First World Problems

converse nope

Let me start by telling you how mad I am that I can’t have a pair of limited edition Converse sneakers with little lions on them.

I wish I’d never seen these fucking shoes but unfortunately for me, I subscribe to a couple of fashion sites for cutting edge men’s street-wear. If you recall, I am a gay man in a woman’s body.

A few months ago, one of these sites showed me an overpriced Japanese jacket meant to look like a souvenir jacket from Korea or Vietnam, the kind with embroidered tigers and maps on them. When the jacket sold out, I was mad that I’d passed it up.

So the Converse shoes reminded me of the jacket and even better, they were affordable. But they were sold out everywhere by the time I clicked on the email. The more unattainable they are, the more they promise the key to perfect happiness.

But just a few days earlier, I was horrified to learn that the Rihanna Puma Creepers I already have in black were released in pink. How could this happen without me being notified?? I found out from a girl in the mall who was showing me some cheap make-up, and she must have been amazed that a 62 year old woman wanted those fucking shoes as much as she did, if not more. We bonded in our sense of thwarted desire.

After a tense search of the entire internet, I found a pair on eBay. Problem solved.

But not really. Not at all.

This obsession and longing for material goods is the foundation of our economy but it serves a deeper purpose, for me, anyway.

It’s the ultimate First World Problem, in that it masks other First World Problems that I simply can’t handle.

Those problems are grief and loss. They are persistent like a toothache. I can’t bear the reality of them, and when I can’t distract myself with more superficial problems, I have to take myself to bed. When I take myself to bed, I know I would give anything to not wake up, but just blotting out a few hours usually gets me through the worst of it.

Last year, I became Facebook friends with a guru from Tibet. I liked his wisdom and his sense of humor. So I asked him how to cope with grief. When I told him that I’d lost a son, he replied that mortality was high in Tibet; families are used to losing children.

I felt he was chastising me but perhaps he was merely being factual.

Why was I making a big deal over my loss? Families in Tibet lose a child but still have to worry about typhoons and lack of plumbing and hunger and disease. They expect life to be hard and it is.

The guru directed me to a philosophy than might help to redirect me but like everything else I have tried, it was a hurdle beyond my capacity. Mindfulness, Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Tonglen, support groups, grief studies, Radical Acceptance, nothing matches the force of this unspeakable grief and loss.

I have spent most of my life saving baby teeth, book reports, handmade crafts, mother’s day cards, school photos, birthday party photos, baseball cards, rock collections, and I have lovingly organized them or displayed them.

I have boxes of Christmas ornaments, many hand made by my sons, but no sons to hang them on a tree or to open presents with.

Christmas will pass, so the sense of deprivation will be less acute but it will take a lot of limited edition sneakers to pull me away from the fucking abyss.

In Chennai, India, there is historic flooding, the worst in 100 years. Three million people are without basic services and 269 people have died in this epic disaster. I can’t imagine how desperate these people must feel because I only know First World Problems.

Feeling ambivalent about living is a First World Problem, and I guess I’ll have to wrestle with it in my White Privileged manner, wearing my pink Pumas if they ever show up.

This entry was posted in Fashion, grief, Horrible Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to First World Problems

  1. romeo says:


    I seen those embroidered jackets when I was in Japan, probably in the on-base department store. I don’t know anyone stationed there now to ask to get one, but I found a web page with similar items:

    Hope this helps.

  2. Sister Wolf says:

    romeo – Your existence helps! Thank you so much xoxoxoxoxoxo

  3. jody says:

    wow, that’s brutal honesty from the guru…and yes, almost chastising you. but you are entitled to grieve….sending smiles your way…..

  4. Helen says:

    I have been reading your blog for many, many years – since 2008 at least. I love you. Sending you all the good and loving thoughts I can muster up. Your writing has gotten me through a lot too. Think of you often. Love.

  5. Sister Wolf says:

    Jody – xo

    Helen – Thank you so much Helen, that’s great to hear. Thanks for taking the time to write!

  6. Dana says:

    Home sick today. Maybe it’s sympathetic chemo for my husband. The oldest is home sick too. My knees hurt but whether that’s sick, 47, or sympathy chemo I have no idea.

    I’ve often wondered what I’ll do once the kids no longer need me. Most likely I’ll go back to being the same self absorbed asshole I was before I had kids. My most recent thought on how to end it when that time comes is to wander around with a gun and shoot blanks at the police so they’ll shoot me.

    Wow that is not helpful. You are wonderful though. Take care of yourself. Everyone tells me that. I wonder what it means. Does it mean reading the phone and buying shoes? If so, I’m really doing a good job of taking care of myself. Xoxoxo

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    Dana -Stop it! Fine, I will hang on if you will. Damn you.

  8. ali says:

    for some reason I’ve been having trouble accessing your blog for the past month. I can relate to this post in the sense that I also attempt to assuage my grief by filling a black hole with material items. Tiger material items foremost, these days.

    I had the worst christmas ever because I decided to spend it with my vocationally republican family (look up ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson for reference) JUST TO SEE if I could handle it. Conversations ranged from the overtly racist to mockery of my history with sexual assault. My aunt (Lisa Nelson) compared me to ISIS because I told her to stop saying the n word. My uncle called me a spoiled brat at dinner in front of our entire family and then started laughing. I survived but I’ve been very depressed since. Had a nervous breakdown on New Years which ended with me covered in blood because I attempted to destroy a glass framed painting.

    Funny- I thought to google search your blog (instead of typing in the address as I normally do which for some reason hasn’t been working for me?) because I was about to buy these shoes. Have had intense anxiety since New Years and buying the shoes is a kneejerk fix for me.

    Should I buy them? It seems useless. I want them but I know they won’t really make me feel better. I should be saving money for my trip to Italy. Thinking about my upcoming trip to Italy doesn’t even make me feel better.

    Fuck family.

  9. Dj says:

    Ok. Here we go…stop beating yourself up and über analyzing what you should or should not feel. You are a mother, your child died, there is a hole that needs filling. If it’s funky shoes, fine. If it’s a support group fine. If it’s naps (my favorite respite )… You do not need to feel apologetic, guilty or out of sinc. Fuck all the deep mum bo jumbo. Buy your fun stuff if it doesn’t create a financial problem. So what. Make yourself happy any way you can. Smoke a joint, by ten lipsticks. You’ve earned it. That guru sounds like a self righteous prick. I will be 62, just found out I have early lung cancer and have decided I can be mean as hell if I want. Get out of my way assholes. The forces have been released. Get tough, do what makes you happy. We love you…..

  10. Sister Wolf says:

    DJ – SHIT! I hope you have access to the best possible medical advice and treatment. Fuck. Yes, be mean whenever you want to, be awful! I love you back and offer all my atheist blessings. Please keep me posted.

  11. Aly says:

    “If you recall, I am a gay man in a woman’s body.” Made me laugh out loud. You have some of the best writing on the internet. As a mom, I know there is nothing I could ever say that would make anything any better for you about your kids. I like Buddhism but even hearing that Tibetan people lose children often would have just made me even sadder. I would give you a big hug if I could, just don’t look at my shoes- I shop at Target!

  12. kate says:

    I’m sure in Tibet many families are indeed “used to” losing children, but I would not assume that all Tibetan mothers don’t go through the same grief a first world mother goes through losing a child. I’m sure the guru is extremely wise, but another thing I’m sure of is, he isn’t a mother.
    I’ve been thinking about this ever since you posted it, my comment is late because… I’ve been thinking about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *