Category Archives: feminism

Words and asking

Yesterday Noah asked me why I didn’t use my words to ask him for something if I wanted it. I hissed, “How well does that go?” He said that I get a lot of little things I ask for and almost none of the big things. I just about screamed, “That’s why I didn’t fucking ask.”

There is this story about my mom that goes around and around in my head. My mom got tired of having her little boys play with their Matchbox cars in the kitchen, the only non-carpeted room. She knew my dad would tell her no to ripping the carpet out of their bedroom. “It would hurt the resale value of the house.” So she waited until he went to work (he worked graveyards), put the kids to sleep in her bed, took speed, and ripped the floor up by herself. She had the laminate mostly installed before he got home.

I asked my mom why she didn’t ask him. She snorted and said, “If I ask then I get told no, then the consequences are big. If I just do it… he’s not going to undo it.”

I think that’s a lot of why when I decided I couldn’t be monogamous right now I said I just couldn’t follow rules and I needed to try stuff. I needed to see what felt right and not say no to things before I even really decided what I felt about it.

And that backfires. Like such arrangements do.

Sometimes. And sometimes it is absolutely the only way to get what you want at all. Yeah, I was a serious asshole. I really was.

I feel like the fact that my sex life has been entirely measured in someone else’s satisfaction for many years now has broken something in me. Something I don’t know how to fix. I’m bitter about how much “taking one for the team” I’ve done.

I guess the thing I’m getting from the team is physical support through disability. Oh.

It is interesting having a friend visiting for the weekend (sorry I’m puking) who is an absolutely ardent feminist. Of the take-no-shit-variety. I was doing my expounding on trying to figure out what I “owe” Noah.

She looked so pissed. I said, “It’s ok. Say it. Even if it’s mean.”

“I want to punch you in the face. You don’t owe him shit.” She went on at more length. But that bit is enough.

An awful lot of our relationship is predicated on transactional trades. We spend a lot of time talking about how much we owe one another. It’s complicated. It is a lot of what allows both of us to feel safe.

But there is no fair.

How much of everything in life has to be changed just because of one shift. I don’t know.

Yesterday I emailed all of my folks and told them I am not going to go out on a date again in May. We need to actually negotiate. This is involving some really long, rough conversations in person and a shit ton of livejournal entries on our private filters. There are things my kids don’t need to see someday.

I am so weird about boundaries.

I think that part of the problem right now is I have made a lot of deals over the years I probably shouldn’t have made. Not how I did. They took from me in ways I didn’t really have that much to give. And I feel long term hurt by them. And I’m feeling bitter. And I’m holding it against Noah.

That list of done-me-wrongs never needs to be part of the public record. That’s kinda like crying rape because you didn’t like the sex. The fact that these are in retrospect not deals I should have made…

That’s not something I’m going to publicly take Noah to task for. That’s complicated.

I made choices. I made choices I shouldn’t have made, but I didn’t know that till it was too late. That isn’t something to punish Noah for. But I clearly do.

Recently Noah made a list of shit he was holding over me (good god that. STILL?!?!) and I should probably do the same.

That won’t be public.

Noah and I are in a funny place. We both understand very clearly that if we don’t make this marriage work… we will just not ever be ok again. We won’t get over this failure. Neither of us would remarry and have more kids. We would date and be complete assholes about never trusting anyone again. This is… one of those things about our personalities. We both walked into this not sure that it was really a good idea to be taking a risk on even one person when we have been burned and burned and burned and burned.

When you learn before age 3 that you are not loved, not likable and all you are worthy of is abuse and contempt…

Trying once is really what you have in you. Getting over that is brutally hard. You can try once. After that it will be broken in a way that can’t be got back.

We get one shot at happily ever after.

No pressure.

To be fair most of the first ten years have been excellent. This really has been a good marriage. But some things need to change and how they need to change and what that shape will look like is… in flux and that’s god damn terrifying. Change sucks donkey dick.

I find it… interesting… that Noah is really willing to talk about a third kid lately. Yeah. That would put me right back on a choke chain. It’s true. I would go home with my baby again.

I want another baby. I’d see a high risk OB. I’d be at a hospital the whole time. I’d follow orders so I wouldn’t die. But… yeah. I don’t think it is going to happen for lots of reasons.

I know my friends are starting to talk to me about adoption but I’m really not done grieving the son I wanted to give birth to.

This is complicated with a gender fluid kid who really… is on their own journey.

I wanted to work through my shit with a little boy. I know that isn’t “fair” either. But I did. I have to grieve not getting that. I mean, I have a great relationship with my Bonus Kid and I’m really happy he visits more lately. But it’s not the same.

I have never been allowed to love a little boy of my blood. My nephew was the closest I came to that and… complicated. My brothers were violent monsters. I had no other family contact.

This is just a thing.

I dreamed about my son for years. Sometimes I wonder if I was dreaming about the sons I could have had with previous partners and that just wasn’t meant to be part of this story with Noah. I don’t know.

It’s complicated.

Yes I know there are lots of kids who need homes. They are going to have different problems genetically than my family. I don’t already intimately know what needs to be done to correct their unavoidable issues; I have researched everything that has touched my family extensively over the past fifteen years. It is going to be a very different very hard problem to work with a different child.

I am so tired.

Now that I have an almost 8 year old and an almost 6 year old, do I really want another baby?

Yes. I really do. But it isn’t going to happen. Sometimes I wonder if wanting space away from Noah is part of grieving that. He doesn’t want another baby.

I get why. There are good reasons. I feel sad.

Being a mom is kinda the thing I think I’m best at. I get quiverfull. I get it.

This is all so complicated. Because if Noah was all “Fine let’s have a kid” I’d be all “Bye side-boys. I’ll see you in 5-7 years.”

Even though the rest of the deals are still not where I need them to be long-term. I wouldn’t care.

Life is so complicated.

My biology understands that I exist to breed even if the rest of me would like to do other things with this meat sack.

People are so fucking weird. Even though I don’t really have the spoons to have a baby I would. I’d start trying this month if Noah consented. He’s about to be 40. Time’s a wastin’. I turn 35 this year.

But that ship has sailed. We need to figure something different out. Shit. That’s hard. It hurts.

We construct these careful houses where we can be safe. Do this, don’t do this. So we try to draw as little negative attention and as much positive attention as possible while maintaining stasis. We accept limits that may not be sustainable in service to particular goals.

I don’t know what sustainable means. I am not the best sustainer in the world. I work best in sprints followed by periods of collapse. Parenting that way sucks. So I have to be more level for them. Which is an interesting thing to balance. I can stay level if I stay small. Or if I get bigger with support.

I can’t be a bigger person and take up more room and get no more support and stay completely level. I can’t. [delete text that doesn’t go into the record].

I’m having feelings.

Thank you to everyone for the extent of the “I know you two will solve this” message I’m getting from a variety of folks. From folks we date/play with to other friends. It’s kinda funny. I feel all y’all believe in us far more than I do right now.

Thank you. I need you to carry that belief for a bit. It is hard for me.

Part of being able to construct your own reality rests on the basic requirement that you must be able to believe in what you are doing. I have a pretty good reality distortion field. But it’s flickering and I feel like I am not able to believe in what I am trying to make true.

I don’t know how to feel more safe and open right now. I feel closed off, defensive, scared. I’m not negotiating from a mindset of generosity. I have a scarcity mindset and I feel so tired of always having to take one for the team.

But Noah takes a lot for the team too. I’m not acknowledging that enough. We have both been running deficits for years. It isn’t just me. I… I don’t even know where to begin in this negotiation. This is so hard. Do we make lists of things we have been missing/pining for and then rank them in importance?

How do we deal with time? Is it about how much time we spend together? Is it about “how dare you spend time with someone else?”

Honestly I was out too much at night in April. I wasn’t touching base with the kids the way I want to. I have arranged all the night time babysitting we are going to have till the end of July, I think. I’m not going to go out more than that. No matter what it is for.

This time with my children goes so fast. If I miss much of this time I can’t ever get it back. I don’t get a second chance. I do remember that priority.

But I don’t ever get back the chance to have the sex life I want to have in this life either. If I just… don’t… that’ll be a thing.

How much do I want? I don’t know. Honestly given how busy my life is… I literally don’t have time for as much independent dating as I did in April. That’s going to kill me. No hyperbole. My body will give out if I don’t sleep more than that.

What does sustainable mean?

What is a need and what is a want?

I feel like I need to have some kind of nonmonogamous contact in my life. What that is… I don’t know. I think the need level is probably actually fairly low. I think one date a month probably would be ok. I’d like to go to parties at other times and be allowed to play then. I could accept having to play together. That would be fun to figure out. It would change who we play with somewhat and what kind of play we do. Maybe?

I can deal with evolution. I don’t have to play how I used to play, not exactly. I don’t anyway. So much has changed.

I feel like I did need to go try. It was wonderful and I’m really glad I got to be reminded of what SM means to me. And I got off a lot.

I do need some of this in my life. I may increase how much I need as my children need me less.

For now I do know that my time and energy is still… mostly going into the kids. I choose this. I want this. This is who I want to be. When I finish growing up I will be able to look at incontrovertible proof that I can sustain something. I need to see the real evidence of that before I will believe it. I’m not even halfway there yet. Don’t get cocky, wench.

Hubris is dangerous.

I have about three more years till I hit the halfway point. I believe I have about four more years with Eldest Child and about six more years with Youngest Child to teach them what they need to know to keep themselves safe… or they will have to learn it on their own painfully. That’s my window. Either I help them establish the habits that will carry them through a lifetime… or they have to learn them later, painfully, on their own.

Development is a funny beast. I’ve studied it a lot. I have incredibly strong opinions about brain development and attachment and behaviorism and emotional health and mental health and…

And I get one chance to do this right. Period. If I fuck it up I will forever more be trying to heal damage I caused.

No pressure.

I love unschooling. I’m not even being sarcastic. This is my kind of pressure chamber. I thrive under this specific kind of “Succeed. There is no or else. Succeed” pressure. I just… do it. Ok.

If you can’t find a way you make a way. The most resilient people are the ones who believe they have no choice but to make something work.

This whole “owe” thing is complicated. I get the anti-feminist bits of it. I do. But you probably don’t see how much it gives too.

Ugh. Systems. They exist for reasons and some of those reasons are good and some are shitty. WTF

But I really do need to think about this “you don’t owe him shit” thing. What do we choose to owe and what is being extorted from us? I think that is the more crucial distinction. I think making conscious trades and feeling indebted for them is not specifically evil. I think that having someone extort recompense for trades… is a problem.

Where is the line?

Shit monogamy is easier. You give what you have to give and that is that. Kinda end of discussion.

I NEVER EVEN TOOK CALCULUS. FUCK THIS ADVANCED VARIABLE BULLSHIT.

My kids are asking me a lot of questions about Lemonade. Yes they get to hear it with the swearing. There are some fucking subjects that deserve swearing. The work is to figure out context. We talk about that a lot. Code switching is a big topic around here. If you maintain super formal “nice people” manners 100% of the time… a whole lot of people will think you are a snob. Having multiple kinds of approaches to talking to people is handy.

I said to a friend “We only fight about nonmonogamy.” The response: “So you only fight about sex.”

Ok, yeah. That’s true. Not money. Not kids. Not housework (if I start feeling peevish about not getting enough help I can ask for it and get it with great civility).

Sex.

Sex is so annoying.

WHY DO I LIKE HAVING SEX SO MUCH!??!?!?! Sigh.

I really do.

I like what happens in my body when I’m having sex with more than one person. I like it a lot. I like what it does to my general energy level. Is it worth this fight?

Yeah. It is.

If we are going to be married for many more decades… I’m not spending them always taking one for the team. I need my sex life to be about my pleasure.

And pain.

I’m pretty sure I know who I want to hurt on a longer term basis. I am less convinced I know for sure what I need from my bottoming/submitting/etc. I have some idea of pieces I’d like. But are those all needs? Not really. I could be pretty flexible. I could adapt.

I am weirdly conscious of how much of my sexuality formed around my Owner. I’m ok with lots of those buttons shifting. I have no attachment to them staying where they are. But I need them moved and not just… ignored. If that makes sense.

I am a cheerful situational pervert. I’m happy to please the one I’m with. I don’t need all aspects of my experiences to be the same.

I’m not the kind of fetishist who collects the garments and sized toys that all future partners will wear one right after another.

But I’ve sure worn a lot of them. For a little while. I have never been willing to do that for very long.

I don’t like anyone that much.

Do you know why some of the awful stuff between Noah and I really doesn’t need to be published? It’s bad enough that I’m an abusive bully. I don’t need to publicly humiliate him. That’s a very different sort of line. I say some awful things some times. It’s bad enough that he can hear it in his head. He doesn’t need to see it. And know that lots and lots and lots of his friends are going to see it. Know his children can read the things that hurt him the most.

Oh JesusFuckingChrist No.

No. There are things that can’t be taken back. I can say that things are hard for me. I can’t list done-me-wrongs. Not publicly. No.

owe my family better than that.

See how the owe is complicated?

It is useful and problematic at the same time. Just like me.

Rape & privilege

I’ve been talking about rape a lot on Twitter lately. I want to organize my thoughts a bit more, even though my arms burn like fire. So this may be a bit choppier than I normally blog. The Twitter character limit formatting is changing my writing. I hope in a positive way. I know I get too verbose for most people a lot of the time.

Noah spends a lot of time telling me that I spend too much time trying to figure out “who is to blame” for various problems. He’s right and he isn’t.

Thing is, dealing with rape is complicated. It is complicated at a personal level and it is exponentially more complicated at the level of a city and … then try to solve that for a state or a country.

My therapist tells me that it isn’t a good thing that the only way I know how to keep myself safe is to keep actual walls between me and other people. Well, it is the only effective method I’ve ever discovered.

That said, I travel more than the vast majority of people ever do. It’s just too expensive for most people. So I put myself in lots of situations. I put myself in situations where I have to keep, not only myself, but my children safe. Am I willfully putting us into danger just to… I don’t know… prove some macho ass shit to myself?

I genuinely don’t think so. Stranger assault is statistically rare. We don’t invite people into our tent/room. We talk to people in crowded public places then move on. It genuinely doesn’t feel risky.

Do you know what was risky? The way I was taught to walk into bedrooms with people because you wanted “privacy” after just knowing them for a few hours. That was how I spent my childhood. Asking to go into peoples rooms and initiating as much sexual contact as I could get away with and only acknowledging rebuffs grudgingly.

Sometimes it makes my heart beat fast when I enforce boundaries with my kids. They are not allowed to walk up and sit on laps any more. Not with a complete stranger. They can’t jump on strange men. Playing for two minutes doesn’t make them close enough to jump on, nope. You have no idea what is going on with their bodies. You don’t know if they just had surgery on their back. Nope. Don’t jump on strange people.

It is really weird to feel like the biggest god damn hypocrite on the planet. Don’t do anything I did.

This experience is how I understand the neglect I experienced. I completely lacked a frame for it before I was a parent. The awareness comes in stages of dawning horror.

How fucking formative that trauma was. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.

I’ve been acting like a bully with the kids. I’m not asking them to do things I’m ranting that I’m sick of them not doing the thing without being asked. We are talking about it.

I feel really guilty that Eldest Child said, “It’s getting to the point where it’s almost 50/50 nice and mean and that has to change. I know you are tired. Maybe we shouldn’t go out of the room much for a few days.”

I feel this horrible mixture of pride and guilt that she has to help manage me. She can be aware of those kinds of needs. That’s amazing. I don’t want her to parent me though. I’m not using emoticons even though I want to put like 75 frowny faces in a row.

I try to tell myself that the feelings of guilt and shame are because I was raised to believe it is not ok for anyone to ever have to pay attention to me and take care of me. It is not ok for me to want anyone to help me.

I try to tell myself that this is ok. It is a kind of enmeshment, yes, but we talk about how this is not her job and she is going to not be responsible for me long term. I thank her for feedback about her perception of being around me. I seem tired. I should rest. Yeah, thanks.

She acts like I am worthy of paying attention to. I wish that didn’t make me cry.

I’m going to jump back to rape. Why am I confident that my children will not have a life like mine? A kid kind of grabbed at my kids crotch. The instantaneous response was, “You do not have my consent! Get your hand off!”

I win.

I couldn’t save my niece nor my nephew. But my kids don’t think that anyone who wants to is allowed to have access to their crotch. They believe their consent is vitally important.

I win.

That doesn’t mean they will never be raped. I understand that. Let me tell you, I’m not done educating them. I’m just going at an age appropriate rate.

A lot of “staying safe” is a complex web of knowing the right words to say at the right time. If you have highly specific technical language you don’t seem like a good victim and any good predator will walk right by you. Obviously you have the support to protect you. You are not going to be easy to intimidate.

People comment, just about daily, that my children are so aware and ….themselves. It is funny how often the wording is almost exactly that. Another friend commented that it is amazing that people don’t think Eldest Child is bossy. She just has a good plan she wants everyone to follow.

I talk to them about what they want to get from life all the time.

Eldest Child and I have been talking a lot about what she wants to do school-wise when we get home. She has specific requests. She wants to work on languages more. She is frustrated by the limitations on who she can play with. She freaking asked if we can look for a Chinese class (I can hear Pam cheering from here) so she can work on that more consistently. She said we all should take Spanish together (I’ll see what I can do, Youngest child wants Spanish and is not up for Chinese). She said maybe on Hindi for a while. She said we should practice the alphabet and such at home but she thinks we don’t need that as a formal class. So I guess that will be some structure in our days.

We all want martial arts. The kids want gymnastics as well. I can’t teach them many skills like that. I’m happy to pay someone who can.

And she wants to play the violin.

I said we would add lessons one a month until we got up to the full load because all of that at once would crush her. She says that is probably smart.

I appreciate how often she tells me I’m smart.

You know… I think that’s why she does it. She’s a perceptive little thing.

My kids are not going to look like good victims. Not ever. They are going to seem like… they have all the support in the world. It’s only sorta true, but I’m going to give it my all.

But you know what? This option isn’t exactly available to most people. My kids get a full life of having a Ladies Illustrated Primer walking around with them. That’s not what most people experience.

Holy tomato I love my job.

My kids are in touch with their bodies. They know what they like and don’t like and they consider their preferences to be absolutely worthy of consideration at all times. Good prey act like it doesn’t matter what happens to them. They often don’t know what their preferences even are. And as much as we cannot guarantee our own safety in this life, we can build resilience to weather what may come.”

I can never guarantee that my children will be safe. Not truly. Not completely. But I can teach them a variety of skills that will increase their likelihood of not only escaping from a lot of traumas but being able to cope with the inevitable tragedies in life.

My children will experience loss and pain. That is a non-negotiable part of the human condition. I know that. I’m trying to teach them how to ride the waves.

We took a break from the screens. The kids begged me to go back to the beach. It’s supposed to start storming tonight and rain mostly till we leave so I said yes. Even though it scared the absolute shit out of me. The kids kept asking me to go sit with the grown ups and just let them play.

No. No. No.

I sat between them and the ocean. There were four good waves where they started getting dragged out to sea and I grabbed them and bodily pulled them back to shore. They stopped arguing with my presence after the second grab. But they really didn’t want to stop working on the dam they were building.

They are fucking obsessed with building dams this trip. They have built them in little itty bitty creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. It was awesome watching them lecture much older girls about how “We have to find a variety of materials to help provide structural integrity! Just sand won’t hold!”

That was why I had a hard time stopping the play. It was so… intense for them. But that ocean doesn’t fuck around. Lots of places are currently flooded and people die from being swept into the ocean all the time. It’s not a game. There are no take backs. The ocean is bigger than all of us.

After the fourth time when I grabbed them and I felt like barely pulled out of the wave I said, “Ok! That’s it! I’m done!”

The kids didn’t really argue with me. They spent over an hour saying repetitively after we got back to the hotel room, “I think you just saved my life. Wow. You care that much. You are going to stand right there so you can save my life. I think you just saved my life.”

My response is, “I brought you into this world and I’m not giving up on you yet.”

They snuggled with me and looked a bit stunned.

The ocean is not something to fuck around with.

Want to know something kind of hilarious? I had a similar experience with the kid who kicked me in the throat at a group beach trip.

The ocean is bigger than you. I don’t give a shit how strong you think you are. The ocean is bigger than you. Never fight the ocean. You will lose.

So yeah. I think I’m done. If it is storming I am definitely not going down there with the kids. If we want to swim in between rain bursts they have a pool. That is risk enough with a damn thunderstorm.

You have no idea what you mean to me. No forking duh I am going to keep you out of the ocean when it is dragging you like that and you are screaming out in fear. That is my job.

It is both my job to teach you to respect that power and my job to protect you from it as you gain enough experience to have proper respect. It’s a complicated operation.

I think I am really feeling the need to cross reference all of these experiences because I am trying to understand the scope and effects and structure of rape culture. What does it even mean?

Do you know who really taught me I didn’t deserve rape? Sex workers. Grown ass women who were god damn sure what was and wasn’t ok to do to them. I know women who have been sex workers for decades and members of the kink communities for decades who have never been assaulted. I study them with a more than just friendly interest. I want to understand their instincts.

I want to teach those instincts to my children and people who aren’t sex workers have never been able to break them down in a way I can understand. They specifically can talk about what they do to manage risk. I know vanilla women who have never been assaulted. They don’t understand why that is true. They just got lucky.

So I talk to the people who can actually give me the information I seek. I am shameless and mercenary about it.

I’m not teaching my kids to be sex workers. I’m teaching them to think of their body as belonging only to them and never to anyone else.

I am doing my absolute best to raise people who will react indignantly if someone tries to abuse them. My kids interrupt me if they think my behavior is getting near a line. They are immediate in their ability to say what is or isn’t ok about what is happening to their body. It is stunning to see.

I have labored for so many years to try and develop those skills.

Sometimes I feel so jealous I want to shove my head through a window. Just to get that feeling away from me.

My brother used to put his head through windows. They made him wear a helmet whenever he wasn’t in a building with safety windows.

We have really liked hurting ourselves in my family for a long time. I feel so grateful that my children showed mild inclination and were quickly reassured that it is not the right decision to hurt yourself when you are upset. Ask for help figuring out how to handle your feelings when you feel overwhelmed to that point. Your parents will listen to you no matter what.

You don’t have to feel pain. We can maybe help.

I feel so grateful that I found a sperm donor who had excellent genetics and sincere interest in being a really involved parent. This is a wonderful experience to watch.

But Noah has committed rape. And so have I.

Do I think all rapists belong in jail?

Jimminy Christmas don’t ask me. 

This rape culture shit is complicated.

I want my children to be able to do better. I want all the children to have better. Education is the single best route to understanding diverse people and life experiences.

I honestly don’t know what else to do. I need to pick up the kids soon. I’m going to stop.

Day off- watched Mississippi Damned

The kids and I took yesterday afternoon off. We got back to the room around 2 and we stayed in from then on. Now it is noon and the kids don’t have any interest in getting dressed.

So after a light breakfast of Lucky Charms I made myself a huge lunch. I had orange juice, two cups of tea, a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, and carrots with hummus.

I am stuffed and I haven’t drank all my orange juice yet.

And just now my meds hit.

Hallelujah. Today is awesome.

I actually think I might try to talk them into getting dressed around 4 or 5 and heading into Magic Kingdom for the parades and fireworks. That’s going to be our best shot at seeing them.

So of course, being me… I’m watching Mississippi Damned which is about a dysfunctional family. I hear there will be intense incest and beatings later in the movie. (I’m going to spoiler the fuck out of this movie as I watch it. Just so you know.)

I’m in my feels.

It’s not much like my family or my story. But it is based on a real story and I’ve read a lot of responses from women who say this is like their stories.

This is intense. Like, whoa.

This… you know what? I feel like my mama did me a mountain of favors from the simple fact that she stopped dating.

I’m really glad I only had to deal with one crazy abusive father and one demanding controlling step-father and one inappropriately sexual boyfriend. That’s a short list compared to many women.

She had other relationships in her lifetime, but they predate my memory. Like the father of my sister, who denied that he had ever had sex with her.

My mama did find it in her to go it alone. In some ways… I think that was the biggest gift she gave me. She taught me how to be ok alone. I mean, she’s not ok and she’s not really completely alone. But she doesn’t need Romantic Relationships.

Many women my age believe they aren’t safe unless they have a man. My mama taught me that having a man around is never fully safe.

I feel deeply conflicted about what it is that I’m teaching my children.

I’m going to keep doing it. I’m in it. I’m in it till the end. I’m committed. But I don’t know I’m right. You never know until it is over and it is too late to do anything different.

But as I watch a screaming fight over interrupted sex between folks who are married to other folks and a miscarriage and…

You know what? My mama ran from trouble. She taught me that the safest way to deal with most problems is to run.

I don’t know if she is still running. I know I am. But right now I’m sitting on a porch in sunny Florida at Walt Disney World.

Running has worked out okay for me so far.

This movie is about people who can’t run from their problems. They are deeply invested in their local community. They have roots.

I wonder what that would be like.

What would it be like to believe that leaving everything you know means “moving to a fairytale world”.

No, that’s just life. You move. You start over. You meet new people.

You don’t stay in a small town if you are a dyke with a big mouth. You move on. I didn’t have problems for being queer. No one ever gave a shit about that part of my identity. They were too overall baffled by my presentation to figure out what the hell to object to.

(The dyke in the movie just got in a fist fight.)

And she goes home to get hit more.

I left home when I was 18. I didn’t get out because I was smart or because I was more deserving. I got out because I had the resources to do it.

I believe every one deserves a basic income. I really do. People stay in the most horrifying traumatic situations because they don’t have better options. Money is a disgusting tool.

“If anyone is to blame it is you” said to the woman who interrupted the sex that shouldn’t have been happening. Because the problem is the person pointing out the problem, not the problem.

Yeah. I know that dynamic.

Oh god. Murder. Well, that’s one way to deal with cheating. But why did you shoot the woman who was being cheated with instead of the damn man?

You know what? Fuck the sisterhood.

Shoot the man. Don’t defend the sisterhood of “don’t sleep with my man”. No. Fuck that noise. He’s the problem. She is not someone you have the right to demand such loyalty of that the punishment for disloyalty is death.

No. No. No.

I have not signed such an oath.

You know what? I’ve fucked married men. I’ve fucked cheaters. I don’t owe the sisterhood nothing.

Does that make me a bad person? Add it to the list. Whatever.

Oh golly I respect this man. His daughter flat out asked, “Are you a good father?” He said, “Sometimes. Sometimes not.”

Thank you for that self reflection. I appreciate it even though it isn’t for or about me.

“Some daddies aren’t good at being fathers.”

Yeah. That’s the truth.

I’m having feels about Noah. But I’m not going to write about them. I want to forget them.

Oh no. Here is where the incest stuff comes up. This boy was already victimized. He knows how things work. Now he’s the initiator because he thinks it is how it is supposed to work.

Fuck.fuck.fuckity.fuck.

“Get me a beer.”

Words I’m glad I didn’t have to hear much.

“2nd Notice of Eviction” oh I’ve seen that on my door a lot.

“At least I didn’t let some high school crush be the highlight of my life.” Oh that’s something I was afraid of.  I’m pretty sure I’m safely past that accusation.

This fight right here, between the destitute convict and her mother about money and childhood abuse… that’s part of why I never asked my mama for nothing.

“You gotta watch your back in places like that…. As long as you’re next to family you got heart.”

Oh. My. God. From a family with a lot of trauma and incest and abuse. You know what?! Strangers in the big city are not a bigger risk than your family.

Why do I say that? Because being raped by my “friends” was less traumatic than fucking my actual biological father was. (Friends is in square quotes because at this point I no longer perceive that people who would do that were ever actually my friends. They were guys I knew.)

Hell yeah. Grandmama just brought out a shot gun on the man who was throttling her daughter. ROCK ON!

You know what? I’m not that violent of a person. I try hard to find a way to find solutions without violence. But if you are being attacked I think you have every right to a full throttle defense, from yourself or from a nearby person. And besides the bitch didn’t defend her daughters from her own husband. I’m glad she will at least defend them from their husbands.

Yeah, I do believe in bystander intervention sometimes. I know it isn’t popular. I know that it is frowned upon in some circles. I know why. It is dangerous.

Life is dangerous.

It’s not about being a hero and you can’t think about it that way. That isn’t the point. It isn’t about “being a rescuer”.

It’s about paying attention to the people around you and giving a shit about what happens to them.

But people are so complicated. This movie is reminding me how very complicated people are. We are all so hurt.

“You’ve always gotta make it about you, right?”

Well, we are the main character in our own story, right?

But not everything that happens near me is about me. Sometimes it is, but mostly… I’m not the center of everything. I’m just some chick.

It is complicated how some people are in a position to care more about your intentions and some people are in a position to care about the results of your actions and fuck your intentions you son of a bitch.

Now a woman is fighting cancer. Watching how her family copes with it…

That’s why other people believe they need family. They believe they cannot get such support any other way. But I showed up in the queer community at 18. I watched tight, fierce, chosen families.

I’m an asshole about them. But I know they exist. You just have to show up for them. If I wanted to keep showing up in those communities things would have been different.

I ran away. I went home. I built Wonderland and I had babies and I stopped seeing a lot of the people who were my “chosen family”. A few of the people from back then still come around. Not many.

The number drops by the year.

My loyalty to the people who have made the transition into parent-age with me is decidedly impacted.

And more cheating. More screwing underage inappropriate women. Yeah this movie is a humdinger. I believe this is based on a true story. I know men like these.

I am so grateful I am not prey any more.

I am even more grateful my daughters never will be. It won’t happen.

But doesn’t every mother want to believe that? Even when it is right under their noses and they can’t possibly not see.

I try to tell myself that my children are too blurty. Too prone to share all their business with everyone who walks by. Including every factoid I’ve ever taught them about anatomy or bodily autonomy or bodily integrity or…

I try to tell myself that even though I can’t save everyone… I can keep them safe. Yes, I know I’m throwing everyone else under the bus. I’m sorry.

I didn’t throw them there. I just didn’t roll under with them.

But isn’t that how white feminists justify most of what they do?

What we do.

I’ve got skin in this game and make no mistake.

Oh no. Now we get to the college acceptance letter that decides if the next generation of abuse victims is getting out or staying home to just pass it right along.

She did it. She got in.

In time for her most supportive aunt to die from poverty and diabetes.

Yeah. Life is a real shithole.

The aunt didn’t wait until she actually ran out of insulin. She stopped taking it because she didn’t want the end to be slow and by drips. She had no more money for food anyway.

Yeah. Life is like that.

The last thing she did with her life was tell the girl to “get out. Get away. Go be what we couldn’t.”

Perspective is a nasty son of a bitch. I begged my niece to get out. She wouldn’t.

Ok. I can’t go under the bus with you. I can’t.

I won’t make that choice for my children.

Oh god. The most supportive aunt did have some money left. She left it all to the niece in a lump sum for college.

Yeah. That’s how you get out. You have some support appear.

And the lesbian is in the psych ward. Because she can’t move on from her one high school crush.

Life sucks so fucking much.

Do you know what watching these kinds of movies makes me want to do? Log on to my bank account and transfer more money into long-term investments.

I do not want to end this way. They are killing themselves left and right.

I do not want to end this way. I want something different. And that takes money.

Just like my father in the movie the serial predator kills himself instead of taking his punishment and giving that respect to his victims. Fuck you. Yeah, I know bad shit happened to you too. I know.

Take your fucking punishment you son of a bitch. You earned it.

God damn bastard.

I believe people need to be held accountable for their behavior. So I write mine down as it happens so that I can’t rewrite history. Yeah. I fuck up.

Everyone does. Some of us do it big. Some of us do it over and over. Very very few of us tell the truth about it.

I need truth. Even though truth is sometimes not the same thing as fact. Something can be distorted and still be a truth. Because in every truth there is room for many interpretations. It doesn’t mean it is a fact.

How am I defining these.

It can be true that I need to defend myself even if people don’t feel like they are attacking me. I have more than once needed to physically force people off my body on dance floors because they landed on me and didn’t notice that they were crushing a person and, “Hey why are you so mad?”

I wasn’t assaulted. That’s a fact. There was no intent to harm. It is still true that I had to defend myself. Because they were hurting me and I had to make it stop.

There can be more than one truth. Near as I can tell there is no end to the amount of hurt that can be passed around. I think that means there is room for a lot of different truth.

As I sit here in my posh Walt Disney World condo I reflect on how I don’t deserve to be here.

There is no deserve. Jenny, you asked why I conflate people saying I deserve things now with meaning that I deserved things that happened a long time ago. I love you very much and I take the question very seriously and I may bring it up for years as I try to explain it. I hope it doesn’t get annoying. Tell me to get over it if you need to. I love you.

Saying it is a trigger is short hand. Most people who deal with mental illness can tell you that something is a trigger and that’s about as much as they can follow that path. “I have BIG FEELINGS.”

Well, I’m not like that. I was told that I would know when I was in real labor when I was no longer able to speak. Bitch I was articulately yelling instructions while I was pushing. I was popular for bdsm demonstrations because you can beat the shit out of me and in between screams I can drop down into normal speech and clearly articulate what hurts and where and what is positive and negative about various sensations for what reasons.

I’m special.

I can talk when I’m hurting.

I learned. I taught myself. I worked on it because I was told and told and told to be quiet and I noticed that I only got help when I could tell enough of the story fast enough to get peoples attention. I have to be good at an elevator pitch.

And that skill plus running away has provided the most safety I’ve found.

Let me tell you, things work so well with Noah largely because we are both talkers. Speaking of which, I should go call him. Big feelings.

I want to write more about triggers. But I also want to rest my arms.

Bitch Better Have My Money

Thank you Rihanna, you inspire me. Nicki Minaj does too.

I’ve been thinking… it would be interesting to go through our financial records. Sometime in the next year before our 10th anniversary it would be interesting to see what we each started with, compare it to Noah’s salary, look at investments, look at the gains and losses for businesses tried and failed…

Who is responsible for which? Noah makes a pretty astronomical salary… but our investment portfolio is growing at a prodigious rate. Some of that is stuff he owned pre-me. Not all of it.

What have I done in the last ten years? Sometimes I have a hard time believing that I have done much.

Ok… even I know that sounds stupid.

I have a hard time being a dependent. I know I “get” 50% of his salary. But what have our separate investment choices resulted in? At this point we can figure out data to see who is actually better at those sorts of decisions so we can assign more of that work in the correct direction to maximize for growth.

I’ve been talking to a lot of womyn about independence and I’ve been listening to a lot of very intelligent women who want me to get my money for my labor.

What has been my cut?

I think I’m going to do that. Oh dear. Another Fucking Project.

And y’all just know I’ll tell you all about it.

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.

Violence and feminism

Yeah, Wendy is right. I was muddling together two topics in the last really big post. There are two separate issues: the interplay between a husband/wife (I’m being hetero/cis-centric here) and the interplay between men and women in terms of compensation for their labor on the open market. I’m muddying them and that makes it hard to follow. It, err made sense in my head. (This is why I don’t write for publication.)

Hispanic and Indigenous and Black women are kept in poverty through systematic means. I’m not saying that a specific person is to blame. I’m saying that we have a systemic problem where we do not value people as we should. This is a problem.

What should be done about it? That’s fucking complicated. But as long as Hispanic women are making 53% of what white men make we have a problem.

Noah thinks we need to have more of a plan before we shake things up. I can see why he thinks that. He lives in a very carefully ordered world. He makes specific products for specific markets and he needs those people to want to be invested in his ideas/plans.

I see that. Makes sense. He is doing a particular thing, namely trying to be successful in the current capitalist system.

I don’t see a way for this system to ever be fair. No, I don’t know what the alternatives are. I don’t know what we should do to solve all of the problems. But we need to stop acting like a significant portion of the globe deserves to be kept beneath the feet of white people.

White supremacy has simply got to fucking end. We are not better. If you look at the history of white people we are not nice people. We are not more pure. We are not more kind. We are not more worthy. We are just people.

For a very long time in this country we have had a system set up to make things work out best for white men. When things didn’t go well for the white men they would kill whoever was in their way.

Yes, yes there are murderers in every single race. I get it. I know. But would you like me to break down the ratio of prisoners in our country by race? White people do more than our share. We are disproportionately represented in the population and we pay for our crimes the least often.

Not. Fucking. Ok.

Why do I think the Silk Road guy should go to jail? Because how many millions of Black men are in jail because they sold drugs. He is not fucking more worthy of a light sentence. Do I think that all the Black men deserve their sentences? Good grief no.

But we are where we are. Unless you want to turn around and release millions of Black men fuck you and your sympathy for a rich white dude.

It would not be physically possible for me to have less sympathy.

Which brings me back to violence. And revenge, I suppose.

I’m ok with shouting at people. That’s the difference for me. Shouting is raised volume. Yelling is raised inflection and not necessarily about volume. (In my little head.) I’ve spent the last week reading a book about abusive men. Raising your voice is one of those questionable things.

I know people who are just about appalled by the volume of my voice on a regular basis. Many of those people are ok hitting their kids.

I find that… remarkable. Why do people tell me to hit my kids all the damn time? They tell me it isn’t ok to yell. I should hit the kid instead.

We live on different planets. My kids don’t flinch when I shout at them. Ok, occasionally… but not usually. We are loud all the time. It’s our normal. They don’t hear a shout and flinch like they know they are in trouble.

Frankly the kids flinch more when I lower my voice and say something with intensity. They don’t mind volume. They mind me sounding scary.

I sounded scary/mean earlier today. Shanna is obsessed with Minecraft to the point where she is becoming quite the little self absorbed asshole about it. No one is allowed to talk about anything else in her presence or she will talk louder to drown out your conversation. I’m done with this shit.

I kind of growled at her that it isn’t ok. You are not the only person in the room. You can stop acting like your thoughts are the only important thoughts in the world. I was harsher when I specifically said that she has to stop talking over her sister. I tolerate it a lot when she does it to me, but she’s really effectively silencing Calli and that’s just not fucking ok.

You don’t get to drown out your sister. That’s not acceptable.

I’m walking a fine line here with my kids. I want them to be able to shout people down to participate in conversations when that is necessary and sometimes it is in life. I also really need them to support one another. As time goes on… I notice that I expect Shanna to have a maturity she just doesn’t have yet. She doesn’t understand why it is a problem to never let Calli talk.

I stopped growling. We kept talking. We agreed that I am going to start saying, “Topic” when she needs to change the topic from her perseverating. I told her that if she ignores me saying that tactfully I’m going to be sending her to her room. That will be awkward on the road trip. Uhm… I don’t know how the fuck that will work. We’ll see!

I’m going to physically prevent you from treating your sister badly. It is my job. I need to build both of you up. I need you both to learn that you are worthy of speaking and being listened to. Not just one of you. We are not going to have the golden oldest child here. Fuck that noise.

I told Shanna that this is a conversational skill that many adults still struggle with. I told her I struggle with learning how to keep the conversation interesting to other people.

I asked her how she would feel if every time she wanted to talk about Minecraft I started loudly talking about the book I am reading. Even though no one else in the room has read it or cares. I could talk all day long really loudly. Her eyes went big. “I wouldn’t like that very much.”

Yeah kid, that’s how I fucking feel about Minecraft. I figured out how to set up an account and establish a LAN connection. What Do You Expect Of Me?!

(I drop the “fuckings” when I’m talking to Shanna. Well… like 95% of them.)

I told Shanna that it is my job as her mom to give her feedback on her behavior so she can learn how to be respectful of other people. That process will not be comfortable for either of us and sometimes I’m going to be too harsh. I’m sorry.

She hugged my hand and said, “You mean well.”

We talk a lot about mistakes. You can’t learn without making mistakes. I tell her there are little mistakes, medium mistakes and BIG mistakes. BIG mistakes are usually the kind of thing that will risk your life. Let’s not do those. Medium mistakes might involve a trip to the hospital or a lengthy amount of cleaning/repairing to fix… but you’ll recover. (I told her about stealing my mom’s car. That’s a medium mistake.) And we talk about little mistakes.

Talking over everyone is a little mistake. If you don’t make it… you won’t learn what happens.

You have to make as many little mistakes as you can. It builds your character. Being perfect is useless.

I make lots of little mistakes. It’s just how life goes. It is part of why I can answer so many random questions people have. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

Raping the boy in kindergarden… I hesitate to call it a medium mistake. But no one died. If big mistakes are limited to things that cause death… that means committing rape is a medium level offense.

I have big feelings about that. Does that mean my dad raping most of his kids was just a medium mistake? Whoa.

Some of my friends, because they love me, want me to not feel permanently ashamed of committing rape when I was 5. They tell me that a 5 year old can’t be held permanently accountable. It’s different when it is an adult.

I believe that it is a difference of degree and not kind. I’m still a rapist even if I am not actively dangerous to anyone right now. There are rapists who are still an active threat and they have to be managed differently than me. I’m not scary in the same way. I think that is why folks want me to put it behind me.

Yeah, that’s what Josh Duggar tried to do. I don’t respect it from him and I wouldn’t respect it from me. I need to know what I am capable of and watch myself carefully for the rest of my life. I am a violent person.

It is hard for me that all of the literature about dealing with abusive men makes it sound like women are so rarely abusive as to be not worth addressing. That’s not fair. Women like me exist. We are a different problem but a problem nonetheless. And nobody wants to address us. No one. We don’t exist.

Which means that men believe that women are incapable of violence. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh yes we are.

But then again… folks seem to believe that the only men capable of violence are Black men. Or maybe “scary looking” (left to the judgment of the viewer) guys are dangerous. Not “nice looking boys”. Oh you naive fuckers.

The innocent looking ones are often the most dangerous.

I think about violence a lot. I think about police brutality. I think about the fact that white men with heavy weapons were allowed to surround a Mosque and the police stood there and thought that was fine. But if folks are peacefully protesting a murder they will be put under curfew, arrested for going to work, and beaten.

I think that violence is a feminist issue. But holy shit I don’t know what to do about it. Do you ask the tiger how to become less violent? Not so much. We put violent people into our police force and then wonder why they behave like animals. We picked them based on that trait.

Honestly I’m not sure a whole country can become more equal. There will always be a hierarchy. But maybe the spread can narrow?

Mad Max: Fury Road review

There will be spoilers. If you don’t like such things, don’t read this post.

Well. It’s not a feminist movie. That was my first thought. I saw what people meant in a few cases–when we first spot the wives and they are dressed in diaphanous white and washing themselves with water… it is tastefully done. That scene easily could have been masturbation masquerading as hygiene and the director didn’t do that. Thank you.

It’s not a feminist movie. Why? Because other than “get away” the women… are still not acting that much. Sure, Furiosa is an Imperator and she breaks the wives out of jail. Whoopee?

This is not Furiosa’s movie. I’m not sure whose movie it is. I barely find out Furiosa’s back story and I’m supposed to root for her because she is the “tough and gritty woman” and that’s not enough for me.

I was glad that women were allowed to be as bad ass as they were in this movie. The older women cackling about all the people they’ve offed… I can see why some folks see it as a feminist movie. There is definitely a huge swath of “Bad Ass Women” running through the film.

But they live in a man’s world where the only recourse they have is to kill a lot of people. And pray they are still alive in a few more days.

In my opinion, a feminist telling of this story would have started later in the story. It would not have ended when the women arrived back at the Citadel with the seeds.

A feminist story would have been what comes next? How are they going to rebuild? What are the women going to do now that they are not compelled by a monster to murder or fuck at his command.

Furiosa and the wives do act and I don’t want to denigrate that. I won’t say that they are not feminists. But it isn’t a feminist movie. This is a movie made so that they can have car steering wheels pop out towards the audience during gnarly guitar riffs.

I’m not saying feminists never like guitar riffs. I’m not saying feminists never like seeing car steering wheels pop towards their faces.

The movie is not made with the goal of increasing equality between the genders. Not really. You see that the women can be nasty, violent and mean like the men… whoopdee shit. Was there actually doubt?

I learned nothing new. I did not grow. I do not feel energized as a woman nor as a feminist. I feel tired. Things will never get better. In the far distant future women will still be reduced to being the most base of animals trying to protect their right to procreate when and with whom they choose.

It’s not a feminist movie.

Yes, there were some gnarly fight scenes. I already have PTSD and a central nervous system damaged by excessive adrenaline and cortisol. The fight scenes just made me feel kind of sick. There were “exciting” moments.

I watched this movie and thought, “Either we can kill the people on top or kill ourselves and there aren’t really other options that allow you to make choices.”

It’s not a feminist movie. I want other options. I want to have other options in life than kill or be killed. Rape or be raped.

I want something different.

Words, definitions, insults

Bitch, asshole, cunt. Why do we love these words so much? It isn’t just me who has a love-affair. I self-identify easily as an asshole. Yup, I’m self-absorbed and I’m going to default to thinking my needs are more important than yours. I’m not sorry. Bitch is harder for me. Asshole I view as more passive–not attacking anyone but not doing anything unless motivated by selfish need. Bitch is more aggressive. Bitches attack. Bitches are willing to savage people just because they are having a bad day. Notice how gendered these assumptions are? When men withdraw and refuse to engage… they are an asshole. When a woman chases cause she’s pissed… she’s a bitch.

Even that paragraph isn’t really true. Many men are called assholes when they are aggressive. So it’s not like being an asshole is just a passive retreat thing. Men are assholes and women are bitches. Even though some assholes can be loud about it, I feel like assholes are still in the “resistant” role. Assholes “are how they are and you can fuck off if you don’t like it”.

Bitches are different. Bitches want to control. Bitches try to make people do things they may not want to do. Bitches are manipulative (in that bad way.) Really, isn’t being a bitch just a short hand way of saying, “You there, with the vulva, shut your mouth.”

Bitches are women who talk when other people wish they would shut up. Bitches are the women who won’t sleep with you even though, don’t they know you are a Nice Guy?!!?!? 

Those bitches.

P said I call myself a bitch a lot here. So I did a search find on the front page. Do I do it “a lot?” My off-the cuff guess was five references. I was wrong. Eleven references. Only one of them about a person other than myself (and she deserved it–actually she probably didn’t and I’m being a jerk. My only saving grace is I did it in an anonymous way about a stranger and she’ll never know or care.)

Three of the references were “bitchy”. That leaves me with seven times I called myself a bitch. And given how long my entries are… not many entries stay on the front page.

Ok, I call myself a bitch frequently.

I think I partially use these words as self-descriptors because if I say it first… other people are just being “unoriginal” when they use them–it hurts less. I say them because sometimes my reactions seem scary and out of proportion to people (if they knew the whole back story I don’t think my reactions would seem so out of proportion) and if you tell people you are a bitch/asshole they just kind of shrug off the “over” reactions. “Assholes/bitches do that.” It’s a different kind of privilege to opt-in to. The kind of privilege where people stop pressuring you to change so much.

People tell “nice” or “kind” people how they should be all day long. It’s disgusting. When you are a known asshole… people tend to mostly keep their opinions to themselves unless you have a firmly established relationship. My close friends say things to me that would probably shock the fuck out of people who know me casually. It’s about getting used to different peoples tolerances. My tolerances are very unusual. It’s not really that I can “handle more” than other people because I can’t. But the things I can handle are things that are different from what most people can handle. Non-overlapping circles of cope.

I desperately, desperately, overwhelmingly, chokingly want to a good person, but I don’t think I want to be “nice”. I’m an asshole. Assholes can be good people too. Assholes can be personally abrasive and difficult and still do lots of good for the world. Nice people are pretty locked into being nice. They don’t get the dynamic personality I want to have. They have to care too much about the feelings of people around them.

I care exactly how much it is prudent for me to care and maybe a little less.

I have people I latch onto emotionally and my tolerances are vast and broad for people who are in the inner circle. I’m not “nice” but I am tolerant, accepting, and loving. But I’ll be rough and uncomfortable in the process because I just am.

I choose to be effective over being well-liked. If I am liked, bonus. I care way more about being effective.

Someone I spend a fair bit of social time standing near was making conversation. She asked what we are up to lately. I talked about having three conferences in five weeks and can’t these people work together to spread this shit out?! No. They are three completely separate communities. I am probably going to be the singular overlap between events. Sigh. She asked what I am doing at the conferences. I said presenting. She expressed surprise. (Not shock or anything insulting… she just hasn’t heard much about me doing that kind of thing.) I told her I am talking about imposter syndrome in writers and sustainable ambition. She asked me what sustainable ambition is. I gave about a 30 second run down. She kind of hinted, “Uhm… why did they ask *you* to present on that topic?” (She’s really good at asking questions in polite ways so my rephrasing is almost certainly more insulting sounding. She’s super sweet.)

I told her that I got married less than 9 years ago and at that time we had an on-paper net worth of around $300k and over $350k in debt including the mortgage. Now we have a net worth of $1.3 million and $150,000 in debt. We are doing pretty well.

Her jaw dropped.

“Wow. I guess you do have stuff to say on this topic then. Go you. That’s incredible.”

Yeah, I have a few opinions around managing money, savings, investments, and ambition. My opinions are not THE RIGHT OPINIONS EVERYONE MUST SHARE OR FAIL!!!!! But maybe someone will hear a useful tidbit. I was asked to come talk. Other people think they will enjoy hearing me talk about this topic.

Total anxiety fest.

As I’m heading into three conferences (technically at the third one I’m only on the hook for the Easter egg hunt) I feel a little bit more like “People are ok with me being part of their communities.” Even more so…. some of them want me to talk about my experiences. That’s very validating.

If I’m getting positive feedback like that, why do I need to hold on to the bitch/asshole thing?

Because I’m a woman. I will never get away from being a bitch no matter what I do. If I willfully take asshole along with it and I label myself as I see fit in a conversation (When you tell someone, actually I’m not being a bitch I’m being an asshole they tend to be so startled the insults trail off.) then I have a lot more control around my self-perception and around the perception other people have of me.

If I were trying and trying and trying to be nice I would fail and people would flay me with it. Instead I tell people I’m an asshole and they celebrate any ounce of niceness. Fucking awesome.

Ma-nipulation it is fun for me

I like to get my way and it is so fun-ny

(Ok, that rhymes into a little song I sing… Not sure that the tone carries through in writing…)

It is funny for me that if I spend a lot of time telling people I’m an asshole the primary thing people want to do is argue, “Oh no you aren’t…” and then when I do something that is an asshole move they look at me with shock. “Wait… you are… actually an asshole?!”

Truth in advertising doesn’t result in people believing you.

Yesterday I was skirting the bitch/asshole line pretty hard. We were at a trampoline place with friends. There were no employee monitors. So the little kids wanted to stay together in a pack. Which meant 3-7 kids bouncing on one trampoline at a time. I consider this very unsafe. I consider it very unsafe because I’ve seen awful trampoline accidents. (I spent time rurally in Texas. Those kids did stupid shit because they were bored.)

My kids don’t like being bounced. So my kids spent half the time screaming/crying “Get away from me” and “Leave me alone” because they kept getting hurt. If I tried to physically block off ONE GOD DAMN SQUARE other kids just would not leave them alone. I got so fucking mad. STOP BOUNCING MY KID SHE FUCKING SAID NO.

I didn’t curse once. I like these kids. But man their behavior was sucky yesterday. When someone says No, that means fucking no. What is your problem? Also I was extra triggered because one kid I like wrestling with (we’ve done it a lot over many years) kicked me in the throat and wouldn’t talk about it at all. Kid ran away laughing at me. I felt ridiculously triggered and upset. I’m going to need to talk to Parent and Kid about this. I am sincerely worried about accidentally hurting one of these kids some day because they are too rough with my body. I have a lot of reflexes that I’ve toned down but not eliminated. The kids are getting bigger. When they kick me in the throat now it feels like a real threat and I have to do a lot of cognitive processing to recognize that this child is not trying to start a fist fight. It’s hard to sit on. I need some better boundaries here and I’m not being effective at making them without Parent’s help. We’ll see how it goes.

It was at least 9 kids doing doing the chasing-jumping it so it’s not like I’m mad at one person. It was just stressful after a while. And I didn’t want to stomp down to the parent area and tell them, “Will you make your little assholes behave? My little assholes are trying and failing and they are getting hurt.”

Which isn’t an appropriate thing to say at all. No one likes you if you talk about their kids that way. Even though in my opinion EVERY KID IS AN ASSHOLE. I’ve met them. I’ve watched how they behave. Assholes. All of them. It’s not a huge insult it’s just an evaluation of their behavior. They don’t care at all how their actions impact the people around them. It’s a learned process to care about people.

I actually really like the kids that were there. I play with them a lot. We have many good and wonderful games. I feel like I have learned more about how to “play” with this crowd than I ever understood as a child. I really like these kids a lot. Losing contact with them would be devastating. So I have no intention of ever walking up to the group of moms and saying, “Your little assholes….” even though I wouldn’t mean anything that bad by it. That’s how I talk. That’s how I describe the mood of the moment, not their personhood.

I have lots positive to say about every single kid there. But sometimes their behavior sucks. Kinda like me.

I know they meant well. They wanted us to play their game with them. But I’m too big and Calli is too small and Shanna is just too much of a whiner. If I jump with five kids on a trampoline, we may end up with a trip to the hospital and the kids would not back off. Calli got hurt several times because she is just smaller than everyone else. She doesn’t want to feel like a piece of popcorn being tossed about without her will. And Shanna is… Shanna. “I went into the dodge ball area and they THREW BALLS AT ME. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”

Uh, yeah. That happens.

This is the trouble with not sticking kids in public school; they never get the cold hard reality that sometimes balls will come crashing into your face because obviously, “Ha ha” this is such a great game.

I may opt out of the next trampoline group event. We can go by ourselves. We have fun when we go alone. Then I can be as nasty as necessary to defend ONE DAMN SQUARE and Calli will get to jump without sobbing hysterically. We have tons of fun with these kids in every other setting. Maybe we are just not trampoline compatible. That happens.

I’m kind of mean to little kids I don’t know. They won’t fucking listen if you don’t have a harsh tone of voice. “Please stop” is ignored full speed ahead. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR HEARING I SAID STOP.” is listened to much better. I can’t be as harsh with folks we know because then their moms might develop a problem with me. It’s a balancing act of trying to be effective vs. trying to maintain on-going relationships. I really and truly think that children wandering around in the community need to run into the brick wall boundaries of strangers. My kids have gotten yelled at by strangers. Usually my response is, “You deserved it. You ran into someone who owed you nothing and you pushed your luck. Yup, that happens sometimes.”

My shrink and I had a long talk about “You like being that way”. Ok, it wasn’t a long talk. It was just a few minutes. But it was a good talk. Her point is that everyone has some sets of behaviors that feel more natural, more “ok” than others. When a new coping method comes up it can either feel like it overall matches “your approach” or it will feel alien and wrong because it is counter to your impulses. What she meant by “You like being that way” is, I am far more comfortable defaulting to an aggressive way of handling problems. It’s true. I am not always angry and I don’t always curse and I haven’t used actual violence in many years. But if I see a problem my response is probably going to be to walk up to someone and say, “I see we have a problem.”

And even when I do that in nice ways I get called a bitch.

Women are not supposed to be pro-conflict. That is espoused all over the world. Women should shut up and be passive. Yeah, right. (Yes, there are pockets where women are encouraged to be louder and more assertive. Yes, there are men who totally fucking love dominant women. These things usually fall outside the norm.) I haven’t heard that much about it, but I hear that in Chinese culture there is a stereotype that would work for me: Dragon Lady. Usually a grandmother/mom who runs a business? That’s the gist I’ve gotten. A woman who is good at being loud and in charge. Excellent.

I think that conflict moves the world forward. I think that right this minute the world isn’t that great and we need to change a lot of things. Yes, I understand that historically speaking we are at a great place for the rights of white women in first world nations.

I’m, uhm, less satisfied by that level of success than one might assume. It’s not like white women have achieved parity… they are just doing better than other races. Not ok. This has to change. Women in India still have to deal with the very real threat that if they talk back to a man he might throw acid on her face and receive no punishment. Feminism is Not. Fucking. Done. Women of color in this country get thrown under the bus by white feminists all the time and it isn’t fucking ok.

The fact that 91 people were killed by the police in January of 2015 is an atrocity. Most of them were men of color. Black and First Nations men die at a disproportionate rate from being killed by police officers. That’s an outrage. That is abominable, disgusting, and horrifying. There are more black men in prison now than there were black men as slaves! This is not ok. Just not fucking ok.

I think we need change. In our country, in our world. The only way to spur change is to make people uncomfortable with the status quo. George Bernard Shaw says (barely paraphrased): “The reasonable person adapts themself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to themself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable person.”

I’m an unreasonable person. Sometimes this manifests as being a bitch or an asshole. Then we come to cunt.

When I was a little kid there was one word that would cause my mother to drag me to the kitchen by my hair, yank my head back, and fill my mouth with Palmolive. Cunt.

The dirtiest word in our (my bio-family) lexicon. That is the lowest, most disgusting, most degrading thing you can call a woman. That is what I was taught. A cunt is the lowest social position available to a woman and it means contempt and violence at every opportunity.

Being a cunt means being a scapegoat. A cunt is someone who is conveniently assigned every negative behavior and mannerism one wishes to punish. Promiscuity, too loud, too abrasive, too self assured, too “mean”…. It’s complicated. It’s always sexualized. A cunt is a home wrecker.

I’ve never identified as a cunt much. I’ve never been able to get past my childhood conditioning. Even when I was out hunting for married men I was never interested in home wrecking. I usually fucked the wife too. I left them with happy memories and a kiss on the cheek.

Cunt changed for me after I read the wonderful book called Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. At this point I fairly freely refer to my anatomy as my cunt, especially during sex. But I don’t call people that.

Because I can never forget that the name of the most wonderful part of my body is supposed to be the worst, most terrible, most degraded thing a person can be called. Not cool.

So I conflictedly stick with bitch and cheerfully stick with asshole.

I manage this with the kids slightly differently. I don’t tell them I’m an asshole all day long. I nod and sagely say, “I can be quite annoying, this is true.” Why doesn’t it work that way when I talk to adults? Because I have to defend myself with adults.

I don’t have to defend myself with my kids. I have to explain what I need. Sometimes a few million times… but I don’t need to defend myself. (Ok, the odd sword-fight excepted.) They aren’t attacking me. They are looking for loving connection, even when they bug the shit out of me. So I don’t get as offensive. I don’t need to. It wouldn’t help.

I really like getting to have this experience. I like feeling loved like this, in gentleness and kindness. In this house, the best days involve the four of us piling on top of one another and talking for hours. Eventually we get a bit antsy and want to play again. Then, always, we wind up in another snuggle pile.

It is like a dream come true. I don’t know how to take this wonderful feeling out into the world and give people the benefit of the doubt. It has hurt me so much.

I’m a talker.

I read a nice article on parenting and princesses and race and I had lots of thoughts.

The first “Barbie” that came into our house was black. The first cuddly dolls I bought were black and asian. Eventually white dolls filtered into the house too. I didn’t buy them.

My children are white, privileged, and upper middle class. They will see the world I present as the default world.

I have pictures of naked fat people hung in my house. I love the work that Adipositivity does and I’m very happy to have my children grow up seeing the beautiful art work. Naked people are not a big deal. My children have been to naked bathing places. Yes, even ones that have both genders present. They are pretty good about how to behave. They’ve seen a lot of kinds of bodies. They think that people are beautiful in lots of different shapes and colors.

I can’t imagine living in a world where you must be thin, blonde, blue eyed, and white to be beautiful. That repels and disgusts me. No. I will not live in that world. You can’t fucking make me.

And thanks to the wonders of home schooling… my kids are growing up in a bubble of my reality distortion field. My six year old comments on being too skinny after her latest growth spurt, “I should eat more.” At a time when 1 in 4 girls under the age of seven have been on a diet. My kid has never heard about calorie restriction for the purpose of losing weight.

Food is fuel. My kids would tell someone that they were loco for not eating. “Without fuel you can’t use your body or your brain. You can’t grow. Don’t get dumb, eat something.”

I feel like I am living a science experiment. With enough privilege… is it possible for someone to grow up with the benefits of modern life while largely skipping the cultural framework?

I’m going to fucking find out.

From the time my kids were curious about bodies and asking for the names of parts they have been able to recite, “Most boys have a penis but not all. Most girls have a vulva but not all. Some people don’t really want to be a boy nor a girl and you have to ask them for their word.”

Ok, that third bit wasn’t there in the first year or so. I didn’t think of it then. We grow with time. But the kids have known it for a while now.

No, I’m not good at asking everyone their preferred pronoun.

I believe it is my job as a parent to prepare my children for the world. That doesn’t mean I need to immerse them in the toxic waters before they even know how to swim. My kids will deal with the fascist beauty standards at some point. But until them I will tell them that my mom-apron is a badge of honor and you have to “level up” or be born lucky enough to be fat enough to get one.

When your kids love on your belly this much… it is sad to see it shrink. I’m not having fun with losing weight.

I believe it is my job to set the terms of reality for now. In our experience of life people have different skin because their ancestors emigrated at different speeds away from the equator. No more, no less. If you meet someone in a given place it doesn’t matter what they look like, assume they are from here and act like that is true. They will tell you if they were not born here. (Wherever here may be.)

Boys and girls are both interested in My Little Ponies. It is always ok to ask if a kid wants to play a pony game. Some boys love playing “poor boy in distress” and you can totally ask if you can be his Princess-to-the-Rescue.

You are allowed to want to be the boss. That doesn’t mean other people at the park will listen to you. Good bosses learn how to be pleasant while they get people to do what they want. Sometimes a bossy voice is the best way to get your way and sometimes it will block you. Think about how you interact with people.

Science, math, and engineering are the building blocks of life. We talk about them all the time. There will never be a thought that “girls can’t do that”. Pshaw. Watch us.

My children are growing up with a very dynamic woman who does things. I declaim intentions and I get shit done.

I feel very conflicted about the not earning money bit. I really do feel like I’m letting down the feminist cause. I speak very positively about the benefits of being a working woman. My kids very much admire the working moms we know. Sometimes my kids ask to move in with them. Then I say, “Know how much time dad is at work? She wouldn’t be with you for that many hours of the day. You’d go to daycare with other kids.”

“Oh. I want to stay with you.”

Ok then. We’ll keep doing what we are doing so long as it suits us all so well. Calli and Shanna chafe at how many hours I spend “away” from them now. I don’t get 20 hours a week off between Noah and baby-sitters. They are really not up for less parental time. It is interesting to watch.

It is hard for me to live with the perfect seriousness of their declarations. They have no sarcasm yet. “I love you. You are the very best mom for me. I’ve looked at the other options. I’m so happy I have you.” Heh. I’m not the platonic ideal of motherhood. I would not be a good mom for many many many many children. I’m so lucky and so happy that I ended up with kids who are such good personality matches. That doesn’t always happen. It’s a gift.

Yesterday Shanna and I had a neat exchange. I don’t remember the segue but she said, “Yeah and if you did x like me you would have been beaten. I’m glad you don’t beat me.”

I said, “Is it kind of weird that I talk about that? I will never harm you like that. I will poke you. I will be obnoxious in your direction. But I will never harm you like that. I talk about it because it lives inside of me and I’m trying to make sense of it. I’m trying to figure out why they did it and why I am not going to make the same choices. I need to figure out what I’m going to do instead. I’m not very graceful about the process. I’m trying.”

She looked up at me and beamed she said, “I know you will never hit me. But it does make me have big feelings when you talk about it.”

I told her, “I’m glad you know that. I’m really sorry I scare you.”

“I’m really sorry they hurt you.”

Then she leaned her head on me. I hugged her. Then we went on with our chores.

I feel guilty about not earning money, as a feminist thing. I’m one of those terrible, disgusting upper class bitches. I’m a sponge “living off” my husband. I’ve read lots of nasty nasty thoughts about people in my position. In a lot of spaces I move through it would be more respectable if I had weekend shifts as a sex worker. At least then I would have the potential for autonomy and I wouldn’t be a dependent.

I live in a very specific, very specifically chosen world.

But feminism is about everyone getting to make the right choices for them. Yeah, I’m a dependent. I went hunting for a partner who was interested in supporting me as a home schooling parent. That was what I advertised myself as looking for. Usually I would bring it up by the third date. The only times I didn’t was when I knew before asking it just wasn’t an option for Reasons. I didn’t provide false advertising. I didn’t say I wanted 50/50. I didn’t look for equality.

Yet I did. I also said that I wouldn’t be in a power unequal relationship during the time I raised my children. Some SM or some roleplay is different. I don’t want to be a slave during the time I have children. They will not grow up with a subservient woman as an example. Nope, nope, nope. That was a conscious choice.

Other people feel like the job they do is enough reason to stay alive. Or they don’t think there is a reason to die, so whatever–they are here. They don’t question it. I think I need Reasons to stay alive. I need specific, conscious things that are pulling me here. Because I don’t have a powerful urge to stay. I need to know things will be better/different in the future. I need to. I need to work towards that reality about as hard as I can.

I don’t know how to shape a healthy family in the toxic stews of mainstream American culture. I see people who mostly do it… but I don’t understand how. That’s not a slam on them.

I need to pull out. (And we all know how well the pull out method works, don’t we?) At least for a little while. At least for personality formation stages. I want my kids to learn from me for a while. I want to teach them what the world is like. I don’t want to risk an apathetic kindergarden teacher. That damage can’t be undone.

My children are learning that boundaries are appropriate, even talking up the power structure. When I’m in a bad mood my kids will say, “Mom I think your tone of voice is a lot harsher than you mean.” They feel totally comfortable saying, “You need to calm down before you talk to me.” But they also deal with the fact that sometimes people sound angry without taking it personally. They have lots of practice with, “Mom is in a bad mood. Tone of voice will suck for a bit. It’s not you. I’m really sorry.”

They know that when you do something wrong you apologize, and try to do better. You don’t say, “Well you deserved it.” “I only hit you because you broke a rule.” That doesn’t happen here.

In our house if someone says, “Stop it” you must stop. Period. Even if you are the larger, more powerful grown up. We are past the dental wars, thank goodness. I hope to never have to overpower them again.

I am so grateful I get to have this experience. And I know that I mostly get to have it because of Noah. I am totally aware. That’s a lot of why I try so hard to be nice to him. He has been very good to me.

Life is very complicated.

Sarah brought up a point. She said (roughly), “So I was concerned after the day where you said 8 hours out of the house was rough. How is five months going to go?”

I’ve thought of that. It’s complicated. Part of it is: on the road trip we won’t have the socializing obligations that take so much out of me. We’ll have brief periods of seeing people, but not really. I work hard with the home school community. I have horrible anxiety there sometimes. Not with the women I know well, I’m pretty comfortable with them. But there are some of them that… well… I’m terrified of saying the wrong thing and having them tell their kid(s) to shun my kid(s). It’s very hard for me emotionally to interact with them. And sometimes… it isn’t appropriate to opt-out of interacting.

So spending 3 hours in a group outing is more like 15 hours of being out while alone with the kids.

Spoons, glorious spoons, we have to count them.

But I also won’t have the support I usually have. I have no idea. This could blow up in my face. I’m open to that possibility! I’m hoping that by being open to the idea of failure it will be less likely to happen. Realistically, I think there is the non-zero chance I will get to Noah’s first visit with us and cry and say, “You have to help me drive home.” Then we’ll spend 5-6 days coming home. I’ll give him at least two weeks notice of this.

Failure is always an option… otherwise you can’t try. That said! If we can’t do this trip I have to stop talking about the around-the-world-trip. So there is a fair bit at stake here. Either we can do it or we can’t. What kind of bitch am I? The kind who claims she can do cool shit and then fails?

think not.

I’m not really a bitch. I’m not sure why that word felt appropriate there. Trying to convince myself I’m more macho than I am? Something.

Every time I look at the map I rethink sections of the trip. “Oh! I forgot about so and so! They live right over…”

I’m kind of working on Plan B.2 right now. Because the detour I thought of last night only involves detouring off the main inter-state freeway onto more local highways so we can see some friends on the way past their state. That’s not anything big enough to justify calling it Plan C.

Because I labeled a Plan A. And that got shot to hell by thoughts of international border crossings and a strong need to re-see the Grand Canyon. “Mom it’s kind of ridiculous that you think that me seeing it when you were pregnant with Calli is good enough.” Strong opinions. We have them.

You saw snow when you were 2! What do you want from me?!

Every year snow trips, apparently. Oh well.

Can’t have everything, kiddo. The sooner you figure that out the better. Your life is not exactly lacking in experiences. There will always be people who have done things you haven’t. Don’t get competitive about life experiences. You’ll sound like an asshole. Do what you want even though that will mean ruling out options. You have that luxury.

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.

My kids are nice to me.

Yesterday I didn’t talk very much. I had headphones on for a lot of the day. I was in an evil, hateful mood and it was so clear to me that it wasn’t the fault of anyone I was standing near. (Sorry, Pam.) So the birth control pills haven’t leveled out my mood yet. But I’ve only been on them a week and I started mid-cycle so who knows. Next month will be more of a test. I haven’t felt suicidal so far, just homicidal. See, this is why I don’t own big weapons. Mood swings are bad.

I feel so much guilt when I unfriend, unfollow, unsubscribe anything/anyone. Like I owe these people my attention. I really don’t. I don’t have enough time in the day to pay attention to everyone who is on the internet. I just don’t. I’ve cut my reading back substantially. If the people in my daily life wrote blogs I would follow them religiously. (You turkeys are not providing me with nearly enough voyeuristic delight.)

