Category Archives: reading

Peripheral

I asked my current longest running friend how she experiences my emotional ups and downs. She said “Peripherally because mostly I’m focused on me.” It was… humbling in exactly the right way. It was a reminder that the people who love me don’t have to come on the emotional roller coaster with me. They can love me and hear about my life and support me without being traumatized. My experiences are peripheral to their lives. It’s… kind of a freeing way of looking at it.

I don’t know how much to center myself. I don’t know how much impact I have on other people. I don’t know how much they can withstand from me. I don’t know this partially because people are all so different. I have been blessed with friends who can hear about some severe traumas without being damaged. But lots of people can’t even handle mildly upsetting things without freaking out, let alone trauma. So calibration is a bitch.

On the way home from the grief ritual on Saturday I got news that I didn’t like. If I was under the delusion that talking about a road trip for multiple years before I did it would result in people making sure they were home when I come to their city….uhm I am now back in tune with reality. The folks I know make their plans without consulting with me. Lots of folks I wanted to see (I’m up to like 8 different people across the country) aren’t going to be home when I come through town. The… ironic part is how many of them will be in the bay area when I am in their home states. I am having a hard time not feeling specifically avoided. I live in the bay area and you don’t come when I’m there to see me. You come when I am in your city. It… it is hard to not take personally. I’ve been planning this road trip for years. People could have asked me about conflicts. They didn’t. Now I can either change my plans (to make a long trip even longer) to see them or give up the idea of seeing them.

Which is why it is good to be reminded that I am peripheral to other peoples lives and I shouldn’t act like I am at the center. I’m really not. Folks don’t schedule around me. Hoo boy folks don’t schedule around me.

I think this would be easier if it were one person I was having this experience with. Then I could decide how much I prioritize that specific person and make a decision and move on. But once you start stacking that many people and that many conflicts… it gets exponentially more complicated.

I’m having conflict with my plans from five separate people in Portland. That’s… that seems to be a sign I shouldn’t go to Portland. If 5/8 of the people I go there to see won’t be available and one of the people I do want to see has been coming to the bay area without talking to me over the last year so I’m all butt hurt… Maybe Portland wasn’t meant to be part of the road trip? I could take it as a sign to save myself a thousand or so miles of travel. But then I feel like I’m not proving my love to the 3/8 people who are still there.

I’m having internal conflict over my adopted dad coming to the bay area multiple times without bothering to have dinner with us. Why the fuck should I keep trying to create a relationship with you when you come to my area without even the smallest of effort in my direction? It’s not a relationship if I am carrying all of it. But you know what? He didn’t ask me to be my dad. He didn’t ask to adopt my kids. I asked him. And I have to take what he feels like giving. I don’t get to demand more.

But I spent this weekend at a grief ritual. And I spent this weekend reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Fucking Palmer. So I’m in a funny place with regards to my feelings about “just stop asking people for love.”

That’s what cutting Portland out of the road trip would mean for me. It would mean that I am not able to go to that city with my heart in my hands saying, “Please love me.” I feel pathetic about it, but that’s a lot of what I do with my traveling and my life experiences. I go about and meet people I’ve known for a long time and people I have just met and I energetically ask them to love me. Please think I am worthy of humanity and decency and love. I’m scared that I am not deserving. And I need it affirmed over and over.

You need ten positive things to balance out every negative thing you hear about yourself. I spent the first 25 years of my life hearing 1,000 bad things for every good thing I heard. I am spending my adulthood trying to convince myself I am not what I was told I am.

But asking people to love you this way means risking rejection.

Part of my problem is that I have too many expectations of people. I really do. If I were actually content with five minutes of attention from the people I love I wouldn’t feel so disappointed. They can eke out five minutes. They can’t eke out two days. I’m not saying anything bad about them for that. They are where they are. And I am where I am.

I have spent most of my life using physical pain to remind me that I can’t ask for help because people don’t actually care very much. Now everyone in my life really wants me to stop hurting myself. And things are better than they were–more people are willing to demonstrate caring than I have ever experienced. It is getting better year by year. But I am not good at keeping my needs in check. I’m not good at ensuring that I don’t overwhelm people.

I am trying to learn the skills to deal with rejection without feeling like I should die. My hyperbole is not because of anyone in my life right now. It is because I have felt like I should die since early childhood. I’m looking for signs that I should or shouldn’t die. As soon as I feel like there is more weight on the side of no really I shouldn’t be here any more I try to leave. I haven’t tried to leave in 18 years. I was taught that the penalty for trying to leave and failing is really bad. Unless I’m willing to go swim out into the ocean until I can’t come back… I probably won’t attempt suicide again. My gestures are used up. Next time it has to be effective and no take backs.

I’m still weighing every rejection. I’m still tossing evidence into a sack towards the inevitability that I should die today because some day that day will come. Some day it will be the day I should die. It is not avoidable.

I notice something in the cycles of asking for support that I go through. If I ask a lot of people at once for something I don’t want very much… it usually works out. If I ask one person for something I want very much… it rarely works out. One example that is shallow and petty but small and easy to describe is the leather dress. I lived with my Owner for three years. We had a very intense relationship. I did not ask him to buy me things. He bought food for me in restaurants and that was it. I bought all groceries for the house. We were both incredibly sensitive to the idea that he was my Sugar Daddy and he was therefore careful to not pay me.

Isn’t that kind of funny? He wanted to make sure our relationship was “clean” so he would safely not provide very much support. Ha.

Anyway after being together for just shy of 4 years we were at a leather conference. I found a leather ball gown I was simply in love with. It was gorgeous. It was way out of my budget. I had never before asked him to pay for any of the ridiculously large fetish wardrobe I bought because he wanted me to wear those clothes. I didn’t ask him to pay for the 20+ pairs of shoes I bought because he wanted me to wear them. I didn’t own any of those shoes two years after I left him. Most of them were gone in three months. I hated those shoes. But I had to buy them to make him happy. I lived on $14,400/year and he made over $250,000. Anyway.

So I wanted this dress and I asked him to buy it for me. I said it could be my birthday and Christmas and everything put together. He said no. He said it wasn’t worth it to him to buy it for him. This happened in July. We broke up in August. Want to know what is funny? Noah organized my other-lovers and bought the dress for my birthday in September. I didn’t ask my other-lovers for the dress. I just cried on my blog.

I still have the dress. I wear it sometimes. It is one of the few items of fetish wear I have left. Mostly I’ve passed things on to people who are actually into that kind of thing. I used to have a wardrobe that made fetish models and professional dominatrixes drool. I’m not a fetishist though.

I spent a lot of this grieving ritual thinking about how I need to forgive myself for having needs that are in specific shaped boxes. I am not going to get those boxes filled because friends don’t work that way. I could maybe get the needs met if I was open to the universe supplying some random person–that’s how things work out for me. But as long as I get into this place where I create fantasies of doing x, y, and z with a, b, and c because I love them… I’m mostly going to be disappointed. My friends are not programmable. They don’t have the same interests and impulses as me.

This is what makes things so tricky. I have very specific needs and wants. People aren’t Burger King. You can’t have it your way.

A friend suggested that I negotiate differently. Instead of offering a Thing I’m up for, try to negotiate two or three things that might work for both. Thing is, I’m negotiating with anywhere from 3-25 people in a week. I can’t be that flexible. I run into bandwidth limitations.

I am not physically nor emotionally capable of being that open-endedly flexible with that many people. Maybe other people could… I can’t.

I will lose me. I understand that other people can keep themselves while being very flexible. That is awesome for them. That’s not me.

As I read Amanda Palmer’s book I kept thinking, “I have tried to have similar trust in the universe. That is part of how I got raped by 12 people. Uhm… This doesn’t work equally well for everyone.”

I feel like the term “Survival Sex” is only fairly recently added to my working vocabulary. It is… not exactly sex work because money doesn’t exchange hands. It is having sex with people in trade for food or housing. I’m struggling with not having the right goods to trade for my needs any more. Once upon a time I could trade sex and get most of the immediate needs I had met. Now I can’t trade sex for a variety of reasons and I don’t know what currency I have that is of value. My attention? But I bother people so much.

If you look at history there are people who can ask and have their needs met and it is like magic and then there are people who ask and get spit on. A lot of it depends on who you know. How magical is your safety net? The fact that Amanda Palmer had so many people with extra money to throw at artists is part of why she has done so well. If she had not grown up in that net… it would be a very different story.

It is a lot easier to trust that people will meet your needs when your needs have been basically met your entire life. It is not so easy to believe when there have been brief shining moments when all of your needs were met for brief moments and mostly… not so much.

I don’t know how to stop taking it out on my friends that my needs are too big for any of them. If my friends meticulously did every single thing I wanted from them… I would probably still feel this way. My problems are existential and not logistical. I get a lot of assistance and cooperation from friends. My friends do wonderful things with and for me. I can pinpoint problems in the system but… mostly my friends are ridiculously good to me. No, people don’t schedule their lives around me. I’m peripheral. But what they have to spare they hand me generously. It isn’t their fault that it isn’t enough to meet my needs.

Is it my fault? Is it anyone’s fault? I worry about fault so much partially because when I talk about how people aren’t meeting my needs people are quick to assume I’m blaming them. If they feel blamed for my problems they are more likely to cut me out of their lives and then I will be that much further from having my needs met.

You can’t talk about the fact that what you are getting in inadequate. You will cease getting any help at all.

Watch how people treat people of color who complain about the system. If you say, “This isn’t meeting my needs” people will say, “Fine then I won’t help you at all you ungrateful bastard.”

I don’t know what I want from people. Not really. I can come up with imaginary scenarios that would take 20 years of back story to make possible but beyond that… I don’t really know.

I want to feel seen.

In the class part of the ritual Sobonfu said, “If someone is crying and alone in my village someone will come and sit with them. If they don’t start talking, the listener will go get more people. If a small group isn’t enough to get the person to start talking we will get the whole village together to listen. Some problems are so big they cannot be carried by one person or by a small group. The whole village has to see and hear the problem before it can be resolved.”

I feel like that. I feel like there isn’t much of anything that people can do for me at this point beyond seeing and hearing me. I want to feel like an integral part of the system. I want to feel like my pain is so important that many many people care enough to take time out of their day to just see it. So that it can feel real. So that I can put it down. So that I don’t have to metaphorically spend all day clutching it and screaming “Look! Look Just fucking look.”

I don’t want to be disposable.

I’m afraid of treating my friends like they are disposable. I’m afraid I have no path to being correct and meeting my needs and their needs.

Part of my problem dealing with people comes from scale issues. I have an unusually large net of people. They are all fairly loose connections, but I have them all over the place. Weak connections lead to a safer and happier and more successful life. But how do you decide how much energy to give to weak connections?

I think that part of the relief when the Godmamas dumped me is like when a company fires an employee and gets to wipe their vacation time off the books. It is no longer an outstanding debt the company might have to face at any point. I left space in my heart and mind for them. They didn’t want it. They told me no over and over for years. But I left that space open. I tried to cram other people into gaps and holes around the area I was leaving for them. It’s like doing a computer defrag on my emotional priorities.

Ok, you want to be not important. Ok.

All of the people who have made conflicting plans are people I really like and I don’t want to defrag them out of my life.

I feel like there is no way to win.

Either I absorb all the disappointment and sadness and regret and keep coming back to beg for love another time or I give up on the person as a source of support.

This is that black and white thinking that mentally ill people are supposed to “work on”.

It’s not either/or. But I don’t know what it is.

Why am I doing the road trip? For a whole bunch of reasons. Because I want my kids to meet people all across the country and find out that their social skills need heavy adaptation from environment to environment. Because I want my kids to physically see this country so that when we talk about geography and history they have real schema to match things up with. Because I have wanted to do a trip like this my whole life and I never had anyone who wanted to do it with me and I’m too chicken shit to go alone. Because I can. Because I think we are going to reach a point in history where the carbon cost is going to be too high and people can’t do this any more. I want to do it while I can.

Because my cousin sneered at me while we were preparing for the New Zealand trip, “Why are you going overseas when you haven’t seen all of this great country.” Bitch, I’ve seen more of this country than you. It isn’t that great. Shut up.

That cousin hasn’t ever liked me. It wasn’t my fault she disliked me. She moved to Georgia not long after I moved in with Auntie and Uncle Bob for the first time. She cried telling her father that she was sorry she was taking his grandchildren away from him. He said, “That’s ok. I have Krissy.” My cousin never forgave me.

You know what? Uncle Bob dropped me when a younger and more sycophantic girl came along. He dropped that girl when another younger girl came along. You can get over hating me for stealing his love. I didn’t steal it. It was never really mine. He wanted a role and I couldn’t give him the role he wanted. I’m not grateful enough.

I had too much abuse mixed in with my not-really-good-enough support. Some boxes of Fruity Pebbles didn’t solve my problems and everyone kind of hated me for that.

If I could be blithe and capricious with seeing my friends things would work out much better. If I could accept the gift of their friendship and hold it in my open hand without grabbing and crushing it… things would work out better.

But I’m needy and desperate and sad and lonely. Even when I’m in a house full of people who love me. This is clearly not about the people who are currently in my life. This is not about the deficiency in behavior or planning or whatever from the people I know.

This is about a hole inside of me the size of Alaska.

If I’m going to be kind of an asshole about it I would say, If my friends weren’t so cool I wouldn’t be so upset about only getting a small slice of them. But man that’s a dick move.

I can’t actually handle that big of a slice of most of my friends. I start flipping out. I literally shake and I get nasty and difficult. Which is part of what makes my entitlement and possessiveness such a problem. I want them. I want all of them. Then I’m an asshole.

Like I did with Sarah. I want Sarah. I want to live with her and be with her all day every day. Just because I want it that doesn’t mean I can do it in a way that is healthy for both of us. My needs are too big. Her needs are too big. Our needs conflict in very complicated ways. It isn’t about either of us doing something wrong we just aren’t compatible as house mates. That happens.

I need a degree of rigidness and predictability that is very hard for almost everyone. That isn’t about anyone doing me wrong. It’s a recognition of the fact that people can be very complicated. If I don’t have that rigidness in my life then I have breakdowns in my behavior. That rigidity is how I have learned to compensate for not having the support I needed. I created the structure and support I needed for myself by myself but there is a cost.

That cost comes in how much I can trust other people. I have to be able to pick up the pieces if their best isn’t good enough. I have to be able to recover from feeling rejected. I have to be able to feel like I still have a self who is deserving of life at the end of the day. That is not something that other people are responsible for nor can they have serious impact on how it turns out.

The thing is, if everyone I knew catered their whole lives around me and scheduled around me and constantly pestered me to center me in their lives… I would implode. I could not do that. I would reject everyone, stop answering the phone and email and hide in my closet for months.

My friends really aren’t put in a position to be very successful with me. I’m sorry for that.

What I want is friends who are off doing their things. Their things inspire me. Their things remind me that it takes all kinds and all of these diverse, interesting, busy people are necessary to have the world be this fabulous.

And that means I have to take what is left over and find a way to cobble it into enough.

I am really scared that I will have to bail part way through the road trip because I will not have the emotional nor physical stamina to do such a journey alone with the kids. In order to spend quality time with the people we love in Portland I would have to make the trip longer and show up earlier. I don’t think I can bear that cost right now. I think that given that 5/8 of the people we love in Portland will not be available… I should take that as a sign from the universe to come back to Oregon another time. I will not run out of chances.

But I’m scared that if I make that choice I am giving up on those friends. I’m afraid that not putting in the extra effort to force it to work means I am not dedicated enough and I do not deserve those relationships and I will not be given access to them in the future.

I’m afraid that if I decide to not go to Portland during the road trip it will be in large part because I’m saying “Fuck you” to Dad because he didn’t see me when he came to the bay area. He was about 1/3 of the reason I deleted my Fetlife account. I don’t want to see evidence that I’m not that important to you. I don’t want to know. I mean, I know I’m not that important. But I don’t want to read about you talking to your friends about your excitement about visiting them. You don’t visit me. You don’t call me. You don’t email me. I contact you. Or we have no contact.

Yeah, that’s how my relationships with “fathers” go.

Portland is very wrapped up in my feelings about Dad. We usually stay with him when we go up. And right now…

Right now I can’t ask. I can’t ask him for love or support or anything. I can’t ask him to acknowledge that I am alive. I just can’t. He doesn’t want to. If he wanted to be part of my life he knows where I am. He chooses not to.

I…

It isn’t something he has to give.

So when I’m talking about Portland all of my conflicting feelings about all of the wonderful people there crash into each other. And it makes all of the processing ramp up several notches in intensity. I’m not processing how I feel about accommodating Person A. I’m thinking about how I can fit in Person A, Person B, Person C, Person D, Person E, and all of them have conflicting schedule limitations and issues.

Cutting Portland out would mean we had time to get to Missouri. Where one of my online-support-group friends lives. She has twins who are right in the middle of the ages of my kids. I’ve been talking to her about parenting stuff for years. She mailed me artwork for my wall when I was having the break down around Uncle Bob’s death and divorcing my family. She has sent me letters and emails over the years.

So cutting out Portland isn’t just about whether or not I want to say “Fuck you” to Dad or whether I want to try to work around everyone else’s travel schedule. It’s also about whether or not this road trip is about cementing old connections or making new ones.

Portland will still be there in the future. I guarantee that even if this trip doesn’t work out… we’ll get back to Portland. The folks who live there are an intense draw. Even if I get mad at them sometimes. Even if sometimes I feel feelings because I am not the center of their life and THAT TOTALLY SUCKS, YO. I will get back to Portland.

Missouri… maybe. Maybe not. This may be the only or one of two times I will ever go there in my whole damn life.

What is this trip about? Fuck if I know.

But you know what? I walked out of the weekend feeling less upset. I stopped feeling really guilty about how I’m handling the throat kicking incident. If I lose the home school group that’s ok. They were never mine to begin with.

I’m going to be really sad if I lose some of the important Portland people in my life. I can live with not seeing them this year, even if it is disappointing. I don’t want to live with losing them forever. That’s so much harder.

I’m going to close with a quote from Amanda’s book:

We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbor to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.

Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.

Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:

I deserve to ask

and

You are welcome to say no.

Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.

This is what is so hard about me asking my friends for things. I wait to ask until the no hurts me. I have refrained from asking for thousands of small, petty things because I was afraid. Because I don’t want to overwhelm or bother people. So I wait until it is a crises. Then I ask. Then I can’t absorb “no”.

Which means I’m damning everyone from the beginning. I’m not asking for gifts. I’m asking for… investment. I’m asking for responsibility.

You can’t ask your friends to be responsible for you. Then they aren’t your friends any more. They are your wards or your parents or your guardians or something.

I damn myself over and over again. Because I cannot ask when it is just a gift. Because I am so scared. Because my needs have never been very important, even when they really needed to be.

This weekend I had an interaction with a person in which they expressed that part of their goal during the ritual was to not feel pain. I kind of scoffed at that, because I’m an asshole. The person said it at the beginning of the day on Saturday before the ritual proper had started.

I found those words sticking in my head all through the day. I just… couldn’t make myself grieve the way I did last time at the ritual. I didn’t have the hysterical screaming and flailing in me. I didn’t need to beat my head until I couldn’t raise it from the pillow anymore. Instead I found myself just curling up in the fetal position to cry softly.

It was… kind of weird. I’m not really a “let it flow gently over you” kind of person.

The next morning I found the person and told them about my experience the day before. Their face lit up. They were so glad to have had that impact on someone. I apologized for scoffing and said, “I think I needed to hear exactly that. Thank you.”

On Sunday, Sobonfu asked everyone to touch one another more. Even if you are normally a non-touching person… let people touch you. You need to feel like you aren’t alone. You need to physically feel that a person is there with you in your grief.

I’m really a no-touching person.

At one point in the day I was grieving and it turns out that the person who had said they didn’t want to experience pain was my supporter. (Part of the purpose of the grief ritual is that when you are grieving you are always supported. There is a person there to help you however you need.) This person decided to do massage work on me while I was crying. Eventually I moved around so I was lying on my belly just letting it happen.

It was almost magical. I get a lot of body work done. I experience a lot of physical pain and I know a lot of ways to manage it. I do a lot of yoga/stretching… All The Things. I’ve been getting somewhat regular massages since I turned 18 because other wise I get back spasms and spend a lot of time lying on the floor crying and unable to deal with my life.

This was a really transformative body work experience. I walked in with multiple places screaming out in intense pain. I walked out having my pain halved. She didn’t work on me for very long and it wasn’t intense work. But she knew where to press. And it was the physical contact in conjunction with the crying.

In that moment it was ok for me to be asking for support. It wasn’t pathetic. It wasn’t inappropriate. It was what we were all there for. It was entirely appropriate.

I feel like part of my problem is that asking for support puts people in the position where they might have to say no to me. People don’t like saying no. I try not to put them in that position. Which means I wait until it is too urgent. Then I can’t hear no.

It’s a problem. It’s a bad cycle. I’m having a hard time climbing out.

Part of the difficulty springs from the fact that there is no right answer. You just do your best. That’s all anyone has to give.

Dropping off the van adventure

My friend said her son wanted to know why she was laughing and she couldn’t tell him because she was reading one of my adult-only posts. That made me think, “I really should try for more kid-friendly writing. I’ve been being lazy.”

Today I dropped the van off to have a tow hitch installed. Since I have a camp trailer put together on my driveway I should probably have some way of moving it around other than me picking it up and pulling it by hand. I am thrilled to once again be using the nice mechanic right on the other side of the railroad tracks. Kris is really nice and competent. We’ve been working with him for years and haven’t had a complaint. For me that is just about a miracle. I can find something to complain about with just about anyone.

As I was getting ready to leave the shop to walk home Kris offered to give me a ride home. I told him I was looking forward to the walk and I brought a brand new book to start. He asked how I could read while I walk. I laughed and told him that I’ve been doing it for decades. I told him I wouldn’t be able to read 50-200 books a year if I didn’t know how to multi-task reading and other tasks. He looked shocked and said he doesn’t read one book a year. He said, “That must be why you are a reader–because you are a writer.”

I said, “Actually you have it backwards. You can’t be a writer without being a reader. You have to have the fluency with words and it only comes from exposure to other peoples writing.” He looked kind of puzzled but he nodded and smiled and waved.

It was an adventure because I realized on the walk home that I left the keys in my pocket. Whoops. The walk should have been right around two miles. Instead it was 3.6 miles. That’s ok, the exercise is good for me. I read 80 pages of my book. (Book 4 in the Immortals Quad. Yay Daine!)

While I was walking the kind babysitter was at home doing one of the sewing projects the kids got for Christmas. This kit is hard enough that Calli really can’t do most of the work. She’s thrilled with the results but I’m kind of a whiny butt about doing the work. I was so happy to pawn it off on the babysitter today. Calli and the babysitter had fun. They both learned new skills. Before I left the house to drop off the van I had to teach them back stitches and running stitches. I had no idea I even know that much about sewing. I surprise myself all the darn time. Shanna regularly comments when I’m doing these projects with them, “You complain a lot but you seem to know what you’re doing.” Yeah. I’m like that.

Noah tells me that I like to have something to complain about. I wish he weren’t right.

On Friday I go to have the last board cut to fit the trailer. I should probably schedule an appointment with DMV to bring the trailer in so I can get a license plate. I am feeling overwhelmingly like a grown up.

We won’t be able to get a schedule match with home schoolers for a camping trip this spring, well not a group trip. One family says maybe… but they hate to camp and they don’t know if they can because of custody. Heh. I appreciate that you are willing to consider it at all given that you hate camping.

I’m torn between wanting to ask other (adult) friends and being scared of more rejection. Being a grown up was supposed to be easier than this! (Err, we are looking at the weekend of April 17/18/19 and I have a spare tent and an extra air mattress…)

Playing favorites

When I talk to other mothers I frequently hear that one or more of their children strongly prefers daddy. Often to the point where mom is refused–sometimes with venom. I listen to these stories and think, “Huh. How did that happen?”

My kids have had individual minutes where they want their dad more than me. They are thrilled when they get to spend a day with him. But they want me there. Always me. Mommy mommy mommy. We are the all-mommy-all-the-time channel. Sometimes I feel a weird mixture of pride and pain. Am I fucking my kids up? Am I too naked in my desperation for their love so they can’t feel safe stating a preference for their father? Do I not allow him enough time with them? And yet there is a part of me that feels so very relieved that at least for a few years of my life I get to find out what it feels like to be cherished and adored. I am the favorite. I am Noah’s favorite. I am Shanna’s favorite. I am Calli’s favorite. And my heart explodes with joy.

I adamantly refuse to pick a favorite. I say Noah is my favorite boy and I can’t pick a favorite girl because they are each wonderful in different ways and I couldn’t do without either of them. I need the whole set. NEED NEED the whole set. All of them. I don’t have a single favorite.

I need to be part of this team. I need to have a group where I actually feel wanted and included and like I am important. I need this so much.

Sometimes I feel a little sad that maybe my kids know that I need them and I am going to damage them because that is too much pressure.

I counter my fierce need with telling them that they have to live their own lives and have adventures without me–just come back and tell me stories. I will probably always be the most appreciative audience you ever have.

You really and truly know how I feel about you. I don’t hold back. I tell you how I really feel. When I have a problem with my children’s behavior I am very specific “I love you but right now I’m really upset that you are doing _____. I don’t think it is a good idea because ______.” Sometimes the because is “I am on my last nerve and I’m about to start screaming and not be able to stop–seriously you need to stop making that noise.”

I tell my kids a lot that dealing with people is weird. Everyone has a long list of little ways they need to be accommodated and depending on how good of support they have from people in their life, they may not even know they are getting the accommodation. They might have no idea that they are really weird and the way they want to be treated is downright odd. The people who know them are used to it and don’t question it so for them it is normal.

I can be hard to live with. I have a lot of rules. I have a lot of preferences and nit picky crap I care about way too much. The best I can say is I’m sorry, but at least I can tell you the details about what I want instead of just exploding with inarticulate rage. I’ve lived with that and it sucks.

More than 70% of parents think it is ok to spank. I think that if I have to hit my kids I have failed to teach them. Hitting is a mark of *my* failure–not theirs. First I failed to teach in the first place. Then I went on to fail in modeling how to fix mistakes. When you hit your child you teach them that the right thing to happen when they make a mistake is the person they love most in the world should hurt them.

Nope. Not in my house. No matter how nutty they drive me. I worry about the screaming though. I haven’t been documenting it lately because I haven’t been typing. My arms hurt quite a bit. The screaming hasn’t been daily or even weekly. Not super nasty, either. But I’ve threatened too much in the last few weeks.

I don’t want to be that kind of person. I think it is chicken shit to do it and then apologize and act like that makes it all ok. It doesn’t.

I’m kind of glad that I get to go through a famine period of not spending money. Staying home sounds like a smart idea. We need to get used to each other again. We’ve been spending a lot of time out in the world bouncing off other people and their boundaries. It makes it harder for the kids and I to really see one another. We are all constantly changing. If we stop staring we miss important stuff.

I always thought I would change less quickly once I became an adult. Not so much.

I go through periods of screaming when I’ve been running (metaphorically) too hard and too long and I have no more patience left. I’m not being proactive enough about limiting my activities. I have such a hard time telling people no. If someone wants a relationship with me the answer is yes. But I don’t actually have time.

This is why we aren’t poly. I don’t have any energy going spare. Sure, I have needs like crazy. I don’t have any energy to give. And every outside relationship requires energy. I would have to steal it away from other parts of my life: Noah, the kids, writing, gardening, etc.

I don’t want to waste all of the energy of my life pursuing people to fuck. I’ve done that. Lots of it. I’ve fucked orders of magnitude more people than most ever do in a lifetime. Meh. It was alright. It was fun while I was doing it. I don’t regret it. I can foresee futures where such behavior could be appealing again. But right now it would be theft and it would be destructive to the three relationships I care the most about.

It is pragmatic and self-serving. But man any time I go somewhere alone I manage to find a likely target. Hunting is so innate. And I know which smiles are likely to be followed up on. It took being told no a few hundred times to learn which smile means, “Ask.” I’m feeling antsy. I miss feeling exciting.

I feel like a work horse and I miss being a race horse. I used to pull chariots; sometimes literally while doing pony play.

I get random flashes of memories of things I’ve done sometimes. Like when I’m out running I will notice that I’m moving through my *ahem* paces. I usually laugh at myself and try to consciously get back to more of a “running” gate. I’m not entering any pony competitions any year soon here. Doesn’t matter if my trot is fine.

Sometimes it feels very weird to look at this vanilla, monogamous life and think “What in the hell made me think I want this?!”

I’m having trouble sleeping. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I haven’t been typing lately. Lots of thoughts churning.

I do want this, though. I want this so much that I stop every day to specifically be grateful for what I have. I have Noah and Shanna and Calli. And they all love me. I get to be their favorite, at least for now. I understand that someday Shanna and Calli will go find somebody to snuggle who is uhm more snuggly with them than I am. (I have boundaries around snuggling with them. Whoo boy.) I get this precious time.

The home school tea party for today was cancelled due to low attendance. I’m not up for putting together a big party for three kids who aren’t mine. We will try again on another date/time to see if we can make it actually work. I will figure something out for the Friday Funhouse tonight. It’ll work out..

The girls are watching Harry Potter 2. I won’t let them watch 3 yet. Honestly I don’t think I will let them watch more movies in the series until they have read the books. Incentive. I sorta wonder sometime when Shanna will decide to read. I try not to harp on it but she probably notices that I have feelings. She’s like that. She notices me.

Today on the bike ride she yelled at me not to hover. So I rode on side streets and added loops to give her time to do each block before I watched her carefully check both ways before crossing the street. I didn’t stand near her though. She wanted space and she was being careful.

This growing apart business is hard. But learning how to do this is what we are doing right now. Gotta just do it.

Going to see a geyser

I’ve never seen a geyser before. A friend asked us to go with her family up to the petrified forest. It will be an adventure.

I’ve been noticing that I should be tracking our “school” activities at this point. We are officially home schooling. Oh goodness. More things to track. So much excitement.

We are actively working on Hindi, Spanish, math skills, and history is always a frequent topic in our house. As unschoolers this is all happening in a kind of free form manner.

What does unschooling mean for us? It means that we pursue child-led-education. We don’t follow curriculums and we don’t worry about hitting the milestones exactly when everyone else hits the milestones. It means asynchronous learning. It means having middle school level discussions about the body with pre-readers.

So far unschooling means that we learn all the time, everywhere we go. We cannot put our learning in a building and leave it there. Learning is all around us.

I’m told, by more experienced unschooling parents, that with unschooling the key isn’t to sit down and map out what you will do with a year. You have no idea in advance. The key is to accurately record what you are actually doing and give yourself credit. You won’t be able to predict how your children will learn in advance.

I wouldn’t have guessed that most of our first written down math problems would be in service of selling things in the front yard. If you want to learn to make change, this is the process.

It has already been a busy year for learning things and September is only half-way through. I need to record better. Maybe if I wrote down that yesterday we studied Hindi and read books and cooked panna cotta for the first time (I didn’t cook–Noah and the kids did.) I wouldn’t worry so much that we “aren’t doing anything”. We are doing things. Just not all the things in a set order every day.

Having faith that the future will work out is not my strong suit. I guess there needs to be a first time for everything.

Book recommendation

A friend let me borrow a book called You’re Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation and I want to recommend it to my friends with daughters.

I cried a lot. Many of the points were really hard to read because of all the stuff with my mom. I feel like I learned a lot.

It was sad and useful and kind of hard. You don’t have to be in a relationship with your mother (she could be dead) in order to still have lots to work out there.

Morning routine

Here is my list of “it would be nice” if I did them in the morning.

  • Run
  • Write on blog
  • Medicate
  • Write on books that are in my head screaming to get out.
  • Water the plants (not *Every* day but most days and I’m struggling to be consistent)
  • Yoga
  • Eat breakfast

The problem is I want to get this all done by 7am and it’s just not happening. Past 7 I have the kids and…. everything gets harder.

Shanna has been making noise about wanting to get more serious about “school”. She understands that she is “going into first grade” and other kid have a lot of work to do at this stage.

I’m sorta wondering if I should mostly cut out socializing this school year. We should do classes and stay at home to practice things. She specifically asked if we could start reviewing Signing Time again.

I’m going to need to limit socializing to maybe two days a week. One week day and one weekend day. Noah desperately needs a weekend day of down time. It’s not fair to blast through the weekends. I think it is good for all of us.

We want martial arts. I’m thinking parkour to start just because it sounds so fun. I’m going to have to email the mom of a boy in our homeschool group. He’s doing lessons already in Fremont. He and Shanna are sorta close in age and they get along pretty well. (At least when they are alone. Not when the (insert winking lights here) wonderful second boy in their triad shows up though. Then they fight over the other boy. Sigh.

Both kids want to stay in swimming lessons over the fall/winter.

Calli will be in HIndi.

Both kids are asking for music classes and there is a place in Fremont that does birth-6 years olds in one class. It isn’t one instrument focused. They kind of move around between a few different kind of instruments. And they are big on ukeleles! I need to get both of ours fixed.

If we start doing language videos every day and practicing together, that will be like another class.

That is on top of our constant outpouring of history and math and science and art.

My kids have memorized the low level addition tables to the point where they are sometimes faster than me. We do not table work on addition. We just talk about math all the time. We count and do addition problems back and forth. They have never ever been asked to do a worksheet.

I got them a geometry set with a compass and man these words are escaping my brain today. Whoa. Uhm, those stupid plastic things you use to help you draw angles. Whatever. We have played with that though.

I would like to take a moment and thank genetics that my kids are *not* primarily visual learners. Many children *need* to see things in front of them in order to understand. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them. I’m more literal like that. My kids are incredibly good at picking up concepts from hearing and talking about them. It is luck.

But I feel like it fits in with why I haven’t encouraged Shanna towards reading with more vigor. She’ll get there. Until then she has had to develop her memory with greater enthusiasm. She has memorized most of the books we own so she can “read” them to her sister. But she gets enough words wrong that I know she is remembering and not reading.

We have hundreds of childrens books. We have a bigger library than some elementary schools I went to. If Shanna has most of these memorized that means she has had them read to her. That feels good to me.

Our house rule is that any given book is read ONCE per day. I do not reread. Period. So they memorize these books without the benefit of having it repeated over and over and over in a short period. I am so darn envious of Shanna’s memory. She got it from her dad. I sorta glare at them on the sly sometimes but I don’t bitch. It’s a cool talent.

Sometimes when I watch interactions in other families I feel like there is something wrong with us. We are too touchy. Too affectionate. Am I going too far in the affection direction? We don’t “make out” (extended kisses on the lips with lips closed) and tongues belong in your mouth but beyond that if you want to give someone 500 kisses on their face, go for it.

Even in sex communities I have never seen a group of people as physically demonstrative as this family. I feel a little weird about it. Noah says that he and I both came into parenting with major touch deficits. That’s true enough.

But these means my kids are having a hard time learning that you can’t be that affectionate with EVERYONE. It’s a work in progress.

I keep telling Shanna, “When you are a baby it is ok to push until someone tells you “no”. That’s how you learn boundaries. As you get physically bigger the power dynamic shifts. You don’t get to push. You can only do things to people if you ask in advance and they say “yes”. Otherwise you are potentially violating their boundaries and that isn’t ok. People shouldn’t have to say “no” and shove you off of them once you are bigger. That’s only for babies.

