Category Archives: budget

Chasing and being ok

I should be sleeping, but I’m awake. I’m thinking about how much I’m shoving on my friend while she’s here. So here’s the sitch. I met this woman on Twitter during my road trip. Towards the end the kids and I realized we were going to have a miserable time camping at the snowy Grand Canyon and decided to detour. I asked the universe (and Twitter) where we should go. This woman popped up and said, “Pick me! Pick Phoenix!” So I did.

We spent a few days together and it was lovely. I think she is great. I think her kids are rad and super smart and really engaged in life. I honestly don’t meet that many public school kids who are that good at asserting themselves. I was seriously impressed with these kids. They are just… there’s a lot of there there.

So I asked my friend to come visit. Thing is, the entire time I’ve known this family they’ve been on my monthly donation list because of disability issues. The mama hasn’t worked in a while and that is indefinite. So this trip is horrifyingly prohibitively expensive.

So I said, “Can I bring you to California. You and your family. You need a break from life.”

We are going all over the bay area and down to Santa Barbara with a stop in Monterey on the way home. We will spend close to a week driving into San Francisco to see the museums.

These kids showed up at my house and with glowing faces they said, “Can we homeschool every day?!” They are so excited they can barely speak. Only they talk just as much as my kids do so this is a hilarious time. Oh so much volume. But fascinating! The opinions! The independent thought going on!

One of the first questions was: “Does your little boy still wear dresses?” Answer: “That question is more complicated than you think. My kid wears dresses sometimes. But I only sometimes have a little boy. Let’s talk about the gender binary and people who do not fall on it at either end.”

It was lovely.

I sat down after dinner and started listing off the cool things to do within an hour of driving… we filled the trip days fast. We have a full itinerary.

I am 100% convinced my friend never would have asked for something like this in her life. I’m spending around $1200-$1500 for them to have this vacation. Folks I don’t know that well that I met through the internet.


I am ruled by my impulses. Because it breaks my heart that my children get to have the life they have and children this god damn smart and talented don’t get to have as much opportunity. Yes, I’d love to bring you out here for three weeks for as much information as we can pack into your little skulls. It would be an honor.

I do these things to pay back the child I was. The child who felt so bad that everyone else got to go do fun things and take classes and go to museums. I got to move again.

Part of what is helping is that I’m not having to chase this family. I offered and she accepted… but I didn’t have to chase her and keep offering.

Being able to accept a gift this big is hard. Pride is a big deal. Accepting this much love and help from someone is hard to feel ok with. People can only take so much then they need to give. Not necessarily back to the person they received from… paying things forward is more important

I am running into asking rev limiters within myself. I can ask different people and it isn’t scary. I can’t ask a small group of people for things repeatedly. That’s too much hard; I feel too much like I’m hurting people.

Unless I get asked back. I need to be asked for things in exchange. Do you know one of the reasons it is easy for me to help this family have this trip? They are kind of assertive about how things need to work for them. “I need _____. I can’t do _____.” Even if receiving a gift they are directing it to be more useful for them. That melts my butter. I feel like they seriously are trying to get what they need from this gift.

I have probably asked many hundreds if not over a thousand people to spend time with me in my life. I don’t ask everyone for sexual attention. Unless I feel an energetic push back… I feel like I am hurting people by sticking around.

If I initiate all of our, “Hey let’s hang out” it will get more and more sporadic over time. My give runs out. My ask runs out. I wish I still had it in me to ask you over lots… I don’t. I don’t think you care. I think you’d rather do something else.

I think you’d rather not put your pants on and walk three blocks to see me after I drive multiple thousands of miles. That’s what I’m worth.

That’s from someone who has been publicly calling me “family” for over a decade. Yeah. That’s what I’m worth to my family.

But not Noah. And not my kids. They would do a whole hell of a lot to see me.

Noah crisscrossed the country chasing me. It was glorious.

Even though they live with me every day. If I start getting distracted by life or people they do tricks until I stare at them again. Please look at us. We need your attention. Yes my loves. I will give you my attention too.

Yes, I like pushy. Yes, I want people who say hey I’m here and I want your attention. Yes, that is risking rejection. Welcome to my god damn life.

It occurs to me that I could create a calendar for the house hold and share that with folks who are interested. Dates when people are free to invite themselves over could be clearly marked.

I can’t keep inviting the way I have for years. I’m tired and it hurts.

Noah says I’m just ditching my friends for lovers. I don’t think that is true. I can list off lots of friends talking and visits in the past few months. It is true that I’m putting less effort into my friends.

But I think I was there anyway. I think there was just a brief surge for dating. I think that is going to… change as time moves on anyway. I’ll run out of ask there too. I don’t get the impression that most of the folks I date are going to feel ok being pushy with asking for dates. My submissive. My glorious submissive. Thank you for being so brave so far. I know I’m busy and asking me means risking me being overwhelmed and kind of a twerp on a given day. I’m grateful you ask. Thank you. I’m sorry I’m not always good company but I’m so glad I get to know you. Sometimes when I say I’m not good company it isn’t about me not liking you it is about me wanting to keep my nasty moods away from you. I know you are comfortable with getting the less than sweet parts of me, but I don’t want to take my feelings out on anyone like that. I don’t want to start using you for that kind of thing.

I love you too much.

I’ll hit you; I’ll carve my name into your flesh with a scalpel; I’ll kick you as hard as I can in the testicles. I do not want to hurt you. I want you to feel loved. I can’t be nasty to you when I’m having a bad day. That’s not cool.

I need to be nasty to you on good days when it is a positive, loving choice for both of us.

I’m going to run out of chase on dating for the same reason I always do. Most people… aren’t as into me as I want them to be. They like me ok, but they don’t really seek me out. I seek them out as much as I can… then I can’t anymore.

Usually that’s about three months.

The people who have gone longer than that… my first fiancé, my Owner, Puppy, Spot, Noah… they always act like they are drawn to me. I don’t think my first fiancé would have fallen out of love with me. I think he wanted to marry me and he was going to be ok being that person forever. I think I could have had that. But he needed me to not change very much. He needed me to calm down and not be so crazy. He needed me to be very conservative sexually. I couldn’t do that for him. I think I could still be with my Owner if I hadn’t wanted kids so much. Puppy was the only one who dumped me. He has some serious issues and that was for the best. He would have been very abusive. Spot… that one did run its course. There was no more there for that relationship. But we are still friends.

Noah came back when I shoved him away as hard as I could. He was still my friend even though it hurt because not knowing me was more painful than dealing with me rejecting him as a boyfriend. Then after a while of being my friend he noticed that I was single for five minutes and he took a chance on offering me the best deal of my whole damn life. Would I like to marry my best friend and have the babies I’ve been dreaming of? Yes. Yes I would.

I like sudden intense protestations of devotion that I end up being able to count on. That works for me.

And Noah has chased me ever since. I do not always honor his efforts as I should. But I take breaks to admire just how forking nice to me he is. He chases me. He feels like he would die without me.

It makes it kind of hard to keep chasing people who are not that enthusiastic about seeing me, who do not push for time or attention, who do not make it clear that they want to know me.

I’m spoiled as fuck.

My submissive chases me à la Pepé Le Pew. Slow and patient and just there for my entire adult life.

You know who else chases me? Sarah. That’s why she is My Sarah. Because she has chased me and pushed and offered and grabbed chances to see me for over twelve years.

Lots and lots and lots of people can ask me once or twice a year for a visit. That’s so wonderful and sweet and generous. They give me what they have to spare. They ask for how much of me they want. I’m grateful for every person who gives me a three hour visit a year because they want to know me and that’s all they have spare. That is a gift.

It is so glorious having people in my life who want more and more and more of me. The number of people who feel that way is growing and I can’t help but think that is so wonderful. One of the women I look up to most described knowing me as being like watching the birth of a planet. I’m developing my own gravity.

So this ADD book I’m reading keeps saying, “There is something special about a lot of people with ADD. You can’t put your finger on what it is. It’s just there.” I find that hilarious.

When you look at comorbidity things: ADD is highly correlated with trauma which is highly correlated with being targeted which is highly correlated to being something that attracts notice.

Being special/different/weird is threatening as fuck. Lemme tell you.

Hey, is that a self love moment there? Did I just admit that I know I’m special?


I am. I always have been. I do radiate energy like the sun. Either I freak people out or I draw them in. I pay attention to people. I want to know them and love them. Just looking at people as hard as I do is special. Not many people are even capable of really looking at everyone around them and paying attention the way I do. It is some trick of attention and hypervigilance and empathy.

And where in the hell did I find the well of love I seem to have for people? Despite everything. Recently someone said I didn’t break; I broke open.

I need to be needed or there isn’t a lot of point in me. I think that the majority of creatures who are ever born live and die not having a point. I think that the creature has to make their own point, their own purpose, their own meaning.

Am I doing it?

So far people in ten states and a few different countries have told me that knowing me has changed them for the better. It’s a start.

I can say with great certainty that the three people who live here, my submissive, and My Sarah will chase me just about to the ends of the earth. Jenny has flown out to rescue me when I was in danger even though she isn’t by nature a chaser.

I still call her Jenny because I’m the only damn one who can. To you, she is Jennifer. You do not have leave to address her familiar. I think the only reason I can’t mature into the grown up name is because it was a very young person who first opened her heart to me. It was a very young person with intense wounds of her own who learned how to put up with me. When I cry and think of how very much I miss my friend I am dimly aware that we are grown ups now… but I miss her from that place of being very young. Because that is where she first touched me. I met her when I was twelve. I feel like twelve was for me the absolute last gasping breaths of my childhood. That was right as I started seriously dating.

Jenny managed to catch the last bits of me that could love as a child. And I love her with all the intensity of a child for their best friend still. Thank you.

Despite how not chaste I am… I am still chased. I am deemed worthy of love. And by people I respect and love in return. People who absolutely thrill me to my toes that these people think I am worth enough of their energy to chase me. People who are impacted by my gravity pull and just have to be near me.

Oh I love you I love you I love you.

That’s at least six people who will… chase me pretty fucking far. Blacksheep has jumped enormous hurdles to be my friend. DSH has gone waaaaaaay far past her comfort zone for me even though she isn’t one to chase people like me.

I could keep going.

I am blessed and blessed and blessed. My Bonus Family. It would take a few pages to go through all they have done for me. Even though I’m god damn difficult and sometimes they need some boundaries. That’s healthy.

Most of the people who love me with great intensity have rev limiters of their own. They have lives. Part of the reason I love them so much is because they are intense people with a lot going on. They give me what they can. Even if they can’t chase me the way I like to be chased…

Really, how spoiled can someone be? I get chased. I have three people chasing me 24/7. Quit being so greedy.

And yet I’d still kinda like to set up a calendar that says when folks can invite themselves over and see what happens.

I don’t want to decide who it is and how many people. I just… want to see what happens. I assume not much. I assume a few people sometimes but not much.  The key to happiness is low expectations.

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks. I’m nervous because this is a lot of time to be “on” with folks I don’t know that well. But I know this mama through mental/physical disability support. At least we are both very understanding of our mutual shortcomings. Ha.

I am so grateful that they accepted my invitation. This is going to be a lot of fun for me. I can’t wait to homeschool her kids. I feel like a walking encyclopedia and that is one of my favorite feelings. See how useful I can be. I am a good tool!

One of the things that makes me special is how fast I can access disparate topics in my brain and explain them in simple or complicated ways for just about anyone. I can make connections between things that seem unrelated… until I explain… faster than the vast majority of people I’ve ever met. And I’ve met a lot of people. I am not an expert in almost anything. Instead of going deep I go wide. That allows for a different kind of thinking, a different kind of intensity.

