I don’t sleep much while it is hot. My err internals are unhappy. I worked on a book for a while this morning. *pat self on back* Now if I can just keep this up I might be more than a one hit wonder. Not that my book was a hit. You know what I mean.
I’m kind of tired and mellow feeling. It is actually nice. Noah is going to take Shanna to camp today (she said please and all) so I will be at the nursery at 8:30 when it opens. A friend asked to come over and garden with me today. I can barely contain my squee. We will be weeding and mulching and such. (Yes, Pam I saw your note about “just use cardboard.” All of the cardboard on my property is still in good shape and the kids play with the boxes.)
I absolutely HAVE to work on the fence today. No excuses! I was productive all of yesterday… just not on the fence. This is going to be difficult to force myself to do. I can tell. I’m terrified of fucking up and having people make fun of me or hate me. Oh well. Keep working.
This morning I was foolish and I read some of that nasty anti-home schooling stuff. Oh boy are some people pissed off about even the *idea* of home schooling. Has someone tried to force you into something? Is there a reason you are SO ANGRY with people who make this choice? No? Ok then.
I get the logic that putting my kids in school would be better for the other kids in the school because then I would be forced to be involved with the school and I would make it better for not just my kids. I absolutely agree with every step in that process.
I just can’t get onboard with the part where I am supposed to throw my kids under a bus because it would be better for someone else. My experiences of public school have been bad. Not just for me as a student, but as a teacher and as a person in the credential program.
I won’t force my kids to be part of that system. I don’t believe it is healthy for our species to be forced to sit in chairs for 6+ hours/day while quietly listening to someone else. Nope. Not what we are meant to do this lifetime.
I understand that this is a privileged position. I believe that I am stinking with privilege. I have choices that many people can’t even dream of. I think that is positive and I am not going to give up my choices just because they aren’t available to everyone.
I don’t see 5 star restaurants going to a McDonald’s level of pricing (and food quality) just so that it is faaaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr to everyone involved.
Life isn’t fair. At all. Ever. There is no fair.
That said, I am pretty happy that Noah’s obscene raise came with a much lower than expected amount of money. Ahhh skipping tax brackets. That’s ok. We don’t actually need all of the money. It’s ok that it is being used for services for people who need them. I feel pretty good about that.
I can give some things in some ways. I can’t necessarily give what someone wants or needs. I don’t want to be responsible. I am too selfish. I will donate money and food. I will assist with my labor when I have extra spoons and not when I don’t. I am not going to be forced to sign up for working all the god damn time for someone else’s benefit. I don’t care enough about other people.
I can say that out loud. I don’t care enough about other people to give them the time and energy I want to use on my own selfish pursuits.
Could I donate more time so that I am making other peoples lives at least slightly less awful if not better? Probably. Almost certainly. There is no shortage of suffering in the world.
Some people feel motivated to help a lot a lot of the time. That’s awesome. I’m glad you have so much to give. I don’t have it. If I try to do that I end up spending a lot of time cutting my body to remind me that I don’t matter so I don’t forget who I am supposed to be focusing on.
Cutting really is a useful tool. I think about it a lot. I think about what it does and why it is useful in the ways it is useful. Self-control is both under rated and under valued by most people. Very few people have the self-control to abruptly shift large chunks of their behavior. It is the same thing as not that many people are truly good actors. Same mechanism.
Cutting influences a lot of brain chemicals. Cutting is a dramatic shift to the body chemistry makeup. It induces calmness and a feeling of focus–tunnel vision, really. When your body is in shock it tends to shut down a lot of your nerve endings. You stop getting a lot of distracting messages from your body.
Cutting allows me to borrow spoons of self-control. I don’t really have that kind of calmness in my body without something to trigger a much-larger-than-usual grab of chemicals. Yay drugs! Due to experimentation I have learned a lot more about what my base level is vs. what is my elevated mood vs. what is my depressed mood. It’s a process.
Sometimes it is very powerful to stop and really concentrate on how powerful my brain is (your brain too; just sayin’). The brain scans they are doing these days feel like magic to me. You can see what is happening. The most magical part is you can see how people have the sheer willpower to change things.
I believe that my brain was altered by trauma. What I mean by that is I believe my brain adapted to living in an environment with a freakishly high level of stress. That is the level of stress my brain believes is necessary/appropriate to common life.
If my brain adapted to stress, how can I consciously choose to change the adaptation again? Studies show that mostly people don’t change much. It is hard. It takes will and effort and work and misery.
Being inside my brain sucks bowling balls through a hose. It isn’t fun. The difficulty of changing things is really hard to notice when stacked up to how shitty it is to live here.
