Category Archives: cooking

Peace

This morning I had a peaceful moment. One of those true, Zen moments of “I am happy and this is where I want to be.” Eldest Child woke up to use the restroom too early. I was awake doing chores, like usual. She asked me if I would climb in bed with her so she could sing me a lullaby. Twinkle Twinkle was the song of choice. Then she spent a while talking to me about why she likes me.

This is kind of a habit I have with the kids. I don’t put them to bed all the time, probably not even half the time these days at home. Maybe a quarter of the time? But we had the road trip and all the years before that of shared bed times. At bed time, what we do is we cuddle up close and spent 15-20 minutes talking about all the reasons we like each other. “You did ____ and I was so impressed with your thoughtfulness. You did ______ and I was shocked to see that you have made that developmental jump. I thought that was a (age inflation) thing and I’m really wow’ed. You said ______ word today and that was surprising because I didn’t know you knew that word!”

We bookend that with waking up to morning snuggles. During morning snuggles we talk about what we need to do today and how the schedule will work.

I can understand why my children insist I’m not an asshole and I just have bad moments. I don’t understand it so much from other people. Sometimes I feel like my children get to have a relationship with someone that no one else even gets to meet.

Sometimes I am capable of seeing myself as kind, giving, and loving.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m an asshole.

Contradiction is necessary for life. For survival. You can be kind and an asshole.

Why am I so convinced I’m an asshole? Because I lawyer up fast when my contractors give me trouble. Because I find that swearing at men really harshly is one of the best ways to convince strange men I’m not interested in their attention. Because I find that sometimes it is necessary to kick people really hard to get them to let go and I’m willing to do it. Because I’m going to keep talking about why the word whore is eating my brain even though people with sex work careers twitch and feel really upset about it.

Want to hear something wild? Yesterday one of the most famous sex workers of our era gave me permission to use the word whore however I need to in my processing. She says if anyone questions me again I can send them to her.

That is… incredibly validating. Wow. Thanks.

I’m not sure I’m ever going to pull that card. But I may print out that tweet and cut it up small and put it in my wallet next to the permission slip from Noah. Just so that I think about it.

I have permission to look at this however hard I need to in order to get over it. She said so.

I am so fucking weird about permission. I’ve spent my whole life cringing, crying, and hurting myself because I felt that was the only thing I was allowed to do without permission. I need permission to stop. I need permission to feel something else about myself.

Why does that have to be the default? I mean, blame your parents yada yada, why does that have to be my default?

Why do I have to assume, in every moment, that I am the least valuable person present and if someone should die it should be me?

Not that I want to get to the point of wanting to sacrifice other people for myself.

Wait, maybe that is it.

I have never known a white person with really high self esteem who isn’t willing to throw other people under the bus for their own advancement. I have known people of color with high self esteem whom I have never seen sacrifice a friend. I know people of color who are exploitive assholes, too.

I’m trying to think through my white friends… y’all make very self absorbed choices. I do too. I’m not sitting on a high horse. I’m sitting flat on the ground. I’m not high and mighty here. I’m trying to figure out how this works.

I am willing to throw people under a bus if I feel I have to do so in order to be effective.

That’s why I’m an asshole. I need accurate labeling so other people know they have to protect themselves from me.

want to help you. I will try to help you. But if I feel I have to be effective in some area for Reasons…

I’m a selfish piece of shit. That’s why I’m alive. I’m willing to say that Safeway doesn’t matter as much as me, I’m stealing food. I’m willing to say, “Being around people who make choices like x is so problematic to me that I will bug and bug and bug people who make choices like that until they don’t want to know me any more.”

I’m an asshole because I make a lot of assumptions about people and I don’t check my privilege nearly often enough. I’m trying to get better. This is hard.

My life has been kind of hard to adjust to.

I spent my childhood moving like a ghost through different communities. I never stayed long enough to belong. I lived in a lot of neighborhoods where we were the only white family. I grew up feeling like being white was a bad thing. Know why? White people don’t care about their kids very much. That was how I experienced it as a child. I don’t think that is literally true across the board. That was my experience. In white neighborhoods there were always packs of unsupervised children doing horrifyingly inappropriate things. In neighborhoods of color there might be much older teenagers or 20-somethings causing trouble, but the kids were god damn watched.

I was chased out of so many homes for having bad behavior. I was told I was a bad girl dozens, maybe a hundred times.

It’s funny how my memories of these things change and drift. I remember them very differently as my understanding of the situation changes.

When I was 21ish I honestly didn’t remember all those lectures about being bad. I had kinda blocked them out. I knew I was bad but it was a fog hanging over my life. I didn’t have all those disparate voices going through my head.

As a parent watching my children be children (by which I mean breaking rules and fucking up) I hear those people in my head over and over more and more clearly. Oh. That was why they said that.

Click.

Now I get it.

Shit.

I have always felt like I was living in many ages at once. But I feel like my future selves have changed a lot over my life. My ability to perceive who I could be has changed.

These days I can picture having grandchildren who scornfully tell my children that they should be more patient, like Grammie. I will giggle. My children will say, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS LIKE TO GROW UP WITH.” I will giggle.

Do you have any idea what having that vision in my head means to me? I have the belief that I might be able to arrive at having the kind of experience of being in my body that I want to have. I believe that I might get to the point of being actually regulated and calm.

I have hope for something I was not capable of dreaming up 20 years ago.

It’s amazing what ten years of safety can do for a body. I see it in myself. I see it in my children. That is something that home schooling does for me that isn’t necessary for almost anyone else I know.

I require this specific time to be set aside in my adult life where the entire point of my day is to model how to have big emotions, get them under control, deal with them appropriately when they come up, and then keep working.

Not suppressing. Not denying. Not minimizing. Not avoiding until it comes crashing down on you at some inappropriate time in the future. Your feelings matter. They live in you and they serve a purpose. If you ignore them in the moment you will pay a price later. There are times and places where emotional displays are not appropriate, but get that stuff out as fast as possible so it doesn’t become a poison.

I am grateful every day for the life I am leading right now.

I have the safety, the money, the access to care providers, and the education to do something about the trauma in my body.

That is magical. This should be available to everyone who has experienced trauma. We would be a better world.

People deserve to be seen in context and understood. Most people who seem “crazy” to you wouldn’t seem so crazy if you knew more about their story. I tell my children all the time, “Weird just means you aren’t used to it yet; eventually it is just normal.”

My mom used to say, “The only norma people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

One of my neighbors is stepping up the offer of maternal-nature-friendship. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Thank You Oh Universe, You Sure Do Like To Hear My Calls, Don’t You?

On the other hand… I’m scared of blowing up what we currently have if she finds out more about me. I’m not exactly the uhhhh conservative type and she is quite shy, scared, and sheltered. I don’t want to hurt her. She will need a lot of boundaries around the kinds of things she can handle hearing and I’m not sure how to find those boundaries without fucking up pretty badly. Once you say something it can never be unsaid.

We have a really solid, positive relationship. Losing it would be brutal. This feels really tricky. Our families are fairly strongly connected at the level we have now. I feel really like this is a big risk. Much bigger than telling all the strangers on the internet about my raunchy sex life and habit of beating people up for fun.

I’m kinda weird.

My superego is fucking developed at this point, ok? I’m growing up.

I’m an asshole and she is not. She wants to mother me. What will she do when she finds out I have approximately 500 x’s as much life experience as her?

There is a thing I think about. When I was in the bdsm community I was really serious about learning all I could as fast as I could. I played a lot with a lot of people. Basically I spent more time on bdsm than I spent on my college education, which I was pursuing simultaneously. Much Much Much more time on bdsm.

I was a serious slut and it was really fun and I have no regrets. I learned what I wanted to learn from that experience. I’m shocked at how often I find ways to apply the lessons I’ve learned, not in ways you’d expect.

I had more life experience at 25 than many people have at 50. It isn’t hyperbole, it is simple fact. I say yes to almost anything that comes up. I know very diverse people in many communities. I’m a moody bastard with a short attention span.

I’ve done a lot of things. It is something I notice when I meet new people these days. I sound like a lying braggart. Nope. I got receipts. I did all that. Why? Because I never felt like I had a better choice than to do what I was doing so I did it all in. As soon as something stops feeling like the best choice in the moment I break down, fall into a deep depression. Go home. Hurt myself until I figure out that the boundaries required in that community are not things I can maintain long-term. Then I heal. Then I try again.

It goes faster and faster as I age and get boundaries carved out of granite. It is harder to change them. I am less tolerant of my internal, “I need to conform by doing x in this environment” sensor and I just flee.

I have a home now. I have less reason to tolerate your bullshit rules. Wanna know why I know they are bullshit rules? Cause this ain’t my first rodeo. Don’t worry, I think the rules in my house are bullshit too. They are all weird and arbitrary. They are made to suit the moods of whichever asshole in the vicinity is loudest.

I know.

I used to know a man who liked to say, “I’m the only psycho in this relationship” or maybe he said he was the only one who gets to be crazy? I may be misremembering. I’ll cop to that.

I need to be the biggest asshole in the space I’m in. So Noah is an asshole, but I know that I’m much more likely to be the one to bulldoze than him.

It works for us. Picture a heart emoji here, but I have technically banned them so this will have to do.

He doesn’t think I’m an asshole. That’s part of why this works. I think we are both assholes and I’m just a bigger one. But he’s all mellow and tolerant so it works out. Do you however you need to, ok?

I’m going to be kinda passive aggressive here and say: if you are one of Noah’s friends… this is a great time to ask him to go out some time. He needs to talk. To more people than just me right now cause life is like that sometimes.

I can’t fill his tank as much as he needs me to right now. Because I’m dealing with the remodel and and and. His job is kinda hard.

I need to go beat the shit out of people. I don’t know what he needs. But right now, he’s wilting like a flower and that’s a serious bummer. I don’t know what it is that is missing right now, but clearly all the right nutrients aren’t in place.

This is the kind of micromanaging, paying attention that I want in my life. It is why I appreciate the people who have stuck with me and really got to know me so much. Because I’m more pushy like this by the year. Because people do it more with me. It’s a careful balance. How much controlling and influencing other people should we do?

I really don’t know where those boundaries ought to be. I’m not pulling up Noah’s email account and making plans for him. That’s over the line.

Where is the line?

Everyone is different. I want you to get to be who you need to be. I want to figure out who I need to be and I want to just do the shit out of it.

This feels like baby steps towards self love, doesn’t it? This morning feels good. I have to say that these piles of tile are inspiring. I may be jaunting off to get more sparkly tiles today. I’m really excited about the snow wall. I want to build that first because I have so much white and it would be nice to get it mostly used up and out of the way so I see how much I need to still buy in terms of tile for the rest of the bathroom. I really can’t tell yet.

It depends on how high up the walls I want to go, right? We’ll see!

Youngest child’s half bathroom is spring. Other half bathroom is summer. The bathing room is going to have autumn and winter. I can’t wait to look at the sparkly snow while I take baths in candle light at night. That will be so beautiful.

I’m serious my friends, if you want to come take a bath… let me know.

I’m thinking hard about how I want to make the tree of life that will climb up the wall over the bath tub. I need to look at more pictures. That will probably be that last bit I design because much of it might be painted, I haven’t decided.

I know that “traditionally speaking” you want flat walls. I’m not going to have flat walls with perfectly level tile. It’s going to be pretty rough and it will be on purpose and structured and artistic. I think it will work.

Oh please God let this work cause this puppy is going to be expensive if I fuck up.

Go big or go home, bitch.

Oh goodness what did I get myself into?!

Have I told you that the floor will have a stone path lined with green tiles to look like grass?

I’m having SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUN.

If only the roof weren’t uhm, being tricky. We are still negotiating. I’m blathering on Twitter but I won’t rehash it here. Just… gotta keep walking on. I’m trying to not be angry. At this point all of the guys in the company have apologized for making decisions without me when clearly they made the wrong choice at a critical juncture. I had preferences and they didn’t ask. Even though I’ve told them over and over and over I want to be asked.

Ok. Trying to move on. Have to get this shit finished. If it’s beautiful… I will still write positive reviews with caveats about how I had to be fierce in advocating for myself.

I made it very clear that from here on out the crew was not to dump their lunch garbage all over and leave it here for weeks. Saw blades are all over the ground and that’s not cool. My lawyer was at this meeting. I should stop talking about it for all kinds of reasons.

I wanted to write something down here for documenting purposes. Instead, I hit cut’n’paste and sent it to my lawyer.

That seems smart just now.

Past self, you picked this woman out based on proximity and hope. Well done!

Today will be a good day, I think. I hope. I believe. Oh yeah, a friend asked if she could come over to dinner. I should tell Noah. Ha. Surprise. We have six people coming over for dinner.

Roll with it. Life flows like that. If people ask to come over for dinner the next night and I have no plans…. I’m weak. I have no willpower for that kind of rejection. Because you hit my sweet spot. Basically no output of energy and lots of input of attention. Yeah, you can do that. Sounds awesome. I have to cook anyway. Don’t worry. I always have enough food around.

You never know who might be coming to dinner.

 

Moving south

Today we leave Dad’s house. That will be hard. I have really enjoyed my time here. Although it will also be a good thing. I’m sleeping for shit. I’m thinking a thousand thoughts a minute about all the things I want to say to him and we save our conversations for after the kids are in bed so… I’m way short on sleep. I need to move on before I hurt myself.

The talking has been wonderful. You know how I sometimes go on these really big tirades and write and write and write about politics and race and rape and incest and money and class and… heh. You know how I “sometimes” do that? Yeah he got the in person version over the last week. He has looked kind of stunned. I’ve never uhm shared my opinions on such a diverse array of topics quite so freely before. He’s kind of re-meeting me.

You want to claim you are my Dad so you need to get to know me. We’ve had several pointed, “Are you committed to this relationship?” conversations.

Apparently his bio-daughter is not very happy about me. I can understand that and I hold no rancor in my heart. I’m sorry that my existence makes her uncomfortable. I can understand why it does. All of the other “daughters” have been girlfriends who moved on. I haven’t. I’m not a girlfriend and I never have been. I’m an adopted kid. Who he has beaten and fucked. Because that has been part of my relationship with all of my dads.

I can understand why that would make someone uncomfortable. I’m on a fucking weird life path.

But he’s ok walking that path with me and I don’t really care if other people approve or not. He is adapting to the changes in our relationship. We have had an incredibly frank and detailed conversation about the changes in boundaries in my sex life. “What if I did ____?” “Well you’d have a time of untangling your fingers from your internal organs after I ripped your arm off and shoved it down your neck.” “Ok then. So you’re saying that is off the table.” “Yup.”

Quite frankly I think this is an incredibly healthy transition for both of us. We are consciously committing to a mutually supportive relationship that doesn’t have to be based on hurting one another. The hurting one another wasn’t a problem when it was where we both were. I’m not there right now. Are you with me or not?

He says he is with me.

He is scared about some of my choices. He asked me last night if I was truly aware of how much I was risking my life with some of the choices I make in terms of activism. I said I was fully aware that women who speak publicly about the things I choose to speak about often get killed. I’m aware that the status quo doesn’t like what I think.

Dad got to hear about the full extent of my suicidality this trip. He’s had dim awareness that I was a cutter.

It is kind of funny to me how people claim to know me… but don’t read my blog… and wow… they don’t know shit. I think I unload my emotions on fewer people than I think. I’m really hard on the people I unload on… but the list isn’t that long. I think I perceive myself as someone who dumps on everyone who walks by… but that isn’t how it goes. I have more boundaries than I think I do.

I am continually surprised to find out that people have known me for a decade and a half and they don’t know major facts about my life.

I can recite your fucking bio in my sleep. I know details about your life before I met you. I can rattle off your hobbies and accomplishments and fuck ups with great specifics.

What the fuck do you mean you don’t know much about me?! WTF!?

I’m self absorbed. Everyone should function like me. Ahem.

I’m going to miss Dad. And I am never going to live near him full time. Our relationship would dissolve and I like it very much. I like the support I get when I see him. He doesn’t have the stamina for me. He can’t be the kind of consistent I need on a regular basis. I can handle what he has to give when I visit once a year. I don’t resent his limits this way. I just adapt while I’m here.

I ask tactless questions a lot to frame how ridiculous we both are. “So my control freak issues are running into your control freak issues. Which part of this one is your real bug-a-boo? The process or the result because you vary from issue to issue.”

He kind of glares at me for a minute as he thinks about it. Then we discuss it and work out how we can adapt to one another.

It is weirdly a lot of fun for me. He is really ok with blunt negotiations. The bdsm community has been good for him. If you can say, “What I really want to do is tie your legs wide open so I can single tail your clit” you can have a conversation about just about any stupidly specific and personal topic.

Ok.. that isn’t actually true about everyone in the scene. But it is true of the two of us and I love that about him.

We’ve talked a lot about eating and dietary choices with the kids. Exercise habits. Modeling and why we do the things we do. Being responsible to and for our kids and how that creates a permanent reason to take care of ourselves because… we owe them a long life.

He says I have made him think about many of his choices in new ways. I believe that.

Last night he told me he feels adrift and he isn’t sure how to get ahead of the curve. He’s had a really hard several years. I said, “That sounds like a request for advice.” He said yes.

Oh I gave advice. “What you need to do is over the next year ask for help from Person A and Person B and Person C and go through the house and the storage unit. Sell anything you don’t have a really strong desire to keep. Donate what you can’t sell. Time to downsize. You don’t need a big house and property and you can’t keep up with the work. Sell before you degrade the house and can’t make money back. Buy something outright. Buy something small and manageable.”

He has inherited the estates of three rich people. He has an overwhelming amount of stuff and he simply can’t afford to keep the shit. He didn’t get the money. That went to charities. He just got burdened with the shit.

People are hilarious. They really don’t think about what they are doing to the people around them.

Get it in your head that you are putting the house on the market in June of 2016. That will be the end of your time here. 14 years in one spot.

It’s going to be hard to leave. His second marriage had its whole life here. But she’s gone and he has to move on. He can’t support this household without her.

Life is about constantly changing your goals as your resources and abilities change. Things go up and down and you have to be realistic about your capabilities or you will over-promise and under deliver. Or you can sell yourself short and never attain the things you are capable of doing.

Re-evaluate yourself. Where do you want to be putting your time and energy? Do you really want to have to spend 30+ hours a week on cleaning and house maintenance only to watch it fall into constant decline because it really needs 60 hours of work every week? That’s depressing. You feel like a constant failure even though you really are doing your best.

I’m going to cry a lot when he moves. This is Francesca’s house. She loved me here. She made me feel safe here. She is a lot of the reason Dad and I worked out some bumps in the early years. I miss her very much. But our obligation to her is over. It is time to sell off her stuff and her step-dad’s stuff and her mom’s stuff and move on.

She died before we could pay our debt to her. That’s a guilt we have to bear and move on with.

We can take that and pay it forward. That is how she would want us to do it. She wouldn’t want us to wither at home with shame and regret. She would want us to pay it forward. She would say we don’t owe her. We owe the universe. It’s never really a two way street.

That’s what is so hard about parenting. It’s never really reciprocal. I have taken more from Dad than I’ve given. Mostly… what I can give at this point is support as he transitions to a different sense of self.

He’s not a swinging bachelor of means. He needs to stop trying to act like he is. That time of life is over.

There are consequences to not seeing how you are changing. How many do you want to have smack you in the face?

