This ad for a politician just made me weep like a baby.
B is the publicly acceptable way to refer to my friend’s wife so I’m going to say that. I haven’t asked my friend how he feels about being mentioned by name so I’ll still refrain. This is only a bdsm crossover because I know these folks through that community.
B is a HUGE patron of the arts. In her house and in her office there is a ton of art. Her office has a bunch of fancily painted walls by a variety of artists she knows. There are multiple murals or small pieces in different rooms.
She offered me space to paint, if I want. On one hand… I want to say no. I’m tired and that would be work. On the other hand… this beautiful, talented, interesting woman who works with a demographic I target heavily for influencing with my life has invited me to have space to influence how people feel.
She told me that if it would make me happier to do the work they could chain me while I work. I said that is not permitted within the current boundaries of my relationship but thank you for the offer.
That’s… that’s a really cool offer. I have art installations in California. Would I like to also have an art installation in Alaska?
Oh gosh. When I phrase it like that….
My friend who invited me up here to stay… he has a voice. He influences lives all over the world and he has done so for going on twenty years now. He has spent years encouraging me to share my voice with the world because he thinks I have lessons to teach.
I feel really validated here.
These people who are doing the real work are validating that even though I am hiding at home for a few years so I can learn the things I want to learn… I still have a lot to offer. They invite me back into the wide world.
But I’m afraid of the wide world. The wide world is big. The wide world doesn’t want to do shit for me. The wide world wants to know what I’m going to do for them.
That’s how it works with everyone. I don’t think I’m persecuted or anything.
I like my bubble.
I like having a family.
I like the friends who seek me out and ask to be part of my life. I like the people who actively invite me into their lives because they perceive me as being someone they want to be near.
The wide world…
But I’m not truly contemplating the wide world. I’m contemplating a wall. Maybe I should go make some sketches. I’m having some ideas. Butterflies and change and growth.
Cause I brought quite a few art supplies…
I was asked what I believe in. If I’m not a Christian, what am I? Where do we go? Why are we here?
I believe we are here because of a series of accidents, some terrible and some wonderful.
I believe the only meaning that exists is the relationships we create while we are here. I think we are alive as long as we live in the hearts and minds and souls of whatever we have touched. I think that we die when our last breath leaves our body. I think that we become one with everything that has ever been and will ever be.
I think that connection is enough for me to want to make things better for the other results of accidents. They didn’t choose this either. There is no deserve. There is no plan. But we can try to make it better.
It takes all kinds. I don’t need you to be like me and I don’t need to be like you. But I want you here.
That is what I believe in.
Stuff is creeping in. Today: having lunch with a friend then we are getting tattoos. Tonight I’m having dinner with a lovely friend. Tomorrow is all the massage. The kids also have stuff to get to.
It isn’t that what I’m doing is hard, it is that I’m having to switch gears on what I’m thinking about. I was thinking about that process lately: transitioning. I’ve been staring at the kids all week and thinking about the idea of transitioning from one activity to another and how do we do it?
A friend asked me how I feel about classes that my kids sign up for. Do I insist on attendance? Err… it doesn’t come up much? My kids aren’t very scheduled. Our classes are exciting treats that we are very happy to learn about. There is no dragging. It isn’t hard for us to get out of the house (mostly) because I start getting ready about three hours before we need to leave.
Most days we sit down at breakfast and talk about the structure of the day. What are we doing? Where are we going? I give the kids an idea of what to expect and when I’ll start prompting them to get ready.
Very rarely I run into the room and say, “Oh shoot! I didn’t look at a clock and I forgot _____ and we need to walk out the door RIGHT NOW!!!”
I am shocked that when I do this the kids usually jump up in the air and start rushing to get ready like someone is chasing them with a hot poker. They have bought in to “this is our life and we are obligated to show up when we say we will”.
I talk a lot about respecting teachers because they choose to share what they know with people who want to learn. That’s a gift and an honor. You must respect the efforts of teachers.
Kinda funny given how anti school I am, right? I’m not anti teachers. I’m anti-Industrial-Era-conformity-brainwashing.
That’s not the same thing as learning or education or teachers. In fact I have incredible respect for the process of learning.
Not that every school (public or otherwise) works the same way. I know. But it’s a crapshoot year by year. In “school” you don’t get to pick your teachers, mostly. In life you do. College is a weird hybrid of “school” and life because you have some choice but not that much. You pick your place of education more. (Not that most people research the teaching staff much before picking a university.) You get to drop classes and take a different teacher if you don’t like an approach… sometimes.
I have multiple bad grades (D or F) on my record because of personality conflicts with teachers. Does that mean I know nothing about those subjects? Nope. It means that bitch didn’t like me.
School is about measuring how you jump through the random hoops that someone decides to set for you. You think it is even and fair how those hoops are divvied out? Ha. Ha. Ha.
Standardized tests are flat out abusive to most minority populations. Why? Because they say, “Hey, how quickly can you identify all this random shit from White American Culture? Not fast? Then you’re stupid.”
And school in America in the year 2016 is about, “How fast can you regurgitate facts about this culture to prove you are ‘smart’.”
Yes there are exceptions. Yes there are good teachers in public schools and there are good private schools.
Are those private schools available to people who are very poor? No? Then school in America is about regurgitating facts. I don’t care that your kid might be getting away with having a good experience. The majority of American children are not.
How do I know this? Why am I so god damn confident of what I know? Because I went to 25 schools. Then 7 universities. Then I substituted in about 8 schools. Then I taught in 4 schools.
It’s not a huge sample size. But it’s big enough to let me see a diversity most people get to pretend doesn’t exist. I went to schools in rural areas, in neighborhoods of a predominate ethnic identity other than white, in rich schools, in poor schools, and many levels in between. I’ve seen Silicon Valley, Compton, and rural Oklahoma.
I can’t speak to the east coast from personal experience. But I read a lot of teachers. I’m pretty sure I’m right from coast to coast. Teachers are talking about the problems in the system. All you have to do is go look a little bit and you’ll find criticism. You’ll never run out of it to read.
I don’t think my way is right or mass actionable. I don’t think the solution to our broken schooling system is everyone opting out to home school. But I don’t know how to force the solutions that are necessary. I don’t know how to force a non-abusive mechanism on top of an abusive system and I just can’t be part of that abusive system any more. Not as a student and not as a parent.
Could I be a teacher in that system? Sure. Why? Because I’m subversive as fuck and I think the kids who are there need people like me whenever possible. Will I sacrifice everything in my life on the altar of helping other peoples kids?
No. I made these two people. I’m responsible for them.
Yesterday I cracked. I stopped asking the kids to help and I sent them outside to play. They had a glorious day and I got the house like 75% of the way to clean. Yes, I know people believe that I clean frantically full time and my house is always spotless so it isn’t that much work (or something). Well, actually…. (I find myself using that more often because it is now a banned phrase in many places. I try to only do it when I’m being a snot and refuting ideas about myself that annoy me.) I don’t clean that much. My house turns into a pit just like everyone else’s house. But I host big parties pretty frequently and I usually spend about a week cleaning before hand. So people think my house is always clean.
It’s a ruse.
I can usually flight of the bumblebee and feel presentable for dinner guests. And my kids have to pick up their toys before they get screens so our house doesn’t get that bad. Only mostly they clean by shoving whichever behind whatever and into wherever. So every so often we have to dump ever drawer, every shelf, every everything in order to find things. Because seriously after a while we can’t find anything and then everyone expects me to be a fucking homing beacon and they ask me 9,032 times a day where “x” is.
They ask me to buy them new shoes because they can’t find any to wear. I clean their room and find four pairs. That kinda thing.
So a few times a year we face overwhelming chaos. For the love of toast I don’t know how families with two working parents ever clean at all. When it gets bad (like me being gone two weekends in a row so things kinda pile up extra hard, and we are remodeling, and school level transitioning) it will take a solid 8-10 days of me cleaning for 4-10 hours/day.
(There’s always a day in the middle where I clean for four hours then collapse in a heap and cry for a while.)
This cleaning is extra epic because Youngest child has to be entirely moved out of that bedroom indefinitely for the remodel. They are currently replacing the wall/window and that room is not sealed to the out doors. (They have built the new bathroom walls/front wall in front of it, but it’s not all done and everything.) Lots of construction debris in there. Kiddo can’t use that room.
So they are sharing again for a bit. Which was ridiculous extra cleaning and sorting. Frankly I think they were god damn awesome.
At one point Eldest Child started crying and said, “I’m just not good at cleaning. I’m not smart at this and I never will be.”
I laughed and laughed and laughed. She looked at me and said, “WHAT?!”
“You act like I fell out of my mother’s womb being able to clean. I couldn’t do it when I was seven. Frankly I think you have more skill than I had at that age.”
She blinked for a bit, dried her eyes, and got up and made tremendous progress all in a big burst. At the end she grinned at me and said, “Ok I am getting better.”
Cocky little thing. Yes, you are. Every day. Every year. You are getting better.
So I think about these things because transitioning eats into progress. The more times I have to transition in a day the less progress I make on all tasks. This is a well documented phenomena. You can spend four years taking a Spanish class, or four months of immersion. And after the immersion experience you will be far more fluent.
Some guys I know were bitching at me that I should really stop what I’m doing with my life and learn all about the influential music from 1968.
I told them I don’t have time and they demanded that I justify what is more important than that. I rattled off what I’m doing with my life. They kinda blinked at me and said, “Ok maybe you don’t have time.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Everyone has different stuff going on in their lives. Everyone has a different comfort level of transitions. I don’t need to judge what other people need in order to feel comfortable. That internal Holy Fucking Shit No reaction needs to be turned off. Ain’t nobody trying to tell me that I need to pick it up. Not really.
My inside voice is changing. I do hear you.
Chill. The. Fuck. Out.
Why do I talk to myself? Because over time I am changing how I react to different stimuli. It was said that a lot of what is interesting about me now is that I do fewer global freak outs. When something is upsetting to me I don’t scream about everyone and everything. I can say exactly what I’m upset about and why and I can usually trace it down to the root. That’s letting me pull the weeds. I can tell which tendrils are a problem.
It’s ok that I failed in the school environment. I mean, I was usually an A/B student (except for personality conflicts) and I’m still a failure in the school environment. It isn’t that I’m unintelligent. But I cannot conform in the ways required to go period to period learning in the teeny chunks that can hopefully be absorbed by a large enough percentage of people to not be a complete waste of time to everyone. Woo.
Do you know why I was a good teacher? Because I met before school, during breaks, after school, and on Saturdays with students who could not understand what I was teaching and I helped them catch up on foundational information they missed along the way.
I can’t give that much of myself to people outside my family right now. My kids need that time from me. Why? Because we have some fucked up brain chemistry and DNA from generations of trauma. We need to do what we are doing right now.
We are learning how to adapt to life. We are learning how to learn. We are learning shit loads of stuff that we will be able to use later. We are planning. We are growing.
And we are doing it slowly. We are doing it by concentrating on one thing at a time for a few weeks.
That way we can spend many hours a day on one task and make substantial progress at it instead of spending 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
It is hard. It is physically and mentally and emotionally taxing. But I enjoy it. I feel rewarded. I feel like my reward is the conversation I get to have around the table every meal. My kids fucking think.
I know so much intense analysis of My Little Pony characters that it is ridiculous because I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode. I know their back stories, motivations, and things that are being foreshadowed. Yeah. My kid told me, “They are seriously foreshadowing something about her in this episode….” Then later I heard, “In this episode they broke the fourth wall to…”
I asked her if she knows what breaking the fourth wall actually means. Nope. So I explained. In great detail. With lots of examples. Afterwards she started rattling off examples.
Yup. Like that.
I treat my children like if they don’t know something yet it is because I have not yet done a good enough job of talking about it. So I’d better get on that.
I really like my life.
I like feeling responsible. Resiliency experts say that people are most likely to be successful if they internalize that they must be responsible. In other words: we must find a way or make a way. So we do.
I feel that way about anti-racist stuff. Incest research. Home schooling. Teaching my kids how to take care of their shit.
I believe I must make this work. Period. So I will.
What does that actually fucking mean? It means that I picked this life. Who the fuck knows why. So I’m going to live it to the absolute fullest. With great privilege comes great responsibility. I’m one of the luckiest mother fuckers born in the history of all time.
How did that happen?
Even with all the trauma. So fucking what. Every level of person experiences trauma. That’s universal. Not every being experiences trauma (lucky bastards) but every level of human experience has trauma.
What traumatizes one person is standard, normal, and appropriate to someone else. So check your fucking judgment, wench. (talking to myself…)
I have an idea for the tattoo. I’m not going to write it out in advance. But I’m going to have a wonderful time talking to my artist today. He’s so wonderful.
And I’m having lunch with a friend first. Then dinner with a different friend.
I don’t in any way want to complain about the fullness of my life. I am blessed. I am loved. People seek out my company on my terms. Because they consider the effort to be worth what they get in return.
I can’t judge that. I need to just say thank you.
I’m trying to slow down. Frankly the remodel is driving me batty. They are banging all day long. So every second all day long I have to process hitting sounds and decide they aren’t a threat.
That wears me out.
But I have to be home. For Reasons.
So I’m doing what I can to destress in the house. My anxiety is spiking like a motherfucker. But! I know it is temporary so I can have something I badly want and I’ll get to have it as long as I live here. Sounds worth putting up with.
But it hurts my body. It’ll end soon.
Every time I transition from thinking, “Is that the door?” back to whatever I’m doing… it takes a penalty spoon.
So I’m thinking about transitions like fuck right now. How many activities can I manage to get done in a day? How much work? How many different kinds of tasks? I think it is funny how different stages of cleaning feel different to me. I can’t declutter a room, organize it, then remove filth all in a go. I just can’t transition like that. I have to declutter the house. Then organize it. Then clean. I can’t go back and forth because I experience distress physically and psychiatrically.
Transitions are that hard for me. I will fall to the floor and sob and not be able to do whatever it is you want of me because I just can’t.
That’s something that has been a pattern in my life for a very long time and I’m just kind of recognizing what that means in my head. Oh. Flooding. Oh. That’s…
I like intense connections with a lot of fucking bandwidth. So when I need to spread that bandwidth out between 37 different distractions instead of 2-3…
It isn’t anyone else’s fault. But I’m trying to figure out what managing that means. I need this to get better. I need to stop flooding when I walk near someone else’s life because I feel like I should try to conform and I can’t I can’t I can’t.
No one god damn asked you to. Chill. The. Fuck. Out.
It’s funny to stop and think, “This is actually a huge improvement!”
There are a high number of specific high intensity things I want to get done in this life. I won’t get them done in 15 minutes of prep at a time. That’s ok. I don’t need to schedule my life how other people do. It is working for them. Stop projecting.
We all want different things. Health means something different to every person.
I’m trying to figure out what it means to me. This is proving to be more complicated than expected. Not sure if that is because I was naive to start with or what. Anything is possible.
I’m making a lot of progress with my pain stuff. (The overall refraining from typing is helping. Hey–it’s Friday. I kinda took a few days off… I am trying to moderate…)
I’m making progress on pain stuff. My bowels are… well… I’m told this is progress? I don’t fucking know. But it is weirder than hell. I mostly stopped with the pills for a few days (because obviously my body was freaking out) on the doctors recommendation and the freak out ended right away. This is supposedly a sign that things are working right on schedule. I will resume sloughing the parasites from my liver later today. Oh joy. But! I’m seeing… uhm… something fucking weird that I’m told is results?
We talk about poop while eating all the time.
My kids are very comfortable saying, “I’m going to eat lots of vegetables because your body sucks.”
If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning. Do one or the other and then do that motherfucker.
Yesterday I screwed up. I put in a load of laundry and I didn’t even think about what I was washing. A new dress up clothes thing was put in the basket. It had never been washed. It was bright fucking red. So all the martial arts uniforms were very pink.
Oooooops. Shit. Like rose colored pink. Dark rose. I was all, “NOOOOOOOO!”
Then I thought about my mama and I breathed a prayer of thanks. “Hey kids? Want to learn how to fix a mistake?” I used oxygen brightener and bleach and I boiled it on the stove top and those fuckers are white as snow once again.
Because my mama taught me what to do.
That’s a good memory. Thank you, mama.
Thank you for teaching me how to do my laundry on the stove because that was what we had and you were going to make sure I had the skills to be presentable no matter what happened to me or how bad my life was. You tried. Thank you.
During this process my friend was over and she asked if I wanted her to do the poking/stirring over the fire. I didn’t want her to. I felt entirely Zen in that moment. I am where I want to be doing what I want to do. I’m showing my kids how I fix a mistake. It takes time and effort. But it’ll be ok.
It was one of the most intensely blissful moments I’ve experienced in a while. That’s flow.
If I cared very much about getting out of my house and not being “stuck” with these experiences as the woman… I wouldn’t get to have that. I’m glad I get to have that. I’m glad I get to see the value in my mother.
I miss you, mama.
I miss all the friends I’m not reaching out to because I’m overwhelmed. I’ll come back. I’ll have spoons some day.
In March we have social stuff planned on the first two days. Then… uhm… I don’t know about the Easter party. Wonder how my bathroom will be? Err… I’ll let people know two weeks before?
I think that I need to not schedule anything else in March. Which is intimidating. I’m not resting. I’m working and socializing because I’m so desperate to catch up on the work. I need to rest and I won’t stop working so socializing needs to be back burnered for a few weeks. Just Do Eeeet.
What work do I feel so pressed to do? Well… we are transitioning from preschool to elementary school. Which is a fuck ton of work for me. (I don’t know how you folks who home school with kids in preschool, elementary, middle, & high school do it. How do you find space?! )
The thing I miss the most about teaching in a school is the prep time plus the right to control what everyone was going to be learning. This is much harder. I have to prepare on the fly for a range of topics. It’s brutal some days in terms of cognitive load. It is fucking hard breaking down every little thing into schemas and concepts and repeatable skill training.
This is why other sane people outsource this shit. But we have some genetic stuff to consider that will make us always on the edge of the bell curve. I’m glad the training exists for people in the center of the bell curve. Yay you!
Hi, I’m Krissy. I’m an outlier.
Name the metric.
I just uhm…. like to be difficult?
