Category Archives: money

The American Dream is a lie.

Today someone I like a lot asked me for advice about how their family can attain a lifestyle more like my family’s lifestyle. I feel like a fucking asshole but the only way I know to do that is be born to rich parents who will fund your Ivy League education with no loans.

Noah is where he is because of the start he got in life. Sure, he worked hard and he made smart choices along the way… but it’s bullshit to say he got here because he worked so hard. There wasn’t a bootstrap in sight.

Sure, he had an almost omniscient prescience to pick the programming language he specializes in. He picked it up when it was brand new and hardly anyone in the world knew it. He gave up his free time and his friends and allllllll kinds of good times with me to specialize in this because he believed this would be his best shot at being the kind of provider he wanted to be in this life. Let me not underestimate the fact that he has worked fucktastically hard on this language. After a lifetime of working hard on a variety of other languages. He did the work to make it through that Ivy League college and lots of people are literally incapable. I don’t want to denigrate that.

But we have this lifestyle because Noah was born to a rich family.

It’s not because we worked harder than other people. It’s because he had advantages and I have the ability to stretch a dollar to cover $40. Because I had to as a child.

Because when I was a child someone handing me $5 could make a huge difference in how I ate that month and I carry these lessons with me. So when I land in the position to manage a rich person’s money… I do pretty damn well.

It has been hard learning how to buy more expensive things less often… but I have learned. Mostly I was just used to buying the cheap shit and duct taping it back together when it broke.

Our lifestyle is insanely luxurious. I’m a god damn stay at home parent and Noah works in the garage. We travel a lot. We eat sooooooo well.

We don’t have everything. We make choices. Our cars are eleven years old and one is dying pretty intensely and we intend to cope with one car for as long as possible when the Prius dies. The minivan looks solid to last five or more years longer and I don’t care that it has dents and scrapes and the side view mirror has broken three times and it shakes when I drive…  We don’t have excellent clothing in the main. Noah and I bought an insanely expensive set of outfits next year and we might wear then until we are buried. The kids get around $100 of new clothes in a year and otherwise… I buy used or they get hand me downs. They are in classes but not everything. They don’t get to go do fun activities that cost money constantly because I just refuse. Our entertainment budget hasn’t gone up with our income and I think that’s great.

Instead we hemorrhage money on health care. Wheeeeeeee.

And the bathroom. Ugh. That was twice as fucking expensive as I wanted it to be. Paying that off is going to hurt. When we finish paying off the bathroom we will have paid off about $600k in debt over the course of our marriage between the mortgage, school loans, remodeling, and cars.

Our lifestyle is simply not attainable if you did not get born to wealth. This isn’t because of me. This is Noah’s financial story and I’m just along for the ride; I like narrating.

Education is really expensive.

There are two conferences I’m interested in for this summer. The CA home school association conference and a conference aimed at the families of gender non-conforming youth. They happen on consecutive weekends in August. Today I looked up the registration costs.

It would cost a hair shy of $1100 to register my family for both conferences. That’s not including food or housing costs (both of them are about an hour away, which is a barrier to my attendance if I have to commute each day). One of the conferences encourages using their on-site sleeping arrangements that go for $90/bed/night/person. So they would want almost $800 for my family sleeping there for two nights.

Do you know what we don’t need to do this summer? Go to conferences. We can stay home. We can study some books and try to talk to people in other ways.

I have to stop hemorrhaging money. You can’t have everything you want in life.

Ok. This is where I have to pretend I have self discipline. Sigh.

This is not going to be a lot of fun, but ok.

We have been threatened with a lawsuit. We technically were told we had to respond by today or we would be sued. My response? I’m contacting lawyers and journalists about SLAPP lawsuits. Guess what? In California if I press a counter-SLAPP lawsuit my legal fees will be reimbursed. That right there might be enough reason to never move out of California. Bless you, California.

I’m not looking forward to this. I wanted my legal stress to be over. But guess what I care about waaaaaaaaaaay the fuck more than I care about ending my legal stress today? Being able to describe what happens to me as accurately as I can.

If you don’t like what I say about you, try changing your behavior. A lawsuit isn’t going to do the trick.

I have money. If I have to take out another personal loan to cover legal fees I’ll do it.

Sleeping is for when Noah is home.

I really should sleep. Instead I’m…. uhh… reading Reddit. It’s a fascinating thread about poverty.

But this other one is one is a super neat thing about educating students who come from a variety of kinds of poverty. This is good stuff for anyone who provides direct instruction. How do you help your kids overcome deficits?

I’ll fess up now.

It’s bad. So bad. This year… everything blew up financially. So much money was blown. So much. Oh I’m not happy with myself. Here we go. I have to honestly account for it. Fuck.

First, I want to say that if you screw something up one month in Mint (like, by expecting way more income than you get in a month) it’s hard to fix that in later months.

This is reversed from how I want it to look. Sigh.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-56-33-am

That’s what I call “not good”. $27,900.60 in cash and a whopping $130,239.78 in debt between credit cards and the HELOC. That’s not good. This is why we are going to arbitration. Hopefully we will get a chunk of change back and all of that credit card debt will evaporate and a big chunk of the mortgage. With luck. Let’s see if that dude who read my astrological chart was right. He said I will always win when it comes to money in court. Let him be right.

I think he mostly wanted to get laid.

Anyway.

I’m digressing because would you want to delve into how things got like this? Probably not. Well I don’t want to either. Here’s a trend view for you.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-03-09-am

The bestest thing I can say about that pie chart is that I spent more than 50% of my spending on home spending. That was kind of a goal. Given that it was competing with the vow renewal and a couple of surgeries… Excellent. I did keep pace with that priority.

Then a whole bunch of that might come back and it will look like I spent more like 43% of the year on home spending. Don’t judge.

So I can succeed and fail at the same time.

Here is what that looks like broken down:

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-06-03-am

Holy crap for crisco. This is my life. We spent… an obscene amount of money. Holy tomato. And we aren’t done. Out of that $213,620.84 spent on “home” $127,802 went towards the bathroom remodel. We are hoping to get $70,000 (approximately) back from the arbitration. The lawyer has been over $9k so maybe we can deduct $60,000 from what was spent on the bathroom remodel bringing it down to a more reasonable $67,802 for the remodel? Maybe? Ok, that’s just a pipe dream at this point… but if we win on the arbitration then the bathroom will cost more like what I wanted to spend. $60k-$80k.

We’ll see. No news on how the rescheduling is going if it is going to be rescheduled. Wheeee. (Long story. Opposing party hired new council at the last minute and is attempting shenanigans.)

So we spent $72,508 on mortgage this year. That’s progress towards a goal. Awesome. I’m thrilled.

That leaves another $13,000 spent on home stuff. Oh goodness. Yeah… that’s a lot of home maintenance stuff. Freakin everything broke this year. I made progress on fixing a bunch of stuff. I spend money on amending dirt every year. Living in a swamp kinda sucks.

The vow renewal was awful. screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-14-37-am

Given that I initially asked Dark Garden if I could have an outfit for $8-$10,000 and I walked out of there spending closer to $30,000 it makes a lot of sense that the vow renewal was twice as expensive as I wanted it to be. My initial budged had been $20,000. And then the clothes. We didn’t really earn money back for the cross country trip, but my credit card lets me cancel out travel expenses at a higher rate of return per point spent and it has to be recorded somehow.

This next section is a break down of health.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-19-52-am

My experience of paying for child birth is I should expect about $10,000. That means $38,642.23 is probably not that far out of line for what to expect for next year. I should plan about $3,000/month. Oh wow.

I’m so lazy I can’t be bothered to track down that one lonely coffee shop purchase to make things align with my normal categories.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-24-20-am

When my house is exploding with chaos we eat out a lot. Having to stop work to make work to clean up work before I can return to work… wears me out. That’s what making food feels like. So we eat out a lot. And just generally… wow that’s a lot of money on groceries. We eat well.

Kids. I might write more but I have a kid chattering my ear off and I can barely think.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-38-01-am

Part of the reason that their activity section is so high is because we paid two years of an activity mid-year. Our babysitter got a good sized Christmas bonus, she didn’t quite work hard enough to earn all that. But if everything were fair she earned twice that so whatever.

Shopping is the next chunk of the pie.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-40-54-am

I don’t feel good about having that much uncategorized money. I also haven’t had the time or mental bandwidth to be more careful this year. Being rich is so god damn awesome. I feel guilty taking advantage of my buffer but this year I have to the limit.

Gifts and charity:

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-42-38-am

That’s not what I want it to be going forward but we’ll figure it out.

When I feel like I’m completely failing at meeting my financial goals and I need to stop being such a god damn slacker I remind myself… this is my net worth.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-11-45-35-am

It’s ok to fuck up sometimes. I’m doing ok. Am I doing perfectly? There is no such thing. I’m doing ok.

I could be more detailed but I also could be painting. Bye 2016.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Lest I sound like a one trick pony… My Bonus Kids spent the night! As usual, this is thrilling and wonderful. I’m doing my best to smile pretty at their parents and say, “Wouldn’t split custody be niiiiiiiice?” Not 50/50 custody… but couldn’t I have them like 10% or 20% or 30% of the time?

It’s rather awkward to be all, “Hey I’d like to have more kids but I would die… can I borrow  yours?”

So far they are willing to share somewhat. How much we will find out in the fullness of time. I’m thrilled.

Part of what I love so much about my Bonus Kids is that I am not the mama so problem solving is an entirely different process. I have mad respect for their relationship with their mama and I can see how she is the best mom in the world. She knows them to the marrow of their bones in I way I just can’t. They are foreign to me.

But it makes me think of my kids differently. Oh. That’s why things are so easy. That connection.

I don’t think that having biological children is the be-all/end-all of all of life… but I’m having a lot of fun.

My kids validate my existence in a way nothing else can or will. They needed me for survival. They have a lot of my weird/wacky traits without having lots of complex trauma stories behind them. That’s fascinating to watch.

My kids don’t need me for survival any more. They still need me, but it’s different.

A friend was over helping me with tile on Monday. All four of us got hungry. I asked the kids to make lunch and they did and it was good. (My hands were doing gross things.)

Tile plugs along. I probably have 15-20 more hours of removing backing from tile. I’m working on taping spring down. Then I want to finish winter. Then autumn. Then I have to figure out summer.

Oh goody.

Four more hours of taping spring? I think the mountain will take 4-8 more hours. Autumn is probably 10 hours away from done.

So that’s like eight days of work before I get to summer. No… closer to two weeks with how slow I’m going. Depends on how much help I get unbacking tile. Fudge. Uhm, at least the remodel is stalled and I don’t have to hurry. Ugh. This Friday I’ve been waiting nine weeks for a letter.

Once they move back in to start work they have about three weeks to go. So… I need to get my butt in gear. I need to be only working on summer when they get back started. Or be done with summer.

I think summer is going to need to be a different style of mosaic. I am looking at different techniques and options. It is so much fun to not have any idea what the hell I’m doing and just… make something cool.

Fuck yeah.

My garden is coming right along.

Last night I only got 7 hours of sleep, but I still feel better after two nights of sleep. I felt much better by yesterday afternoon.

I appreciate when I can misunderstand something and get over it in a 24 hour period. That was quite literally not possible 10 years ago. Progress is awesome. Noah patted me on the back and said he was really surprised how well I handled it. That’s nice of him. Thanks Noah.

I really have worked hard on mellowing out. It’s a process. You need to be safe to be mellow.

Thank you, Noah.

Oooh, another sweet point. Two wonderful friends asked me how I would feel about them asking Noah to play. Awwwww aren’t you the sweetest things? I feel charmed and delighted. You asked me first. Nobody is asking Noah first. But my friends ask me first before they go slide on up to my husband.

That was not required but hot damn you managed to slide into my magnanimous zone. Now you were so awesome that I’m going to put a lot of pressure on Noah to handle things right and be deserving. “Do you know how lucky you are to get women like that?! BE NICE.” Or not nice. Whatever y’all negotiate. Have fun!

