Running away from home

My kind friends are letting me hang out in their house for a few days as an escape from my life. It’s an adventure! They have a security system and in their opinion, in their neighborhood, it is incredibly important that it be turned on all the time. This is weird. I don’t always lock my house when I leave to run errands. I know all my neighbors. I’m just not real scared of what will happen to my house; but when in Rome do as the Romans do.

And they have lots of rescue kitties. You have to be very careful going in and out, which is very different from my swinging-open-door policy. I’m being careful. I want to be respectful of this kind offer.

This will not be like yelling at Rebecca’s dad. No sirree.

He was a total asshat. But I still shouldn’t have yelled at him while I was a guest in house.

Monetization. That’s been a big topic in my extended world lately. I hear about it a lot because I know a lot of people who want to start businesses. I live in an entrepreneur hot spot. This is partially because I live in the Silicon Valley and folks come here to do tech startups.

But I know independent operators of a lot of businesses. Acupuncture, massage, construction, book keeping, landscaping, providing day care…

Aren’t these all businesses? Don’t these things all count? Well, not if you listen to venture capitalists. The only businesses that “count” are the kind that will provide shareholder value. Mostly I know folks who want to provide a living for themselves and their immediate families. Mostly I don’t know very many people who want to “disrupt” society in order to make a lot of money. A few, not many. That’s a neurotic focus if you ask me.

Do you know the biggest difference I notice between people who have made a lot of money and people who don’t? The people who make a lot of money tend to start out feeling like they are worth a lot and they are pushy and aggressive about money from day one.

Doesn’t matter if you are a landscaper, a graphic artist, software designer or massage therapist. If you believe that you are good and people need to pay you a lot of money to interact with someone who is so good… you make more money.

Whatever you do, be good at it and require that people acknowledge how good you are.

That gets complicated in helping professions. The best day cares are not the most expensive–not really. The most expensive usually have complicated programs and materials but those things aren’t what cause children to learn quickly. Feeling loved, seen, and like it is safe to make mistakes–that’s what spurs massive learning. Often the people who are the best don’t know how to appropriately value themselves and they are ridiculously cheap.

I’ve been slowly working on my massage therapist for years. Sweetie, if you are booked more than six months in advance and you feel like you are drowning under the weight of people who want your time… raise your rates. (He does every so often. It’s wonderful for him.) Clearly what you have to offer is worth a lot of money.

He doesn’t want to raise his rates much because he cares about helping people and he doesn’t want to become a commodity that only rich people can afford. I hear that. I respect that. It’s going to kill him.

I think about this in terms of me showing up to clean my friend’s houses. I have promised myself that I will never again pick up a project-friendship. If someone needs me to come clean their house they need to pay me. At this stage of my life it is doing damage to my body that I have to pay doctors to fix. That means I need to be paid in exchange for the labor. I can’t just carry it any more. Not because I don’t care about people, but because there is a cost to me in doing the work. If I have to pay a cost… I can’t give it to you for free.

I am mercenary with my kids in this way. Everything I do for you has a cost to me. How am I going to pay it? The good thing is, mostly from the kids… I need love and attention. They have tons of that to spare.

The other day I asked Shanna if she wanted to go on a date after her dentist appointment. She told me no, she’d rather come home and spend time with her dad because he is her favorite parent.

I told her that even if her dad is her favorite parent… it’s rude and inconsiderate to tell me she doesn’t want to spend time with me because she only likes him. I told her that I work for her benefit every.single.day. and these dates are a way for us to pay attention to one another and enjoy one another’s company without having to do work right.now. I told her that I need dates to feel loved and it hurts my feelings very much that she thinks that talking to me for an hour is so horrible.

She looked shocked. She said talking to me isn’t horrible and she’s sorry she hurt my feelings. We had a nice date together.

We all work a lot. Housework, gardening, learning activities, the kids are learning computer skills… It’s work. We focus on our own things for a lot of the day. We work near one another rather than with each other for a lot of time. I need to feel like I’m worth paying attention to. Time spent is my big thing. People making time to come talk to me… that’s my structural support for life. I don’t need to be the center of attention all the time. (I would combust.) But I need dates.

A woman I follow on Twitter named Lauren Chief Elk is a First Nations activist. For the past few days she has been writing quite a bit about how wives should get a pay cheque the same way husbands get a pay cheque. We are doing work that is equally as needed and essential for our families. Why are we expected to do so without compensation? It’s crap.

If a man fixing a car is worth paying… why isn’t a woman taking care of children? If a man making a video game is worth paying… why isn’t a woman who is at home doing his fucking laundry?

Short answer: you are only worth paying if you demand that people pay you. This is why people are rarely paid for the work they do for family. The attitude is that you owe your family this work and you don’t deserve any compensation. You can pour out the whole of your life into your family and you deserve nothing back. You “didn’t do anything”. But if someone makes a video game! Oh! That’s deserving of reward!