IT ISN’T PERSONAL, OK!?!
I should stop now. If I get up and start moving now I’ll have all my morning prep done before Noah finishes breakfast and I will be able to eat at the same time as them instead of sitting down as they finish eating. I’m a pain in the ass to take care of. I struggle to think the effort is really merited.
Know something that I find wacky? Youngest child just fucking loves to stand there and hand me pill after pill after pill. Kid says, “You have to fix the problems. You have to get your poop better so you can digest food. I want you to die when you are very very very old. So here.” It varies somewhat, but this entire experience is just…
validating as fuck.
I’m trying to figure out what I need. My issues are complicated, layered, and difficult to solve. I know you are doing what you need to do to solve your issues and it doesn’t look much like what I’m doing.
I need to figure out how to not feel so fucking bad about that. It’s ok that I need stuff other people don’t need. That doesn’t mean I’m bad. That doesn’t mean I should die so I stop stealing resources from more worthy people. It has to be ok that I need what I need.
It isn’t fair that I have the money to pay for it and other people don’t. There is no fair. There is no deserve. There is no way to have things come out even.
I had to believe there is no deserve when it was really bad. I have to believe it about the good stuff too. Or …. or I just can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t get fucking pompous and shitty and “Oh I have a good life because I deserve it. Because I worked harder than other people.”
Gag. Cough. Puke. Bullshit.
No. I really didn’t work harder than other people. Ok, I worked harder than some people. But not harder than everyone. Some people worked ten times as hard as me. They didn’t get where I am.
It’s not because I’m getting what I deserve.
Nothing is fair.
4,050 words. I should stop anyway. Oh my poor wrists. But I feel better. I feel like I’m finding the words to the parts I need to talk about without talking about what I don’t need to talk about.
That feels better.
How do I get to be me without hurting other people?
That’s the journey.
I haz big feelings. My stomach hurts. But I feel like I worked out this awful thing that has been in my neck/shoulder for years. I feel like I did a major trauma release in this class. That’s kinda intense. Exposure therapy for the win.
This is what exposure therapy means. The attackers are safe guys in suits who maintain their distance so they can maintain their aura of scary. But they are monitored by women the whole time. It isn’t some guy deciding to do something to a woman when he feels like it and she should have to react right. That’s not exposure therapy. Exposure therapy means a female coach kneeling with her face next to your face whispering, “Remember to breathe. Stop. Wait for the moment. You can do this.”
Stop calling real life abuse exposure therapy. It isn’t. Ok, digression over.
My second experience at Impact was fairly different from the first. I didn’t have a friend in the class. It felt like the group warmed up slower but then made more genuine connections once we did warm up. Everyone started off tentative and not too chatty but by the final day we were pretty friendly. That felt nice.
I took a risk the morning of the third day. I said that the cheering wasn’t making it through to me during my fights and I really needed the line to get louder and more encouraging because it’s scary to fight in quiet. I feel alone. I have to say, those women came through once I made a specific request. They did great.
I didn’t ask for more than one extended fight this time. I literally just… couldn’t. By the time I got through the one extended fight my body was saying, “Let the men make them easy from here on out.”
The guys… they have to work ridiculously hard to do an extended fight with the people who really want blood. They do extended fights to teach women that even when you feel exhausted (this is as close as they will get to the exhaustion of a fight where you will be dealing with someone hitting you) and tired and worn out you can still defend yourself. I think I have a better understanding of fighting from a place of exhaustion from the get go, so I didn’t need the exercise this weekend.
I chose to leave a few spoons in my drawer. Because today I seriously need to pay attention to the kids and if I had left it all out on the mat I would spend today in bed crying. I just couldn’t. This wasn’t a real fight to the death so it would have been inappropriate to wear myself out that hard so I couldn’t hang with the kids.
I pay attention to these things.
Topic switch. Back to hitting.
Yes, I think (upon further reflection) what I am doing with Noah unconsciously probably would be better termed a tap or a light smack… but that is still putting my hands on someone else’s body in a way I’m not paying attention to. In a way that he chooses to describe as being hit. Because he gets that choice. I need to stop it.
Just like people don’t get to tell me that when the kid kicked me in the throat it wasn’t assault. Yes, actually it was an assault. I’m not going to prosecute because I don’t think the kid had malicious intent. But it was an assault.
It is possible to hit and not be causing (permanent) damage. Not be hurting people. Still be a problem. Still need to stop.
I need to have so much fucking control over my body that I do not put my hands on people at all unless I am doing it in a way that I am highly conscious and in control of exactly what I’m doing. I can’t be muddy. I can’t be like “Close enough is good enough.” Not with what I want to do with my life.
So maybe I’m over reacting and maybe I’m understanding how much work I have left on this problem. I need to stop hitting people. Entirely. 100000% unless someone is directly threatening my physical safety.
I know I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to live in gray areas but this is a black and white thing. I’ve done too much hitting in my life. I need to get this under control.
I mean, not that I’m going to cancel that nice date with my friend. I’m going to do everything in my power to get to the point where I only hit people (even lightly) when they say, “Pretty please”. Or they start a fight.
I spent a lot of this class thinking about escalation. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I escalate.
I know it’s all victim blamey and shit, but yeah a lot of the fights, a lot of the rapes kinda happened because I had no ability to deescalate. It hurts seeing that so plainly over time. I am not good at managing peoples emotions in a deescalating way. I’m good at cranking the volume up. I stimulate feelings I don’t settle them. This is a problem.
I think about things like the neighbor who has been sexually harassing me. Did I encourage him? I don’t think so. 90%+ of the time I talk to him my kids are standing right there and I don’t encourage displays of sexuality in front of my children. So I’m inclined to believe this is his desperate fantasy that he isn’t dead yet and he’s still sexually interesting instead of this being about me. But do I deescalate properly when he brings stuff up? Mostly I call the kids and keep walking when he gets rude. What else should I be doing?
Well I think kicking the crap out of him then telling him I cannot be in control if a man grabs me may have been effective. He’s keeping more physical distance these days.
But is he going to creep again? My guess is yes. Because creepers gonna creep. Does it make it all my fault if it happens again because I’m stupid enough to talk to him?
You know what? I get to walk around my god damn neighborhood without having to physically fight off unwanted sexual advances. That’s fucking ridiculous. No this isn’t my fault and I should not have to avoid walking down my own god damn street to avoid being sexually harassed. That’s not reasonable. If he starts shit I’m not the one escalating. He is. I’m just not going to fucking be passive. I’m very friendly and non-threatening with him. I have no desire to hurt him. I’m just not going to let him do shit to me I don’t want to have done.
That has to be ok. No matter how old he is. No matter how much I like him. No matter if I know any man ever again.
I get to say yes to everything that happens to my body. Or I get to fucking hurt you. That’s the deal.
I’m getting closer to the point where I feel I could actually do it in a fight.
It was hard having Noah there. I asked him if he thought I could stop him if he tried to rape me at this point. He isn’t convinced.
I need to take more classes. It is 100% my goal to be able to so deeply scare men that they do not believe they could successfully do that again.
Not because I want to hurt men. Because I’m not going to be raped again. I’m done. The passive has been raped right the fuck out of me. I’ve taken all I can take.
It is quite literally my goal to die before letting someone rape me again. I want to fight to the point where someone has the choice to kill me or leave me alone.
Something broke and it can’t be fixed.
To be fair, Noah didn’t see my extended fight. He saw the easy peasy fights the instructors give you to blow off steam so you walk out of the room feeling strong so you don’t leave feeling like you should walk in front of a bus. They plan this shit. They know the roller coaster they put people on. Noah didn’t see quite how effective I am at kicking peoples skulls in. I practice from a variety of angles. I’m semi-worried that I will actually kill someone because I’m going to be kicking with such incredible force and anger. I may well shove someones face into their brain.
I won’t lose sleep over that. Ok, yes I will. I will be convinced I’m a monster who should be killed. Maybe I’ll go to jail and think that’s fair.
But I won’t be god damn raped that day.
I feel dangerous and horrible. But yes I am prepared to use deadly force to prevent someone from raping me again.
I have to believe I deserve that or I need to die today because I cannot endure another rape. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
I’m done. I have to believe I am allowed to kill someone to stop them if necessary. I know that in an actual fight I will have to use the minimum amount of force necessary to stop a fight. I know that. The chances I will get to a fight that results in death are incredibly freakishly low. Only I’m going to pursue a career that will make people hate me with the power of the sun.
So maybe my chances aren’t vanishingly small. Maybe they just aren’t that high?
I don’t know that I am yet at a point where I am capable of holding the adrenaline in and just doing the necessary hurting.
During one of my fights the suited instructor literally ran out of the room to get away from me because I was chasing too much.
I mean, I didn’t chase him off the mat. But I did take steps in his direction. I hear that the expression on my face was uhhhhh… terrifying.
I don’t know if that is a regular schtick of theirs to try and break the tension because it’s funny. Or if he felt like that is actually how an attacker would respond because holy shit.
I don’t know.
You never know.
They call the rape prevention moves “reversals”. Because you are reversing the power. Those are the ones where you have to stay still on the floor and use physics and it’s scary and complicated and fairly precise. I find them horrifyingly triggering.
It’s really hard to say, “I tried that and what happened was…” I failed. That’s what happened. I failed when I tried to do that. I didn’t prevent a rape that day.
Ahhh. I tried to move long before I felt weight. There was no physics to help me. Fuck everything. Well, specifically he fucked me. After slamming my head into the ground so hard I saw stars. I stopped fighting.
I don’t know if it would be different today. I don’t actually feel confident. That was just a fucking class. I was chanting to myself the whole time, “There is no chance this man would actually rape you. There are witnesses. He’s wearing very difficult clothing. This isn’t real.” Because I wanted to run screaming I was so fucking freaked out. But… that means it isn’t that real in my body.
Would I be able to access this when I’m scared? I’ve worked so hard for so many years to break the freeze response. I’m tired of going numb. But it is a genuine survival skill. I have worked hard to make it less likely I will survive.
I’m ready to die or assert myself. One or the other. But I do not yet know for sure that I’d win.
It is hard believing that I would kill to defend myself and that is part of why I am a disgusting person. I don’t know that I really believe I have the right. I am bad. I want to hurt people.
Not really. I’m just god damn done letting them hurt me.
That’s not true either. I do want to hurt people. I want to hurt people who like being hurt because it released kinetic energy from my body and it allows me to be more calm and gentle when necessary and appropriate.
Hitting is all of these things. It is tapping Noah when I shouldn’t. Even though it doesn’t hurt I’m touching someone without consent in a way that can be described as hitting. My friend who is inviting me to a lovely session of testicle kicking, that’s hitting too. It is completely consensual. He’s going to have a good time, I’m going to have a good time–it’s going to be fun! And being willing to beat someone unconscious for trying to rape me.
It’s all hitting. It is all violence. But do they mean the same things? Should they be treated the same way legally? Should they be treated like trauma because “hitting”?
Everyone gets to decide for themselves what is traumatizing. I’ve done bdsm scenes that were WAY more intense/painful/fucking out there than my rapes. My rapes traumatized me. My rapes were an action that I did not consent to happening to my body in a way that proved to me that I do not have the right to have agency over myself or my life. My bdsm scenes were done with friends and they were fun. Even if they were painful and scary. I knew what I was signing on for. I did it on purpose. I did it with full force and vigor and choice.
That makes all the difference.
I don’t feel traumatized by the throat kick. I feel like I learned something about boundaries.
If you fuck up and assault someone… that isn’t the end of the world. How you respond afterwards is what matters.
If you fuck up and assault someone on purpose… that’s different.
I genuinely believe there are accidental assaults all the time. Just like there is involuntary manslaughter.
Ok, I have one specific complaint about the class this time: I really didn’t appreciate the “boogeyman homeless guy” thing. That fucking pissed me off. The vast majority of assaults are someone you know. Leave the fucking homeless guys alone. They are doing their fucking best and I’m god damn tired of the nastiness of housed people.
Being homeless does not mean you are a god damn rapist.
That’s the attitude though. Homeless guys are creepy and scary. Do you know why they creep you out? Because you feel like they aren’t like you and that’s gross. I feel like they are like me and they are in a hard place right now.
I don’t need to feel scared of someone who has so little power and authority in life compared to me. Am I prepared to defend myself if someone does start something? Sure. But I’ve been interacting with homeless people for decades. I’ve done so all over the country and in other countries.
I’m not scared of homeless people. They are scared of me.
Why? Because they know I can call the cops and have them put in jail. That’s how the power dynamic works. Can I really? Would the cops do it? Maybe. But it’s pretty likely. If any of you dressed-like-you-live-in-a-house-people called the police on a homeless person there is a high chance the homeless person is getting arrested.
For vagrancy. For loitering. For trespassing. For intimidation. For assault.
Even if that assault was accidental. Who cares? It’s a homeless person. They are creepy and icki. We don’t want them around, prosecute.
Stop. Calling. The. Cops. On. Creepy. Homeless. People.
Unless you see them commit a serious crime, just leave them the fuck alone. Ok? They have enough god damn problems without whiny people harassing them.
(I’m not really talking to a specific person or even the folks in the class. I’m mad at the universe over this one.)
I’M TALKING TO THOSE ASSHOLES ON NEXTDOOR.
“I saw a homeless person on my street so I called the police.” I hope you die slowly in a lot of pain.
Like those assholes who called the cops on me in Virginia. I looked suspicious. I had out of state license plates and camping gear. Clearly I was up to no good.
This is my cranky face.
It is weird trying to find a place where compassion and the right to break your face live right side by side. Because in being able to defend myself like this… I’m trying to have compassion for myself. I’m allowed to say that 12 rapists in one life is enough. I’m allowed to say that I was 25 when I was last raped and that’s god damn when it ended. I’m allowed to absolutely fucking harm anyone who tries again.
That is what compassion for myself means. Maybe another woman could passively permit a rape and not kill her attacker and later prosecute and that would be the most “ethical” choice of all… or something.
I can’t absorb any more.
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
How do you get ready to actually be able to kill someone if you have to? I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.
Shit I already feel guilty that people seem to kill themselves after dealing with me.
(Yes, I know I am not “at fault” for any of these suicides. Life is complicated.)
In class someone thought it was funny to make a joke about fire. I sure know how to shut down jokes about fire. It was asked “Does anyone have any trauma around fire? No? Good….” Then I raised my hand. “Yeah, my brother self immolated.”
I bring all the fun jokes to an end.
God I suck.
Hell, I’m not even saying to stop using the joke. It’s ok to jokingly tease a group of people and tell them the final test will involve jumping through a fiery hoop. That’s not a bad joke. That’s not a real threat.
But god I can kill any joke.
I am so not funny that it is really really funny. It is to the point where my litany of traumas is becoming almost hysterical. I have a trauma for any god damn situation.
It is kinda funny sometimes.
WHEN WILL THE INSANITY END?!?!!? is most of the joke.
Well, I’m still having an extraordinary life… but I’d say it is mostly no longer traumatic. I have boundary violation issues every so often that must be managed.
I don’t think I’ve been traumatized in while. I think the last trauma was severing with my family. (I think I traumatized Sarah after that… but that’s a different discussion.)
Why do I split hairs like this? Because my shrink tells me to break everything down into its smallest compartments and then sort them out.
What is hitting? What is violence? What is trauma? These things are so broad and yet so very specific.
Random defensive pissiness: I read an article yesterday. Don’t remember where or by whom and I don’t care. The person was pretty much saying, “Stop talking about your white privilege because you are just grand standing. If you were really doing anything to dismantle structural racism you would do it silently.” Oh fuck you.
I’m trying to fund the revolution, motherfucker. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I do more with every year and I track it better so that I can know that I am doing more with every year.
Recently Noah told me, “If you don’t feel like you do anything in the world… you are giving more and more money away every year. You are financially impacting the lives of more and more people. That is doing something.”
I don’t do this because I’m a nice person. I don’t do this to be good. I do this because I can never help the child I was. I do this because it needs to be done and other assholes aren’t stepping up.
I’m an asshole. I can live with that. But I want to be an asshole who has specific boundaries around where and how I hit people, how I escalate fights, and when it is appropriate for me to use force.
I think that hitting people to teach them is a shitty way to teach them if you want an ongoing relationship. That style of teaching instill anger, fear, distrust, and the belief in the person you are educating that they deserve to be hit.
Ask me how I’m feeling about Noah right now.
We need something different.
I do not feel traumatized. I feel like I discovered a boundary. I need something different. This isn’t working for me.
I have enough brain damage for one lifetime.
I think that hitting should be used when you are ok with ending the relationship and not before.
If you don’t think I should be packing to leave then we should not be in a physical fight. That needs to be a boundary. And no, that does not mean I should get free hits without retribution. That’s not what I’m saying.
I need to stop hitting casually. I need to be taught through repetition and mostly through words. This behavior will mostly be extinguished through catching the “taps” that “don’t count” because actually they do. They teach muscle memory. They remind me that hitting is ok.
I used to hit ineffectively so I thought it was fine for me to hit people. At this point I’m very effective and that means I need to treat my hands like weapons and be in full control of them.
Noah hit back because I hurt him. He has the right. I’m not really mad that he believes he has the right to defend himself.
I’m mad that men start out able to defend themselves with so much force without having to take class after class after class and work and work and work.
I’m not sure that I’m mad at the men. I’m just mad.
I know that I need to get over all the shit that happened to me. But a lot of the places I hurt almost every day are from specific assaults.
Do you think you would be able to forget if you were reminded by your body every day?
Maybe if I can actually heal I stand a chance. Maybe.
Chiropractic appointment in 3.5 hours. I’m going to call and schedule acupuncture for this week. I don’t see a massage therapist for a while but I’ll be ok. Two weeks? I’ll live. Ha.
Cause the next time I see massage therapists I’m uhm seeing two in one day because I didn’t really look at the calendar before booking the second one. That’s ok. One person works on a very small area for the full hour and the other person does a more general massage for an hour and a half. It will feel like magic. I will need to drink so much water that day.
I’m really trying.
Some day I would like to spend less money on health care and spend more money on donating to communities of color. They need the money. I’d rather not need to spend it on my body.
