General Musings | A Case of the Merps and 'I, Tonya'


Well, hello there cat ladies, freaknasties, the 3 straight men who read this blog, and weird stalkers with multiple Instagram profiles! How's this week treating you? 

I'm fine for the most part. The last two weeks, I have had a raging case of what my family calls 'The Merps.' It's when you approach your life with a giant sigh and your general disposition is to navel gaze and exhale, "Merrrrrrrrrp." It's a noun, verb, and adjective. You can merp, be a merp, and describe things as merpy or merpified. You know what I mean, it's not so much depression, as it's a general apathy and malaise that makes doing everything life requires you to do highly annoying. For me, it involves a lot of wine, not leaving my house, and doing a ton of navel gazing. 

I never claimed to have the best coping mechanisms. This isn't the blog for that. 

My merp-fest (Oh look! A new noun) began last week after a horrific, freak fall when I was practicing at the rink last week. I wasn't even doing anything, and my skates went out from under me like my brother came up from behind and kicked them out from under me like in the old days. Because it was a freak fall, I busted my bad hand (the one with extensive nerve damage) and it looks like I took a bullet to the ass. I strained a hip flexor so badly in the fall, I had to be off my skates for a few days... and the merp moved into my psyche in its place. 

One of my two coping mechanisms is exercise. Hi. 

It wasn't just the injury. The merp moves in whenever I am about to succeed at some things, and per the usual, my brain kicks into overdrive to sabotage it. Luckily for me, I had a therapy appointment. 

I've talked about it a lot before, but where most people's fear of failure is in their brain, lies my fear of success. I'm fine with failure. But success? Nothing gives me the cringe sweats more than actually succeeding at something, so I do everything possible to sabotage it. 

Hi. I'm insane. 

Actually? Not really. My therapist informed me that this is a common thing with trauma survivors. Long story short, because this is a blog and not a medical journal, people who survive trauma, especially in childhood, have their reward system hardwired to their pain. Simply put, success feels like the abuse we endured. Our brains can't differentiate between the two. The reward of success presses our adrenal systems to feel the same chemical reactions as fear and pain. This is why we procrastinate, sabotage, and freak the fuck out when we're about to succeed at something. 

Mind. Blown. 

So after that appointment, I knew I had to break these merps apart, and that started with getting out of the house. That had its host of the good and the bad...

Lucito had his opening of 'Angels in America Part II: Perestroika' at Actor's Express Saturday night. Lillesøster and I went to cheer him on, and had a fun night along the way. BUT the problem with this play is it's 104 years long and I didn't get home til after 1am, and of course, I couldn't fall asleep, so I watched Live PD until 2:30am. 

Oh hi there, sleep debt!

Monday... disaster... I went to the rink to practice and teach that night's classes, but because of the weather being equally psychotic, the rink had too much condensation on its surface and it was too dangerous to skate. 


Tuesday was great! Had a great day... got a text from Lucito and Lillesøster that they wanted me to join them for all you can eat sushi and 'I, Tonya' that night. Honestly, I knew I was tired and really didn't want to, but when I have the merps, accepting every invitation out of my house HAS to happen. So I of course accepted. Yes, I ate entirely too much and stayed out too late. 

Welcome back, sleep debt!

Wednesday was good and bad... I had a costume fitting, which probably went fine, but because I was tired and cranky, and got all kinds of triggered from the movie, all I saw was armpit fat. Rational me knows that's nuts, and tells insane me that I look damn good 18 years older,  20lbs heavier and HEALTHIER than I was living on Diet Coke and stimulants, 4 bra cup sizes bigger, 3 inches of height, and 3 kids later... but all I saw was armpit fat. Sigh. 

Then I went to practice. This was a filming day, since I live in a skating desert and I have to basically get coached by email, all of the footage I saw was terrible and I was garbage. Again, not rational. Later that night, I watched it again and it was fine, but when I'm sleep deprived and already merpy, I'm a cow on skates. 

Farm animals can do an Ina Bauer, who knew? 

Farm animals can do an Ina Bauer, who knew? 

I wound up being up all night with pain in my hips. As most of you know, I have terrible hip joints. This time it was the dysplasia taking me out. Working so hard that day tugged my left hip joint juuuuuust enough out of place the agony of it not tracking in the joint was painful enough to keep me up. 

Hi there, sleep debt. Just how much do I freaking owe you? 

I skated for a couple of hours today. No jumps and spins, just working on other things. The pain was straight up agony, but I pushed through knowing I'm traveling and won't be on my skates again until Tuesday, and by then it'll be just over 2 weeks until the big day. 

So here I type with a heating pad on one hip and an ice pack on another. 

And yes... I am fully aware that this is purely privileged whining at play. My life is a rather charmed one at this point, and all of the pain I put myself through is voluntary. I get it. I realize this is annoying and there's real suffering in the world. 

As for the merps... I'm keeping an eye on them. I'm not sure if this is a situational problem, or a biological one. For now I'm increasing my omega-3s, hopefully able to make sleep a priority, and able to use therapy to get through. If it's more than sleep deprivation and a debilitating fear of success, I am not against other interventions. Maybe I do need an SSRI or something. Ain't no shame in that. 

'I, Tonya' 


First of all, it's an amazing movie. I've written about my skating career in the 90s enough in the past for you to know exactly how I feel about Tonya/Nancy, because I was actually skating at the time. This movie handled Tonya's story beautifully by simply telling the truth. Tonya got believed, which was important. She was abused, plain and simple. It also showed us that while it made her a raging asshole, it made her also revel in her victimhood. Nothing was ever her fault, because, victim, and she doesn't understand that this is why she is hated so much. The world wanted her to rise above her circumstances and overcome. Unfortunately, she let her entitlement overrule her self-awareness. She simply isn't equipped to get out of her own way. I honestly think it's the most honest and truthful portrayal of skating ever made. Every rink in America has a Lavona Harding. My mom was a Lavona. Before her, my friend Billy's mom was a Lavona before they moved away. And like Tonya, we had amazing angel coaches who stepped in to save us. 

Alison Janney will win an Oscar. Margot Robbie was also brilliant, but Oscar? Maybe not this year. But whether you were/are a skater or not, you should go see it. 

Well, it's time to go warm up my heating pad and switch sides. 

I'll catch you guys later. 

Jennifer Gulbrandsen