This morning at breakfast we had a clarifying conversation about the whole “fucking kids” thing. I asked if it was ok to say “darn kids” and Shanna emphatically said “no.” It is unacceptable to call them anything. The only thing I am allowed to say is, “I am really frustrated with you kids.”

I can’t die. I want to see what she becomes as a grown up. She is so fucking cool.

I think I have talked myself into limiting socializing outside the house to two days a week during the next season or so. Tuesdays and Saturdays. Tuesdays partially because I have therapy on that day and it is park day so I should just assume that day is out of the house.

We have one or two things already scheduled I won’t cancel. I just won’t add more.

I think that partially I’m trying to see if the kids and I can get into a more regular rhythm because we will have to have one next year on the road trip. Just over ten months to go.

I would like it if we were better able to communicate in languages other than English. We will have to just practice. Oh I finally have an in-house study group. I feel so grateful. I don’t have to feel stupid or embarrassed.

When I stay home more I’m slightly less volatile. I think? I wish I remembered this kind of thing better. I know I go stir crazy. But this period of at-home is going to be forcefully ended by being out of the state for five months or so. Maybe I should build up some reserves so that I don’t leave depleted.

Life is complicated. I should pay attention to mis hijas. I don’t know why but I’m not that fond of the word “daughter”. I like hija. I always have. When I was a little girl wandering around the barrio I would hear the Mamas yelling, “Mijas! Ven ahora!” It is one of the most comforting sounds.

My mom didn’t yell for me to come in much. She was happy for me to be out of her face as long as I was willing to be gone. When she did yell at me it was a harsh “Kristine Lenora!”

I like that mi hijas are so tender and gentle with me. Time for snuggling. Maybe after I shower. Phew. (Hey–I already got my running in.)

Life is pretty good.

Wow, thanks for all the comments. That started my day off differently than normal. I’m having trouble controlling my smileys despite my promise to myself that I wouldn’t use them in the blog. Ahem.

I’m in a good mood. I finished scheduling arrangements for the summer. Shanna has a couple of weeks of summer camp. They are kind of random.

Mondays will be cleaning/family-gym night. (Noah and I started dating by being gym buddies. He’s fun to exercise with.)  And the kids love the day care. With a trip to Aqua Adventure in the middle of the day.

Tuesdays switch a bit. Every other week we go to Oakland for therapy. I usually spent post-therapy talking to K for a bit. Sometimes we go to park day afterwards. Or we don’t go to therapy and we try to go to park day. If it is my only unscheduled day of the week, sometimes we stay home during the day. Tuesday nights will be babysitting from 4-8. We will sometimes date but mostly that’s alone time.

Wednesdays are variable. Concerts. County Fair. Visits with friends. Stuff happens. We go to Aqua Adventure in the afternoon. Then Pam comes over to spend the night.

Thursdays mornings for four hours I exchange child care with a local stay at home mom. One week at my house, next week at her house. I can’t believe how crazily productive I am during that period. (It used to be three hours, we decided to bump it after we’ve ended up standing around talking for two hours after most sitting-sessions because the kids are not ready to split up after three hours.) One week I get to go up to L’s house and plan out Calli’s birthday party. (It’s a joint thing cause she’s got a birthday twin. It’s working out.) Every other Thursday I will be running with J. The in between Thursdays will be Noah’s night off.

Friday days are variable. Gym visits with a mom so the kids can play in the day care. Help K clean out her basement (I’ve been looking forward to this for years. I have pestered them asking, “So! When can we clean out your basement?!”) Aqua Adventure most weeks. (All these trips to Aqua Adventure are dates with another family. I have to go.) Nights are Family-Date-Night. The kids will help make dinner. When Noah and I cooperate, the kids always find ways to keep us busy.

Saturdays are variable. We do stuff. Sometimes it is just a massage. Sometimes we go see people. Sometimes we hang out at home and keep busy. This is when Noah gets in the epic reading sessions with the kids. (Would anyone like to go to the day-time PEERS event in August? It sounds fun…. And like my hours…)

Sundays start with Shanna making breakfast. Then we walk to the farmers market. Then we hang out and rest for the remainder of the day.

On top of that I have a very full exercise schedule. 2-3 days of running. One walk to the farmers market. 1-2 days of cross training. (I start out with more cross training and slightly less running but that shifts as I get closer to the half marathon.) Stretching and strength training. One rest day. Must rest or you don’t progress as well.

Dinners are planned until September. I consciously put a lot of easier stuff on the calendar. I’m going to need easier cooking if I will get through it. I’d like to conserve some money. I’ve been uhm, over spending. It’s halfway through the year and I am not over budget on most stuff, but I have absolutely no wiggle room and I really wanted a cushion. Sigh. At the end of the year I am going to send a bunch to the mortgage even if it hurts. I hope to build a cushion so it doesn’t hurt. The mortgage is still hovering at $200,000 and if I am going to pay it off in six more years then I need to get some large payments in, the sooner the better. Interest is a beast.

Debt is bad.

Really, if I got the house paid off in 2019, that would be dreamy. If all the mortgage money was suddenly going spare I could do a lot of interesting things. The longer I drag out the mortgage, the more I pay. That’s the simple logic of interest. The faster I get rid of the mortgage the more of my own money I get to keep. I can do fun things with it instead of give it to a bank.

I don’t pay on my car loans for the full term either.

Interest is yucky.

Except when I’m earning it. Then it’s awesome.

When I was a little girl, my life financial goal was to have $250,000 invested and to own my own home and car. I wanted no debt and a cushion “in case”. I picked that as a goal when I was, 10? 11? I know it was firm in my head before 12.

The fact that we have more than one account with that amount of money blows my fucking mind. I haven’t finished paying off the house yet. Damnit. Soon. Before I’m 40.

Thank you, Noah. I couldn’t have done this alone. To be fair, you couldn’t have either. You kind of suck at managing money. We make a great team. When we got engaged you had one account with that much money. You had a thirty year mortgage that you weren’t making expedited progress towards. You had a lot of debt from motorcycle purchases and accidents and home improvement and medical bills.

I’m pretty good. Doubled the investment. Paid off all the debt. Bought two cars, paid them off nearly instantly. The house is probably only six years away from being paid off. If I slacked it has a maximum of seven years left on the mortgage. Instead of twenty more years.

It is really easy to try hard for someone who rewards my hard work with kindness, attention, and love.

Not to mention that we went from being pretty much the crappiest house on the block to having people stop and offer to buy it because they like the garden so much.

I’ve been good to your bottom line. That’s pretty awesome.

You started off in a privileged position. It would not be reasonable to expect someone to do what we have done without the outrageous privilege of having a bunch of money handed to them.

I don’t know how I had my childhood but came out with different financial values. It’s A Mystery.

I honestly think it was the guaranteed income. It changes your whole way of thinking. When I grow up I might be willing to lobby congress for a guaranteed income. I think that is the only logical solution for a country with our resources and our degree of poverty.

Income inequality is bad for the country. Period. I don’t know when in the fuck I changed. Probably when I got my head out of my ass and looked at what was really happening to people near me because they didn’t have guaranteed income and I did.

I think I had the reverse of most people. Most people are protected by their parents during childhood and they have to make their way as adults–many are ill prepared. I was not financially cared for as a child. Once I turned eighteen I had a guaranteed income until I was thirty. I knew exactly how long I had to get my shit together and I put most of the money into college.

That’s an insane privilege. I didn’t know it while I was young.

It isn’t a hand out. It’s an investment. “I want you to do well, so our whole country will do well. This amount of money will keep you from making desperate choices so that you can survive. That way you can learn to thrive.”

This shit is studied.

Anyway. I’m in a good mood. The kids have been very affectionate and kind of clingy. Given how much they reject me lately I’m enjoying it. I think that they are noticing how much time we spend with other people lately.

Like: in the next two weeks I am providing 32 hours of babysitting for other peoples kids. That’s a fucking job. I do a lot of jobs all at once. I know that is kind of the joke about stay at home moms. Then add home schooling. Even unschooling is work. Don’t be fooled.

Right this minute I feel like I can handle all the balls in the air. I have said no to the things that weren’t fitting for me. It is hard but it was the right decision.

I can do this much scheduled and accomplish the things I want to do. Ok.

Also: I have to take the summer off of Netflix. I am watching too much. I’m going to try to limit my screen time to pre-6:30 am. I have a lot to do. (So I won’t be on chat much.)

I have a lot of projects I want to do. Sitting at the computer means I don’t get antsy enough to do them. If I change that dynamic, I get more done and I feel more satisfied about my time spent.

This is one of those times when my center of focus is moving in closer. I know this has happened before. It happened when I had Shanna for one thing. I just stopped communicating with most of the outside world. For years. I have been re-emerging.

Now I kind of don’t want to. I’ve built a world. I am really busy inside this little world. There’s a lot I want to do.

I need to buy saw horses. I have a lot of projects I want to do this summer and saw horses would make all of them easier. (So much for not painting this year.) That money will probably come out of my ‘entertainment’ budget. Because man is it cheaper to entertain myself at home than out. I have all the paint I need. Maybe another sheet of sand paper. Then we paint. No problem. I own all the other bits.

This is why some people can spontaneously make things. They have already accumulated all the crap. That’s why other people hoard. They want this feeling. “Oh I have everything for that.”

Only hoarders can’t find it when they want it. So they buy it anew for every project.

Man. Layers.

I remember my grandpa’s shed. He died when I was twelve. He was the only grandparent I met. He had painted the outline of every tool on the pegboard so he knew exactly where to put it.

In that moment, of seeing his shed I understood how things “should” be organized. It is all so clear. Yes.

I think I’ve been trying to get there ever since. I’m not there. I’m still shifting. He was in his 80’s. I doubt his work shop was always that meticulous. Give me time.

Someone recently said, “If this is how you use your garage… where do you put your storage?”

Storage? What’s that? My closets mostly don’t have doors. I don’t have an attic or a basement or a shed. My garage is fully occupied but not with storage. Ok, I store books on book shelves. Different.

I have what you see. I’m just trying to get the organization perfect. It happens in layers.

We change. Our needs change. Life is a process. I’m still arriving. I have so much more patience for that now than I used to have.

If a Zen moment appears, grab it. I feel ok. I feel like I am ok. I am doing what I wanted to do. I have, in fact, done far better than I dared dream. I haven’t perfectly arrived, but life is about the process. I’m doing well at the process.

My family thinks I am doing well by them. I’m not a perfect friend but I’m not a piece of shit. I do my best. Sometimes that isn’t enough. That’s life.

At this moment I honestly believe I couldn’t be doing more than I am. But I’m not over extended. Just busy. Booked. I can’t say yes to a lot more. People can join me on what I have already planned. That’s all I have to offer right now. And sometimes, I need to reserve family time. Holy crap do we spend time with people.

We need to reset our normal. Because even we–freaks that we are–have our own normal.

I have lots of gardening I should be doing. See–I need to stay home. There is work to do. While I babysit. Oh man.

It is going to be a blessedly full summer.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.

I used to think it was useful for me to think of people as “family”. Tonight I got to have dinner then go to the Diana Gabaldon speaking engagement with a woman I used to think of as a big sister. I talked to her a lot when I was younger. She did a lot to guide me in the bdsm community. She helped me learn how to keep myself safe.

It’s been a while now that I have consciously eschewed the chosen family dynamic. I have friends. I have really wonderful, excellent friends. I am truly blessed in my friends.

So it’s weird sometimes when I spend time with people I used to think of as “family”. I can feel how my inner walls and boundaries have shifted. In the main I feel like it is a positive thing because I have a lot less hostility towards the idea that my friends are giving me every speck they have to give me than I do towards the idea that they are my “family” and they uhhhh… don’t meet a lot of my needs.

Do I have entitlement issues? Rage issues? Oh yes. I have a firm idea of what “being family” means. I experience it with Noah. I am teaching my daughters how to do this, but it’s different with “chosen family”. I drive people away. Or I walk away.

I have expectations and that screws me every time. The secret to happiness is low expectations.

But you can only keep your expectations low if you get your needs met some other way or if you are so beat down you have stopped hoping.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the bottomless pit of need I feel inside me. The desperate need for attention, affection, love, permission to live, approval.

Yeah, I take any relationship that is offered. They all have things to teach me. They all have things I want. Every person I walk by on the street is a missed opportunity. Sometimes I feel like I spend a lot of time grieving every single one of them.

I want you to love me. I want you to love me. I want you to love me.

I’m selfish. It’s not like I’m really walking around feeling like, “Oh man! Let me love you!” That shit sounds like work.

I really enjoyed getting to hear Diana Gabaldon speak tonight. She was very blatant in her enjoyment of the ego stroking she gets. It was hilarious to watch. She glowed. She’s 62 but from where I was sitting I would have guessed she was in her mid 30’s. She has a kid my age. And one older, I think–I may have misheard because it was loud.

She’s still happily and lustily married. I approve.

She talked a lot about her life and her career arc. She’s a good story teller and she’s obviously said that whole thing hundreds of times. Very smooth and entertaining.

I’m… too twitchy. I’m always afraid I’m on the verge of offending people.

I offend people. And then I feel very sad. Because that offended feeling is what they will walk away with. In their head, that feeling is me.

Oh man I hate that. It’s better to err on the side of being quiet. Only I don’t do that. Because I’m an asshole. But I’m a sad asshole.

Cause I embrace contradictory emotional states. I’m told by experts that such an ability is part of the reason I’m not dead.

Sometimes it feels weird understanding that historically, women like me rarely do as well as I have. I’m not talking about Noah’s money. I did get a bachelors degree and a teaching credential. I did successfully teach. I worked in theatre for several years and did just fine. I worked in libraries for years.

I go out and find ways to be part of things that work for me. I usually take small and/or support roles because I know I won’t be around long. I try my hardest to leave a good impression. I want people to think well of me. So I look for ways to work.

Often that work is social. I like seeing people. I feel validated by people in a way that is surely unhealthy. I do have crowd management skills. You can’t stage manage dance shows for small children without developing them. I like to believe that I’m charming. I like to believe I can turn out a descent conversation for a wide variety of people.

I’m not just a one trick pony. I’m Downer Debbie and I Deliver but I do also have other modes. I am not interested in online dick contests about academic theory (fuck you, grad school) so I don’t get into nuanced responses to the educational theory I read about but I’m happy to talk about it if asked. I travel and have neat stories that conveniently leave out the bits about hysterical crying and beating my head on the ground. These days I talk plants. That’s SO SAFE! It’s an awesome topic. Gardening! Running is safe to talk about.

I’m not just that skanky ho who talks about depressing shit any more.

More tracks. I still have great sex stories. But I need to be asked for them. Or I default to assuming people would retreat with their fingers in their ears screaming, “EWWWW TMI!” So I don’t write about sex much lately. Obviously sometimes I don’t give a shit and I tell stories, but only as they feel like a need to discuss topic.

I’m still obsessed with sex. But now it is legally and “morally” permissible because that just means Noah’s life is good. I do owe it to a man, don’t I?

Ugh and ick and weird. Sex is so fucking weird. It gets weirder every year. More complex. More complicated. Can’t I just go back to tracing the outline of a knot in a piece of wood on dicks and be done with processing this crap?

Even when sex was “simple” (ha!) it was never simple for me.

Sex is tied up in money and rage and entitlement and perversion and pain and love and tenderness and fear.

You don’t pick what you have the talent to write about. Or for fuck’s sake I would pick another talent.

The lucky one

I woke up feeling positive affect. (That means I’m in a good mood.) Since I spend so much time feeling shitty (and writing about it) sometimes I like to make sure I show some balance. I feel some balance. My feelings aren’t *balanced* but there are representative samples from many points on the spectrum.

If you know what I mean.

Anyway, really it started yesterday. Yesterday was a fairly mellow day. I did gardening and some house cleaning and the kids and I read and played. Nice day.

At one point I was getting angry with the kids for outright refusing to clean up so we could go do something I wanted to do I started getting loud. At one point I started shrieking, “Am I going to have to scream? Is that the..” I cut myself off. I stood very still and took several deep breaths.

“No one ever has to scream. That is a false choice. No, I can ask this without screaming. That would be a failure on my part. Baby, please just pick stuff up.”

Shanna smiled huge, gave me a big thumbs up, winked and said, “Good job mom! You totally calmed yourself down there and I’m really proud of you for recognizing that you never need to scream.”

We only got like 70% of the picking up done. I let it go. I felt a little embarrassed by Shanna’s commentary. And happy at the same time.

I like and appreciate and value people watching me enough to make positive comments on my behavior progress. It’s a little weird having my kids give me those sorts of compliments. But I take positive opinions where I can get them.

At bed time Shanna asked me something about the time before kids. I said, “Know how I get grumpy sometimes” “Yeah” “Well… I was way more grumpy and mean and I used to hit people pretty frequently when I was mad.”

She looked at me with as much shock and horror as if I said I like to sit around dumping salt on snails all day long.

Then I said, “You know how I am sad sometimes and I cry pretty often?” “Yeah” “Well before you were born I cried a lot more. I was very sad about most of the things in my life.”

She looked kind of troubled.

Then I said, “Know how I am mostly happy and cheerful these days?” “Yeah!” “That’s because of you. That started when you were born. Your dad helps a lot because he is the nicest person to me I’ve ever met. Your sister helps. All three of you give me so much love that it feels like maybe some day I will be able to stop crying.”

She hugged me fiercely.

I am deeply aware that people who are as broken as me usually don’t get to “pass” into happy families. That’s not usually a life path that opens up in front of us. Some days I understand in the depths of my soul that I am one of the lucky ones.

For every bad thing that has happened to me I have had some other corollary thing that was positive. I have had an unusual amount of privilege. Not just white privilege, not just female privilege (which exists in my entirely judgmental opinion) … it’s more than that.

Sometimes I feel like a cuckoo. I can be dropped in any nest and I will manage to survive. I have had access to some ridiculously prestigious spaces. I was trailer trash for a long time. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been in a wide variety of $5million + homes. I’ve been in $20 million homes. That is a kind of access that isn’t available to everyone.

I’ve seen enough things to continually inspire me. I can walk into any situation and find the perks and downsides. There are always perks. There are always downsides.

They say that people who deal with depression perceive the world far more accurately than average. In reality, the world sucks.

I go back and forth between feeling flattened by the limits I perceive and knowing that if I can’t find a way I will make a way. All of the limits you perceive are just obstacles. No matter how big or frustrating.

We sent someone to the moon. What the fuck else can our species do?!

I have thirteen chapters left to edit for the book. Many of them are only two or three pages long so that’s not so bad.

Then I need to do the pull out sections. Definition pages. Resources lists. Bibliography. Ew. Ew. Ew. Writing sucks.

But! I’m thinking about doing one of those fancy-ass annotated bibliographies. Where I not only give them a list of resources (internet, book, phone) but give short descriptions of how and when they are useful and where they fail. That saves other people a lot of time trying things out that won’t be a good fit.

It is hard to talk about this book. If I get a few more readers who tell me that they like it and think it is full of useful information I hope it will be less hard to talk about. Yesterday I tried to explain it to our teenage babysitter. She’s a religiously home schooled sixteen year old. Ok fine, my kids aren’t sheltered in the scheme of things.

But she asked me what the book is about. I said it is a book about harm reduction aimed at middle school kids. I asked her if she is sort of familiar with the Alcoholics Anonymous method where you must be 100% abstinent forever and convince yourself that you are powerless. She said yes. I said, “Well… not many people do well with AA. It doesn’t have the highest success rate. Most people do negative things: drugs, alcohol, cutting themselves, other bad coping methods because they have things going in their lives that are genuinely causing them pain. Telling them to stop the coping method without solving the pain is really stupid. It’s not that you need to just learn to bear this pain forever all day with the grace of god. It’s that you need to lessen how much pain you are in so you don’t need to be doing the bad things.”

She said, “That sounds like a really good book. I hope I get to read it soon.”

If I can help other people feel less pain, that’s a mitzvah. That’s a life’s work. That is worthy.

Even if there isn’t a lot of money in it. I have Noah. I have the privilege to not care.

I cannot begin to express the gratitude I feel because I get to live my life any fucking way I want. The limits I run into are more self-imposed then exterior.

could go buy a fancy RV. But I’d rather put that extra $20k into my mortgage so I can stop paying fucking interest. Maybe after the house is paid off and my kids are teenagers the four of us will have an interest in a bigger RV as a way of longer term traveling. If I want to waste money on it then it will be ok. It will be after the WWOOF year. So if I am on track for college savings and retirement savings… why not?

After I remodel my house. I don’t want to spend $25,000 on a vehicle before I spend $25,000 upgrading my bathroom.

If these are the limits of my life… I really have no room to bitch. First World Problems as they like to say.

I look at all the books in my house and I feel lucky. I get to read… almost as much as I want. The kids complain if I read too much.

Today, if the kids are willing to clean up, we are going to the water park. (Last night I only asked for the living room to be cleaned up so that their poor gimp-tastic father could walk around without injury. If you want me to take you to a kids play place… pick up ALL of your stuff. Or no.)

Then this afternoon our beloved Taylor is coming. My back is looking forward to this. I should probably get dressed and go run right now before breakfast. Then it will be done for the day.

I am so grateful that I’ve found a sometimes-running buddy. I’m looking forward to a half marathon with her in October. I am looking forward to training again. My body feels a lot better under those conditions.

Ok, go run.

What a nice day.

Woke up late. Breakfast was leftover tea sandwiches from yesterday, so no work. Ran a nice six miles up a hill (and back down of course). Lunch was more leftovers.

We spent the day sleeping. Me and Noah at least. The kids played. Calli napped all afternoon.

Shanna played. We have a very festively decorated sleeping room.

Now the three of them are off on a sushi adventure. I don’t like fish. Better for them to try things without my gagging sounds in the background.

I’m going to go read more now.

Post-therapy

I was a bitch to my therapist today. I have already apologized. I walked in looking for a fight. I started out the day freaking out.

I’m going to have to deal with this “handwriting makes me feel like an abused child” trigger at some point. I can’t keep freaking out at my kids over it. I will fuck them up.

My therapist voluntarily offered to lower her rate of pay so I can have more babysitting. I really feel bad for being such a bitch today.

We kept having minor misunderstandings about definitions and word choices and I… couldn’t rationally parse them out. I just got defensive and snippy.

I feel hella guilty. And yet if my shrink never sees my bitch-tastic side then… why would she believe me that it exists?

Then I went to a fabulous acupuncture + cupping appointment. First day results are I feel a lot less pain in my neck. I can’t tell much about some of the other stuff. I also went to the gym tonight and did weight training. Like forking everyone has been telling me to do.

I did my forking weight training–ok?!

Looks like I may not make it to Portland this year due to scheduling constraints. That feels like a bummer. But I know extremely busy people. Can’t bitch about people being busy. That’s life.

I guess I’ll just have to run locally. So I don’t forget how. Luckily I’ve picked up an occasional running buddy who lives six miles from my house. And the peasants rejoice: Huzzah.

I got a nasty comment this morning on an older post. I’m not going to look it up again. Something about how my true happiness will be attained through being raped in the butt for days. No, it’s not the first of its kind. I’ve had others. Not a lot. I assume I will get more as the years go by.

Isn’t that how it goes?

Talk about rape: have people tell you that you should be raped. At least I have some snappy come backs: “Already been done! Ha! You are late to the game you slacker!” Err, or maybe not so snappy come backs.

Sigh.

I’m up to 38 books so far this year. I love reading. I think I’m going to try and push myself to hit 52 by June 1st. Only 14 books to go. That is fewer than I read in January. But May is a busier month than January. We’ll see. This year I get to reread. I’m visiting old friends. It is delightful to share their company again.

I think I’ll spend more of that babysitting time reading without disruption. It’s practically a vacation.

My attitude sucks donkey dick and I need to turn it around. I can’t be a cunt all day tomorrow. My free pass expired a while ago. I can’t do this. Be fucking nice, Krissy.