I really don’t think I’m the best place to spend all these resources. But I recognize that it is literally necessary for a time if I am going to heal and be able to do the work I want to do. If I want to stop feeling suicidal because I cannot deal with how much pain I experience on a daily basis… I need to spend the money since I have it. I don’t have a justification for giving it away instead of fixing what is wrong.
Not at this point. Not really. I will be a more effective tool if I stop and do maintenance.
That’s just prudence.
Is that close enough to self love to count?
Today I am going to spend with the kids. Except for the chiropractic appointment. They’ll do bookwork during that time. We’ll be together the rest of the time. I think we should garden. We’ll read. We’ll snuggle.
I will remind my body that despite these training exercises… I’m safe now. I am safe now.
We need to meditate tonight. During the class I was fucking whigging out for a while. Then I remembered what I’ve been saying to myself when we meditate. “I breathe in nothing that will pollute me; I breathe out the nothingness that has consumed me.” It helped. It helped a lot. The fact that I’ve been practicing at night has helped. I calmed down much faster than I used to be able to.
Jenny tells me that I look at how far I have to go. She looks at how far I have come. I write it down so I can see too.
I’ve been talking about rape a lot on Twitter lately. I want to organize my thoughts a bit more, even though my arms burn like fire. So this may be a bit choppier than I normally blog. The Twitter character limit formatting is changing my writing. I hope in a positive way. I know I get too verbose for most people a lot of the time.
Noah spends a lot of time telling me that I spend too much time trying to figure out “who is to blame” for various problems. He’s right and he isn’t.
Thing is, dealing with rape is complicated. It is complicated at a personal level and it is exponentially more complicated at the level of a city and … then try to solve that for a state or a country.
My therapist tells me that it isn’t a good thing that the only way I know how to keep myself safe is to keep actual walls between me and other people. Well, it is the only effective method I’ve ever discovered.
That said, I travel more than the vast majority of people ever do. It’s just too expensive for most people. So I put myself in lots of situations. I put myself in situations where I have to keep, not only myself, but my children safe. Am I willfully putting us into danger just to… I don’t know… prove some macho ass shit to myself?
I genuinely don’t think so. Stranger assault is statistically rare. We don’t invite people into our tent/room. We talk to people in crowded public places then move on. It genuinely doesn’t feel risky.
Do you know what was risky? The way I was taught to walk into bedrooms with people because you wanted “privacy” after just knowing them for a few hours. That was how I spent my childhood. Asking to go into peoples rooms and initiating as much sexual contact as I could get away with and only acknowledging rebuffs grudgingly.
Sometimes it makes my heart beat fast when I enforce boundaries with my kids. They are not allowed to walk up and sit on laps any more. Not with a complete stranger. They can’t jump on strange men. Playing for two minutes doesn’t make them close enough to jump on, nope. You have no idea what is going on with their bodies. You don’t know if they just had surgery on their back. Nope. Don’t jump on strange people.
It is really weird to feel like the biggest god damn hypocrite on the planet. Don’t do anything I did.
This experience is how I understand the neglect I experienced. I completely lacked a frame for it before I was a parent. The awareness comes in stages of dawning horror.
How fucking formative that trauma was. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.
I’ve been acting like a bully with the kids. I’m not asking them to do things I’m ranting that I’m sick of them not doing the thing without being asked. We are talking about it.
I feel really guilty that Eldest Child said, “It’s getting to the point where it’s almost 50/50 nice and mean and that has to change. I know you are tired. Maybe we shouldn’t go out of the room much for a few days.”
I feel this horrible mixture of pride and guilt that she has to help manage me. She can be aware of those kinds of needs. That’s amazing. I don’t want her to parent me though. I’m not using emoticons even though I want to put like 75 frowny faces in a row.
I try to tell myself that the feelings of guilt and shame are because I was raised to believe it is not ok for anyone to ever have to pay attention to me and take care of me. It is not ok for me to want anyone to help me.
I try to tell myself that this is ok. It is a kind of enmeshment, yes, but we talk about how this is not her job and she is going to not be responsible for me long term. I thank her for feedback about her perception of being around me. I seem tired. I should rest. Yeah, thanks.
She acts like I am worthy of paying attention to. I wish that didn’t make me cry.
I’m going to jump back to rape. Why am I confident that my children will not have a life like mine? A kid kind of grabbed at my kids crotch. The instantaneous response was, “You do not have my consent! Get your hand off!”
I couldn’t save my niece nor my nephew. But my kids don’t think that anyone who wants to is allowed to have access to their crotch. They believe their consent is vitally important.
That doesn’t mean they will never be raped. I understand that. Let me tell you, I’m not done educating them. I’m just going at an age appropriate rate.
A lot of “staying safe” is a complex web of knowing the right words to say at the right time. If you have highly specific technical language you don’t seem like a good victim and any good predator will walk right by you. Obviously you have the support to protect you. You are not going to be easy to intimidate.
People comment, just about daily, that my children are so aware and ….themselves. It is funny how often the wording is almost exactly that. Another friend commented that it is amazing that people don’t think Eldest Child is bossy. She just has a good plan she wants everyone to follow.
I talk to them about what they want to get from life all the time.
Eldest Child and I have been talking a lot about what she wants to do school-wise when we get home. She has specific requests. She wants to work on languages more. She is frustrated by the limitations on who she can play with. She freaking asked if we can look for a Chinese class (I can hear Pam cheering from here) so she can work on that more consistently. She said we all should take Spanish together (I’ll see what I can do, Youngest child wants Spanish and is not up for Chinese). She said maybe on Hindi for a while. She said we should practice the alphabet and such at home but she thinks we don’t need that as a formal class. So I guess that will be some structure in our days.
We all want martial arts. The kids want gymnastics as well. I can’t teach them many skills like that. I’m happy to pay someone who can.
And she wants to play the violin.
I said we would add lessons one a month until we got up to the full load because all of that at once would crush her. She says that is probably smart.
I appreciate how often she tells me I’m smart.
You know… I think that’s why she does it. She’s a perceptive little thing.
My kids are not going to look like good victims. Not ever. They are going to seem like… they have all the support in the world. It’s only sorta true, but I’m going to give it my all.
But you know what? This option isn’t exactly available to most people. My kids get a full life of having a Ladies Illustrated Primer walking around with them. That’s not what most people experience.
Holy tomato I love my job.
My kids are in touch with their bodies. They know what they like and don’t like and they consider their preferences to be absolutely worthy of consideration at all times. Good prey act like it doesn’t matter what happens to them. They often don’t know what their preferences even are. “And as much as we cannot guarantee our own safety in this life, we can build resilience to weather what may come.”
I can never guarantee that my children will be safe. Not truly. Not completely. But I can teach them a variety of skills that will increase their likelihood of not only escaping from a lot of traumas but being able to cope with the inevitable tragedies in life.
My children will experience loss and pain. That is a non-negotiable part of the human condition. I know that. I’m trying to teach them how to ride the waves.
We took a break from the screens. The kids begged me to go back to the beach. It’s supposed to start storming tonight and rain mostly till we leave so I said yes. Even though it scared the absolute shit out of me. The kids kept asking me to go sit with the grown ups and just let them play.
No. No. No.
I sat between them and the ocean. There were four good waves where they started getting dragged out to sea and I grabbed them and bodily pulled them back to shore. They stopped arguing with my presence after the second grab. But they really didn’t want to stop working on the dam they were building.
They are fucking obsessed with building dams this trip. They have built them in little itty bitty creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. It was awesome watching them lecture much older girls about how “We have to find a variety of materials to help provide structural integrity! Just sand won’t hold!”
That was why I had a hard time stopping the play. It was so… intense for them. But that ocean doesn’t fuck around. Lots of places are currently flooded and people die from being swept into the ocean all the time. It’s not a game. There are no take backs. The ocean is bigger than all of us.
After the fourth time when I grabbed them and I felt like I barely pulled out of the wave I said, “Ok! That’s it! I’m done!”
The kids didn’t really argue with me. They spent over an hour saying repetitively after we got back to the hotel room, “I think you just saved my life. Wow. You care that much. You are going to stand right there so you can save my life. I think you just saved my life.”
My response is, “I brought you into this world and I’m not giving up on you yet.”
They snuggled with me and looked a bit stunned.
The ocean is not something to fuck around with.
Want to know something kind of hilarious? I had a similar experience with the kid who kicked me in the throat at a group beach trip.
The ocean is bigger than you. I don’t give a shit how strong you think you are. The ocean is bigger than you. Never fight the ocean. You will lose.
So yeah. I think I’m done. If it is storming I am definitely not going down there with the kids. If we want to swim in between rain bursts they have a pool. That is risk enough with a damn thunderstorm.
You have no idea what you mean to me. No forking duh I am going to keep you out of the ocean when it is dragging you like that and you are screaming out in fear. That is my job.
It is both my job to teach you to respect that power and my job to protect you from it as you gain enough experience to have proper respect. It’s a complicated operation.
I think I am really feeling the need to cross reference all of these experiences because I am trying to understand the scope and effects and structure of rape culture. What does it even mean?
Do you know who really taught me I didn’t deserve rape? Sex workers. Grown ass women who were god damn sure what was and wasn’t ok to do to them. I know women who have been sex workers for decades and members of the kink communities for decades who have never been assaulted. I study them with a more than just friendly interest. I want to understand their instincts.
I want to teach those instincts to my children and people who aren’t sex workers have never been able to break them down in a way I can understand. They specifically can talk about what they do to manage risk. I know vanilla women who have never been assaulted. They don’t understand why that is true. They just got lucky.
So I talk to the people who can actually give me the information I seek. I am shameless and mercenary about it.
I’m not teaching my kids to be sex workers. I’m teaching them to think of their body as belonging only to them and never to anyone else.
I am doing my absolute best to raise people who will react indignantly if someone tries to abuse them. My kids interrupt me if they think my behavior is getting near a line. They are immediate in their ability to say what is or isn’t ok about what is happening to their body. It is stunning to see.
I have labored for so many years to try and develop those skills.
Sometimes I feel so jealous I want to shove my head through a window. Just to get that feeling away from me.
My brother used to put his head through windows. They made him wear a helmet whenever he wasn’t in a building with safety windows.
We have really liked hurting ourselves in my family for a long time. I feel so grateful that my children showed mild inclination and were quickly reassured that it is not the right decision to hurt yourself when you are upset. Ask for help figuring out how to handle your feelings when you feel overwhelmed to that point. Your parents will listen to you no matter what.
You don’t have to feel pain. We can maybe help.
I feel so grateful that I found a sperm donor who had excellent genetics and sincere interest in being a really involved parent. This is a wonderful experience to watch.
But Noah has committed rape. And so have I.
Do I think all rapists belong in jail?
Jimminy Christmas don’t ask me.
This rape culture shit is complicated.
I want my children to be able to do better. I want all the children to have better. Education is the single best route to understanding diverse people and life experiences.
I honestly don’t know what else to do. I need to pick up the kids soon. I’m going to stop.
I was asked for a little advice. A friend is getting to the point where (s)he believes that (s)he can no longer be in denial about being in an abusive relationship.
I’m going to use very gender ambiguous language here. As ambiguous as possible because this is not a gendered issue. Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of their age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.
Abuse can happen to anyone and it is not your fault. You cannot control the behavior of other people. If other people decide to abuse you… you have control over how you react. You do not have control over their behavior.
This is a website that goes through some things to think about with regards to abuse. What things count as abuse. I am intensely bothered by this attitude we have in America that abuse is always (or even mostly) perpetrated by men upon women.
I think we can only say “mostly” if we ignore a lot of more subtle forms of abuse. Yes, men tend to be more physically violent than women or non-binary people. I think that is a result of enculturation as much or more than biology.
Men are abused. Non-binary people are abused. We need to get rid of the narrative that only women are abused.
If you think you might be in an abusive relationship you need to start thinking about some aspects of your life differently. You can no longer consider your partner before yourself. If you are being abused you must act to protect yourself. What does that mean?
Well, I think most people who are being abused would be best served by getting into therapy with a skilled and educated provider because such a person can help you access resources in your area I can’t know about because I’m some chick on the internet who doesn’t live near you.
But I’m 30+ years into my therapy career and I’ve seen 21 therapists and I’m well aware that skilled and educated providers are thin on the ground.
Be ok with firing a therapist if they turn out to not be skilled or educated in the kinds of stuff you need help with. Therapists are service providers and if a service provider doesn’t have the skills you need… move on. You wouldn’t hire someone to dye your hair if the only skill they have is doing a buzz cut.
It’s not about being mean to the therapist. You don’t owe a therapist anything other than appropriate compensation for the time you spend with them. Beyond that you don’t owe them anything. Move on if a given provider isn’t fitting. Therapy is about helping you develop the skills you want to have and you don’t currently have. Their feelings are irrelevant.
I mean, they are people and they matter… but don’t keep seeing a therapist because you feel bad about breaking up with them. They really should have at least enough training to encourage you to move on to someone who is a better fit. If they are clingy… run fast. Consider reporting them to the state board.
Ok, how do you interview therapists to see if they are right for you? There are a bunch of factors to consider.
- Are you looking for help working through a short-term crises or are you looking for a long-term therapy relationship? It is best if you can screen for suitability for your needs early on. If you don’t go in with expectations set it can really be hard. Most people who are not mentally ill can have 3-6 months of supportive sessions to get through a crises and then move on without therapy. Not everyone is a lifer. I am, and if you are then you need to learn how to look for that. At this point I tell new potential therapists, “I’m looking for a long-ish term commitment from therapy. I need an intense relationship with a lot of transference because I’m trying to heal wounds from neglectful parenting. I need a relationship with someone who can be supportive and enthusiastic about me being genuinely a non-standard person. I need a parental substitute who can help guide me without trying to control me.”
- Do you know much about different therapy types? It might be most effective if you do a little bit of research before you go in. CBT, DBT, psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy, Existential therapy… there are as many different models of therapy as there are people who need help, just about. Google these terms. I don’t want to put just random links up next to the terms and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. You have to be educated because most therapists aren’t capable of telling you, “I know x but you probably need y.” You have to learn what the options are and you have to proactively say, “I think I need help with changing my behavior. I believe a dialectical behavior therapy approach would work best for me.” Then go shopping for people who have specialties that match up with your best guesses. Your best guesses are all you have at first. (Personally I now say, “I need Harm Reduction therapists. Period. I don’t work with abstinence only people.”)
- Be ok with making mistakes. Life is about screwing up and then learning to do better. You’ll screw up as you try to figure out how to stop being abused. It is really hard.
- Document as much as you can force yourself to. If you are married and especially if there are children involved things may get to court. If you go to court you want to have documentation of when you have what kinds of arguments. Write down as much as possible about what you are saying and about what your partner is saying. Date everything you write down. If you are dealing with a bad co-parenting situation, write down every time your partner demonstrates neglect towards your children because it could be vitally important in court for protecting your kids. It’s time to stop thinking about what you want instead you must think about what is best for your children. If you have no children… well, documenting will save you headaches in court. If you aren’t married and things are bad enough for documentation… maybe just run. Rebuilding may not be harder than what you are doing.
- If you decide to pursue therapy as a short term process, go in with as much supporting documentation as you can so your therapist can jump in full speed with you. Write up documents. Write up a cast list for your life. Write up diagrams explaining how people are connected. Mention major traumas that may be applicable. Talk about how your work/school/friendships are being impacted by this problem. You need to explain to this professional how much of your life is being impacted. They can’t know unless you tell them. If you write this stuff down as a document they can read it outside of session and you probably won’t be charged for the time. My current shrink read my whole auto-biography when we started working together. Now that’s professional dedication.
- Be aware. Joint counseling is NOT RECOMMENDED in abusive relationships. Couples counseling often just adds fuel to the fire. Get yourself in order.
- If you are being abused the best advice I can give you is don’t try to change your abuser in any way. That’s a waste of your energy and time and you need to throw as much energy and time as you have at yourself. You need to prioritize you. You matter.
- If it is bad enough, you can call your domestic violence shelter in your area and ask for help finding resources.
- Calling the police is a very mixed experience. I can’t say if you should or shouldn’t. It depends on how bad the abuse is.
- Be aware that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you leave. That is when the most folks are killed. Be careful. Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and learn how to listen to your gut. You can’t move on in life if you are dead. Take threats seriously, but don’t get paranoid. Learn how to evaluate threats.
- Reach out for help. Tell your friends. Don’t get isolated. You’re going to need help. It’s ok to need help. Helping you is part of the glue that holds social communities together. Helping people in a time of need is bonding. It’s ok to ask for help. You are still a grown ass woman or a grown ass man or a grown ass person not on the binary. You are not diminished by needing help. You are humanized.
I love you. You need to love you too.
At Disney World that is. Yesterday was intense. It took more than eight hours to get from one hotel room to the next. It was about four and a half hours of freeway driving. I’m not counting the driving time where I got lost in forking Orlando. That took a while. Grocery shopping was sorta epic.
As we drove out to the resort I started shaking and my stomach hurt and I felt like I was about to puke. I kept up a steady chatter to myself, “Krissy it’ll be ok. This will go fine. This is Disney. You are late for check in… they will have people waiting around who are happy to help you. It’ll be fine.”
It was rather ridiculous but hey, do what you gotta do.
We got to the driveway and I started asking just about anybody in a uniform, “I’m new here, which step do I do first?”
They all smiled at me and directed me to where I needed to be.
They are all thrilled to get a Californian. These are the Disney Vacation Club properties, so they see owners and that is a fairly set group of time share people. Variety isn’t as common as you’d think for a hotel.
I had a lot of questions and I said flat out, “I’m going to feel anxious until I have a few concerns addressed.”
You know what? Like magic extra employees kind of backed over to where I was talking to the nice desk clerk. They all smiled like they were super excited that they might get to help.
I fucking love this place.
You know what? They addressed every concern right down the list. I do have to unhitch my trailer, but that’s ok. It means we will be more likely to sneak off to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter exhibit and that’s exciting.
Oh, parking is right next to our room. This is so fabulously convenient I have no words. I thought it would be a hike. I feel so spoiled. After three months of continuous travel I now think that one of the biggest luxuries in hotels in nearby parking.