Slutty women deserve to be treated like the angels of mercy they are. Be grateful. Or I’ll be pissed all the way off.

All hail slutty people of all possible gender configurations. Huzzah!

I love you all.

Not just because you are slutty… but that does make you feel like kin and I like that feeling.

What makes me happy? Noah. Noah is handling me hunting better than I am. When I over react and want to flip out over something he patiently reels me back in and explains why my feelings are out of proportion and I really should be giving people chances.

Maybe the reason I am more calm now is because someone is intimately aware of my thinking process and he helps me manage it. “Ok so you read this in an upsetting way. Let’s talk about that.”

For the record, folks, I don’t have a lot of privacy from Noah. Partially because I just don’t desire that kind of privacy but mostly because I need help managing my disordered thinking and Noah is willing and that requires access. So I give it to him.

If I keep secrets from Noah I will need some way of color coding that information in my brain so I can keep it from Noah. That sounds hard. I have enough hard in my life. I’d rather keep letting information pass through me like a sieve when it comes to Noah. That is the most comfortable part for me.

So that when I screw up and don’t tell him something right in the first place it’ll still come up because I have complete diarrhea of the mouth and I tell him everything so even if I do it in a dick way… everything is coming out and we can process it. Sometimes part of the processing is, “You told me that in a dick way.” Yeah. That’s true. I did.

I remain convinced that no one on this planet could love me like Noah does. Thank you Noah. I am so grateful for you.

Other happy news! We are going to be house-guest central. (Finish the bathroom, damnit!)

In April Dad is coming down to spend a weekend. This will be entertaining because he wants to see his bio-kids a fair bit too and they are having big feelings about me since my kids were born. They can ignore the slutty daughter-girlfriends. I’m… something different. They aren’t so sure they are ok with him adopting an adult child and being a grandparent. That is stepping on their toes. But it also looks somewhat like I may be the only one of the three of us to have kids. So yeah. Complicated. I’m trying to be as nice and accommodating as I can there. I like his bio-kids and I hope that we can long-term get more friendly. I hope. *cross fingers*

In May a friend from the Bay who moved east then moved west (but way the fuck north of here) is going to stay with us for a weekend. I’m excited about that. I haven’t seen her since before the kids were born.

Also in May we have a fun overnight adult-only camping thing I’m wicked excited about. I don’t know how it will go. When I used to go to these events, in the dim recesses of my memory, I remember lots of bdsm and fairly little sex. Some, but not a lot. These days… I’d uhhhh… yeah. I’m no longer content with a weekend of bdsm and no sex. I’ve changed. So yeah. I have no idea how this will go.

I had this really slutty idea about how to handle play at that party. Maybe I’ll write about it separately. Maybe I’m not quite that brave. Ahem.

Ahem.

Then in May I’m going to the grief ritual with Sarah. I’m so grateful she wants to come with me. I anticipate a full weekend sob/hug fest. That’s going to be magical. At the other grief rituals I have attended, I always went alone. The organizer always encourages hugs/physical support and… I’m me. Don’t fucking touch me who the hell are you? Especially when I’m freaked out and feeling vulnerable. Strangers just shouldn’t touch me. That’s not safe for any of us. Don’t do it. Sarah is safe. This is going to be a night and day different experience. It’s a full weekend retreat instead of going to and from a college campus every day on bart.

I’m looking forward to this. We have so much to talk about. So many different levels of wounding. We’ve already looked at a lot of this together over the 12ish years we’ve been doing whatever it is we are doing. But this is going to be super intense and heavy. In a way we both need. Thank you my friend. I am so grateful.

June is blissfully unscheduled and I think it should stay pretty close to that way.

July I get to host my friend and her two sons for three weeks. They are coming in from Arizona. I’m so excited. I met her on the road trip and we’ve talked a whole bunch since then.

I am really proud of how well I’m keeping the house up despite the chaos of the remodel and the amount of work I’m getting done. This is remaining a good work space. It feels accessible and functional. *pat myself on the back* (Let’s be real here: the kids are amazing these days. The road trip was worth it.)

I haven’t been gushing about the kids lately. Mostly cause my arms hurt and I’m obsessed with my sex life. But the kids are knocking my socks off. They are making such tremendous progress.

I’m happy that both kids say, “Can we take a break from classes?” It isn’t just coming from me and financially motivated. *phew* We could all use a break from trying to become something different and just… be for a little while.

August/September is the cruise. Looks like another family might be joining us after all. I am completely fucking thrilled and surprised and happy. I think that all four families might stay in Florida for a week after the cruise to see stuff. 7 grown ups and 6 kids sounds way more like a party.

My life is so ridiculously good I just don’t understand how I got here.

A child is waking up. It is time for the day to begin.

Totally flooded.

I haz big feelings. My stomach hurts. But I feel like I worked out this awful thing that has been in my neck/shoulder for years. I feel like I did a major trauma release in this class. That’s kinda intense. Exposure therapy for the win.

This is what exposure therapy means. The attackers are safe guys in suits who maintain their distance so they can maintain their aura of scary. But they are monitored by women the whole time. It isn’t some guy deciding to do something to a woman when he feels like it and she should have to react right. That’s not exposure therapy. Exposure therapy means a female coach kneeling with her face next to your face whispering, “Remember to breathe. Stop. Wait for the moment. You can do this.”

Stop calling real life abuse exposure therapy. It isn’t. Ok, digression over.

My second experience at Impact was fairly different from the first. I didn’t have a friend in the class. It felt like the group warmed up slower but then made more genuine connections once we did warm up. Everyone started off tentative and not too chatty but by the final day we were pretty friendly. That felt nice.

I took a risk the morning of the third day. I said that the cheering wasn’t making it through to me during my fights and I really needed the line to get louder and more encouraging because it’s scary to fight in quiet. I feel alone. I have to say, those women came through once I made a specific request. They did great.

I didn’t ask for more than one extended fight this time. I literally just… couldn’t. By the time I got through the one extended fight my body was saying, “Let the men make them easy from here on out.”

The guys… they have to work ridiculously hard to do an extended fight with the people who really want blood. They do extended fights to teach women that even when you feel exhausted (this is as close as they will get to the exhaustion of a fight where you will be dealing with someone hitting you) and tired and worn out you can still defend yourself. I think I have a better understanding of fighting from a place of exhaustion from the get go, so I didn’t need the exercise this weekend.

I chose to leave a few spoons in my drawer. Because today I seriously need to pay attention to the kids and if I had left it all out on the mat I would spend today in bed crying. I just couldn’t. This wasn’t a real fight to the death so it would have been inappropriate to wear myself out that hard so I couldn’t hang with the kids.

I pay attention to these things.

Topic switch. Back to hitting.

Yes, I think (upon further reflection) what I am doing with Noah unconsciously probably would be better termed a tap or a light smack… but that is still putting my hands on someone else’s body in a way I’m not paying attention to. In a way that he chooses to describe as being hit. Because he gets that choice. I need to stop it.

Just like people don’t get to tell me that when the kid kicked me in the throat it wasn’t assault. Yes, actually it was an assault. I’m not going to prosecute because I don’t think the kid had malicious intent. But it was an assault.

It is possible to hit and not be causing (permanent) damage. Not be hurting people. Still be a problem. Still need to stop.

I need to have so much fucking control over my body that I do not put my hands on people at all unless I am doing it in a way that I am highly conscious and in control of exactly what I’m doing. I can’t be muddy. I can’t be like “Close enough is good enough.” Not with what I want to do with my life.

So maybe I’m over reacting and maybe I’m understanding how much work I have left on this problem. I need to stop hitting people. Entirely. 100000% unless someone is directly threatening my physical safety.

I know I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to live in gray areas but this is a black and white thing. I’ve done too much hitting in my life. I need to get this under control.

I mean, not that I’m going to cancel that nice date with my friend. I’m going to do everything in my power to get to the point where I only hit people (even lightly) when they say, “Pretty please”. Or they start a fight.

I spent a lot of this class thinking about escalation. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I escalate.

I know it’s all victim blamey and shit, but yeah a lot of the fights, a lot of the rapes kinda happened because I had no ability to deescalate. It hurts seeing that so plainly over time. I am not good at managing peoples emotions in a deescalating way. I’m good at cranking the volume up. I stimulate feelings I don’t settle them. This is a problem.

I think about things like the neighbor who has been sexually harassing me. Did I encourage him? I don’t think so. 90%+ of the time I talk to him my kids are standing right there and I don’t encourage displays of sexuality in front of my children. So I’m inclined to believe this is his desperate fantasy that he isn’t dead yet and he’s still sexually interesting instead of this being about me. But do I deescalate properly when he brings stuff up? Mostly I call the kids and keep walking when he gets rude. What else should I be doing?

Well I think kicking the crap out of him then telling him I cannot be in control if a man grabs me may have been effective. He’s keeping more physical distance these days.

But is he going to creep again? My guess is yes. Because creepers gonna creep. Does it make it all my fault if it happens again because I’m stupid enough to talk to him?

You know what? I get to walk around my god damn neighborhood without having to physically fight off unwanted sexual advances. That’s fucking ridiculous. No this isn’t my fault and I should not have to avoid walking down my own god damn street to avoid being sexually harassed. That’s not reasonable. If he starts shit I’m not the one escalating. He is. I’m just not going to fucking be passive. I’m very friendly and non-threatening with him. I have no desire to hurt him. I’m just not going to let him do shit to me I don’t want to have done.

That has to be ok. No matter how old he is. No matter how much I like him. No matter if I know any man ever again.

I get to say yes to everything that happens to my body. Or I get to fucking hurt you. That’s the deal.

I’m getting closer to the point where I feel I could actually do it in a fight.

It was hard having Noah there. I asked him if he thought I could stop him if he tried to rape me at this point. He isn’t convinced.

I need to take more classes. It is 100% my goal to be able to so deeply scare men that they do not believe they could successfully do that again.

Not because I want to hurt men. Because I’m not going to be raped again. I’m done. The passive has been raped right the fuck out of me. I’ve taken all I can take.

It is quite literally my goal to die before letting someone rape me again. I want to fight to the point where someone has the choice to kill me or leave me alone.

I’m done.

Something broke and it can’t be fixed.

To be fair, Noah didn’t see my extended fight. He saw the easy peasy fights the instructors give you to blow off steam so you walk out of the room feeling strong so you don’t leave feeling like you should walk in front of a bus. They plan this shit. They know the roller coaster they put people on. Noah didn’t see quite how effective I am at kicking peoples skulls in. I practice from a variety of angles. I’m semi-worried that I will actually kill someone because I’m going to be kicking with such incredible force and anger. I may well shove someones face into their brain.

I won’t lose sleep over that. Ok, yes I will. I will be convinced I’m a monster who should be killed. Maybe I’ll go to jail and think that’s fair.

But I won’t be god damn raped that day.

I feel dangerous and horrible. But yes I am prepared to use deadly force to prevent someone from raping me again.

I have to believe I deserve that or I need to die today because I cannot endure another rape. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

I’m done. I have to believe I am allowed to kill someone to stop them if necessary. I know that in an actual fight I will have to use the minimum amount of force necessary to stop a fight. I know that. The chances I will get to a fight that results in death are incredibly freakishly low. Only I’m going to pursue a career that will make people hate me with the power of the sun.

So maybe my chances aren’t vanishingly small. Maybe they just aren’t that high?

I don’t know that I am yet at a point where I am capable of holding the adrenaline in and just doing the necessary hurting.

During one of my fights the suited instructor literally ran out of the room to get away from me because I was chasing too much.

I mean, I didn’t chase him off the mat. But I did take steps in his direction. I hear that the expression on my face was uhhhhh… terrifying.

I don’t know if that is a regular schtick of theirs to try and break the tension because it’s funny. Or if he felt like that is actually how an attacker would respond because holy shit.

I don’t know.

You never know.

They call the rape prevention moves “reversals”. Because you are reversing the power. Those are the ones where you have to stay still on the floor and use physics and it’s scary and complicated and fairly precise. I find them horrifyingly triggering.

It’s really hard to say, “I tried that and what happened was…” I failed. That’s what happened. I failed when I tried to do that. I didn’t prevent a rape that day.