Ok, reading this book on ADD is making me question something about my long term mental health diagnosis: depression. I don’t do the torpor kind of depression. I do the head-down-keep-working-as-you-hate-yourself-and-want-to-die kind. Apparently that is a pretty standard ADD thing. Oh. Huh. That’s supposed to be one of those things they kinda look for. I hate them and their not looking.

If you loathe yourself: you are depressed. Sorta. Maybe.

I made Noah listen to this song. I can’t find it easily on the internet so you get lyrics.  The thing is… I need to be loved. And I need it from lots of people because I’m trying to push past a whole lot of not being loved.

There is some interesting research out there on preverbal trauma and early formative trauma. I feel like I still need to be filled with as much love as an infant. I was not wanted. Not from conception. I only exist because a bad thing happened. What do I have to do to make up for that? What do I have to do for the world to make up for the harm I caused by coming into being. For declaring, “I don’t care that this hurts you. I need to be here.”

It’s not like I think I really deserve to be punished for choosing to be born. It was an accident. A surprise.

To be fair, my mom told me over and over I was a surprise. She didn’t know she wanted me till she had me. Sissy is the one who told me over and over that I was an accident. My mom just admitted it was rape. My mom tries to make sense of her life given the stories she has been given. God wanted her to have that child. Me.

I have been crying for my mother for over 31, almost 32 years. My mom was 32 when I was born. I might be 35 or 36 if I have another child.

Am I a grown up yet?

When my mama was 35 years old she had four children. She locked her abusive husband out of the house and sued for divorce. On the grounds that he had been raping their children. He was still given partial custody. He refused to pay alimony or child support so my mom lost the house and we ended up living in the car. Well, he would pay it. In exchange for sex.

Sometimes I think I judge my mother far too harshly for surviving a world of horror.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it neither? Is it both? Does it depend?

I think that if I don’t have that much pull… I should probably just be ok with that. It is probably healthier that way. Maybe. Who knows.

Yes. Yes, I want pushy.

I think people misunderstand suicide prevention. There is a lot of shaming. “Don’t do it because it is selfish. You hurt people.” I hurt people by living too. I promise. It’s always complicated. It is always about the balance of hurting people vs being hurt.

I think it should be framed as enlightened self interested selfishness. Someday I will get to the point where I am out of good days. I’m not there yet. I’m trying to construct a future so fantastic that I absolutely want to stay alive to see it.

I know we are giving up the WWOOF year I’ve always wanted because of a baby I want more. You know what? I bet I will still go to Africa with Sarah someday. I bet I will still go to Taiwan to see Pam someday. I bet I will still go to South America someday. I don’t know who will go with me or who I will see… but it’s probably going to happen.

I’m like that.

I go do things.

No more travel for a long time though. I need to save money. We don’t really travel cheap.

The kids and Noah have promised to veto all requests for travel in 2017 even if I say, “but we could…”


I love my reminders.

My Eldest Child likes to say, “You should listen to yourself more, mom. You are a smart lady.” But I don’t listen to myself. I need to hear it from you. I need to hear it in your voice. I need to have you replace my inside voice. Do you know why? Because when I talk to me I’m so god damn mean. When you remind me of something I just said a few minutes ago… you usually sound so nice.

I know I sounded nice when I said it to you. That’s because it is easy to be nice to you. No, I can’t remind myself in that same nice way. I need you on a tape in my head. Because my tapes are all so bad. Thank you for reminding me.

I never mean that sarcastically.

Well… maybe once in a while but I’ll make it obvious with a funny voice.

Shiny change of topic. I feel like it is wise to restate a thing about voice in my blog. I talk to “you” a lot. That’s a moving target. I often consciously create sentences so I’m addressing multiple situations and multiple people at once and I phrase it as a singular. So if you feel paranoid that I’m talking to you… maybe…. inclusively…

Or maybe you’re the one. Noah gets a lot of direct address. Ok, other people do too and I hide behind the group thing. Let’s be honest. But I do the group address thing too!

I’m just tricksy.

I sat here for a while and just went through some visuals of stuff I’d like to have happen in my life. Oh let it be so.

Drips, drabs, ups, and downs.

We went up to San Pablo yesterday to see some friends. This is after that specific friend coming to my house monthly for ohhh four years now? I am starting to try and do some trips up there in exchange for all the trips to my house. The distance between us is not shorter just because he is a guy with no kids. I can do effort too.

And when I drive up there I get to spend time with his lovely wife. I find the visits to be highly educational in diverse arenas. For one thing: she knows way the fuck more about gardening than I do and she’s happy to talk about plants. Lately getting near someone with lots of plant knowledge who does not eschew my children is somewhat tricky. I’ve tried to sign up for gardening classes THAT ARE BEING ADVERTISED ON AN UNSCHOOLING MAILING LIST and I was told I would have to get babysitting. Stop fucking advertising in this space if my fucking kids aren’t welcome you fucking fuckers. I didn’t say fuck to the people in question. I just dropped it.

Beyond the gardening stuff, I am having a bit of trouble with Callidora. Well, phrasing it that way sounds more extreme than it is. Many of my parenting approaches work really well for Shanna and don’t work at all with Calli. Luckily my friends’ wife seems to identify really strongly with Calli. They are very similar temperamentally and she is giving me a lot of feedback for how to tweak our interactions so they work better.

I feel so much gratitude I don’t have words. Someone is willing to look at me and look at my daughter and look at our relationship and say, “You are doing ok, but you both might be happier if you did……”

Err, in defense of my hubris more than once I have said, “I’m afraid I am going to have to do ____” and her response was “Yes. That is exactly what you have to do.” So she isn’t entirely telling me new information. But she is very good at skimming out the bullshit and getting to the heart of the matter. “This is failing because of x.”

I don’t trust many people to give me feedback. I’m not sure why I trust her feedback as much as I do. For one thing she doesn’t use the word “should” and I’m not sure if that has become a specific trigger. Maybe I explode at people for that word rather than because I am completely unwilling to accept advice? It’s hard to tease out.

Also, she tends to say “Calli seems to be a lot like me. When I was a kid I had x and y and z experiences and this is how it went well and this is how it went badly. If Calli is as much like me as she seems right now, you are going to have to deal with a and b and c. It’s not a good idea to do d.”

I guess there is an implied “should” in that but she doesn’t say it.

It also occurs to me that I push Calli in a way I have never pushed Shanna. When Shanna was three I had a one year old. We did not spend a lot of time pushing the absolute physical limits of what she could accomplish until she collapsed in frustrated tears.

I’m having a hard time understanding fully that Calli wants to be able to do things she isn’t ready to do yet and I need to find a tactful way of bailing her out even as I push Shanna to try. Differentiated instruction is a bitch.

(Err, the bicycle riding project is coming along. We’ve hit a few hiccups. As my wise new running mate commented, “Dude. You’ve been out with them four times? Relax and do more low pressured practice.”

Yeah yeah. You may have a point. But we bought the bikes because we want to ride to the park. I need to decide in my adult brain that even if that is the eventual goal… we sure as shit can’t start by doing that. I should probably not try to leave our housing development again until June. We need more low-stakes practice than we have had. Hours and hours and hours and hours.

It is not just a form of transportation. It is about entertainment. It has to be about entertainment at first or they won’t gain enough proficiency to use it as transportation later. The transportation part doesn’t have to be worked out at three, instantly. Relax you bitch.

Medication has been spotty this week. I (re?)noticed a pattern. Whenever I get to the point of using sufficient medication that I actually feel good instead of having just the edge of the pain taken away I punish myself for days with under medicating so I feel a lot more pain. I’m not supposed to be using pot like a pot head. I’m not supposed to be trying to get high. I’m supposed to be just managing the pain.

I think I am too much of a Puritan. My sister told me I had ancestors on the Mayflower (Not her–different fathers.). Maybe it is too deeply buried within my DNA? I can’t stop believing that I must suffer. Anything that feels good MUST BE BAD.

I have been very consistent lately about giving up my morning “off time” to wake up with the kids. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. On one hand I’m more frazzled and I’m not taking a compensatory amount of time later. On the other hand… we are getting along better. When the kids open their eyes in the morning to me in their bed smiling at them… the whole day is easier. The first thing they hear every day is, “Good morning. I’m so glad to see you again. I’m looking forward to our wonderful day together.”

They smile back and say, “Me too!” then grab my neck and pull me close. Then I get a sleepy “Good morning.”

Sometimes it feels weird knowing that I do this as a parenting gesture in large part to make up for the hole in my heart. No one was ever happy to see me during my childhood. I was a terrible, unwanted burden.

I completely support mothers who need to abort children born of rape. I wish my mother hadn’t allowed her religion to force her to keep me. I was not wanted. And they made my life hell.

Now I have something different. It is so very nice. But it’s a lot of emotional and mental and physical work. And I get really tired.

When I’m tired it is harder to be consistent. When I’m scared I start screaming. That’s consistent.

Calli has asked me to stop raising my voice at her when I’m repeating orders/requests/whatever you want to call them. Demands? She told me (while making eye contact so this is serious as a fucking heart attack) “I will be able to listen to you better if you get close to me and whisper in my ear that it is important.”

If a three year old can so clearly ask for the kind of interaction she needs then I am a fucking asshole if I ignore the request. This is how I teach them ownership of their body and consent and boundaries.

I’ve been working on it. I kind of feel that I should create some accountability tool for myself. Maybe another sheet of paper on the wall. I can ask Calli to help me decide whether I approached her correctly or not and we can decide if I get a mark in the “right behavior” column or the “not so right” column. It will also help her clarify which aspects of the raised voice stuff are a problem for her.

My kids are not going to grow up thinking adults are perfect and kids need to bend to the adults around them. Ha. Ha. Ha. No. We want to live together. We need to adapt to one another.

I’m happy about the upcoming social stuff. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed that people are agreeing so delightedly to come to my events. My RSVPs fill up fast. (Err, RSVP for Easter if you are coming… not many spaces left.)

I have had something like six people in the last two weeks get really excited when I confirm that I’m hosting Easter again. “OH! You throw the best parties!”

I do?


Well that’s awesome. How do I do that? What makes them “the best” for you? Because I spend my parties in kind of an anxious hell hoping I don’t offend everyone and run them off such that they never want to come back.

And yet I keep hosting. Irony.

I don’t seem to be running people off. I mean… I do… but I don’t. I run some people off.

I feel very guilty when I admit to myself that I run off people who need things from me that I can’t give. My anxiety and shame around not being able to meet their needs makes me angry and cruel. It isn’t my fault I can’t meet their needs. It isn’t their fault I can’t meet their needs. It isn’t their fault they have needs. I have needs they can’t meet either. But I get mean. This is a major character flaw of mine.

I don’t do this with people who have small needs I can easily meet. If people need something from me that is going to be an up to five hour commitment one time… I love doing that. That helps me feel like I am part of a community and I’m useful and all kinds of good feelings. When someone starts to need 3-10 hours of work from me every fucking week in order to have a relationship with them…

I get mean. I am awful. I am not a nice person. I don’t know how to have healthy limits without being an asshole. I’m not making excuses or justifying my behavior. It’s wrong.

I have been talking to a friend a lot about how different it is in America versus other more crowded countries. Americans apologize for bumping into someone. In China you would never say any word other than “sorry”. So they don’t bother.

I spend a lot of time apologizing for taking up space. I spend a lot of time apologizing for being inconvenient. I spend a lot of time apologizing for not being able to do/be what someone else wants/needs.