He asked me if I believed he was capable of change at this point in his life. I laughed and said I wouldn’t be in his house if he hadn’t changed and changed again over the last decade and a half. Yes. I believe you are capable of changing. It’s not the tooth fairy. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen you adapt. I’ve seen you resolve to improve on how you manage specific issues. Yes, there have been back slides in some areas, but you continue to improve in broad swaths.

But life is complicated. As you improve in some areas you completely screw up other areas. That’s how it goes.

It seems to me that wisdom is partially understanding that you will never be good at everything. You will never have the inter-personal abilities plus money abilities plus physical abilities plus education abilities and and…

Look at what you actually do with your time. You are good at parts of it. The rest… well… it’s done enough. THE HOUSE DIDN’T BURN DOWN. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!

I don’t cook much. I can’t do it. I turn into a screaming banshee.

It’s not that I “can’t cook”. I can actually cook quite well. But I need to be calm and have a lot of patience and a lot of quiet and a lot of time and nothing else going on in order to do it in a peaceful way. Or I start twitching and shrieking things like, “JUST GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN BEFORE I STRANGLE YOU OH MY GOD WHY DID YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO DO?!?!?!!?!”

I understand that this is part of an age old tradition between mothers and daughters. But with the whole home schooling thing… it’s a problem if I won’t show them how to do things. So it’s complicated.

I’ve been priming the pump with the kids about how things will shift when we leave Grandpa’s house. We are going to a dun dun dun… screen free house. Ok, they own a tv. A big one. But they don’t turn it on. Or they use it for internet browsing. They watch very occasional cooking shows or Myth Busters. They are basically a kid screen-free house.

So uhm, don’t spend all day talking about video games and cartoons. You can talk about books, games you like to play, imaginary stuff you like to do… lots of topics. Don’t spend all day talking about the Minecraft tutorials. That is horribly boring when someone isn’t interested. We won’t be there very long. Be polite.

I have no idea if Shanna is listening. We’ll see.

We came here from Aunt Cookie’s and her only tv watching is Martha Stewart show reruns and Mayberry because her parrot will repeat things from the television. She won’t risk a peppery word in her house. (I kind of horrified her. And the kids taught the parrot to say “poop poop poop”. She was not pleased.) It’s not like we can’t get along with folks who don’t do video games. But she had to listen to a lot about the tutorial makers. Her eyes glazed over. I tried to rescue her.

Shanna can give you a full run down on the benefits and deficits of different tutorial makers and I think it is hilarious. I only half listen. I stood and listened to the new one for a few minutes last night. I wasn’t pleased. He’s an asshole. I told her flat out, “I like so-and-so and I like that other guy because they are silly and kind in how they give instructions. I don’t like this new guy. The way he is saying his friend might not really be a boy because he hasn’t seen proof? That’s bullshit. That’s a jerk thing to do. Questioning someone else’s gender is not ok. If I ever hear you do that, you aren’t watching this channel any more. If you want to know that assholes like that exist I’m not going to stop you from finding out they exist. But you had better not become one.”

Her eyes were kind of big. She nodded and said, “I wouldn’t do that. I just thought it was cool how he built _____.”

“That’s fair enough. He did build a cool ______. I can see why you would admire it. Feel free to learn his Minecraft skills. Don’t learn his interpersonal skills.”

“Got it.”

Man this is a quoting-myself-heavy-post. I want to share it with Noah. I miss you, oh my witness. I WANT TO TALK AT YOU FOR ABOUT TWELVE HOURS STRAIGHT.

I miss you.

I’ve gotta say, it’s kind of wild talking about a lot of the things I write about. To an entrenched white male. Oh man. It’s interesting phrasing and efforts. I have extreme biases. I’m aware of that. I’m working on and with where I am right now.

Dad is a soft sell on many of my more radical ideas. He will listen and help me construct rebuttals to arguments. Not necessarily on purpose, but he argues with me and that gives me practice debating the things I’m going to need to be able to debate without shrieking.

Not sure I can ever be a cook in a high pressure situation though. That may be beyond me in this lifetime.

Food, connection, triggers, projecting, all the good stuff

It is very rare that I ask someone for permission before I write about something. Mostly I think, “If you didn’t want me to write about it you shouldn’t have done it.” Sometimes I try to recognize that my writing causes other people to have feelings and that’s a complicated thing. I don’t think I “make” people feel things. But I think that if you are going to put a whole series of bombs along the bottom of a building you can’t get upset when the building explodes.

I asked before writing this one. Because I’m going to touch on someone very dear to my heart whom I have hurt quite a lot around this topic. She’s not the reason or the center but people have feelings when they are mentioned in connection to big feelings. I need to process some layers though and she’s touched on in the layers. I’m trying to be gentle.

The other day I was sitting in the kitchen watching Noah, my husband, make breakfast for the family and I felt these waves of emotion. Gratitude. Relief. Appreciation. Surprise. Confusion. Sadness.

Why didn’t my mama want to feed me? That’s such a huge and pervasive thing for me. I can’t not think about the effect this has on my life.

It isn’t that my mom didn’t want to feed me. That’s not what happened at all. My mom ran out of spoons and money. My mom spent much of my childhood very depressed and very poor. She didn’t know how to deal with all the things that were happening to her (I don’t blame her for that) and she did not grow up learning how to cope with such problems.

My mom was thrown into the deep end of the pool without one swimming lesson. She went from being a sheltered, Mennonite hick to being married to a city boy who was a drug addicted, alcoholic pedophile. She really didn’t know how to cope. She didn’t know how to deal with her husband raping her. She didn’t think she had choices. She didn’t know how to deal with her husband beating her children. When she did try to get away, things got worse–not better.

I’m trying to tease out some of my food stuff. I had diarrhea this morning. I haven’t been eating off plan so I assume that it is at least partially because I’ve been thinking about how to talk about this stuff for a few days. But who fucking knows.

I don’t have an official diagnosis but I suspect I qualify as being a “highly sensitive person”. I’ve desensitized myself in many ways over the years–I’m way less sensitive than I was as a kid. When I was a child I had huge food issues. I couldn’t handle unfamiliar foods. I would completely freak out. The wrong texture in my mouth could set me off for hours. I couldn’t “get over” the wrongness of some things in my mouth.

As an adult I have tried really hard to expand my food palate–partially for my own sake and partially to model for my children. But trying new things is complicated for me. I have to be in the right emotional state or I will freak out or get physically sick. Just about anything can make me gag if I’m in the wrong emotional state. It makes me challenging to feed.

Noah surprises me all the time as I reflect on the enormity of the task he has taken on with regards to feeding me. He is mellow, flexible, and very happy to be experimental. He doesn’t take it personally when I have an issue. And he shows up the vast majority of the time to just make food. Even through the elimination diet when I was a moving target of problems. He responded with cheer and good humor and just asked for new directions. He likes them written down, please.

I don’t have to beg. I don’t have to coax. I don’t have to behave “good enough”. I don’t have to do a bunch of things I don’t want to do in order to try and talk him into it.

He just makes food. Because he wants me to eat. He wants me to live for a long time so I can be here with him hanging out.

Trusting someone around food is a process. I don’t like making food very much, but I would much rather have people come to my house where I control the food so I don’t have to wonder if I will be ok or if I will act like an ungrateful asshole at their house. This means I do a lot of inviting people over. I usually cook for those events instead of expecting Noah to cook for all of my friends. He has long days. I don’t need to be mean about him doing a lot of cooking. I probably make dinner 30%-40% of the time. Ok, usually more like 30%. But once in a while I’m nice and I do an extra breakfast shift. (Like, not even weekly. My husband is so nice to me.)

I feel a lot of shame a lot of the time around being ungrateful. I don’t deserve the effort people put into me. Shame is poison. When I feel ashamed, I tend to also feel anger. Shame isn’t guilt. Shame is believing that people are going to be upset with you for breaking unspoken societal guidelines… not breaking a Law or a Rule… just… people won’t like you for doing the wrong thing. Shame is poison. Shame is believing you aren’t good enough because you don’t conform enough to being just like other people. When I believe that other people think I’m not good enough… I get mad at them. Even when this whole cycle is just in my head. It’s part of the reason I’m so difficult to deal with.

A few years ago we tried to have a friend live with us. Part of the deal was: she would handle food. It would be off my plate. Then I could turn my attention elsewhere and do other things. It didn’t work out due to a lot of complicated things revolving partially around her being disabled and unable to just show up seven days a week like clockwork. Because I thought I had her at home to make sure the kids got fed, I started burning spoons I didn’t have to spare if I have to feed the kids. Then sometimes I had to feed the kids.

Oh I have the feelings. I still do. We are still trying to figure out how to mend our relationship. It happens in drips and drabs. Rebuilding trust is so hard.

Rebuilding trust is hard because I am unfair in how I ask people to be rigid in what they offer as my friend. I tend to require people to practically sign blood contracts that they will be present in my life x days per month/year and I need to be able to Trust That. That’s really a problem for people who have unpredictable illnesses like oh roughly half of my peer group. Right. Shit.

I was a monster. I exploded and kicked the cabinet door off. I’m not saying it is someone else’s fault–I lost control and that isn’t ok. It isn’t excusable. How do I move forward and not do that again? Moreover, beyond just never demonstrating that level of rage in front of my kids again, how do I learn to separate my feelings from other peoples actions?

I think about this and I feel scared. What am I going to do if Noah decides he is kind of done cooking for a few years? Am I going to explode at him? Am I going to expect him to just provide for me in that way?

At this point I’m pretty sure I exploded at my friend as harshly as I did because I have an enmeshed thing going on where she is both mother and sister and I have a lot of big, explosive feelings towards both of those roles. My friend wasn’t able to be the perfect Platonic Ideal… and I couldn’t cope. That isn’t her fault and I feel a lot of guilt around putting her in that position. I think that the enormity of what I did to that friend came into a kind of intense relief when I started doing a similar thing with someone else. (I mean the first noun definition of relief: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/relief “prominence, distinctness, or vividness due to contrast.)

I want other people to mend the wounds I have. But it takes a kind of consistency that literally isn’t possible for most people. It isn’t fair or appropriate to ask it of them. This is something I do over and over and I have to change how I handle this. No one can fix me and it is wrong of me to get so mad at people for failing to do so.

How do you heal and learn to trust people while knowing that you can’t trust them to be reliable? Not because anyone is doing anything wrong. Not because they are actually letting me down (I’m not their kid nor their boss so they don’t owe me a fucking thing) but because I have this crushing feeling of being let down.

I’m worried about this being the kind of thing I pass down to my kids. Entitlement about having other people feed them. Entitlement to explode when you don’t get what you want. The feeling that if people take care of themselves they are betraying you.

That’s pretty fucked up.

I’m too hard on my BFFs. Pam told me so. She has a lot of authority to speak about such matters because she has been standing close enough to be in the role for years only she doesn’t have room in her life. She has great boundaries. There is no enmeshing with Pam. She’s on her path. But she comes and looks at me over long periods of time and tells me when I’m doing stupid shit. That’s useful.

I enmesh unless other people have strong boundaries. That’s a lot of why I like people with strong boundaries as much as I do. But really, what I like are women who like making food who need me to clean their house. (Ok, they never need me to clean their house… but I pick people who don’t especially like cleaning so I can feel useful.) I look for people who have challenging relationships with their families–people who are also looking for substitutes to heal some wounds and I try to offer trades. Only I’m not direct or blunt or explicit… I just kinda move in. Until I’m scared that I’ve overstayed my welcome and I evaporate like I was never there.

I project onto people that filling my needs will fill a need for them, like it works in reverse for me. I like doing things for people. I like feeling useful. I like feeling like I have useful skills and abilities.

The ability to feed people is a thing. It’s a big deal. It’s a comfort thing, it’s a way of supporting life. I get why people feel good about being feeders. But I can’t assume that just because someone is a feeder they will reliably and predictably want to feed me. I can’t assume that they will always be able to. And it isn’t ok to punish people when they stop being able to.

I really struggle with how much of this feels like, “You just aren’t allowed to get angry when your needs aren’t met.” But that’s black and white thinking. That’s not very useful.

I’m writing this because I need to figure out a better way of handling my feelings before they get so big I explode. Lots of communal “eat together” stuff happens in my life. I have big, explosive feelings on a regular basis. People say they will feed me then cancel at the last minute. Plans change. I have to manage my feelings better.

Just because people enjoy making food doesn’t mean I can expect them to make food for me.

I’m not sure how to change my set of reactions. Food is primal. Food is necessary every day for life. But it isn’t necessary that other people provide food for me.

I am a little worried about how I will adjust to the road trip. I’ve gotten very used to Noah cooking breakfast and dinner. When I am responsible for providing three meals a day… am I going to expect the kids to do an inappropriate amount of work because I feel like I can’t cope? I’m worried. How much work is inappropriate?

Do I need to develop habits around snacking every x minutes so I don’t get hungry enough to react badly at people. (That actually first happened to me as an adult when I went back packing with a dear friend. He started insisting I eat every 45 minutes while hiking or I got bitchy and he was tired of me ranting at him. It worked really well.) I can’t expect other people to manage my food issues. They are mine. I get into so much trouble because I expect other people to handle me. I spend too much time acting like I am a child and everyone and anyone is responsible for me. Like I’m still wandering from house to house as an unwanted charity case.

I feel like it is vitally important for me to stop feeling like I am a charity case. I don’t know how. Having money isn’t doing it.

I feel like a ridiculous whiny baby when I write about these things. Just get over it already. But it’s hard to shame someone into being better. I have a lot of intense triggers around food. I have a low ability to discern my bodies signals around hunger. I have a lot of resistance to making food. I have a lot of anxiety around most parts of eating from the mechanics of chewing (I’m still worried that I might suddenly run into some awful texture by surprise–it’s part of why I can’t eat seafood.) to digesting to pooping. I don’t have a body that works how I think bodies “should” work and I feel like I’m still looking around for a mom who will help me fix it.

When oh when will I stop looking for substitute parents?

At this point I’m picking candidates who have as much or less life experience than me and that’s not really working and I have to stop. I get really upset with them and that’s wrong of me. I have to change this habit.

I feel scared. I want to say I don’t know how. I know what I want to stop and that doesn’t give me a roadmap of where to go and that feels really scary right now.

I don’t know how far back on the chain of my behaviors/emotions I have to go to start changing things. I feel very overwhelmed wondering how much of my basic personality is actually toxic and I need to change it.

The funny thing is: the shame around wanting people to take care of me by feeding me is wrapped up in the shame around being a loud person.

I have a voice designed for gathering up crowds in a large out door location. It’s a gift. It’s a wonderful gift when it comes to getting peoples attention when they are outside and spread out.

I’m not good at toning down. Then I married someone who has a habit of getting really loud and emphatic. Then we had two kids who think that what they are talking about can be the only important thing in the house so sometimes we kind of have four people shouting at one another. At that point Noah or I get overwhelmed and make everyone stop. It’s kind of funny. We all have to take some deep breaths.

I want my girls to be able to shout people down with their position. I mean, it would be better if they could communicate their position without shouting but I know too many women who are just flat incapable of strongly advocating for themselves. I want my girls to be able to shout people down. I want it to be a tool in their tool box. Boys are given that tool. It’s not a tool that makes you well liked, but sometimes it is a necessary tool. Folks who can’t do it say it isn’t useful but I’ve watched a lot of things get solved by who can shout loudest. I want my kids to be able to win.

I am torn between thinking that being a somewhat scary person is a good thing because it means my kids get acclimated so that maybe other people will be less intimidating in the future. Then I think, “Oh that’s an absurd justification you disgusting monster.”

When food is tied up with a loud voice it probably isn’t going to go well. Shame is a monster. Shame tells me that if I had the audacity to be too loud (for whom?!) I should be punished. I’m not really allowed to punish myself in most ways any more (I don’t have privacy). I used to be punished with food denial. I go through periods of intense anxiety where my stomach hurts really badly and I drop weight really quickly. It’s like I’m trying to punish myself–but I genuinely can’t eat more at those times or I vomit.

I probably eat more sugar than is “good” for me but I get the impression I’m still relatively low compared to the “average” American. (At least I see spreads of food in pictures representing what people eat and I eat WAY less sugar than those pictures ever represent. Whoa.) But frankly even though people want to think of eating as bad… if it gets calories into me sometimes I have to accept that as good enough. No, it isn’t perfect. I’m doing my best. I eat far more fruit and vegetables than I used to–it has to be ok that I snack on buns too.

I went to bed absurdly early last night. I think that partially happened because I wanted to work on this and I won’t get any other chance. I woke up at 2am. By 3 I feel like I am getting pretty hungry. My instinct is to just sit here and whimper as my body hurts. I had to think about it for thirty minutes before I got up to get a cheese stick. My impulse is to wait 5 hours for food. No wonder I’m so damn cranky all the time. I sleep weird. I eat irregularly and expect my body to just keep going regardless of how many calories I have in me.

I could have been a primitive hunter gatherer. “Didn’t find food yet. Keep walking.”

(I’m kidding.)

Maybe the road trip will be kind of like the fast. (The fast didn’t make it so I have solid poop every day forever, but I have a fair bit of it and I’m pretty happy with my current functioning.) I will have a huge break from how food normally looks in my life. I won’t have any of my normal crutches. I won’t have any of my normal support.

Ok, now how do I get it done?

Without living on packed foods plus restaurants. Ahem.

Ok, I feel a little guilty about this–it sorta feels like the first step to not having explosive reactions when people don’t meet my expectations is to just not have expectations of people but for me that results in treating people like interchangeable pieces. That’s not really cool either. “Who cares if you won’t come. Someone else with 2.5 kids will be invited in your place and no skin off my nose.”

I’m sorta ok thinking of people that way when it comes to hosting large group events with a maximum RSVP… it’s ok to just treat number of RSVPs as interchangeable and not act like there is an A and a B list.

But in general with personal relationships? That’s… kind of awful.

I’m going to flip to talking about road trip planning for a minute. I laid out the big map and showed the girls my proposed Plan A route. Shanna immediately had objections. “Why did you go this way? I’d rather go that way. What is this thing over here? I want to see that.” I took a deep sigh. Some of her proposals mean that I won’t be wandering through the cities of my random internet friends. This kind of bummed me out.

But the road trip isn’t about my personal tour through everyone I’ve chatted with on the internet. I don’t feel like I should be the One Who Decides. So if my kid says, “I don’t want to go that way I want to go up here and see the Grand Canyon” I can’t really say, “But then I won’t get to meet [screen name].” Suck it up, Buttercup.

Flexibility seems to be key to handling the food stuff. I don’t know how to become more flexible. I mean, I already have. I eat vegetables and maybe no one else is patting me on the back for that but I bloody well am. I can go over to a friend’s house and eat a whole spread of vegetables and not gag at all. I am quite impressed with my progress. Fifteen years ago I could not do that.

But it isn’t just flexibility. How do I stop trying to force my female friends into the role of mother/sister? How do I stop enmeshing and projecting and transferring and all those other fun psychiatric terms?

Part of it is that I want to feel part of something and I don’t usually feel part of anything. I barely feel like I am “part of” Noah and Shanna and Calli as a team. They are all related by blood to all those other Gibbs. I’m just an interloper. My mom was never accepted into my father’s family. She had it better than I do–but they made sure she knew she wasn’t truly family.

