Category Archives: travel planning

My children continue to be my favorite people.

I mentioned to my kids yesterday that I had mentally observed that our Disneyland trip was scheduled for when I am 35 weeks pregnant. The first thing my kid said was, “Wow mom that’s really late in the pregnancy. I think we should cancel.”

Then the other kid suggested, “Would it be possible to move it up and go earlier? It’s really not wise to go at the very end.”

My kids are so awesome and wonderful and nice to me.

So I called DVC (the Disney time share company) and explained my situation. Of course they were happy to find a way to get us in early. In fact… we are going in two weeks. The week between our anniversary and my birthday.

It’s a really good thing I hadn’t invited someone else and scheduled around their conflicts. I get to just… do what I want. That’s so much easier.

We are looking into what California missions we are going to visit on the trip. It’s 4th grade time… we need California history this year….

And we are debating between 2 and 3 days in the park leaning heavily towards 2. Because mostly we want to go rest and just be mellow together.

I love my family.

hisssssssss hygiene

In our house we act like hygiene is an evil force who is coming to get you. Because why wouldn’t we.

This is coming up for me because I am starting to Plan For My Alaska Trip! I’m excited. On one hand I feel like starting to pack is neurotic because I don’t leave for 11 days. On the other hand… I don’t think I have everything I need and acquiring things you need in only 11 days is sometimes a challenge. So maybe putting everything in bags is overkill… but making sure I have what I need is not.

Specifically I’m thinking long johns. Oh you say, Pansy Ass! It’s going to be August! To this I say: yes, I am a pansy ass. I’ll be cold. 50’s & 60’s won’t be freezing, but if I don’t have enough layers I will be in pain. My body doesn’t adjust quickly to change and it’s been hella hot here.

I’m sitting in my house under a blanket. On days that hit 85 degrees. I’ll need a god damn base layer for 60 degrees. My clothes are California clothes. They do not retain warmth. Except for long johns.

Did you know that there is a conspiracy to keep pregnant women cold? Maternity long johns are not a thing and I hate the whole fucking world for this. WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY when I search on Amazon for maternity long johns do I get humorous underwear for men? THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Fuckers.

But hygiene is part of this story. Because depending on how many clothes I bring with me… that impacts either how often I have to do laundry or how often I have to shower. Because if I’m living in wool and I shower every single day religiously… I won’t stink much and I don’t have to wash the clothes constantly. If I do my normal bathing once a week whether I need it or not… uhm… wool doesn’t like that. It gets… funky. At home I solve this by wearing clothing once, rarely twice and the stink doesn’t accumulate. A week in the same set of clothes… that gets bad. I have of course tried.

But I don’t want to bring much with me for this trip. So I’m thinking two pairs of long johns (sized up one size so they fit over my increasing bulk without pressure on my abdomen) and two pairs of pants. I can trade off which pair of pants I’m wearing to air out the other in between.

Tops I’m less concerned about. I will have two wool tops that fit. My tshirts are mostly hella baggy and still fitting just fine. I usually wear a dress over pants anyway and that’s easy to figure out. I’m just not fussed about that step. I think the warm/water proof jacket I bought last winter (my first WARM jacket… ever…) will fit for this trip if not all winter.

In non hygiene planning… I’m debating my computer. I could use the rest for my hands of not typing for a week. But how realistic is that? Will I instead be on my phone which is harder for my hands?

Hard to judge.

I think I’m going to bring art supplies and have an art-tastic time up there. I’ll have a lot of time to kill. Maybe I’ll write letters instead of blogging.

I’m so excited.

 

 

Chasing and being ok

I should be sleeping, but I’m awake. I’m thinking about how much I’m shoving on my friend while she’s here. So here’s the sitch. I met this woman on Twitter during my road trip. Towards the end the kids and I realized we were going to have a miserable time camping at the snowy Grand Canyon and decided to detour. I asked the universe (and Twitter) where we should go. This woman popped up and said, “Pick me! Pick Phoenix!” So I did.

We spent a few days together and it was lovely. I think she is great. I think her kids are rad and super smart and really engaged in life. I honestly don’t meet that many public school kids who are that good at asserting themselves. I was seriously impressed with these kids. They are just… there’s a lot of there there.

So I asked my friend to come visit. Thing is, the entire time I’ve known this family they’ve been on my monthly donation list because of disability issues. The mama hasn’t worked in a while and that is indefinite. So this trip is horrifyingly prohibitively expensive.