I am sorry I am so inadequate. I clearly see that I am.

Right now I’m having anxiety attacks because some folks are mad at me. Folks I don’t really need to “care” about per se. They aren’t my friends. They are the close friends of one of my friends. They are mad at me because my vomiting on Friday caused them some inconvenience. I have apologized profusely for inconveniencing them. I’m sorry they were brought into the situation by our mutual friend. But yeah. I’m the bitch.

And I feel consumed with shame and I have for days. I inconvenienced them. I stole hours of their life and made them about me when they already kind of hate me. I’m really sorry. I did apologize. I have not been acknowledged and that is what I assumed would happen.

I get into these situations. I’m sorry I inconvenienced you. I have very little control over when I vomit. I’m just glad I didn’t make a mess on my floor.

But it impacted your life. And you wish I didn’t impact your life. So you are angry with me because I popped up and existed in a way you couldn’t tune out.

I’m really sorry.

This is more or less why I avoid that whole segment of the “community”. I don’t really like feeling like I am doing something wrong by breathing in a way they can hear.

So yeah. I don’t think I will teach with my friend again. There is a bunch of stress in the lead up and if I get sick there is lots of acrimony, blame, and anger. Not from my friend. He was mellow about the situation. But he didn’t feel qualified to handle the class alone and those are the other people he has in his life to turn to for support.

Yeah well, me hanging around near them feels like an abusive family reunion where they all wish I would drop dead. The sooner the better.

More one of them than the other but… well that’s not a story I’ll write down yet. Maybe a few more decades. It being thirteen years ago still isn’t long enough. Some day.

It’s not all her fault. I was a bitch. But man. Oh man. Ok. Shiny change of topic.

I’ve been having a lot of feelings all week over that. I was doing great last week until I started vomiting on Friday.

I associate vomiting with letting people down and being a bad and weak person. When I get sick my association is that I will also be in trouble for some reason. I am inconvenient when I’m sick.

Noah is working hard to change some of these patterns. He’s nice when I’m sick. He does a lot of telling me that it isn’t my fault and I didn’t do anything bad. I feel really pathetic for needing it. But I do. And he does it. I am so grateful for him as a partner.

I like teaching though. I will look for more opportunities to teach. Just no co-teaching in a situation potentially wrapped in shame-inducing trauma. When I had to cancel a class as a professional teacher… no one made me write a formal apology. I’d like to go back to that kind of treatment. Thanks.

My running mate wants me to stop thinking of writing as a hobby and start thinking of it as a business. I’ve sold enough forking copies of my book that I can stop pretending I’m not a real writer. I shouldn’t have to pay for my book editing and publishing stuff out of my “fun money”. It’s not my hobby. Noah doesn’t take his business expenses out of his fun money. It’s a separate category in the budget. It’s not very healthy for me to demean myself in this fashion.

I will severely limit my career as a writer if I can’t employ an editor until I save up enough fun money by denying myself everything. Denial as a full-time lifestyle in a household that otherwise has a lot of privilege… that’s kinda self-hating. It’s being weird. It’s unhealthy.

Why do women do this to themselves? My writing “doesn’t count”. It’s just… something I do. Like the laundry. And when there are expenses for it, well, they are “mine”, right?

I developed a lot of habits over the years of having the annuities and living with men. What I could have was very strictly limited to what I had in that $1200 every month. I didn’t over extend. And now I have no real personal income and… I’m flailing. The $100/month of fun money is… not enough. Not for me to feel like I can track all of “my” spending separately from household stuff.

We just have a clothes budget. It is for all four of us. If someone gets something then the other three have to wait a while. *shrug* But it changes how I think of things. Although… when I bought the pretty clothes in Portland I took a big chunk out of my personal money. I spent more than $500 on two items of clothing. It didn’t seem fair to make my family give up that large a share of the clothes budget on me getting two items. So more than $300 came out of my fun money. That seemed fair to me.

When the kids really get a big clothes splurge… it goes in the “kid” section even though mostly they come out of the main category.

The kids have a big section of the budget that is amorphously used for classes, home school supplies. books, toys, gear of whatever kind (was baby carriers and diapers now it has moved on to bikes), and rarely clothes.

A long time ago I consciously went out and started spending time with older men. They could talk to me about money. How they got it. What they did with it. I made my own judgments about who lived in which kind of house and who had how much money. I’ve always been tactless as fuck. I would point blank ask them how much cash they had in the bank and whether or not they had investments.

I didn’t understand most of what they told me. But I remembered it. It’s kind of funny to have little memories float up now and again as I’m trying new things with investing.

Be sure you are right, then go ahead. I will, Davey. I will research and research and research and I’ll figure out what I think is right. Of course I know I could always be wrong. Some minute change in my life might make all of my careful risk calculations moot and irrelevant.

I have no way of predicting that. So I have to just act and hope for the best.


Debt is evil.

Make your money work for you.

Pay yourself first.

Sometimes I think I turn to these mantras as the only way I have of blocking out all the voices in my head who want me to think I am stupid and a bitch and I should just stop inconveniencing them by breathing.

I’ve been really stunned by the intensity of my suicidal ideation this week.

I also haven’t been doing my daily check in calls with my friend. She’s really busy on a project. She’ll be back in a week or so. I support and respect her participation in this event and that means she has no time to think about me. I am a big girl and I’ll keep my big girl panties on.

It is interesting how suicidal ideation is not always about depression. I don’t feel like I am feeling depression symptoms. This is more on the anxious/overwhelmed side. Manic is a word people like. But I’m not… doing anything manic.

Just out of the blue driving on the freeway I see a weird opening where it would be possible to turn and be hit by a semi-truck and I want to do it more than I want anything in the world. I want in that moment to feel a lot of pain and then die. I want it as much as my heart wants to beat. It is immediate and visceral and all encompassing.

I have to breathe very lightly and lift my hands so I have a very light guiding pressure on the steering wheel. Sometimes I get off the freeway to breathe and stretch my neck and remind myself, “Not today.”

The reasons I don’t like driving are varied and complicated and… I’m willing to bet that someday I will not be able to drive any more. It is part of the reason I am as strongly motivated to make friends near my house as I am. Walking will always be a good idea. Forever. For my health.

Thanks, Pam, for letting me write this morning.

My head feels better. I feel a lot less shame. Writing it down helps.

I don’t need to feel shame because other people would prefer that their world didn’t overlap with mine. I could reject our mutual friend so that they never have to hear about me again, but given that he values his relationship with me that seems kind of awful.

But I think I should have different boundaries. Still working on where those need to be. Boundaries are tricky things. You only find out you have them when they are transgressed. Ha. THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CLASS. And what I got out of it is: I need to make sure I never have to deal with your extended friends again. Awesome.

That’s a lesson I can learn.

They aren’t going to like me. No matter what. Ever. I need to not care about that. They are allowed to have their experience of the world where I am… something. I don’t know what. I shouldn’t speculate. I would surely overstate my importance. I certainly don’t suspect that either of them while away hours just hating me. I’m not that important.

So I don’t need to feel shame because they are feeling irritation. That’s not something I need to take on. I gave an apology. I offered restitution to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve got. Move on. I didn’t vomit on purpose.

And when I feel shame for my social behavior I rush home to assure myself that I am managing my money properly. No one is going to be able to force me to move. I’m allowed to stay here. I’m jumping through all the hoops that actually matter for my life. I don’t have to care that they dislike me. There won’t be any consequences.

And then I can stop thinking about it.

Thank you internet. That’s the end of my confession for today. I have some dirt to play with and a fence to sand. Tomorrow a bunch of little kids are going to come paint a few sections. We are adding more year by year. Drips and drabs. It’s really fun.

Saturday is the Girl Genius Volume 1 read aloud. Email me for details if you want to come hear Noah do all the hilarious voices.


I sat down yesterday at my computer intending to buy three tickets to Texas for December. I said to Shanna, “You understand that I’m not going, right?”

Her eyes got as wide as saucers. “But you have to go. I can’t go meet new people without you. When I am talking to people I don’t know well and you are there I am brave because I know I am wonderful. When you aren’t there I am scared and I can’t do it. I need you.”

“If I went with you to Texas and I stayed in the hotel with you but you had to go to your grandmothers house with just your dad and sister would that be good enough?”

“Yes. That would be good enough.”

I’m going to Texas in three months, apparently.

I’m fucking serious about not setting foot inside that woman’s house again. Maybe I will go visit the great grandmother or great aunt instead. Or I will sit inside a fucking Starbuck’s.

I can be nice in letters–I think I am very fucking nice in the letters I send. I sent five to seven page letters about the kids a few times a year. I’m all neutral but upbeat and such.

I want my kids to know them. I want my kids to have a family. But I’m aware that they will never be my family. Such is life.

The whole rest of the year is travel heavy. So much for a save year. My end of the year reckoning on Mint is going to involve some head hanging with shame. It’s a good thing Noah is earning money at a faster rate than planned for. I’m not making every savings goal. But I do have a god damn fabulous back yard now. It’s a trade off.

We leave on Monday for Disneyland. It will be me and my girls. We will have fun together. Since Calli’s birthday Shanna has been drawing me picture after picture because she wants to decorate for my birthday. I think I will bring a stack of them and scotch tape and put them up on the windows in our hotel room. I am so fucking glad I get to be their mom.

I haven’t been sleeping well. Lots of mom stuff. The last three nights have been pretty bad. It’s lead up to my birthday so I’m not surprised. Six days and counting. I think that knowing that I will be alone with the kids is both helping and hurting. On one hand, I feel sad. But I don’t have the anticipation of waking up in my house with having it just be one more shitty day when I should do laundry and scrub the floor. (Not that my days are shitty–I like my life and I like my job. But man I’ve got this birthday thing.)

I don’t give very many birthday presents any more. I want to spend time with people on their birthdays (or near their birthdays) but gifts aren’t the thing. Only if I find something that seems talisman-like. That’s hard to just decide to find.

I have things scattered throughout my house. Talismans. I’m loved. I should keep writing. People want to know what I am thinking.

Connection. Multiplicity. Embrace plurality. So many things to think about. How to not be scary.

I feel like over the last year or so I have had to realize that all of those hours I spent during my childhood practicing my “scary” expressions worked. Becoming non-intimidating is taking a lot of conscious work.

I feel like I am walking this razor thin line. If I am intimidating then I run off the people I want to love. If I am not intimidating… well I know how that goes.

Better to be undefended and on the verge of death at any moment. That makes people like you more. Then you aren’t scary.

Maybe being scary is just one of those important parts of life. I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t actually afraid of me. When I ask them they emphatically say they aren’t scared. Shanna says, “Sometimes you startle me. But that’s not the same thing.” But I am scary to other people. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the fear.

Speaking of fear, I bought a bicycle. One that can have a kid trailer thing on the back. First I need to take Shanna out on her bike. After she feels comfortable riding then we will get the trailer for Calli. The bike store fellas told me I can’t have a kid being pulled and a kid on my handle-bars. Just one or the other. Bah humbug. I bet it would have worked two years ago. They are a lot heavier now. I went on a five and a half mile bike ride. I haven’t done that since high school. I only felt like I was going to die for 75% of the time. Hopefully that goes down.

People in my family get hit by cars while on bicycles. It happened to both of my brothers and my dad. My mom and sister were smart enough to stay off of fucking bikes. Now I’m stupid. And risking my kids. Oh god.

September and October are probably as fully booked as I want them. November is probably already as booked as I want it. In December we will be out of state for nine days. I will probably not do very much other than travel in December. If I don’t decorate for Christmas in November I won’t do much beyond a tree. So realistically I have the next three and a half months scheduled. I won’t be bored. I have a lot to do.