But I’m really tired of following people I don’t really know and I won’t know them better. Some people aren’t interested in me and that’s cool. I can be annoying.

I’ll just leave you alone. You can spend time with the people you actually like and I’ll be over here. Doing something else. Maybe alone and maybe not. Who knows. I don’t mind being alone as much as I used to.

Although the more alone at home time I have, the more lonely I feel. To this effect I’ve been back on Mothering.com. Mostly hitting up the unschooling board to talk about philosophies with people who aren’t going to send periodic reminders that if you aren’t TOTALLY AN UNSCHOOLER you should go somewhere else. My local list is not very inviting. There is some kind of metric of purity I don’t understand. If you say something too homeschooley that isn’t unschooley enough (No one is able to tell me an actual difference) the mods get really upset and tell you to take it elsewhere. They remind us extensively that there are other homeschooling-not-unschooling groups where we should be instead.

I’m getting really upset about feeling shoved out of a club I am clearly in. There are very few people on this planet who get to assign me hoops to jump to prove something. These women? Not so fucking much.

I would really like to know more unschoolers. Not because I want to ditch the school-at-home friend or because I want to fill up the time so we can’t see traditional schoolers.

There is a huge difference between talking to other unschoolers about school-related-anxiety than talking to someone who schools. Schooling parents (whether at home or brick and mortar) have different anxieties about learning or not. For me, is my child experiencing holes in her learning because I was really stupid and I missed something really important? I am responsible. And I’m not following a road map. That is scary sometimes. If you follow a curriculum… you have a road map. Your kid will vary, sure…. but you at least have the fucking map.

Someone drove me out in the middle of the desert, blindfolded, gave me a water bottle and a compass and said, “See you later, sucker!”

Other unschoolers have more of the same experience. Unschoolers make some stupid choices. We reinvent the wheel every fucking time. “Hey, there’s this great way to teach this subject you just buy this curriculum and…” “Oh no! NOT US!!!! WE WANT TO MAKE UP OUR OWN PATH.” Not so smart, I think.

Ok, I could defend it at great length. There are reasons I make the much harder choice of reinventing the wheel (twice–my kids have dramatically different education needs and not just because of the age gap) but it’s hard. I want advice. And if you don’t unschool… it’s conjecture.

I listen to conjecture with way more grace than I used to. Let us give me credit for that.

I think my social circle is probably pretty much set for the next ten years. But I’d like to find 2-5 more unschooling families. Preferably within five miles of my house. (Since I’m writing a wish list.)

I already know three home schooling families who live within a four mile radius of us. If you include further afield in Fremont, but still “local” we know four or five other families but we don’t see them as much.

If I got to write my future (not that I think I will necessarily get to do this, but this is my fantasy here) I would find two additional families to the ones I’m already really tight with. Eventually my cat will die (I feel so guilty every time I think of this) and the one family will be able to come over again. (My cat is causing them breathing problems and that is just Not Ok. I support them not coming over indefinitely until circumstances change. We meet at the park instead.)

Anyway back to what I want. I would love to have five families within a 6 mile-8 mile diameter circle so the kids would be able to ride back and forth to one anothers houses within a few years. What I would *love* is to have periods of time where we do co-op type learning. Mondays are at house A. Tuesdays are at house B. Wednesdays are at house C. Thursdays are at house D. Fridays are at house E (or alternatively–Friday could be “at home” day for everyone–maybe I just want one more family–ha).

Different people are good at teaching different things. I don’t mean English/Math/Science/History (although as the kids get closer to middle school that could be hella fun). I mean, I would love to really teach the kids about painting and building and gardening stuff. These are skills I like teaching to children. While they are small is a great time to learn it so they just have it in their back pocket for later. I am *not* the best mama to teach most cooking stuff. I mean, I can. But it’s not my passion. Other people want to do that crafty shit  I mean wonderful stuff. (I can’t sit down and work with my hands. So I’m kind of a jerk sometimes. I’m sorry.)

It’s a process.

I think I want this because I read about something similar in an off-beat parenting book. I think My Mother Wears Combat Boots but I might be wrong. She had lots of neat details about unschooling her kid.

I don’t necessarily mean spending 6-8 at the various houses. 3-4 hours might be plenty. Partially I would love to let Shanna have the experience of seeing *the same group of people* that many times a week. Mostly my kids have to be ok with the fact that people in their life are all on very long rotations. I just can’t handle driving more.

Noah and I have been having some pretty fierce debates about feminism and gaming and how when you support the system that helps the rapists (sure–you can have a great excuse but what about political dissidents?!) then… well. I was a dickhead. I said, “When the Nazi’s were killing Jews there were people who put the Jews on the train. And there were people who stood there and watched and said, ‘There’s nothing I can do.'”

So I lost that argument according to Godwin. I can live with that. For the record I’m not calling Noah a fascist. Nor a Satanist (which he shouted at me yesterday because he was using a straw man because he didn’t want to directly argue with my main point.) No, you aren’t a fascist nor a Satanist. But sometimes you are a rape apologist. Sometimes you think it is way more important to protect 10,000 guilty men rather than risk 1 innocent man and fuck how many women are thrown under the bus in the process.

No, I don’t think you are a Nazi. Nor a Satanist. I’m more realistic than that. You don’t do anything bad. You just stand there and say, “There’s nothing I can do.” That will always be hard for me. That will always feel like complicity. I know it isn’t *Noah’s* fault any of this happens. I know he isn’t the one out there harassing women.

But the men who do aren’t going to listen to women like me. They are going to listen to men. Only men are allowed to change male culture. Not me. And I’m really tired of being told that I should somehow come up with a way to fix something that exists before me, outside of me, and almost entirely out of my sight. I am not welcome in any of the circles where it could be fixed.

It isn’t my fight. Not really. I can fight defensively from my side. (Which means offense, but I’m learning to be more careful with that.) I can’t change that side. That is literally Not Within My Power.

I don’t think Noah is God or anything. I already gave that handle away. (And now God has a kid! The universe is really interesting sometimes. No, they didn’t name the kid Jesus. I did not pronounce that like Jesus Christ and more like Jesus who picks your veggies.)

My expectations are too high and thus I will be disappointed. I know that. I know it isn’t Noah’s fault. I don’t actually expect him to get on his white steed and run off to save all the womens. That’s not really a role I would assign him.

What do I even want him to do? Not defend the behavior that protects rapists. Reddit and 4chan are wrong for covering up the identities of people who steal pictures of women and putting them on the internet.

That’s not free speech. That’s permission to commit as many crimes as you want. Different. 

Stealing and displaying something isn’t free speech. It isn’t. It isn’t. It isn’t.

(If you live in more than a bubble than I do–some asshole on 4chan hacked into Apple’s icloud storage and stole some naked pictures of celebrities from the database. Some have been claimed as true and some have been denied as fakes. I haven’t seen any and I don’t intend to. They were Not Made For Me.)

I am pro pornography. If you want good pornography I can ask you some genre questions and probably refer you to one of my friends who works in that genre so I can give you high assurances they aren’t being exploited and in fact they love their job.

I am going to submit my book to two publishing houses on Monday. Like, put it in the mail. I have almost all the stuff together.

I have a handful of early readers (no comments yet) so that is… nerve wracking. I’m pretty sure that me and the editor are the only ones to read it cover to cover yet.

The planter boxes are coming along. I’ve painted the pallets on top and one of the bases is about 85% done. The kids did it by themselves. They just missed a few small spots. No biggie. Easy to fix.

Noah, I think you are a saint for putting up with me. I’m really pretty harsh with you. You tell me that my level of happiness is directly tied my expectations and you are right.

And yet… I am a controlling person. I like having influence. Over the ten years you have known me, you have changed a lot. I wish my methods had been more gentle. I appreciate that when I hit something you are unwilling to change you are very clear so I can move on. I don’t like wasting my effort. I put a lot of effort into you. I want it to be useful instead of wasted.

I love you. I know I am not easy to live with. I know I move things around all the time and you have trouble figuring things out. I get the impression you grew up in a static environment. I’m sorry I can’t give you one. This is the least dynamic my living environment has been. I am practically static. All I do is shift my organizing stuff as the proportions change. Not that much real change. But sometimes the canned foods are in the kitchen and sometimes the garage. It sorta depends on how many we have.

I’m trying to figure out how to fit. I’ve never fit anywhere ever in my life. This is really hard. I don’t know what it even means.

I was on NextDoor last night (my shrink recommended it) and I sorta went off on the people who were being nasty about how poor people maintain their homes. “Don’t they have any pride?”

There were many years of my life when my food money per month was less than these women consider “just part of life” to spend on a gardner. And yet at this point, I do have a gardner. Whom I overpay because he doesn’t actually do almost anything. But I’m happy about it. He does whatever I want, he’s always super nice and he’s got a kid in UC Davis. I can overpay him a little.

I said that I spend a lot of time walking in our neighborhood and I talk to anyone who will put up with my chattiness. Many of the untended yards are due to poverty or disability or maybe both. Are these really people who need to be shamed because they do not have the resources to keep up with the Joneses?

I’m probably not going to be popular. I can tell.

I’m never going to be quiet again. I have all the privilege I could ever want and more. I am secure. It would be pretty hard to threaten me. Once someone starts threatening my life I will start practicing more with the cross bow I was kindly given and I’ll carry around my baseball bat.

You aren’t going to chase me out of my home. So I feel pretty fucking secure. Maybe it is hubris–if people with guns started hating me I could die. But there isn’t much I could do to protect myself from such men anyway. (Could be women but statistics say it is unlikely.)

Who am I? What am I?

Don’t know. But I’m going to be loud about it.

Some days are like that.

I’m in a bad mood. So I’m out here to medicate and write and hope I can cheer myself up.

My arms hurt. That doesn’t help. It also means that writing is questionable.

Noah and I have been bickering. We don’t get all the way to fighting. Neither of us allow that. We walk away before it escalates. But there is a lot of tension right now. Noah looks at almost any problem as if you have to have a problem-proof solution before you can change things. I think that favors the people already in power (like him) and I think sometimes you blow shit up without knowing how things will work out. Might get better, might get worse.

Given how well his life is going for him I see why he doesn’t appreciate assholes like me. For the life of me I don’t understand why he wants to be married to me.

I’m feeling my feelings. I told him this morning that sometimes I wonder how long we will be married. It isn’t Noah’s fault that sometimes I look at him and see the enemy. I’m not the most rational person on my best days. I wonder if I will be able to get over myself. It isn’t that I think Noah is actually doing anything so bad. But he has a lot of opinions I’m openly contemptuous towards. That’s really hard on a marriage. He tries to be patient with me, but it is very hard to be nice to someone who is contemptuous.

Would I respect him more if he built houses or fixed cars instead of building video games? I clearly didn’t go marry someone in one of those professions. There isn’t a lot of ambition in most construction workers or mechanics. They solve the problem in front of them and that is good enough for today. I really like and admire ambition. How come it had to come packaged with video games? Because that is how it works for my generation. I like Noah. I like how his brain works. I do kind of wish that someone as smart and talented and basically competent did… I don’t know.

He wants to work with computers. I married someone who has been obsessed with computers since he was seven. He doesn’t want to work for the government and he does want to make money. That means you go to the highest bidding company and frequently those are places like… video games.

Just because I don’t play them doesn’t mean they have no financial value to someone.

I feel existentially bothered by video games and I don’t know how much of that is tied to my brothers beating me up when I asked to use their consoles.

I really am a fucking asshole.

This is compounded and escalated by feelings I’m having about friendships. I thought of someone it would be nice to see. I added her to a Google group. Well, I sent her an invite. She told me since she would never come to my events she wouldn’t bother to join the group. But I could come visit her some time if I wanted.

I know a lot about her life and surrounding circumstances. I get it. She has experienced rapid physical decline over the last few years. She is barely getting her job done and her social life has evaporated. It’s not about me. It is not personal at all.

But I have a lot of disabled recluses in my life. If I went from friend to friend every day I would only see a couple of people twice in a month. People who have their own disabilities tend to have more patience with my deficiencies. I have periods where I don’t go anywhere or see anyone for a long time and my friends wait them out.

But I know a lot of people. I can’t carry the weight of going from house to house visiting my friends. Even if I want to. Even if I put them on a rotation and only see 1-3 in a month it is hard.

I wish I had more spoons but I don’t. I have just over fourteen more years where parenting needs to get basically all of my patience and “give” to anyone other than myself.

I don’t feel like a very good friend. This person in particular has been very frank with me that the hourglass is running out on her life. She will not live with the kind of pain she has right now for much longer. I have a lot of respect for that. I think people get to decide for themselves when they hurt too much and they need it to stop. Even if that means suicide.

So I feel like a giant asshole for not wanting to prioritize a lot of visits to her house. I will only have the privilege of her presence for a few more years, at most. How dare I waste even one minute of that time?

But if I prioritize her pain over my own and over making sure I have a network of people who are good for my kids I will be doing the most important job I will ever have badly.

Some people in the Leather community are shitty about boundaries with children. I don’t take my kids around them much even if I love them a lot and think they offer great value to the world.

My kids don’t need to grow up in Leather. No thanks. They don’t need to know it is a culture. They don’t need to talk about being from a multi-generational kink family. (I met a cousin at a national bdsm conference. He says his father and grandfather are openly involved. Seriously. My brother and I have had conversations. My family is so fucked up.)

It is kind of hard to make mercenary choices about who I let my kids spend their time with. I feel really guilty and mean. But I’m going to do it anyway and live with the guilt.

It is hard to make real conscious choices about how my kids are spending their time. It is hard to step back and objectively evaluate “What kinds of relationships do they have and how are these relationships serving them?” My kids are treated very much like clients if I were a case manager. “What kind of care are they getting?”

It is hard to evaluate myself. Much harder than evaluating other people. I can’t see me objectively and my evaluations match my overall self-esteem which means I have more days where I think I am doing badly than days I feel like a good parent. But I persevere because I have a lot of external validators in place telling me to keep on keeping on because I’m doing ok.

I can’t evaluate myself. So I try to make sure my evaluators are people whose opinion is worth listening to. They need to have enough experience in doing what I’m doing that I will listen to them. I like older women a lot. I am a serious asshole about discounting the opinions of people who have never done what I am doing.