So I said, “Can I bring you to California. You and your family. You need a break from life.”

We are going all over the bay area and down to Santa Barbara with a stop in Monterey on the way home. We will spend close to a week driving into San Francisco to see the museums.

These kids showed up at my house and with glowing faces they said, “Can we homeschool every day?!” They are so excited they can barely speak. Only they talk just as much as my kids do so this is a hilarious time. Oh so much volume. But fascinating! The opinions! The independent thought going on!

One of the first questions was: “Does your little boy still wear dresses?” Answer: “That question is more complicated than you think. My kid wears dresses sometimes. But I only sometimes have a little boy. Let’s talk about the gender binary and people who do not fall on it at either end.”

It was lovely.

I sat down after dinner and started listing off the cool things to do within an hour of driving… we filled the trip days fast. We have a full itinerary.

I am 100% convinced my friend never would have asked for something like this in her life. I’m spending around $1200-$1500 for them to have this vacation. Folks I don’t know that well that I met through the internet.

Why?

I am ruled by my impulses. Because it breaks my heart that my children get to have the life they have and children this god damn smart and talented don’t get to have as much opportunity. Yes, I’d love to bring you out here for three weeks for as much information as we can pack into your little skulls. It would be an honor.

I do these things to pay back the child I was. The child who felt so bad that everyone else got to go do fun things and take classes and go to museums. I got to move again.

Part of what is helping is that I’m not having to chase this family. I offered and she accepted… but I didn’t have to chase her and keep offering.

Being able to accept a gift this big is hard. Pride is a big deal. Accepting this much love and help from someone is hard to feel ok with. People can only take so much then they need to give. Not necessarily back to the person they received from… paying things forward is more important

I am running into asking rev limiters within myself. I can ask different people and it isn’t scary. I can’t ask a small group of people for things repeatedly. That’s too much hard; I feel too much like I’m hurting people.

Unless I get asked back. I need to be asked for things in exchange. Do you know one of the reasons it is easy for me to help this family have this trip? They are kind of assertive about how things need to work for them. “I need _____. I can’t do _____.” Even if receiving a gift they are directing it to be more useful for them. That melts my butter. I feel like they seriously are trying to get what they need from this gift.

I have probably asked many hundreds if not over a thousand people to spend time with me in my life. I don’t ask everyone for sexual attention. Unless I feel an energetic push back… I feel like I am hurting people by sticking around.

If I initiate all of our, “Hey let’s hang out” it will get more and more sporadic over time. My give runs out. My ask runs out. I wish I still had it in me to ask you over lots… I don’t. I don’t think you care. I think you’d rather do something else.

I think you’d rather not put your pants on and walk three blocks to see me after I drive multiple thousands of miles. That’s what I’m worth.

That’s from someone who has been publicly calling me “family” for over a decade. Yeah. That’s what I’m worth to my family.

But not Noah. And not my kids. They would do a whole hell of a lot to see me.

Noah crisscrossed the country chasing me. It was glorious.

Even though they live with me every day. If I start getting distracted by life or people they do tricks until I stare at them again. Please look at us. We need your attention. Yes my loves. I will give you my attention too.

Yes, I like pushy. Yes, I want people who say hey I’m here and I want your attention. Yes, that is risking rejection. Welcome to my god damn life.

It occurs to me that I could create a calendar for the house hold and share that with folks who are interested. Dates when people are free to invite themselves over could be clearly marked.

I can’t keep inviting the way I have for years. I’m tired and it hurts.

Noah says I’m just ditching my friends for lovers. I don’t think that is true. I can list off lots of friends talking and visits in the past few months. It is true that I’m putting less effort into my friends.

But I think I was there anyway. I think there was just a brief surge for dating. I think that is going to… change as time moves on anyway. I’ll run out of ask there too. I don’t get the impression that most of the folks I date are going to feel ok being pushy with asking for dates. My submissive. My glorious submissive. Thank you for being so brave so far. I know I’m busy and asking me means risking me being overwhelmed and kind of a twerp on a given day. I’m grateful you ask. Thank you. I’m sorry I’m not always good company but I’m so glad I get to know you. Sometimes when I say I’m not good company it isn’t about me not liking you it is about me wanting to keep my nasty moods away from you. I know you are comfortable with getting the less than sweet parts of me, but I don’t want to take my feelings out on anyone like that. I don’t want to start using you for that kind of thing.