Ahhh. I tried to move long before I felt weight. There was no physics to help me. Fuck everything. Well, specifically he fucked me. After slamming my head into the ground so hard I saw stars. I stopped fighting.

I don’t know if it would be different today. I don’t actually feel confident. That was just a fucking class. I was chanting to myself the whole time, “There is no chance this man would actually rape you. There are witnesses. He’s wearing very difficult clothing. This isn’t real.” Because I wanted to run screaming I was so fucking freaked out. But… that means it isn’t that real in my body.

Would I be able to access this when I’m scared? I’ve worked so hard for so many years to break the freeze response. I’m tired of going numb. But it is a genuine survival skill. I have worked hard to make it less likely I will survive.

I’m ready to die or assert myself. One or the other. But I do not yet know for sure that I’d win.

It is hard believing that I would kill to defend myself and that is part of why I am a disgusting person. I don’t know that I really believe I have the right. I am bad. I want to hurt people.

Not really. I’m just god damn done letting them hurt me.

That’s not true either. I do want to hurt people. I want to hurt people who like being hurt because it released kinetic energy from my body and it allows me to be more calm and gentle when necessary and appropriate.

Hitting is all of these things. It is tapping Noah when I shouldn’t. Even though it doesn’t hurt I’m touching someone without consent in a way that can be described as hitting. My friend who is inviting me to a lovely session of testicle kicking, that’s hitting too. It is completely consensual. He’s going to have a good time, I’m going to have a good time–it’s going to be fun! And being willing to beat someone unconscious for trying to rape me.

It’s all hitting. It is all violence. But do they mean the same things? Should they be treated the same way legally? Should they be treated like trauma because “hitting”?

Everyone gets to decide for themselves what is traumatizing. I’ve done bdsm scenes that were WAY more intense/painful/fucking out there than my rapes. My rapes traumatized me. My rapes were an action that I did not consent to happening to my body in a way that proved to me that I do not have the right to have agency over myself or my life. My bdsm scenes were done with friends and they were fun. Even if they were painful and scary. I knew what I was signing on for. I did it on purpose. I did it with full force and vigor and choice.

That makes all the difference.

I don’t feel traumatized by the throat kick. I feel like I learned something about boundaries.

If you fuck up and assault someone… that isn’t the end of the world. How you respond afterwards is what matters.

If you fuck up and assault someone on purpose… that’s different.

I genuinely believe there are accidental assaults all the time. Just like there is involuntary manslaughter.

Ok, I have one specific complaint about the class this time: I really didn’t appreciate the “boogeyman homeless guy” thing. That fucking pissed me off. The vast majority of assaults are someone you know. Leave the fucking homeless guys alone. They are doing their fucking best and I’m god damn tired of the nastiness of housed people.

Being homeless does not mean you are a god damn rapist.

That’s the attitude though. Homeless guys are creepy and scary. Do you know why they creep you out? Because you feel like they aren’t like you and that’s gross. I feel like they are like me and they are in a hard place right now.

I don’t need to feel scared of someone who has so little power and authority in life compared to me. Am I prepared to defend myself if someone does start something? Sure. But I’ve been interacting with homeless people for decades. I’ve done so all over the country and in other countries.

I’m not scared of homeless people. They are scared of me.

Why? Because they know I can call the cops and have them put in jail. That’s how the power dynamic works. Can I really? Would the cops do it? Maybe. But it’s pretty likely. If any of you dressed-like-you-live-in-a-house-people called the police on a homeless person there is a high chance the homeless person is getting arrested.

For vagrancy. For loitering. For trespassing. For intimidation. For assault.

Even if that assault was accidental. Who cares? It’s a homeless person. They are creepy and icki. We don’t want them around, prosecute.

Stop. Calling. The. Cops. On. Creepy. Homeless. People.

Unless you see them commit a serious crime, just leave them the fuck alone. Ok? They have enough god damn problems without whiny people harassing them.

(I’m not really talking to a specific person or even the folks in the class. I’m mad at the universe over this one.)

I’M TALKING TO THOSE ASSHOLES ON NEXTDOOR.

“I saw a homeless person on my street so I called the police.” I hope you die slowly in a lot of pain.

Like those assholes who called the cops on me in Virginia. I looked suspicious. I had out of state license plates and camping gear. Clearly I was up to no good.

This is my cranky face.

It is weird trying to find a place where compassion and the right to break your face live right side by side. Because in being able to defend myself like this… I’m trying to have compassion for myself. I’m allowed to say that 12 rapists in one life is enough. I’m allowed to say that I was 25 when I was last raped and that’s god damn when it ended. I’m allowed to absolutely fucking harm anyone who tries again.

That is what compassion for myself means. Maybe another woman could passively permit a rape and not kill her attacker and later prosecute and that would be the most “ethical” choice of all… or something.

I can’t absorb any more.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

How do you get ready to actually be able to kill someone if you have to? I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.

Shit I already feel guilty that people seem to kill themselves after dealing with me.

(Yes, I know I am not “at fault” for any of these suicides. Life is complicated.)

In class someone thought it was funny to make a joke about fire. I sure know how to shut down jokes about fire. It was asked “Does anyone have any trauma around fire? No? Good….” Then I raised my hand. “Yeah, my brother self immolated.”

I bring all the fun jokes to an end.

God I suck.

Hell, I’m not even saying to stop using the joke. It’s ok to jokingly tease a group of people and tell them the final test will involve jumping through a fiery hoop. That’s not a bad joke. That’s not a real threat.

That’s ok.

But god I can kill any joke.

I am so not funny that it is really really funny. It is to the point where my litany of traumas is becoming almost hysterical. I have a trauma for any god damn situation.

It is kinda funny sometimes.

WHEN WILL THE INSANITY END?!?!!? is most of the joke.

Well, I’m still having an extraordinary life… but I’d say it is mostly no longer traumatic. I have boundary violation issues every so often that must be managed.

I don’t think I’ve been traumatized in while. I think the last trauma was severing with my family. (I think I traumatized Sarah after that… but that’s a different discussion.)

Why do I split hairs like this? Because my shrink tells me to break everything down into its smallest compartments and then sort them out.

What is hitting? What is violence? What is trauma? These things are so broad and yet so very specific.

Random defensive pissiness: I read an article yesterday. Don’t remember where or by whom and I don’t care. The person was pretty much saying, “Stop talking about your white privilege because you are just grand standing. If you were really doing anything to dismantle structural racism you would do it silently.” Oh fuck you.

I’m trying to fund the revolution, motherfucker. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I do more with every year and I track it better so that I can know that I am doing more with every year.

Recently Noah told me, “If you don’t feel like you do anything in the world… you are giving more and more money away every year. You are financially impacting the lives of more and more people. That is doing something.”

I don’t do this because I’m a nice person. I don’t do this to be good. I do this because I can never help the child I was. I do this because it needs to be done and other assholes aren’t stepping up.

I’m an asshole. I can live with that. But I want to be an asshole who has specific boundaries around where and how I hit people, how I escalate fights, and when it is appropriate for me to use force.

I think that hitting people to teach them is a shitty way to teach them if you want an ongoing relationship. That style of teaching instill anger, fear, distrust, and the belief in the person you are educating that they deserve to be hit.

Ask me how I’m feeling about Noah right now.

We need something different.

I do not feel traumatized. I feel like I discovered a boundary. I need something different. This isn’t working for me.

I have enough brain damage for one lifetime.

I think that hitting should be used when you are ok with ending the relationship and not before.

If you don’t think I should be packing to leave then we should not be in a physical fight. That needs to be a boundary. And no, that does not mean I should get free hits without retribution. That’s not what I’m saying.

I need to stop hitting casually. I need to be taught through repetition and mostly through words. This behavior will mostly be extinguished through catching the “taps” that “don’t count” because actually they do. They teach muscle memory. They remind me that hitting is ok.

I used to hit ineffectively so I thought it was fine for me to hit people. At this point I’m very effective and that means I need to treat my hands like weapons and be in full control of them.

Things change.

Noah hit back because I hurt him. He has the right. I’m not really mad that he believes he has the right to defend himself.

I’m mad that men start out able to defend themselves with so much force without having to take class after class after class and work and work and work.

I’m not sure that I’m mad at the men. I’m just mad.

I know that I need to get over all the shit that happened to me. But a lot of the places I hurt almost every day are from specific assaults.

Do you think you would be able to forget if you were reminded by your body every day?

Maybe if I can actually heal I stand a chance. Maybe.

Chiropractic appointment in 3.5 hours. I’m going to call and schedule acupuncture for this week. I don’t see a massage therapist for a while but I’ll be ok. Two weeks? I’ll live. Ha.

Cause the next time I see massage therapists I’m uhm seeing two in one day because I didn’t really look at the calendar before booking the second one. That’s ok. One person works on a very small area for the full hour and the other person does a more general massage for an hour and a half. It will feel like magic. I will need to drink so much water that day.

I’m really trying.

Some day I would like to spend less money on health care and spend more money on donating to communities of color. They need the money. I’d rather not need to spend it on my body.

I really don’t think I’m the best place to spend all these resources. But I recognize that it is literally necessary for a time if I am going to heal and be able to do the work I want to do. If I want to stop feeling suicidal because I cannot deal with how much pain I experience on a daily basis… I need to spend the money since I have it. I don’t have a justification for giving it away instead of fixing what is wrong.

Not at this point. Not really. I will be a more effective tool if I stop and do maintenance.

That’s just prudence.

Is that close enough to self love to count?

I’m trying.

Today I am going to spend with the kids. Except for the chiropractic appointment. They’ll do bookwork during that time. We’ll be together the rest of the time. I think we should garden. We’ll read. We’ll snuggle.

I will remind my body that despite these training exercises… I’m safe now. I am safe now.

We need to meditate tonight. During the class I was fucking whigging out for a while. Then I remembered what I’ve been saying to myself when we meditate. “I breathe in nothing that will pollute me; I breathe out the nothingness that has consumed me.” It helped. It helped a lot. The fact that I’ve been practicing at night has helped. I calmed down much faster than I used to be able to.

Jenny tells me that I look at how far I have to go. She looks at how far I have come. I write it down so I can see too.

And now, the accounting

This is gonna hurt.

Last year’s accounting: 2014. The year before: 2013. The year before that: 2012. I do like some forced honesty. Motherfucker.

(Why do I want to type that word so much? I DON’T KNOW. But I love it. It feels good in my metaphorical mouth.)

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.15.34 AM

So we didn’t hit what I expected on income because I wasn’t at home monitoring Mint this year. I always eyeball it a little bit at the beginning of the year and guess our monthly income because what we receive varies slightly through the year. Things like 401k contributions mean that we start out getting much smaller checks than we get at the end of the year. And I didn’t sit on Mint this year cause I was kinda busy. I barely entered transaction data. So this doesn’t line up perfectly. Whatever. Congratulations Noah. This year you made about $173,000ish. Well done! I can’t do that. Fantastic. The $20k from your parents you didn’t earn. But it is… awkward and uncomfortable and yet still nice that your parents send it.

Book sales were $6,440 last year and $8,388 this year. Well done Noah. I’m so proud of you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.22.08 AM

Once again: I didn’t really look at Mint for 5 months. Things are out of whack because sliders got put in somewhat random places and I forgot to check back. So ignore the fact that I underspend in Public Transportation. Uhm, whatever.

For all of auto/transport we spent $10,065. That’s a lot of forking money. $4,308 was on car repair. I needed new tires. I had to fix the trailer. I think this includes the transmission repair on the Prius? This was quite a year on cars needing help. $835 on public transit is partially because of tolls and tolls and tolls. Those bastards are expensive. I also put some of Noah’s to/from airports in here because by December I noticed that I totally over budgeted in this area. Oh well. $111 on parking. I ain’t kidding.

$3,372 on gas is actually low seeming to me. Given that I drove around the perimeter of the country and Noah stayed here and did our normal driving. For comparison, last year we spent $2,345 on gas. I wouldn’t think that such an extensive trip merely increased our spending by $1,000. This tells you that I drive too much most of the time! Ridiculous!

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.27.07 AM

Last year bills were over $4,000. I wonder why that went down given that our phone bill went up. Hm.

Ok, maybe Noah making $8k on the book isn’t as awesome since $6,799 turned around and went right back out on book related stuff. Let me tell y’all. Selling shit is hard and expensive. I had no idea.

$4,221 was spent on entertainment. Most of that on museums. I have no regrets.

Noah and I spent money on ourselves. I think we did it in cash and didn’t account for it. Whoops.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.29.44 AM

$22,630 on food. $10,177 on restaurants. $12,446. My grocery bill was lower than normal. My eating out bill was almost twice what it normally is. Yup. That’s what happens when you travel like that.

$11,754 on health. That’s lower than normal too. I wasn’t home for my norma round of lovely massages.

$64,202 towards my house. $54,000 of that was mortgage. Oh that feels lovely. That’s not accounting for the $5,000 that arrives today at the mortgage company. (Scheduled but not accounted for. Geez, banks.) So I got $59,000 out the door on my mortgage this calendar year.

Let’s not give me too much credit. $30,000 of that was Noah’s signing bonus for this job. Otherwise I only made like two months of extra payments.

(Where the heck is the rest of the money going then, eh? We paid some for the bathroom remodel that failed. Gardener. Home supplies, and property taxes. Pretty valid shit.)

For gifts: $8,837 was spent on Christmas. Given the high number of people I sent presents to who didn’t acknowledge me in the slightest this will be the highest spending year of my life. I’m completely uninterested in ever doing this again. $687 on “other gifts” and $5342 was donated to various charitable causes. I think that in the future Christmas should be under $2,000 (let’s be realistic–we often give electronics. It does have to be kinda high) and charitable giving should be closer to $10,000. That is my stated goal for next year.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.39.23 AM

$11,419 on kids. That’s a fairly big jump from last year. We did *so many things* this year.

$3,701 on clothes. That’s almost double what we normally spend on clothes in a year. I don’t fee bad. It includes some pretty darn awesome stuff I may wear for the rest of my life.

$554 in undocumented cash spending. That’s not too bad.

$15,859 on taxes. Yup. That’s what it is.

Now we get into the part I feel…. squiggly about.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.43.38 AM

Holy tomato.

Fee’s and charges. I’ll try not to have those next year.

We got a slight refund from last year’s lawyer. I didn’t spend all of the retainer. Then Dad needed money.

I feel a little weird that we spend this much money on hair but she’s a fantastically good hair dresser that can make a whole crew of funny looking people look good. Maybe she’s worth it? I certainly keep paying for her.

So the spa money… manicures and pedicures and facials and stuff like that. Because other than sitting around or shopping… there isn’t that much to do during the limited windows of child care offered by Disney other than go to the spa that is always conveniently near child care.

$2,693 on books. What a glorious year. Next year: reading. Not buying.

$4,442 on electronics. Well, Noah bought his old laptop from a company. That includes a projector. I’m not entirely sure what else. Good golly we use electronics. (I could look it up. If you couldn’t tell, this is the fast and dirty end of year review.)

$6,720 to 529s. That’s excellent.

$1200 to the mutual fund. Not a lot but every bit helps.

$5,400 to IRA. Better, still not that high though.

$23,279 on the cross country trip. That’s every other bit of paying for anything we did. Really, because stuff kinda got pushed into Christmas, kids, food, auto… we spent more than that. Probably closer to $40,000. Ew.

But it was absolutely amazing and I don’t regret it even a little. I’m just not going to blow money like that any year soon.

$5,654 is deposits on next year’s vow renewal. That cruise will be expensive and awesome. Next year we are probably going to spend ~$20,000 on travel which is way down from this year but still ridiculous.

Ok, we need some frugal years here. Other than the cruise 2016 is going to need to be locked down. 2017 will have to be more frugal still. If I want my old age to be safe and secure that’s the cost.

Have fun while you are young, yes. But make sure you are providing for your old age too.

Short term, medium term, and long-term goals. I expected to hemorrhage money this year. I saved up for it. I planned around it. I wanted to. Now I want to stem the flow and build up my reserves again.

Here, here is the only screenshot that really matters.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.52.52 AM

This right here? This makes me very unhappy. I let our buffer get really low. I dipped into savings to preserve the integrity of my checking account. That’s bad. It was the only way to hand money to Dad right now, so I’m ok with it. But that’s bad. My buffer should not get this low.

We go through too much money.

My joint checking account shouldn’t get below $30,000. We have months where $30,000 goes out the door. It has to be my floor. That has to be the same as zero.

And I failed on that. I’m not happy with myself at all. I have to build that up again fast. It’s going to take most of this year if I can get there this year. $17,000 extra is a lot. Even for me. Then I really really really want my savings account back at $40k.

I want $100,000 in cash. That’s what I want. That’s what makes me feel safe. I had it at the beginning of this year and I blew it and now I have to fix it.

Isn’t it completely and totally insane that I’m upset with myself for getting down to having $63,255 in petty cash?

Oh how things change. I used to pray for a $3,000 buffer. That was what I maintained for years. That was my safety for a very long time.

But now there are months where we spend $30,000 so I just have to be able to cover it. Period. Things change.

2015 has been quite a year. I’m grateful for all the lessons learned. I’m grateful that I had these experiences. I’m grateful I got to be where I got to be. I’m grateful I got to do all I got to do.

My life is truly extraordinary.

Squeek. Joy.

One of the women I met on the trip wrote to ask me for advice about handling money stuff. She has some specific big goals and she isn’t sure how best to get there.

Holy. F’in. Shit.

Yes. I’ll talk to you about your plans. Oh, hell yes.

Thank you for asking me. I feel honored that you consider me worthy of asking about this topic.

And I will not gush all over you in email because that’s kinda creepy. I have a sandbox for that.

Holy. F’in. Shit. She wants my advice.

Holy shit holy shit holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Yay!

Of course before I give one word of advice I start out with a whole long list of questions. I can’t give advice unless I know what you want to do. It doesn’t matter what I’d do with $X. I have different goals. Tell me about your goals.

It would give me more pleasure than I can possibly express to help you get to a place where you are safer and more secure.

If I can manage to plan a way out of your situation… that’s one of those things that justifies taking up space in the world. You are having some serious troubles.

Managing money… that’s something I’ve learned about. I started with a rather small amount and it has snowballed like mad.

I seem to be… good at this. There is, like, actual literal proof.

Whoa.

This is on the list of things that Noah and I talked about. He’s really proud of me. He thought I would be good at this. I’m so very glad he was right.

I mean, we aren’t dead yet. There is time for me to fuck everything over still. But so far I’m doing pretty darn well by his investment in me.

Holy shit holy shit.

What an honor. You respect my opinion. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to find out I have earned such esteem.

I didn’t offer. I didn’t bring it up. I just talked about what I’ve done.

Not many people start out in the bottom 5% and end up in the top 5%.

For the record, no bootstraps were involved.

Went to the chiropractor. He uhm, said he is surprised I survived taking that many sedatives.

I laughed. Honey. You don’t even know.

I mean, I’m glad I survived too. I’m not sure I was at that much risk. I got up to those doses slowly over time. I can acclimate to a pretty fantastic amount of medications. This is why I try to use them as rarely as possible. My tolerance levels go through the roof.

Yes, it is dangerous.

Not sleeping is also dangerous.

I spend a lot of my life standing between a rock and a hard place. If you know how to make a more comfortable standing spot, let me know–ok?

Is this what being a grown up means?

Dad and I talked today. We had a very extensive conversation about his financial situation, his goals, plans, and needs. You see, he was laid off last week. He’s been in a rough spot since his wife died when I was pregnant with my oldest child. Things have to change dramatically. Starting now.

But he needs a runway to give him the time to get the house ready to sell. He has a lot of stuff to do to dismantle the life he has had up to this point and downsize to the point where his future income will be able to support him. He knows it is coming. He’s just about to Social Security being his option. He will have to be able to make it on that.

It was a hard conversation to have. He’s not my biological father. I don’t owe him what someone thinks they owe their blood. But he is the only Dad I have. I have other Daddy’s… yes… but they aren’t my Dad. I have very different relationships with each of these men. Only one of them provides the Grandfather role to my children. It’s different.

He and I talk through stuff he doesn’t want to talk about because he is willing to help me because that’s the deal. He has opened his heart and his home to me consistently for extended visits for over 15 years. He has absolutely obeyed every boundary I have ever set. He pushes his luck till he finds a boundary. Then he is absolute.

I can live with that.

I’ve already trained him.

I’m scared about sending him this much money. It’s a lot of money. This is a huge trust exercise. I give people small amounts of money just about every day. That doesn’t stress me out.

You know what? Sending a whole slew of people $50/month doesn’t bother me any more. I have acclimated to that. It’s a small amount of money.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

This is a lot of money to send him. We are going to chat again in February or March and it’ll be possible that he needs the same amount of money again to make it through till June. That’s the explicit agreement right now. I can’t float him a six month runway today. I can do halfway and negotiate again and probably do it then.

That’s terrifying to me.

I trust this man. I have watched the series of steps his life has taken. I know all of his wives. I’ve known his girlfriends way too well in my opinion. I know his “real” kids.

He isn’t going to cut and run. His whole community would come down on his head like the fire of God. He is a deeply invested man. He just needs six months of help.

And because he’s white and he’s upper class, he has access to a network that can float him that kind of money just for the asking. That blows my fucking mind.

Why am I not willing to lend that money to other people? Because I don’t think they can give it back and that is too much for me to take away from my family permanently as a gift. I’m ok with giving away $1,000 or $2,000 at our current income level every month. I don’t need it back. That’s extra.

But the amount of money Dad needs cuts into my ability to pay off my mortgage by 2018. That’s… that’s personal. That hits at one of the pillars of security in my life.

I mean, I could just stop giving the “smaller” amounts to all the other people and make it back…

But no. I give that money to women of color who have children to support. I’m not going to stop doing that so I can help a fucking white guy.

HELL NO.

All of these decisions about who to help and when and how much and where and…

They hurt. They are never fair. They are always made by your gut in the spur of the moment.

Why in the hell did I invest in that coffee shop?! Because they are my friends. Because I wanted it to survive. Because I get to feel joy that it still exists. It did work out. I did get what I wanted from the deal even though I lost money. I didn’t need the money back.

But I could have put it on my mortgage. Enh. I’m operating within the parameters I set for myself. I hadn’t expected to accelerate the mortgage with that money. I don’t feel like it is going missing.

Money is so very weird.

We’re heeeeeeeeeeere.

At Disney World that is. Yesterday was intense. It took more than eight hours to get from one hotel room to the next. It was about four and a half hours of freeway driving. I’m not counting the driving time where I got lost in forking Orlando. That took a while. Grocery shopping was sorta epic.

As we drove out to the resort I started shaking and my stomach hurt and I felt like I was about to puke. I kept up a steady chatter to myself, “Krissy it’ll be ok. This will go fine. This is Disney. You are late for check in… they will have people waiting around who are happy to help you. It’ll be fine.”

It was rather ridiculous but hey, do what you gotta do.

We got to the driveway and I started asking just about anybody in a uniform, “I’m new here, which step do I do first?”

They all smiled at me and directed me to where I needed to be.

They are all thrilled to get a Californian. These are the Disney Vacation Club properties, so they see owners and that is a fairly set group of time share people. Variety isn’t as common as you’d think for a hotel.

I had a lot of questions and I said flat out, “I’m going to feel anxious until I have a few concerns addressed.”

You know what? Like magic extra employees kind of backed over to where I was talking to the nice desk clerk. They all smiled like they were super excited that they might get to help.

fucking love this place.

You know what? They addressed every concern right down the list. I do have to unhitch my trailer, but that’s ok. It means we will be more likely to sneak off to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter exhibit and that’s exciting.

Oh, parking is right next to our room. This is so fabulously convenient I have no words. I thought it would be a hike. I feel so spoiled. After three months of continuous travel I now think that one of the biggest luxuries in hotels in nearby parking.

I had a very nice person help carry my stuff in from the van with a dolly so I didn’t have to make eleventy billion trips. He thought it was hilarious that I wouldn’t let him carry the heavy stuff up the stairs. It was his first day back at work after a back injury. You aren’t carrying my heavy fridge up the stairs! Heck no!

He thought that was funny. He asked a lot of questions about me and what I do. He was thrilled to meet a writer. He said he had never met one before. Over and over he said, “Whoa. You are one hard working woman. I’ve never seen a woman rush to carry heavy stuff up the stairs for me before. And you home school your kids. And you travel around the country. And you write books. Whoo. You wear me out.” He must have said it twenty times. I laughed.

He asked for information about my books. I gave him all that he needed to find me. Who knows if he will follow up.

It’s a bit awkward to tell people, “I wrote about my experiences growing up in an incestuous family. It’s intense.”

Trigger warnings, baby.

This was all after a hilarious incident with a conservative postal employee in Georgia. I’ve never seen a federal employee retract their implication that there is anything wrong with being queer so damn fast in my life. With a smile.

It’s funny what conclusions folks jump to when they find out you are home schooling.

Nope. I ain’t teaching the Bible. We don’t pray.

I mean, we have many Bibles in the house… but I teach it as one set of mythology among many that humans have come up with over many thousands of years.

It’s just one path out of many. They are all ok.

We were kind of a hilarious experience for my newly adopted niece in Georgia. (Long story.) she is growing up with a Baptist mother and a Catholic father. They attend church regularly. It’s a big deal.

I leaned over and said, “I’m a Godless Heathen.”

Her eyes went wide.

Yeah. That was wonderful.

I said, “You are going to hear a lot about people like me and when you hear those things you can decide for yourself if you agree or not. I’m just one person out of many. I don’t represent ‘all the weirdos’ of the whole world but I do represent a lot of them. When you hear people say nasty things about people like those know that they are talking about me. And think about that.”

She nodded slowly. I was an intense experience for a 9 year old.

I really loved settling into the room here at the resort. We have a system. I explained it to the kids. We all relaxed once the system was discussed and the kids stopped chafing at boundaries every other second.

It was palpable. I didn’t take my medication until after this experience occurred so it wasn’t just that all of a sudden I was stoned and I didn’t care any more. The kids stopped fighting.

It’s been a rough few days. I’m not proud but I screamed and screamed and screamed in the car. They would not stop beating on each other. I mean… they stopped when I went a little nutty. But they would not stop until I went berserk screaming about how they had to Stop Stop STOP.

I felt kind of bad about it until we talked about it later in the evening. I said I was sorry that sometimes I was an asshole when more gentle methods failed but sometimes I really need to be effective. You can’t hit each other.

Eldest Child nodded and said, “Oh I know. We really couldn’t even hear you until you broke our concentration.”

Youngest Child nodded and said, “Yeah… uhh… it’s hard to hear you sometimes when we get into it.”

Then my eldest child looked down, and brushed her head bashfully like we were in a damn movie and apologized.

It was… kind of weird.

YC didn’t apologize exactly but there were amends made. At five it isn’t always a verbal apology yet and that’s ok.

I asked if we could make an agreement to ask for rest any time and every time we feel tired so we don’t whine or get cranky with each other and everyone agreed. They know where their free feeding snack food is. They don’t have to ask me every other minute if they can have _______. It’s glorious freedom.

I think it is hilarious that they both, separately, echoed something that Noah said to me a long time ago in almost exactly the same tone of voice.

“One of the things I like about you is that you make every place feel like home” with a happy sigh to follow. This is in reference to how I set up and organize hotel rooms to within an inch of their lives if I am going to be in them long. I have to or I can’t find shit and that makes me crazy. I have to know where all my stuff is. We have a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of things to put my hands on over and over and over so I can know exactly where it is when I need it.

This is how I comfort myself. This is how I create the order I need. This is how I create the structure and the scaffolding to teach the lessons I want to teach. We are not working on the in-the-room-manners here. That lesson happens elsewhere. Here, we rest. It’s so relaxing and nice.

Only we rest and relax with a pool and a playground a 3 minute walk away so we get lots of exercise right before bed so we go to sleep easily.

This is why I pay for this. Because having people leap to help me with a smile has a cost and I am happy to pay it. I’m told that privilege can’t be bought, but advantages can. If I’m going to be a fucking rich person I’m going to occasionally pay for some fucking advantages.

Oh this is wonderful. And I have to not swear so I’ll get it out now.

Ahhh. Maybe not. I’m feeling pretty mellow. That was a happy fuck.

Cause I’m like that.

Thank you Noah.

I have quite the set up for our little mini kitchen. We don’t get a stove or a full size fridge so I brought our fridge up. The freshest food goes in the apartment fridge so the kids eat it first. The stuff they are allowed to grab at will is in an open container at a tempting eye-height. Other snacks are organized by priority in drawers cause I’m a neurotic fuck.

Tier two foods are things that we will access a lot on the trip for breakfast but they shouldn’t be freely snacked on during the rest of the day or we won’t have breakfast for the rest of the trip. We’re here almost three weeks. Be strategic.

Tier three foods are meal foods that probably require adult help because the microwave is hecka high.

Seems reasonable, right?

Ahhhhhh. Freedom.

It is funny watching them stop asking for things every few minutes. It is kind of weird every time I see this tremendous example they just want to find out what the boundary is.

I can work with that.

Apparently, there is a certain level of beating on one another in the car that brings very unpleasant screaming.

Dude, I was going 60 miles an hour on the freeway, how am I supposed to react? I’m in an unfamiliar area during a frigging interchange. STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW.

I get kind of upset sometimes. I’m told I can be intimidatingly loud.

Well if you’d stop when I asked in a more moderate tone dozens of times.

I genuinely don’t know what else to do. I mean, sometimes I use the radio to startle them. But a good loud blast of sound is the only thing I can figure out to do when they go at it in the car.

I do not use the screaming method outside of the car. I separate them. In the car… THEY HAVE A TUMBLING MAT BETWEEN THEM AND THEY STILL REACH AROUND IT TO BEAT ON EACH OTHER.

Oh my. Yeah. Sibling stuff is complicated.

Mostly they get along really well. Sometimes… yeah. We have a long way to go on impulse control. But I don’t have a lot of room to complain. I was way the heck more violent than them.

This trip has had highs and lows, like all trips. I think being at the resort is going to be a high point. We are really excited to explore. We are ready to not be in the car.

The first thing we are doing is going over to child care to talk about options and schedules so the kids can pick times they want to be there.

I’m not sure what I’ll do. But I’ll go do something.

I feel a little weirdly guilty and ashamed. This is such a stupid thing to want to do. What a waste of money and time.

But it will be… so fun.

I love you Disney. Thank you for smiling at me.

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.

Lots of big feelings

The trip is going well. I am so gosh darned tired I feel like I might slip into a puddle and never solidify into a solid being again.

I had a hard time with Noah’s aunts. They grew up in particular times and places and they believe what they believe. Unfortunately for them there is a whole bunch of evidence proving that their beliefs suck.

I am highly dysregulated. I am having a hard time calming down. Too many conversations about poverty and homelessness and race. I really don’t respect the opinions they have.

One aunt spent a long time telling me about how much she enjoys reading the journals of settlers and colonials. They only killed people when they had no choice.

Uhm… go read something written by the folks that the settlers barely avoided killing. You will hear a very different story.

No. The white assholes who showed up on this continent because they were being chased out of their European homes did not kill Native Americans because the Natives were trying to persecute the white people. No. No. No. No.

We are interlopers here. We do not get to claim that our existence here is just about our basic survival. We are stealing in order to survive.

Depending on how you look at it, all humans have been thieves since the beginning. We steal from plants and animals in order to survive. That’s complicated. It’s a hard ethical conundrum. Vegetarians believe that by not eating flesh that you are fine for how you are stealing. Vegans think it must be even more strict and milk and eggs are also over the line.

But no one ever objects to stealing from the artichokes or carrots or cauliflower. We’ve decided they can’t matter.

But that’s kind of funny.

Throughout history many groups of human beings have decided that other groups of human beings don’t matter in similar ways. Sometimes we make these evaluations based on race. Sometimes based on economic privilege. Sometimes based on work choices. If you look around the planet, folks feel free to shit on sex workers in almost every country that exists. Even though sex work is one of the most universal, oldest professions that exists. We still want to punish any individual who engages in it.

Why?

One of the aunts spent a lot of time telling me that she hated the Occupiers and she thinks folks who are homeless are just lazy and they need to get a job.

I told her, are you aware that it takes two or more full time jobs to afford rent, not including utilities or food or a car in most states for people who work minimum wage? You bought your property in 1981 with help. No, other people can’t do what you did. It is really awful for you to think that people who can’t do what you did are lazy. How dare you.

You bought a property for fairly cheap. You had help for 20 years of your mortgage. How dare you say that other people who can’t do what you did are lazy.

Are you aware that historically speaking black people have been shut out of owning property?

This is not about lazy.

Are you aware that the largest race riot in our American history was white people who were jealous that black people were doing too well? But we’ve had a lot of race riots. Mostly they erupt because white people are persecuting non-whites. It is bullshit.

I don’t deal well with people who are incapable of seeing the layers of privilege that built their lives. We are all made up of support and relationships with people. Unfortunately there are major demographics who have traditionally not received support. And they are currently struggling much more significantly than demographics that have traditionally received more support.

I want to equalize that. We can’t go back and fix everything bad that has ever happened. I don’t want to. That’s not the point of life. But we can make it so the people who are alive right now have more access to ways to better their lives.

We don’t have to punish people for being disadvantaged. We don’t have to punish people for being icki and poor and not what we want to look at. We can choose compassion. We can choose to help people just because they exist and they should exist.

I want you to exist. Even when I don’t like you. Even if I want to shout at you because your opinions are just flat terrible.  You do worthy things. Even if those things don’t benefit me in any way shape or form. Not everything is about me.

Not everyone has to benefit me in order to be worthy.

I’m getting better at defending the intensity of my opinions without having to scream at people and tell them how much I hate them for having the opinions they have. I’m glad for that. I am modeling better behavior for my children. I am teaching them to be fierce, but not mean.

I’m trying. I’m trying to model what I think should exist. Have strong opinions. They matter. They help. They are important. But try to express them in a way that will educate instead of alienate.

I really suck at that.

Last night was so awesome. Dad and I got stoned together and I unloaded on him. He’s not an emotional guy. He doesn’t really want to hear about feelings. Ha ha mother fucker. You adopt me and you get what you get. If you want to be my Dad you get to find out what I’m like. And that means listening to an hour or so of emotional unloading every other year or so. Suck it, buddy. Just cope. You can manage.

He did. He’s wonderful to me. I listened to what was going on with his life. He is struggling more than I am. That’s… kind of weird to me. He’s supposed to be the stable grown up. Only now I’m the stable grown up. How the fuck did that happen?

He’s had a hard time since his wife died. Things have been rocky. It makes sense. That has been seven years now. His business failed and that was really hard financially and emotionally. He likes his current job, but it doesn’t pay that much and he has a lot of bills. Complicated. He’s really depressed.

He expresses admiration for my obsessive saving. Which is awkward. I appreciate his positive feedback on my skills but it is uncomfortable too. I don’t think I should be doing better than other people. That is not my self-perception. If I do something well, emotionally, I want it to be because any one can do it and it isn’t very hard. That isn’t true any more though. I’m good at a lot of things that most people suck at. I am an incredibly skilled person.

That’s hard to accept sometimes. I don’t ever get to use the excuse that I just can’t any more. I can find a way. That’s daunting. Overwhelming. Too much pressure. I don’t want to be able to find a way. I want to have the excuse that I don’t have to.

But I’m exceptionally competent. If I don’t do something it is probably because I choose not to and not because I can’t. That’s…

Shit. I’m out of excuses. I like excuses.