I believe in magic. I believe that people make things happen when everyone else believes that it can’t. It happens all the time.
I have had the good/bad privilege of spending a lot of time with people who have experienced severe traumatic brain injuries. I have seen people survive the most horrifying accidents with terrible injuries. Their lives are forever altered. They can’t get back to being who they were.
I have no before picture I am struggling towards. That isn’t part of my story. I don’t have a base line to return to. All I have is the absolute all encompassing belief that I can change the story. I can learn how to be a good parent and I can be present through a healthy and happy childhood. This is not about a return to anything. This is about consciously choosing something different from my life.
Last night we read the part in the Little House in the Big Woods where Pa teases Laura about the kids getting only a switch in their Christmas stocking if they are bad. Shanna’s eyes went wide.
“Those parents hit those kids?”
“Yup. A long time ago people believed that if a kid did something bad the parents were required to hit the kid to teach the kid a lesson. It never worked very well.”
“Gosh I’m glad that no one has to be hit in this house.”
Me too. She cuddled up really close after that and told me that she would never hit me because I have been hit enough. I didn’t really know how to respond. I kept reading.
I’m reading my friend’s book. It is a rather fun read so far. I’m about 20% into it. He combines irreverence and history in his fabulous manner. (He intersperses national/international news events on the time lines to let people get a scope on what is happening. He said which year (I’ve already forgotten–1800’s, I think the last number is a 4 or a 6 but the decade escapes me and that is pretty important.) that Beethoven began de-composing. Similar gems are liberally sprinkled. I’ve always liked his writing. That’s why I know him in the first place. Yay for internet friends.
Why is it that I feel like I am standing still and free falling at the same time? I feel like I am not doing enough and I am terribly bored and I feel like I am doing too much and I am so overwhelmed I cannot possibly keep functioning at this rate.
I’m not balancing the marathon vs. sprint timing thing very well. I’m not actually talking about running–it’s one of those metaphor things.
Gardening has a rhythm and I am struggling to learn it. Some months of the year I need to spend 40 hours/week in the garden. Some months I spend more like 1-2 hours/week. I don’t yet feel this rhythm in my bones but it is coming. Spring is like a drug for me these days. Must move. Must plant. It is weird and primitive.
Summer is feeling different. I am a delicate and trembling flower and I wilt in the heat. More accurately I have attacks of horrifying bowel pain. I HATE SUMMER. I spend hours a day not sure if I am on the verge of spontaneously vomiting or shitting my pants because I won’t make it to the bathroom in time. It is hard to keep a schedule when I feel like this. (For the record I have only had one bathroom accident since childhood. The first day Noah went back to work after Shanna was born I had not yet learned that post-children the urgent signals are uhhh less timely and more actually urgent. Eww. Eww. Eww.)
But I have managed to go to the water park at least one day a week since it opened for week days. *pat self on back* That is a summer routine that I want to start. We only stay for an hour to an hour and a half. We might stay longer if the kids could do more swimming on their own and I had to do less work. As is I don’t have the physical ability to manage entertaining them in water for four hours. I take this as a sign that I am out of shape.
I feel like what I should do is make up a variety of different schedules–the way I did when I was teaching. Year planning was my favorite step. <3 It is like a puzzle! What do you want to do and when? How does it all fit together to make a cohesive picture of education? How do I fit in all of the standards and methods of teaching I want to hit?
I used to list: poetry, grammar, writing, reading boring analytical non-fiction, reading novels, reading short stories all as separate units. How many weeks to spend on each? How many hours in those weeks? How do I pre-test to figure out what people already know so I don’t bore the shit out of people? How do I evaluate people accurately to find out what they really learned?
If I had a dick this process would give me a hard on. It is a control thing. I like feeling like I am dotting all of my i’s and crossing all of my t’s. (I understand that in that case the apostrophe isn’t strictly appropriate but it looks bad any other way of writing it. See, this is what many years of obsessively worrying about grammar gives you. You know the rules and don’t follow them any way because the rules suck. Go English?)
I probably should get out some paper. It is easier without typing.
What are my categories now? Gardening, schooling, social activities, making food, cleaning house, money (there are a lot of once a year payments, for example, so budgeting is kind of weird), kid-separate-from-adult-time (my kids are *not* actually attached to me at the hip very consciously), reading, writing, running, hygiene (this takes time! Every Damn Day!), and I could come up with more if I tried.
They are all on slightly different schedules. Some things are scheduled and balanced on a month to month basis, some things are scheduled and balanced weekly or even daily. How do you balance all of the daily obligations against the weekly and monthly and annual?
Near as I can tell most people do more or less what their parents did because that is what they know of life. Thus I do a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul because that is what I learned. I do it while squirreling away a lot of money which is, strangely, also what I learned.