I love you too much.

I’ll hit you; I’ll carve my name into your flesh with a scalpel; I’ll kick you as hard as I can in the testicles. I do not want to hurt you. I want you to feel loved. I can’t be nasty to you when I’m having a bad day. That’s not cool.

I need to be nasty to you on good days when it is a positive, loving choice for both of us.

I’m going to run out of chase on dating for the same reason I always do. Most people… aren’t as into me as I want them to be. They like me ok, but they don’t really seek me out. I seek them out as much as I can… then I can’t anymore.

Usually that’s about three months.

The people who have gone longer than that… my first fiancé, my Owner, Puppy, Spot, Noah… they always act like they are drawn to me. I don’t think my first fiancé would have fallen out of love with me. I think he wanted to marry me and he was going to be ok being that person forever. I think I could have had that. But he needed me to not change very much. He needed me to calm down and not be so crazy. He needed me to be very conservative sexually. I couldn’t do that for him. I think I could still be with my Owner if I hadn’t wanted kids so much. Puppy was the only one who dumped me. He has some serious issues and that was for the best. He would have been very abusive. Spot… that one did run its course. There was no more there for that relationship. But we are still friends.

Noah came back when I shoved him away as hard as I could. He was still my friend even though it hurt because not knowing me was more painful than dealing with me rejecting him as a boyfriend. Then after a while of being my friend he noticed that I was single for five minutes and he took a chance on offering me the best deal of my whole damn life. Would I like to marry my best friend and have the babies I’ve been dreaming of? Yes. Yes I would.

I like sudden intense protestations of devotion that I end up being able to count on. That works for me.

And Noah has chased me ever since. I do not always honor his efforts as I should. But I take breaks to admire just how forking nice to me he is. He chases me. He feels like he would die without me.

It makes it kind of hard to keep chasing people who are not that enthusiastic about seeing me, who do not push for time or attention, who do not make it clear that they want to know me.

I’m spoiled as fuck.

My submissive chases me à la Pepé Le Pew. Slow and patient and just there for my entire adult life.

You know who else chases me? Sarah. That’s why she is My Sarah. Because she has chased me and pushed and offered and grabbed chances to see me for over twelve years.

Lots and lots and lots of people can ask me once or twice a year for a visit. That’s so wonderful and sweet and generous. They give me what they have to spare. They ask for how much of me they want. I’m grateful for every person who gives me a three hour visit a year because they want to know me and that’s all they have spare. That is a gift.

It is so glorious having people in my life who want more and more and more of me. The number of people who feel that way is growing and I can’t help but think that is so wonderful. One of the women I look up to most described knowing me as being like watching the birth of a planet. I’m developing my own gravity.

So this ADD book I’m reading keeps saying, “There is something special about a lot of people with ADD. You can’t put your finger on what it is. It’s just there.” I find that hilarious.

When you look at comorbidity things: ADD is highly correlated with trauma which is highly correlated with being targeted which is highly correlated to being something that attracts notice.

Being special/different/weird is threatening as fuck. Lemme tell you.

Hey, is that a self love moment there? Did I just admit that I know I’m special?

Whoa.

I am. I always have been. I do radiate energy like the sun. Either I freak people out or I draw them in. I pay attention to people. I want to know them and love them. Just looking at people as hard as I do is special. Not many people are even capable of really looking at everyone around them and paying attention the way I do. It is some trick of attention and hypervigilance and empathy.

And where in the hell did I find the well of love I seem to have for people? Despite everything. Recently someone said I didn’t break; I broke open.

I need to be needed or there isn’t a lot of point in me. I think that the majority of creatures who are ever born live and die not having a point. I think that the creature has to make their own point, their own purpose, their own meaning.

Am I doing it?

So far people in ten states and a few different countries have told me that knowing me has changed them for the better. It’s a start.

I can say with great certainty that the three people who live here, my submissive, and My Sarah will chase me just about to the ends of the earth. Jenny has flown out to rescue me when I was in danger even though she isn’t by nature a chaser.