I don’t wanna be nice. I want to hurt people or scream or cry. Something like that. All of those things. Excuse me sir, but may I crack your ribs? I miss hearing that last horrified gasp of pain.

I feel so nasty. My shrink asked if I was up near an anniversary… not really.

I’m just… a bitch. Fuck.

Kind of funny

Online I keep seeing folks post about an existential loneliness and longing for a specific kind of gathering. I can’t help but feel like people are describing Disaster House Parties. A large event that crosses community lines and encourages people to get to know new people. Not just a dance event but lots of dancers would be there. Not just a programming event but a lot of programmers would be there. Not just a knitting event but a lot of knitters would be there. Not just a home schooling event but a lot of home schoolers would be there. That kind of cross over.

Sometimes in the back of my mind I wonder if part of the reason I initially liked Noah so much is because he is a better host than me.

love hosting events. I love having people come to me. I started hosting as soon as I moved out when I was 18. I hosted Thanksgiving that year for my family. I hosted all the birthday parties for the theatre crowd so we could be not-in-a-parents-house. I hosted a lot of small dinner parties for my Owners friends during the bdsm period. I’ve had parties pretty much everywhere I have ever lived.

I like my friends and I have a hard time inviting myself into their lives. I like my friends and I think that many of them would like other friends of mine. I like my friends and I think that sometimes even if they don’t like one of my other friends it is good to hear multiple points of view so get the hell out of your bubble. I know a freakishly broad distribution of people and I love them all. There is value there. If you want to know what I love about someone just ask. Gushing is available with the slightest provocation.

I think about my friends. I think about their good points and bad points and how I can balance them out a bit. Usually I try to keep my meddling to a mental exercise because that is polite.

Sometimes I love people as much for the reasons I dislike them as for reasons I like them. Life is surprising to me. I’m glad you are in the world even if I only want to see you once or twice a year for an hour because you drive me insane. I love you anyway. I want you in the world. I want that catch up with you. I want to know you are off doing things and existing. You make me know the world is not pointless. There are reasons to strive. You are here.

What is love? What is “family”? Living with the kids and Noah and having this experience of people genuinely getting to know one another… I am so glad I get to have this. I know other adults who have managed to do this with adults friend groups but I haven’t. I’m not sure what broke in me. Noah genuinely adjusts to me. He accommodates me and my preferences and my issues and my shit. No one else has ever been willing to be so tolerant of me. My kids, err, have fewer choices and what I like is all they know.

I have never been so comfortable in my whole life. I have a whole pod of people validating me. Oh. This feeling. This is why other people hold on to their culture so tightly. They want this “I’m right” feeling. I’ve never had it before. Not with anyone else. Not in any other situation. Not at any other time.

I feel like I am right for where I am standing. Clearly my house and yard and kid and husband and neighborhood is better because I am standing here. (Ok, sitting on a swivel chair. Whatever.)

I’m not anyone’s savior. I’m not rescuing anyone. I’m not fixing everyone. I’m just… doing what I’m doing. And it’s ok. And my neighbors talk to each other more. Neighbors who say that they hadn’t talked to a neighbor in decades now know the names of the people in several directions from their house. Because I’m a busybody and I like to meet people.

I hear that in Nordic countries it is very rude to randomly talk to people in public. Small talk is verboten. Good fucking thing I don’t live there. Here I am delightful.

Sobonfu told me that if I lack a family and a community that I just fit in that I would have to build my own. That requires a force of personality that I am scared to admit I have. It’s not that I’m going to deny that I have it, but I’m scared to own it.

I think I am afraid to actively invite more because I am afraid of rejection. I’m afraid the ebb and flow of people being available for what I want from them will hurt. I’m chicken shit.

I know that I get what people have leftover. It is a lot easier for me to live with that when they invite themselves over. Then I don’t worry about imposing on them or taking a share of them that is not for me. I don’t need to drain energy from people that they need just because I am a bottomless pit of need.

And yet it hurts people a lot that I don’t invite more. They do not feel comfortable inviting themselves over. That feels bad. That feels like forcing themselves on someone who doesn’t want them badly enough to fucking invite them.

Maybe I should read Catch 22 so I can use the phrase and not feel stupid. I finally read 1984 and Animal Farm last year. I’m actually glad I didn’t read them as a teenager. Talk about fueling my destructive rage.

I don’t even know what kind of hosting I want to do more of. Well, I have a lot of ideas. I don’t know how this is going to work long-term. Probably start with one small thing. The problem with “small” is that it either turns into a one on one thing, which actually takes a lot more energy from me than a group event, or I don’t know how to get traction with predictability.

Our schedule is highly fluctuating. I suppose we now have at least four weekly appointments and four floating monthly things. Almost all of that is fairly one on one or it is park day or swimming. So yeah.

What do I want my kids to remember from their childhoods? This is the time. If I want my kids to have memories of group events I have to go fucking figure out how to be part of a group.

But I’m scared.

Aren’t we all?

I will fuck up. I will alienate people. I will hurt people. I am a monster–it is unavoidable. But I’m a reformed monster. I haven’t raped anyone in decades. I no longer hit people, even when they ask nicely.

Oh shit. Does this mean I am a case for reformist crap? No. My friends will be happy to hit you for me if we both go communicate that desire along. (If it’s in my name I would have to consent too. Consent for everyone! Hurrah!)

Consent for everyone. What kinds of crossovers and gatherings do I host? Oh man. I like to tell stories about having a gun held to my head or this other time when my skull was crushed against concrete while this guy stepped on me. The context of each of those stories is so different that I feel emotionally disrupted while having thoughts about them.

But I can also talk about traveling in foreign lands with small children. Non scary, totally vanilla shit. Want to talk gardening? I semi-run-mostly-jog long distances. I have hobbies now that I’m allowed to talk about in public, honest.

I will always cuss. I’m sorry. I have managed to make “fuck” more rare in my speech most of the time. I cringe less when my kids say “shit” or “crap” than I do when they say “fuck” so that is the only one I feel motivated to address.

I’m sorry.

Culture is a funny thing.

No, my kids aren’t sheltered in the ways in which other people think when they think “sheltered”. But my kids are not real likely to develop eating disorders. They are incredibly positive about a diverse range of bodies because I have very consciously created a house where that is the only reality they know. They are sheltered from the idea that princesses are helpless, weak creatures. They are sheltered from the idea that girls are supposed to be passive or quiet or cooperative.

It all depends on what you want to filter. I want my kids to know that masturbation is an awesome thing you do in private. Afterwards wash your hands because you don’t want to cross contaminate the bacteria that live in your genitals with your mouth because you can get sick. And they’ve heard that speech delivered with a smile a thousand times already. Pretty much every time they fondle themselves in front of me. “Vulvas are wonderful and private.”

Which is hilarious given how many people have seen my vulva. Hilarious. I think that being able to deliver that line with a straight face means I deserve some kind of award.

Shanna is changing her tune about wanting to go to school. Sometimes when we walk past the school the class doors are open. She watches the kids sitting in desks. Her interest in being one of them has evaporated. She doesn’t really like sitting still or being quiet. “Notice how it always seems to be the teachers turn to talk?”

I tell her that at some point she will want to know something badly enough that it will be worth listening to a teacher for a long time. She says with disgust, “Not for a long time.”

But she loves movement classes. So I think it’ll work out.

I think she is going to teach herself to read by memorizing Girl Genius (we have the graphic novels but all of it is available online for free). The whole series. It is much more engaging to her than childrens books are. She will sit and listen to it read out loud for as many hours in a day as Noah and I will consent to read. This is funny to me because I was never a graphic novel fan when I was younger. They read too slow. I am not patient enough to stop and look at the stupid pictures. They are distracting. Heh. Noah has tried to get me to play nice though.

Noah makes me feel like I should be a nicer person. He is nice to me even when he clearly would prefer to make a different choice. It is long-term self interest. If he is willing to work so hard for me, don’t I owe him equal effort?

Doesn’t everything require effort? Boy I like my alone time.

Behind on editing. Drat. I periodically try to reduce my internet usage for strange and convoluted reasons I’m not up for typing today. I’m in one of those periods and I’m having trouble defining the restrictions for myself. What am I limiting and why? I’m thinking about it a lot. But after blogging again my arms are annoyed at me. Maybe ergonomic set up is not a luxury that can be put off longer. I need to get a system. And really soon.

Medication then catching up

I know I go through periods of fewer posts. Don’t give up on me. I will always come back to writing. My arms were really bothering me. Typing less has brought the pain down to the 1-2 level. Hurray!

Yesterday Shanna asked me about my medication again. It comes up once in a while. She knew I was tapering in December and that I was having trouble with being patient because of it. Now that I am medicating on a more regular question it feels more intrusive to her and so she asked me again why I need it.

I asked her, “Do you think our life together is scary?”

“No.”

“Do you think anyone in this house might hurt you?”

“Well, we have accidents and bump each other. That hurts.”

“Ok, fair enough. Do you fear that your Daddy or I might do something terrible to you?”

She started giggling.

“Ok, so you feel safe and happy and loved, right?”

“Of course I do. I am safe, happy and loved.”

(I swear to God my heart almost exploded.)

“Well I mostly feel that way now too. Our life is pretty wonderful together. But a long time ago before you were born my life was different. I wasn’t very safe. I wasn’t happy. And for a long time I wasn’t loved.”

She leaned in to hug me at that point.

“Thank you for the hug, honey. My point is that what you learn as a little kid is kind of hard to change when you are a grown up. You will probably always feel safe, happy and loved because you are getting used to it as a kid. I have a hard time not feeling scared and angry and unsafe because that is what my life was like when I was a kid. I have no good reason to be scared or angry or unsafe now. My life is awesome. But it’s hard to change what your brain thinks of as “normal” and the medicine helps me with that. The medicine kind of helps my brain ignore the parts that say BUT YOU SHOULD BE SCARED!!!!”

“Ok, so the medicine makes you feel less scared?”

“Sorta. Not exactly. The medicine helps my brain relax enough to really look around me. Is there any reason in my life right now for me to be scared?”

“Uhm, are you scared I will cut my hair again?” (Calli gave herself a haircut this weekend. Sigh. It’ll be fine. Today we will see the hairdresser and she’ll have sassy cute short hair. All’s well that ends well. I laughed when Shanna said this.)

“No I don’t feel scared that you will cut your hair. It’s your hair. If you want to cut it I need to suck it up and deal with that. Ok, let me try again. I don’t have any reason for my brain or body to be scared. But my brain forgets that I should stop being scared because it was scared for so long. The medicine is kind of a way of gently nudging my brain into saying–‘hey dude–look around, your life is awesome‘.”

“So the medicine helps you be less scared?”

“Sure. The medicine lets me be not-scared. Some bodies function differently and need medicine. Your uncle has problems with his blood sugar, right? He talks to you about how that works for him.”

“Yeah. He has diabetes. He has to check his blood sugar with a machine and then he has to be careful what he eats.”

“Right. So some people who have diabetes have to be on a medicine called insulin every single day and some people don’t. It depends on how the persons individual body is working–right? Because not everyone needs insulin.”

“Ok.”

“I need cannabis because my body needs the reminder to look around at how calm and happy my life is. This medicine allows me to do that whereas without the medicine I am too scared to notice how wonderful my life is. And that’s pretty sucky feeling.”

“That makes sense.”

“I think so.”

Then she handed me a book and expected me to shift gears.

I’m making steady progress on Outrunning. I will absolutely be done by June. Many people are bringing up the idea of self-publishing. I think I probably should do that for No Secrets but I’m still afraid that Outrunning will need established distribution networks.

I’m taking a few weeks off of social media. Stop fucking up your arms with lame attempts to connect that don’t really go anywhere, Krissy.