I don’t usually mention that my father was rather well off throughout my childhood. I lived in poverty. I ate nothing but ramen and free lunch. I moved every three months because we were couch surfing and my mom couldn’t pay rent. He would tell my mom he was too poor to pay for things but he had a lot of savings. My mom just flat never had enough money to live.
Shanna sees me play with Mint a lot. She asks what it is. I talk to her about the balance of wants and needs and future savings. I tell her, “If you save money and you have a buffer then you don’t have to feel afraid when unexpected things happen. You can just shrug and move on with your life. Not having savings is one of the scariest things in life. It means you can not go out and solve the problems that come up and that is really hard.”
When I lived on $1200/month I had $3,000 in the bank at (almost) all times in a savings account I otherwise didn’t touch. My theory was that I might have to leave suddenly at some point in time and I needed a buffer. I burned through the buffer when I left my Owner. I got down to the point of my bank account only having four digits.
My friend offered me $100. He said that was his friends-need-help emergency fund. I wouldn’t let him give me money. I told him that I would make it come out ok in the end. I was right.
It is harder to deny yourself things you can afford to buy than it is to not buy things when you have no money. That has been my experience. It is harder and harder for me to save money. (In my defense the largest chunk of my spending is going to paying the mortgage off faster. I shouldn’t feel so upset with myself for not “saving” when I am spending the money on debt pay off instead of consumer spending but there you go.)
A while back I read a book, Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation and whereas I am not up for adopting most of her methods or practices (I’m not taking up Catholicism nor sports) I really latched on to a few important points in the book. If you are really nice to your kids and you are interested in them and you share things with them then they will want you to like them. If they want you to like them then they will make choices that are in line with your values.
What are my values then? I want my kids to be interested in life and in people. Most people are good. Most people are pretty kind when given the opportunity. If someone is not kind to you, pull back first but be able to attack to defend yourself. You are worth defending. Read as much as you can–as many different kinds of things as you can. I believe that there are more things to learn than there is time in the day to learn it. I want my children to believe that their body is theirs to do with as they please–not as someone else pleases (unless it is fun and then I just don’t want details–m’kay?). I want my children to believe that work is necessary and fun. I want them to understand that different people are good at different kinds of work and that is no judgment one way or another on the people or the work. Do what you like.
I want my children to understand that they have privilege. That their ancestors have been privileged for quite some time. What does that mean about our place in the world and in history?
I check a lot of books out of the library that deal with African American issues. Seeing my little Aryan baby read, “A long time ago before you or I were born our people were enslaved” makes me wince. I told her that actually her ancestors were the slave owners. She asked if my ancestors owned slaves and I got to say no. (Yankees, more-recent-immigrants, and prostitutes for the win.) There goes white guilt in full form! But it’s true. Noah’s family owned slaves.
I find that as I get older and as I read more feminist writing I realize that if I were to fall into the most obvious trope presented to me I should hate Noah. I should hate everything he stands for and everything about him.
That is really hard to live with. I’m sure that is as hard to live with as the trope that women are just meant to be props for a man’s life.
I don’t hate Noah. I like Noah. Having the life of privilege he has had has made him one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever had in my life. But maybe he just treats me that way because I put out. I’m only sort of kidding.
I am nice to Noah and he is nice to me and we have a whole virtuous cycle thing going on. Different people care about different kinds of “being nice”. Different people want different kinds of support.
In the past three days I have talked to four different women who have all been extremely upset with their (male) partners because of a lack of support. In most of these cases the woman can’t even put her finger on what more support would look like but they know they aren’t getting it. (Mothers of many children can come up with a list of what they want without having to pause for breath.)
When I think about how upset these women are I stop and think about how tired Noah is. Then I cycle through my male friends who are working as hard as they physically can to support their partners.
Yes, yes I know that the “love languages” crap plays in with it but it feels bigger than that. I think that evolution wants us to feel like what this person is giving us isn’t enough so that we will go shopping for someone who provides us with more. I think that it is just a good bet in terms of producing prosperous off-spring.
Only it doesn’t work. Because splitting up families is hella complicated. I think about the interweaving needs that exist in a family. I think about how children learn to care for themselves and for one another earlier when there are more of them around.
Then I come back to the fact that Noah started off in this world no bigger or stronger than me but he is now in some ways. He may or may not have a higher IQ. I definitely have a higher EQ. He has a higher earning potential at this stage. I can run farther. We are different. We are not equal.
How does one measure worth? I can hate him as a symbol of oppression or I can recognize that he personally isn’t oppressing anyone and he hasn’t spent a lot of time actively doing any oppressing. Living with me has dramatically changed how feminist he is at work. (I feel damn proud of that.)