I had a very nice person help carry my stuff in from the van with a dolly so I didn’t have to make eleventy billion trips. He thought it was hilarious that I wouldn’t let him carry the heavy stuff up the stairs. It was his first day back at work after a back injury. You aren’t carrying my heavy fridge up the stairs! Heck no!
He thought that was funny. He asked a lot of questions about me and what I do. He was thrilled to meet a writer. He said he had never met one before. Over and over he said, “Whoa. You are one hard working woman. I’ve never seen a woman rush to carry heavy stuff up the stairs for me before. And you home school your kids. And you travel around the country. And you write books. Whoo. You wear me out.” He must have said it twenty times. I laughed.
He asked for information about my books. I gave him all that he needed to find me. Who knows if he will follow up.
It’s a bit awkward to tell people, “I wrote about my experiences growing up in an incestuous family. It’s intense.”
Trigger warnings, baby.
This was all after a hilarious incident with a conservative postal employee in Georgia. I’ve never seen a federal employee retract their implication that there is anything wrong with being queer so damn fast in my life. With a smile.
It’s funny what conclusions folks jump to when they find out you are home schooling.
Nope. I ain’t teaching the Bible. We don’t pray.
I mean, we have many Bibles in the house… but I teach it as one set of mythology among many that humans have come up with over many thousands of years.
It’s just one path out of many. They are all ok.
We were kind of a hilarious experience for my newly adopted niece in Georgia. (Long story.) she is growing up with a Baptist mother and a Catholic father. They attend church regularly. It’s a big deal.
I leaned over and said, “I’m a Godless Heathen.”
Her eyes went wide.
Yeah. That was wonderful.
I said, “You are going to hear a lot about people like me and when you hear those things you can decide for yourself if you agree or not. I’m just one person out of many. I don’t represent ‘all the weirdos’ of the whole world but I do represent a lot of them. When you hear people say nasty things about people like those know that they are talking about me. And think about that.”
She nodded slowly. I was an intense experience for a 9 year old.
I really loved settling into the room here at the resort. We have a system. I explained it to the kids. We all relaxed once the system was discussed and the kids stopped chafing at boundaries every other second.
It was palpable. I didn’t take my medication until after this experience occurred so it wasn’t just that all of a sudden I was stoned and I didn’t care any more. The kids stopped fighting.
It’s been a rough few days. I’m not proud but I screamed and screamed and screamed in the car. They would not stop beating on each other. I mean… they stopped when I went a little nutty. But they would not stop until I went berserk screaming about how they had to Stop Stop STOP.
I felt kind of bad about it until we talked about it later in the evening. I said I was sorry that sometimes I was an asshole when more gentle methods failed but sometimes I really need to be effective. You can’t hit each other.
Eldest Child nodded and said, “Oh I know. We really couldn’t even hear you until you broke our concentration.”
Youngest Child nodded and said, “Yeah… uhh… it’s hard to hear you sometimes when we get into it.”
Then my eldest child looked down, and brushed her head bashfully like we were in a damn movie and apologized.
It was… kind of weird.
YC didn’t apologize exactly but there were amends made. At five it isn’t always a verbal apology yet and that’s ok.
I asked if we could make an agreement to ask for rest any time and every time we feel tired so we don’t whine or get cranky with each other and everyone agreed. They know where their free feeding snack food is. They don’t have to ask me every other minute if they can have _______. It’s glorious freedom.
I think it is hilarious that they both, separately, echoed something that Noah said to me a long time ago in almost exactly the same tone of voice.
“One of the things I like about you is that you make every place feel like home” with a happy sigh to follow. This is in reference to how I set up and organize hotel rooms to within an inch of their lives if I am going to be in them long. I have to or I can’t find shit and that makes me crazy. I have to know where all my stuff is. We have a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of things to put my hands on over and over and over so I can know exactly where it is when I need it.
This is how I comfort myself. This is how I create the order I need. This is how I create the structure and the scaffolding to teach the lessons I want to teach. We are not working on the in-the-room-manners here. That lesson happens elsewhere. Here, we rest. It’s so relaxing and nice.
Only we rest and relax with a pool and a playground a 3 minute walk away so we get lots of exercise right before bed so we go to sleep easily.
This is why I pay for this. Because having people leap to help me with a smile has a cost and I am happy to pay it. I’m told that privilege can’t be bought, but advantages can. If I’m going to be a fucking rich person I’m going to occasionally pay for some fucking advantages.
Oh this is wonderful. And I have to not swear so I’ll get it out now.
Ahhh. Maybe not. I’m feeling pretty mellow. That was a happy fuck.
Cause I’m like that.
Thank you Noah.
I have quite the set up for our little mini kitchen. We don’t get a stove or a full size fridge so I brought our fridge up. The freshest food goes in the apartment fridge so the kids eat it first. The stuff they are allowed to grab at will is in an open container at a tempting eye-height. Other snacks are organized by priority in drawers cause I’m a neurotic fuck.
Tier two foods are things that we will access a lot on the trip for breakfast but they shouldn’t be freely snacked on during the rest of the day or we won’t have breakfast for the rest of the trip. We’re here almost three weeks. Be strategic.
Tier three foods are meal foods that probably require adult help because the microwave is hecka high.
Seems reasonable, right?
It is funny watching them stop asking for things every few minutes. It is kind of weird every time I see this tremendous example they just want to find out what the boundary is.
I can work with that.
Apparently, there is a certain level of beating on one another in the car that brings very unpleasant screaming.
Dude, I was going 60 miles an hour on the freeway, how am I supposed to react? I’m in an unfamiliar area during a frigging interchange. STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW.
I get kind of upset sometimes. I’m told I can be intimidatingly loud.
Well if you’d stop when I asked in a more moderate tone dozens of times.
I genuinely don’t know what else to do. I mean, sometimes I use the radio to startle them. But a good loud blast of sound is the only thing I can figure out to do when they go at it in the car.
I do not use the screaming method outside of the car. I separate them. In the car… THEY HAVE A TUMBLING MAT BETWEEN THEM AND THEY STILL REACH AROUND IT TO BEAT ON EACH OTHER.
Oh my. Yeah. Sibling stuff is complicated.
Mostly they get along really well. Sometimes… yeah. We have a long way to go on impulse control. But I don’t have a lot of room to complain. I was way the heck more violent than them.
This trip has had highs and lows, like all trips. I think being at the resort is going to be a high point. We are really excited to explore. We are ready to not be in the car.
The first thing we are doing is going over to child care to talk about options and schedules so the kids can pick times they want to be there.
I’m not sure what I’ll do. But I’ll go do something.
I feel a little weirdly guilty and ashamed. This is such a stupid thing to want to do. What a waste of money and time.
But it will be… so fun.
I love you Disney. Thank you for smiling at me.
We kinda have a problem in our country. We have major racial segregation and stratification.
That’s a big problem.
In my opinion, if you want to think you are a good person… you have to believe that black lives matter as much as the lives of your children. If you don’t think that then…. yeah. You aren’t that good of a person.
Because the children born of my body (or yours) are exactly as important as the lives of children born to non-white mothers. And that is why we must scream from the top of our lungs that Black Lives Matter. (Yes, I know that other minority races are killed at rates that need looking into. We need to go after the police.)
Because that is just how it works. There is no superiority hierarchy. There is no reason to believe that being white is better than being any other race. If you think that people are more deserving of a good education if their parents can pay more money, either through private school tuition or through higher taxes in a “better” school district, you aren’t that good of a person and you need to work on that.
This shit really is that basic.
“Higher property taxes mean better schools” but then later you say that black people earn less money as adults because they are lazy.
Bullshit. They earn less money because people like you, with money, are selfish about it. That fucking sucks.
If we want to have a country where everyone has genuinely equal opportunity to succeed you have to start with the basic premise that the schools in Compton, Detroit, or East Palo Alto should be as good as Beverly Hills High, Hunter in New York, or Los Gatos High School.
Or you aren’t that good of a person. You should work on that.
I’m not saying I hate you for having biases towards your kids/clan. I’m saying you need to work on that. It’s a character flaw. I have tons. I know how much it sucks when they are pointed out to you.
Nevertheless… get busy working on that. I love you. You can do better. We can do better.
We, as white people, make up more than 70% of the country. If we don’t get our heads out of our asses we are going to be on the wrong fucking side of history.
While I’m at it: police violence. Why in the motherfucking hell did a black woman get vaginally searched on the side of the road for marijuana?! Her name is Charnesia Corley. She deserves better from her government. She deserves to get the same therapy for the rest of her life paid for by her government that I got because I was a victim of a violent crime that was sent to court. She was raped by a police officer. On the side of the road. Let me motherfucking tell you. Having someone you do not know, like, trust, or want to be intimate with shove their fingers into your vagina is rape.
Over marijuana. Which is rapidly being legalized around the country.
This situation is insane. This is absolutely around the bend terrorism.
This has to change.
If you aren’t willing to make some noise about this needing to change… then you aren’t being a very good person.
I hear folks regularly try to justify the police killing citizens because “They have a dangerous job.” LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE DANGEROUS JOBS. THEY DON’T GET TO SHOOT PEOPLE WITH IMPUNITY WHEN THEY GET SCARED.
What a ridiculous, nonsensical, mean-spirited justification. No, not mean-spirited. It is evil.
Yeah. If you defend the American police institution… you are on the wrong side of history. Look into that. The police kill 25 citizens for every 1 of them that die. That means you are ok with your government executing people when they feel scared.
Really? You believe it is ok for government officials who are sworn to serve and protect to execute people when they feel scared?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
We have to change this. Seriously.
First: I am going to reflect that people who say, “In the past women had to say no when they meant yes or they weren’t worth having” are perpetuating bullshit. Say it to someone other than me, please.
I don’t believe that I am a worthy person despite my promiscuity because I was born at the end of the 20th century. I’m worth what I would be worth no matter what. I’m offended by the (probably true fact) that if my behavior were discovered one hundred years earlier I would have been murdered to protect the “purity” of the people around me.
But that isn’t even what I want to talk about. I want to talk about race. I see race. As I drive across this country it is stark where people feel comfortable and where they don’t.
I counted 86 people in Duluth who looked like they had African ancestry. In almost two weeks of being out every day. In a town of 86,000 some people. I started counting on the second day when I happened to notice a large group of black teenagers standing together. Biggest grouping of black people I’ve seen since I left California. I wanted to walk over and say hi and I decided that was a bit weird.
I told my friend I would stop counting if I hit 100. Didn’t happen. So Duluth is much more diverse than many of the places we’ve been but it isn’t what I’m used to.
Milwaukee! We are staying in a historically black neighborhood. I can tell. It’s great! I haven’t counted because out of the first 15 people I saw 13 were black. I counted that high and stopped and thought, “Ok I feel good here; I like Milwaukee already.”
My childhood was so fractured. I spent time in so many places. Sometimes I was in all black neighborhoods. Sometimes I was in all Hispanic neighborhoods. Sometimes I was in all white neighborhoods. I’ve never hit an Asian enclave but not for reasons of specifically rejecting them. Just didn’t happen.
I feel most comfortable in Hispanic neighborhoods. I love the music. I love the smell of the cooking. Spanish, for me, is the language of loving mothers. The loving, considerate, caring mothers I knew were mostly Hispanic. So very loving. I spent much of my childhood crying and wishing I was born a Mexican so I’d have a mother who wanted me. I didn’t understand why my mom didn’t love me the way the other mothers loved their children.
I no longer believe that only Hispanic mothers love their children. But it was weirder and harder to shake than you’d think. Black mothers always seemed more fierce and less… gentle. They had too much shit to get done to baby your ass. Get your shit done. Of course I have known black mothers who weren’t good at mothering, but mostly I’ve known a lot of black women who are very good at passing on what they know about living in a hard world. I admire that.
I don’t especially want my children growing up in a white bubble. There are good things, yes, but lots of bad too.
The family we are staying with for two nights (we aren’t talking to them much) are incredibly involved in their church. My kids are asking me about how that works. It’s fun talking about the roots of community support and engagement that grow from religion. It’s easy to talk about why people would want it and what it does. I get the appeal of religion. I just… don’t believe.
My kids asked me if only people who aren’t white go to church. I about fell off my chair laughing. Kiddo, lots of white people go to church. Remember how we went to your friend’s first communion just a bit ago? Oh. Yeah. Ok, I guess they do.
That was funny.
Someone on line said something that made me think really hard. Privileges are things you are born with. You can’t change them. Things you earn after you are here are advantages.
I was born white. In this place and in this time that means I’m given certain structural support and acceptance. I’m not trailed in stores. People will assume I’m the victim in an altercation with someone of color. I’m more likely to be thought “honest” than someone who isn’t white. (Despite the fact that white people are huge fucking liars. Oh my god.)
It is fascinating to think of my life since 18 as being one long series of advantages rather than privileges.
I wasn’t born with the accident settlement, but it changed my fate. So it isn’t a born privilege but it is an advantage I earned through violent attack? Man that’s how I get lots of my friggin advantages. Assault the shit out of me. I’ll make you pay.
Only.. that’s bullshit. Mostly I shut my stupid mouth and walk away and I don’t make people pay. I go home and cry and cut on myself and hate me for being so stupid I let that happen again.
I don’t know how to talk about the advantages very well. I’m trying to get better. We frequently offer to pay for things for folks. We asked to take my friend’s family out to dinner in Duluth and she was clearly not sure. She hemmed and hawed and talked about how expensive it was and how hard it was and…
I said, “Sweetie I feel weird saying this but I grew up starving and now I’m rich and I can pay to let others eat. It makes me feel very good about myself that I’m in a position now where I can feed other people, please let me have that feeling.”
She looked at me for a long minute, evaluating, then said yes. We had a great time! Oh and the food was so good. The Smokehouse in Duluth makes ridiculously good meat. And the tapenade… drool.
When I walk through upper class white neighborhoods I feel afraid. I feel like someone will set a dog or the police on me at any second. When I walk through a lower class white neighborhood I feel tense. I feel like someone could be looking for a territorial fight at any minute. Lots of bullshit posturing. This wouldn’t be a big deal only I don’t walk away from a dick contests. I’m going to win, motherfucker, because mine is bigger.
When I am in black or Hispanic neighborhoods… I feel comfortable. I can say “Hello!” to everyone and smile and they will probably smile and wave back. It will smell like the best food ever as you walk down the street. People will be playing and interacting in public like they aren’t ashamed to be seen existing.
I feel much less anxiety.
I spend a lot of time thinking that if I ever move I’d like to move to a historically black or Hispanic area but then I’m a piece of shit gentrifier.
Most of what I initially liked about my neighborhood is that it feels like the United Nations. Lots of us are outside just living in front of our neighbors. I like it.
Communities that want to have people living outside right next to each other are ok with interventions. If you see a kid doing something they ought not be doing… you comment. Period. Everyone does. They jump on my kids like white on rice and I smile benevolently and nod, “That’s RIGHT!” Listen to that woman. She knows what she’s talking about.
I like messy community involvement. I’ve already “stood alone” for most of my life. I’m good.
This is uncomfortable to talk about because all racial concepts are loaded in this country. Probably in the whole world, but I live in the US. I don’t know what to do about the fact that my presence would pollute the environment I wish to be in. Most folks in historically black neighborhoods don’t want bitches like me moving in.
I’m not trying to co-opt your culture. I try like fuck to not appropriate. But there are things I want to emulate and I want desperately to believe I am doing it in a respectful way. Not sure I am. That bothers me.
I grew up reading books centering the Black experience. Those mothers are who I liked and respected. I don’t think I’m black. I don’t think that is a decision I can make. Black isn’t a religion. I can’t convert.
But I can choose my words and tone to try and be respectful in the ways I’ve heard people hit respectful along with very forcefully effective. Damn I admire that.
I hope beyond hope that I’m not just mocking AAVE (African American Vernacular English); I’m sincerely not trying to be disrespectful.
Where is sharing respectful? Where is stealing disrespectful?
I have a hard time with this because adopting white culture is ok across the board. I have a hard time with this because that means everyone gets to be more rude and demanding and self-absorbed.
Maybe white culture shouldn’t be the one we pick as the one to shoot for? Just sayin’?
White culture is shit at community engagement. I believe this is partially related to capitalism. Whites have traditionally lived in areas where they don’t have to work in large groups for the basics of survival so they distrust and dislike groups.
If you look at the living conditions in Africa and South America… group cooperation was more useful.
For white people we aren’t big on group cooperation. We are big on one asshole getting an idea then buying slaves and forcing the slaves to do what that one asshole wants. And that asshole could be male or female. Everyone sucks. Yay!
That’s not the same thing.
I’m tired of the idea of bootstrapping. I’ve never seen a bootstrapper who didn’t have some systematic support.
LIKE THAT ASSHOLE THOREAU AND HIS GOD DAMN DONUTS. AND HIS FUCKING LAUNDRY.
“I wish to live simply. And let my mama take care of me forever.”
Yeah, that sounds like a white guy. Fuck everything.
He was considered one of the leaders of thought! He is to be emulated! I WANT A FUCKING MOMMY TO TAKE CARE OF ME FOREVER TOO, MOTHERFUCKER.
When we drove up in front of the AirBnB place Eldest Child said: “I don’t think that house is the one we are looking for because the guy standing outside is white and we aren’t staying with a white family, right?”
I said, “You need to stop pointing out race when we are looking at the same person. You can say, “That guy doesn’t look the people in the picture we saw” and I’ll agree and you won’t be classifying everyone by their race.”
She wanted more explanation about that. I said, “Mostly if you are looking at groups of white people you don’t feel the need to point out they are white. Yes, this time it was a white guy. But mostly humans do that. White people are people and then other races are black people or brown people or or. It’s not ok. People are people. That’s a dude regardless of race. Unless race is a necessary part of the conversation like, “I was assaulted and the police are looking for the person ok I’ll mention the race of the person.”
Peoples personality and appealingness and behavior have nothing to do with their race.
I feel scared that I make people feel uncomfortable because I am comfortable in other cultures. My anxiety levels go down.
I don’t fear I’m about to be assaulted in mixed race groups. Just in groups of white people. I’ve only ever been assaulted by white men. I know there are non-white rapists (come on here) but they are very unlikely to target me so it’s a non-existent threat to me. As long as there are no white men around I can relax.