I’m reading, of course. Three books at once. Stealth of Nations by Robert Neuwirth–it’s about System D economies. Piracy, non-registered, street vendors, all kinds of different subeconomies that operate outside the “legal” sphere. I’m also reading Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain by David L. Conroy, Ph.D. It is as fucking cheerful as it sounds. And last but not least: Playing Well With Others by Mollena Williams and Lee Harrington. I feel like an asshole because I’ve owned the book for over a year and I haven’t read it yet. I’m telling newbies to go read the book without prereading it. I recommend it on the basis of, “I’ve known Mollena and Lee for almost a decade and a half and I’ve been to their classes and I’ve played with them and been friends with them so it must be good.” Good to actually read it though. Ahem. So far it is as good as I expected it to be. That is a good sign.

I have more work to do on the garden, of course. That never ends. I didn’t finish putting the last few seeds in the ground. And now it is hella wet which means I won’t have to soak the seeds when I plant them. Maybe I’ll get that done today.

The Prius is in the shop. New auxiliary battery, alignment, and brakes. Ouch. Today I stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving that I am a rich person now and sudden car maintenance is ok. I don’t need to feel scared just because unexpected bills came up. That is such a luxury and I want to be conscious of it for the rest of my life. Relax. I don’t need to be scared. It is only money and we have enough. We have enough. We have enough.

First Sunday in April I am going to co-teach a bdsm class. It will be fun. It will be about boundaries and having them and dealing with people over-stepping them and such. Because that’s how I roll.

Running is going very well. My next race is only 19 days away. Eeep. I still haven’t scheduled the Portland race. I’m dithering for a variety of reasons. I’ll do it though. I have one friend coming over on Tuesday nights to walk five miles with me. That’s pretty exciting. She might make it a regular thing. I want to bully/beg my neighbor into going out with me on Thursday morning runs. His wife says that once my mileage comes down after the race she will shove him out the door for me because he needs the exercise. Saturdays will remain my long days and they might stay solo for a while because post-race I’m thinking I’ll keep to 10+ miles. I feel better physically and I man I like eating like a horse without gaining weight. I seem to have gained ten pounds from all the cookies I ate over the winter. My pants fit better. Yay!

I keep thinking that I should make up a few mailing lists. Shanna is enamoured with the idea of last minute invitations. I’m not so good at making those work. I only know how to get big groups to congregate if I start talking about an event a few months in advance because then I poke people slowly in person over a long period and get them to commit. I’m not good at “Let’s have a spontaneous large get-together tomorrow.” I… I fail. I don’t know who to call. I even feel awkward about individual emails. “If this person isn’t available will they be sad and feel kind of rejected if I bring it up?”

I have been debating with myself how I want to structure this. Do I want one big mailing list that people can sign on to and then they have to ignore the non-relevant emails? That seems like trouble. Do I want a working parents list and a stay at home parent list? That way I am not constantly spamming the working friends with, “Want to go to a museum on Tuesday at 10am?”

I have several friends who actively are trying to run large groups of people already. If I have a mailing list and I want to do things that conflict with their public schedule… am I being rude? Should I have people on a mailing list when I know in advance they will frequently already be asking me to do something else on that day but I don’t want to do what they want to do? That seems… problematic.

But I’m really not willing to drive far enough to just up and join someone else’s group full time. All the folks running active groups are at least thirty minutes from my house and I’m not up for an hour of driving (or more–sometimes two or three hours) of driving for socializing almost every day of the week. I’m just not up for it.

So it goes.

I feel stupid. I want it to be an opt-in thing. But I’m afraid that having it as an opt-in thing will mean that people will feel rejected because I didn’t seek them out and beg them to participate.

I’m being an idiot.

Heck, I’d kind of like to have a mailing list for “Adult friends who do not have children” but who like tagging along sometimes so they want to know what is going on so they can say, ‘That sounds like fun’ without me having to go through my damn Little Black Book thinking of everyone I know before I do stuff.

I like community but I’m shit at organizing it. Anxiety for the win. And I’m a bad joiner. And I want to put a sign in front of my house advertising that I will teach English in exchange for people teaching me their language and I haven’t gotten up the nerve yet.

So many things I want to do and so little time. And so little self-confidence.

Wait! It’s not just lack of self-confidence… it’s uhhh I’m already over scheduled. Yeah. That’s it.

Ok, I should go edit now that I have one more hour of work time left this morning. I miss you, oh blog, when I am not babbling into you constantly. I will always come back. This is an affair I can’t give up on.

All the things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m in the phase I’m in.

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

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

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

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

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

We all make choices and set priorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just keep swimming swimming… something.

Ugh. Going in.

I need you.

Those three words make my heart start racing like I just completed a sprint. You need me? OK! What do you need?! I CAN DO IT! This morning my baby woke up scared and needed to cuddle me. Easy peasy. I have a firm policy of waking up with a smile if my kids wake me up saying “I need you”. Ok. It’s my job to be there when you need me, so yes ma’am.

Do you know why my kids have good manners? Because I say yes ma’am and no ma’am to them for just about everything. If my kids scream at me I raise an eyebrow and say, “Try again” in a calm voice. If they scream a second time I say, “Do I respond well to screaming?” Then they visibly shake themselves off and calm down enough to ask for what they want.

Based on the dozens and dozens of books I’ve read about early childhood development the first 5-7 years of life should be spent on socialization, attachment formation, and learning to manage your emotions. I have gone through my life crippled by my inability to manage my emotions in times of stress and that is largely because I was not taught how to deal with my body. If I grew distressed I was punished.

I don’t let my kids have a lot of screen time because screen time is shown to increase emotional dysregulation. I feel it would be counter productive to hand them a bunch of emotional dysregulation during the period of their life when they are poorly regulated and struggling for basic control. I mean, they are pretty good and all… but they are 3 and 5. They are good for their ages and that means they have a lot of work left to do.

I think about this because when I babysit for other kids I learn that the short cuts I’ve worked on with my kids don’t work as well. My kids respond to “Try again”. “Will that work?” is enough to stop the vast majority of tantrums. “So what is your goal here?” is another favorite I lean on extensively. I talk them through how to get what they want without using methods that will result in escalation of conflict. That’s what I spend my days doing. I hang out with them and help them manage their emotions as they are doing what they want to do.

Other peoples children kind of look at me blankly if I just say “Try again” and that’s hard at this phase. I have to turn around and manage my own frustration and emotional dysregulation because my short hand didn’t communicate what I wanted it to communicate and so I am left struggling to find phrasing that will work which means a bunch of quick thinking. I shouldn’t complain. But man I am grateful I have been able to train my kids the way I have.

Yup, I’ve trained my kids. And it’s awesome.

I feel a lot of guilt for not actually having the control I wish I had. I feel a lot of shame for the fact that if my children were less well trained I would have a much harder time being nice. It is hard for me to be nice to other peoples kids who don’t respond to the training cues.

I *do not* yell or scream or shame or respond badly to children not understanding my cues. Instead I take a deep breathe and smile and out comes a whole flood of words that explains why I’m asking what I’m asking and I give them a whole bunch of suggestions for how to solve whatever problem is coming up.

But it’s hard. It wears my body out to emotionally flood that many times in a short period of time. I believe that the children deserve the respect so I’m going to deliver it even if it means I cry the whole way home because my body feels like shit and I’m tired and worn out. My stomach hurts so bad.

Sometimes my physical comfort is not the highest priority in my life. That’s hard. Sometimes my friends need help and I’m the one who could show up and supply the necessary help and I believe in Pay It Forward like I believe It Takes All Kinds. I HAVE to step up when friends have nowhere else to look for support. If I don’t then the ship will go down and it will be partially my fault.

No, not really. Other people having problems in their lives isn’t my fault. But if the reason I choose not to help is because it is hard and it makes me feel bad and I cry for an hour or two afterwards because of stress… that’s not a good enough reason to choose not to help in a crisis. That’s a good enough reason to not sign up for four home school outings in a week. That’s a good enough reason to not sign up for helping once a week indefinitely. But it’s not a good enough reason to refuse help in a crisis.

Which leads back to spoon management with my kids in my life.

I have to leave enough slack all the time to absorb occasional bursts of spoon excess in one area or another. This is part of why I’ve been reading so much lately. I’m trying to build slack into my spoon usage. There are times when all of a sudden I use extra spoons on a project or on driving or on helping other people and I have to be able to continue delivering the same quality and quantity of care to my kids.

Taking care of my kids is hard but worthwhile. I’ve been doing really well post-Christmas. I am staying more level. I’m responding in the right tone of voice and I’m responding in a timely fashion instead of sometimes choosing to let them fight it out because I can’t intervene in a timely fashion in the right way. (I don’t let them physically fight things out but sometimes if they want to have a screaming match over something I will tell them that they can scream at each other in the back yard.) Mostly I try to help them work things out. It’s exhausting to be a referee all day.

So given that my focus is on socialization, attachment formation, and emotional regulation it’s kind of funny when a friend says, “So how about their academics? When do you do that?”

Err… I don’t. Not really. I mean, I read to them a lot. I read to my kids for 5-15 hours a week depending on the week. Noah reads to the kids for an additional 5-10 hours a week. As often as possible I sucker my friends into reading to the kids.

I get workbooks when Shanna is given her “school allotment” and she goes shopping and says, “I think I should practice shaping letters so let’s get a workbook”. I never indicate that she should get out a workbook and practice. But the suckers are being used steadily. I feel kind of confused by her choosing to do worksheets, but whatever makes you happy kiddo.

That said: if you go through the kindergarten standards (Which I do–quite regularly) you would find that Shanna was more or less competent on the full curriculum before the start of her “kindergarden” year. Given that the state now believes children should be fluent readers in first grade she is *not* through the first grade curriculum but I think the state is on crack for expecting that anyway.

(I mean for science: one of the many things kids should know why different kinds of plants grow in different environments. Shanna can give you long lectures on the evolution of plants and animals. We watch a lot of documentaries and I feel pretty surprised by what she knows. She designs structures so she can talk about what things work better and why. Sure a lot of her structures are meant to be froofy princess shit, but whatever. I don’t care if you are building a castle or a space station–you are building. It works.)

I will confess that I need to get my hands on a globe so we can play with a flashlight and talk about the seasons more. We’ve talked about it representationally on flat maps… but that’s not the same. I need to get off my butt.

We work on the PE skills in malls all the time. How do you learn to be aware of your body? How do you move through crowds without bumping people? How do you decide which objects you can go under or over in a public place? Or must you go around them on the side? This is what kindergarden PE teaches. We play catch and kick ball. They do yoga and go on three mile walks a few times a week. (I’ve been better lately.) Sure, Calli gets piggy back rides for over a mile of the walk… but she’s hella short. She’ll get there.

I will confess that my kids are not fully versed on the “triumphs of American history” but they do know a lot about racial issues through the history of this country. Shanna call tell you about segregation and Jim Crow laws and why Rosa Parks was important. I’m going to keep doing things my way instead of talking about how awesome Paul Revere was. (I mean… really he was a patent thief and an asshole and there was a girl riding the alarm the same night as him but HISTORY IGNORES HER. Ahem.)

Given that all of the kindergarden reading/language arts standards are “With prompting and support” yes, Shanna can do all that is expected of a five year old. She can tell you about myths from different cultures. She can tell you that a poem rhymes and a narrative tells a story in plain English. She can identify the narrator and she understands “what’s the point” as “tell me about the plot”. She can count to 100 (and beyond, I think) and add and do basic subtraction. She understands the beginnings of numeral placement. She knows her shape and can talk about what is necessary for each kind of shape.

And no, I don’t spend time on academics. I’m not going to waste her time. But what I mean when I say “I don’t spend time on academics” is I don’t ever sit down with a curriculum written by someone else and say, “Ok now it is time for school.”

We talk about cylinders as we are putting dishes away. We talk about the difference between a square and a rectangle when we build raised beds in the back yard. We do addition practice in the car because she starts it.

I do not direct her learning much. I don’t pick the whack job documentaries she watches, though I try to watch with her. She can talk to you about generations of animals dying out–whole species! She’s fascinated by the way animals change over time. She’s pissed off that evolution doesn’t happen fast enough for her to really watch it in her lifetime.