Talking to Dad is intense on a variety of levels. As the years go by I am increasingly willing to share my opinion on what I see. “You are selfish in a short sighted way. If we could get your selfishness to see the long-view then I think your romantic life would improve.” He is strangely willing to listen to me now whereas ten years ago he snorted and said what the hell do I know.

Now he’s had two marriages go badly and mine is doing well and he’s willing to listen.

He spent a lot of time questioning whether I was on the road trip because my marriage is rocky. He had a really hard time believing that Noah would be ok with this kind of separation unless we were on the verge of divorce.

Nope, we are very happy together. Lots of sex. Lots of good conversation. We really enjoy one another’s company. But I’m a traveler and he’s not. He loves me anyway just like I love him for being a home body. We are ok with supporting one another through divergent experiences. We don’t have to do everything together. It’s ok if we are different.

It is part of why I am so very happy to be married to Noah. He doesn’t want a Mrs. Noah Gibbs who is there to facilitate his life. He wants to be partnered with Krissy Gibbs. Who is bad ass and does cool things.

He’s bummed when people think I’m cool because he married me. He thinks that is missing the point of me. I am not cool because he sticks his dick in me. I’m cool so he wants to stick his dick in me. People should get the order right.

I really like Noah. I am ridiculously happy to be married to someone who trusts me and who works as hard as he works. I like hard workers. I like people who pick goals and then put their head down and accomplish them come hell or high water. I really like Noah. He inspires me. He also taunts me and I want to punch him for it. But I don’t because we do not have that kind of relationship.

Noah causes me to think really hard about my ever expanding repertoire of skills. He isn’t ok with me minimizing my abilities. He says, “Nope. You don’t get to think you are incompetent any more. You probably never were but you don’t get to think it now.”

I cannot express what knowing him has meant to me. He believes in me. He believes in me the way other people believe in G-d. He thinks I can just do things. So I can.

Thank you.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen to the world if everyone had someone who believed in them as much as Noah believes in me. It would be a really incredible planet. I wish I could see that planet.

I want to be part of a world where people build one another up instead of tearing each other down. That was the hard part of dealing with the aunts. I didn’t want to tear them down in the process of educating them and that is hard. Tearing people down is so much easier than building them up.

How do you teach people to see that they are privileged because they grew up with a highly educated parent who had the ability to teach them a variety of skills that other people never know exists? How do you teach people to see that they are lucky and blessed because they got to have abusive help for a period of time?

Some people get no help at all. Not even packaged with abuse. No one wants to help them from the get-go.

Can we get over this idea that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? That’s a crock of shit. The people who survive and who do well are people who have neighbors who show up to help. Not people who do it alone.

I’ve tried doing it alone and I’ve tried finding a network of support. Finding the network is horrifyingly hard. It is emotionally draining and hurtful. There are hundreds of false starts. It feels hopeless most of the time. But then you notice that this time when you fell down someone was there to grab your elbow and keep you from landing on the concrete.

I believe in the MonkeySphere. I believe my connections to human beings are the reason I am alive. Mostly through Shanna and Calli and Noah, but my friends are important. My friends matter so much.

If I weren’t at Dad’s house I wouldn’t be able to see the extent of how much he loves me and would do if I needed it. He’s never going to be able to provide financial support–he might need it in the future. But he has been emotional support for almost 16 years. He has supported me through many different changes in my life. He adapts with me as I change radically and he really wishes he didn’t have to.

I see you. I appreciate you.

Looks like my kids are going to be his grandkid experience. His bio-kids are respectively one and two years younger than me. His son is only going to have children if there is a catastrophic accident and he’s considering pre meditative surgery. Just to be safe. Dad’s bio-daughter is 30 and doesn’t have a partner. Her mom would like her to have kids but she isn’t real interested in single parenting and things aren’t lining up.

It is weird seeing that I am creating a place for myself. I am in the middle of generations. I help interpret going up and going down. I really appreciate that I get to spend so much of my life teaching people how to get along. Kids and adults. That probably isn’t how other people see how I spend my time… but it is how I see what I’m doing. I give other adults a lot of feedback. I try to do it in ways that won’t cause them to turn around and yell at me to back off (I’m pretty deft) but I’m a bossy motherfucker. I’m going to volunteer my view whether you like it or not.

And there are people who keep me around even though I’m highly obnoxious. My life is great.

Last night I told Dad that I feel very safe unloading on him at this point because I know that he likes having me around. He laughed and asked why I am so sure. I said, “I’ve watched you for a lot of years. When you are done with people you get mean. Your jokes are more and more cutting. You point out their flaws more frequently and with more venom. It is hard to watch when you are doing it to people I like. It is part of why I don’t spend more time with you. I don’t want to wear out my welcome. You have never treated me that way and I want to continue this trend.”

He got quiet and thoughtful. After a while he nodded and said, “You are right. I do like you a lot. I’m not sick of you.” He didn’t say that much more about it. He’s not the sort.

I’m sitting in Dad’s back yard resting. I’m thinking about doing some weeding. He’s been really sad and just isn’t keeping up with the house and yard. I cleaned his pipes this morning. If you are going to pollute your lungs, at least don’t do it through an inch of tar, come on.

I’ll clean the kitchen after lunch and before I make dinner. Boy it needs it. I’ll probably clean the bathroom tomorrow because there is mildew starting. This house is more than twice the size of my house, I can see why he is having a hard time keeping up. He used to be able to pay help and now he can’t. I think he should down size but it’s complicated.

Everything is complicated.

Maybe the girls and I will come out here and weed his beds and run over to a nursery. We can put a handful of low-maintenance veggies in so he continues to feel loved after we leave. It is weird how plants do that. I don’t understand it, but I’m starting to see it and exploit the loop hole. Yay for exploitable techniques.

Holy moly we’ve been seeing great yards. Aunt Cookie and my friend W have gorgeous yards. These ladies are accomplished. It was a real treat to visit and see the results of their hard work. I feel so inspired. I need to touch some dirt. I need to put in more plants. The planet needs more plants.

Maybe I can ask him if one of his beds can be a wild flower seed mix for birds and butterflies. So when the flowers come up he can think of us.

We love you and we want you to be here.

I love pot. Today I’m not driving so I’m heavily medicated. Right in this moment I feel like if the biggest burdens in my life are dealing with some classist, racist, mostly decent people… I can work with that. I like educating people. I will learn how to talk about these topics. It is very important to me that people like them learn why they are wrong. I understand that they will be more likely to listen to someone they perceive as being like them. They see me as being like them.

They are wrong as fuck, but that’s ok.

It’s an exploitable loop hole. No, I’m not like you. But I know how to ape some of your class markers and I have learned to do so out of self-preservation. I have learned how to make people like you stop hitting me. I’m not like you.

I’m never going to stop being a fierce person. I believe it is necessary. But I want to learn how to temper it when I choose. I want it to be more under control. I want it to be a tool in my tool box and not the defining explanation of what I’m like. I believe that being capable of violence is necessary for self preservation. I’m going to get better at being lethal and learn how to stop the bullshit posturing.

I don’t need to win the dick contests. Even though mine is bigger.

I don’t like what I win. How is being the biggest dick a good thing?

Well, it’s a good thing when I can get men to back the fuck off of being bossy and/or controlling but quick. There has to be another way.

I struggle with the grey area of wanting to be more open and inviting and wanting to be all go the fuck away.

What is the path? Who knows. I’m just walking.

Holy crud out of the blue

I was sitting at dinner with my lovely family and out of the blue I had really strong visualization of cutting myself really badly. Cutting myself in flamboyant, very attention-getting ways. Razor blades from the wrist to the elbow. Screaming and flailing at the same time.

I have no idea where this visualization came from. It was sudden. It was intense. I had to really consciously choose to not beat my head on the table because my first impulse was to try and get it out of my head by beating my head on the table. Like I almost slammed my face into my dinner. It was disorienting and weird.

I have no idea what the fuck is up with that. Not fun.

Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’m done packing other than perishable food. It will take about 15 minutes to round it up.

We leave in just over 17 hours. I’m tired and feeling kind of flattened.

I’m going to sleep a lot. Tomorrow I want to take a very very very long bath. With epsom salts.

I find it weird that I had the intense visualization given that my general anxiety level has been going down all day. As I get closer to “go” I’ve been settling down. I’ve been feeling better. All of a sudden I feel completely not ok. But I’m going to sit on this.

How I feel doesn’t really matter. What matters is what I do. I noted to Noah, “I’ll write about it later. This is when it started.” I’m pretty sure that other than blinking more times than usual I didn’t otherwise act inappropriately.

Right this second I’m scared of going so long without a consistent witness. Who will make sure I’m appropriate?

Well tonight Noah asked/gave Calli permission to call me on having a negative attitude. I suppose she will be the one to make sure I’m not too much of a bitch.

Have I mentioned lately how much I fucking love that my children have the courage to stand up to me? Grown men are afraid of me. Not my bad ass little babies.

Shanna is developing a very negative attitude about the trip. She doesn’t want to leave Noah. I’m… trying to be ok with it. I’m being supportive of her having feelings. I am sympathizing. I’m still implacable. “We’re going. Why? Because we have things to learn.”

I feel like I am drowning in waves of guilt. We are leaving because I want to run away. Because I need a break. Because I’ve been standing in one place too fucking long. Because I have always wanted to see what the country is like. Because I wanna.

Because I wanna and I’m selfish and you have to come with me.

For just a few years you have to keep me company. I hope it isn’t too awful. I hope you will have some fun. Calli is acting like she will have fun.

I’m trying not to be an asshole about “At least one daughter likes me.” Shanna does like me. But she really likes her dad and her computer and she wants to stay. Not too long ago she was happy to follow me to the ends of the earth and I was enough. I’m having feels. I’ll get over them. This is appropriate.

I hope we will have fun together.

I hope she will not remember this as something her crazy mother dragged her through. I pray.

Both kids are still absolutely adamant that they want to keep home schooling. I’m not dragging them through everything. Shanna says that if Noah were coming with us more she wouldn’t feel resistant to the road trip. That makes sense. She says the around-the-world trip sounds awesome because he will be with us.

Yeah honey… but there are steps here we need to figure out. If we can’t make this work we can’t spend a year away. We have to manage five months away first.

We can do it. But will you still like me?

I like you. I know there are going to be years where you don’t like me much. I’m trying to be ok with it. I know it isn’t personal. It’s normal and appropriate. Lots of books tell me so.

Sometimes I find it startling how “normal” and “text-book” my kids are. They have normal, happy people problems. I love watching it. And I will continue to do whatever I must to not beat my head in front of them. I will not cut. I will not let them see me harm myself on purpose. Just no.

I will not be how you learn about these behaviors. Or, rather, you will not learn about them by watching me.

I will teach you to love your body, to say kind things about it, and to be gentle with yourself. That’s my job.

Every single time I’m having a hard time emotionally I want to say mean/petty/vindictive things. So far I have managed to bite my tongue because I chant in my head, “Their negative inside voice will not come from you.”

My goal is to ensure that my children never hear nasty tapes in their head of my voice dressing them down. That will not be our relationship.

I hear my mom scream that I am a stupid cunt. A bitch. Unwanted. Dirty. Nasty. Pathetic. I don’t know how to stop those tapes.

I can’t stop them in my head but I can make sure I don’t put them in my daughters’ heads.

I mean… I tell my kids that they are obnoxious and annoying… just like their parents. I grin while I say it. It generally comes out something like, “WHY DID YOU HAVE TO TURN OUT AS ANNOYING AS ME?!?!?!” They laugh.

“You are supposed to be obnoxious. If you weren’t obnoxious you would have to turn in your kid-badge.”

When I’m being scary my kids will stand there, straight and tall, and tell me, “You are using a mean voice and you need to stop.” Sometimes they are crying… but they do it. I tell them they are right and I do stop. Thank you for telling me.

I’ve had an interesting thing with Shanna lately. I love her hair. I have always loved to stroke her head and she has mostly barely tolerated me touching her. Since it was dyed… I uhm… I’m being annoying. I want to play with it and braid it. I PAID SO MUCH MONEY! I WANT TO PLAY WITH THE COOL TOY!!! Uhm… Shanna has these opinions about it being her body or some bullshit.