Strangely I have no trouble feeling “part of” just Shanna and Calli. They feel like mine in a way that changes when we are alone or when we are with Noah. When Noah is around I relinquish most of my hold. I don’t have to be as aware. I don’t have to be in control. I take my responsibilities as a parent pretty seriously. I notice a slump of relief when I’m not “on duty”. I drop hypervigilance when the babysitter is here, when other parents visit (they are generally more jumpy about what my kids do than I am so I can relax knowing that someone else will freak out for me), when Noah is here. It’s a nice relief but it is weird feeling these walls between my relative levels of attachment.

My relationship with Noah is so complicated. Recently I was talking to another woman about how she has to live at the whims of her husband. Him having a hard day kind of wipes the house out. I flinched because I was thinking, “That’s my role.” Noah and I have periodic discussions about how he isn’t allowed to be grumpy in an ongoing way… I can’t handle it. But he has to handle me being grumpy. He has to deal with me snapping and being difficult. I apologize constantly but sorry bakes no bread.

I’m thinking about how I want to handle food on the trip. How am I going to handle grocery shopping and cooking and food storage? That’s a long time to not have a system. But my system will have to adapt to the fact that I don’t have control over what kinds of things I will find where.

I will not be doing the Whole Paycheque tour of the US so I can stick with comfortable, over priced food. Yes, we will probably eat factory farmed meat. (Frankly I haven’t found a source of sausage for non-factory farmed meat so we always eat some. And restaurants. We’re going to hell; I know.)

You can’t make contact with local farmers to buy one steak at a time on the road. Doesn’t work. Or rather: I probably could but that would become the focus of the trip and then my kids would hate me.

Priorities.

Being a vegetarian doesn’t work for my body. Horrible digestion problems. Lots of doctors (including many who are vegetarians themselves) say I should not give up meat. That means accepting that I am part of the mass meat market. Ick.

Now I’m dithering. Am I dithering? Have I just reached the end of the processing for one entry? Am I dithering by thinking about logistics for food? Should I instead be bludgeoning myself in the head for my emotional problems? Are the logistics the point or aren’t they? I’m not sure.

Am I better off having a timer on my phone that goes off every x minutes and I need to eat something so I don’t run low on spoons and I can deal with more vagaries in other people supplying food or not? But people get upset if you start snacking because they are half an hour late on dinner. Saying, “I’m going to get psycho if I wait for you” doesn’t help.

I actually did that this week. A friend was bringing lunch and I was eating when she walked in. I felt like I was about to gnaw my arm off. It seemed stupid to wait so I could explode.

For the whole last week I’ve been starving. I’m eating larger than normal meals and snacking in between a few times. And I’m craving sugar like it is going out of style. I went to the store with the kids. “Can I have…” “Yes!” Bad news. Well, the kids thought it was great news. Ranch 99 has the best buns. You want to ask me for lots… I’ll say yes. Totally a sucker for the buns. And mochi. Say “YES!” to mochi. That’s my policy. I like mochi. I’m not sure why because it seems like it should be a weird texture for me only it is the best mouth feel ever.

Frankly I’m trying to build up familiarity with non-American foods so that when I travel it will be easier to find things that feel comfortable and “safe”. I don’t have that many more years until we want to leave for the year. If I don’t eat a fair bit of the stuff now I won’t build up that level of comfort-feel.

Watch me justify my awesome bun binge.

I could live on dim sum. I do order vegetables.

I’m getting the impression that food-wise I should stay out of Japan and Korea. I’ll have a hard time. And yet, Tokyo Disney calls my name. I can find a way to suck it up. They have chicken and beef. I’ll just have to patiently practice how to say, “no fish at all, please–not even broth”.

Now I’m dithering. But it’s after 4 and I’m tired. I’m ready to go back to bed.

I need something resembling a plan. I need to be more mindful of my expectations around people and food. I am already better about carrying snacks so I don’t get over-hungry as often as I used to (parenting helped me with that habit–specifically nursing).

How do I stop treating these women in my life like they have to be stand ins for other people? Why do I keep acting like they have the power to heal me?

Because I’ve watched too many movies and read too many books about the power of friendship. The reality is my life will never be the kind of life that is featured in a heart warming special about camaraderie. C’est la vie. (I’m pretty sure there should be an accent in there.)

I don’t think that means I should devalue what I get. I get friendship. I get shared adventures. I get journeys of self discovery walked side by side. I don’t get healed. I don’t get to have the feeling of connection I believe other people feel as represented by media. (If it happens on tv it MUST BE TRUE.)

Maybe the healing just has to come from always having such a plethora of snacks on hand that I don’t ever get to the point of low blood sugar. (Nuts are awesome.) Maybe the healing is about other people providing bonus food, not the mandatory-for-life kind. Maybe the healing comes from being safe?

I don’t know. I’m still a bitch.

I’m less scared than I used to be. I blow up less often. I am less destructive when I do blow up. I have fewer expectations of people.

Hey–I haven’t blown up at someone about tardiness in a very long time. That’s huge progress for me. It just isn’t a trigger in the same way. Having my kid have a sudden poopy diaper as we are about to walk out the door to be 1 minute late… teaches you that people are late. It’s ok. It has to be ok. All of a sudden you are 30 minutes late and there isn’t a thing you can do but slap a smile on and make the best of it.

I am not where I need to be. I need to work harder on treating my friends how they deserve to be treated. They are doing their best and I don’t have the right to explode when they don’t meet my demands. It isn’t their fault my mama wasn’t nice to me. I don’t have a fucking free pass.

Life is hard. 5010 words. Time to stop.

Health inventory

I am feeling excessively whiny. I am hoping that if I record the full whine I can stop repeating bits of it to Noah and anyone else who will listen. It is hard to not talk about it even though I know it annoys people to hear about.

Starting at the top, because I often do that. Head hurts. I have a headache in the forehead part of my skull. I have a raging headache in the back of my skull where I have my usual minor headache caused by looking down too much. I have a fractured tooth and that isn’t feeling good. I get a crown in just over two weeks. My TMJ (yes, this one has a real diagnosis from a real doctor) is acting up like mad and both sides of my jaw hurt like crazy. I’ve clearly been clenching and fighting the clenching and that makes me ache something fierce. I also have a ton of sinus pressure and I feel like I have a cold.

My neck hurts. The muscles supporting my skull are all corded with knots.

My shoulders and arms hurt really badly. Surfing was a lot of very unfamiliar motion and even moving my arms hurts. I can feel a lot of knots I’m not used to having. My range of motion is impacted. Surfing was fun but very hard. Luckily my forearms aren’t as painful as usual. (I’ll thank my lucky stars for that one.) I’m having a lot of general joint pain (I include the TMJ with that) and my shoulders/elbows/wrists/finger joints are all painful. It isn’t my normal “typing fucks me up” pain–it’s different.

My chest and upper back feel sore, like I was punched a lot. (And yes, I do know what it feels like to be punched a lot.) My abdominal muscles right below my ribs are still so sensitive that gentle touching hurts. Luckily the pain has come down a few notches and I will no longer scream if the kids idly brush me. *phew*

Then we get into the intestine region of the torso. Oh holy hell. It is improving! That’s a great thing. After the plane ride just about anything would be an improvement. I feel tender and sore. My lower back aches really badly, but I’m used to that. It spiked into much more intense pain when I was bleeding last week thanks to cramping but it isn’t as bad now. *phew* But my belly region is very uncomfortable and sad.

My hips hurt. My hips hurt so much. My thighs hurt. My knees hurt. My calves hurt. My ankles hurt. Seriously, my ankle hurts so fucking much I can’t sit cross legged. My feet are sore and tender.

Have I mentioned that I don’t feel good?

Tomorrow I will be blessed with a meal cooked by someone else that is within plan and multi-course and is likely to help me feel loved and taken care of while having flavor. Noah is still being my hero with cooking for me, but he has less experience with this range of restrictions. He’s doing his best, but it is hard to adapt to an elimination diet. Especially while he is still cooking different stuff for him and the girls that follow our more normal diet.

Today the girls asked the babysitter to make them ramen for lunch. When I smelled it I almost started crying because I wanted it so much. I am committed to figuring out what is making me sick, because clearly I took some inflammatory food out and then put it back and my body is freaking the fuck out but it is hard feeling denied food. It is excruciatingly hard on a daily basis. I feel like I don’t deserve food.

My friend told me it is great that I haven’t fallen into the “I can’t eat anything” trap and now I feel ashamed of myself because I totally want to say that over and over. I’m trying so hard to be positive. I think it would be easier if my kids weren’t eating my favorite foods in front of me while I can’t have any.

It is shocking to me in an ongoing way how visceral food is. I read people write things about how food is just fuel. Oh man. It totally isn’t. It is love and comfort and bonding and right now I’m shut out of my favorite forms. Holy shit this is hard.

I am trying to keep my whining to myself. It is hard. I’m trying to keep up with the whirl of activities but it is hard. I feel dizzy and weak. My friend pointed out this weekend that I am drastically under caloried for the amount of exercise I’m doing and she’s right. 17 days till the half marathon and then I will be cutting back my exercise a lot until I have food more under control. I do want to do this race though. I’m still upset with myself for paying for a 10k I didn’t do this year.

Tomorrow I drive to San Pablo. That will be a good trip. In the evening Pam is coming over. She’s about to head off for a long visit with family on the other side of the world so I have to store up my Pam attention while I can. Friday we are going out to Modesto to see friends for the day. (Luckily the friend I am going with is very happy to do most of the driving. *phew*) Next week I have another visit with the woo-allergy doctor and therapy and a massage. I am one lucky, supported person. The week after that I see the Kaiser specialist (I have low hopes and much bitterness in my heart), have dinner with a friend I haven’t seen for a bit, have a dentist appointment to get a crown, hopefully we will get to decorate the tree with the home school group, and Pam is coming over–all that before Thanksgiving. T-day we are staying home while I cry about not being able to eat a real Thanksgiving dinner. I just can’t watch someone else eat what I want to fucking eat and can’t. I can’t. I would be so mean and self-involved and such an asshole. So we are staying home. Then that weekend I run the half marathon.

December will be slower than November, for one thing less exercise. I’m not driving much in December. Other than the grocery store the only driving I have booked for December is therapy. Given that the kids have been wanting to stay home while I have therapy because they want the screen time I’m not even sure if we will be making the park days.

I could seriously use a whole month of not doing much. For one thing, I need to build the trailer that is sitting on a pallet in my driveway. Also: I’d like to finish the planter box project in the back yard. I have been so exhausted I have not been physically able to do the work. I feel pathetic, but bodies have limits.

I feel like an asshole because numerous people have asked me how they can help and I don’t have good answers. One friend told me to give her a list of foods and she would meal plan for me. I *can’t* follow through on that. Every few days I seem to be changing what is excluded or included because I have no real guidance. The best I can do is what I’m recording here. That isn’t great.

I don’t actually think there is much help I can get. I’m lucking in to going to someones house where they already follow a diet that lines up with my elimination diet. I only had one or two “no’s” to add to their list of no so I didn’t have to think hard.

I feel like I can’t think very well. I feel confused and stupid.

Despite feeling shitty I continue to be grateful that I get to be married to Noah and I’m really glad for my kids. They are so awesome.

Food history

Every one has their own journey with food. It differs from culture to culture and between socio-economic groups. If I had to pick one word for my food journey it would be: disrupted. Or maybe inconsistent.

My parents didn’t divorce until I was three. I assume that the first three years of my life involved fairly normal eating. When I was a kid I would look at my mother’s recipe book and look at the menu plans she had in the back. Pot roast, lamb chops, roast chicken. I assume I ate just fine for the first few years. The main thing my mother and my sister had to say was that I was very picky about my eggs. I would ONLY eat them if they were scrambled and cooked hard–basically to the point of being burnt. Both of them would tell me stories about that throughout my childhood in that way that made it sound like they accommodated me endlessly.

Then the divorce happened. We stayed in the house for a while. My mom started working and my sister was supposed to be my caretaker. My sister was a teenager dealing with extreme trauma so she wasn’t a very good caregiver. I knew how to cook my own ramen before I was four.

Then we moved out of the house and into our car. I don’t know what I ate. My mom worked at Denny’s and I remember long hours sitting in the car during her shift. I had nowhere else to be. Eventually I was sent to Auntie’s house for the first time. While I was gone my mom got married.

With Auntie we ate either rice or potatoes and beef every night. That is what Uncle Bob wanted. There would generally be a side of canned vegetables: corn, green beans, or peas.

So the malnutrition didn’t start that early.

I think things got bad when we moved to Oklahoma. We were very poor. We moved there to get away from my mom’s abusive second husband. My mom worked at Jack in the Box and we lived in a double wide in the middle of the woods. We ate a lot of game. I’ve eaten squirrel, chipmunk, fox, venison and I don’t know what all else. Her boyfriend was a pretty good hunter. Other than that I’m not sure what we were eating.

Then we moved to Texas and lost the game meals and my mom got another job (I don’t know doing what) and we lived in a trailer park. My sister moved in with us. We ate junk food, period. My sister was pregnant and mean as a snake. (Drug withdrawals combined with the ick of pregnancy wouldn’t be fun.) I ate food from bags: chips, etc.

Things didn’t get really bad until Tommy was hit by the car. That’s when my mom stopped feeding me. Realizing that right now, I feel very sad for her. I’m not sure I would be a better mother under such conditions.

My mom came back to California while Tommy was in a coma. Things were tumultuous during the five months he was in a coma. I was bounced around all over the place. My mom wasn’t capable of seeing me or taking care of me. I stole a lot of food to eat. I lived with people I didn’t know and I got very rigid about my food preferences. I would eat ramen or nothing in many of the houses I lived in. Food became very traumatic because I was dropped on these random mothers and they had different food culture. I wasn’t familiar with anything they served and I was punished if I didn’t dig in with gusto. I learned to be very difficult about food in order to ensure that I ate food that felt familiar to me. My pickiness was actually very self-destructive, but I didn’t understand that.

I didn’t eat green things, except for pickles and I ate pickles like a banana–I left the skin. I told my mom “green means mold–I’m not eating that”.

I also found weevils in the Nissin ramen packets guaranteeing that I have never been able to eat this brand again. You’ve never experienced horror until ramen is the only food in the house and every package is full of bugs. I ate them. I had to or starve. I cried while I did it.

I was seven when Tommy’s accident happened. I turned eight while he was in the coma. When I was eight or nine we moved to Whittier, in a house my father paid for so my mom could be close to Tommy during his recovery. We were there eighteen months.

Whittier was bad. When I think about the height of my hunger, that’s the period of time I’m thinking about. I was with my mom full time and my sister lived with us. My nephew was born while Tommy was in the coma. After he woke up from the coma he moved in with us and things got worse.

My mom and my sister and Tommy ate food. I ate ramen. They ate out a lot. I remember my mom coming home from work with Orange Julius cups. To this day I experience irrational hatred and anger when I even see the brand name. To be fair they were happy with “food” like liver and onions. No I didn’t fucking eat it with them. There wasn’t much food in the house. They didn’t cook very much. Grocery shopping was a nightmare–we had to go a long way and we had to walk or take the bus. I remember pushing an empty stroller to the store so we didn’t have to carry our things home.

I remember my mom crying as she counted out my packets of ramen. She got things like Lunchables. She told me they were too expensive for me. She wasn’t willing to eat ramen–she thought it was disgusting. Lunchables were palatable to her and about the cheapest food she would eat.

Fruits and vegetables didn’t exist.

We moved to Apple Valley after that. I stole a lot of food in Apple Valley. We moved there to be close to a group home facility Tommy could live in–the only one in the state that would allow adolescents. There are surprisingly few facilities for treating long-term brain injury issues.

My mom worked in City of Industry. Her commute was 90 miles each way. I was alone. I ate ramen.

We moved back to the bay area after that when things became untenable in Apple Valley. My dad was harassing my mom and I was getting beat up in school so much that even my mom couldn’t ignore it any more. We came back to Auntie.

I had diarrhea through most of my childhood. I missed so much school because my belly hurt. My mom read some stupid astrology book that told her that Virgos are prone to stomach complaints and she decided that my whining about my belly had to be that. She didn’t take me to see a doctor. She didn’t talk to me about my food or health. We did not have conversations about nutrition in my family of origin. I’m not sure my mom knew anything. She thought Pepsi and Snickers was a dandy breakfast.

My mom ate other foods. I ate ramen. When I was a kid I rebelled by not having a sweet tooth. I didn’t want to be like my mom.

I got to middle school and for some reason my mom didn’t apply for free lunch at school. I had eaten nachos every day for lunch through most of my childhood. Almost every school across the nation offers shitty nachos as a free lunch option. Mmmmm shitty free nachos. That was my primary school lunch. So in middle school I mixed it up. Every day I took one baggie to school and in it I placed a piece of string cheese, two pickle spears, and beef jerky. That was lunch for a few years. The scary part is that is a more balanced lunch than I had ever eaten previously. (Ok, I’m sure I had individual meals that were more healthy, but not often.)

High school I switched to instant noodles at school. It was a $1/day. Nachos were $2.50/day. I had $20/week for food. Oh, in Bakersfield I spent one semester at a school that had pastrami sandwiches for $2/day. Those were so good.

I started buying baguettes and blocks of cheese. That would be my food for the day.

For some reason, I feel like my mom rarely had food stamps. I think she just didn’t do the paper work. My sister had food stamps on and off throughout my childhood. I ate government cheese at her house. She was the asshole who insisted on fucking Nissin ramen “for variety”.

I don’t like peanut butter nor hot dogs because fucking everyone was always trying to get me to eat one or the other. No fucking thank you.

So I got to adulthood having eaten very little vegetables and even less fruit. My boyfriend at seventeen is the one who forced me to start eating vegetables. It wasn’t acceptable to him that I eat ramen at every meal. He made me eat broccoli. Really, he was a good guy to me.

We moved in together and I started trying to cook because I wanted him to like me and stay with me. If you want a guy to stay with you, you have to be good at cooking–right?

Eventually I decided I didn’t want to stay with him because he was too uhm conservative for me. So I left. I had broadened my food palate enormously. I ate Thai food for the first time. I tried Indian. I ate dim sum for the first time. (My previous entire Chinese experience was Mr. Chau’s fried rice, chow mein, and sweet and sour pork.) I ate Ethiopian food. I started eating vegetables of all kinds.

Then I moved in with my Owner. (He wasn’t my Owner to start with and really there was over a year of moving around and couch surfing and staying with friends in between the fiance and the Owner.) When I was couch surfing I ate out several times a week (it felt like magic–I had the settlement money so all of a sudden I felt like I wasn’t poor any more! I had over $200/month I could spend on food! *swoon*) and I still ate a lot of bread and cheese.

Now I think it is hilarious that $200/month felt like being rich. I spend more than $1200 every month on food now. That was how much money I lived on every month for years.

I got to know more vegetarians and vegans and pescetarians. I learned to feel enormous guilt and shame over my lack of “healthy” diet. When I spend time in a raw vegans house I walk out feeling like a monster who doesn’t care about animals. I tried really hard to add vegetables in my diet. The result was even more diarrhea.

Having kids has been the real kicker though. I eat vegetables now. Daily. We eat 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. My kids often eat more than that by choice. We go through so much fruit it is kind of bizarre to me.

I live with a lot of pain. It doesn’t make being nice easier.

I have done food diaries at various points. I was a champ at Weight Watchers. I have done them for the purpose of bringing them to doctors. What I was told was, “Wow you have a healthy diet! Maybe a little less sausage.” (That happened to be a slightly sausage heavy week… but the sausage isn’t why I have chronic diarrhea you asshole.) A different doctor said, “You need to eat more Fiber 1 cereal.”