It’s time to write Outrunning Suicide. I want it done before New Years. I have a rainbow castle to paint. (This sucker is huge.) I have to install a bunch of hardware for the swings in the back yard.

Not to mention educating my children. That is probably enough to do for the next three months.

Disneyland, two camping trips, over a week in Portland and a weekend in Texas. So much for 2013 being a light year.

I can’t go to Disneyland next year. (No time share points) I think the only traveling I want to do in 2014 is a half marathon in Portland with two of my very favorite ladies in the whole wide world. I hear I already have buy-in from the spouse of the one who will have to travel. This is a good sign.

I’m wussing towards encouraging the home schoolers who live within five miles of me to start thinking along the lines of a Free Democratic School. Driving is a real issue for everyone in the bay area. Having to drive 40-50 miles round trip in order to hang out for a few hours is prohibitive on a long-term basis. If you look at history a lot of who people know is based on who lives near them. It isn’t about “who is best“. Life is about making the best of who is there.

I think that part of the reason I am doing the stuff to my house that I am doing is because I think of future parties and events. I am not good at going out into the world. I am not good at feeling like the world wants me very much. If I make this a good place to be, people will come to me. That is just the nature of how things work. I feel like a spider spinning a web. Err…only I don’t want to eat anyone.

I want to know lots of kids and watch them grow up. I want to have them love visiting my house. So I build a playground. And I paint murals. And I provide endless quantities of fruit, vegetables, and cheese. I only rarely make guests eat ramen.

The part that makes me feel like a spider is how I know that I have to sit and wait. I’m not actually ready for the kinds of relationships I want to have with growing up kids. I don’t mean that my house isn’t ready–though it isn’t. If I went and grabbed people now and tried to fill my house with people… well… my kids would rapidly learn a lot of things I don’t want them to know. My kids are not yet ready to have their reality fucked with.

I’m fairly aware that I go through life with a big reality distortion bubble around me. (I think everyone does to a greater or lesser extent–you see the world from your point of view and not from an objective point of view.) Right now I am carefully crafting the reality my children will have as “baseline” for the rest of their lives. Based on everything I have read about child development and psychology this is important.

Most people don’t seem to think about this much. They just live their life and their kids share it and that is how reality is created thankyouverymuch. My childhood had no consistent reality. I moved more than fifty times. I got to see that every “reality”, every set of rules that people lived by were totally arbitrary.

That means that if I want to I can sit down and make up the rules for reality for my children in any fashion I want. There is no right way. I personally believe there are a lot of wrong ways but not any particular right way. What is right is so individual based on personality and inner strengths.

How I behave with my children is a carefully constructed little universe that isn’t a lot like how I am with the rest of the world. How I am with my children is how I am without defenses and without fear. I do not have the ability to extend that beyond my front door at this point in time.

I feel so lucky that I get to be alone with them so much. I feel so glad that we get to spend a lot of time in an environment where I set the rules. Pam says I am a permissive authoritarian. I think that will shift a lot with time. After a while it won’t be my place to set the rules with such fierceness.

Only I think in some ways I will get much more fierce. I told Shanna flat out one day when she was being very rough with me, “This is not an acceptable way to treat my body. If you continue to treat me this way as you get bigger I will eventually start hitting back. I am not your punching bag.” She stopped hitting me. She hasn’t tried to punch me over and over since.

I have no idea how this will go over the years.

I want my children to believe in the core of their body that they have the right to beat the living shit out of someone who crosses their physical boundaries. I want this to not be a question in their mind. It is just simple fact. We are animals and sometimes we have to defend ourselves. Yup. That’s part of how it works in the world.

But here in Wonderland we don’t hit. We don’t scream. This is a safe place. The violence needs to stay out there in the world. We do not hit our family members. Well, until they are clearly beating on you then go ahead and defend yourself. It needs to take a lot of provocation though. Don’t. Hurt. Your. Family. We are in this together.

I make a big deal out of this being a conscious creation because this is not like anything I have ever known. I was taught to expect people to hurt me. I was taught to hit people as a sign of affection. I was taught that the way to make yourself feel bigger is to hurt the people around you as much as possible.

It is hard for me to change. It takes so much conscious effort. But my children show me the fruits of my labor every day. It is worth it. They are worth it. This life is worth it.

I think about my mother a lot. I think about what she taught me and how she taught me. And sometimes when Calli moves her head just right I see my mother so clearly it is like she is in the room. I have no idea how this will all go.

In medias res. We are always in the middle of the story. There is no beginning and no end. My children have to go to Texas. That is part of their story. I get to choose how much disappointment mom delivers when. I will never be enough to meet all of their needs. That just isn’t how life works. But I have choices about how many needs I meet and when and which particular things I want to skip.

I have so. much. privilege.

All I’m doing right now with my life is hanging out and being available to meet their needs. This is surprisingly exhausting. And sometimes I pick up a side job or two. Mostly if I am not available to meet a need of theirs it is because I bloody well choose to not do it right now.

I sent Shanna to Texas once without me. Sending both seems different. And Shanna is a lot more sure she wants me to go. Some day she will want to do things I will not be up for doing. Then she will go without me. I can understand her wanting to stand near my reality distortion field. I am what she has always known and I have been really good to her. Other people are less predictable. She has figured that out already. I am always ready to smile at her. Other people… not always.

I will focus on this hurting me in my writing though. This is a choice. I’m not a victim here. But I’m making a choice that is questionably right for me. I don’t feel very good about having a relationship with Noah’s abusive mother after walking out on my abusive mother. I don’t know how to describe the kind of betrayal that represents.

My sister told me over and over and over “Abused children are the most loyal.” She said that consciously to tell me not to talk about what I saw in our house. I broke ranks. I broke fucking ranks. I can’t now go silently put up with someone else’s abuse. That’s just not ok. No. I’d rather punch the fucking bitch in the face. And it’s not really cool to fly from California to Texas in order to punch your mother in law in the face so I just won’t set foot in her house. I understand my triggering mechanism. I’m rather realistic all things considered.

“Just be nice” isn’t useful advice for me. Part of the reason that I don’t want to go is I know I have a rather lot of latent rage and she’s a nice safe not actually threatening target who likes to act like people are kicking her all the time. I’ve met me. If you stand in front of me and whine and cringe and cower as if I have been kicking you for hours… I will start kicking you. I understand this impulse only too well. I try to avoid kicked dogs for this reason. My experience of Noah’s mom is that she is a kicked dog.

I am a kicked dog. That is how I went through my childhood. I recognize it very well in others. Being a kicked dog is part and parcel with being a bully. You assume that people are mean to you so you push them towards being mean to you–you antagonize on purpose. Kicked dogs are the meanest little curs.

It’s a vicious cycle. I try to stay out of vicious cycles these days. I try very hard to stay in virtuous cycles.

A virtuous cycle, for the purpose of this essay, is one in which my positive behavior towards a person is rewarded by positive behavior and so on. I believe that kicked dogs need love too but they usually can’t get it from one another. They need to go find someone who isn’t a kicked dog, best if it is someone who is kind of bewildered by the experience, who will react in non-patterned ways.

Patterns are the problem. Patterns are how it keeps going. Vicious cycles. If you snap at someone and they snap back then it goes from there. If you snap at someone and they blink at you and say, “Are you ok?” well… that’s just not a similar sort of pattern. If you snap back it is obvious that you are a fucking asshole and that’s not good. Don’t do that.

Virtuous cycles involve people who are able to look at you and say, “You are having feelings. They are not about me. Would you like to talk about them?” Vicious cycles are more like, “You are clearly having feelings ALL ABOUT ME AND NOW I AM GOING TO YELL AT YOU ABOUT THEM.” Well, other people have other vicious cycles. But the ones I’m thinking about right this minute are like that. There are lots of other cycles. Don’t mistake me here as being the source of information about vicious cycles. Oh man.

I am home schooling my kids so that as they go through life they always have someone standing near them who will smile back. In my lofty experience there is always someone in the world who will smile back. Even if you happen to not be standing near that person right now. It is hard for me to keep faith in that belief sometimes. For most of my life it has been just a faith not unlike most peoples faith in G-d. Someone will smile back.

A while back I read some article about “computer face”. If you turn on peoples cameras secretly they all have the same slack jawed expression. I very consciously work on smiling the majority of the time. I try hard to have my muscles assume that position by default.

I have very deep grief lines. I turn thirty-two next week. If I am not careful I will be a very stern and unapproachable and lonely old woman. I know this to be true. If I want to have my future be the way I want it to be I will have to work hard on every aspect of my character. It feels so daunting.

I had children so I would have a permanent motivating force to change and get better. So I’m going to fucking Texas. I’m not going in the house. My reality distortion field is big enough to extend that far. Yes, Shanna. I will go so you know you are wonderful.

In the end, she won’t remember it much. I’m only kind of sort of doing this for her. I’m doing this so that I know I made all of the choices about creating space between us for reasons I feel ok about.

Recently I was talking to a mother who was not feeling happy about her day care experience in one relatively confined way. Mostly she was satisfied so she said, “I just had to decide that when you are paying someone you have to accept that they are doing their best and let it go.”

That, in a nut shell, is why I cannot put my kids in day care. I would do it if I had no choice and I had to work because I needed the money. But that is why I have made the choice to stay home. (That and ridiculous financial privilege, let’s be clear here.) I don’t want to just put up with the best that someone else feels like giving me.

I need to know that when they are eighteen and I send them off into the world (really I doubt it will be that long) I need to know that my kids have had all of the experiences they need to have in order to be competent at handling themselves. I can’t live with trusting someone else to “do their best”. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I’m glad that other people have such loving trust. I think it is quite healthy.

I don’t know anyone I trust enough to have the charge of my kids like that.

I trust the Godmamas enough that I send my kids there unsupervised and I have legal documentation saying they are the next of kin. But I still don’t want them setting reality for my kids. I love them and I want their influence… but as an add on or in case of critical system failure. Err, I’ll be a dick and say I think that I will do better. But they will be getting traumatized kids and I can’t think of anyone in the world I would trust more to adequately and lovingly raise traumatized children who started out being raised by me. They will be the most gentle adjustment to not-Krissy reality of anyone in the world. So I don’t pick them to be like me. I pick them to love the results of being like me. It’s kind of a different metric.

But geezus on toast I don’t want someone else teaching my kid how to be a kid for eight hours a day. I don’t want my daughters going through life not sure if someone will smile back.

There are a lot of gifts I can’t give them. I don’t mean financially–I mean in terms of spirit and family and community and sense of place. I can give them Wonderland. Where they are wonderful to me. We do go out into the world lots. And they are doing more and more things away from me.

I’m going to Texas because I had to rock myself to sleep crying for my mother too many times. I need to be there. Just in case. She won’t always be little. I won’t fucking do this for a twenty-five year old I shit you not. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it for a fifteen year old. This trip will hurt me. This trip will hurt a lot. This trip has the high potential to be miserable. I have to go through airport security. I probably should not fly with pot. Alcohol makes my stomach hurt and that makes my temper shorter. I do have trusty-dusty Lorazepam! I will have to cut the pills up substantially more to take them during the day. I take 1mg at night and that knocks me straight out. (Not every night. Thirty pills lasts me for four to five months.)

Texas really hasn’t been good to me. I don’t like going there. I must like these kids a whole lot. It won’t be very long. I will be there for moral support. I will read a book. Maybe five. Maybe I will spend a lot of quality time in coffee shops writing Outrunning. That would be kind of funny. Not ha ha funny. Just funny.