Who has been telling her this crap?!

Anyway, I was trying to cajole her into letting me braid her hair. Cool pink and blue streaks are super duper fun and I like playing with plaiting. Shanna resisted some and I cajoled some.

At some point I said, “You know what… I’m pestering which isn’t cool; it is your body. If you really don’t want me to play with your hair I won’t.”

She said, “I feel like you haven’t been very respectful of my body lately.”

I felt like I got sucker punched.

I said, “Oh. Well, I think what is happening is that your boundaries are changing and I didn’t notice. We are going to have to have lots of conversations over the years. We started out with you being a little lump I carried around at all times and it was ok for me to touch you whenever I wanted. That will change slowly and sometimes quickly and I’ll need to be told. I can’t read your mind to know when you change. Also, I’ve been pushing harder on brushing your hair for a few reasons. Know how we make a lot of unconventional choices like not going to school?”

She nodded.

“Well, when you choose to not do what most people do most of the time then you risk people having to come check up on you. Unfortunately when folks from the government come to check on kids… one of the first things they look at is whether you are clean and your hair is brushed. It’s stupid. It isn’t a measure of how well you are taken care of, not really. But people can look at it from a distance. I’ll try to be more respectful though.”

She asked a few more questions about the government checking up on families and then agreed that a basic brushing is reasonable daily. I’m to back off on wanting to play though.

It sucks.

I have watched a lot of movies about mothers and daughters this year. Lots. Dozens maybe. I’m on a kick. It is surprising to me how mother/daughter relationships are twisted around appearance and hair and the perceptions of other people. My relationship with my mom was complicated. She wanted my hair to be about 2″ long so that she didn’t have to be embarrassed all the time about how bad I looked.

I have to respect it when my daughters say no. Even if I don’t want to. Even if it would make *me* happy to ignore their wishes. I’ve got a long game going. I want them to be my friends in thirty years.

Given how cool I am at 33 I bet Shanna is going to be way fucking cooler at 37. Yeah, I really want to know them in thirty years. I want to be friends. And that means I have to be appropriate when they are kids.

It is harder some days than others. Today being appropriate is hard. I think I did ok though.

We went to get passports. We went to the bank; both girls are now square when it comes to allowance. Their savings accounts are up to date. My kids get $2/week for saving. So Shanna has over $700. It’s… honestly a bit weird. I couldn’t have imagined having so much when I was that age. Heck, it isn’t real to her. The $5/week of walking around money is what she sees. I’ve been talking to them about the save money for a while. They only kind of get it.

I drew the watering diagrams for the yards. I’m ready. It’s time to go.

I love you, Wonderland. I’ll come back.

Running away from home

My kind friends are letting me hang out in their house for a few days as an escape from my life. It’s an adventure! They have a security system and in their opinion, in their neighborhood, it is incredibly important that it be turned on all the time. This is weird. I don’t always lock my house when I leave to run errands. I know all my neighbors. I’m just not real scared of what will happen to my house; but when in Rome do as the Romans do.

And they have lots of rescue kitties. You have to be very careful going in and out, which is very different from my swinging-open-door policy. I’m being careful. I want to be respectful of this kind offer.

This will not be like yelling at Rebecca’s dad. No sirree.

He was a total asshat. But I still shouldn’t have yelled at him while I was a guest in house.

Monetization. That’s been a big topic in my extended world lately. I hear about it a lot because I know a lot of people who want to start businesses. I live in an entrepreneur hot spot. This is partially because I live in the Silicon Valley and folks come here to do tech startups.

But I know independent operators of a lot of businesses. Acupuncture, massage, construction, book keeping, landscaping, providing day care…

Aren’t these all businesses? Don’t these things all count? Well, not if you listen to venture capitalists. The only businesses that “count” are the kind that will provide shareholder value. Mostly I know folks who want to provide a living for themselves and their immediate families. Mostly I don’t know very many people who want to “disrupt” society in order to make a lot of money. A few, not many. That’s a neurotic focus if you ask me.

Do you know the biggest difference I notice between people who have made a lot of money and people who don’t? The people who make a lot of money tend to start out feeling like they are worth a lot and they are pushy and aggressive about money from day one.

Doesn’t matter if you are a landscaper, a graphic artist, software designer or massage therapist. If you believe that you are good and people need to pay you a lot of money to interact with someone who is so good… you make more money.

Whatever you do, be good at it and require that people acknowledge how good you are.

That gets complicated in helping professions. The best day cares are not the most expensive–not really. The most expensive usually have complicated programs and materials but those things aren’t what cause children to learn quickly. Feeling loved, seen, and like it is safe to make mistakes–that’s what spurs massive learning. Often the people who are the best don’t know how to appropriately value themselves and they are ridiculously cheap.

I’ve been slowly working on my massage therapist for years. Sweetie, if you are booked more than six months in advance and you feel like you are drowning under the weight of people who want your time… raise your rates. (He does every so often. It’s wonderful for him.) Clearly what you have to offer is worth a lot of money.

He doesn’t want to raise his rates much because he cares about helping people and he doesn’t want to become a commodity that only rich people can afford. I hear that. I respect that. It’s going to kill him.

I think about this in terms of me showing up to clean my friend’s houses. I have promised myself that I will never again pick up a project-friendship. If someone needs me to come clean their house they need to pay me. At this stage of my life it is doing damage to my body that I have to pay doctors to fix. That means I need to be paid in exchange for the labor. I can’t just carry it any more. Not because I don’t care about people, but because there is a cost to me in doing the work. If I have to pay a cost… I can’t give it to you for free.

I am mercenary with my kids in this way. Everything I do for you has a cost to me. How am I going to pay it? The good thing is, mostly from the kids… I need love and attention. They have tons of that to spare.

The other day I asked Shanna if she wanted to go on a date after her dentist appointment. She told me no, she’d rather come home and spend time with her dad because he is her favorite parent.

I told her that even if her dad is her favorite parent… it’s rude and inconsiderate to tell me she doesn’t want to spend time with me because she only likes him. I told her that I work for her benefit every.single.day. and these dates are a way for us to pay attention to one another and enjoy one another’s company without having to do work right.now. I told her that I need dates to feel loved and it hurts my feelings very much that she thinks that talking to me for an hour is so horrible.

She looked shocked. She said talking to me isn’t horrible and she’s sorry she hurt my feelings. We had a nice date together.

We all work a lot. Housework, gardening, learning activities, the kids are learning computer skills… It’s work. We focus on our own things for a lot of the day. We work near one another rather than with each other for a lot of time. I need to feel like I’m worth paying attention to. Time spent is my big thing. People making time to come talk to me… that’s my structural support for life. I don’t need to be the center of attention all the time. (I would combust.) But I need dates.

A woman I follow on Twitter named Lauren Chief Elk is a First Nations activist. For the past few days she has been writing quite a bit about how wives should get a pay cheque the same way husbands get a pay cheque. We are doing work that is equally as needed and essential for our families. Why are we expected to do so without compensation? It’s crap.

If a man fixing a car is worth paying… why isn’t a woman taking care of children? If a man making a video game is worth paying… why isn’t a woman who is at home doing his fucking laundry?

Short answer: you are only worth paying if you demand that people pay you. This is why people are rarely paid for the work they do for family. The attitude is that you owe your family this work and you don’t deserve any compensation. You can pour out the whole of your life into your family and you deserve nothing back. You “didn’t do anything”. But if someone makes a video game! Oh! That’s deserving of reward!

I don’t like my culture very much.

Even if raising your children well means that you are ensuring that you are promoting the general good of your country. Better that you be an absent parent allowing the state to raise your kids for you in centers. That will lead to healthy people. Uhm, not.

I really and truly don’t believe that mothers are uniquely suited to raising children. I think fathers are also fully equipped once you get past breast feeding. I think aunts and uncles are competent. I think adult cousins are fully capable. Grandparents are fucking amazing. I envy some of the families in my neighborhood with the super-involved grandparents.

You can’t pay someone to care. When your child is taken care of by family members… mostly the child is personally cared about more than if the same child were with strangers. But at the same time, you can’t force your family to go and get the education necessary so they can handle a lot of the situations that come up with kids.

It is so complicated.

Many families are not capable of providing the care their children need. Does that mean the child is better off with the state? I’m not convinced.

The simple truth is, there will always be children who fall through the cracks and receive no appropriate care or love during childhood. It’s going to happen. Forever. We can’t legislate that away. We can’t create programs that solve every problem.

But part of the solution involves women learning to think that their work is worthy of compensation. I say it as “women” but there are lots of men in this category. I don’t think this is a chick thing.

The problem with thinking about monetization is it quickly gets into “What is beneath me to do so I should pay someone lower on the ladder to do it for me”. This is why I don’t pay people to clean my house. I am not so fucking good I can’t scrub a toilet.

But the thing is… I will never have the time to do the things I want to do if I’m constantly trying to keep up with this ever-growing lists of things I “should” do for myself. Like scrubbing my toilet or washing my clothes.

I would not feel like I was less of a person if I went back to cleaning houses for a living. That’s honorable work to me. Why do I object so much to paying someone else to do it for me? It’s a weird conundrum. I really do mind.

There is a lady in my neighborhood. She’s a hair older than me. She has more kids. She has a job. Her husband has a job. With both of them working as many hours as they can manage they barely make ends meet. A few times I’ve been at her house and watched her frantically cleaning. I feel guilty for not helping but she won’t hear of it. I’d cheerfully stand there and do the dishes while we chat. She’s so tired.

Even though it is not currently a financial consideration… I’m not sure she would be willing to let someone clean her house even if she could afford it. She will do it. It is her work. Even though she has a job. I think she’s a bit nutty. If I were working 50+ hours a week plus raising a whole bunch of kids… I hope I’d be more ok with letting other people take on some of my tasks.

But probably not. I’m stupid.

(Not saying she is. Saying I am.)

Pride is a funny thing. Wanting to get paid for your labor. Wanting to do it for yourself combine in these funny ways that result in mostly just the sociopaths being paid well. They are the only people with the chutzpah to demand a lot of compensation. They are the ones who believe they don’t owe anyone anything and if folks want something from them… pay for it.

And then the rest of the non-sociopaths stand near the sociopaths with charming smiles and hope that they get tossed enough scraps to live on. This isn’t going so well. Look at how wealth distribution is happening in our country. We are in trouble if we don’t stop letting the sociopaths have all the wealth.

Yes, I’m comfortable saying that the 1% is comprised mainly of sociopaths. 

In contrast, another friend has found a house cleaner and someone to do her laundry and all of a sudden her life is much better. I fully support her taking these steps. Basically…. she hired multiple out-sourced people to be her substitute wife. I get why people need a wife.  “Wife” should be a job.

I believe with all my heart and soul that a minimum basic income for all citizens is the only way forward to economic prosperity and healthy lives for as many citizens as possible. I believe that as long as wealth concentration happens at the top, you poison the community. People see no point in working as hard when they are only working for the betterment of people who are already stepping on their necks.

People need to learn how to have their own worth and value appreciated. I wish that monetization were not part of this but it is. If we had another proxy for talking about why peoples time matters I’d use it but we don’t. For now, all we have is money to talk about the relative merit of someone’s work.

For example: I believe that picking up garbage from the street for 8 hours a day is a job that should provide someone with a living wage. We need people to do this. We have done so much ecological damage with garbage. I don’t think that job is worthless, I think it is very important. I can see why it is hard to get a company to pay someone to do this work… it doesn’t increase the bottom line for the company.

But as a society we all benefit. If people were paid enough to survive and live like human beings with dignity… would more people spend their time this way? If they did not feel downtrodden and abused?

When people feel good about themselves they have more energy. Their mental state is better. They want to work. Humans aren’t that idle of a species. We like moving around and doing stuff. I believe that if people were not brought low by the strain of poverty and mental illness… people would be more productive. Just because they can.

If someone is freed from the strain of earning a meager survival income… what could that person make to improve their life and the lives of people around them? We are at the point where we have the wealth to do this. If we just made the choice.