Meh. How can you judge. How do you know? When it’s not like everyone who has done stay at home parenting (or even home schooling) is really fit to judge anyway. I’m inconsistent. And an asshole.

I tried to get a bunch of yard work projects done this week. I entirely failed and I feel bad about myself. Part of the problem is lack of upper body strength. Part of the problem is that many of these projects are two person projects because you require three or four hands at times and…

I can’t ask the kids yet. I get too impatient and grumpy and it isn’t fair. I can’t ask.

So my lack of productivity (even though I kept up with house chores and nearly a full time job of socializing) means I feel really shitty about myself. Cause I’m like that.

“If you didn’t let blame take up so much space in your mind….”

Oh fuck you. Did you sit down with a catalogue and pick how your brain works? No? Then shut the fuck up.

I only hear such commentary from people who are highly successful in repressive regimes. By those standards the most success I have had under such a system was marrying well. I really think it’s kind of idiotic to think I am otherwise going to be like people who grew up to be successful in such a regime. I haven’t done so hot on my own.

I’m not financially secure because I’m good at the system. I had some lucky horrible luck. That’s uhh, not the same thing as being good in the system.

I had an extended runway in the form of an accident settlement. It’s not that I’m that good. How would anyone else do if they were given $250,000 slowly between 18 and 32?

I’m not that special. I’m not someone who has risen in this system. Expecting me to be supportive of the system and expecting me to think well of the system is… kind of dubious.

I’m aware that the rug can be yanked out from under me at any point. I’m not secure. My status is not my own. It’s borrowed at best. I’m not going to be real loyal to borrowed status. I don’t care that much if it is lost.

I wonder how long my marriage will last. I’m afraid I’m not going to be capable of being as nice as Noah deserves. I won’t stay and abuse him. If I get too bad I will just go. No one deserves to be punished for all the broken in me. And I’m not sure I can be nice forever to someone who is so supportive of the status quo.

Today I feel very scared and very sad.

Today I feel very sure that I can ruin any good thing and make it bad. It’s just a talent. I can drive anyone away. Just give me some time. And if I can’t drive them away I’ll run away. One way or another I am going to find a way to prove that I don’t deserve to be loved. I am too bad.

I should probably stop writing and stop crying. We need to leave for Hindi class in 15 minutes.

Control

I’ve been thinking a lot about behavioral modification and control. I mean, these are frequent topics for me but they’ve been using a lot of bandwidth lately.

What do I want to be? Who do I want to be when I grow up? Am I allowed to be that person while I am fulfilling the same roles I have always filled for people who will not meet my needs?

I have some friends, at least a few, and many of them are guys. Not all of them. I’m not one of those women who “can’t get along with women”. Which I always hear as “it is easier to manipulate men so I stick with them”. I like and hate everyone equally. At least in terms of group identifiers. I like Christians as much as I dislike some of the dogma associated with the religion. I like guys as much as I hate them. Individuals of course all get their own readings.

“When women say “all men” they hurt the feelings of the nice guys.”

Maybe the nice guys need to learn that when people are writing something they aren’t always writing to and for you. If you can’t handle reading something unless it was specifically written to coax you then you have bigger problems than anyone else can solve for you.

I read a lot of very anti-white writing. I read a lot of people of color who have tremendous chips on their shoulders. They just fucking hate white people. I’m white. Do I feel like I should get defensive and try to get them to prove that they don’t hate *me* because I’m *special*.

Or would that make me a self-involved asshole? Think hard here.

I know more men who are not rapists than I know rapists. By a large margin. That does not mean I should give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Sorry. Even if it hurts your widdle feewings.

I don’t figure out who the predators are by looking at them. I do default to assuming that the less physically attractive someone is the lower the chances they are a successful predator. I am more relaxed around men who seem non-sexual enough.

Which is probably something that causes those men enormous pain in their lives. See how I can’t fucking win? The signals that do signal safety are things that are offensive to really judge.

But even that isn’t full proof. I know better. So I’m paranoid.

I don’t think that most of the men in my life would have the balls to attack me at this stage. I have done my best to develop a somewhat scary reputation and those things spread. Folks who know me are fairly safe. But a lot of my male friends are what I’d call Alpha. They are bossy motherfuckers and by and large that works for them. They don’t get called on it much. They have carved out little lives where they are tyrants and everyone around them does what they say and falls in line and things work out. They aren’t violent or “abusive”. But they will grind on you till you verbally give them what they want. I know a lot of men like this. Only a few women.

These men take a lot out of me. They take as much out of me emotionally and mentally as managing a large group of children. For one person. Seriously–I can manage six kids on a day trip by myself far more easily than I can have a friendly chat with many of my male friends individually.

I’m starting to see that as a problem.

As I get older the needs in my life are becoming more predictable. I have more of a schedule. I’m not always moving. I’m not always adjusting to an entirely new cast of characters. I have added in the home school crowd in the last three years and then a running buddy after that. Otherwise I haven’t been picking up new relationships lately. That’s weird. I have been dusting off older friendships. I have been spreading myself out differently.

Sustainability is more of an issue now. I can’t drop many balls in order to completely adapt to a new environment. That’s a privilege I have lost. I didn’t know it was a privilege when I had it. Now “normal” people make more sense to me. Why they say “I can’t” to so many of the things I propose.

Life is different now. I have to have a very different amount and kind of control. Now it’s a marathon, not a series of sprints.

My running buddy and I have decided that it is more sane (given our life constraints) for us to do a 10k at the beginning of October and a half marathon at the end of November. She thinks we will be walking. I don’t think so. I think our first 10k time was pretty fast. I think we will be able to train up to having my third official half marathon be as fast or faster than the second. We’ll see.

Running with her is fun. She and I have a lot in common. If our lives were more similar I think we would conflict like oil and water. Luckily our life constructs are so entirely different that we don’t have to worry about our (ridiculously firm) opinions getting clashed with. We are both very encouraging of taking up space and what that means. We are both also working on control in a variety of parts in our lives. But very differently so we can talk without feeling judged for how we do it. Our circumstances are entirely different. We need different tactics.

A lady I like and respect says she is thinking of starting a discussion group for women once a month. I would drive to Redwood City for that. I would feel comfortable and safe talking to people that woman would invite. I would be different from most of the people she invites. I may or may not be the emotionally explosive (we’ll see) but I will be able to blurt something, then apologize for tone and rephrase and they will try to hear me. The stakes will be low.

When I get too tired from the emotional labor of translating from my brain into “difficult self-centered man language” (obviously not all men or I wouldn’t be bothering to specify a sub-group) I get really testy and pissy. I take it out on everyone who walks by. I feel brittle and made of glass. Like the slightest lean of an arm on my boundaries might shatter them. Then I withdraw and spend a lot of time crying.

I probably need to pay more attention to who makes me react that way and pull back from all of those relationships. I’m starting to see how the cost is becoming higher than I can pay. I don’t have enough spoons to have to process someone that much. And the only way to get them to stop hammering on you is to keep arguing until you win or meekly say they are right a few times so they will back off.

I’m not fucking letting them win their bullshit arguments. I could start using some variation of “You are being an asshole. Shut the fuck up.” But I don’t think that would go over that well.

My other option is to drop the friendships. Which will result in its own bitterness and trauma. Because life works that way.

Knowing you and being your friend is very hard work. Sometimes I can do it and sometimes I can’t. Being friends with me is very similar, so clearly it isn’t an “only men” thing. But aping this form of masculine behavior (because clearly what the people who object to my attitude are really objecting to is that I am a woman with this attitude–from a man it’s ok) causes me other problems.

Men don’t like losing dominance challenges to women (unless they really like it and that’s a whole different ball of string). Although many men are just flat used to losing dominance challenges and they sort of sigh with resignation and get on with it. The fight has long-since gone out of them.

Then there’s Noah. He neither likes it nor has a desire to deal with it much. We try to solve this by not challenging one another because neither of us appreciate losing dick contests. We have different strengths. Cool. You go be awesome over there and I’ll be awesome over here and we can wave. Both of us are grudging losers. But we don’t hold grudges. And we are willing to be convinced when someone has good data. So it works out.

So clearly not all men suck. Yeah, I get it. But some really do.

I have control over very few things in this life. I sorta have control of my mind and body. I mean, I’m not crazy effective with my body but I’m relatively fit. Not mentally. Oh man. But I get by. My deficiencies exist in ways that I can work around and develop counter-balancing strengths that balance things out. Life works that way.

We aren’t all cookie cutters. Trying to develop the control to just do what others tell you is antithetical to developing the control that allows you really define yourself.

You must pick one or the other. If you want to be obedient, you give up the ability to really judge what you are. Your very essence and priorities and impulses have to be secondary to what someone else wants.

I am not a secondary character.

I have been. I was because I wanted to fully embody what that meant. I wanted to understand it.

Apparently I decided I don’t want to be it. That’s been an interesting process.

I don’t know what my very-argumentative-men friends get from knowing me. I think I need to stop caring. They take so much from me that I don’t have enough left to do what I need to do. That’s not fair to me.

I don’t really care if cut-off culture is “mean”. It is mean of you to come to my house and argue with me for hours such that I spend hours crying. For years.

Why do I accept every friendship on offer?

Because I do. Because I always have. I let people come until they don’t want to come any more. But sometimes they have to put up with me being explosive while they are here because I am just fucking out of cope. Lots of people take that as a sign and never come back.

I drive people away. I don’t do it on purpose. I do it when I lose control. When I can no longer choke down how bitter and angry and violent and hateful I feel.

It doesn’t have to be at the person in the room. Maybe I’m just having a day where I’m heavily processing stuff about my biological family. If I’ve done a lot of very hostile writing that morning the whole day might be off. Then I’ll lose the reins on my tongue. Something that is highly tinged by my ambient hostility will come out. Whoops. I didn’t really mean it. No really, I didn’t mean it. I said it because I’m feeling spiteful and that was twisting the way I think about you. I’m really sorry. I’m really sorry.

Is isolation really the best solution? Just work on cutting people out of my life until I get to the point where I can always control my mouth when I am with people?

When I hear people complain that someone requires them to “walk on egg shells” I hear “I don’t want to have to care about who is listening before I speak”.

Yeah, some people personalize everything they hear and decide that the speaker must be talking about them personally and therefore the speaker hates them and is a Mean Evil Person. Yup, I know.

I read a lot of rabidly anti-white writers. They are fully unapologetic as they rant about how evil they perceive white people to be, yes, all white people.

I read this and I try to understand why they believe what they believe. Why it has come to be unavoidably, undeniably true for them.

Everyone has a story. Their story makes sense for them whether you like it or not.

What kind of control a person has decides a lot about what kind of life they have. How do you teach self-control? Financial control? Work ethic? The ability to be adaptable and able to just make something work with whatever it is you have in front of you? These things are all experiential. You have to do them and make mistakes and learn how to do it right. The younger you start the better.

I confess that I feel a little growing anxiety around Shanna not reading yet. I’m reading dyslexia information with dismay. Most of the markers for a diagnosis of dyslexia involve social problems caused by the social stigma of being slow. I am choosing to just read the development books that say “It’s normal for many children to transpose letters till seven or eight.” I notice. But I’m not “doing anything” to correct her.

Everything I have read says that some children are just not physically ready to read until seven or eight. Their brains are too busy doing other things and when you try to force it, you lose a lot of self-confidence that can’t be gotten back.

I’d rather have Shanna deciding what she should be doing with her time right now. She wants her parents to read to her. She isn’t ready to start reading. Ok. I didn’t start reading until the end of first grade. I didn’t really expect her to be required to start reading before I did even though so many of her little friends read. We know a high number of hyperlexic children.

I need to not look at hyperlexia and think my kid is slow. That’s not rational. Good grief.

Shanna’s comprehension skills are several grade levels higher than her physical ability. Lots of research says that will equalize if she’s given the time and space to live and be and learn what she needs to be learning right now instead of worrying about that.

I read the nay-sayers too. I know the con arguments favor conscription into the systematic learning enclave for the sake of party unity.

I don’t think everyone is the same. And I don’t think that everyone has the same ability to be able to conform. I know what the standards are. My kids are always going to be above and below their peers in varying metrics. People are like that. The hope is that they will come away without the bullying and belittling that exists in public schools for any variation.

I’ve been to a lot of public schools. They are all brutal. Some people get lucky and they are in the middle or they are high in the pack so they do ok by the system.

I don’t think my kids will be in the middle.

I don’t think they will always be high across the board. Ha. Shanna isn’t that coordinated. She makes up for it with tenacity and endurance. She’ll try again. And again. And again.

Sometimes watching her fail at things fills me with awe. She knows it is possible for someone to do this. So even though this hurts (and occasionally out will pop “shit”–I ignore it) she keeps trying. I’ve seen her whack her head dozens of times trying to do something. She did get it right eventually. Stubborn fucker. My kid.

Calli, by contrast, is slightly less persistent but much more initally successful. I’m in trouble. I think Calli stands and watches Shanna’s fuck-ups and learns. She is much more able to figure out how to do something right after Shanna has figured it out. Ha.

School is almost out. We are going to be riding the bikes in the parking lot every day. Side walk learning was just a non-starter. She kept falling into driveways. Lots of scrapes. Lots of not-willing-to-keep-doing-that.

She sees no upside. “But I can already run to all the places you want to ride bikes to. It’ll be fine. I’ll just run along side you.”

Only then I have to go at the speed of your running compared to the speed of bikes. NO.

Calli can outdistance her with a balance bike. It’s pretty impressive to me.

In the last month I’ve had a whole bunch of people ask me “Is Calli tall?” Uhh, I don’t know? For the comparative age she is much taller than Shanna was. She’s wearing size five clothes and she turns four at the end of the summer. I think they are only 5″ apart in height. I don’t know what the average gap is between siblings who are two years apart in age. And I don’t know if Shanna is tall. I haven’t been paying attention to such metrics. I could go look it up. I mean, I am on a forking computer. Shanna is in the 88% and the 24% for weight. Calli is in the 96% for height and 57% for weight.