Time for breakfast. I have missed you, internet. I shouldn’t make a habit of this for a while. The book is going to eat my hands.

Not sleeping well.

I don’t sleep much while it is hot. My err internals are unhappy. I worked on a book for a while this morning. *pat self on back* Now if I can just keep this up I might be more than a one hit wonder. Not that my book was a hit. You know what I mean.

I’m kind of tired and mellow feeling. It is actually nice. Noah is going to take Shanna to camp today (she said please and all) so I will be at the nursery at 8:30 when it opens. A friend asked to come over and garden with me today. I can barely contain my squee. We will be weeding and mulching and such. (Yes, Pam I saw your note about “just use cardboard.” All of the cardboard on my property is still in good shape and the kids play with the boxes.)

I absolutely HAVE to work on the fence today. No excuses! I was productive all of yesterday… just not on the fence. This is going to be difficult to force myself to do. I can tell. I’m terrified of fucking up and having people make fun of me or hate me. Oh well. Keep working.

This morning I was foolish and I read some of that nasty anti-home schooling stuff. Oh boy are some people pissed off about even the *idea* of home schooling. Has someone tried to force you into something? Is there a reason you are SO ANGRY with people who make this choice? No? Ok then.

I get the logic that putting my kids in school would be better for the other kids in the school because then I would be forced to be involved with the school and I would make it better for not just my kids. I absolutely agree with every step in that process.

I just can’t get onboard with the part where I am supposed to throw my kids under a bus because it would be better for someone else. My experiences of public school have been bad. Not just for me as a student, but as a teacher and as a person in the credential program.

I won’t force my kids to be part of that system. I don’t believe it is healthy for our species to be forced to sit in chairs for 6+ hours/day while quietly listening to someone else. Nope. Not what we are meant to do this lifetime.

I understand that this is a privileged position. I believe that I am stinking with privilege. I have choices that many people can’t even dream of. I think that is positive and I am not going to give up my choices just because they aren’t available to everyone.

I don’t see 5 star restaurants going to a McDonald’s level of pricing (and food quality) just so that it is faaaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr to everyone involved.

Life isn’t fair. At all. Ever. There is no fair.

That said, I am pretty happy that Noah’s obscene raise came with a much lower than expected amount of money. Ahhh skipping tax brackets. That’s ok. We don’t actually need all of the money. It’s ok that it is being used for services for people who need them. I feel pretty good about that.

I can give some things in some ways. I can’t necessarily give what someone wants or needs. I don’t want to be responsible. I am too selfish. I will donate money and food. I will assist with my labor when I have extra spoons and not when I don’t. I am not going to be forced to sign up for working all the god damn time for someone else’s benefit. I don’t care enough about other people.

I can say that out loud. I don’t care enough about other people to give them the time and energy I want to use on my own selfish pursuits.

Could I donate more time so that I am making other peoples lives at least slightly less awful if not better? Probably. Almost certainly. There is no shortage of suffering in the world.

Some people feel motivated to help a lot a lot of the time. That’s awesome. I’m glad you have so much to give. I don’t have it. If I try to do that I end up spending a lot of time cutting my body to remind me that I don’t matter so I don’t forget who I am supposed to be focusing on.

Cutting really is a useful tool. I think about it a lot. I think about what it does and why it is useful in the ways it is useful. Self-control is both under rated and under valued by most people. Very few people have the self-control to abruptly shift large chunks of their behavior. It is the same thing as not that many people are truly good actors. Same mechanism.

Cutting influences a lot of brain chemicals. Cutting is a dramatic shift to the body chemistry makeup. It induces calmness and a feeling of focus–tunnel vision, really. When your body is in shock it tends to shut down a lot of your nerve endings. You stop getting a lot of distracting messages from your body.

Cutting allows me to borrow spoons of self-control. I don’t really have that kind of calmness in my body without something to trigger a much-larger-than-usual grab of chemicals. Yay drugs! Due to experimentation I have learned a lot more about what my base level is vs. what is my elevated mood vs. what is my depressed mood. It’s a process.

Sometimes it is very powerful to stop and really concentrate on how powerful my brain is (your brain too; just sayin’). The brain scans they are doing these days feel like magic to me. You can see what is happening. The most magical part is you can see how people have the sheer willpower to change things.

I believe that my brain was altered by trauma. What I mean by that is I believe my brain adapted to living in an environment with a freakishly high level of stress. That is the level of stress my brain believes is necessary/appropriate to common life.

If my brain adapted to stress, how can I consciously choose to change the adaptation again? Studies show that mostly people don’t change much. It is hard. It takes will and effort and work and misery.

Being inside my brain sucks bowling balls through a hose. It isn’t fun. The difficulty of changing things is really hard to notice when stacked up to how shitty it is to live here.

I believe in magic. I believe that people make things happen when everyone else believes that it can’t. It happens all the time.

I have had the good/bad privilege of spending a lot of time with people who have experienced severe traumatic brain injuries. I have seen people survive the most horrifying accidents with terrible injuries. Their lives are forever altered. They can’t get back to being who they were.

I have no before picture I am struggling towards. That isn’t part of my story. I don’t have a base line to return to. All I have is the absolute all encompassing belief that I can change the story. I can learn how to be a good parent and I can be present through a healthy and happy childhood. This is not about a return to anything. This is about consciously choosing something different from my life.

Last night we read the part in the Little House in the Big Woods where Pa teases Laura about the kids getting only a switch in their Christmas stocking if they are bad. Shanna’s eyes went wide.

“Those parents hit those kids?”

“Yup. A long time ago people believed that if a kid did something bad the parents were required to hit the kid to teach the kid a lesson. It never worked very well.”

“Gosh I’m glad that no one has to be hit in this house.”

Me too. She cuddled up really close after that and told me that she would never hit me because I have been hit enough. I didn’t really know how to respond. I kept reading.

I’m reading my friend’s book. It is a rather fun read so far. I’m about 20% into it. He combines irreverence and history in his fabulous manner. (He intersperses national/international news events on the time lines to let people get a scope on what is happening. He said which year (I’ve already forgotten–1800’s, I think the last number is a 4 or a 6 but the decade escapes me and that is pretty important.) that Beethoven began de-composing. Similar gems are liberally sprinkled. I’ve always liked his writing. That’s why I know him in the first place. Yay for internet friends.

Why is it that I feel like I am standing still and free falling at the same time? I feel like I am not doing enough and I am terribly bored and I feel like I am doing too much and I am so overwhelmed I cannot possibly keep functioning at this rate.

I’m not balancing the marathon vs. sprint timing thing very well. I’m not actually talking about running–it’s one of those metaphor things.

Gardening has a rhythm and I am struggling to learn it. Some months of the year I need to spend 40 hours/week in the garden. Some months I spend more like 1-2 hours/week. I don’t yet feel this rhythm in my bones but it is coming. Spring is like a drug for me these days. Must move. Must plant. It is weird and primitive.

Summer is feeling different. I am a delicate and trembling flower and I wilt in the heat. More accurately I have attacks of horrifying bowel pain. I HATE SUMMER. I spend hours a day not sure if I am on the verge of spontaneously vomiting or shitting my pants because I won’t make it to the bathroom in time. It is hard to keep a schedule when I feel like this. (For the record I have only had one bathroom accident since childhood. The first day Noah went back to work after Shanna was born I had not yet learned that post-children the urgent signals are uhhh less timely and more actually urgent. Eww. Eww. Eww.)

But I have managed to go to the water park at least one day a week since it opened for week days. *pat self on back* That is a summer routine that I want to start. We only stay for an hour to an hour and a half. We might stay longer if the kids could do more swimming on their own and I had to do less work. As is I don’t have the physical ability to manage entertaining them in water for four hours. I take this as a sign that I am out of shape.

I feel like what I should do is make up a variety of different schedules–the way I did when I was teaching. Year planning was my favorite step. <3 It is like a puzzle! What do you want to do and when? How does it all fit together to make a cohesive picture of education? How do I fit in all of the standards and methods of teaching I want to hit?

I used to list: poetry, grammar, writing, reading boring analytical non-fiction, reading novels, reading short stories all as separate units. How many weeks to spend on each? How many hours in those weeks? How do I pre-test to figure out what people already know so I don’t bore the shit out of people? How do I evaluate people accurately to find out what they really learned?

If I had a dick this process would give me a hard on. It is a control thing. I like feeling like I am dotting all of my i’s and crossing all of my t’s. (I understand that in that case the apostrophe isn’t strictly appropriate but it looks bad any other way of writing it. See, this is what many years of obsessively worrying about grammar gives you. You know the rules and don’t follow them any way because the rules suck. Go English?)

I probably should get out some paper. It is easier without typing.

What are my categories now? Gardening, schooling, social activities, making food, cleaning house, money (there are a lot of once a year payments, for example, so budgeting is kind of weird), kid-separate-from-adult-time (my kids are *not* actually attached to me at the hip very consciously), reading, writing, running, hygiene (this takes time! Every Damn Day!), and I could come up with more if I tried.

They are all on slightly different schedules. Some things are scheduled and balanced on a month to month basis, some things are scheduled and balanced weekly or even daily. How do you balance all of the daily obligations against the weekly and monthly and annual?

Near as I can tell most people do more or less what their parents did because that is what they know of life. Thus I do a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul because that is what I learned. I do it while squirreling away a lot of money which is, strangely, also what I learned.

I don’t usually mention that my father was rather well off throughout my childhood. I lived in poverty. I ate nothing but ramen and free lunch. I moved every three months because we were couch surfing and my mom couldn’t pay rent. He would tell my mom he was too poor to pay for things but he had a lot of savings. My mom just flat never had enough money to live.

Shanna sees me play with Mint a lot. She asks what it is. I talk to her about the balance of wants and needs and future savings. I tell her, “If you save money and you have a buffer then you don’t have to feel afraid when unexpected things happen. You can just shrug and move on with your life. Not having savings is one of the scariest things in life. It means you can not go out and solve the problems that come up and that is really hard.”

When I lived on $1200/month I had $3,000 in the bank at (almost) all times in a savings account I otherwise didn’t touch. My theory was that I might have to leave suddenly at some point in time and I needed a buffer. I burned through the buffer when I left my Owner. I got down to the point of my bank account only having four digits.

My friend offered me $100. He said that was his friends-need-help emergency fund. I wouldn’t let him give me money. I told him that I would make it come out ok in the end. I was right.

It is harder to deny yourself things you can afford to buy than it is to not buy things when you have no money. That has been my experience. It is harder and harder for me to save money. (In my defense the largest chunk of my spending is going to paying the mortgage off faster. I shouldn’t feel so upset with myself for not “saving” when I am spending the money on debt pay off instead of consumer spending but there you go.)

A while back I read a book, Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation and whereas I am not up for adopting most of her methods or practices (I’m not taking up Catholicism nor sports) I really latched on to a few important points in the book. If you are really nice to your kids and you are interested in them and you share things with them then they will want you to like them. If they want you to like them then they will make choices that are in line with your values.

Oh man.

What are my values then? I want my kids to be interested in life and in people. Most people are good. Most people are pretty kind when given the opportunity. If someone is not kind to you, pull back first but be able to attack to defend yourself. You are worth defending. Read as much as you can–as many different kinds of things as you can. I believe that there are more things to learn than there is time in the day to learn it. I want my children to believe that their body is theirs to do with as they please–not as someone else pleases (unless it is fun and then I just don’t want details–m’kay?). I want my children to believe that work is necessary and fun. I want them to understand that different people are good at different kinds of work and that is no judgment one way or another on the people or the work. Do what you like.