So a casual food diary with notation of symptoms isn’t going to be real effective at this stage. I’ve done that. Repeatedly with no resulting help. I can’t narrow down what is causing the problems that way.

My mom spent my childhood mocking me because I knew where every public toilet in town was. I had chronic diarrhea. Why in the hell do you need to make fun of me for needing to shit fire every day? Ok, and I have a small and urgent bladder. I am lead to believe that is exceedingly common amongst people who experience early childhood sexual assault. I suppose that’s another great reason to make fun of me.

Yesterday I went to the store and spent a bunch of money on foods that fall under the auspice of “clean foods”. I feel like such an asshole. Then a friend pointed me to FODMAPS and I feel that is a slightly better focus for my upcoming journey. Let me tell you, elimination diets look like a big fat pain in my ass. The recommended lists of foods contradict one another. I suspect I should stay on the end of the IBS recommendations, regardless of the fact that I don’t have a diagnosis.

I can’t get a doctor to give me a diagnosis. Decades of diarrhea. I hate doctors. I don’t know how to work with them. I don’t know how to get help. And apparently this is a big failure on my part.

I’m not entirely sure what my next steps will be. I know that I go to Hawaii in 24 days. I know that Halloween and its candy bacchanalia is coming up. Thanksgiving is coming. Christmas. I would like to have a better idea what is hurting me. If I wait until a convenient time then I will never do it. I have gotten to 33 years old without ever doing an elimination diet because it is never convenient.

Several people have told me to switch to Soylent. The thing is… at some point I will have to eat again. And if I just switch to Soylent without trying to figure out the problem… it will still be there waiting for me. Even if Soylent did cure my diarrhea… what do I do when I need to eat food? Just suffer the whole time because I don’t know how to treat my body right?

I need more information before I can make different choices. If I could have the option of deciding that diarrhea is worth it for a specific event… that would be different than dreading every meal with friends who are vegetarian or vegan because I will be sick for a week afterwards. We had a vegan meal last Thursday? Wednesday? I’m still shitting fire. Did so this morning.

I’m not saying my diarrhea is anyone else’s fault. I picked the menu for the meal. I don’t know what is hurting me so I don’t know what to avoid.

I get so much conflicting information about “health”. I am at the point where I believe that any and all population wide beliefs about health are not that applicable to me. I need to figure out what health is *for me*. That is going to take data mining. Good thing I’m a control freak.

Progress

The kids have blasted through a few different milestones this week. I should record this so I don’t forget. Both kids are now swimming without a life vest. This is huge. Both kids got off the bucket support in ice skating (Calli is doing better than Shanna). Last, but not least, both kids have suddenly decided they are interested in long bike rides.

I find it fascinating how neck and neck they are for physical skills. In a few years Calli will probably be far more advanced than Shanna at the rate she picks things up. They aren’t equally skilled in all areas of knowledge, but Calli has a great relationship with her body. Shanna reminds me of me. Ha.

I feel guilty anytime I say that they can be assholes, but when it comes to dealing with people who might take care of them it seems like fair warning. They can be sweet as pie and they can be serious assholes. You have to be prepared to hold boundaries and really fucking mean your “no” or they will make you sorry. They are tenacious and pushy in a way rarely tolerated in children.

I’m crossing my fingers it will work out in the long run. For now there are days when they are pretty hard to handle.

It isn’t about you (whoever you are) because they do it with me, Noah, K, and everyone else who has ever baby-sat. Children are supposed to test limits. I also believe that children are supposed to run smack into the brick wall of limits and be told NO. Because that is part of life. You don’t always get what you want and learning to manage that frustration is easier when you are under ten than it is over thirty.

I feel scared that I am doing them a disservice by allowing them to push as hard as they do. Most children are “broken” of that habit. I try to break my kids of the habit of shitting in the back yard. Backtalk is ok with me.

Pick your battles.

I want my daughters to be able to grow up and speak as assertively as any man. I don’t know many women who can. I know a few, because I hunt for such Amazonian Goddesses.

They bug me and delight me. They frustrate me and fill me with so much hope I feel like I will explode. Every day. I am grateful every day that I get to be with them. I stop and make time even when I’m being a pissy bitch.

“Today is kind of hard. But it is the best kind of hard I can imagine. I am grateful I get to be here doing what I’m doing.”

Shanna and I had a fight about something…can’t remember what about. It wasn’t a big one. She went to her room to cry. When I checked on her after a few minutes she said, “It feels like no one loves me today.”

I said, “Do you love me?”

“Yes.”

“Do you get mad at me sometimes?”

“Yes. You deserve it.”

“I’m not quibbling. But you can get mad at me without it taking away from how much you love me. Why do you think it works differently for me? You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I love you to the moon and back. And sometimes you piss me off. Life is like that.”

She kinda laughed and hugged me.

When I really think about it… I feel bad for my mom. She probably does still love me. Even though she didn’t want me to start with. Even though she wasn’t very good at taking care of me. Even though I have pissed her off, maybe more than all her other children combined. She probably loves me.

I really hope my kids never need to pull away from me for their own safety.

This week has been tumultuous emotionally. But we’ve had internet connectivity stuff that prevented me from boring anyone with it. Huzzah?

Apparently today we are going dancing. Because someone finally responded with a yes. I was getting emotionally ready to back out on going. We don’t really have appropriate costuming. And Noah is not interested in dancing. And managing the kids while dealing with Noah’s unhappiness about being dragged to something he hates is always fun.

I was hoping that everyone would tell me no they weren’t going so I could skip it too.

I like to dance. I love dancing. Sometimes dragging a whole crew of people who need care of coaxing isn’t very fun. It is sounding really hard today. But a posse was formed so now I can’t back out. Even though it sounded like way more fun when I first heard of it months ago it doesn’t sound real fun today.

Noah didn’t go to bed last night. He’s probably going to be cranky. There is always the double whammy that being sleep deprived makes him cranky and then he’s extra cranky because I woke up in the middle of the night and yelled at him about not sleeping. Because when he doesn’t sleep at night he sleeps through the weekend. And we don’t have children who wake up at night anymore so I’m really sick to death of a partner who is cranky because of sleep dep. There is no excuse.

Only there are dozens of excuses and I’m an asshole for wanting to control his sleep so much.

Well, there are weeks when he naps enough during the days to make up a whole extra work day of time gone. Given that his time off amounts to a day of work amount of time off… he is effectively not available 7-9 hours of the day 7 days a week. And it’s not like he hangs out with them for all of the 4-6 hours he overlaps awake with them. Not even close.

The mothers helper kid stopped showing up. That’s a write off.

Getting actual, consistent support is hard. I’m tired.

I’m having a hard time with some communication stuff too. I don’t feel heard very much. When other people act like “they’ve heard all my shit because they’ve read the blog so when we get together it is their turn to talk” I feel… really shitty.

Writing on the blog doesn’t increase my sense of being seen all that much. I think it is important. I think it is helpful with a lot of my relationships. But I never blog about everything going through my head. I have so many layers of filters. If I mentioned x on the blog there is usually about fourteen layers of shit associated with x that I didn’t dare write about.

And people don’t really want to hear about it. I’ve already used my word count up for the day. Without ever once opening my mouth.

I’ve been wanting to bang my head a lot lately as a reminder to shut up. Shut up. Just shut up you stupid bitch.

I’m supposed to stand there and smile and be supportive about someone else’s issues and not say anything that might make anyone feel uncomfortable. Just shut up shut up shut up.

I don’t think it is “personal”. If I asked people about why communication stuff is wonky I would be dismissed or told I was imagining it or it was just my perception.

Ok fine. Maybe I should just stay home with my perception then. In my home with just my kids it doesn’t feel nearly as bad that I’m not allowed to talk about my shit. I knew that was the deal before I got into this situation. It doesn’t bother me very much with kids. I don’t want to hurt them and I know that knowing too much about people like me will hurt kids.

It is harder with adults. So much harder.

Today I run 4.5 miles before the dance event. Thank goodness today is a massage day.

For all that I seem to live at my pity party table I know I have a pretty fucking good life.

I’m going to go cry out my misery at Disney next year. Hilarious.

If I could stop wanting people and if I could start being happier with just being alone as I do things my life would probably be perfect. I really like what I get to do with my time in the main. Yeah, I won’t fill my hours exactly the same way when the kids are grown but I’m content with where I am for now.

If I could just stop feeling sad. If I could stop missing my mommy so much.

Shanna and Calli call one another “Sissy”. I’m not entirely sure how/where they picked it up but now I’m copying it with both of them.

That was what my sister wanted to be called. She would hit me if I used her real first name when I was little. She was Sissy. End of story.

Sometimes when I hear Shanna and Calli say ever so sweetly, “Sissy will you please help me?” “Oh Sissy I’d love to” I walk away and cry.

I feel like an asshole. Why am I crying? Because I’m so fucking jealous. My Sissy hated me so much. Get over it. I’m trying. Thus the crying in the early morning hours. Because crying is how you get over it.

I feel really sad. I did sleep well last night. A good 7.5 hours. That has been my sleep cycle for most of my life. I’ve been trying to eat those shitty vegetable things everyone tells me are “good for me”. I’m mostly eating them cooked, so I don’t get massive diarrhea but sometimes people put them in front of me raw and I try to be all GGG and eat them anyway. And I burn with punishment.

It is funny how suicidal thinking works. There is a difference (for me) between suicidal ideation where I feel like I am working on A Plan and the sad anxious feeling of wanting to give up. The wanting to give up feels like a dog whining in the corner. Small, helpless, not able to get up and do much for itself. Pitiful and pathetic and not worthy of notice. It isn’t threatening. It isn’t real.

There is a difference between the days when I have to more or less crawl across freeway overpasses because I want to jump so fucking badly and the days when I want to just hide under the desk rocking and crying and beating my head.

Hiding this from my children for 7-9 hours a day 7 days a week is really hard.

I need to just be grateful that I don’t have to do much cooking. That is the most frequent point at which I fail to keep my shit together. Thank you, Noah. I really appreciate it.

I need to give my arms a break. Is it bright enough outside to run yet? This time I need to eat something before I leave. That last weekend run where I took off having eaten nothing felt really bad. You require fuel in your tank.

Good thing I pack little squeeze packets of peanut butter and chocolate just in case. I’m smarter than I look. Or, more accurately, I’ve been stupid a lot of times and eventually I learned. So I’m probably not smarter than I look.

I need to give Noah a chance with today. No, he doesn’t like dancing. He tries to be nice about it. He will help with the kids. He will in general be reasonable company.

My expectations of him are really unfair and ridiculous. I’m sorry. I expect Noah to be cheerful and upbeat about pretty much everything and it isn’t very nice of me.

When I’m around someone who is in a shitty mood I tend to sink to their level and keep on sinking. When I’m around people who are upbeat and perky I can ride the wave with them. I feel like a jerk for needing other people to lead my emotional experience.

Sometimes it is hard for me to feel happiness at all without someone modeling how it is supposed to work. That’s a lot of what I like about my kids. They are so happy. Yes, they can be abrasive assholes and they will scream when they don’t like something. (working on that) But mostly minute by minute they are just…. happy. Life is really good. They get their needs met.

That’s a lot of why I like hanging out with them so much. I will fake happiness in order to buy the relationships I want. It is part of why I have such trouble at jobs. I don’t care that much about money. Beyond subsistence and minimal safety I was never real motivated to work hard for money. Enough was good enough.

At every job I’ve ever had there is far less impetus to be in a good mood. Why, so I can make a customer happy? What fucking ever.

But if my attitude is the difference between Shanna and Calli having a good day or a bad day, then I need to work on my attitude. As one of the moms in our group says, “You’ve got to have a good attitude…”

I can’t control the fact that I have mental illness and it has impact on my kids. What I can do is work to mitigate the damage. What I can do is behave in such a way that they will grow up and be able to understand how hard I worked at being good to them. I hope. Who knows. Maybe they will never give a shit. Most kids don’t seem to care about their parents much.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel appreciated?

One of my neighbors is talking about home schooling her kids next year. She talked about wanting to do it from the first day we met. I asked her what was stopping her and it came down to fear that she couldn’t do a good enough job.

Then last year she had a bunch of problems with the school. Her children are really not being appropriately served. So she’s considering home schooling a lot harder.

She asked a lot of questions. I feel I was pretty balanced. I started with my normal, “Of course there is a whole spectrum of opinions from radical in the direction of no direct teaching to school-at-home with every minute scheduled. I’ll talk about what I do first and then I will move on to different points in the spectrum and talk about the pros and cons. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and your child because there is no universal right answer.”

I’m a good advocate.

I really hope she will consider it because she REALLY WANTS TO and she is incredibly organized and focused. She would be good at home schooling. She’s big on answering questions with, “I don’t know the answer to that yet, let’s find out.” Perfect. That is the attitude you need. And she’s super happy to hang with her kids all the time.

I told her the only think she is potentially going to lose out on for her kids is the time they get to spend with her. If you miss a year of public school you can catch up in summer school if you are bright and motivated. Whoopie. Her kids are quite smart (fully literate in two language before third grade is amazing–she mostly taught them) and I don’t see a down side. The only thing holding her back is fear. (That’s what she said. I’m not projecting.)

But it is her life. Who knows. It would be cool though. Even though we probably wouldn’t be live-in-your-pocket besties (even though she lives ONE BLOCK AWAY) it would be nice to have another home schooler in Fremont.

We are going to have to join or create a Fremont home school group or something. Yes, we will still love all the Castro Valley and San Leandro and Oakland people…. but the road is equidistant in both directions. I can only do so much driving.

I wish I felt less desperate. I know that desperation is one of the fastest way to drive people away from you. The depth and intensity are scary. I don’t have a good reason. I’m sorry. Just breathe. Go get some food. Read a few chapters. In about 40 minutes it will be time to run.

Now I will nom a muffin that is poison for Jenny.

Can’t argue with a spreadsheet.

I have been taking a good long look at my budget for the upcoming roadtrip. That’s way more fun than thinking about how to manage conflict.

An RV would be $15,000-$25,000 depending on what I was able to find. There are occasional “steals” at $15k. Plus a massive amount of ongoing maintenance I can’t predict now. Plus twice as much gas as I originally planned. Plus learning to manage a longer, taller vehicle that will be hellishly difficult to park.

A pop up tent would be $6,000-$11,000. Plus ongoing expenses I can’t predict. Plus learning to drive a 30′-40′ vehicle. Plus much more gas than originally hoped for.

Did I mention that my original budget for this trip is $12,000?

Shit.

Whereas I can get a roof storage container, portable toilet, tent that kind of telescopes onto the back of the van for privacy and space to stand up, nice camp kitchen set up, and the odds and ends I want for over $2k. I could probably get much cheaper if I was willing to troll Craigslist patiently.

Sold.

It’s going to be much much physically harder. I’m not “looking forward” to how physically hard this will be. All of my other plans will have to scope down until I can handle things.

On the upside I can’t find any advice on tent traveling with kids for extended periods more recent than say… settling the US. People don’t do it. I bet I will find some interesting writing material off of this trip. Ha.

The kids have some super rad tumbling mats from Ikea ($10 a pop) that fit sideways in the van if you leave some of the sections folded. If I take out the middle row seats and have the car seats come in and out (The Britax Frontier is not that hard to install–it’s just getting a tight seatbelt connection instead of those FROM HELL clips on the True Fit I have.) from the back row… we could sleep in the van and use the exterior space more optionally for other purposes.

We don’t *have* to set the tent up every night. I am going to have a fabulous roof container to store shit so I can have a versatile potential set up.

Ok, part of me thinks it is kind of hilarious that I am going to attach a tent to my van that has a main room and a vestibule so the vestibule can be my bathroom.

As this morning demonstrates to me once again… I can’t be without toilet access in the middle of the night. Just can’t. Must have access. Luckily these days there are some darn nifty little numbers that will be easy to bring with us. And from the pictures it looks an awful lot like you can unscrew the storage tank and walk to a public toilet and slowly dump it in with two or three flushes and you are good to go.

That seems like a level of septic management I can handle. I was frankly a little terrified of the whole RV hook up thing.

I’m scared. This seems like… a fuck ton of work. It’s going to be hard. But I want this experience and I really don’t want to spend my entire budget before I hit the road, know what I mean?

I was asked, “But couldn’t you resell the RV or trailer when you get home?” The answer being, “I hope but such things are hard to predict and I would have to just be prepared to eat the money. Plus lots of other money in the future if I want the vehicle to be in good enough shape to sell.”

I want to pay off my mortgage. Buying an RV would seriously derail me. It would derail the international trip.

Ok fine. I can suck it. Yes, it will be hard. We will also be staying at friends’ houses pretty frequently. It will work out.

I’m more worried about Noah joining us than just the three of us. It will make sleeping harder. I’m not sure if the four of us can sleep in the van together. We may need to have options for sleeping on the ground those nights anyway. In general my plan is to sleep in the van. I really prefer the idea of sleeping behind metal and glass and locks. Is the van totally secure? Of course not. But I like my illusions.

I have woken up from sleeping in a tent to find a grizzly bear foot print less than three feet from where my head was. That scared the crap out of me. Of course I took a picture. (And DA remembers–see, that proves it.)

Do you know what part of it is? If I let the budget for this trip explode… Noah will sigh, put his head down, and “try to earn more money”. Naw, the original budget will be more than adequate. I am already fleecing him in ways that give me the vapors. I feel like I am taking advantage of him. But he is agreeing and such. He wants his kids educated by me. In whatever way I see fit. He sees it as an investment the same as a private school.

Life is complicated.

There is exactly one bike rack on the market that will allow us to take three independent bikes plus the recumbent trailer we are endeavoring to learn how to use. We haven’t fallen yet! I’m proud of us. *phew*

Shanna says she is looking forward to this trip. I told her that our screen time will be severely limited. I won’t be able to be online either. She clapped her hands and said, “So you will be forced to play with us ALL DAY EVERY DAY. That sounds wonderful.”

Oh man.

I told her that every single day I would need to take private time and the way that is going to work is I will sit in a chair outside where I can see them and I will put head phones on. I don’t want to talk the whole time I have the head phones on. I need time to be private inside my brain. She said she can agree to that because they will be able to see me so it’s all good.

She jumped up and down and squeed. She is so fucking excited that I won’t be able to hide in the garage. Sigh.

Sometimes it is hard for me to understand how much my kids like me. I’m not sure I have ever in my life had as unmixed of emotions as my kids have. They love me and adore me and nearly worship me. There isn’t a lot of hesitation.

I have never seriously hurt them and the minor injuries I cause tend to involve lots of apologies and noticeable change in my behavior so I don’t duplicate the fuck up.

Some days, some moments I am able to see that I am doing what I want to do as a mother. Even though it is hard and I am very scared. I am doing it.

The only thing Calli understands about the trip at this point is, “I get to go to Disney World, right?”

Since everyone decided they didn’t want my points for Hawaii, you can be at Disney World for a really long time, kiddo. I’m sorry that my friends had life events come up that caused them to not go on their trips. I’m ok with getting more time to luxuriate around a pool at Disney World. I won’t have to set up a tent for a month. Sounds fucking awesome.

Although if I wanted to conserve points… Disney World has a camp grounds. Ha.