If we just chose to see people as people. Black people and white people and red people and yellow people and brown people. There are not more “worthy” people in the white race–what a crock of shit. There are more people who have experienced privilege in the last generation or so and as a result many white people have higher educations and they have fewer of the downsides of poverty.

Let’s equalize the playing field. I think everyone would be shocked in a generation. At the very least all the eugenics-leaning fuckwads would be disproven. White people aren’t better. They are just given more help and that allows them to accomplish things that aren’t available to people who lack the support.

As a white person who lacked most of the support of my compatriots… I see the difference between what I had and what the other whites had. I can see how what I had was still structurally easier than being black. The police told me that they wouldn’t ruin a nice boy’s life over me, but they didn’t throw me in jail for being a nuisance. They let me “slide” on my childish mistakes. That doesn’t happen if you aren’t white. You must be perfect from birth.

No one is perfect. You learn more from fucking up than you do from getting things right. This whole set up is horrifying.

If making mistakes is the way to learn and we have structurally created a system where black people are not allowed to make a mistake or they are punished for the rest of their lives… we can’t say that we have any ability to judge the “worth” of various races. We have not seen an actual demonstration of worth without active harm in centuries. When black people do incredible things a white person is there five minutes later trying to burn it down. Often out of spite and jealousy.

We have a lot of negative history to pay for in this country. Sweeping it under the rug won’t help anyone. Yes I believe we owe all African Americans reparations for slavery. Yes I fucking do.

First and foremost: we need to disarm the police. Clearly they are not big boys and girls and they cannot handle toys as powerful as they currently possess.

Noah argues with me. He thinks we need to have a fully formed plan before we start changing things. I think he believes that because he is a white man on the top of the pecking order.

I understand that burning everything down could result in me or my kids becoming casualties of the revolution. Do I want that to happen? No. But I would consider it morally acceptable to balance how things have historically gone. I will make choices that minimize our personal risk only to a limited degree. I’m more interested in steps that help other people. I’m just… not as focused on me.

I’ve been at the bottom and I’ve been at the top. I’m not too worried about staying at the top. I hope I never have to steal food again. It’s a lot of why I grow so much. I am not willing to shove someone else down so I can appear higher.

I was that stepped on person. I can’t and won’t do it to anyone else. Not on purpose. Not willfully. No. No. No. No.

If my government wants me to believe that it is serious about serving the needs of citizens I need to see a few specific steps: disarm the police. Take rape seriously and go through the backlog of rape kits. Release all non-violent offenders from prison. Shut down every for-profit-prison in the country. Revamp our immigration laws so that they are more fair and equitable. Restore funding for abortion providers.

I would believe that my government cared about me if they took those steps.

Shanna tells me frequently that she thinks I should be a politician. Unfortunately honey, there are too many thousands of naked pictures of me out there. That ship has sailed.

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.

Race is awkward

Race is a hard topic. All the time in any forum or under any subtopic. Recently on the internet some of the black women I follow (it’s totally kosher–I’m not stalking) have been talking about why black people are under represented in home schooling. I did not join in the conversation, I sat back and watched. I really didn’t feel comfortable saying, “Many of the new families joining our home school group are not white and I think that is a good thing.”

A new family who wasn’t white showed up today. Shanna commented on the little girls hair, which I found kind of weird because… her hair was almost exactly like mine. How in the world could you ‘other’ that little girl for having hair just like me?!

I feel awkward about it, but when people who aren’t white show up I make extra effort. I know that joining white-dominant groups can be intimidating. (Joining any group where you feel like you visually don’t fit in is hard.) I’m kind of a professional new kid. After 25 schools I recognize the signs of someone showing up going, “I’m scared but I’m trying oh please let this work out.”

One of the first things I stress when new people show up (regardless of race) is you don’t have to make any permanent decisions immediately and you are allowed to try lots of different things to see what works for your family. Everyone is different. Sometimes I can visibly see people relax. Giving people permission to make mistakes is a big deal. Even though I’m just some bitch at the park.

The funny thing is… anyone can nominate themselves as appropriate for giving other people permission for making mistakes. It’s not a position I earned. I just do it. I act like I have the right. Weirdly, lots of people react as if I do. (I’m sure there are people I annoy with my presumptuousness… but they don’t say much about it.)

A friend asked me recently if I even had any black friends. I felt… kind of startled. YES. OF COURSE I DO. Which, as soon as I responded with such intensity, made me think “Are you treating them like fucking collectible cards? Why did you react that way?” Race is so hard. It is important to me that I not decide that people in my life have to be “just like me”. I tend to my best to befriend anyone who stands near me for any lengthy period of time–you never know who you will need as an ally in the future and you never know who you can help without effort, worth getting to know people–and they are a range of ethnic backgrounds. To me, for me to not have people of many races represented in my life would be a reflection of a conscious choice to exclude them.

Like: what am I going to get to know only my white neighbors?! Within ten houses of me on both sides of my street I have families from three or four Asian countries, India, Persia (I didn’t ask for a narrowed down country designation but I assume Iran–I know I could be wrong though), black Americans, and white Americans. I talk to everyone. I think that not talking to everyone would make me a piece of shit.

I have one next door neighbor who is white who is chummy and likes to loan tools. I could have settled into a long-term relationship with him and called it good. No. I’m not that kind of girl. Instead I will befriend the nice Indian lady next door who is very lonely in this country. She’s having a really hard time transitioning to being a stay at home mom. Sounds awesome.

People are people. The shell of them isn’t what makes them interesting to me. The emotions, the personal experiences are what make people interesting. And I live in an incredibly diverse area. Not having black friends would need to be a choice.

And yet talking about it makes it seem like trying to gain a full set of collectible trading cards. That’s not what it is about. I want to hear diverse points of view so much. It is so important to me. I spend my life searching out “other” points of view. I do make friends with white people even though I generally don’t like them much. Well, at a distance. I like them fine once I get to know them.

Yesterday I read about an interesting study about learned aversions. They are very difficult to overcome. Nearly impossible in many cases. It is sometimes hard for me that basically all of my trauma came from white people and specifically white men. Dealing with my learned aversions is work. I can walk up to a group of hispanic men and sit down and feel totally comfortable. I don’t feel that way with white men. When I’m looking to sit down in cafeteria’s, I look for where non-whites are sitting unless I specifically already know someone. Then I’ll be sociable.

And yet, my kid still comments awkwardly on mixed race hair. I see we will need to have more conversations. To be fair, she sometimes makes stupid comments about the hair of white kids. I think we need to talk more about how you don’t comment on other peoples bodies at all, period. Not your business.

It’s not like my kids shy away from playing with kids who aren’t white. Shanna walks right up to the first kid she says and asks to play no matter what they look like. It helps that she is successful most of the time so she has positive associations with people of all varieties. She loves people and they love her right back. It is so wonderful to watch. Calli plays with people who ask her, but she is less outgoing. That’s ok too.

I feel like pretending I don’t see race is… kind of stupid. I’m aware of race. I don’t “ensure I have a set” of kinds of people. I take whoever walks by. I want to learn how to be appropriate with all kinds of people and visual markers exist. Yes, I’m sure I have some stereotypes.

I try very hard to ensure that my stereotypes are things like, “In general Asian immigrants are less forgiving of me swearing so I need to try harder to watch my mouth.” They flinch more. Asian Americans who grew up here don’t care. So I only seriously modify if I hear an accent. Then I try very hard to make my language more approachable. I don’t want them to retreat from my ambient anger and I’ve seen it happen.

I don’t deliberately swear at people. I just… kind of have a potty mouth. I’m not calling people names or anything.

I just talk like I grew up where I grew up sometimes. I’m articulate. (Not that I’m claiming I can pick up dialects as well as she can. That woman is amazing.)

I feel like part of my problem is I feel more awkward being this friendly when I have a lot of money than I did when I was poor. I have always been the sort to be bossy and interfering. That feels like much more of a problem now that I am upper middle class. I was always white and that was always an issue with regards to my point of view when it comes to bossing people who are not like me. But I recognize how many privileges I have now. I recognize how often I solve problems by throwing money at them and I know it is simply not an option for most people the way it is for me.

I feel pretty ashamed of myself for that and I don’t know what to do about it. I feel very bad that I have so many more resources than other people. I don’t want to be in the 95%-98% for wealth… but I don’t want to be poor either. That scares the shit out of me. I’ve been homeless and starving and I don’t want to ever do it again.

But I don’t think I’m “better” than people who haven’t figured out how to get out. I very clearly see how being white played into my story every step of the way helping me find allies who helped me survive.

I would not be alive without my friends. Many of whom are white. And I spend a lot of time shit talking white people. I’m an ungrateful bastard.

Even beyond being white, I had help. Some of it was weird and unconventional. I got out because I was perfectly ok using any fucking available resource. Most people have more scruples about being “users” than I do. My mama taught me that beggars can’t be choosers and you use the people in front of you.

I’ve lived in a lot of areas where non-white people abound. I frequent communities where non-white people exist.

Err, why wouldn’t I have black friends?

Because lots of people don’t and that is very weird to me. To me that is like saying, “How about if you banish some of the most chatty and fun people you know.” Uhm, no. No, no no. I find chatty people of every race and I love them dearly and I’m not giving them up. It was hard to track down that many talkative people. Taciturn people abound.

Apparently I’m having a love affair with the word abound today.

I talk to whoever walks by. I keep the people who like to talk. I don’t really care what they look like because once I get past the first few sentences, the shell of a person isn’t what makes them interesting. I like people for their stories. I learn so much from the generous people who talk to me about their lives. I learn how to be a better person. I learn about options in life I have never even considered. What are the parameters that shape your decisions? I can’t imagine. Tell me. Please.

People are the reason I’m alive. Because there are more stories to hear and create and experience. I feel awkward about race but I feel awkward about race towards my race while being it. I feel othered. I feel like when I’m talking to a white person I need to assume that their life has been nothing like mine.

What does having it “better” or having it “worse” even mean?

I don’t really know but near as I can tell other people have pretty firm opinions about their own life in relationship to the people around me and they are happy to tell me. Great. I’ll listen. I’ll only judge a little bit and I will keep 99% of my judgments to myself. I’ll only let the tactful ones slip out; I hope.

I’m much better than I used to be! It’s all the practice.

I feel like part of what I have learned is how to let other people be the ones who dictate the opinions about their lives. My judgments are about my ability to see a scope into their life and have nothing really to do with their actual life. I don’t know all the pieces of their real life because they can never tell them all. I’ve been writing for years and I’m still uncovering nooks and crannies about why I do shit. I’ve been working on this as a concentrated area of study for years and I’m still surprised regularly by new triggers and new layers of, “Now I have to unpack this shit. Ew.”

I project like crazy though and that’s a real problem. I think my ability to handle things is reflective of what other people can handle and I’m dead wrong. In positive and negative ways.

I don’t believe in a color blind world. I believe that people look different because they have different family histories and that makes them interesting and unique. I tell my kids, “A persons skin color just tells you that their ancestors stayed closer to the Equator than our ancestors did.” When we ask someone where they are from we say, “Where in California are you from?” No one needs to feel like an outsider. But you may not be from my city. People who are immigrants but who have moved around California consider this a wonderful opening for long and interesting stories.

Race is hard to talk about. But it shapes all of our lives and I think I won’t understand people unless I ask questions that are kind of sticky and I learn how to listen respectfully. I want to feel bound to people. I want to feel like I understand people. It has to come one at a time and it will come best with as many different kinds of people as I can.

Race is always going to be awkward. Good thing I’m comfortable with being awkward. It is a pretty permanent part of my affect.

 

Scamming the system

I am sitting here wondering if it is possible for me to buy most of the fixtures for the remodel with my store credit card so I get 5% off and then pay my store credit card bill with my regular credit card so I can get the travel credit. Then I would cheerfully dump it on my home equity line of credit for three years because the interest rate is much lower than my mortgage and I want them both paid off in the next 5-6 years anyway.

Hm. Not sure if it possible. Hm. This might deserve some research.