I want my children to understand that they have privilege. That their ancestors have been privileged for quite some time. What does that mean about our place in the world and in history?

I check a lot of books out of the library that deal with African American issues. Seeing my little Aryan baby read, “A long time ago before you or I were born our people were enslaved” makes me wince. I told her that actually her ancestors were the slave owners. She asked if my ancestors owned slaves and I got to say no. (Yankees, more-recent-immigrants, and prostitutes for the win.) There goes white guilt in full form! But it’s true. Noah’s family owned slaves.

I find that as I get older and as I read more feminist writing I realize that if I were to fall into the most obvious trope presented to me I should hate Noah. I should hate everything he stands for and everything about him.

That is really hard to live with. I’m sure that is as hard to live with as the trope that women are just meant to be props for a man’s life.

I don’t hate Noah. I like Noah. Having the life of privilege he has had has made him one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever had in my life. But maybe he just treats me that way because I put out. I’m only sort of kidding.

I am nice to Noah and he is nice to me and we have a whole virtuous cycle thing going on. Different people care about different kinds of “being nice”. Different people want different kinds of support.

In the past three days I have talked to four different women who have all been extremely upset with their (male) partners because of a lack of support. In most of these cases the woman can’t even put her finger on what more support would look like but they know they aren’t getting it. (Mothers of many children can come up with a list of what they want without having to pause for breath.)

When I think about how upset these women are I stop and think about how tired Noah is. Then I cycle through my male friends who are working as hard as they physically can to support their partners.

Yes, yes I know that the “love languages” crap plays in with it but it feels bigger than that. I think that evolution wants us to feel like what this person is giving us isn’t enough so that we will go shopping for someone who provides us with more. I think that it is just a good bet in terms of producing prosperous off-spring.

Only it doesn’t work. Because splitting up families is hella complicated. I think about the interweaving needs that exist in a family. I think about how children learn to care for themselves and for one another earlier when there are more of them around.

Then I come back to the fact that Noah started off in this world no bigger or stronger than me but he is now in some ways. He may or may not have a higher IQ. I definitely have a higher EQ. He has a higher earning potential at this stage. I can run farther. We are different. We are not equal.

How does one measure worth? I can hate him as a symbol of oppression or I can recognize that he personally isn’t oppressing anyone and he hasn’t spent a lot of time actively doing any oppressing. Living with me has dramatically changed how feminist he is at work. (I feel damn proud of that.)

He is moving in the direction of having power and influence. And I stand behind him filling his ear with my opinions. Does that make me a prop? Is he a prop? Is he just a paycheque to support my lavish lifestyle?

We are good at very different things. We like very different things. We complement one another. And because we are white that means that we have what is sometimes presented as the widest array of options in life.

My demographic is mocked up one side and down the other in the media. I am an upper middle class rich white liberal. I am a stay at home mom and I home school my kids. I am a punch line and a punching bag. Waa waa poor me.

Do I want to be a caricature? Do I want to treat Noah like he is a caricature? Noah is an upper middle class rich white liberal gamer geek. Doesn’t that make him kind of icki by definition? And don’t let that sicko watch My Little Ponies!! Ahem. Sorry.

What does being anything mean? I never identified as trailer trash despite living in trailers off and on and despite white trash being so much less “ok”. I am not defined by the box in which I sleep. Or in which I fuck random men I just picked up.

What am I?

I told Noah the other day that most of the people in my family would describe themselves as good people who sometimes do bad things. They are rapists and pedophiles. Ok, most of them aren’t rapists. But even the non-rapists adamantly defend the rapists.

I think of myself as a bad person who doesn’t really do bad things very often. I believe I am inherently unworthy of any relationship. It is inevitable that I will kick the cabinet off the wall. Duh. Being the kind of person who can, has, and may do so again means that I am just bad.

Do I rape people? Well, I’m pretty confident that I have not raped anyone since I was eighteen. I am pretty sure that I did commit rape before then. I am so sorry. I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t understand power differentials. I didn’t understand that I was ever capable of having power.

Sometimes I look at Noah and I understand on a gut level that he doesn’t see himself as someone who has or has ever had power. He is still in that timeless place with the little boy who wasn’t treated all that well.

I mean, not that he’s immature or anything–that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m saying that ones internal perspective doesn’t much resemble other peoples view of one. See how that non-gendering thing is awkward?

I do not believe I am a good person. It is, frankly, freeing. I get to make selfish and self-interested choices without caring that much about the effect. I generally do take the effect into consideration because I will have to live with it and all. That is one of the best parts of getting older. You have had a chance to learn from more mistakes.

Every time someone tells me not to dwell on the past I wonder what they mean by that. The people I know who tell me, “I don’t think about the past” are people who have the same little cycle of life over and over with people who are practically paper dolls. People who are roles.

I don’t hate Noah. I don’t feel I can. The longer I know him the older and more grizzled he becomes. (He’s got quite the beard these days.) But I see him as younger and softer as time goes by. I see more of his innocence and his desire for simple connection. I see more of him wanting to be liked and feeling sad because he knows most of the world doesn’t like him very much. (I mean, he’s charismatic and has friends and all–but he’s a symbol to be hated.)

What does any of it mean? Nothing? Everything? Who knows. I like him. I like the life I get to share with him more than I have ever liked anything in my whole life. I feel grateful for the peace and joy in my life. I have stability, safety, and privilege. I can write for six hours straight (in various places on differing projects) when I have insomnia (or intestinal pain–let’s be clear here) after getting almost six hours of sleep because my husband helps so much.

I can invite two kids over for the weekend and trust that my husband will just be around making food and cleaning up messes and playing with kids as much or more than I do.

Sex. That is the thing to schedule that didn’t make the list. I’m sorta interested in my cycles around that as well. Obviously I am more interested in sex around ovulation. We often have most of our ten times a month sex in a four day period. It’s awesome. But he would prefer other spacing. I struggle internally with treating sex like a chore to cross off the list like brushing my teeth.

And yet.

Why am I having sex ten times a month? (Ok, I’ve actually had at least two months in the past year where I didn’t put out ten times and I’ve had paroxysms of guilt. I try to compensate by some months getting up to more like fifteen. Noah agrees that it balances and all is copacetic.) Because sex is a lot of where Noah gets positive energy. He is drained and tired all of the time. If I put out more he would have more energy. This is a pretty trackable situation in our life.

But it is different for me. Sex is different than it has ever been. HA! I’ve been trying to think for days what base lines I have in my life. People revert to base line when they are under stress. I finally came up with one: picking up strangers for sex. That is probably the primary base line behavior I have had in life. I did it for 27 years.

Monogamy is weird. I’m not even going to call it boring because it isn’t that it is boring. It is consistent, but not boring. It feels different in a lot of ways I don’t feel up to putting into words right now. I hear breakfast finishing up and my arms hurt.

And then I’ll just abruptly stop. Because I can’t end for shit.

Suicidal ideation

I love getting eight hours of sleep by 3am. It makes my whole day better. It makes my whole life better. Then I am more cheerful and enthusiastic about what I have to do. I consider it the first thing I must do in a day in order to have a good day. The second thing I must do in order to have a good day is get more than 75% of my chores done by 9am. I have a thing in my head.

I participate in a variety of online support groups–or rather I have over the years, not so much at this second–and it has been a fairly big thing for me over the past ten years “I am more productive by 9am than a great many people are all day.” It’s a thing in my head. I work very hard on it. That way I feel I have the freedom to do with the rest of the day as I please.

Pretty much every online support group has strict rules about talking about suicide. Really, pretty much everyone everywhere believes it isn’t ok to talk about–especially if you are seriously thinking about it.

My furnace dries out the air terribly. I’ve spent all winter coughing and hacking and feeling unhappy about it since I moved into this house. Now my kids join me. So they’ve been waking up a lot at night. It means I have a lot of time in the middle of the night to think about them and to think about suicide and for me to think about what happiness means.

There are a lot of parenting books on the market that will tell you that you are bad bad doomed if you have children because you want to give yourself a reason to live. BAD. DON’T DO THAT! That’s what the books say.

To that I say: becoming a parent is always a selfish decision. Why is my selfish decision worse than yours? I have promised myself and my kids that I will absolutely not kill myself until they are adults because they require care and I am the one who has to give it. I have to say that it gets easier by the year. I’m learning what happiness feels like.

I know a lot of people who work very hard to ensure that they don’t have to “deal with” their kids in the middle of the night. Gosh that is my favorite time. I love feeling like my mere presence keeps the monsters at bay. Because I do. In Calli’s mind and in Shanna’s mind if I am in the room then they are safe and life is good. That’s just the end of the debate.

That feeling is better than every drug I have ever taken and I’ve tried a really lot of drugs. A lot. A really lot. Ha. But I did the vast majority of my drug taking (other than this stoner thing)  in under two years after I was a college graduate. Let me get on my pulpit for a second to lecture anyone younger than me about how you should wait until your brain is done forming before you use drugs. Wait until your brain decides which connections it wants before you break sections. Just do. I’m serious. You have a long fucking life in front of you. You don’t need to try everything in the first twenty years. Good grief.

I have never believed that I had a long life ahead of me. I have wanted to die since I was seven years old. For the past twenty-four years I have wanted to be dead more than I have wanted to be alive. Well, I would say that the percentages kind of rock back and forth staying in the 40’s and 50’s. I wanted to die a lot and I didn’t want to live very much but actually killing yourself is harder than it looks sometimes. I did not overdose as a teenager as a cry for help. I simply vomited up the drugs and was found before I could finish dying. Different.

Now I’m really glad I’m not dead. I feel like getting to sleep with my little girls, with their faces pressed to mine as they mumble over and over while falling asleep, “Mommy love you so much. So much. Sooooooooo much” this is the reason that people live. This feeling of love and happiness. This is why people stay alive. The hope of this. The belief that some day they will get to have this feeling. This is the increased joy that parents have that non-parents don’t get. That is one of those things they find in studies. Over a lifetime parents have more joy than non-parents–a shitload more stress too… but it’s worth it.

I never thought I would actually experience having someone love me like this. I believed this would always be for someone else. I’m very concerned that I not alienate my children… ever. I have to behave appropriately in order to deserve a relationship with them. But I’m not very good at acting appropriately.

Sometimes I feel like the biggest fucking hypocrite in the world when I get mad at my kids for breaking rules. Ha.

I told Shanna, about the stealing candy thing, it is my job to teach you the rules of society. I get angry because I feel afraid. If you steal as an adult there are serious consequences. I have to teach you that it is not a good thing to steal or the rest of your life will be harder and you will have a lot of very unpleasant experiences. I don’t want you to suffer. How can we work on you not doing this? I told her that I really don’t know “how this should be taught” because when I was a child the way I was taught was to be hit. I don’t want to hit her and I’m not really sure what the other options are and I feel kind of overwhelmed sometimes as I try to deal with it. I’m sorry I scream so much. I know it is annoying or scary depending on the day.

I asked her if she knew that how much I love her is completely unaffected by whether or not she perfectly follows the rules. I do not perfectly follow the rules and I hope she will always love me. She told me that somewhere else there are kids who always do exactly what their mothers say and they never break rules. I laughed and said those must be the most boring, uncurious children on the planet and how sad for their mothers’. She looked very confused.

I have not thought about killing myself in a bit. Certainly weeks. But I was asked to reaffirm that I understand and will follow the rules of forums and I WILL NEVER POST THAT I AM FEELING SUICIDAL. Thus I am thinking about the concept though I am not experiencing it. I have felt shamed and bad for being suicidal for pretty much my entire life. I’m aware that people are uncomfortable with the fact that I feel this way and their discomfort is the most important thing here.