White men usually make sure I know that they think I’m less than them. It happens in a remarkably diverse group of settings. Pisses guys off when I won’t let them win. “Start telling me how bad ass and tough you are. I’ll tell whatever stories I have to until we prove that my dick is twice the size of yours, motherfucker.”
I am starting to notice that I have lived an extraordinary life. My stories are endless. Let me freak you out.
I was not worried about dying for many years. I made a lot of choices that were stupid and could have killed me because I wouldn’t consider it a bad thing anyway. I’ve got some intense fucking stories.
Mostly I try to leave them out of daily life because they bother people. But when I want to, I have ’em.
My kids were asking me yesterday if they would grow up to be rich. I said, “Well you are privileged enough to start out life with parents who are good at amassing money and conserving wealth. Statistically, if you pay attention to your parents, you will end up rich. We have skills that are making us rich. If you copy those skills you will probably do well. Most people who are poor have poor parents and they just don’t know how to do differently. But sometimes kids of rich parents have no money sense and they are always broke. It’ll be up to you.”
They both promised to listen to me about money. I’m not sure that is the point either.
Advantages are things you get for yourself. I was privileged enough to go through basically competent schools. I earned the advantage of my college education. It was paid for by the accident, but I did the work. I wasn’t born with the privilege of a trust fund, but I’ve managed one very well once I had the advantage of access to one.
That’s an interesting nuance to think about. I’m going to be puzzling that one over a lot.
I want to make the world better. I want people to be treated better. But what does that even mean?
I’m not sure. I want everyone to have the same feeling of peace and happiness when they walk through neighborhoods of people who don’t look like them. I want everyone to see a black man and smile and assume they are still safe.
I want black women to be paid what they are worth.
I want latinx women to be paid what they are worth.
I want trans* folks of every persuasion to be allowed to have jobs where they are respected and admired. Because there is something to admire in just about every human.
But I don’t know how to get there.
I tell my kids that you can’t look at someone and tell what kind of life they’ve had. Be careful how you ask people where they are from because exterior tells you little. “How long have you lived here?” is better than “Where are you from?” It means people can smile and say, “All my life” without deflecting the idea that they don’t belong here.
We all belong here and we all don’t belong here. It’s complicated.
Help people feel like they belong here on this planet. That’s what I want to do.
How do you get to know people without having them feel used or exploited? How do you have reciprocal relationships?
I don’t know.
I assume, with every person I meet, that there is something I could do for them. Maybe it is helping them weed their front yard. Maybe it is carrying heavy boxes. Maybe it is making food. Maybe…
I can do things that make life better. I have mad skillz, yo.
But I no longer need much help so I don’t ask for as much.
A nice young man helped me push the trailer up the driveway yesterday. He saw me struggling and offered. Thanks! That was super useful. I can get it but it is hard and wears me out. It was so kind.
I have to ask for that kind of help in white neighborhoods. I have to go bang on doors and intrude on peoples lives and say, “Will you please help me?” I do it because I’m assertive as fuck and when I need help I’ll ask anyone. When I broke my arm and I was living alone I wandered through the apartment complex looking for someone to open my jar of spaghetti sauce. I’m totally cool with taking my needs to anyone who is there.
I didn’t ask yesterday. He walked over and offered. That’s why I feel more comfortable in black neighborhoods. You are expected to offer help. That’s just how it is done. Which is why I offer so much help. Because I expect that it should be that way. That’s the world I want to live in.
Many years ago I was reading about an archeologist who moved to South America with his family. He thought it was weird that the natives, as they settled in, would come to visit and start doing work. Preparing the local foods was a many-step, time intense process. If locals saw that you were in progress they’d start helping without even asking. It needs to be done and isn’t done yet.
I want to live in a world like that. So.Bad.
I help neighbors with projects all the time. Because I want to. Because I like being able to help. Because I have layers of privileges and advantages and I can.
First, a quickie question answered. Buddhist vegetarianism (in my ignorant and probably incorrect understanding) is when it is rude to refuse a dish that has been prepared with meat in it but you don’t eat the meat. Like if your friend makes spaghetti with meatballs and serves you meatballs you just eat the rest of the sauce and noodles. If someone gives you chicken chow mein you eat everything but the chicken. But touching meat doesn’t make things off limits. That’s my understanding.
So my friend’s kid eats soup and rice made with chicken stock but he won’t eat any flesh; that’s what I mean.
Back to what I want to blog about. Problematic people. I’m going to give a hair of back story for context. My kids and I like Taylor Swift’s music. We don’t mostly follow her career or life. Part of what I like about TS’s music is that it is appropriate to listen to with kids. Much of my music is graphic sexually or involves a ton of swearing and I don’t let my kids listen to that. Excuse the expression, but TS is whitewashed and safe.
There is another singer out there named Nicki Minaj. I don’t listen to her all that much. Most of her music… isn’t stuff I want my kids repeating yet. Once my kids hit puberty and can understand why people sing about sex I won’t care. I like her music. But just like I don’t play many P!nk songs in front of my kids I don’t play much Nicki Minaj. I also don’t play songs like, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Bitch” or “It Gets Better”. My kids don’t need to hear about how they can grow up to swim through a pussy vault like Scrooge Fucking McDuck just yet.
Wait a few years.
So, Nicki posted on Twitter about her feelings about the video awards that somebody or other is doing. I really don’t pay attention. But I noticed that a singer I like was talking about her feelings about her position in a system that isn’t very equal to folks like her.
If it isn’t obvious already, Nicki is black.
So Taylor read what Nicki wrote, took it personally, and then there were dozens of pieces of writing produced for gossip bullshit magazines and websites talking about them having a fight.
Because a black woman talked about her feelings publicly and a white woman jumped up and acted like she was a victim.
That bothers the fuck out of me.
Ok, yes, Taylor has since apologized.
It’s all bullshit. None of this relates to me. This isn’t my problem. Except I was watching it happen in real time and I mentioned it to my 7 year old. She said, “Does this mean we should stop listening to Taylor’s music?”
Oh man. She told me to ask Twitter. I did. Some of my awesome friends had a little discussion with me. My friend’s husband pointed out that it really depends on how much you can separate the work of art from the artist.
I’m kinda shitty at that. I don’t watch Woody Allen movies. I will never watch Bill Cosby again.
But they are rapists. Is being a rapist worse than being a casual racist?
Oh man complicated.
As someone who has committed rape who is married to someone who has committed rape… why do I get to jump on that high horse? Why is that such a harsh line for me? Why am I acting like racism (especially the kind that isn’t THE PROBLEM–when we have cops regularly killing black citizens, Taylor Swift isn’t THE PROBLEM she is just a tiny cog in the system) is a bigger deal than rape?
I don’t know. But I kind of am. I’m not sure if it is because the Black Lives Matter stuff is coming to a head and it is a huge part of my awareness. I don’t know if it is because it is easier to get mad at women for stupid shit.
It is annoying that Taylor was pissy about a woman possibly creating issues between women when her music this year is about her feud with another woman. Get the fuck over yourself.
Should we refuse to listen to all Taylor Swift music from here on out? I don’t think I’ll do that.
I will continue to listen to the song Mean in full awareness of the layers of problems. Taylor isn’t the weaker man any more. She was weaker at one point in time. But from here on out in Taylor’s life there are very few people who have less structural power than her. She’s on the cover of magazines as one of the most influential people alive. She doesn’t get to act like the under dog any more. But no one ever wants to give up on that self perception.
I listen to that song to remind myself that I’m not the under dog any more either. From here on out… I’m the more powerful person in many if not most interactions.
That’s hard to internalize and really believe. I’m just a piece of white trash… right?
No. Not really. I’m a rich bitch. I’m privileged as fuck.
At this point in time and forever more in the future I have to be more careful with my words. I’m not the kid any more. I’m not the victim any more. If I attack people… I’m the bully. I don’t get to think that I’m the victim now.
That’s fucking complicated. That relates to the home school group and the throat kick shit.
Even if something bad happened to me… I’m not a victim any more. Not really.
That part of my life is over. I could still be victimized, but it will take more effort at this point.
I feel like an asshole because I don’t want to give up this one damn song. I don’t want to give up the reminder to myself.
I need to be careful. Or I’m going to end up being the one who is mean and all alone. I’m not sure that is what Taylor intended folks in my position to get from it.
Taylor needs to be careful that she doesn’t become the bully. The half assed apology she gave to Nicki is not enough.
Not once you have that kind of power. Just like I don’t get to pretend I don’t have power at this point.
I haven’t researched every musician I like. I’m sure many of them are racist shitbags. Should I punish the shit out of Taylor because she was dumb enough to fuck up where I could see it? That’s what it kind of feels like.
I worry about treating some people really harshly for having an opinion I don’t like and giving other people a complete pass just because I’m ignorant of them having the same problematic opinion.
In the end, I’m a problematic person. Not as much as Bill Cosby, say, but I also haven’t done as much good for the world as that man has done.
How do you figure out the balance?
Today we leave Dad’s house. That will be hard. I have really enjoyed my time here. Although it will also be a good thing. I’m sleeping for shit. I’m thinking a thousand thoughts a minute about all the things I want to say to him and we save our conversations for after the kids are in bed so… I’m way short on sleep. I need to move on before I hurt myself.
The talking has been wonderful. You know how I sometimes go on these really big tirades and write and write and write about politics and race and rape and incest and money and class and… heh. You know how I “sometimes” do that? Yeah he got the in person version over the last week. He has looked kind of stunned. I’ve never uhm shared my opinions on such a diverse array of topics quite so freely before. He’s kind of re-meeting me.
You want to claim you are my Dad so you need to get to know me. We’ve had several pointed, “Are you committed to this relationship?” conversations.
Apparently his bio-daughter is not very happy about me. I can understand that and I hold no rancor in my heart. I’m sorry that my existence makes her uncomfortable. I can understand why it does. All of the other “daughters” have been girlfriends who moved on. I haven’t. I’m not a girlfriend and I never have been. I’m an adopted kid. Who he has beaten and fucked. Because that has been part of my relationship with all of my dads.
I can understand why that would make someone uncomfortable. I’m on a fucking weird life path.
But he’s ok walking that path with me and I don’t really care if other people approve or not. He is adapting to the changes in our relationship. We have had an incredibly frank and detailed conversation about the changes in boundaries in my sex life. “What if I did ____?” “Well you’d have a time of untangling your fingers from your internal organs after I ripped your arm off and shoved it down your neck.” “Ok then. So you’re saying that is off the table.” “Yup.”
Quite frankly I think this is an incredibly healthy transition for both of us. We are consciously committing to a mutually supportive relationship that doesn’t have to be based on hurting one another. The hurting one another wasn’t a problem when it was where we both were. I’m not there right now. Are you with me or not?
He says he is with me.
He is scared about some of my choices. He asked me last night if I was truly aware of how much I was risking my life with some of the choices I make in terms of activism. I said I was fully aware that women who speak publicly about the things I choose to speak about often get killed. I’m aware that the status quo doesn’t like what I think.
Dad got to hear about the full extent of my suicidality this trip. He’s had dim awareness that I was a cutter.
It is kind of funny to me how people claim to know me… but don’t read my blog… and wow… they don’t know shit. I think I unload my emotions on fewer people than I think. I’m really hard on the people I unload on… but the list isn’t that long. I think I perceive myself as someone who dumps on everyone who walks by… but that isn’t how it goes. I have more boundaries than I think I do.
I am continually surprised to find out that people have known me for a decade and a half and they don’t know major facts about my life.
I can recite your fucking bio in my sleep. I know details about your life before I met you. I can rattle off your hobbies and accomplishments and fuck ups with great specifics.
What the fuck do you mean you don’t know much about me?! WTF!?
I’m self absorbed. Everyone should function like me. Ahem.
I’m going to miss Dad. And I am never going to live near him full time. Our relationship would dissolve and I like it very much. I like the support I get when I see him. He doesn’t have the stamina for me. He can’t be the kind of consistent I need on a regular basis. I can handle what he has to give when I visit once a year. I don’t resent his limits this way. I just adapt while I’m here.
I ask tactless questions a lot to frame how ridiculous we both are. “So my control freak issues are running into your control freak issues. Which part of this one is your real bug-a-boo? The process or the result because you vary from issue to issue.”
He kind of glares at me for a minute as he thinks about it. Then we discuss it and work out how we can adapt to one another.
It is weirdly a lot of fun for me. He is really ok with blunt negotiations. The bdsm community has been good for him. If you can say, “What I really want to do is tie your legs wide open so I can single tail your clit” you can have a conversation about just about any stupidly specific and personal topic.
Ok.. that isn’t actually true about everyone in the scene. But it is true of the two of us and I love that about him.
We’ve talked a lot about eating and dietary choices with the kids. Exercise habits. Modeling and why we do the things we do. Being responsible to and for our kids and how that creates a permanent reason to take care of ourselves because… we owe them a long life.
He says I have made him think about many of his choices in new ways. I believe that.
Last night he told me he feels adrift and he isn’t sure how to get ahead of the curve. He’s had a really hard several years. I said, “That sounds like a request for advice.” He said yes.
Oh I gave advice. “What you need to do is over the next year ask for help from Person A and Person B and Person C and go through the house and the storage unit. Sell anything you don’t have a really strong desire to keep. Donate what you can’t sell. Time to downsize. You don’t need a big house and property and you can’t keep up with the work. Sell before you degrade the house and can’t make money back. Buy something outright. Buy something small and manageable.”
He has inherited the estates of three rich people. He has an overwhelming amount of stuff and he simply can’t afford to keep the shit. He didn’t get the money. That went to charities. He just got burdened with the shit.
People are hilarious. They really don’t think about what they are doing to the people around them.
Get it in your head that you are putting the house on the market in June of 2016. That will be the end of your time here. 14 years in one spot.
It’s going to be hard to leave. His second marriage had its whole life here. But she’s gone and he has to move on. He can’t support this household without her.
Life is about constantly changing your goals as your resources and abilities change. Things go up and down and you have to be realistic about your capabilities or you will over-promise and under deliver. Or you can sell yourself short and never attain the things you are capable of doing.
Re-evaluate yourself. Where do you want to be putting your time and energy? Do you really want to have to spend 30+ hours a week on cleaning and house maintenance only to watch it fall into constant decline because it really needs 60 hours of work every week? That’s depressing. You feel like a constant failure even though you really are doing your best.
I’m going to cry a lot when he moves. This is Francesca’s house. She loved me here. She made me feel safe here. She is a lot of the reason Dad and I worked out some bumps in the early years. I miss her very much. But our obligation to her is over. It is time to sell off her stuff and her step-dad’s stuff and her mom’s stuff and move on.
She died before we could pay our debt to her. That’s a guilt we have to bear and move on with.
We can take that and pay it forward. That is how she would want us to do it. She wouldn’t want us to wither at home with shame and regret. She would want us to pay it forward. She would say we don’t owe her. We owe the universe. It’s never really a two way street.
That’s what is so hard about parenting. It’s never really reciprocal. I have taken more from Dad than I’ve given. Mostly… what I can give at this point is support as he transitions to a different sense of self.
He’s not a swinging bachelor of means. He needs to stop trying to act like he is. That time of life is over.
There are consequences to not seeing how you are changing. How many do you want to have smack you in the face?
He asked me if I believed he was capable of change at this point in his life. I laughed and said I wouldn’t be in his house if he hadn’t changed and changed again over the last decade and a half. Yes. I believe you are capable of changing. It’s not the tooth fairy. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen you adapt. I’ve seen you resolve to improve on how you manage specific issues. Yes, there have been back slides in some areas, but you continue to improve in broad swaths.
But life is complicated. As you improve in some areas you completely screw up other areas. That’s how it goes.
It seems to me that wisdom is partially understanding that you will never be good at everything. You will never have the inter-personal abilities plus money abilities plus physical abilities plus education abilities and and…
Look at what you actually do with your time. You are good at parts of it. The rest… well… it’s done enough. THE HOUSE DIDN’T BURN DOWN. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!
I don’t cook much. I can’t do it. I turn into a screaming banshee.
It’s not that I “can’t cook”. I can actually cook quite well. But I need to be calm and have a lot of patience and a lot of quiet and a lot of time and nothing else going on in order to do it in a peaceful way. Or I start twitching and shrieking things like, “JUST GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN BEFORE I STRANGLE YOU OH MY GOD WHY DID YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO DO?!?!?!!?!”
I understand that this is part of an age old tradition between mothers and daughters. But with the whole home schooling thing… it’s a problem if I won’t show them how to do things. So it’s complicated.
I’ve been priming the pump with the kids about how things will shift when we leave Grandpa’s house. We are going to a dun dun dun… screen free house. Ok, they own a tv. A big one. But they don’t turn it on. Or they use it for internet browsing. They watch very occasional cooking shows or Myth Busters. They are basically a kid screen-free house.
So uhm, don’t spend all day talking about video games and cartoons. You can talk about books, games you like to play, imaginary stuff you like to do… lots of topics. Don’t spend all day talking about the Minecraft tutorials. That is horribly boring when someone isn’t interested. We won’t be there very long. Be polite.
I have no idea if Shanna is listening. We’ll see.
We came here from Aunt Cookie’s and her only tv watching is Martha Stewart show reruns and Mayberry because her parrot will repeat things from the television. She won’t risk a peppery word in her house. (I kind of horrified her. And the kids taught the parrot to say “poop poop poop”. She was not pleased.) It’s not like we can’t get along with folks who don’t do video games. But she had to listen to a lot about the tutorial makers. Her eyes glazed over. I tried to rescue her.
Shanna can give you a full run down on the benefits and deficits of different tutorial makers and I think it is hilarious. I only half listen. I stood and listened to the new one for a few minutes last night. I wasn’t pleased. He’s an asshole. I told her flat out, “I like so-and-so and I like that other guy because they are silly and kind in how they give instructions. I don’t like this new guy. The way he is saying his friend might not really be a boy because he hasn’t seen proof? That’s bullshit. That’s a jerk thing to do. Questioning someone else’s gender is not ok. If I ever hear you do that, you aren’t watching this channel any more. If you want to know that assholes like that exist I’m not going to stop you from finding out they exist. But you had better not become one.”
Her eyes were kind of big. She nodded and said, “I wouldn’t do that. I just thought it was cool how he built _____.”