I don’t want to stay longer than four weeks so the point conservation is less mandatory than it could be. There are too many things to do in the country to spend all of our time at fucking Disney World. But I think a month in the middle of this trip will be decadent.

I want to save budget money for going to the fancy princess tea party at Disney World, no I don’t want a fancy RV or pop up trailer that bad. I’d rather get to do all the things I want to do than have a posh sleeping place.

Because now my budget is down to being about $10,000 because I’ve spent the first $2,000.

(I had to decide. I had to just do it. We have a camping trip in two weeks and… I don’t have a plan as to how to provide for it. Erf. I told Noah that I want to put the tent up and down four times during the weekend while I have a grown up there to help me. The last time or two I want to put it up alone. Shanna says that I will never put it up alone. She will always help. We’ll see.)

The funny thing is, I bet Shanna will be able to be all the help I need. By the time we leave on this trip she will be seven. I have felt shocked her entire fifth year by how competent and capable she has become. I expect seven to knock my socks off.

She says she is looking forward to “all that nice lazy time for me to practice my cooking–we won’t have anything else to do.” She says that by the end of the trip she intends to be an expert at preparing camping meals.

And Calli says she is looking forward to me having to read to them for hours every day. She says that will be her favorite part. I have been a slacker asshole on reading for a while. I have been overwhelmed by life and my emotions.

We won’t drive every day. On driving days we will go three or four hours then set up camp. Camp set up needs to be perfected in under an hour. Take down needs to be perfected in half an hour. I will have to practice until I can get it. If I include food prep that will put me up to about six hours a day of “work”.

I won’t be able to garden or socialize much. I won’t have to clean the house. I won’t have my whole library with me so I can read a book or two a day. I won’t be reading on the screen because that’s just fucking rude after a while. Plus, I don’t want to spend the whole time obsessing over charging my fucking phone.

With sleep that will account for 14-16 hours of the day/night. That leaves me with a solid 8-10 hours every day of leisure time. I should probably schedule an hour in the morning of writing time and an hour after dinner of “mommy-quiet” time. That gives me 6-8 hours a day of paying attention to them.

I’m looking forward to sleeping with them more. If it didn’t seem so mean to Noah I would probably do it all the time. I love waking up to see them. I can’t believe I made you.

I feel so lucky. Even when we fight or have disagreements, I still feel so passionately in love with my kids. Not sexual passion. It’s not like that at all. I feel pretty grateful that I missed the pedophile gene in my family. I experience no arousal at the sight of a child.

But I have intense surges of emotion. Sometimes they feel so strong I almost can’t keep standing.

This is the best thing I have ever done. This is the best me I have ever shared with anyone.

A few months ago in February it marked ten years since I met Noah. In August (actually on my nephew’s birthday) it will be ten years since I broke up with my Owner-turned boyfriend. He wasn’t my Owner by the time I left. That had been over for a year because it was “too much work”. In September it will be eight years of marriage. Next month marks eight years of living in this house.

Time keeps passing. It isn’t like it used to be. I used to mark the seasons of my life by which trauma occurred and where I was living. “Well I was raped when I was going to x school so I must have been y age because that is the correlation to the grade I know I was in at that school. So-and so died or had a violent accident while I was at that other school.”

The most terrible break ups of the past ten years have involved Puppy (not that horrible and I’m happy to be rid of him) and my family (terrible, but necessary and contained in scope of harm) and Sarah. And she’s not completely gone. That we may be able to grow past some day. We ain’t dead yet.

Uncle Bob’s death and divorcing my family is probably the biggest trauma in the past eight years. Ok, that last rape is hanging on to the curve. Kind of sucky that it will always overlap the marriage timing.

But we had lots of therapy over that shit.

Now I’m marking the years by “the year I hired an awesome guy to build up my backyard” or “the year I added trees” or “when we went on that trip”.

Is this what “normal” life is like?

I’m trying to psyche myself up for the conversation I will need to have soon. I’m leaning towards:

“Hi. May I talk to you kind of privately? We don’t know very much about one another. Sometimes when you don’t know someone very well, humor is especially tricky. Humor either creates a feeling of shared experience or alienation and it’s a difficult line to walk. At this moment in time I am giving you all the benefit of the doubt in the world. I believe you are trying hard to create camaraderie within the group. Unfortunately I’m not really someone who has a “typical” sense of humor.

Which is a long-handed way of saying that sometimes your “jokes” are kind of personal and they feel denigrating to me. I don’t like feeling denigrated. I need to avoid people who evoke those feelings in me and I’m hoping I don’t have to start avoiding you. Outside of a few specific jokes we have otherwise had positive interactions and I would really prefer to continue down the positive path.

My kid is kind of in love with your kid. It would be super rad if we could all get along. I’m really struggling with your humor. I need you to lighten up on me. I’m on the sensitive side and that has to be ok.”

I have been thinking about it a lot. It is a lot less aggressive. A lot more from the point of view of getting along. Less threatening sounding. Less attacking sounding… but I make it clear I will avoid her if I have to.

It is ok for her to have the sense of humor that she has and it is ok that I am a sensitive fucking snowflake. Surely we can find a way to get along. Not that my issues are online. But that Wired article is pretty cool.

And hey Lisa–it’s funny that you tell me that it’s not an option for me to leave the group but you are ALWAYS talking about how much you want to move. If I did smileys on my blog I would stick my tongue out at you. But I have more dignity than that. So neiner.

Today I feel less like every one hates me and I should go eat worms. That is nice.

my life is good when I’m not chemically out of whack

The new ergonomic keyboard doesn’t have all the parts necessary to work. This is annoying. That is going to be the low point of my day. Which is really cool. I can exchange my biggest problem of the day.

Every single day I wake up grateful for Noah. He is so nice to me. He is so kind. I have received more love and caring in the past seven years than in the previous twenty-five years put together. I am so lucky.

Many people have childhoods as bad as mine. Most of them don’t go on to have happy adult lives. At this point in time my strife feels like stuff I’m opting into or it is so structurally vast that it isn’t really a day-to-day problem for me. I have conflicts with my friends because I pick intelligent, opinionated, fierce people for my life. I go out and hand select them out of the bunch of quieter and more complaisant people. I can’t bitch that we have conflict. I can learn how to manage it without having a heart attack–damnit. Or I’m fighting things like rape culture and whereas it is a problem every day it isn’t a Daily Problem if you know what I mean.

If I was hungry that would be a Daily Problem. If I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent that would be a Daily Problem. I don’t have those kinds of problems anymore. My big problems are that sometimes my kids scream more than I like or I am inconvenienced by a major electronics retailer.

I just can’t bitch too loud, you know?

My garden is so beautiful lately that it takes my breath away. I MADE THAT MOTHERFUCKER!!! WHOO HOO!!!!!!!!! *happy dance*

I no longer feel like everything I touch turns to shit. Some stuff doesn’t work out. It isn’t all my fault and I am not poison. I can do things. My corn is popping up. Clearly I can do something.

I see so much green. I have more plans. It’s going to take years and every day of work will be a joy. I get to stay here long enough to make long-term plans. I get to dream about the future. Shanna likes to talk about building one of the houses next door so we can tear down the fence between the yards and build a second story walkway between the houses. (Technically she just wanted to fully connect the houses. I voted for the second floor walkway so we could still have the side yards in between for plants. She decided that I am smarter than I look. She is my kid.)

I think that sounds pretty magical and wonderful. When I remodel my house I am getting a sound proof room so my husband can beat me and no one will hear. I want to have that privacy in the future (I’m kind of sick of not being able to play at home) but I also want to have the connection with my kids. I like them as people. It’s not about having control over them forever. I enjoy their company. If they enjoy mine I’d be thrilled to keep hanging out with them. I genuinely like them.

I feel so lucky.

When you decide at seventeen that what you want is to be a home schooling parent there is a lot of room for things to not work out. I feel blessed that not only did I find a partner who is supportive but my children and I happen to have compatible temperaments. They have a lot of freedom to do things that bug me without penalty. Frequently I will acknowledge, “This is not my favorite thing. But I don’t get to control everything you do. I hope it goes well. I can’t watch.”

I feel incredibly lucky that my dreams are coming true and it’s actually a pleasant process. That is a rare dichotomy. Usually if you get what you want you find out it isn’t that great.

Noah is that great. The joy I feel spending all day with my kids is that great.

This weekend was basically perfect. I ran 12 miles. Socialized with a very old friend (16 years and counting–more than half my life now) for three hours; rocky stuff happening in her life but I’m glad she has the fortitude to take the steps she needs to take. It is kind of amazing the way her life is 100% different than it was three years ago. She has a new job in an entirely new field (she left theatre) she has a kid and she’s about to be single for the first time in a very long time. That’s a lot of big changes. Got an ergonomic keyboard and new running shoes. Otherwise we hid in the house. That’s a very slow weekend for us. Eight hours of bustle for me and no one else.

Of course because I was in the house and only busy for eight hours out of forty-eight I did a bunch of yardwork. Grow wildflowers, grow. Damn you. I hung up the hanging pots! I’ve had them for over a year and I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m getting all my residual chores done that I’ve been procrastinating on now that I’m procrastinating on editing. Doo de doo. I’ll get it done.

And the petition. I’m going for upbeat, friendly, everyone should get to live here without pain.

I’m really grateful that my neighbors are becoming so much more friendly over time. I will know everyone on the block some day. We have a new family! With kids! They are visibly Islamic so I will cross my fingers that I can behave in a socially appropriate enough way to manage to not offend the parents so our kids can be friends. My lifestyle is different. I won’t corrupt your young children.

I will wait until they are teenagers.

Ahem.

I will corrupt them with ideas like, “No one gets to touch any part of your body unless you actively want it to happen. If someone does so, find other adults who can help you deal with the situation.”

And, “Sex is awesome and if you want to have it then that is between you and your conscious. If you are going to have heterosexual sex, use two forms of birth control every single time you have sex. Always a condom no matter what. Always another form of birth control for the woman. If you are going to have homosexual sex then one barrier is fine. Use barriers. Every time. Even for oral.”

When you are young you don’t know what is going to happen to you 50 years from now. You won’t know you want to do until you get there. Leave as many options open as possible. Protect your body and your sexual health. There are no take backs once you contract a disease and you can’t tell by looking at people who has what. Even medical testing is iffy for a lot of diseases. Protect yourself until you are ready to have children. Or you get married and are on permanent birth control because you have ruled out kids. I don’t care what married people do. When you are a kid and you can’t take care of a kid, USE BIRTH CONTROL.

I support you having one kid, two kids, twelve kids, twenty kids (though I will instinctively wince just because oh man I can’t imagine that) or no kids at all because oh man kids are icki.

Maybe I will corrupt your kids. I want to introduce them to the concept of plurality. There can be more than one right answer. Your way isn’t the only way. My way isn’t the only way.

I admire many of the tenants of faith from all of the major religions. I think religion is mostly a set of written down rules on how to be good. Every one has their own idea of what “good” means. I think there need to be many sets of rules because we need many kinds of people.

All progress depends on the unreasonable (wo)man. If no one has a belief that is unreasonable to you then progress won’t be made. We have to stretch the borders of acceptable parameters.

Yes, autistic ways of being should be better understood and supported from earlier in life so that folks have an easier adulthood. I struggle with how to deal the bitterness from the current adults who didn’t get any help.

I understand what it feels like to desperately need help during your childhood and to not get it. I have more options for help now that I’m an adult. Autistic adults… not so much. The vast majority of all people with mental illness do not have the resources I have.

I am one of the lucky ones. How much of that is privilege granted to me by the color of my skin? How much of that has been my ability to meet the right people so I can get help? How much of that is that I first had access to state funded therapy and then I had good health insurance and then I had a rich husband?

If you prosecute your rapist then you get state funded therapy. You will be part of the victim-witness support network. That shit is worth its weight in gold. My PTSD has been classified as severe for more than half my life. The state has a vested interest in keeping me off of a bell tower with an Uzi. The state also wants me to not kill myself. The state put a lot of money into educating me and the state wants a productive citizen out of the deal, damnit.

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” JFK was a guilt trippin’ motherfucker. But he’s right.

My autistic friends teach me over and over and over and over that it really doesn’t matter what you “mean” when you say something. It matters what other people see, hear, and feel as a result of you saying something. If you play it right then you get the reaction and relationship you want. If you play it wrong then you alienate people and they hate you and blame their feelings of discomfort on you.

I’m such an asshole. I totally treat other people the way I am treated. Them’s just the rules of the jungle.

But if you consciously believe with your whole heart that it takes all kinds and there is value to every life then you ought not to be that kind of asshole. This is troubling. This is where my ethics and morals and behavior don’t line up. This is not so cool. Ok. When your behavior doesn’t match your ethics you have a few choices.

A) Ignore the mismatch and be a flaming hypocrite.

B) Acknowledge the mismatch and say, “But I have REASONS” and be a flaming hypocrite.

C) Acknowledge the mismatch and decide whether to change your ethics/morals or your behavior. This has mandatory follow up steps if the goal is to change your behavior. If you have no later checks then you will resort to “easier” instead of doing what is right.

Well, as much as I believe that it takes all kinds and everyone is valuable and shit I think that people have the right to reject me. I believe that people have the right to not want to know me. I believe that people have the right to not invite me to their parties and not invite me to their homes because I am rude and offensive. They don’t even need a reason. They can just be not that interested in me.

They have the right to not want to be my friend. I don’t get to take that away from them just because I long for community.

Like my neighbors. Some engage with me more than others. Even the ones who are clearly uninterested in a relationship they have gotten to the point of obvious recognition and acknowledgment of humanity.

My monkey sphere is pretty fucking full. It’s ok that not everyone in the whole world wants to be my best friend. I am incredibly overwhelmingly lucky to have the diverse relationships I have.

Not all of my friends are “nice people”. Some of them are canonical “nice people”. I like variety. I have something to learn from everyone. I am imperfect but striving. That is all I can do.

I’m glad when the anger passes. When the sudden rage dissipates. I don’t really “know” what causes it. It’s about a lot of different factors all exploding at once. It’s different every time.

In the wake of it I feel gratitude for the absence. I’m glad I didn’t fuck up a relationship. I didn’t scream. (One yell. But it was of the “I WOULD LIKE TO FINISH A SENTENCE WITHOUT BEING INTERRUPTED” variety and there are much worse things I could have done. Not great but I call it a win anyway.)

Children are supposed to test boundaries. That is the whole point of childhood. You learn what happens when you do things.

Shanna tries to be a joker. She likes to lighten the mood. She wants to make a face and make me laugh and have everything be all better now. It’s honestly kind of weird to me. Some of her “joking” faces have all the markers of “I want to start a fist fight”. I have taken to asking, “Is that a silly face or an angry face?” The answer is almost always, “Silly!” (She does get mad too–but that’s usually more clear and related to a situation I can understand.)

When my kids ask me to lighten up I either do so or leave the room until I can calm down because I’m flooding. They have a right to not be around a stress-tastic person. I want them to learn how to have boundaries too.

The thing about our relationship is that we always come back and snuggle after tense moments. We are incredibly physically affectionate. If my kids rejected my affection I would stop but they beg for more. I hug, cuddle, and kiss them hundreds or thousands of times a day. Maybe we have the odd day when I only kiss the top of their heads like ten times.

We check in and then we run off to do our thing again.

Are you still there? I still love you and want to be around you. Ok, I’m going to do my thing again.

I have wanted this my whole life.

I feel horrible guilt but at this point I can have two to three hours by myself on many days. My kids can be told to go in the back yard with snacks and they don’t come back for hours. I feel like I shouldn’t be abandoning them for those periods. But it’s good for all of us so I do it. Other parents don’t force their kids to be alone so they can get alone time. They put their kids in daycare so they can play with other kids instead of being forced into solitude. I don’t feel like a nice mom.

I would feel differently if Shanna were less social. I think Calli loves it. She checks in when she needs to for her hug and kiss and then she goes back to playing.

I spend my days making up songs about how much and why I love my kids. My children will not be the type to grow up and wonder if their parents loved them. My kids are more on the smothered end. Only I take them to the park and classes and parties and turn them loose. They are very engaged with the world and they do not allow me to mediate any more. Shanna flat tells me to leave her alone at parties. She knows that my anxiety cramps her style. It’s… a little weird. But she seems to be working with what she has so we’ll see where it takes her.

I’m not the boss of her life. I mean, I sort of am for a little while. But not for forever. It is my job to teach her the rote body memory necessary for caring for yourself with ease an adult. You will just be used to “This is what we do all day to take care of our bodies.” It won’t be this weird thing that involves transactions with other people all day long to get your basic needs met.

The thing I hate the most about all the American bastards who wrote about “self sufficiency” and “self reliance” and living out in the woods by themselves WOULD HAVE STARVED if not for the generosity of women in their communities.

Fuck your self reliance.

And yet! There is a basic level of self care that I believe that every human being should have. I feel rather disturbed by the number of adults I know who say, “I can barely boil water”. What the hell. That shows a dramatic and disturbing hole in your education. Your parents failed you. I’m sorry for that.

See, I’m a judgmental bastard all over the place.

And if you catch me on the wrong day I may rant at you about how debt (in particular consumer debt and school loans) is the boogeyman. It will eat your soul. It will force you into a crappy and terrible life where you have no ability to change the system. Debt will make you a slave.

Ugh and ick. I’m looking forward to the days of not having a mortgage. I feel grateful for this fact. I’m scared I won’t manage it in the five years I was hoping to do it. I’m afraid it may take six or seven because then we will have to come up with mortgage payments during the WWOOF year and that will be kind of annoying.

But it wouldn’t be the end of the year. And maybe if we rented out our house for pretty much the mortgage we could make it work.

“I will find a way or make one.” Roman Carthaginian general Hannibal didn’t fuck around.

The number of opportunities in your life increase as you build skills. I feel increasingly confident that I can meet the challenges that come my way. I may not get rich–but I think I will manage our resources well enough to not eat cat food in my old age. At that point my supposed food ethics may go to hell. I will eat what I can afford. I had better never develop actual gluten issues or I’m fucked. Giving up ramen would be traumatic.

I don’t have a lot of answers. I think I am ready to set some boundaries in a nice voice without being an asshole. I feel more relaxed after the weekend. I feel grateful that my problems are this small.

Six days till my next race. I’m ready but I may be slow. That will be ok too. I hope to best  three hours. We’ll see.

My life is pretty cool.

All the things.

I finished The Cannabis Health Index. I may need to own a copy of my own. It was incredibly hard to just sit down and read it (I’m pretty sure I’m confusing a lot of cancer information in my head right now because I’m really not a medical expert.)

Mostly what I come away from the book believing is that I need to do the math on how much pills cost and find a way to earn that amount of money for myself so I get over my overwhelming guilt about taking family money for “drugs” (apparently that is the deal my brother had with his wife as a stay at home parent–he had to work enough to pay for pot and alcohol). I have a lot of “risk factors”. I can’t do anything about that. My body is not in great shape. I need to lower my stress and this is the most effective medication I know exists. Ok.

Apparently my shrink knows the author and she’s going to have lunch with him this week. She says she will pass on my opinions on the book. I feel a little weird about that.

I finished the first round of editing Outrunning a week early. That makes me feel happy with myself. I read through the essays and got rid of the worst of the grammatical weirdness and put keywords all over the place. Round two involves matching up key words and eliminating all the duplicate phrasings. Going through it once helped me spot some of the repetition. Key words will help.