Talking about it, or not, has not even slightly increased my self-harming behaviors. Over time my self-harming behaviors have kind of melted away. I’m not hurting myself anymore, I’m really not. It was a process I had to go through. I had to be whiny and angsty and I had to really process how much I wanted to die. This process is simply part of being alive for me. I understand that other people don’t like it. I feel very uncomfortable about being told over and over and over and over that because I make other people feel uncomfortable when I talk about it I shouldn’t talk about it.

Well, how much do you enjoy being surprised by someone offing themself? Wouldn’t you have preferred a warning? Dude, seriously.

P!nk has a song on her new album about drinking and doing drugs and running away and I feel suicide is strongly implied. I really appreciate it when people admit in public that this struggle is part of their life. The song is The Great Escape and I listen to it a lot right now. I’ve been thinking about how I understand this whole “creation of something new” thing now that I didn’t understand before. I have a family now. I have never had one before. Oh wow. This is how they are supposed to look? I’ve been thinking about having something to live for.

It’s really interesting watching how the percentages change. Feeling suicidal vs. wanting to live. That’s a ratio I’ve been actively tracking for most of my life. I have visualized it a lot of different ways over time. These days I think wanting to die falls into the teens. I’m very happy about that. That’s a ridiculous amount of progress for me.

But I’m not supposed to talk about it. I’m not supposed to be graphic about my ongoing struggles to not kill myself. Someone else might feel uncomfortable. Welcome to my sandbox, motherfucker. Here the rules are that I get to talk about whatever gets me through the night. If I am sitting here and writing something then I am not cutting. I am not hitting my body against a large blunt object. I am not soliciting some piece of shit to hurt me. I am not offering up sex to people I don’t know just to get through the night without having to be alone.

I’m not alone. I really love that my kids need me in the middle of the night because I need them in the middle of the night. I need to feel love in the middle of the night. I need to feel wanted. I need to feel like it matters that I not die.

The passion and the pain are going to keep you alive someday. I honestly don’t know how someone in my position would work through this without children. I can understand putting off the decision to die because you still have things you want to do–that is more or less the path I was on pre-kids. I made deals with myself, “I want to do ____. ____. and ____ then it doesn’t matter.” I was very selfish and random about the deals over the years and that’s ok. It was a deal with me about how much pain I have to endure.

That’s the plain and simple reality behind my suicidal ideation. Do I or don’t I get to decide how much pain I have to be in? Am I or am I not in charge of this decision? I think this is where I make the jump to atheism entirely.

I want to be the one who decides when my pain ends. I hold that right. I consider it one of my basic rights. Other animals do the same thing. It is natural just like infanticide is natural. It exists in every species. In America there are approximately thirty seven children killed by their parents every week. You don’t see headlines very often. Every fucking week.

Parenting is hard but I fucking guarantee you that no part of this journey has been remotely as difficult as what came before it so I’m still coasting. My second labor was nine days long followed by a blood hemorrhage that left me unable to walk to the bathroom for weeks. I crawled. Otherwise I simply did not leave my bed. But my friend K delivered enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three weeks. It was a calm but peaceful period. I learned my baby. I didn’t mind the work. It was nice.

Life is about work. Life is about creating and the things you want to do. I freakin love Richard Scarry. Everyone is a worker. All the work must be done. Some of the work is not more honorable than anything else. There is a hierarchy in pay–that tends to exist because some jobs can be done by many people and some jobs can be done by smaller and smaller groups of people and when you have to compete for the talents of a small group… you have to pay a lot of money.

You have to think about those people. The ones who are so selfish. Wait… that’s my husband. He has spent our entire marriage working his ass off to increase his income. Isn’t that selfish? He didn’t do it until he had a reason to. He didn’t care enough to bother. He wasn’t driven by love of acquisition on its own. But now he has this wife with really expensive travel interests and uhm he has decided that he wants to provide for me. He knew that was who I wanted to be before we married.

He doesn’t want me to spend time wanting to die. He wants me to have a list of things I want to do that is really long and complex and it’s ok if it is also expensive–he knows I am overall frugal and I am providing for our long-term safety before I take travel money out. It’s cool. He told me so. Explicitly. He reminds me every few months. It’s weird but really cool. I appreciate how explicitly my husband wants me to be happy.

He wants to keep me. He thinks that the likelihood is higher if I have a sandbox where I can say whatever I want and not get kicked off a support forum for it. He gives me resources I don’t have to have in my head.

I feel like both of us really changed when we got married. We have someone to work for and that is a powerful motivator for both of us. It has been interesting to see as a progression. We get better and better at not hurting one another as we make mistakes and learn how to talk about them. We really don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.  We make new ones! heh

So, to continue on the P!nk trend: Slut Like You is fun. When you are looking to ensure that you don’t have to be alone tonight it dramatically changes how you act. The stakes are different. You’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. You have to get through tonight in order to get there.

I’m trying to figure out what mental hurdle I have to working on the books right now. I know I’m overwhelmed by life. I think that I’m just too tired to think. I need to have some reason for a deadline so I can plan around it. I’ll figure it out. I need to decide how much I want to have done by December so I can backwards plan.

I need to feel like I am moving towards what I want to be moving towards. Right now I feel pretty out of control of my schedule. I’m not sure how to change that. Well no. That’s a big fat lie. I know how to change it. I am changing it. This is a process. The schedule will be back to being shaped how I need it to be shaped in about another two weeks. Then we leave town for a week. See how this goes? Oh man.

Portland, we are practically doing a drive-by. March 25th we drive north towards Eugene. We are sleeping there because the kids will be sick of the car. We are aiming to arrive at Dad’s house at 6pm on Tuesday the 26th. We are spending the day with Aunt Cookie, a truly delightful woman. I have an intense interest in hearing stories about Noah’s family. They shape my story now. I don’t have many sources of information.

Wednesday during the day we don’t have plans and we will probably want to go do something fun. Not sure what yet. Wednesday we should hang out with Dad. Thursday and Friday we are hanging out with A. Ha. I haven’t even emailed her to confirm that yet. But she offered it to me. I’m taking it. (pause. email sent.) We will spend Thursday and Friday nights walking around Dad’s neighborhood talking to him and playing with kids. On Saturday we drive allllllll the way home. With four kids who have had a long week and who will not be happy about being in the car. Thank goodness for iPads. Ha.

What we ask of our children is not natural. How we have to deal with the constraints of their lives is not natural. But beating them isn’t a better option. Sometimes you can’t let them have the pace of travel that is appropriate for them. You have to just get there. It is hard but life is that way sometimes.

Once upon a time travel involved physical exertion… even sitting in a wagon is fairly labor intensive compared to a car. We provide these children padded worlds of strapped in boredom. I am not capable of being entertaining for a twelve hour drive. Not even in shifts because then my “off” shift would be driving and I would have a stroke from road rage. That is not in anyone’s best interests. No, my kids can’t entertain themselves for that long. I understand that this is a tragic failing. Never the less… we are going to use them. They can’t use them for the whole trip so there will be other entertainment involved. It’ll work out. It will be one long day of our lives. No big deal. I’m trying to psych myself up for the trip. I’m trying to lay out in advance how much energy I am going to need for various stages. I’m trying to figure out how I will do it without getting punchy about having to teach my kids new situational manners over and over and over for a week solid. It’s a pain but worth it in the long run.

I need my kids to understand how to evaluate for situational manners. I need to consciously talk about how I am evaluating everything around me for clues about how I should behave. I do this every time we travel. It’s a lot easier at Disneyland because there are a lot of “let loose” places. We are going to be moving between environments that will have wildly different “grown up” rules that are going to feel unfair or inappropriately constricting because they aren’t used to those rules. I’m going to be tested over and over. It’s going to be fun.

But this is the whole process of life. I want to teach them how to do this while smiling. I want this trip to be a happy and joyful memory. Shanna is probably going to actually remember this trip for a long time. We will take pictures. She may eventually remember the pictures more than the day but she will have the same kind of connection to these people that I have to Brittney, the little girl who was born four months before me across the street from my family. I was set in my baby carrier next to her in her baby carrier. I have pictures of us when we are two and three and four and seven and and…

I want my kids to have that. I hope they never lose it.

I didn’t think I would lose Brittney. It is hard finding out how unforgivable existing is. Oh, that’s not true I would be told. I am allowed to exist. But I must be silent so no one ever has to actually find out the specifics because oh man that is over the line. The book. The fucking book. I’m having trouble going back through and editing. This is why I paid an editor. Unfortunately after reading the Kindle edition I am entirely unsatisfied with the job she did and I feel fairly back at square one. I thought I was getting an editor but what I got was a copyeditor and that’s a different job.

I wanted technical editing. I wanted someone to give me feedback on flow and let me know where I am being vague and random. I wanted someone to look at it as a work of art to be made better with a few tweaks. Ahhhhh. I get it now. I did get that. That’s what I asked for. She didn’t make many suggestions for changes. She treated it like it was sacrosanct as a poor incest victims story. It was allowed to ramble and be weird.

Ack. But then people don’t want to buy it and it isn’t actually telling the story I want to tell. I can’t always see when I’m doing that without this ridiculous analytical reading that is really hard to do. A page takes me multiple hours. Actually reading something and dealing with the errors is god damn fucking hard work. Why do you think the overall production values of everything in the everything has gone down? (And why I make no promises about my blog entries. These are not polished pieces, yo.)

But the book was supposed to be. And it so clearly isn’t. I feel kind of morally offended by that. In order to motivate that kind of interest you either need a True Fan or someone who is going to make money off the writing. I had neither. Such is life. I’m slowly progressing on editing. It’s hard. I need to set specific goals and plow through it though. Bleh. Yuck. Bleh.

I am running. I’m tired and I’m switching my days for workouts around like crazy but I’m getting through everything. I have a 10k at the end of April. So far my standard for 5ks has been “I pray for under forty minutes”. I’m hoping to do the 10k in eighty minutes.

That means maintaining a standard pace just barely faster than 1km in eight minutes. That means .62 miles in eight minutes. That means I’ll have to run at least 11:50 through the whole damn race. That is way way way faster than I did the marathon. (My marathon average was 15:40/mile. I’m serious when I say I walked a marathon. I’m still hella proud.)

This pace is going to be a huge stretch for me. My race partner may have a different set of goals and staying together is more important than time to me. Additionally: I’m all for wimping out at mile five and crawling the last mile if I feel bad. Flexibility.

What is the goal: the method or the result? Let’s be clear that when it comes to crossing six miles of distance speed vs. just reaching the finish line is a very different set of goals. I no longer fear not reaching the finish line physically… unless I push myself too hard. I am not in amazing physical shape. I’m in good shape. But I’m not an experienced athlete. I have ramped up at a pretty reasonable rate all things considered.

Every body is where it is. You can’t be too hard-lined about “goals” because progress not perfection kind of trumps any stuck on points. It is quite possible I’m not physically capable of running that fast for that long… yet. I may have to work longer before I reach that goal. I sure as fuck would not have been able to do the marathon at that pace. Not given the conditions (high eighties in temperature, high eighties in humidity, really terrible air quality, I started my period at mile thirteen along with horrible cramps). I just couldn’t expect different from myself that day.

I have to still be alive tomorrow to try again. I have to make it to today. If the pace is more important than anything else I might injure myself and then there won’t ever be another try no matter what. And maybe the rest of my life will be a lot harder. Because I was stupid and careless because I don’t care very much if I continue to stay alive.