I don’t like my culture very much.

Even if raising your children well means that you are ensuring that you are promoting the general good of your country. Better that you be an absent parent allowing the state to raise your kids for you in centers. That will lead to healthy people. Uhm, not.

I really and truly don’t believe that mothers are uniquely suited to raising children. I think fathers are also fully equipped once you get past breast feeding. I think aunts and uncles are competent. I think adult cousins are fully capable. Grandparents are fucking amazing. I envy some of the families in my neighborhood with the super-involved grandparents.

You can’t pay someone to care. When your child is taken care of by family members… mostly the child is personally cared about more than if the same child were with strangers. But at the same time, you can’t force your family to go and get the education necessary so they can handle a lot of the situations that come up with kids.

It is so complicated.

Many families are not capable of providing the care their children need. Does that mean the child is better off with the state? I’m not convinced.

The simple truth is, there will always be children who fall through the cracks and receive no appropriate care or love during childhood. It’s going to happen. Forever. We can’t legislate that away. We can’t create programs that solve every problem.

But part of the solution involves women learning to think that their work is worthy of compensation. I say it as “women” but there are lots of men in this category. I don’t think this is a chick thing.

The problem with thinking about monetization is it quickly gets into “What is beneath me to do so I should pay someone lower on the ladder to do it for me”. This is why I don’t pay people to clean my house. I am not so fucking good I can’t scrub a toilet.

But the thing is… I will never have the time to do the things I want to do if I’m constantly trying to keep up with this ever-growing lists of things I “should” do for myself. Like scrubbing my toilet or washing my clothes.

I would not feel like I was less of a person if I went back to cleaning houses for a living. That’s honorable work to me. Why do I object so much to paying someone else to do it for me? It’s a weird conundrum. I really do mind.

There is a lady in my neighborhood. She’s a hair older than me. She has more kids. She has a job. Her husband has a job. With both of them working as many hours as they can manage they barely make ends meet. A few times I’ve been at her house and watched her frantically cleaning. I feel guilty for not helping but she won’t hear of it. I’d cheerfully stand there and do the dishes while we chat. She’s so tired.

Even though it is not currently a financial consideration… I’m not sure she would be willing to let someone clean her house even if she could afford it. She will do it. It is her work. Even though she has a job. I think she’s a bit nutty. If I were working 50+ hours a week plus raising a whole bunch of kids… I hope I’d be more ok with letting other people take on some of my tasks.

But probably not. I’m stupid.

(Not saying she is. Saying I am.)

Pride is a funny thing. Wanting to get paid for your labor. Wanting to do it for yourself combine in these funny ways that result in mostly just the sociopaths being paid well. They are the only people with the chutzpah to demand a lot of compensation. They are the ones who believe they don’t owe anyone anything and if folks want something from them… pay for it.

And then the rest of the non-sociopaths stand near the sociopaths with charming smiles and hope that they get tossed enough scraps to live on. This isn’t going so well. Look at how wealth distribution is happening in our country. We are in trouble if we don’t stop letting the sociopaths have all the wealth.

Yes, I’m comfortable saying that the 1% is comprised mainly of sociopaths. 

In contrast, another friend has found a house cleaner and someone to do her laundry and all of a sudden her life is much better. I fully support her taking these steps. Basically…. she hired multiple out-sourced people to be her substitute wife. I get why people need a wife.  “Wife” should be a job.

I believe with all my heart and soul that a minimum basic income for all citizens is the only way forward to economic prosperity and healthy lives for as many citizens as possible. I believe that as long as wealth concentration happens at the top, you poison the community. People see no point in working as hard when they are only working for the betterment of people who are already stepping on their necks.

People need to learn how to have their own worth and value appreciated. I wish that monetization were not part of this but it is. If we had another proxy for talking about why peoples time matters I’d use it but we don’t. For now, all we have is money to talk about the relative merit of someone’s work.

For example: I believe that picking up garbage from the street for 8 hours a day is a job that should provide someone with a living wage. We need people to do this. We have done so much ecological damage with garbage. I don’t think that job is worthless, I think it is very important. I can see why it is hard to get a company to pay someone to do this work… it doesn’t increase the bottom line for the company.

But as a society we all benefit. If people were paid enough to survive and live like human beings with dignity… would more people spend their time this way? If they did not feel downtrodden and abused?

When people feel good about themselves they have more energy. Their mental state is better. They want to work. Humans aren’t that idle of a species. We like moving around and doing stuff. I believe that if people were not brought low by the strain of poverty and mental illness… people would be more productive. Just because they can.

If someone is freed from the strain of earning a meager survival income… what could that person make to improve their life and the lives of people around them? We are at the point where we have the wealth to do this. If we just made the choice.

If we just chose to see people as people. Black people and white people and red people and yellow people and brown people. There are not more “worthy” people in the white race–what a crock of shit. There are more people who have experienced privilege in the last generation or so and as a result many white people have higher educations and they have fewer of the downsides of poverty.