Holy shit. I guess they are tall. And I was right for perceiving that Calli was on a faster growth curve than Shanna. I think Calli will be the taller adult. That’s my current crystal prediction.

On the last few pediatrician visits we haven’t talked percentiles. I didn’t ask and it didn’t come up. I suppose he isn’t worried so he doesn’t say? He just says, “They are growing well. Good job.” and does a no-touch pat on the head.

Wow. I haven’t looked at percentiles in years. I’m writing it down mostly because this is the only way I will have later record.

Since Calli is by far the more coordinated one we should put her in basketball. Ha. I play more catch with Calli. Shanna has never liked it much. I’ve always tried. She likes “fetch” more than catch. It’s kind of hilarious. She’s happy for the interaction. She’s happy to be met where she is. She doesn’t like having balls thrown at her. But she’s happy to chase one for the fun of it.

I can understand that.

 

Limits

I know a lot of gun people. In general the way I deal with this is to kind of pretend they aren’t gun people and I go on my way. I’m not a big fan of guns.

This shooting down in Santa Barbara is bothering me. Yes, I know he stabbed three of the victims. Yes, I know he killed more men than women. But he went to a sorority intending to punish those people for existing sexually in a way that excluded him. He wanted to punish the women and the men.

He felt bullied. People not wanting to be his friend felt like bullying.

What is the line for bullying? Is exclusion bullying? I am hearing more and more that cutting people out of your life is bullying and mean. It has been called violent.

But I know some big scary men who own guns. And they feel like it is totally ok to say, “Well if you bully someone long enough they get to defend themselves.”

When the bullying is mostly that women don’t want to have sex with you…

The only way to “not bully” is for women to open their legs for you no matter how the woman feels about it. That’s not a problem?

I am having one of those Gavin DeBecker Gift of Fear sort of conversations with myself. I know that I have consciously gone after friendships with scary men to desensitize myself. I know that I pick “friendships” with people who are dangerous in a variety of ways because that’s who I think I deserve.

I’m kind of starting to think that my kids deserve better. I’m not sure my kids need to grow up with men who think they have the right to shoot people who are mean to them.

I’m starting to think there might be a problem to *me* choosing friendships with people who think they have the right to “defend themselves” with a gun against people who are verbally bullying them.

I’m not arguing that you are bullied. I’m saying that if you think using a gun is an acceptable response then you aren’t safe to stand near.

Notice how I don’t own guns? They are not an acceptable response to people being mean to you and I have poor impulse control. That’s how you god damn manage it when you have rage issues. You don’t go buy guns.

I feel like my politics have radically shifted.

I’m tired of the rights of gun owners being far more important than victims of violence. I’m tired of it being true that 10,000 rapists will walk free before we imprison one innocent man.

Who gives a shit about them.

It’s not just women being shot or raped. Why are only women saying that it needs to stop?

I think I’m going to have to draw a line in the sand. I don’t think I can continue a relationship with someone who will defend the actions of someone who commits a mass murder.

I think that’s a limit.

Who’s the boss?

70-something year old neighbor came over to help me fix something. He noticed that Noah was at home in the garage working on the computer. He said, “Oh I see the boss is home.”

Noah and I looked at one another. I swear his expression was, “Oh sweet god he said it not me please don’t punish me.”

Then we both looked at the neighbor and Noah said, “Uhhhh, yes. She is home.”

“Oh I didn’t mean to start nothing.” Then he snickered. I think he did.

Oh man.

Piercing the veil.

I do not write as a passive aggressive way of controlling the people around me. I write because otherwise I have trouble noticing patterns of behavior in myself. If what I write makes you think hard about your life and consider some issue, great.

If you ever feel that I am saying too much about you or your family or your pet you are free to ask me to stop.

Otherwise I’m getting kind of tired of the fact that I’ve spent the last fucking month bouncing between people who are upset with me for things I write. They feel attacked.

Uhm, no one is forcing you to read. If you feel upset by what I am writing feel free to take a break. I am not feeling ok with the pressure to stop writing. I am feeling more angry by the day about how many people have gotten really angry with me in the last month as I try to deal with my anxiety.

My anxiety is not your problem. No matter who you are. I am not writing this post to one person. I have had intense exchanges of one sort or another with at least seven people in the last month.

I have to stop being responsible for other people having feelings. If my writing triggers big feelings in you that bother you and make you unhappy, stop reading it. This is an opt-in space. I do not think it is appropriate that I should have to stop and feel anxious every fucking day about the fact that me processing my shit is going to make someone else feel attacked.

I’m not attacking you. I’m sitting in my fucking garage trying to figure out how to not blow up when I am with people in person. I do this because I know in my gut that no one deserves me blowing up. I do it for environmental reasons–not usually for actual provocation.  If you don’t like knowing how I go through that process, opt-out. We can have a cordial in person relationship where I can tailor what I say to your personal preferences. I can not fucking handle the stress of trying to please everyone when I write.

I am not responsible for your feelings. No matter who you are.

I have to say this.

Perspective is everything.

Yesterday I spent a while talking to a woman who has been fighting/is slowly dying of cancer. When she got the diagnosis her plan was to not fight and just go when it was her time. Then her grandson got engaged and she wanted to be at the wedding. Then her grandson knocked up his long-term partner just before the wedding so even though the wedding already happened she just doesn’t quite want to go yet… even though she is very tired.

Let me fucking tell you I did not burden this woman with my problems. It was fascinating to listen to her though. Why does she decide that suffering is worth it? She is at a point where she isn’t sure she has fight left in her. Does that mean anything bad about her will to live? How much will to live should anyone have? She is already in her 70’s. She has had a good life.

I got married and had children because I wanted to believe there was a way I could have those things and have it be different than what I have known. I have managed to have a very different relationship. It requires me to be isolated most of the time because I can’t handle more stress. But I’m doing what I wanted.

When I’m done with this isolated early-childhood experience my children will be socialized the way I want and they will have a very secure attachment from which to go out into the world. I don’t think they are mine to control forever. I just think I am not capable of keeping them safe if there are too many factors in our lives. I lose track of what the left hand is doing if my right hand has to multi-task eight things.

She asked me a lot of questions about what I am doing with the kids. Why am I home schooling? Why do I believe the things I believe about early childhood development. I had answers. Lots of answers. Non-depressing answers! I was proud of myself. I told her at one point, “I’m usually Debbie Downer but I’ve been chipper this whole conversation so I’m pretty proud of that.” She laughed. Overall talking to her was a delightful experience.

The older I get the less people hate me for being weird. I don’t need anyone else to accommodate me any more. When children are weird it creates random and unpredictable work for adults. That is very annoying.

Yesterday I was told that having a big garden is one of the best things I can do as a parent. When my kids misbehave–make them weed. It is productive, non-painful, but always has to be done. Excellent advice. Ha.

I find that older women listen to why I home school and think for a bit then they say, “I wish I had had the courage to keep my children with me. Go you.” I’ve heard that a lot. I’m not sure it is about courage, exactly. I am this selfish. It has taken a long time for me to realize that a certain level of being selfish is utterly required for a human being to have a happy life. Some people are “altruistic” to such a degree that it is actually quite selfish.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would take for me to make the jump to seriously not wanting to die in a permanent way. I mean, I don’t have a choice about dying some day. It is the universal equalizer. How do I stop wanting to be done?

I haven’t had suicidal ideation in a few days. More than a week? It’s kind of hard to track because the closer attention I pay to tracking it the more present it is.

What would have to change in me, what feeling of security would I need to have in order to really want to live? Noah feels sad that he isn’t enough. He isn’t. Noah represents too much potential pain. I trust him more as the years go by. I didn’t think that a man would ever be able to spend time around me without requiring degrading sex. He doesn’t. I don’t really know what to make of him.

I’ve been writing more letters to Noah’s family. Doing so always makes me feel sad. I tell them things because I wish I could tell my mom. I’ve been thinking about my mom every day. Lots of grieving left to do there. I am so sorry, Mommy. I know I have hurt you so much. Maybe in the end I have hurt you more than my Dad did. I feel so bad about that. I’m sorry.

The only way I know how to move the pain away from you is to take it on or move it to my children. The only way you know how to deal with pain is to blame children and say everything bad is all their fault. Even though the bad started before they were born. I can’t let you do that to my daughters. I just can’t.

My children believe that everyone makes mistakes and we have to forgive one another but you are not to blame for actions that are not yours. Not ever. If you are not the one who did something then you should not be punished. Period.

That’s on the long list of reasons I can’t send my kids to public schools. Teachers have to punish whole groups or whole classrooms because they can’t single kids out every time there is a problem. No. Just no. I don’t think they would be destroyed. Yes many generations of Americans have lived through it and “everyone is fine”. I don’t want it for my kids. I’m not fine.

Solving yesterday’s problems. That is what I am doing. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. It is what everyone does.

I like talking to older people. I more or less beg them to tell me that there are stages of life with less pain coming. Near as I can tell the pain shifts. I will have less emotional pain and more physical pain. I can handle that trade. That won’t be worth dying over. I feel like a loser but I will take physical pain over emotional pain every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Why do you think I cut for so many years?

I was brave yesterday. The person who is building stuff in my yard has a lot going on. I completely respect that. I get that he has five thousand things pulling at him. But every time he comes he gets slightly less done than he hoped to do and he rarely stays for more than two hours at a go. (I track everything.) He originally told me my list of projects would take ~5 days. He is about halfway through those hours. I asked him if he could come more days over the next week because I would really like the yard uhm, neat enough to clean up before the birthday party. Right now I keep hurting myself tripping on lumber in the back yard.

Why is this brave? Because I feel like a fucking asshole for asking him for more times of showing up but once he is done then I won’t have to pester him any more. It is hard to say that I want him to treat me like a priority so he can get this over with and move on. But he’s been coming since February for five days of work and it is August. Time to finish up. I’m not mad. I just want it to be done.

It is hard to ask for things. It is hard to not feel like an overly-demanding harpy. I don’t know if I have been or not. I think I am going to stop hiring people I know for work. I can’t be demanding with them if I otherwise know the circumstances of their lives yet I feel like I really want to be able to be demanding when I am paying someone to do something. Conundrum. (The work he is doing is beautiful. I really appreciate all of his labor. I am not slamming this man in any way shape or form. I’m sorry I am so impatient. Please don’t be mad at me, L.)

Today I need to clean. I’m pretty sure I never cleaned the house in July. I don’t think I vacuumed once. (To be honest now I mostly vacuum before a crawling baby comes over. I only did the once a day thing while my kids were eating floor candy.) I haven’t swept or mopped in a long time. (Thank goodness for a good exterminator getting rid of the ants. Ha.) I have kept up with dishes and laundry because those things getting out of control is just too hard for me. I took pictures at the worst of the mess because K feels so insecure about my ability to keep my house clean all the time. Ha. No, it isn’t clean all the time. I just make sure that I keep little enough stuff in my house that everything has a home and everything can be picked up and put away in under three hours. Or I would want to beat the shit out of someone.

If it took eight hours to clean my house I would be homicidal. It would not be ok with me. No one has the fucking right to expect that much labor from me on a given day. I don’t know where my entitlement comes from. But man I don’t want a bigger house.

The longer I stay in one place the more I like it. The more I feel like I am picking out behavior traits from a menu that was not previously available to me. “Feel content–check.” It isn’t that I am “happy” all of the time. I’m not sure I am physiologically capable of being “happy” all of the time. I spend too much time scared or angry. But I feel secure. I feel safe. I feel content. I feel like I have done such work as deserves pride. I’m not Rembrandt but my house is neat. My yard is fun. It is small and packed with interesting things to do. I make it more interesting by the year.

(Seriously, I spend a lot of time hiding in the blue potato vine secret club house. I pull a chair in there and read during the heat of the day. It is perfectly cool and shaded and surrounded by pretty flowers. I feel so lucky to have the life I have.)

It is kind of funny to notice that I feel anxiety about “not having a job” because I feel like I am letting the sisterhood down. But uhm, the sisterhood has by and large not been great to me as an individual. I’m loudly feminist. I am supporting the Cause and all. Isn’t it ok for each of us to choose what makes us happy? What load we can bear?

I keep thinking that I want to start observing the Sabbath. Not in a believing in anything kind of way. More from a “no technology and no work from sundown to sundown” sort of thing. Human beings need rest. We are bad at observing that. Keeping the Sabbath is actually a very physiologically healthy thing. Then follow that by walking to the farmers market on Sunday morning? That feels like a recipe for increased health compared to what I have always known.

Reduce the harm you inflict on yourself. Step by step, bit by bit. I’m trying. (Every single time I stop and notice that the pain in my abdomen is gone since I stopped drinking carbonated water I feel a bit more stupid. Wow. We really do cause our own misery; we usually don’t understand how we are doing so but we do.)

Ok, people with lifelong disabilities will hate me for that. No, not everything that happens to someones body is their own fault. As a culture Americans are spectacularly bad about causing physical problems through our choices. Walking away from that line of thinking now.

The woman I spoke with yesterday asked me what I get out of thinking through past mistakes. I said it is very important to me to make 10,000 mistakes instead of 10 mistakes 1,000 times each. She laughed. I told her I have the kind of family that makes 10 mistakes. I don’t know how to change that pattern without being very aware of it. I’m not making the same mistakes I used to make–not at all.

Well, there is that whole existentially an asshole thing. But come on, who is paying attention to that as a mistake? That’s mostly considered a personality bug at this point. A very useful one that I don’t trot out much any more. I don’t think I will ever be willing to give up on it. I just try not to inflict it on non-deserving people.

I think I will always be prone to shouting at people who have the audacity to say racist and sexist things to me. I don’t think I have the desire to stop reacting. I don’t want to be one more silent person. Silence is consent. I’d rather be an asshole.

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.

incomplete thought

“Women are afraid men will rape them. Men are afraid women will laugh at them.”

If you look at DNA samples twice as many women throughout history have bred than men. This more or less translates to half of the men who have been born have been an end-point for the human race.

If a woman laughs at you, that means the end of your line.

Maybe that isn’t as small of a thing as it sounds.