I really can’t do that any more. Not if I want to be here for more nights of “I love you soooo much”. I want that more than I want anything else. So I will learn how to be good to my body. So I can have as many of those nights as I can.

The passion and the pain are going to keep you alive some day.

I should probably go start breakfast.

No one ever knows the long-term value of what they do. That knowledge is given to no creature. If I want to be a character that has existed then there must be record of that. Only I care to create that record. Noah is invested in supporting this branch of growth on his family tree. He sees it as vital to his long-term success. I’m not sure how I snow balled him.

I think that talking about suicide is something I need to be able to do. My grandmother killed herself. She overdosed. She had been trying for decades. My mother has stories of cleaning up blood after she got home from school because her mother was cutting her wrists again. My brother killed himself. He left the residential care facility where he lived because he had a severe brain injury and would never be able to care for himself again. He walked to a gas station and bought a can of gasoline. He went behind a local grocery store and lit himself on fire. My father sat in the garage with the motor running.

Have I mentioned that I have turned my garage into a really nice room? Ok, technically I have done nothing permanent because city ordinance says it must be able to hold a car at all times and my response would be “give me three minutes and a person to help me move furniture”. That’s not a permanent room. But it’s a really nice place to hang out. There are not likely to be cars in here.

Harm Reduction means being honest about the patterns of behavior in your life. It means setting specific goals and working to reduce the harm you are inflicting on yourself. Usually you are inflicting the harm (hair pulling, cutting, biting your nails, drinking alcohol, picking at scabs, doing most recreational drugs including pot, any obsessive repetitive damage to your body really) because you are trying to relieve stress from some other place in your life.

Noah said he read an article claiming that the first person likely to live over a thousand years is probably alive today. Think about mortality. It’s changing. The brackets are shifting. Where do I want to be on that scale? I don’t want to live a thousand years. That sounds like work. I would rather just live. But I have a rather lot of decades of work in front of me.

What am I going to do when I grow up? I will probably experience an unprecedented to my species amount of freedom after my children are adults. I will still be married to this guy who thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread. I know the deall: there is some travel he wants to do and otherwise I have to do it alone and not be gone too long or too often. Too long is going to be tested a lot over the years as we figure out what that means.

Statistically speaking I am extremely likely to die by my own choice. Sometimes just sitting with that in the pit of my stomach is very hard. You know what they say about statistics? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I believe in self-fulfilling prophesies. I believe the only thing that ever can or has changed the world is someone deciding they want to do it. Yes, of course coalitions are awesome and all… but it takes individuals having a specific vision. A dream, if you will. Otherwise there is no call to exit one’s torpor and do anything. If you are not living up to your vision of yourself… what are you doing instead? Why is there a discrepancy? Are you realistically going to change your life?

Then either change or decide to be happy, right? Happiness isn’t about getting what you want it’s about enjoying what you have. I think I saw that on Pinterest recently.

I want security. I want to have roots. I want a place to come back to. I want community. I want to be allowed to exist without carefully following the rules about what I am or am not allowed to talk about. I like fully informed opt-in relationships.

Now I’m just procrastinating. It was nice to write. I haven’t spent this much time on it in a while. Sometimes it is funny to me the way that writing is one of the most purely satisfying activities I do. I have thought. There. Evidence. Ha. Take that Universe. I have taken up space. In a technological world I have taken up a space smaller than a pin head. Whoop.

But we never know what our impact will be. We have to just exist. And get out of our houses. That’s important whether you like it or not. To be honest I don’t like it very much but I try hard not to take my dislike out on the people who are randomly unlucky and happen to be standing next to me. It isn’t dislike of the people. It is dislike of being out of my house.

It took me a long time to understand that and really fully feel it. I enjoy my work here. I enjoy feeling like I am doing things to work towards my long-term happiness. I am enjoying the physical work and when I am older and less able to work hard I will get to sit in my garden in the shade and enjoy a lifetime of work. Hopefully while babysitting for grandkids who will visit a lot so that I get to know other children deeply.

Now I get it. Now a lot more things make sense to me.

But I have other things I need to do first. Like breakfast. Ugh.


Noah is a lot smarter than he looks. He let me buy into the Disney time share program. Even though it was a lot of money. And he hasn’t gotten mad at me for not paying it off faster. He’s really quite patient with me. I say that he is smart because a lot of how I manage self-discipline is in service of some goal. I can talk myself out of eating out if I know that all of my Disneyland spending money in October and December have to just come out of our normal budget. I have to save up gas money in advance. I can’t buy a race day t-shirt at the marathon unless I save money. I have to think about these things in advance. If I want to have the money then I have to save now. Our income dropped dramatically. I can’t just doall of the things I expect in the back of my mind to do. It’s feeling hard to adjust to. We lost a big darn cushion. I always planned for us to live on his income and the reality is we spent every penny of extra income too. Some of it was shuffled off to savings/investments but not a lot. We have had a really comfortable and fun life. It’s been awesome.
Noah wants to try some big hard stuff. My role in that is to be the one to save the money in advance that will allow us to take this risk and not suffer from it regardless of the outcome. I have to plan in advance and it’s feeling hard. It’s feeling like more self discipline than I have.
Part of the reason I am walking as much as I am with Shanna is I’m trying to see if I can live without the van and be ok with the kids. Can we get to the places we want to go? I’m trying to learn what places near here we want to try. Every additional car adds a huge amount of liability: gas, insurance, repair. Saving multiple thousands of dollars a year is a lot. It just limits my range with the kids a lot. We are thinking hard about that.  Things like: it would really suck to not be able to go to many home school events. I’m trying to figure out when they happen and if I could manage it. I should probably actually investigate options on the peninsula because then it makes a lot more sense to take Noah to work and use the car during the day. Most everything we do now ranges up and down the east bay.
I saw my therapist last night. Yeah. I feel like this. And that is probably going to keep happening. This is my normal. Time to move on with life. Life isn’t going to wait for me to feel better. I have to think about things that matter. Things like: what are the actual needs in this house? How can I meet them? What would a life that meets those needs look like? I need to backwards plan this. I need to draw up a long flow chart so that I can figure out what I should be doing now in order to move towards those goals. Yes, my stomach hurts. Yes, I feel like I am about to puke. Yes, I feel like my heart is racing. Yes, I am afraid.
But Noah slept in and I have to go make breakfast. That’s a lot more important. He really needed the sleep. And he will want to go in early today because we are having dinner with a friend tonight.

The best things in life are free

There has been a lot of talk lately ’round the old homestead about what we want from life.  We have been coasting.  This is a hard phase and we need to just ride it out until things improve.  But that’s not happening fast enough and I need some kind of change.  I need to be growing towards stuff.  GOALS!  Necessarily this promotes conversation about what kinds of goals to set.

What I am beating around the bush to say is, Noah wants to be rich.  But that doesn’t really tell you much, does it?  What does rich really mean?  Does it mean rivaling Bill Gates?  Does it mean getting to sit down for a chat with Warren Buffet?  Not so much.  Our goal is for Noah to have to work 20 hours or less for us to maintain our current lifestyle.  In my opinionated opinion our life is rather comfy.  Our life is rather comfy because he earns a lot of money.  The important thing to remember is that we are just beginning with this goal.  Most likely we will mess up in several big ways (already have once) and I’ll talk about those here too.  I think there is no value in trying to make us sound better than we are.  Ok, on to figuring out what we have.  This may take more than one posting.

Right this minute we have three checking accounts (long story[1]) and one savings account.  The sum total of cash in them is $7,439.28.  This wouldn’t sound so bad if our current credit card balances didn’t equal $6,223.43.  That is the closest petty cash:debt ratio in the course of our marriage.  Typically our buffer is much higher than that.  But ok fine.  We’ve had an expensive couple of years with having two kids and replacing our roof and such.  That’s ok!  Not to fear.  This is less dire than it appears because we are… privileged people.  Oh good grief are we privileged.  Soon we will be getting cheques from a wide variety of sources.  And not just in the, “Oh I swear” kind of way.

I think I will start by examining our spending for the past 15 months that I have been using  Now you will see how ridiculously extravagant we are.

I first looked at 15 months of financial history on all of our credit cards.
Total spending: $68,660[2]
Average monthly: $4,577
Lowest month: $1,968[3]
Highest month: $8,540[4]

That’s a rather significant variation there. (Keep in mind that this is credit card spending and doesn’t include things like our mortgage, another rather sizable [5] payment each month.) Oof.

Then I went on to looking at our largest expenses which are unusual and/or not likely to be repeated unless we choose to.  So for example, I will not be having another child.  I will, however, continue to need sudden and unexpected medical and/or dental treatments for goodness knows what in the future.  And my children will have accidents.  So I did not include most medical items.  I also excluded house repairs, vehicle repairs, computer purchases, and the ongoing maintenance fee for the time share.

This left me with (on credit cards):

Travel: $9,654
Turek: $3.250 [6]
DVC: $7510
French Laundry: $1,053
Therapy: $750 [7]

The largest unusual purchases out of our checking account were:

NewsLabs: $12,734 ($25,000) [8]
Toyota: $24,694 [9]
Home Birth: $4,000
Lawyer: $2900

Travel is the most obvious thing to cut, only we haven’t even started traveling for the year.  My second oldest friend in the world is getting married in Scotland.  And I really love travel so realistically this isn’t something I want to suspend long term.  Luckily we don’t have to plan for another vasectomy any year soon.  I won’t buy into another time share.  I promise.  I’m thrilled with the one I have though.  French Laundry isn’t something we will be doing again any year soon so that can come off.  The investment money for NewsLabs came out of stock so isn’t really part of my budget.  The van was part of the refinance so doesn’t really count for this.  And I don’t think we’ll be needing to pay for another home birth nor to do that kind of intensive legal work.

That means I am trying to convince myself that $18,713 is fairly unlikely to happen again and are the result of an unusually expensive year.  This is what I tell myself, right?

If I subtract $18,713 (the truly unusual stuff) from $68,660 (the total) that gives me $49,947 or $3330/month.

That’s an interesting number to me.  Most months one paycheque pays mortgage stuff and the other paycheque handles the credit cards.  Previously Noah was taking home ~$2900/paycheque.  Noah has since gotten a different job with an increased salary.  I kind of love this valley.  Hm.  I am not sure where to go with this now so I’ll let this be.  I will come back to this topic though.  I want to figure out how to get to the point where passive income is sufficient. 

1. Ok, short-ish version: One bank account I have had since I was 18.  That’s where my annuities are deposited.  It is a pain to change anything with the annuities because I have to do it through the mail and everything requires visiting a notary.  They will stop coming in September of this year and that is the only activity in that account.  The second bank account was our failed attempt at a higher interest checking account.  E*trade sucks.  It is being phased out.  The third checking account (and the savings too) are now with a local credit union.
2. Yes I’m rounding.  I’m lazy.
3. Second lowest was $1,974 so not a complete fluke.
4. Second highest was $7,520 so this is an unusually high month.
5. Is anyone sick of the footnoting yet? Noah just taught me how to do it and I’m excited. And our mortgage payment is $2164/month but I pay $2300/month.
6. Noah’s vasectomy; worth every penny.
7. Therapy is a new-ish category because while I have gone intermittently for a while I need to be going regularly for a while and that is a new $600/month expense.
8. Our first attempt at Angel investing. We did better than median (lose everything) but we only did that because the company folded so fast they didn’t have a chance to blow all the money. Right. I hear that some of the other companies we saw that day (none of whom wanted our money) are doing very well.
9. We refinanced our house and took out some equity to pay off the van because it had a ruinous interest rate and our new mortgage is 4.375%. It was a rather good trade.