Let’s equalize the playing field. I think everyone would be shocked in a generation. At the very least all the eugenics-leaning fuckwads would be disproven. White people aren’t better. They are just given more help and that allows them to accomplish things that aren’t available to people who lack the support.

As a white person who lacked most of the support of my compatriots… I see the difference between what I had and what the other whites had. I can see how what I had was still structurally easier than being black. The police told me that they wouldn’t ruin a nice boy’s life over me, but they didn’t throw me in jail for being a nuisance. They let me “slide” on my childish mistakes. That doesn’t happen if you aren’t white. You must be perfect from birth.

No one is perfect. You learn more from fucking up than you do from getting things right. This whole set up is horrifying.

If making mistakes is the way to learn and we have structurally created a system where black people are not allowed to make a mistake or they are punished for the rest of their lives… we can’t say that we have any ability to judge the “worth” of various races. We have not seen an actual demonstration of worth without active harm in centuries. When black people do incredible things a white person is there five minutes later trying to burn it down. Often out of spite and jealousy.

We have a lot of negative history to pay for in this country. Sweeping it under the rug won’t help anyone. Yes I believe we owe all African Americans reparations for slavery. Yes I fucking do.

First and foremost: we need to disarm the police. Clearly they are not big boys and girls and they cannot handle toys as powerful as they currently possess.

Noah argues with me. He thinks we need to have a fully formed plan before we start changing things. I think he believes that because he is a white man on the top of the pecking order.

I understand that burning everything down could result in me or my kids becoming casualties of the revolution. Do I want that to happen? No. But I would consider it morally acceptable to balance how things have historically gone. I will make choices that minimize our personal risk only to a limited degree. I’m more interested in steps that help other people. I’m just… not as focused on me.

I’ve been at the bottom and I’ve been at the top. I’m not too worried about staying at the top. I hope I never have to steal food again. It’s a lot of why I grow so much. I am not willing to shove someone else down so I can appear higher.

I was that stepped on person. I can’t and won’t do it to anyone else. Not on purpose. Not willfully. No. No. No. No.

If my government wants me to believe that it is serious about serving the needs of citizens I need to see a few specific steps: disarm the police. Take rape seriously and go through the backlog of rape kits. Release all non-violent offenders from prison. Shut down every for-profit-prison in the country. Revamp our immigration laws so that they are more fair and equitable. Restore funding for abortion providers.

I would believe that my government cared about me if they took those steps.

Shanna tells me frequently that she thinks I should be a politician. Unfortunately honey, there are too many thousands of naked pictures of me out there. That ship has sailed.

6 thoughts on “Running away from home

  1. Noah

    I’m not saying “get a plan first because you could be killed.” I’m aware that you’re unusually not-worried about you and yours.

    But the people you think you’d help aren’t doing well under the current level of non-enforcement of existing laws. They did even worse under more anarchy before that. More anarchy will not help them, it will do the opposite.

    Reply
    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      Have I mentioned that I love you and I appreciate that you deal with us having very different opinions without being an asshole? <3

      I don't think you are right. But I sure appreciate that you disagree with me in a civil and loving way.

      Reply
  2. WendP

    “If a man fixing a car is worth paying… why isn’t a woman taking care of children? If a man making a video game is worth paying… why isn’t a woman who is at home doing his fucking laundry?”

    He is not getting paid to fix the family car. He gets paid to fix other people’s cars. When I took care of other people’s children, I got paid to do that (pitifully little, but that’s another story). If I’d been raising my own, I wouldn’t have been paid. If I’d made a video game for me and my immediate family, I wouldn’t expect compensation – or maybe a trade for someone’s service/goods. If I make a video game that gets disseminated nationally, I would expect compensation.

    Reply
    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      The average yearly salary for a mechanic is $37,710.

      The average yearly salary for a day care provider is $28,491.

      We are not willing to pay men and women equally for their varying jobs. I’m not just talking about what people do for their families.

      I know I got things mixed up in this post. There are multiple issues at play here, sorry. There is what people are paid for their work, and men are paid more. Hispanic women are paid the least of all and that’s atrocious.

      There is also the fact that the work that women do in a house is not valued but men expect their outside-the-home work to be valued. (I don’t think I’m in that position, but most of my friends are.)

      If a man will walk in the door from work and sit on his ass and say “I did my share. I made the money” then I’m fucking pissed. Because ALL THE OTHER WORK is not done in the 40 hours he is at work. So essentially he thinks his wife owes him a 60-70 hour work week because he did his 40 hours.

      It’s not ok.

      Reply
  3. DSH

    I was having the “politician” idea this week. I wondered when it would be possible to go public with a simple, clear statement of, “I am this. I have done that. Now that I’ve aired the skeletons from my closet, let’s talk about what we should do for _______the constituency _________”

    Probably not in our lifetime.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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