He is moving in the direction of having power and influence. And I stand behind him filling his ear with my opinions. Does that make me a prop? Is he a prop? Is he just a paycheque to support my lavish lifestyle?
We are good at very different things. We like very different things. We complement one another. And because we are white that means that we have what is sometimes presented as the widest array of options in life.
My demographic is mocked up one side and down the other in the media. I am an upper middle class rich white liberal. I am a stay at home mom and I home school my kids. I am a punch line and a punching bag. Waa waa poor me.
Do I want to be a caricature? Do I want to treat Noah like he is a caricature? Noah is an upper middle class rich white liberal gamer geek. Doesn’t that make him kind of icki by definition? And don’t let that sicko watch My Little Ponies!! Ahem. Sorry.
What does being anything mean? I never identified as trailer trash despite living in trailers off and on and despite white trash being so much less “ok”. I am not defined by the box in which I sleep. Or in which I fuck random men I just picked up.
What am I?
I told Noah the other day that most of the people in my family would describe themselves as good people who sometimes do bad things. They are rapists and pedophiles. Ok, most of them aren’t rapists. But even the non-rapists adamantly defend the rapists.
I think of myself as a bad person who doesn’t really do bad things very often. I believe I am inherently unworthy of any relationship. It is inevitable that I will kick the cabinet off the wall. Duh. Being the kind of person who can, has, and may do so again means that I am just bad.
Do I rape people? Well, I’m pretty confident that I have not raped anyone since I was eighteen. I am pretty sure that I did commit rape before then. I am so sorry. I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t understand power differentials. I didn’t understand that I was ever capable of having power.
Sometimes I look at Noah and I understand on a gut level that he doesn’t see himself as someone who has or has ever had power. He is still in that timeless place with the little boy who wasn’t treated all that well.
I mean, not that he’s immature or anything–that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m saying that ones internal perspective doesn’t much resemble other peoples view of one. See how that non-gendering thing is awkward?
I do not believe I am a good person. It is, frankly, freeing. I get to make selfish and self-interested choices without caring that much about the effect. I generally do take the effect into consideration because I will have to live with it and all. That is one of the best parts of getting older. You have had a chance to learn from more mistakes.
Every time someone tells me not to dwell on the past I wonder what they mean by that. The people I know who tell me, “I don’t think about the past” are people who have the same little cycle of life over and over with people who are practically paper dolls. People who are roles.
I don’t hate Noah. I don’t feel I can. The longer I know him the older and more grizzled he becomes. (He’s got quite the beard these days.) But I see him as younger and softer as time goes by. I see more of his innocence and his desire for simple connection. I see more of him wanting to be liked and feeling sad because he knows most of the world doesn’t like him very much. (I mean, he’s charismatic and has friends and all–but he’s a symbol to be hated.)
What does any of it mean? Nothing? Everything? Who knows. I like him. I like the life I get to share with him more than I have ever liked anything in my whole life. I feel grateful for the peace and joy in my life. I have stability, safety, and privilege. I can write for six hours straight (in various places on differing projects) when I have insomnia (or intestinal pain–let’s be clear here) after getting almost six hours of sleep because my husband helps so much.
I can invite two kids over for the weekend and trust that my husband will just be around making food and cleaning up messes and playing with kids as much or more than I do.
Sex. That is the thing to schedule that didn’t make the list. I’m sorta interested in my cycles around that as well. Obviously I am more interested in sex around ovulation. We often have most of our ten times a month sex in a four day period. It’s awesome. But he would prefer other spacing. I struggle internally with treating sex like a chore to cross off the list like brushing my teeth.
Why am I having sex ten times a month? (Ok, I’ve actually had at least two months in the past year where I didn’t put out ten times and I’ve had paroxysms of guilt. I try to compensate by some months getting up to more like fifteen. Noah agrees that it balances and all is copacetic.) Because sex is a lot of where Noah gets positive energy. He is drained and tired all of the time. If I put out more he would have more energy. This is a pretty trackable situation in our life.
But it is different for me. Sex is different than it has ever been. HA! I’ve been trying to think for days what base lines I have in my life. People revert to base line when they are under stress. I finally came up with one: picking up strangers for sex. That is probably the primary base line behavior I have had in life. I did it for 27 years.
Monogamy is weird. I’m not even going to call it boring because it isn’t that it is boring. It is consistent, but not boring. It feels different in a lot of ways I don’t feel up to putting into words right now. I hear breakfast finishing up and my arms hurt.
And then I’ll just abruptly stop. Because I can’t end for shit.