses are, and it should be treated as such. Sometimes, it isn't a passing thing, and your body needs help. But I have always been averse to taking medication in pill form. I made it to age 14 before I took my first pill; I had pneumonia and the doctor told me I would have a seizure if I didn't take their pill. Then afterward, there was the z-pak. Before long, I had become a pill-taking person. There is something about medication that affects the brain - our mood, our personality, our thought patterns - that makes me uneasy. It seems too close to something too important. But then, couldn't that be said of heart medication? This uneasiness is a thought pattern I just can't shake. But there's the people I love and I want to be present in their lives. So, I'll put my faith in modern medicine (or at least try to) and take comfort in small predictabilities.

Book Review / Reset

I was excited to pick up Ellen Pao's novel about her discrimination case against VC giant Kleiner Perkins. It felt close to home. I come from a background in venture capital and am currently work in tech. As I've mentioned before, I also happen to be the only woman in my workplace. 

Reset is a book that needed to be written. The level of ingrained sexism in venture capital and Silicon Valley is alarming. I admire Pao for choosing to fight back at such a high risk to her personal and professional life. Pao understood the privilege she had (in having money and support and time), and really adopted an "if not me, then who?" attitude. I appreciate that she realized the power in the fight, even if she didn't win the case. 

But, I was disappointed that there was what felt like a missed opportunity for discussion. In Reset, was a lot of telling, and not a lot of reflection or analysis. I was hoping for more examined thought on what it means to be a woman in tech, and furthermore, a woman of color in tech. Instead, it felt like she spent a lot of time establishing her credentials and recounting event after event. 

But again. This book is infuriating in the best way - in that people need to be aware and get angry about the sexism prevalent in so many work environments. My hope for this book is that it can show someone that what they are experiencing at work isn't okay or that it encourages one more woman to fight back.

Rating: 3/5