It’s still kind of unorganized and there are a few sections I need to hack and write again to be more explicit. I’m pussy-footing and being vague in a few places where I should be more explicit. Kids won’t understand the PC hand-wavey shit. Say it like it is.

I do need to justify why arbitrary rules can be ignored. Don’t worry Pam. I’ll tell them why eating dessert first isn’t a big deal.

This week has been packed. I am very lucky that people ask to spend time with us. Very lucky. Overwhelmingly lucky. Sometimes lots of people ask for the same week. This week had 2-3 social engagements every day. It would have been three on almost every day but we had some blissful cancellations. Sometimes I feel weird about being glad for cancellations. At least it feels emotionally superior to my years-ago feelings of fury and hate. Easier to maintain friendships and be understanding.

People get sick. The parents of our little friends sometimes have to work. We can either be understanding and supportive or we can give up on them as friends.

I’m not really in a jettisoning people from my life stage. I’m trying to build. Tolerance is in my best interests. Enlightened self-interest and all that.

I do not worry that I am under socializing my kids. Oy. I don’t worry as much about me being isolated either. I’m starting to see my time alone as strictly self preservation against all the different things I have to think about all the forking time.

I appreciate that I am managing to build a life that mostly exists within ten miles of my house. It is a slow process but it is working. I’m existing in the space I’m in. I’m Occupying my space. I take up room and talk to people and get to know them and ask about their lives. I’m getting to know more home schoolers and better know the ones already in our lives.

I’m in the phase I’m in.

I want community. I want it so bad I can taste it. This is the process and I need to figure out how much of the cost I can bear.

It occurred to me that I should stop thinking of our food budget as an area to constrict. Part of the reason that we spend as much money as we do is that we have extra people at meals at least five days a week. Sometimes just one person but often up to twelve. We have several parties a year. That’s just part of our life.

We’re feeders. Come here hungry. We’re happy to fill that need. There are a lot of problems we can’t fix but you don’t need to leave our house hungry.

But I’m kind of a fascist about what I want my kids to eat. And I read too much about food quality to buy cheaper products full time. I have the luxury of buying food that I prefer. Ok, that still includes Kraft mac’n’cheese and ramen because I have some taste preferences I can’t seem to ditch. Also: when I’m very overwhelmed and I need to stay in emotional control I can’t cook anything more complicated than that. Even making sandwiches stresses me out more than that. Making ten sandwiches will result in my hands shaking by the end. Lame.

So I do what I need to do. I feed people. I have good nuts and fruit and cheese and meat and awesomely shitty starches. Take your pick.

We all make choices and set priorities.

I will continue to hemorrhage money on meat, fruit, and vegetables. I will source them as locally as possible. Dairy is more mixed for me. I’m going to keep buying my fucking ramen and mac’n’cheese.

If I want to be able to keep sharing this quality of food with my family I have to just accept that as the cost of doing business and not feel guilty. It is expensive to eat well. It sucks but it’s true. I need to get over my inclination to feel guilty about high grocery bills. I’m not wasting the money. Yes, we “could” spend less money on food. But I get to buy meat mostly outside the industrial meat complex. I get to support farmers trying to grow organic food for a living wage within 100 miles of where I live. I want that industry to succeed. I like shopping at my farmers market.

I have choices because I have privilege. I’m not doing what I “must” if I force my family to live on rice and beans all the time. I could do it. But I don’t see high moral value in doing it. It’s a perfectly valid choice. It is not, however, a more moral choice. It could be argued that a vegan diet would be more moral but I’m at peace with my status of omnivore. I try to make sure the cows, chickens, pigs, and lambs that make up most of my meals lived decent lives. It’s important to me.

I think that understanding my choices in context helps me appreciate my successes against my metrics.

If I had a different amount of money my metrics would change. Like they do.

Trying to look for some peace with my budget process. Looking for that Zen place.

It’s kind of funny. Today I sit down and feel like I’ve checked almost all the boxes for this month and it’s the 21st. I still have some seeds to get in the ground. Two or three hours of work, not bad.

Next week there are one or two things every day. Swimming counts as a thing. Dentist counts as a thing. It’s not all social. Looking at the number of hours of babysitting I think I should spent all day with the kids in between or they will flip out. Brace yerself, Eppie.

I’ve had a lot of alone time this week. (Thus the productivity.) Next week I need to be done at 6:30 and be more present with them during the day. Ok. That is the main job and all. Noah has been reading to them for hours every night and I either hide in the garage or go to bed.

But when I cycle this way sex gets fewer and farther between. (Last night was great, honey. Thanks.) It seems like the main way we can work it out now is to have me go to bed at 6:30 pm so I can take a three hour nap and wake up for sex when the kids are asleep. Ha. Disco nap.

Keep all the balls in the air. Haven’t had a panic attack in more than two weeks. That’s pretty good. I have been medicating. I haven’t felt the need to cut. It is nice to notice the absence of that wanting. I have other anxieties but it’s not extreme.

Just keep swimming swimming… something.

Ugh. Going in.

Running is so different now.

That first year I was running I felt like I was being hounded by demons on every step. I spent most runs sobbing and crying and spitting big gobs of mucous out of my mouth so I could breathe. It was a regular occurrence for me to fall to my knees and cry for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes and sob as hard as I could in the middle of a run. I spent a great portion of every run planning how I could kill myself with the handy materials (jump off an over pass, eat poisonous plants, deliberately step in front of a Mac truck among other ideas).

I think that happened because I was training so I could run with my brother. I know my brother hates me and blames me for a lot of things that couldn’t possibly be my fault. So training to run with him was really hard. I’m kind of glad he flaked.

Instead of having a gut wrenching awful experience I had a very hard experience with someone who loves me an awful lot. She must or she wouldn’t have flown from out of state to run an awful marathon with me. It was not convenient for her to do. She went through a lot of trouble.

And all through that difficult race (it was a very hard race for experienced marathoners–the conditions were just awful) she was there with me coaxing and playing and keeping my spirits up. She sang to me. She told me funny jokes. She would gently and lovingly coax me into a minute of running… just a minute… to speed up our pace from the crawling walk I mostly managed. I would not have been an official finisher of that race without her. It was too hard for me alone.

So now when I run I notice that my internal dialogue is different. Instead of hearing what a lazy, fat, stupid, disgusting, waste-of-time bitch I am the whole way I have Blacksheeps gentle voice instead. “You can do it! I have so much faith in you. Small steps, just move ’em quick. Just a minute of running then we can walk again. You can do it. I believe in you.”

I don’t cry when I run any more. Sometimes I’m still pokey and slow and that’s ok. I get a little more of a questioning eyebrow response back now. I don’t get told I’m fucking pathetic for going so slow. I get more of a, “Are you sure you can only move that fast?”

Right now I’m training for my training half marathon. I’m going to do another half marathon later in the year with Blacksheep. I’m doing this one with the mindset of getting into better shape so I can go closer to her pace. I know she will be patient with me no matter how fast I will go–she will not shame me. She will not degrade me or act disappointed. She will be encouraging and enthusiastic about me trying so hard because she knows how long the journey has been.

When I think about reparenting stuff this kind of thing is kind of what I mean. Blacksheep talks to me the way I talk to my kids. Like they will mistakes and get back up and try again because that is what you do.

Making mistakes does not define you. Refusing to correct your mistakes does define you. There are choices in life.

I’m looking forward to both 1/2 marathons this year. And…. I’m thinking that I might go right from the second 1/2 marathon into training for a full marathon again. I like how my body feels when I’m doing the long-distance running. I’d like more of that with tapes of Blacksheep playing in my head. I need that in my life.

It’s not like she’s with me on every run. But I can remember and draw strength from the love that is there.

I do that with cooking and Sarah. When I’m feeling scared and I can feel myself wanting to curl up in a ball and cry because I feel stupid and like I can’t I can’t I can’t. Sarah comes and whispers in my ear, “Yes you can. It’s easy. Here let’s read the recipe together.”

This is how I piece together my reparenting. I’m going to go have my glass of tea now.

Thank you so much for loving me.

Under promise; over deliver.

About six years ago I started seeing a guy for massages. A few months into knowing one another I said, “We are more ‘friendly acquaintances’ than ‘friends'” and he took that as a challenge. He’s been showing up at my house once or twice a month ever since. He helped me remodel my garage back when he had two days a week off instead of one. Now that he works six days a week he can only handle shorter visits and I wouldn’t dream of imposing physical labor on him. That’s what friendship means. Seeing one another’s limits.

Yesterday he said that he and his wife have been talking about what they have to offer me in terms of support because clearly I could use some. He said that he was not sure that he could make any type of permanent commitment, the most they could consider was maybe five years or until the WWOOF year since that’s six years away. I countered with the fact that I probably would not be able to trust a longer than three months at a time commitment. We will keep talking. We’ll see.

So I have been pretty sober lately (I took medication this morning because if I wake up at 3am sobbing it’s going to be a day) and that means the return of dreaming. I’m really sorry I’m dreaming again.

My mom used to forget to pick me up from school. In her defense I didn’t always live with her so it’s not like I was a day-in-day-out responsibility for 18 years and she oops forgot in the middle of that. It was pretty common for me to sit in front of school until dinnertime because that was when she thought of me. One memorable day involved sitting there till bedtime. Sometimes, in some places, a principal would come and sit with me and wait. I always knew we would move soon after that happened because my mom didn’t appreciate the principal’s nasty look.

I woke up thinking about my sister. She would shove me or hit me or knock me down. By the time I was eight or nine I would tell her, “If you hit me I will call 1-800-4-a-child and report you for abusing me.” This would result in hours of her screaming at me. There were lots of variations but the basic thread was that I was a stupid bitch and a cunt and she would show me what real fucking abuse was if I didn’t fucking watch myself.

For a while I asked some friends if we could have dinner once a month. I was slightly pestering. I asked repeatedly over a many month time frame. I was told “Oh yes oh yes”. Then my emails didn’t get returned. I started asking more than six months ago and it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t think I will ask again.

My bestie keeps talking about wanting to move out of the area. I’m having trouble containing my feelings when she does this. I understand that my role as her friend is one of support and it isn’t ok for me to tell her she can’t move if that is what is right for her. My job will be to help her pack and wish her well and keep in touch. If I lose out on most of the support I have in the process that is my problem and not hers. That is how life works.

I feel really pathetic for needing help and support. This is why I’m trying to get to know the neighborhood teenagers. They are more likely to still be around in a few years and I won’t take it personally when they want to move on in life.

I think I overly internalized the friend who dumped me for being a drug addict because of the pot. I mean, he was just building on my lifelong hatred of all of my family members. The only drug I ever saw them do was pot. So I attributed all of the behavior issues and problems to pot and I hated it with a passion until well into my mid 20’s. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I kind of “figured out” that the behavior problems were because of the meth and coke and crack and crank and whatever other names you want to use. I don’t even know which of those things are “the same” but I know that they are all words I heard in my home as a child. I just didn’t understand what they meant.

I tried pot because a friend told me to. Pot is the only thing that has ever broken through the repetitive negative thoughts. Pot seems to be the only way I don’t go through my day whispering “worthless whore” to myself over and over. I wish I could end the repetitive negative self-talk.

When people tell me “I want to come over, how about x day” and then they don’t come… it just builds on my sense that I am worthless. For my own self-protection I need to not try with those people any more. Even if that makes me feel bad and like I am abandoning people.

I feel horrible guilt that my spoon level requires that I only know people right now who are capable of under promising and over delivering. That is the only way I can know that I am not going to have to suddenly compensate for what feels like people lying to me.

I understand that people “didn’t mean to”.

I have to be nice to my kids all day every day. It doesn’t matter what other people mean. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Which results in an awful lot of my friends feeling like they can’t reach out or offer anything to me at all. Because they can’t PROMISE and so they feel that what they have to offer is worthless.

Man it seems like all we are going to do is fuck each other up.

This is part of that “I am toxic waste and will hurt everyone around me” thing.

I appreciate the people who are telling me not to go off my meds. I appreciate that people who show up at my house and actually watch me interact with my children over prolonged periods of time tell me that I should be medicated. Honestly not as much the other kind of people. Sharing that you think you are better because you medicate and you suspect it is true of me is different than telling me what to do. (K–you totally nailed it.) Splitting hairs is what I do.

If what you mean to say isn’t being heard how you mean it then you need to be willing to adapt your message for a different audience. That is what communication is about.

I’m kind of good at that and kind of shitty. Embrace the dichotomy. Resiliency is based on opposing traits. I hear. From “experts”. Psh. Who gives a shit. I am not actually all that impressed with science. Go look at meta-science about research. It’s all crap. But it’s all we have.

There’s a Carsie Blanton song about that: All We Got.

(Did it work?)

I spend a lot of time every day being grateful for Noah. He grew up with a level of mental illness I will hopefully never reach. It taught him a lot about not looking to other people for his reality. It taught him that he might have to actually defend himself from people who want to hurt him. And yet his dad is still there. Fully committed until one of them dies.

When you say “for better or worse” no one promises that there will be more better than worse.

Living with Noah isn’t always perfect. He pisses me off sometimes. But he is consistently kind and generous with me. He meets his commitments. He’s sure not to commit to something he can’t do.

I think I will get mad at every person who is ever in my life. Anger is how I find my boundaries. It isn’t the most ideal reaction–yeah I fucking know. But Noah has earned a lot of trust from me.

He pisses me off, but when I figure out that I’m angry I can walk away and defuse my anger and come back and negotiate calmly (ok my tone may not be perfect) and there can be a resolution. And he won’t agree to something he can’t do. We find a way to reach something we can both live with. Then he fucking does what he says.

It’s…

When he does fuck up it usually makes him feel worse than me. And at this point the fuck ups are at the level of “I thought we had the ingredients for _____ meal but we don’t.” Uhhh, I can live with that. It’s my fault we ran out anyway because I didn’t bother going to the grocery store.

Oh man. I can feel the medication now. Thank g-d. Arms hurt.

It just occurred to me that I have a ‘brother’ tag and a ‘daddy’ tag and a ‘mother’ tag… but nothing for my sister. I think I’m still afraid of her. She doesn’t live that far away from me. She knows where I live (err, if she is capable of remembering). She uhh consorts with undesirable folks. To be an uppity piece of shit about it.

Kids are up.

A shorter brain dump.

I apologize for the terrible typos. Welcome to the world of first drafts. 🙂 I’m a generalist. Not a.. whatever I wrote instead. (I’ve already forgotten. Awesome.)

I spent a while yesterday fantasizing about my ideal next Ikea trip. I spent almost an hour with measuring tapes moving around my house. I asked Noah and he told me to go ahead. It will be almost $2,000. I choke on that number. Ok, I’m rounding up, closer to $1800?

It will involve a radical difference in the pantry and give me a lot more space to move around and more storage at the same time. It will also give me more bookshelf room in the living room. I will be getting a lot of drawer pull outs and door things. These things now come in hot pink and turquoise. Perfect.

It also involves getting two of these as my next non-pee-filled couch experience. If you put these facing each other you can get a 15′ runway for summersaults and wrestling. That sounds like rainy day awesome to me. And I won’t have to scream at the kids all the time to stop jumping on the couch. No springs to potentially injure them. Excellent. No, they aren’t very “grown up” but they will get me to stop yelling so much and that will be nice for everyone.

All told I would be getting 43 new cubes of storage space. That’s a lot. Less than just getting two new 5×5’s but I don’t have good places for 5×5’s. (Obviously I’m an Expedit girl.) Instead I will get sizes that fit better in my house. I didn’t like the floor to ceiling book shelf thing in the living room. I tried it for a few years and I always felt like I was hyperventilating from lack of space. I like having all the pictures on the walls.

I feel like my suicidal ideation has been at a low ebb since I put all the pictures up. Other parts of my life are going well too, so it’s not like I think that one thing made all the difference or anything. But it reminds me that people do still love me. They just aren’t in my house right now. I feel a kind of benevolence as I see them smiling on me every day.

I like having all the pictures up because it is so hard for me to believe that anyone even could like me. But I have pictures of Jenny that are twenty years old. And now I have pictures of her daughter, whom she named after me. Even I’m not deluded enough to think that there is a lack of emotion there. But it is so hard to feel. It is hard to remember that these connections really are what life is made up of. No, not everyone gets to have a family like Pam. Life just doesn’t work like that.

I have pictures of Pam that are fourteen years old. Now she makes videos for my kids because she isn’t here all the time and she wants to be able to read them stories.

I don’t really “believe” I am unloved. Not any more. But it is hard to feel like I deserve love. It is hard to believe that I can love people without damaging them in some major way. It is hard to believe that I am not a monster and all of these people are going to find out the truth about me and then they won’t love me any more.

So I compulsively admit every time I scream at my kids. I tell people that I have to be conscious of my stress levels because when things get too bad I kick holes in walls or kick the cabinets apart.

I don’t want to be in the closet. I think the closet would just magnify all of my shame. I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I have to admit in public how bad I am. My dad got away with so much. My siblings are compulsive liars. I don’t want to be a liar.

The money I spend at Ikea is about my knowledge that if you have a solve-able problem and you choose not to solve it you can’t take your frustration with the results out on anyone else.

In other words: if I don’t deal with the mess in the garage by really finding homes for all of it I can’t get mad at my kids for making huge messes with the stuff left on the floor.

Our boundaries are generally very clear. If stuff is on the top shelf, you have to ask an adult before you get it down. If stuff is down low then you can play with it.

Do you see how fucked I am?

Shanna is old enough and clever enough to know she is getting away with stuff. But I didn’t tell her that the boundaries still existed as these things were temporarily on the floor.

So here we are. And boy that is a big mess of Valentines crap.

But hey, we will only have to make one card in February.

Yesterday was a shouty-day. I differentiate between shouting, yelling, and screaming. Screaming is the stuff that hurts my throat. That’s too much, period. Yelling is about tone. Yelling sounds mean and doesn’t even have to be all that loud. You can “yell” at someone without raising your voice. It’s about berating and being harsh. Shouting is being a little louder than normal but not aggressive or punishing or shaming.

“Right! Another pile! No really, come over here next because we missed a lot!” Not fierce, more commanding?

I partially judge the difference based on their response. Screaming results in crying and freaking out. It’s just not ok. I always end up comforting them when I scream and apologizing a lot because it scares the shit out of them.

Yelling has a variety of results but it is differentiated by a shame overtone in some way. Yelling makes them defensive or they cringe.

Being shouty results in shrugs, eye rolling and back talk while they more or less do as I ask.

Isn’t that part of childhood?

Learning to do things even when you don’t want to is part of life. I fucking guarantee you I don’t feel like doing laundry as much as I do. I really don’t feel like cooking as much as I do. But it has to be done.

Sure I could structure my whole life around trying to get around those tasks but I don’t like any of the trades.

I’m trying to get better at even bringing shouting down. I may still be mad at K for telling a large group of people that I was the biggest bitch there but she has a point.

I think I’m ok with being the biggest bitch at the beach. I can live with that.

I don’t want to be a bitch to my daughters. They are special.

Why do my priorities matter so much? I need my children to understand that their physical actions have measurable impact on the world. If you leave something on the floor, someone else will step on it. If you don’t pick up your stuff either someone else has to do it or the space has to go unused.

We live in a fairly small house by modern American standards. Including the garage we have ~1400 sq ft. If you make space unusable by other people that’s a pretty selfish thing to do when you have moved on to taking up other space as well.