I talk to my kids all day long about everything I see. “Why do you think they made this bench out of wood and this other one out of metal?” “What is this made out of?” My kid can tell you the merits of using different kinds of spatulas to cook different foods.

We do science by cooking and gardening. We talk about history all the time. I’m fond of saying, “We study history because humans have been alive a long time. Almost every mistake that you will want to make has already been made by someone else. You can learn a lot if you just read about people and their choices.”

My kids are growing up in a house where “hacking” DOES NOT MEAN following directions on a kit that some forking grown up made for you. No. That’s not how life works. You are not going to spend your life just following directions that someone else makes up. You are going to have to make your own directions. How do you do that?

If you want to learn to sew (which Shanna does) I can show you the basics and I can provide you with materials, but no I’m not going to do it while you watch and I’m not going to stand next to you and micromanage you doing it perfectly. You are going to mess up and feel frustration. You are going to have to learn how to rip out your own seams and try again.

I can’t make things easy for you. I wouldn’t even if I could. Life isn’t going to be easy.

My job is to help you learn emotional regulation and help you feel like you matter in the world so that you won’t spend your life wanting to kill yourself because you believe you are a worthless piece of shit.

Everything else you can learn as you go. I promise.

At the end of kindergarden they wanted to hold me back because I wasn’t mature enough. I’d been to five fucking kindergardens, no I wasn’t as “advanced” compared to the kids in the tiny school I was in last that year. The teacher thought I was stupid because I couldn’t read yet. I picked up reading in first grade and by second grade I was testing at the 10th grade level.

I’m not worried about early asymmetrical growth. Don’t you understand that the standards were created by bureaucrats and *not* educational specialists? (Go ask education specialists. You will find a few who endorse the standards but mostly they don’t like the idea of a national curriculum–people don’t work that way.)

“The things that are the hardest to learn are often the most rewarding once you master them. You have to keep trying even when something makes you mad.”

That’s what my kids hear over and over. A far cry from “I guess I can’t do math because I’m a girl.” That’s what I believed as a child. Because I was told that math was hard for me because I was just a stupid girl. Word for word. Over and over.

When my kids try to do something that is way too hard for them they say, “Whoa. I think I need to learn a bit more before I understand this.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing when Calli said that. She was confused but delighted that she made me laugh.

I think my saving grace with children is I don’t expect them to do much or support me. I understand that the support is a one way street. I do the supporting. That means I never get disappointed and lash out at them for not helping me when I want/need help. I have internalized so thoroughly that it isn’t their job.

That said they have more and more chores. Shanna unloads the dishwasher, clears the table, and keeps her stuff tidy. When she has to clean up her toys she often says, “What am I, your maid!?” I tell her that until I start forcing her to do laundry for the whole family and do the sweeping and mopping and vacuuming she doesn’t get to claim maid status. I’m teaching her to clean up after herself which means she is being her own maid… not mine. She generally doesn’t argue much.

And now I have a wonderful girl on my lap. She says she wants to watch The West Wing with me. heh.

All 52 books.

#1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
#2: The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson
#3: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larson
#4: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. by John Taylor Gatto
#5: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
#6: Giving the Love that Heals by Harville Hendrix
#7: The Myth of Ability by John Mighton
#8: Animal Farm by George Orwell
#9: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
#10: Alanna The First Adventure: Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
#11: In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
#12: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
#13: Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
#14: Your 5-Year-Old Sunny and Serene by Louise Bates Ames
#15: Mother’s House Payment by Ronnie Schiller
#16: The Survivor Personality by Al Sieber
#17: Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and it’s Devastation by Susan Forward
#18: Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
#19: Mindstorms by Seymour Papert
#20: The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert, PhD
#21: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#22: Escape from Childhood by John Holt
#23: Dry by Augusten Burroughs
#24: Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
#25: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
#26: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#27: The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#28: 1984 by George Orwell.
#29: You Better Not Cry by Augusten Buroughs
#30: By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#31: Private Parts by Howard Stern
#32: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#33: The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#34: Girlfag: A life told in Sex and Musicals by Janet Hardy
#35: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
#36: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
#37: Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis
#38: The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#39: Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan
#40: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
#41: Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein
#42: Disney Scary StoryBook Collection by assorted.
#43: The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley/Danko
#44: Tao Te Ching translation by Ron Hogan
#45: Blessed Among All Women by Robert Ellsberg
#46: A Series of Unfortunate Events-A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
#47: A Series of Unfortunate Events- The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
#48: The Suicidal Mind by Edwin S Schneidman
#49: How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me by Susan Rose Blauner
#50: When Darkness Comes: Saying ‘No’ to Suicide by Angerona Love
#51: Murders, Mysteries and History of Crawford County, Pennsylvania 1800-1956 by Don Hilton
#52: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
(Technically I have a few pages left in the last one but I will finish today.)

Judgmental asshole.

(I’m talking about me in the title.)

This morning I woke up to Pinterest, like I do. I was looking through homeschooling links, like I do.

I am a judgmental asshole. I really am. What am I being judgmental about this morning? Well, we have bought into school culture in some really pretty funny ways.

Uhm, you don’t have to go buy a bunch of expensive Montessori approved supplies in order for your child to learn to read. It’s not required. Seriously. I wish that people did not talk about learning to read as if it was this crazy esoteric skill that requires tons of props. Uhm, it requires books. Paper is helpful for scribbling, yes. But you don’t have to go out and buy fifteen different kind of letter shape things for your kid to practice tracing with their fingers in order to learn to read.

Oh man.

I get that these moms mean well. I’m certainly not saying anything to them about it. I just closed the tab.

I understand why these mothers feel insecure but I think it is a trap. I think that believing that we must create a “school” type environment at home is part of the way that we limit real learning.

Real learning is not about sitting down with Montessori Brand Toys.

My kids learn to read from street signs and posters up on the wall out in public. We talk about the letters and the sounds all the time. We don’t need to buy special stuff.

I worry about creating a structure where learning has to be done sequentially in an order someone else approves of. That is not how I learned.

I was thinking about it this morning. Why am I so completely hateful of school and the whole school system? (I’m not attacking my many friends who use the school system. I swear I am not. There are lots of good reasons for participating in school systems. I recognize all of them as valid and good and worthy. I don’t think anyone I know is to blame for the school system. I really and truly don’t.)

I went to 25 schools, including 5 high schools. If you figure I met at least 200 people at each high school and more than a hundred people at each elementary school (I’m really good at meeting people) that means I met many thousands of people.

I went from teacher to teacher and I saw that there were these boring steps that everyone had to plod through even though most people in the room caught on in less time than was spent. There was always one or two people struggling so the whole class had to wait. And wait. And wait.

Learning is an organic process that happens at wildly different speeds for different people. Some people like to trace a lot of letters. Sometimes my kids go in the back yard and practice tracing letters using sticks on dirt. It’s something I have seen them spontaneously do.

I don’t force my kids to sit down and do tracing work. I think it is beside the point of learning. And I think there is overwhelming evidence on the side that pushing kids hard towards academics before they are seven is overall somewhat harmful in their full life of learning. A lot of people who are forced to do stuff early burn out. They weren’t ready and it wasn’t fun so they learn to hate “school”.

I feel that bopping in and out of schools so fast is part of why I like learning. I had to do it independently. I learned to read because I was hungry for the knowledge and companionship of books. I went from not reading to reading adult books in less than two years.

I am also very raw today because I read 2.5 books about suicide yesterday. Lots of feelings swirling around in my body.

Affiliations. Succorance. Those are the needs in me that create the gaping, yawning maw that threatens to eat me alive. Those are the human needs that have been my problem my whole life.

So I went to these schools and I met many thousands of people. Mostly what I learned from the school experience is that I am bad because I do not fall into line and do exactly what other people do. But I was never trained in one school for many years so that I could learn a culture. I was always wrong. Let me tell you, teachers at Lakeside in Los Gatos had different expectations than they did in Dennison Texas. (I can’t even remember the name of the school. I could look it up. I don’t care that much.)

I learned over and over that I don’t know how to make real friends who will be part of my life. I will always be a freak. And I will always Do Everything Wrong. I never make a picture that looks exactly like every other picture in the room. Mine is always different and thus it is wrong.

I can’t buy my kids a bunch of Branded School Supplies and tell them that there is the One True Way To Learn.

I can’t do it.

I don’t trust systems. Systems have hurt me so very badly. Systems have shown me how little *I* matter.

So when I read things written by very well intentioned, loving people… I have strong feelings of oh my god no.

I don’t think other people are bad for following a system that more or less worked for them. I really don’t.

I am an auto-didact. I teach myself. Thus I also teach my children to be. There are a lot of things in this world that are worthy of learning about. I don’t know what will interest you. But I will talk to you extensively about how to go about acquiring information you want to have. I won’t dictate what information you need or how you get it.

I won’t put a bunch of tracing things in front of you and say now it is time for you to trace. I can’t do that.

I’m not even sure if it is really because I am a judgmental asshole (but I am) or if it is just my horror of forcing my children into rote learning.

I don’t decide it is time for them to learn how to trace. That’s not my job. Sometimes at stores Shanna will browse through books and ask for workbooks. I’ve bought her a couple. She has chosen to sit down with them a few times and trace. I’ve never handed it to her or initiated her working with it and I don’t think I ever will.

I don’t do that. That is not my role here.

I don’t think other people are bad. But I think they waste a lot of their own time trying to do things “right” when there is no such thing as right.

I feel sad that I still feel like I am doing everything wrong. Clearly my kids are on the road to reading. But I can’t force them through an Approved Process Of Learning.

I just can’t.

I won’t.

What I learned from the school system is that the system itself is much more important than any individual child within it. No one cares about all the little individual people who may need help or attention or support. That’s not what the system does. The system says, “I’m a system and I run. If you have a problem it is your problem.”

I’m glad that my friends who put their kids in traditional school are the kind of people who pay attention to their kids and their kids won’t fall through the cracks. My friends’ children are not the kids who are going to suffer the most. My friends’ kids are already pretty privileged and supported.

If you have good parents who love you it really doesn’t matter where you spend your days. You’ll learn and you’ll get the support you need. I didn’t have good parents.

It isn’t fair to blame the system because of its failure to save children like me. But I do think it is fair because one of the reasons the school system exists is supposedly to help kids like me. Oh well.

I think that any system designed to apply to multiple millions of people at the same time is going to fail more than half of the people involved at any given moment.

Half of all people are below average. Half of all people are above average. How in the fuck are you going to design one system that will serve both sides of that equation? Especially since we are all anti-tracking now. Everyone gets the SAME THING BECAUSE YOU ARE ALL ALIKE, RIGHT?!

Do you know why my kids will learn to read and write? Because they see their parents obsessively doing both. They know that the way to access pretty much the whole world and all of the things they want to do involves reading and writing.

I don’t think I will have to coax them or go through an elaborate many year process of forcing them to trace letters long before their brains are ready to read. Give me a break.

Only two to go…

#47: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

#48: The Suicidal Mind by Edwin S. Shneidman – this is one of the best books on the topic of suicide I have ever read.

ETA #49: How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me by Susan Rose Blauner – ok, truthfully I didn’t read every page of this book. It is full of a lot of annoying lists and charts. By 2/3 of the way through the book I kind of hated her guts. I feel guilty for having such a strong reaction.

I think my strong negative reaction is in large part a class reaction. This is an upper middle class girl who had a terrible thing happen (her mother died when she was young) and she otherwise had a supportive loving life. She’s just very suicidal. I feel patronized, condescended to, and angry. I don’t think it is her fault I feel this way. I think her book is probably a good one as a first introduction to suicide by other people who have had lives similar to her.

If you are poor or have been poor for most of your life don’t read this book.

#50: When Darkness Comes: Saying “No” to Suicide by Angerona S. Love – this one is fabulous. I really like this writer. Everything about this book was well done.

reading

#45: Blessed Among All Women by Robert Ellsberg

I found this quite compelling.

St. Crispina: “A religion that inflicts torture on those who do not adhere to it is not a religion.”