“That’s fair enough. He did build a cool ______. I can see why you would admire it. Feel free to learn his Minecraft skills. Don’t learn his interpersonal skills.”
Man this is a quoting-myself-heavy-post. I want to share it with Noah. I miss you, oh my witness. I WANT TO TALK AT YOU FOR ABOUT TWELVE HOURS STRAIGHT.
I miss you.
I’ve gotta say, it’s kind of wild talking about a lot of the things I write about. To an entrenched white male. Oh man. It’s interesting phrasing and efforts. I have extreme biases. I’m aware of that. I’m working on and with where I am right now.
Dad is a soft sell on many of my more radical ideas. He will listen and help me construct rebuttals to arguments. Not necessarily on purpose, but he argues with me and that gives me practice debating the things I’m going to need to be able to debate without shrieking.
Not sure I can ever be a cook in a high pressure situation though. That may be beyond me in this lifetime.
A white man went into a black church in Charleston and killed nine people. That’s terrorism.
We seriously need to disarm our country.
Dealing with Noah’s family is complicated. I am not that inclined to shut my mouth and put up with awful because… I get no positive out of knowing them. I mean, his parents send money and his aunts send boxes of candy around holidays. If these windfalls evaporated from my life I wouldn’t miss them. I don’t plan for the money. I feel awkward about accepting it. I accept it because they are Noah’s family and they have the right to give him things.
I don’t care. If I never heard from any of them again I would be just fine. They are not integral to my sense of self. They aren’t my family. Why should I make myself smaller in order to make them feel like they are correct?
I have nothing to gain by keeping my mouth shut and letting the status quo continue. The status quo is not a good place for me.
Silence in the face of atrocity is how I ended up with the horrifying childhood I had. I’m never going to be silent again. Even if it offends the shit out of everyone. Even if I never get another box of candy.
Right now I’m watching a movie about Grace of Monaco. It is fascinating watching Nicole Kidman pretend to learn the history of the country so she can take on the role of princess. I can see why she learns what she learns for the sake of her children.
My children don’t need me to learn how to be a serene highness. Thank G-d.
But I need to consciously try to facilitate them having relationships with these racist fuckers. Why? Because they are family. I’m not part of the family. Not really. I am a facilitator. I am an extension. I am Shanna and Calli and Noah’s family. I am not Aunt Cookie’s family. I am not Aunt Candy’s family. I’m the mother of their great-nieces which isn’t the same as family. I’m unavoidable but I am not likable.
So I drive the kids around the country. And I take dictation as they write letters to these people. I will help them make phone calls when they get just a bit older. And the whole damn time I will be arguing with the messages they receive.
No, your family is not superior to other people. The relatives who tell you that you are better are lying. You are just a person. A wonderful person, but just a person. You need to earn your own merit. It is not automatic based on your appearance.
We had an interesting conversation yesterday. The Godmamas came up again. In reference to some people are ok with mellow yellow and some people really aren’t. Shanna made a comment to the effect that we are better people if we are more worried about the drought than the cleanliness of our toilet.
I told her that the two have no relationship whatsoever and she is very wrong if she believes that one measure like that decides what makes a good person. I am *not* a better person than your Godmamas. Well, they aren’t the Godmamas any more. I’m still not a better person. I worry about different things. I focus on different things. I spend my time and energy in different ways. Doesn’t mean I’m better. I’m different.
I don’t think I’m better than Aunt Cookie or Candy either. Even if they have opinions that are distinctly racist. Even if they have dozens of opinions that make me sick to my stomach… that doesn’t mean I’m a better person.
I’m a person with giant flaws, just like everyone else.
I need people to call me on my flaws in order for me to grow and change and become better. I am better than I was. I’m not perfect. I never will be. I do not aspire to perfection. I’m an asshole and ok with that.
The difference between me and the aunts is… I know I’m an asshole. They would hotly deny that they are. Even though they believe that people who end up homeless deserve to suffer. They think that their beliefs are just “justice”.
But I’m the only one who knows I’m an asshole. I think that human beings deserve dignity and support so I’m an unconsciounable asshole. Good thing I can live with that. I can be the kind of rude where I challenge racists in my life. I can’t be the kind of rude where I just shut up and allow people to be awful. I do not choose going along with the flow for the good of bigots. I do not care about avoiding conflict. If you want to avoid conflict with me you can leave the room.
That is the assurance that men walk around with. If you want to avoid an argument with them you can leave the room. I’ve decided that it is a trait and I want it. So I adopted it. I don’t back off.
I wouldn’t be here if I were more namby pamby.
I’m not important. I’m not special. I’m not someone who changes things. My reality distortion field only extends as far as my voice can reach. Maybe that is why I am so fucking loud now.
I didn’t used to be loud. When I was a child I was constantly in trouble for mumbling. No one could ever hear me. I got yelled at by dozens of teachers because I would raise my hand and then no one could understand me.
I don’t have that problem now.
I’m also getting better about being able to challenge people without having to scream at them. It’s progress. Now I can challenge in a flat voice. That’s a big improvement and I’m happy about it.
I have no interest in learning to avoid conflict. I do have interest in learning how to have conflict without acting like a harpy. Conflict is fine. Conflict is about challenging the status quo. I have a serious problem with the status quo. I want to change it.
The status quo involves too many people suffering terribly because of structural inequalities. I’m not ok with that. Structural inequalities need to be addressed. We are at a point in history where we have no justification beyond pure greed for continuing to allow this many people to live with starvation and homelessness.
We have major structural racial problems in the world. Not just in my country. Acting like they aren’t real is… not something I can do. Not even to make someone feel more comfy about how short sighted their world is. Can’t do it.
I will always be willing to point out real, hard things. Even if that makes me an asshole. I think that is my role here. Sometimes I’m wrong about the things I think I see. That’s highly inconvenient.
Sometimes I don’t know how to translate what I see into useful words that other people can understand. Frequently I don’t know the approach that will spur other people into seeing things as I see them. I don’t know how to be the universal translator. I wish I could be.
I wish I could be.
The trip is going well. I am so gosh darned tired I feel like I might slip into a puddle and never solidify into a solid being again.
I had a hard time with Noah’s aunts. They grew up in particular times and places and they believe what they believe. Unfortunately for them there is a whole bunch of evidence proving that their beliefs suck.
I am highly dysregulated. I am having a hard time calming down. Too many conversations about poverty and homelessness and race. I really don’t respect the opinions they have.
One aunt spent a long time telling me about how much she enjoys reading the journals of settlers and colonials. They only killed people when they had no choice.
Uhm… go read something written by the folks that the settlers barely avoided killing. You will hear a very different story.
No. The white assholes who showed up on this continent because they were being chased out of their European homes did not kill Native Americans because the Natives were trying to persecute the white people. No. No. No. No.
We are interlopers here. We do not get to claim that our existence here is just about our basic survival. We are stealing in order to survive.
Depending on how you look at it, all humans have been thieves since the beginning. We steal from plants and animals in order to survive. That’s complicated. It’s a hard ethical conundrum. Vegetarians believe that by not eating flesh that you are fine for how you are stealing. Vegans think it must be even more strict and milk and eggs are also over the line.
But no one ever objects to stealing from the artichokes or carrots or cauliflower. We’ve decided they can’t matter.
But that’s kind of funny.
Throughout history many groups of human beings have decided that other groups of human beings don’t matter in similar ways. Sometimes we make these evaluations based on race. Sometimes based on economic privilege. Sometimes based on work choices. If you look around the planet, folks feel free to shit on sex workers in almost every country that exists. Even though sex work is one of the most universal, oldest professions that exists. We still want to punish any individual who engages in it.
One of the aunts spent a lot of time telling me that she hated the Occupiers and she thinks folks who are homeless are just lazy and they need to get a job.
I told her, are you aware that it takes two or more full time jobs to afford rent, not including utilities or food or a car in most states for people who work minimum wage? You bought your property in 1981 with help. No, other people can’t do what you did. It is really awful for you to think that people who can’t do what you did are lazy. How dare you.
You bought a property for fairly cheap. You had help for 20 years of your mortgage. How dare you say that other people who can’t do what you did are lazy.
This is not about lazy.
Are you aware that the largest race riot in our American history was white people who were jealous that black people were doing too well? But we’ve had a lot of race riots. Mostly they erupt because white people are persecuting non-whites. It is bullshit.
I don’t deal well with people who are incapable of seeing the layers of privilege that built their lives. We are all made up of support and relationships with people. Unfortunately there are major demographics who have traditionally not received support. And they are currently struggling much more significantly than demographics that have traditionally received more support.
I want to equalize that. We can’t go back and fix everything bad that has ever happened. I don’t want to. That’s not the point of life. But we can make it so the people who are alive right now have more access to ways to better their lives.
We don’t have to punish people for being disadvantaged. We don’t have to punish people for being icki and poor and not what we want to look at. We can choose compassion. We can choose to help people just because they exist and they should exist.
I want you to exist. Even when I don’t like you. Even if I want to shout at you because your opinions are just flat terrible. You do worthy things. Even if those things don’t benefit me in any way shape or form. Not everything is about me.
Not everyone has to benefit me in order to be worthy.
I’m getting better at defending the intensity of my opinions without having to scream at people and tell them how much I hate them for having the opinions they have. I’m glad for that. I am modeling better behavior for my children. I am teaching them to be fierce, but not mean.
I’m trying. I’m trying to model what I think should exist. Have strong opinions. They matter. They help. They are important. But try to express them in a way that will educate instead of alienate.
I really suck at that.
Last night was so awesome. Dad and I got stoned together and I unloaded on him. He’s not an emotional guy. He doesn’t really want to hear about feelings. Ha ha mother fucker. You adopt me and you get what you get. If you want to be my Dad you get to find out what I’m like. And that means listening to an hour or so of emotional unloading every other year or so. Suck it, buddy. Just cope. You can manage.
He did. He’s wonderful to me. I listened to what was going on with his life. He is struggling more than I am. That’s… kind of weird to me. He’s supposed to be the stable grown up. Only now I’m the stable grown up. How the fuck did that happen?
He’s had a hard time since his wife died. Things have been rocky. It makes sense. That has been seven years now. His business failed and that was really hard financially and emotionally. He likes his current job, but it doesn’t pay that much and he has a lot of bills. Complicated. He’s really depressed.
He expresses admiration for my obsessive saving. Which is awkward. I appreciate his positive feedback on my skills but it is uncomfortable too. I don’t think I should be doing better than other people. That is not my self-perception. If I do something well, emotionally, I want it to be because any one can do it and it isn’t very hard. That isn’t true any more though. I’m good at a lot of things that most people suck at. I am an incredibly skilled person.
That’s hard to accept sometimes. I don’t ever get to use the excuse that I just can’t any more. I can find a way. That’s daunting. Overwhelming. Too much pressure. I don’t want to be able to find a way. I want to have the excuse that I don’t have to.
But I’m exceptionally competent. If I don’t do something it is probably because I choose not to and not because I can’t. That’s…
Shit. I’m out of excuses. I like excuses.
Talking to Dad is intense on a variety of levels. As the years go by I am increasingly willing to share my opinion on what I see. “You are selfish in a short sighted way. If we could get your selfishness to see the long-view then I think your romantic life would improve.” He is strangely willing to listen to me now whereas ten years ago he snorted and said what the hell do I know.
Now he’s had two marriages go badly and mine is doing well and he’s willing to listen.
He spent a lot of time questioning whether I was on the road trip because my marriage is rocky. He had a really hard time believing that Noah would be ok with this kind of separation unless we were on the verge of divorce.
Nope, we are very happy together. Lots of sex. Lots of good conversation. We really enjoy one another’s company. But I’m a traveler and he’s not. He loves me anyway just like I love him for being a home body. We are ok with supporting one another through divergent experiences. We don’t have to do everything together. It’s ok if we are different.
It is part of why I am so very happy to be married to Noah. He doesn’t want a Mrs. Noah Gibbs who is there to facilitate his life. He wants to be partnered with Krissy Gibbs. Who is bad ass and does cool things.
He’s bummed when people think I’m cool because he married me. He thinks that is missing the point of me. I am not cool because he sticks his dick in me. I’m cool so he wants to stick his dick in me. People should get the order right.
I really like Noah. I am ridiculously happy to be married to someone who trusts me and who works as hard as he works. I like hard workers. I like people who pick goals and then put their head down and accomplish them come hell or high water. I really like Noah. He inspires me. He also taunts me and I want to punch him for it. But I don’t because we do not have that kind of relationship.
Noah causes me to think really hard about my ever expanding repertoire of skills. He isn’t ok with me minimizing my abilities. He says, “Nope. You don’t get to think you are incompetent any more. You probably never were but you don’t get to think it now.”
I cannot express what knowing him has meant to me. He believes in me. He believes in me the way other people believe in G-d. He thinks I can just do things. So I can.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen to the world if everyone had someone who believed in them as much as Noah believes in me. It would be a really incredible planet. I wish I could see that planet.
I want to be part of a world where people build one another up instead of tearing each other down. That was the hard part of dealing with the aunts. I didn’t want to tear them down in the process of educating them and that is hard. Tearing people down is so much easier than building them up.
How do you teach people to see that they are privileged because they grew up with a highly educated parent who had the ability to teach them a variety of skills that other people never know exists? How do you teach people to see that they are lucky and blessed because they got to have abusive help for a period of time?
Some people get no help at all. Not even packaged with abuse. No one wants to help them from the get-go.
Can we get over this idea that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? That’s a crock of shit. The people who survive and who do well are people who have neighbors who show up to help. Not people who do it alone.
I’ve tried doing it alone and I’ve tried finding a network of support. Finding the network is horrifyingly hard. It is emotionally draining and hurtful. There are hundreds of false starts. It feels hopeless most of the time. But then you notice that this time when you fell down someone was there to grab your elbow and keep you from landing on the concrete.
I believe in the MonkeySphere. I believe my connections to human beings are the reason I am alive. Mostly through Shanna and Calli and Noah, but my friends are important. My friends matter so much.
If I weren’t at Dad’s house I wouldn’t be able to see the extent of how much he loves me and would do if I needed it. He’s never going to be able to provide financial support–he might need it in the future. But he has been emotional support for almost 16 years. He has supported me through many different changes in my life. He adapts with me as I change radically and he really wishes he didn’t have to.
I see you. I appreciate you.
Looks like my kids are going to be his grandkid experience. His bio-kids are respectively one and two years younger than me. His son is only going to have children if there is a catastrophic accident and he’s considering pre meditative surgery. Just to be safe. Dad’s bio-daughter is 30 and doesn’t have a partner. Her mom would like her to have kids but she isn’t real interested in single parenting and things aren’t lining up.
It is weird seeing that I am creating a place for myself. I am in the middle of generations. I help interpret going up and going down. I really appreciate that I get to spend so much of my life teaching people how to get along. Kids and adults. That probably isn’t how other people see how I spend my time… but it is how I see what I’m doing. I give other adults a lot of feedback. I try to do it in ways that won’t cause them to turn around and yell at me to back off (I’m pretty deft) but I’m a bossy motherfucker. I’m going to volunteer my view whether you like it or not.
And there are people who keep me around even though I’m highly obnoxious. My life is great.
Last night I told Dad that I feel very safe unloading on him at this point because I know that he likes having me around. He laughed and asked why I am so sure. I said, “I’ve watched you for a lot of years. When you are done with people you get mean. Your jokes are more and more cutting. You point out their flaws more frequently and with more venom. It is hard to watch when you are doing it to people I like. It is part of why I don’t spend more time with you. I don’t want to wear out my welcome. You have never treated me that way and I want to continue this trend.”
He got quiet and thoughtful. After a while he nodded and said, “You are right. I do like you a lot. I’m not sick of you.” He didn’t say that much more about it. He’s not the sort.
I’m sitting in Dad’s back yard resting. I’m thinking about doing some weeding. He’s been really sad and just isn’t keeping up with the house and yard. I cleaned his pipes this morning. If you are going to pollute your lungs, at least don’t do it through an inch of tar, come on.
I’ll clean the kitchen after lunch and before I make dinner. Boy it needs it. I’ll probably clean the bathroom tomorrow because there is mildew starting. This house is more than twice the size of my house, I can see why he is having a hard time keeping up. He used to be able to pay help and now he can’t. I think he should down size but it’s complicated.
Everything is complicated.
Maybe the girls and I will come out here and weed his beds and run over to a nursery. We can put a handful of low-maintenance veggies in so he continues to feel loved after we leave. It is weird how plants do that. I don’t understand it, but I’m starting to see it and exploit the loop hole. Yay for exploitable techniques.
Holy moly we’ve been seeing great yards. Aunt Cookie and my friend W have gorgeous yards. These ladies are accomplished. It was a real treat to visit and see the results of their hard work. I feel so inspired. I need to touch some dirt. I need to put in more plants. The planet needs more plants.
Maybe I can ask him if one of his beds can be a wild flower seed mix for birds and butterflies. So when the flowers come up he can think of us.
We love you and we want you to be here.
I love pot. Today I’m not driving so I’m heavily medicated. Right in this moment I feel like if the biggest burdens in my life are dealing with some classist, racist, mostly decent people… I can work with that. I like educating people. I will learn how to talk about these topics. It is very important to me that people like them learn why they are wrong. I understand that they will be more likely to listen to someone they perceive as being like them. They see me as being like them.
They are wrong as fuck, but that’s ok.
It’s an exploitable loop hole. No, I’m not like you. But I know how to ape some of your class markers and I have learned to do so out of self-preservation. I have learned how to make people like you stop hitting me. I’m not like you.
I’m never going to stop being a fierce person. I believe it is necessary. But I want to learn how to temper it when I choose. I want it to be more under control. I want it to be a tool in my tool box and not the defining explanation of what I’m like. I believe that being capable of violence is necessary for self preservation. I’m going to get better at being lethal and learn how to stop the bullshit posturing.
I don’t need to win the dick contests. Even though mine is bigger.
I don’t like what I win. How is being the biggest dick a good thing?
Well, it’s a good thing when I can get men to back the fuck off of being bossy and/or controlling but quick. There has to be another way.
What is the path? Who knows. I’m just walking.