We have pest problems if we aren’t mindful. This has been proven repeatedly. These are not constraints I have just dreamed up.

We have people over a minimum of once a week and usually we have people over three or four times in a week. We are very lucky that people humor me. Leaving my house unusable is uhhh not an option I am ok with. We need to clean up after ourselves.

I can’t expect other peoples kids to understand fluctuating weird boundaries. My boundaries need to be simple and clear. Nothing off the top shelf without permission. Food on the linoleum. Stay out of the adult bedroom and the pantry and the side yard with the gate. I should probably paint signs on the door and the gate.

I want to create self teaching space. I could do it with the shelving I have but it would involve a lot more down sizing than I want to do or just messy piles left about.

I know that every single time I do something like this I am pushing back future goals. I think of the cute folks in “Up” who keep breaking into their savings. I know that a boat is a hole in the water you pour money into. A house is the same way. When do I stop?

Well I’d be out of room for furniture and I think that would set me up for the next 5-10 years for what I want.

But next year there will be something else. And the year after that. etc. You get my point. I can stop belaboring. Or can I?

Like the dishwashing machine; it’s breaking. The whole top rack comes off periodically. We will probably want to replace that because I tell you fucking what I don’t want to be responsible for hand washing all of our dishes.

Here we go, all what I want to pay for right about now:

  • Seal the garage door
  • gutters
  • bookshelves
  • couches that don’t smell like pee and that allow me to yell less
  • dishwasher
  • pipes in garage
  • washing machine

I think that is it. They would improve the feeling of being in the house tremendously. I notice as winter comes and the garage is unpleasant in the morning. Brrr.

But we also want to take vacations. I feel very guilty when I think of how much money I want Noah to spend. It isn’t a reasonable thing in the current economy. Not for the vast majority of the country. But he is doing it.

Why is what he knows how to do worth so much money? Clearly it is.

He’s really busy. The thing is, if he wasn’t trying to earn money in the time he would be playing video games. Or hunting. He wants a lot of time and space away from us. The intensity is hard. I get it. Ha ha ha I get it.

I met someone new at the park yesterday. We talked about how to deal with overwhelming people because parenting advice because. No specific details.

The conversation was fine but I had to take a break to use the bathroom. Like, duh. When I came back the response was a big grin and, “I’m sorry I need to stop talking to you because I feel overwhelmed.” I spun on my heel and walked away. I also forgot to gather up all of my belongings because I left as quickly as I could get the kids together.

I know it was “a joke”.

But I don’t really think that is a signal I should ignore. Not at all. Not in the slightest increment. Not if I want to be welcome back later.

I’m not there for me. I’m there for my kids. Next time I will make sure I say a whole lot less to anyone who isn’t more tested.

Maybe that isn’t fair. Maybe… maybe.

Be careful what you say to people you don’t know. I thought I censored pretty well. I didn’t say anything explicit beyond being involved in the queer and transgendered communities. I said that to indicate that the group does actually have queer families. And yet we have Mormons. It’s awesome. It takes all kinds. We are all very nice to one another at the park and on outings. I think it is great.

I’m sure it was a joke. And yet.

I am too sensitive. This is true. It’s not like I will shun this person permanently but I will be a lot more timid in the future.

Managing boundaries is hard. I didn’t talk about sex. I talked about entirely vanilla life experiences. I was G-rated if you don’t think “queer” is a dirty word.

Do you know that my mother put makeup on every single day? We were very poor so it was the cheapest and most garish makeup available. Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

No, no I don’t want to wear makeup. Thanks.

Three more days in the month, paint faster.

I am going to do 13-23 more hours on the fence. I want to finish this week. I suppose that means that I will be painting all day today and tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The kids will *love* that. Not. They are very very done with me doing a task that requires intense concentration and that they not walk up and touch me. But it’s coming along!

Yesterday I started the work of unwinding the blackberry bramble from the trellis it has been on for the past year and a half. Hard to believe that the bush has been in my yard for only a year and a half. That’s one massive sucker. I have probably another five hours of work before it is transferred over to the new trellis structure (which mostly consists of retired Twisted Monk rope. Ha. My yard is visually full of it. My stuff is far too old for safe suspensions and I don’t do enough floor bondage to care. Not that I suspend anyone lately. Sigh.).

Ice skating was wicked fun and I didn’t fall *once*. I feel so proud of myself. I went off and did some speed laps on my own when the rest of my family was worn out from falling. I find it strange that my thirties are the decade of physical independence and strength. I have the courage to try things now. I am not so afraid of failing that I stay home and cry instead of showing up. I have always been afraid. It is weird to not let fear run very much of my life.

“Falling is part of the learning process. If you are afraid of falling you will never be good. You can’t get real mad either. You just have to accept it and try to do better.”

I learn these things as I teach them.

I went and talked to an old acquaintance who is a Contra dance leader person last night. I am curious about bringing the home school kids to a Contra dance because I think it is potentially interesting to them. It sounds like I should wait until more kids are closer to ten. That makes sense. That’s ok, I don’t need to do everything this year. I will start trying to teach some things in the park though as pre-prep.

It is kind of weird constantly thinking about scaffolding. What do I want them to be able to do when they are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, fifty that requires preparation at this point. There are more things than anyone wants to think about.

Life is about a series of A/B choices. As you go on your list narrows. Do you want children–yes or no. Did you actually have children–yes or no. Do you want to work or stay at home–pick one. When you make choices you close a lot of doors. I get this. I don’t think that one road is morally superior than other roads. I don’t think that picking home schooling proves I love my kids more than anyone else. It is just the A/B choice I wanted.

Recently I wrote a fairly defensive six page letter to my grandmother-in-law. She has been expressing clearly that she has never seen home schooling go well and she does not approve. Ok. Well, I know a lot of people for whom it has gone well so if we are doing the anecdote thing I win. If we are looking at actual fucking data then I win and win and win and win. So fuck you. Home schooling has been around since the dawn of time so can we not act like the American public school system has a lock on education? Give me a break.

But I don’t say “fuck” in letters to the grandmother. Even I recognize some limits.

What I have been doing instead is writing long philosophical letters where I mention all the educational theorists and I talk about the strengths and advantages of different systems and I talk about schema and scaffolding and all the shit I’m doing.

I knew I wanted to home school my children when I was seventeen years old. I went to college, graduate school, and I got a teaching credential because I wanted to home school my kids and I believed it required preparation. No, I really and truly don’t believe that everyone should home school their kids. However I think I am fully fucking qualified and I’m not going to be nice to people who imply otherwise.

I prepared for this for more than ten years before having children. I did that knowing that there is the very real possibility that I will home school my kids till they are seven or so and then they will say, “Screw you mom, I’m going to school.” I did that knowing that if I had a child who was blind, deaf, autistic, fill in the blank special needs, I probably wouldn’t be able to home school. I prepared anyway and hoped for the best. My children appear to be very “normal” in terms of development. Shanna is advanced verbally but not emotionally or in terms of education. She just can talk. Calli is very on track to be average.

I can handle average kids. I really can. I understand that lots of people worry about home schooling as an educational choice–I worry too. But I have yet to meet someone who comes out of the public education without major gaps in their education… I can’t believe that home schooling would magically be worse. Not if I seriously undertake it as my profession.

I’ve tried to figure out how to use a word other than vocation. Now that I know I am using vocation wrong (it has way less emphasis than I want) I’m not even sure how to talk about it. Some children know very young they want to grow up and be a nun. It’s a calling. I knew I wanted to home school.

I want this intensity of relationship. I understand that not everyone wants it. I am not trying to claim that this intensity is the healthiest or the best or superior for everyone. Noah sure as shit couldn’t do what I am doing with the kids. He would go bananas. He gets very short with them by the end of a weekend. I would not leave Noah alone with the kids for more than a week by himself. I mean, no one would die or anything. They wouldn’t have much fun though.

I have been alone for most of my life in a way that other people can’t understand. Moving around all the time such that you literally don’t have friendships that last longer than three months is quite traumatic in and of itself without mentioning all the other shit in my life. I really am a freak. It is pretty verifiable if you go talk to medical professionals.

I want to be with people all the time. I want to be able to hug and touch people safely without them expecting me to offer blowjobs. I haven’t had a lot of that. I have spent most of my life believing that if I am not actively offering sex I should leave because no one is interested in my presence.

I don’t believe I “love my children more” because of the choices I make. I believe that I am using my children to meet my needs in some ways that could be massively unhealthy if I am not careful.

Shanna asks me why I see a therapist almost every time we go. She doesn’t want to be away from me for the hour of the appointment. She complains loudly. “You know how I cry all the time? Well, I cry because I’m thinking about things I need to talk about. No, I can’t talk to you about these things. It would be totally inappropriate. It is wrong for grown ups to bring their problems to children. I need someone to talk to. She helps me be a better mother.”

I am very careful that neither child becomes my “little mother”. That’s not what I want. I think that is very wrong. That is what my mother did to me. That is what my grandmother did to my mother. I am not passing on that generational wound. I believe that I (I’m not fucking talking about anyone else so don’t take this as a projection) would not be capable of taking care of my own shit and holding down a job. I think that if I had a job I would expect my kids to pick up a ton more slack than I do right now. I would expect them to “help me” because you have kids to help you–right? Isn’t that how the tradition goes?

I didn’t have kids to help me. I had kids because I want a life long relationship so bad it makes me shake with need. I had kids because I want a reason to not die and I don’t think I have very many good reasons. I don’t think other people are worth staying alive for. Other people don’t do much of anything to make my life a demonstrably better place to be. They can’t. It isn’t that they don’t care. It’s that they are living their lives and they can’t stop to take care of me. That’s not healthy in any way–there is even a word: codependence. I don’t expect people to do that. Hell, I don’t want anyone to stop their life to try and take care of me.

But being a parent means that I have to think about how relationships work all day every day. I have to do measurable work on myself to deserve this relationship. I have to change.

I was talking to a new person last night at a party. I don’t know how we got on this topic but we were discussing parental guidance with regard to reading. When I was eight my aunt (who was basically a foster mother) told me I wasn’t allowed to read Sweet Valley High books because they were too mature and graphic. (The kids made out in the sand at the beach or something.) I left her house and went back to my mother’s house where I read Bertrice Small books. Small is very into incest, pony play, harems, sodomy, raping, kidnapping, dildos, bestiality, LOTS of group sex.

That is, in a nutshell, the conundrum of my life. Those kind of hard-core pornography books were the only books my mom had in the house. I went between being punished for thinking about kissing a boy to being given a detailed instruction manual on how to have really graphic sex that I bloody well followed over and over.

I was eight when I started trying to memorize these books. What was I supposed to do in order to make people want me? I thought it was very important. I thought that was the only way people might let me be around. When the characters were taught how to behave in the harem I god damn took notes.

My children will not be reading Bertrice Small pre-puberty. The books are in my room up on a very high shelf. I still have them. I still wank to them. Oh man formative literature.

I no longer think I deserve to be beaten and raped. That is a fairly big step for me. That is how I found the bdsm community. I thought that was what I deserved and I went on the internet looking for men to do that to me. I was told to buy SM 101 and that was it. I found what I was supposed to be doing.

Let me tell you I have some cognitive dissonance sometimes. What am I supposed to be doing now? Well, painting a fence. Winding some blackberry bushes. Preserving tomatoes. Loving children. Teaching reading and writing and arithmetic.

I am supposed to figure out how to be stable and happy and a “good influence” whatever that means. Am I a good influence? I don’t know. I think that you, whoever you are, are someone who has unique gifts and talents and things to offer the world. I don’t know what they are so I can’t tell you what you “should” be doing. You have to figure it out for yourself.

When I was young I believed that my only talent/skill thing was being able to read fast. I didn’t see how that could possibly be a big deal later in life. I thought I was pathetic. Now I think that being able to read as fast I can has been an unbelievable gift in this lifetime. I can learn anything I want to know.

I am teaching myself gardening. It is complicated and there is a lot to understand. I’m learning it. I am teaching myself cooking. It’s fucking chemistry. I understand that these are things that humans have been teaching themselves without books for thousands, maybe a million years. But I am really progressing at these skills at a pace my forbearers could not imagine. That’s kind of cool.

It is hard believing in the pit of your stomach that you are stupid, worthless, and unworthy of breathing while also knowing that you are an unusual specimen of the species. It doesn’t fit in my brain. I am more competent at being able to learn things than average. Why do I feel so weak and pathetic? Because these things are impossible to measure in any useful way. Because the measurement of these qualities has nothing to do with feelings. Because I just think I suck. (Yes, but what do you suck? Suck is a transitive verb.)

I know a lot of people who make choices without thinking a lot about them. I’m not saying that is a terrible decision. If you are following the pattern you know and it works for you there isn’t a strong need to question the normal M.O. That’s fine. I can’t do that though.

I don’t think I am making the UNIVERSAL BEST CHOICES. I don’t think there is any such thing. I think I am making the choices that make the most sense for me given my set of issues and life circumstances.

I worry a lot about whether or not I am making the best choices for my children. I look at studies that say that children, in general, do “best” when they have a stay at home mother. I look at studies that verify that home schooled children, on average, do very well. But those things tell me literally nothing about whether or not I am meeting the needs of my children. I’m not sure if I am capable of knowing at this point.

My children are clean, well fed, and loved. That’s what I know. But that is pretty much exactly what the neighbor said about me to justify why she didn’t tell anyone I was being raped as a small child. How in the fuck do I know if what I am doing is right given that set of knowledge? Am I actually taking care of my kids? My mom thought she was and she wasn’t.

I tell my children that they don’t need to be like me even though I apparently have a desperate need to be like my mother. I am doing her job and I am doing it god damn better than she did. My children are safe in a way my mothers children were never safe. My children don’t need to grow up and do what I am doing any more than they have to grow up and do what Noah is doing. There is a whole wide world out there. There are so many people living in so many different ways. If you don’t like my approach, well let’s go study some other approaches. I can’t explain them like an insider so we will have to find people so you can ask your questions.

If I do anything right in this lifetime it will be to teach my children that being like me is not necessarily part of being an adult. I’m a special fucking snowflake. Don’t try to be like me.

It feels so sad that it always comes back to, “Don’t be like me. I am bad.” If you want people to like you, don’t be like me. If you want people to think you are a good person, don’t be like me. If you want people to let their children play with you, don’t be like me. Throughout my whole life people have been keeping their children away from me because I am a bad influence. From when I was three years old people have said to my face that they don’t want me around their children because I am a bad influence.

No, don’t be like me. There is no good to come of that road.

Am I really that bad? I don’t even know. I don’t know how these things are measured. I don’t know how they are decided. That process is invisible to me.

It’s kind of funny that I rarely decide that a person is “bad”. I frequently think that someone made a bad decision. I don’t conflate anyone else’s personhood with whether or not they make bad decisions sometimes. I do for me though. There is no redemption out of this pit.

Yesterday I worked on the fence for two hours. One of the old white guys who walks around my neighborhood chatted with me, as they all do, about the painting. He said that he recognized the Hindu Temple but “wished they would just go away.”

I went off. “Uhm, my family doesn’t share that opinion even slightly. I teach English classes there. My family has been taking Hindi classes there. We are glad it is on our street as a valuable resource to our community.” He looked gobsmacked.

I recently read a neat blog entry (I can’t find the link) about a white woman talking about her feelings of discomfort when people make racist comments to her and why she doesn’t say anything. Basically she wants to feel safe.

I don’t feel, as a white person, like it is ok for me to choose to feel “safe” rather than speak against racism. I think that is white privilege at its most insidious and disgusting. If another white person says something racist to me I do not keep my mouth shut. Silence is consent. When my neighbor told me his Hispanic gardeners trimmed his tree wrong and he threatened to kill them over it I told him that what he did was a criminal act and he should be ashamed of himself. He later told he apologized profusely to the gardner. You had god damn better. What the fuck were you thinking in the first place?

To me all of this consent-for-sex, racism, feminism stuff is all entwined. It’s not ok to have a better life at the expense of stepping on someone else’s neck.

Breathe in. Breathe out. It will be a long day of hard work. That will be ok. It will end. Tomorrow will be a long day of hard work. That will be ok too. Hopefully by the end of tomorrow I will finish the fence. *cross fingers* I want to be done in July. One month. I want to give this project one month of my life.

And my beloved husband has finished making me breakfast. This isn’t a eat-in-the-garage-alone-because-I-can’t-stop-crying morning. Time to go in and tell my children that I missed them while I was sleeping. I have hugs and kisses to give. I hear that they need them.

Feeling useful

I spend a lot of my life feeling useless and worthless. I have nothing of any value to contribute. I have no skills worth having. I tend to assume that if something is a skill *I* am capable of picking up it can’t be that hard or interesting.

Then I go out into the world and I find out that the reality is that I just have no self-esteem. Different. My whole neighborhood is excited about the fence. People are thanking me profusely. Everyone is so glad that they get to look at the painting. They don’t care if it looks like a “professional artist” did the work. They care that someone had an idea to spruce up the place and just started in on working.

It really is a relief to be copying drawings from children. It gives me a tremendous amount of wiggle room in terms of artistic technique.

I helped my friend with her graduate school paper last night. We have time scheduled for a month. She *has* to finish. And I understand the writing process and I can push her through it. If she manages to write a good paper and get her degree I’m going to be patting myself on the back for years. I can’t get my own graduate degree but I can help other people get theirs.

I am prepared for the English classes I will be teaching. I don’t know how many students. I don’t know what grade levels or reading/writing levels the kids will be at. I have enough work to keep a slow 5th grader busy or six months or a smart high school student for a solid two weeks. Let’s see how much work I need to do after this. Today is mostly diagnostic.

When I say that I don’t want to do something unless it is a vocation I mean that I’m not willing to go do something for pay that I won’t do for free. I’m not willing to take care of someone else’s kids right now. I would not be able to do so in a loving way–not full time. I would be a monster. I am not willing to teach full time for pay–I don’t have that to give. I am not willing to work for a company that will earn money from my hard work. I want to remodel my house and put in a garden that will feed me for decades.

I have luxury and privilege because of Noah. I get to make “choices” that aren’t available to other people.

When I was younger I did a tremendous amount of volunteering my time. I have always become uncomfortable the minute I am paid for something. If I’m not willing to just go do it because it is fun then it feels like a serious problem. If you have to pay me to do this then I don’t want to do it.

Apparently our belief that women don’t ask for the money they are worth isn’t as firmly based on research as one might assume. I like the whole idea, “Maybe the problem isn’t that women don’t ask for enough maybe the problem is that men ask for too much.” How’s that for spin?

Noah walks in and asks for outrageous salaries these days. I stand back and feel utter horror that someone could be such a presumptuous schmuck. Then they give him how much money he asks for.

Many of the neighbors have expressed shock that I would paint the fence for free. That seems utterly bizarre. I get to look at it every time I walk through my neighborhood for the next goodness knows how many years. That is a reward. That is something I lacked before painting it.

I feel like a complete asshole sometimes. I have the luxury of donating my time and materials (paint ain’t cheap) because I have a husband who can ask for a lot of money. Doesn’t that make me a using piece of shit? Noah doesn’t hate me.

After looking up the word vocation it just means a strong feeling of suitability. Well that explains why I am using it differently and wrong. I don’t mean just that it feels suitable. I mean that I must do it. I suppose I should pick a different word.