Yeah, Wendy is right. I was muddling together two topics in the last really big post. There are two separate issues: the interplay between a husband/wife (I’m being hetero/cis-centric here) and the interplay between men and women in terms of compensation for their labor on the open market. I’m muddying them and that makes it hard to follow. It, err made sense in my head. (This is why I don’t write for publication.)
Hispanic and Indigenous and Black women are kept in poverty through systematic means. I’m not saying that a specific person is to blame. I’m saying that we have a systemic problem where we do not value people as we should. This is a problem.
What should be done about it? That’s fucking complicated. But as long as Hispanic women are making 53% of what white men make we have a problem.
Noah thinks we need to have more of a plan before we shake things up. I can see why he thinks that. He lives in a very carefully ordered world. He makes specific products for specific markets and he needs those people to want to be invested in his ideas/plans.
I see that. Makes sense. He is doing a particular thing, namely trying to be successful in the current capitalist system.
I don’t see a way for this system to ever be fair. No, I don’t know what the alternatives are. I don’t know what we should do to solve all of the problems. But we need to stop acting like a significant portion of the globe deserves to be kept beneath the feet of white people.
White supremacy has simply got to fucking end. We are not better. If you look at the history of white people we are not nice people. We are not more pure. We are not more kind. We are not more worthy. We are just people.
For a very long time in this country we have had a system set up to make things work out best for white men. When things didn’t go well for the white men they would kill whoever was in their way.
Yes, yes there are murderers in every single race. I get it. I know. But would you like me to break down the ratio of prisoners in our country by race? White people do more than our share. We are disproportionately represented in the population and we pay for our crimes the least often.
Not. Fucking. Ok.
Why do I think the Silk Road guy should go to jail? Because how many millions of Black men are in jail because they sold drugs. He is not fucking more worthy of a light sentence. Do I think that all the Black men deserve their sentences? Good grief no.
But we are where we are. Unless you want to turn around and release millions of Black men fuck you and your sympathy for a rich white dude.
It would not be physically possible for me to have less sympathy.
Which brings me back to violence. And revenge, I suppose.
I’m ok with shouting at people. That’s the difference for me. Shouting is raised volume. Yelling is raised inflection and not necessarily about volume. (In my little head.) I’ve spent the last week reading a book about abusive men. Raising your voice is one of those questionable things.
I know people who are just about appalled by the volume of my voice on a regular basis. Many of those people are ok hitting their kids.
I find that… remarkable. Why do people tell me to hit my kids all the damn time? They tell me it isn’t ok to yell. I should hit the kid instead.
We live on different planets. My kids don’t flinch when I shout at them. Ok, occasionally… but not usually. We are loud all the time. It’s our normal. They don’t hear a shout and flinch like they know they are in trouble.
Frankly the kids flinch more when I lower my voice and say something with intensity. They don’t mind volume. They mind me sounding scary.
I sounded scary/mean earlier today. Shanna is obsessed with Minecraft to the point where she is becoming quite the little self absorbed asshole about it. No one is allowed to talk about anything else in her presence or she will talk louder to drown out your conversation. I’m done with this shit.
I kind of growled at her that it isn’t ok. You are not the only person in the room. You can stop acting like your thoughts are the only important thoughts in the world. I was harsher when I specifically said that she has to stop talking over her sister. I tolerate it a lot when she does it to me, but she’s really effectively silencing Calli and that’s just not fucking ok.
You don’t get to drown out your sister. That’s not acceptable.
I’m walking a fine line here with my kids. I want them to be able to shout people down to participate in conversations when that is necessary and sometimes it is in life. I also really need them to support one another. As time goes on… I notice that I expect Shanna to have a maturity she just doesn’t have yet. She doesn’t understand why it is a problem to never let Calli talk.
I stopped growling. We kept talking. We agreed that I am going to start saying, “Topic” when she needs to change the topic from her perseverating. I told her that if she ignores me saying that tactfully I’m going to be sending her to her room. That will be awkward on the road trip. Uhm… I don’t know how the fuck that will work. We’ll see!
I’m going to physically prevent you from treating your sister badly. It is my job. I need to build both of you up. I need you both to learn that you are worthy of speaking and being listened to. Not just one of you. We are not going to have the golden oldest child here. Fuck that noise.
I told Shanna that this is a conversational skill that many adults still struggle with. I told her I struggle with learning how to keep the conversation interesting to other people.
I asked her how she would feel if every time she wanted to talk about Minecraft I started loudly talking about the book I am reading. Even though no one else in the room has read it or cares. I could talk all day long really loudly. Her eyes went big. “I wouldn’t like that very much.”
Yeah kid, that’s how I fucking feel about Minecraft. I figured out how to set up an account and establish a LAN connection. What Do You Expect Of Me?!
(I drop the “fuckings” when I’m talking to Shanna. Well… like 95% of them.)
I told Shanna that it is my job as her mom to give her feedback on her behavior so she can learn how to be respectful of other people. That process will not be comfortable for either of us and sometimes I’m going to be too harsh. I’m sorry.
She hugged my hand and said, “You mean well.”
We talk a lot about mistakes. You can’t learn without making mistakes. I tell her there are little mistakes, medium mistakes and BIG mistakes. BIG mistakes are usually the kind of thing that will risk your life. Let’s not do those. Medium mistakes might involve a trip to the hospital or a lengthy amount of cleaning/repairing to fix… but you’ll recover. (I told her about stealing my mom’s car. That’s a medium mistake.) And we talk about little mistakes.
Talking over everyone is a little mistake. If you don’t make it… you won’t learn what happens.
You have to make as many little mistakes as you can. It builds your character. Being perfect is useless.
I make lots of little mistakes. It’s just how life goes. It is part of why I can answer so many random questions people have. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
Raping the boy in kindergarden… I hesitate to call it a medium mistake. But no one died. If big mistakes are limited to things that cause death… that means committing rape is a medium level offense.
I have big feelings about that. Does that mean my dad raping most of his kids was just a medium mistake? Whoa.
Some of my friends, because they love me, want me to not feel permanently ashamed of committing rape when I was 5. They tell me that a 5 year old can’t be held permanently accountable. It’s different when it is an adult.
I believe that it is a difference of degree and not kind. I’m still a rapist even if I am not actively dangerous to anyone right now. There are rapists who are still an active threat and they have to be managed differently than me. I’m not scary in the same way. I think that is why folks want me to put it behind me.
Yeah, that’s what Josh Duggar tried to do. I don’t respect it from him and I wouldn’t respect it from me. I need to know what I am capable of and watch myself carefully for the rest of my life. I am a violent person.
It is hard for me that all of the literature about dealing with abusive men makes it sound like women are so rarely abusive as to be not worth addressing. That’s not fair. Women like me exist. We are a different problem but a problem nonetheless. And nobody wants to address us. No one. We don’t exist.
Which means that men believe that women are incapable of violence. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh yes we are.
But then again… folks seem to believe that the only men capable of violence are Black men. Or maybe “scary looking” (left to the judgment of the viewer) guys are dangerous. Not “nice looking boys”. Oh you naive fuckers.
The innocent looking ones are often the most dangerous.
I think about violence a lot. I think about police brutality. I think about the fact that white men with heavy weapons were allowed to surround a Mosque and the police stood there and thought that was fine. But if folks are peacefully protesting a murder they will be put under curfew, arrested for going to work, and beaten.
I think that violence is a feminist issue. But holy shit I don’t know what to do about it. Do you ask the tiger how to become less violent? Not so much. We put violent people into our police force and then wonder why they behave like animals. We picked them based on that trait.
Honestly I’m not sure a whole country can become more equal. There will always be a hierarchy. But maybe the spread can narrow?
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.
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.
+ Spending time with Sarah at the conference was lovely.
– Working on all three days meant I spent a lot of time working and very little time enjoying panels. That was poor planning on my part. I only made it to panels on one day.
+ Going on the train with the kids. That was fun.
– Next time I will not pick restaurants that are so far away and make reservations so I feel like we HAVE TO do the whole fucking walk. That was dumb.
+ Took the girls swimming and we had a lot of fun.
– Boo stupid hotel telling us the pool was closed on the website so we had to buy new damn bathing suits.
– Kids taking off from the adult they were supposed to be with and getting in an elevator alone.
+ Didn’t have many hypervigilance symptoms all weekend. I wasn’t scared. I was very relaxed. I even slept fairly well even if I didn’t sleep enough. I did have some anger surges but they were usually… connected to things that kind of deserved some anger. LIKE KIDS RUNNING OFF AND GETTING IN A FUCKING ELEVATOR ALONE. So I don’t feel like it was PTSD symptomatic. And I calmed down and didn’t rant.
-/+ Started bleeding Saturday morning. This is actually a really good thing because my pattern with the PMDD is the day I start bleeding I have pain, but all of a sudden my mood improves. I’m much more tolerant that day. I’m kind of self-absorbed thinking about the physical pain so I don’t react to what other people are doing as much. But it means I am in a lot of pain.
– This gets another negative. This sucks. So much pain. Insane pain. Holy fucking shit can I beat my joints with hammers so that they stop fucking hurting hurting hurting hurting. They would hurt less if I hit them with hammers.
– Naturopath won’t work with insurance even a little bit.
– Not happy about some kid interactions. I intervene faster than some other parents. I have a very hard time with the fact that other people are fine with their kids experimenting with hitting and kicking my children. If it was once I wouldn’t even notice. It’s not once. It has happened almost half a dozen times. I’m not sure how to address this. Yes, kid is very young. That means it should be the parents responsibility to be shadowing the kid at all times to be preventing that behavior in my opinion. That’s how I got my kids through those phases. Yes it was labor intensive. Yes, it kind of sucked for me. I wanted the kids. There is no such thing as “helicopter parenting” with the under 3 set. That’s called “parenting”. That’s not even true. Helicopter parenting is not letting your kid climb the ladder to go down the slide. Helicopter parenting is not letting your ten year old walk to the convenience store. Helicopter parenting is calling to yell at the college professor for not giving your kid an “A”. But if you watch your kid kick someone else and choose to not intervene the first time that’s a problem. It’s not free range parenting either. I think what I’m really doing is hoping that we will come back from the trip and this problem will have evaporated as a “stage”. (No I haven’t talked to the parents. I don’t know them that well and I feel awkward as fuck. It’s never a good time.)
+ I bought so many cool books. I’m terribly excited. Including a new comic book series about a neat sounding re-imagining of Beowulf. Looking forward to sharing it with the kids.
– Books are heavy. I feel like I practically broke my back on the train on the way home carrying the books. Yes, I know that e-reading is a solution to this. It really isn’t a good solution for me for a variety of reasons. Everyone is different!
+ So forking proud of the kids for how they handled carrying their stuff on the trip. They were pretty good about staying on task and focusing and carrying on when they wanted to quit.
+ I had an alcoholic drink on two of the nights of the conference and throughout the whole weekend I HAD SOLID POOP. I don’t understand. Yes, I stuck with whiskey because it is on the IBS approved list, but sometimes it is still problematic. Belly, I give you gentle and loving pats. Good job. Maybe it was all the fucking vegetables and fruit I ate. I tried so hard to be good to you even though we were traveling. I love you. Please be nice to me like this more often.
+ I had a lot of neat conversations with people. I miss those kinds of environments so much. One of the harder things about home schooling is the lack of colleagues. I talk to home schooling parents, but I don’t don’t use curriculum. So we aren’t talking technique all that much. This weekend was really fulfilling in that way. I felt like, Yes I have studied this shit, By Gawd.
+ A writer I have long admired caught me in the hallway alone at a random moment and all but invited herself over to dinner to see what I’ve done with my house after I described the painting. My heart went pitter patter. Oh yes. You did that. You totally just did that. You said, “I want to come over for dinner. Send me an email so we can match up our schedules.” Oh. Oh. *fluttery hands* You did that! It’s my dream come true and she doesn’t even read my blog. *swoon*
+ The panel I was on went so well. I’m really happy it worked out. True to form people came up to me and said, “I got a lot out of it. It was really intense.” That’s me. I may not be able to bring the funny but I’ve got bushels of intense.
+ Got an email this weekend inviting us to a speaking gig on Tuesday. I found baby sitting. I need to make a resume. Even though this event isn’t a “Stanford” event… it’s at Stanford. I was invited to speak at Stanford. I need a resume. Yeah, I’m a “stay at home parent” but I’m doing shit.
+ It was neat seeing the evolution of people. I saw a lot of people I have known very distantly for my entire adult life. A number of folks I met when I was 18 or 19. They seemed… maybe confused by my lifestyle choices? I couldn’t read the facial expressions that well. The comments were mostly neutral with a hint of snark and that is downright positive for most of them. I feel like I am on the path I want to be on. It was neat feeling very affirmed in that.
+ It is nice feeling like looking around at other people convinces me that I am growing past role models. The things I want to do are not things that other people want to do. So I don’t have role models. I need to just do them and be ok with that. It’s funny to me how I can feel that in some communities and I’m still struggling to be “ok” with my identity in other parts of my life/self.
(Which isn’t to say that I think I am “better” than other people. I’m not. But I’m dealing with very different logistics and that’s ok.)
+ I am so grateful that I live in the time and place I live. And I’m really happy to be home.
The five month trip is going to be hard. I’m thinking hard about how we can bring home with us. It’s coming up soon. 17 weeks until we leave. That doesn’t feel like very long. Four more months. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I have wanted to do this for so long. How are we going to keep up our Adventurous Spirits!?
Time will tell.
Bitch, asshole, cunt. Why do we love these words so much? It isn’t just me who has a love-affair. I self-identify easily as an asshole. Yup, I’m self-absorbed and I’m going to default to thinking my needs are more important than yours. I’m not sorry. Bitch is harder for me. Asshole I view as more passive–not attacking anyone but not doing anything unless motivated by selfish need. Bitch is more aggressive. Bitches attack. Bitches are willing to savage people just because they are having a bad day. Notice how gendered these assumptions are? When men withdraw and refuse to engage… they are an asshole. When a woman chases cause she’s pissed… she’s a bitch.
Even that paragraph isn’t really true. Many men are called assholes when they are aggressive. So it’s not like being an asshole is just a passive retreat thing. Men are assholes and women are bitches. Even though some assholes can be loud about it, I feel like assholes are still in the “resistant” role. Assholes “are how they are and you can fuck off if you don’t like it”.
Bitches are different. Bitches want to control. Bitches try to make people do things they may not want to do. Bitches are manipulative (in that bad way.) Really, isn’t being a bitch just a short hand way of saying, “You there, with the vulva, shut your mouth.”
Bitches are women who talk when other people wish they would shut up. Bitches are the women who won’t sleep with you even though, don’t they know you are a Nice Guy?!!?!?
P said I call myself a bitch a lot here. So I did a search find on the front page. Do I do it “a lot?” My off-the cuff guess was five references. I was wrong. Eleven references. Only one of them about a person other than myself (and she deserved it–actually she probably didn’t and I’m being a jerk. My only saving grace is I did it in an anonymous way about a stranger and she’ll never know or care.)
Three of the references were “bitchy”. That leaves me with seven times I called myself a bitch. And given how long my entries are… not many entries stay on the front page.
Ok, I call myself a bitch frequently.
I think I partially use these words as self-descriptors because if I say it first… other people are just being “unoriginal” when they use them–it hurts less. I say them because sometimes my reactions seem scary and out of proportion to people (if they knew the whole back story I don’t think my reactions would seem so out of proportion) and if you tell people you are a bitch/asshole they just kind of shrug off the “over” reactions. “Assholes/bitches do that.” It’s a different kind of privilege to opt-in to. The kind of privilege where people stop pressuring you to change so much.
People tell “nice” or “kind” people how they should be all day long. It’s disgusting. When you are a known asshole… people tend to mostly keep their opinions to themselves unless you have a firmly established relationship. My close friends say things to me that would probably shock the fuck out of people who know me casually. It’s about getting used to different peoples tolerances. My tolerances are very unusual. It’s not really that I can “handle more” than other people because I can’t. But the things I can handle are things that are different from what most people can handle. Non-overlapping circles of cope.
I desperately, desperately, overwhelmingly, chokingly want to a good person, but I don’t think I want to be “nice”. I’m an asshole. Assholes can be good people too. Assholes can be personally abrasive and difficult and still do lots of good for the world. Nice people are pretty locked into being nice. They don’t get the dynamic personality I want to have. They have to care too much about the feelings of people around them.
I care exactly how much it is prudent for me to care and maybe a little less.
I have people I latch onto emotionally and my tolerances are vast and broad for people who are in the inner circle. I’m not “nice” but I am tolerant, accepting, and loving. But I’ll be rough and uncomfortable in the process because I just am.
I choose to be effective over being well-liked. If I am liked, bonus. I care way more about being effective.
Someone I spend a fair bit of social time standing near was making conversation. She asked what we are up to lately. I talked about having three conferences in five weeks and can’t these people work together to spread this shit out?! No. They are three completely separate communities. I am probably going to be the singular overlap between events. Sigh. She asked what I am doing at the conferences. I said presenting. She expressed surprise. (Not shock or anything insulting… she just hasn’t heard much about me doing that kind of thing.) I told her I am talking about imposter syndrome in writers and sustainable ambition. She asked me what sustainable ambition is. I gave about a 30 second run down. She kind of hinted, “Uhm… why did they ask *you* to present on that topic?” (She’s really good at asking questions in polite ways so my rephrasing is almost certainly more insulting sounding. She’s super sweet.)
I told her that I got married less than 9 years ago and at that time we had an on-paper net worth of around $300k and over $350k in debt including the mortgage. Now we have a net worth of $1.3 million and $150,000 in debt. We are doing pretty well.
Her jaw dropped.
“Wow. I guess you do have stuff to say on this topic then. Go you. That’s incredible.”
Yeah, I have a few opinions around managing money, savings, investments, and ambition. My opinions are not THE RIGHT OPINIONS EVERYONE MUST SHARE OR FAIL!!!!! But maybe someone will hear a useful tidbit. I was asked to come talk. Other people think they will enjoy hearing me talk about this topic.
Total anxiety fest.
As I’m heading into three conferences (technically at the third one I’m only on the hook for the Easter egg hunt) I feel a little bit more like “People are ok with me being part of their communities.” Even more so…. some of them want me to talk about my experiences. That’s very validating.