One man said, “How did you get permission to do this?” “I asked.” He looked floored. Really? All I did was ask? Ok, so I asked a friend who is fluent in Chinese to help me write a letter and her whole family ensured that I was sucking up properly and that’s how I got permission. Let’s be clear here.

I’m not making the whole world better. But I’m making my neighborhood better. I’m not a big fish in a big pond. I never will be. Does that mean I have less value? Is the good I bring into the world of no merit just because it will only be felt by a few people? I don’t know.

How much good do you have to produce in the world in order to not be a waste of oxygen? I don’t know. I know that I consciously consider this question. I know that I look around at a lot of people I know and consider them a waste of resources. (Yes, I *am* that big of an asshole.) I’m not going to go tell them to commit suicide or anything. I assume they provide some value that I just don’t see.

Every person on this planet is valued for what they can do. Sometimes all they can “do” is look pretty and that causes other people to feel good. I uhhhh don’t want to be in that cohort. I understand that it is what some people have to offer–I just don’t prize it much. Good thing I am unusual and everyone else thinks those people are AWESOME or maybe I would cause people to have low self esteem.

When I’m having my existential crises about whether there is any point in continuing to live (It sounds really lame and whiny when I’m not feeling suicidal.)  I very consciously evaluate whether I make more good in the world or bad. I know I make bad in the world. Do I do enough good to make up for it?

I am increasingly more ok and less ok with judging people as I get older. On one hand I understand the scope of someone else’s life better as I get older–it makes me more patient and sympathetic. On the other hand I think most people don’t do half of what they are capable of and I’m kind of sick of this shit.

I’m processing some stuff with friendships that have ended. I still feel like shit. I feel like it is all my fault even though I can make lists of things that went wrong and my column isn’t the only one with entries. I’m not saying that it is all someone else’s fault. I’m saying we are all human and we all fuck up.

How do you learn how to talk about “triggers”? When I read on the internet about people feeling “triggered” I think it doesn’t mean what I think it means.

In retrospect I can see how my ability to be “ok” with someone will unravel if they repeatedly promise to be responsible for giving me food and they don’t. I have a problem with that going back to early childhood. I’m not worth people bothering to feed. I should just die. After a fairly brief period of time if someone jerks me around over the topic of food I am not going to be able to treat that person like a neutral party. I am going to treat them like someone who wants me to die and I am going to get violent and angry. If I think really hard it has happened more than once.

I have watched this as my relationship with my kids has changed over the past five years. I am like a dog who cannot be approached while eating. I have a lot of food issues and I get angry and violent when people say they will give me food and don’t.

Sometimes I feel like a petty piece of shit. My mom used to eat at Orange Julius a lot. For most of my life just thinking of the name or seeing the logo is enough to make my body go haywire. I am instantly full of adrenaline and I’m ready to attack someone.

I ate fucking ramen every fucking meal and she went out to eat.

I ate leftovers that weren’t that good and she went out to get a smoothie because “she didn’t feel that well”. I don’t feel that well either. And I don’t like this food. But I have to eat it even though you won’t even fucking eat it. Fuck you you fucking fuck.

None of this is rational. At this point in time I just make sure that there aren’t many people responsible for providing me with food. When I went camping with my friend and her family I freaked out about a lot of the same stuff.

Wait, my end of this bargain is something I don’t like and I will have to do whether it is shitty or not and you get to just sit there and watch me do this shitty thing? You get to opt-out though? Oh wait. You are *special*.

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I want to break your nose. I want to punch you in the kidneys until you pee blood for a month you piece of shit.

Entitlement. I have too much entitlement. I think that if I am suffering someone else better fucking be suffering too. Or I will make them suffer.

No, I’m not nice.

Do I do this to my kids? I don’t think I have so far–they don’t feel like responsible parties. I think I get mad at responsible parties–people who can and should be held accountable for their own actions.

That makes me feel nervous about them growing up. Am I just waiting until they hit some magic age to blow up at them? I hope I get this under control before then.

If I manage to find a way to not depend on my kids then it will work out. That sounds like a terrible set-up. One of my many problems is that when someone promises that they will take care of me but they are lying…. I can’t reconcile that in my head.

You want to take care of me. But you don’t take care of me. You lie to me. You lie to me over and over. You think it would be nice if the universe somehow magically took care of me but you are going to fuck me over. You are selfish and self-absorbed and you only care about yourself. You are not capable of evaluating what you are actually capable of. You over promise and under deliver over and over and over.

This is why I am so afraid of promising anything. I don’t want to be like you.

If I promise something I am going to kill myself getting it done. Why do you think I have given up just about everything else in my life to parent? I said I would do this. I decided at the beginning what standard of behavior was ok from me and I have a ridiculous success rate on hitting my prescribed metrics.

I am doing what I said I would do.

It means that I can’t have a lot of other things. It means that many other dreams must be deferred or abandoned. Life is about choices.

I can choose to think that “my” stuff is more important or I can choose to think that my commitments are more important.

Do I have this hubris because I am able bodied? Mostly able bodied? I have times in my life where I end up laying on the floor sobbing for hours because my back is spasming. When I am alone with my children it doesn’t matter that I feel unable to function. I crawl to the kitchen and they get their fucking food.

Ok, so this abdominal pain thing isn’t a hernia. Other possible suspects include IBS. Guess what? I started drinking carbonated water after my kids were born. Carbonation is a known irritant to IBS. (I switched to carbonated water because I was trying to get off juice because sugar is bad for you–right? This was a big step down from my early life of living on soda. I have never drunk still water by habit. Ever.) I haven’t had carbonation in over a week (pretty amazing for me) and probably 75% of the pain is gone. That horrible throbbing thing right in that one spot just isn’t hurting.

However, in researching what this is I found out that it probably isn’t normal that I have had diarrhea for most of my life and I live my whole life around knowing where bathrooms are because I need to pee and/or poop so frequently. Apparently eight loose stools a day is probably a sign that I am not healthy. Well, shit. (pun intended.)

It is probably time for allergy testing.

I don’t take care of my body very well. I don’t know how. Looking around at my culture I can see why. People reap what they sow. I don’t think I will use the family recipes that my mother so laboriously hand copied for me almost ever in my life. I don’t cook with canned food. I don’t depend on bottles of “sauce” for my calories. I don’t put Crisco in everything.

There were reasons they did. But I don’t want to be like them.

Kids are waking up. It’s going to be a very busy day. Time to stop whining.

The mixer is a metaphor

One of my dear friends was talking to me this weekend about the whole mixer situation. She assured me that it really must be better to have one. I thought about this on my run today. The purpose in using a machine to do labor for you is so that you save time and energy. Or to do things you literally cannot do for yourself–like travel 600 miles in a day. You need a machine for that.

I made cupcakes on Monday. They are fabulous. It took me hours to make them because I was silly and I didn’t let the ingredients get to room temperature before I started mixing. It was basically impossible early on because I am simply not strong enough. Once I let things get to room temperature it was still noticeable work–my arms felt sore. It was hard but I could do it. I talked to Shanna about it as I worked. I talked about how this is quite hard for me now because I’m not used to doing it. If I practice it won’t be hard any more.

What lesson am I teaching if I say that stirring butter is too hard so we can’t have cupcakes? What a wimpy thing to say. I don’t want her to give up on things like that. I want her to say, “Gosh. This is hard now. I had better practice more so it gets easier.” Do you know how I teach her to say that? I say it. I say it a lot.

The other big argument is time savings. Uhm. You don’t know much about my life if you think what I need is more time. I need ways of filling hours. That sounds weird and bad. I feel like it is a ridiculous privilege. Noah would cheerfully support me sitting here and doing the minimum of work forever. I’m not sure why he is ok with that, but he is. If I didn’t do house maintenance until we had problems he would deal with that. If I did less cooking and baking he would live with that. He would probably buy Nutty Bars and call it a day.

I don’t want my family eating that way. What I have to give in this life is the labor of my body. I put a lot of effort into feeding my family food I feel good about. I buy very fresh ingredients and I start from scratch. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy. We would not be able to buy food of the quality I make. We couldn’t afford it. I would have to buy cheap shit.

In the process I am teaching my children about food. We talk about why we use the ingredients we do. We talk about flavor and vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates versus protein and and and. We talk about it all day long.

When it takes me many hours to make cupcakes we have in depth conversations about why it is harder to mix cold butter than warm. Shanna plays with it and learns. We make up games to amuse ourselves as we pass the time. We play with the ingredients and learn a lot more about how to handle them. How to clean up messes. We learn that when it takes so long to bake you can do most of the clean up during the waiting times and then it feels like a real pleasure when you sit down with your long anticipated dessert.

I don’t know how other people teach the lessons I am teaching or really if they are taught at all. I had to learn these things as an adult. I was not taught. Learning to eat a wider variety of food other than ramen, scrambled eggs, potatoes, corn, chicken, and beef has been hard for me. I was not taught to eat anything else. I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition until I became an adult.

I have spent a lot of my life cultivating idleness. Trying to find ways to do less work. It hasn’t by and large served me well. I want my children to understand that food starts out as plants and animals and it takes a whole butt-load of work to turn it into tasty meals. I want them to have a bone deep understanding that this is the process. I don’t have it. I feel fear. I am actually afraid of doing things wrong when I cook. Sometimes I cry. I feel so afraid of doing it wrong and being bad.

When I was a kid Auntie would occasionally try to introduce some exotic thing to the table like sweet potatoes. Some people ate it. The people who didn’t kept up a steady stream of invective as they protested the indignity of having it at the table. I’m afraid to make food that people might not like.

I was noticing the other day that foot fetishists would probably no longer be interested in my feet. Tom would recoil. My hands are rough. I have callouses. I have the darkest tan I have ever had in my life. I run in the sun for many hours every week. I work outside in the garden.

My life is not served by me doing things that encourage weakness. Pretty much all I have in front of me is more work. The stronger I am the easier it will be. The easier it will be to carry the load I have chosen for this life.

It’s kind of weird sometimes. I feel weird because I want to do so much manual labor. It feels effected or mocking or co-opting or something. I stay home and I do my work in privacy. It is one of the most important parts of my life, to me, and I don’t share it with people much. All of my work requires an ever increasing amount of strength and patience from me.

Mixing by hand takes strength and patience. Taking away practice time that is extremely low stakes seems silly. God helps those who help themselves. In order to help myself I need to be stronger. Next week, Noah wants a seed cake.

A Tuesday morning ramble.

I’ve had several nearly-fully-formed posts running around in my head for days. Now that I am at the computer? Nada. Typical.

I have been increasing the amount I socialize lately. That is a mixed bag. It means more dealing with people. That’s hard. Being around large crowds of people who are questionably friendly to me is exhausting. The funny part is, one of my default “I’m hiding how I feel” mannerisms is to smile and nervously giggle a great deal. It seems like other people can’t tell the giggling is nervous. So they think I am having a fabulous time. It’s a great cover and I have been working on it for a long time.

I went out dancing on Saturday night. I explicitly told the two friends I was meeting there, “I am here because you two will keep me from hiding in the bathroom and crying.” They were shocked to find out that was a possibility. I don’t have the heart to really explain that without them doing that it isn’t a possibility it is an inevitability. Getting to the dance event is hard. Once I’m there it’s not like I’m out of danger.

I asked two men who were strangers-to-me to dance. Both of them looked at me, kind of twitched, then said they were sitting this dance out and walked away from me quickly. After the second one I didn’t ask again. I danced with my two girl-friends, and three male friends who remember me and generally try to get in a dance with me when they see me. I was grateful for dancing at all. When I come alone, I don’t always get in 1/2 of the dances I did on Saturday.

Sometimes I picture that seem from The Cutting Edge (a cheesy partner ice skating movie) where the coach says about the bitch woman, “We should have been making her a singles skater.” I wish I liked more solo dancing styles. I kind of hate that I like partner dancing and thus I have to deal with other people. It doesn’t help that I will probably never get Noah past his innate feeling that dancing is horrible. A long time ago he tried the dance community and discovered that they are all liars. I’m not going to argue with him, not really. Dancers say that they are happy to see new people and dance with them. In practice this is not so much. They want to dance with the good dancers–the ones they see all the time. Their friends. It’s ok. I just wish they wouldn’t lie about it.

I’ve become cautious over the years. I no longer can act like my actions will have no long-term effects. I want to raise my children in this area. I really can’t continue to just act however I please. It has consequences. I’m left in this place where I don’t know how to behave. I’m afraid. I don’t know what I am or am not allowed to be without the consequences for my children being terrible.

Those same two girl-friends ran a 5k with me on Sunday morning. All three of us kept up a nice steady 5 mph pace the entire way without walking at all. I’ve never run that far without walking. It felt really good. Maybe I should pay more attention to pacing, eh? It seems to work fairly well. Normally I mix in sprints randomly and I have to walk after them to get my breath back. This felt really good. I felt like I could run forever.

And there was a handfasting this week. I got to see all the people who chat with me during the day (*wave*) as well as a lot of People I Kind Of Know. Which is to say, people I have seen around in communities for about a decade but I don’t really know them. I’m fairly certain people think I’m snotty but most of the time I don’t talk to people because I’m not interested in being criticized or told I am wrong. I’d really rather stare at the wallpaper, thanks. It feels like I already, long ago, figured out who would tolerate me and I just don’t talk to new people much.

I have to say that Sarah moving in renewed a bunch of tentative distant connections and they have greatly increased in intensity. I finally had a reason to get over the hump with a few people. That’s good. I’m trying.

It’s kind of weird how much time I spend around former lovers when I go out in public. That’s what happens when you fuck your way through every community. It’s harder to deal with them now. Monogamy is… different. I was “monogamous” with Tom. But girls didn’t “count” and he didn’t care about anything shy of a penis in my vagina. That’s not what Noah and I are doing. I’m no longer really supposed to sit on laps and wiggle. Kissing is out. It’s different. It’s a whole different way of thinking about relationships. I feel terribly uncomfortable. For the love of Christ what else do I really have to offer?

That’s the crux. I offer sex because I believe I have nothing else. That I am nothing else. The reality is I don’t have the time or space in my life to be that any more. I consciously chose to stop offering that. To stop being that. I’m left with not knowing what to do. I have been having sex by choice (rather promiscuously) for my entire life. I go out and find it. When I am not looking for sex and I try to deflect it I usually get raped. So I stopped deflecting. Going out in public is terrifying. I don’t know what to do now. It’s hard and scary telling men to desist in doing things that I used to tolerate. They protest–I like it don’t I? That means they should do it. Even though I said “no”. They know more about what I want than I do, right?

Poly gatherings feel like a meat market even when one isn’t at a sex party. There is a lot of frank appraisal in the gaze. People are hunting. They act available. It’s an undercurrent. When people are interested in sex I can tell. I used to feel like those people were looking for someone like me. Now I don’t. I don’t know how to relate to them any more other than to avoid them. There is no good to come of having to point out that they don’t want me. How could that help anything? Just don’t talk to them.

It doesn’t help that I like talking about sex. It’s one of my favorite topics. I know a lot about it and I like broadening what I already know. It makes life awkward. I have consciously sought out knowledge and experiences my whole life. I fell like sex is one of the strongest biological impulses I have and I like thinking about it and talking about it. I like talking about food, too. Why is one shameful and the other isn’t?

I feel like I am badly adjusting to the concept of having a private sex life. That must sound odd to people. Isn’t sex usually private? Well, not for me. Not really. I don’t want anything I do to be a secret. I used to write scene reports and send them in to mailing lists. (I should probably ask Marcie if I can access those archives and find the scene reports. I lost them many hard drives ago.)

I do not yet have a mental picture on what kind of person I will be in ten years. It’s kind of scary. I know that I will still be a lot like me. I hope I will be better. I hope I will have made progress I can feel proud of. Ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong. I want to feel pride in myself. I don’t want to be an asshole. I don’t want to brag. But I want to know that I can look around my life and see frequent signs that I am a competent human being.

Change topics. Food. I didn’t grow up around people who cooked. In my house dinner was taken out of the freezer and unwrapped before it was microwaved. That’s food. Or you just open a bag and eat. Sometimes you have to boil water first and then let the noodles “cook” for three minutes. No shit dude, top ramen was cooking compared to everything else I ate.

When my mom occasionally felt like she should do more it generally involved one step meat in the oven and opening a few cans of vegetables and microwaving them in bowls. No really, we didn’t cook. I don’t understand what that even means until I try to cook for my family. Yesterday was a great day. In the morning I put another trellis in the ground and yanked the blackberry shoots over so that they can start growing how I want. I spent a while trimming the rose bush. I’m not done because that sucker is huge. (Thanks, former housemates!) It’s an ongoing project. Then it started raining and I came in.

I took the bones out of the fridge and made stock. I put a whole bunch of spices and other vegetable remnants in the pot. I had to think really hard about what I was doing. I had to recreate in my head what I have seen other people do. I let that cook for hours. I started making cupcakes. It took me about two hours because the butter was cold and creaming cold butter by hand is kind of a nightmare. I kept covering the bowl and scooting it closer and closer to the simmering stock pot. Melt! Damn you! Eventually it worked out well. The cupcakes are awesome. I know because I ate four last night. I just couldn’t stop. Holy cow those are good. I don’t make cupcakes very often because four in one day seems a bit excessive. But on the first day, oh man. Have to.

Then I had to do a whole bunch of dishes. Then I immediately started the next few steps on making soup. I was in the kitchen processing food and dishes for at least six hours yesterday. To make cupcakes, stock, and soup. I did sit down in the middle and eat lunch. But that’s a full freakin job right there. No fucking wonder my family didn’t cook. They didn’t have that kind of time and energy to spare.

Cooking is so weird. It feels like an act that is either done from desperation because one is poor and can’t do anything else or it is an act of privilege. Only people have had to cook for a very long time. I don’t know why it feels this way. Why does it feel optional? Why does it feel non-mandatory if you can find a way out? I used to eat out a lot. Other people did my cooking. Cooking is low status unless you do ridiculous over the top stuff.

I feel so weird about food. It feels strongly related to class. It doesn’t help that I visit the kinds of playgrounds where people have to agonize for an hour over what they brought. “I know this isn’t good enough for ________ reasons but this other thing I brought is far superior to what that other woman brought. Can you believe she is letting her kids eat __________?” I don’t talk to other moms much. I read my phone or play with the kids. It seems for the best. They don’t want to god damn hear me tell them what I think.

It’s not that I never have those thoughts. I frequently have the thought, “Holy shit, that woman is letting her kid eat what?!” I’m ok with that. I don’t say it out loud where someone can hear me and feel scorned. I suppose that saying it on the internet isn’t really better. Doesn’t that make me two faced as well?

Women talk about that shit at the park so they can shame other women into getting into line. I talk about it because I want to decide what I want to do. Sometimes I think, “Holy shit, that woman is letting her kid eat what?!” and I decide that maybe I’ve been hyperventilating over something I can relax about. I don’t need to shame people into sharing my values. They might have perfectly fucking good reasons for what they are doing. My values tend to be so at odds with everyone around me that I don’t really want to talk about non-involved people. I can’t judge someone I’m not even in a conversation with. I will talk about my opinions with people, sure. I will share what I do and why. But I’m not going to evaluate a stranger and give them some kind of “score” to a third party. I see no benefit.

Today is park day. I’m feeling nervous. It will be fine. I doubt anyone will even know that I told that woman to take a hike. Lots of people show up once and never come back. I don’t think I am going to get into trouble. We’ll see.

Hm. I just had a thought that should be it’s own separate post. I’ll do that.