If I’m getting positive feedback like that, why do I need to hold on to the bitch/asshole thing?
Because I’m a woman. I will never get away from being a bitch no matter what I do. If I willfully take asshole along with it and I label myself as I see fit in a conversation (When you tell someone, actually I’m not being a bitch I’m being an asshole they tend to be so startled the insults trail off.) then I have a lot more control around my self-perception and around the perception other people have of me.
If I were trying and trying and trying to be nice I would fail and people would flay me with it. Instead I tell people I’m an asshole and they celebrate any ounce of niceness. Fucking awesome.
Ma-nipulation it is fun for me
I like to get my way and it is so fun-ny
(Ok, that rhymes into a little song I sing… Not sure that the tone carries through in writing…)
It is funny for me that if I spend a lot of time telling people I’m an asshole the primary thing people want to do is argue, “Oh no you aren’t…” and then when I do something that is an asshole move they look at me with shock. “Wait… you are… actually an asshole?!”
Truth in advertising doesn’t result in people believing you.
Yesterday I was skirting the bitch/asshole line pretty hard. We were at a trampoline place with friends. There were no employee monitors. So the little kids wanted to stay together in a pack. Which meant 3-7 kids bouncing on one trampoline at a time. I consider this very unsafe. I consider it very unsafe because I’ve seen awful trampoline accidents. (I spent time rurally in Texas. Those kids did stupid shit because they were bored.)
My kids don’t like being bounced. So my kids spent half the time screaming/crying “Get away from me” and “Leave me alone” because they kept getting hurt. If I tried to physically block off ONE GOD DAMN SQUARE other kids just would not leave them alone. I got so fucking mad. STOP BOUNCING MY KID SHE FUCKING SAID NO.
I didn’t curse once. I like these kids. But man their behavior was sucky yesterday. When someone says No, that means fucking no. What is your problem? Also I was extra triggered because one kid I like wrestling with (we’ve done it a lot over many years) kicked me in the throat and wouldn’t talk about it at all. Kid ran away laughing at me. I felt ridiculously triggered and upset. I’m going to need to talk to Parent and Kid about this. I am sincerely worried about accidentally hurting one of these kids some day because they are too rough with my body. I have a lot of reflexes that I’ve toned down but not eliminated. The kids are getting bigger. When they kick me in the throat now it feels like a real threat and I have to do a lot of cognitive processing to recognize that this child is not trying to start a fist fight. It’s hard to sit on. I need some better boundaries here and I’m not being effective at making them without Parent’s help. We’ll see how it goes.
It was at least 9 kids doing doing the chasing-jumping it so it’s not like I’m mad at one person. It was just stressful after a while. And I didn’t want to stomp down to the parent area and tell them, “Will you make your little assholes behave? My little assholes are trying and failing and they are getting hurt.”
Which isn’t an appropriate thing to say at all. No one likes you if you talk about their kids that way. Even though in my opinion EVERY KID IS AN ASSHOLE. I’ve met them. I’ve watched how they behave. Assholes. All of them. It’s not a huge insult it’s just an evaluation of their behavior. They don’t care at all how their actions impact the people around them. It’s a learned process to care about people.
I actually really like the kids that were there. I play with them a lot. We have many good and wonderful games. I feel like I have learned more about how to “play” with this crowd than I ever understood as a child. I really like these kids a lot. Losing contact with them would be devastating. So I have no intention of ever walking up to the group of moms and saying, “Your little assholes….” even though I wouldn’t mean anything that bad by it. That’s how I talk. That’s how I describe the mood of the moment, not their personhood.
I have lots positive to say about every single kid there. But sometimes their behavior sucks. Kinda like me.
I know they meant well. They wanted us to play their game with them. But I’m too big and Calli is too small and Shanna is just too much of a whiner. If I jump with five kids on a trampoline, we may end up with a trip to the hospital and the kids would not back off. Calli got hurt several times because she is just smaller than everyone else. She doesn’t want to feel like a piece of popcorn being tossed about without her will. And Shanna is… Shanna. “I went into the dodge ball area and they THREW BALLS AT ME. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”
Uh, yeah. That happens.
This is the trouble with not sticking kids in public school; they never get the cold hard reality that sometimes balls will come crashing into your face because obviously, “Ha ha” this is such a great game.
I may opt out of the next trampoline group event. We can go by ourselves. We have fun when we go alone. Then I can be as nasty as necessary to defend ONE DAMN SQUARE and Calli will get to jump without sobbing hysterically. We have tons of fun with these kids in every other setting. Maybe we are just not trampoline compatible. That happens.
I’m kind of mean to little kids I don’t know. They won’t fucking listen if you don’t have a harsh tone of voice. “Please stop” is ignored full speed ahead. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR HEARING I SAID STOP.” is listened to much better. I can’t be as harsh with folks we know because then their moms might develop a problem with me. It’s a balancing act of trying to be effective vs. trying to maintain on-going relationships. I really and truly think that children wandering around in the community need to run into the brick wall boundaries of strangers. My kids have gotten yelled at by strangers. Usually my response is, “You deserved it. You ran into someone who owed you nothing and you pushed your luck. Yup, that happens sometimes.”
My shrink and I had a long talk about “You like being that way”. Ok, it wasn’t a long talk. It was just a few minutes. But it was a good talk. Her point is that everyone has some sets of behaviors that feel more natural, more “ok” than others. When a new coping method comes up it can either feel like it overall matches “your approach” or it will feel alien and wrong because it is counter to your impulses. What she meant by “You like being that way” is, I am far more comfortable defaulting to an aggressive way of handling problems. It’s true. I am not always angry and I don’t always curse and I haven’t used actual violence in many years. But if I see a problem my response is probably going to be to walk up to someone and say, “I see we have a problem.”
And even when I do that in nice ways I get called a bitch.
Women are not supposed to be pro-conflict. That is espoused all over the world. Women should shut up and be passive. Yeah, right. (Yes, there are pockets where women are encouraged to be louder and more assertive. Yes, there are men who totally fucking love dominant women. These things usually fall outside the norm.) I haven’t heard that much about it, but I hear that in Chinese culture there is a stereotype that would work for me: Dragon Lady. Usually a grandmother/mom who runs a business? That’s the gist I’ve gotten. A woman who is good at being loud and in charge. Excellent.
I think that conflict moves the world forward. I think that right this minute the world isn’t that great and we need to change a lot of things. Yes, I understand that historically speaking we are at a great place for the rights of white women in first world nations.
I’m, uhm, less satisfied by that level of success than one might assume. It’s not like white women have achieved parity… they are just doing better than other races. Not ok. This has to change. Women in India still have to deal with the very real threat that if they talk back to a man he might throw acid on her face and receive no punishment. Feminism is Not. Fucking. Done. Women of color in this country get thrown under the bus by white feminists all the time and it isn’t fucking ok.
The fact that 91 people were killed by the police in January of 2015 is an atrocity. Most of them were men of color. Black and First Nations men die at a disproportionate rate from being killed by police officers. That’s an outrage. That is abominable, disgusting, and horrifying. There are more black men in prison now than there were black men as slaves! This is not ok. Just not fucking ok.
I think we need change. In our country, in our world. The only way to spur change is to make people uncomfortable with the status quo. George Bernard Shaw says (barely paraphrased): “The reasonable person adapts themself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to themself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable person.”
I’m an unreasonable person. Sometimes this manifests as being a bitch or an asshole. Then we come to cunt.
When I was a little kid there was one word that would cause my mother to drag me to the kitchen by my hair, yank my head back, and fill my mouth with Palmolive. Cunt.
The dirtiest word in our (my bio-family) lexicon. That is the lowest, most disgusting, most degrading thing you can call a woman. That is what I was taught. A cunt is the lowest social position available to a woman and it means contempt and violence at every opportunity.
Being a cunt means being a scapegoat. A cunt is someone who is conveniently assigned every negative behavior and mannerism one wishes to punish. Promiscuity, too loud, too abrasive, too self assured, too “mean”…. It’s complicated. It’s always sexualized. A cunt is a home wrecker.
I’ve never identified as a cunt much. I’ve never been able to get past my childhood conditioning. Even when I was out hunting for married men I was never interested in home wrecking. I usually fucked the wife too. I left them with happy memories and a kiss on the cheek.
Cunt changed for me after I read the wonderful book called Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. At this point I fairly freely refer to my anatomy as my cunt, especially during sex. But I don’t call people that.
Because I can never forget that the name of the most wonderful part of my body is supposed to be the worst, most terrible, most degraded thing a person can be called. Not cool.
So I conflictedly stick with bitch and cheerfully stick with asshole.
I manage this with the kids slightly differently. I don’t tell them I’m an asshole all day long. I nod and sagely say, “I can be quite annoying, this is true.” Why doesn’t it work that way when I talk to adults? Because I have to defend myself with adults.
I don’t have to defend myself with my kids. I have to explain what I need. Sometimes a few million times… but I don’t need to defend myself. (Ok, the odd sword-fight excepted.) They aren’t attacking me. They are looking for loving connection, even when they bug the shit out of me. So I don’t get as offensive. I don’t need to. It wouldn’t help.
I really like getting to have this experience. I like feeling loved like this, in gentleness and kindness. In this house, the best days involve the four of us piling on top of one another and talking for hours. Eventually we get a bit antsy and want to play again. Then, always, we wind up in another snuggle pile.
It is like a dream come true. I don’t know how to take this wonderful feeling out into the world and give people the benefit of the doubt. It has hurt me so much.
Race is a hard topic. All the time in any forum or under any subtopic. Recently on the internet some of the black women I follow (it’s totally kosher–I’m not stalking) have been talking about why black people are under represented in home schooling. I did not join in the conversation, I sat back and watched. I really didn’t feel comfortable saying, “Many of the new families joining our home school group are not white and I think that is a good thing.”
A new family who wasn’t white showed up today. Shanna commented on the little girls hair, which I found kind of weird because… her hair was almost exactly like mine. How in the world could you ‘other’ that little girl for having hair just like me?!
I feel awkward about it, but when people who aren’t white show up I make extra effort. I know that joining white-dominant groups can be intimidating. (Joining any group where you feel like you visually don’t fit in is hard.) I’m kind of a professional new kid. After 25 schools I recognize the signs of someone showing up going, “I’m scared but I’m trying oh please let this work out.”
One of the first things I stress when new people show up (regardless of race) is you don’t have to make any permanent decisions immediately and you are allowed to try lots of different things to see what works for your family. Everyone is different. Sometimes I can visibly see people relax. Giving people permission to make mistakes is a big deal. Even though I’m just some bitch at the park.
The funny thing is… anyone can nominate themselves as appropriate for giving other people permission for making mistakes. It’s not a position I earned. I just do it. I act like I have the right. Weirdly, lots of people react as if I do. (I’m sure there are people I annoy with my presumptuousness… but they don’t say much about it.)
A friend asked me recently if I even had any black friends. I felt… kind of startled. YES. OF COURSE I DO. Which, as soon as I responded with such intensity, made me think “Are you treating them like fucking collectible cards? Why did you react that way?” Race is so hard. It is important to me that I not decide that people in my life have to be “just like me”. I tend to my best to befriend anyone who stands near me for any lengthy period of time–you never know who you will need as an ally in the future and you never know who you can help without effort, worth getting to know people–and they are a range of ethnic backgrounds. To me, for me to not have people of many races represented in my life would be a reflection of a conscious choice to exclude them.
Like: what am I going to get to know only my white neighbors?! Within ten houses of me on both sides of my street I have families from three or four Asian countries, India, Persia (I didn’t ask for a narrowed down country designation but I assume Iran–I know I could be wrong though), black Americans, and white Americans. I talk to everyone. I think that not talking to everyone would make me a piece of shit.
I have one next door neighbor who is white who is chummy and likes to loan tools. I could have settled into a long-term relationship with him and called it good. No. I’m not that kind of girl. Instead I will befriend the nice Indian lady next door who is very lonely in this country. She’s having a really hard time transitioning to being a stay at home mom. Sounds awesome.
People are people. The shell of them isn’t what makes them interesting to me. The emotions, the personal experiences are what make people interesting. And I live in an incredibly diverse area. Not having black friends would need to be a choice.
And yet talking about it makes it seem like trying to gain a full set of collectible trading cards. That’s not what it is about. I want to hear diverse points of view so much. It is so important to me. I spend my life searching out “other” points of view. I do make friends with white people even though I generally don’t like them much. Well, at a distance. I like them fine once I get to know them.
Yesterday I read about an interesting study about learned aversions. They are very difficult to overcome. Nearly impossible in many cases. It is sometimes hard for me that basically all of my trauma came from white people and specifically white men. Dealing with my learned aversions is work. I can walk up to a group of hispanic men and sit down and feel totally comfortable. I don’t feel that way with white men. When I’m looking to sit down in cafeteria’s, I look for where non-whites are sitting unless I specifically already know someone. Then I’ll be sociable.
And yet, my kid still comments awkwardly on mixed race hair. I see we will need to have more conversations. To be fair, she sometimes makes stupid comments about the hair of white kids. I think we need to talk more about how you don’t comment on other peoples bodies at all, period. Not your business.
It’s not like my kids shy away from playing with kids who aren’t white. Shanna walks right up to the first kid she says and asks to play no matter what they look like. It helps that she is successful most of the time so she has positive associations with people of all varieties. She loves people and they love her right back. It is so wonderful to watch. Calli plays with people who ask her, but she is less outgoing. That’s ok too.
I feel like pretending I don’t see race is… kind of stupid. I’m aware of race. I don’t “ensure I have a set” of kinds of people. I take whoever walks by. I want to learn how to be appropriate with all kinds of people and visual markers exist. Yes, I’m sure I have some stereotypes.
I try very hard to ensure that my stereotypes are things like, “In general Asian immigrants are less forgiving of me swearing so I need to try harder to watch my mouth.” They flinch more. Asian Americans who grew up here don’t care. So I only seriously modify if I hear an accent. Then I try very hard to make my language more approachable. I don’t want them to retreat from my ambient anger and I’ve seen it happen.
I don’t deliberately swear at people. I just… kind of have a potty mouth. I’m not calling people names or anything.
I just talk like I grew up where I grew up sometimes. I’m articulate. (Not that I’m claiming I can pick up dialects as well as she can. That woman is amazing.)
I feel like part of my problem is I feel more awkward being this friendly when I have a lot of money than I did when I was poor. I have always been the sort to be bossy and interfering. That feels like much more of a problem now that I am upper middle class. I was always white and that was always an issue with regards to my point of view when it comes to bossing people who are not like me. But I recognize how many privileges I have now. I recognize how often I solve problems by throwing money at them and I know it is simply not an option for most people the way it is for me.
I feel pretty ashamed of myself for that and I don’t know what to do about it. I feel very bad that I have so many more resources than other people. I don’t want to be in the 95%-98% for wealth… but I don’t want to be poor either. That scares the shit out of me. I’ve been homeless and starving and I don’t want to ever do it again.
But I don’t think I’m “better” than people who haven’t figured out how to get out. I very clearly see how being white played into my story every step of the way helping me find allies who helped me survive.
I would not be alive without my friends. Many of whom are white. And I spend a lot of time shit talking white people. I’m an ungrateful bastard.
Even beyond being white, I had help. Some of it was weird and unconventional. I got out because I was perfectly ok using any fucking available resource. Most people have more scruples about being “users” than I do. My mama taught me that beggars can’t be choosers and you use the people in front of you.
I’ve lived in a lot of areas where non-white people abound. I frequent communities where non-white people exist.
Err, why wouldn’t I have black friends?
Because lots of people don’t and that is very weird to me. To me that is like saying, “How about if you banish some of the most chatty and fun people you know.” Uhm, no. No, no no. I find chatty people of every race and I love them dearly and I’m not giving them up. It was hard to track down that many talkative people. Taciturn people abound.
Apparently I’m having a love affair with the word abound today.
I talk to whoever walks by. I keep the people who like to talk. I don’t really care what they look like because once I get past the first few sentences, the shell of a person isn’t what makes them interesting. I like people for their stories. I learn so much from the generous people who talk to me about their lives. I learn how to be a better person. I learn about options in life I have never even considered. What are the parameters that shape your decisions? I can’t imagine. Tell me. Please.
People are the reason I’m alive. Because there are more stories to hear and create and experience. I feel awkward about race but I feel awkward about race towards my race while being it. I feel othered. I feel like when I’m talking to a white person I need to assume that their life has been nothing like mine.
What does having it “better” or having it “worse” even mean?
I don’t really know but near as I can tell other people have pretty firm opinions about their own life in relationship to the people around me and they are happy to tell me. Great. I’ll listen. I’ll only judge a little bit and I will keep 99% of my judgments to myself. I’ll only let the tactful ones slip out; I hope.
I’m much better than I used to be! It’s all the practice.
I feel like part of what I have learned is how to let other people be the ones who dictate the opinions about their lives. My judgments are about my ability to see a scope into their life and have nothing really to do with their actual life. I don’t know all the pieces of their real life because they can never tell them all. I’ve been writing for years and I’m still uncovering nooks and crannies about why I do shit. I’ve been working on this as a concentrated area of study for years and I’m still surprised regularly by new triggers and new layers of, “Now I have to unpack this shit. Ew.”
I project like crazy though and that’s a real problem. I think my ability to handle things is reflective of what other people can handle and I’m dead wrong. In positive and negative ways.
I don’t believe in a color blind world. I believe that people look different because they have different family histories and that makes them interesting and unique. I tell my kids, “A persons skin color just tells you that their ancestors stayed closer to the Equator than our ancestors did.” When we ask someone where they are from we say, “Where in California are you from?” No one needs to feel like an outsider. But you may not be from my city. People who are immigrants but who have moved around California consider this a wonderful opening for long and interesting stories.
Race is hard to talk about. But it shapes all of our lives and I think I won’t understand people unless I ask questions that are kind of sticky and I learn how to listen respectfully. I want to feel bound to people. I want to feel like I understand people. It has to come one at a time and it will come best with as many different kinds of people as I can.
Race is always going to be awkward. Good thing I’m comfortable with being awkward. It is a pretty permanent part of my affect.