I still call her Jenny because I’m the only damn one who can. To you, she is Jennifer. You do not have leave to address her familiar. I think the only reason I can’t mature into the grown up name is because it was a very young person who first opened her heart to me. It was a very young person with intense wounds of her own who learned how to put up with me. When I cry and think of how very much I miss my friend I am dimly aware that we are grown ups now… but I miss her from that place of being very young. Because that is where she first touched me. I met her when I was twelve. I feel like twelve was for me the absolute last gasping breaths of my childhood. That was right as I started seriously dating.

Jenny managed to catch the last bits of me that could love as a child. And I love her with all the intensity of a child for their best friend still. Thank you.

Despite how not chaste I am… I am still chased. I am deemed worthy of love. And by people I respect and love in return. People who absolutely thrill me to my toes that these people think I am worth enough of their energy to chase me. People who are impacted by my gravity pull and just have to be near me.

Oh I love you I love you I love you.

That’s at least six people who will… chase me pretty fucking far. Blacksheep has jumped enormous hurdles to be my friend. DSH has gone waaaaaaay far past her comfort zone for me even though she isn’t one to chase people like me.

I could keep going.

I am blessed and blessed and blessed. My Bonus Family. It would take a few pages to go through all they have done for me. Even though I’m god damn difficult and sometimes they need some boundaries. That’s healthy.

Most of the people who love me with great intensity have rev limiters of their own. They have lives. Part of the reason I love them so much is because they are intense people with a lot going on. They give me what they can. Even if they can’t chase me the way I like to be chased…

Really, how spoiled can someone be? I get chased. I have three people chasing me 24/7. Quit being so greedy.

And yet I’d still kinda like to set up a calendar that says when folks can invite themselves over and see what happens.

I don’t want to decide who it is and how many people. I just… want to see what happens. I assume not much. I assume a few people sometimes but not much.  The key to happiness is low expectations.

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks. I’m nervous because this is a lot of time to be “on” with folks I don’t know that well. But I know this mama through mental/physical disability support. At least we are both very understanding of our mutual shortcomings. Ha.

I am so grateful that they accepted my invitation. This is going to be a lot of fun for me. I can’t wait to homeschool her kids. I feel like a walking encyclopedia and that is one of my favorite feelings. See how useful I can be. I am a good tool!

One of the things that makes me special is how fast I can access disparate topics in my brain and explain them in simple or complicated ways for just about anyone. I can make connections between things that seem unrelated… until I explain… faster than the vast majority of people I’ve ever met. And I’ve met a lot of people. I am not an expert in almost anything. Instead of going deep I go wide. That allows for a different kind of thinking, a different kind of intensity.

Ok, reading this book on ADD is making me question something about my long term mental health diagnosis: depression. I don’t do the torpor kind of depression. I do the head-down-keep-working-as-you-hate-yourself-and-want-to-die kind. Apparently that is a pretty standard ADD thing. Oh. Huh. That’s supposed to be one of those things they kinda look for. I hate them and their not looking.

If you loathe yourself: you are depressed. Sorta. Maybe.

I made Noah listen to this song. I can’t find it easily on the internet so you get lyrics.  The thing is… I need to be loved. And I need it from lots of people because I’m trying to push past a whole lot of not being loved.

There is some interesting research out there on preverbal trauma and early formative trauma. I feel like I still need to be filled with as much love as an infant. I was not wanted. Not from conception. I only exist because a bad thing happened. What do I have to do to make up for that? What do I have to do for the world to make up for the harm I caused by coming into being. For declaring, “I don’t care that this hurts you. I need to be here.”

It’s not like I think I really deserve to be punished for choosing to be born. It was an accident. A surprise.

To be fair, my mom told me over and over I was a surprise. She didn’t know she wanted me till she had me. Sissy is the one who told me over and over that I was an accident. My mom just admitted it was rape. My mom tries to make sense of her life given the stories she has been given. God wanted her to have that child. Me.

I have been crying for my mother for over 31, almost 32 years. My mom was 32 when I was born. I might be 35 or 36 if I have another child.

Am I a grown up yet?

When my mama was 35 years old she had four children. She locked her abusive husband out of the house and sued for divorce. On the grounds that he had been raping their children. He was still given partial custody. He refused to pay alimony or child support so my mom lost the house and we ended up living in the car. Well, he would pay it. In exchange for sex.

Sometimes I think I judge my mother far too harshly for surviving a world of horror.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it neither? Is it both? Does it depend?

I think that if I don’t have that much pull… I should probably just be ok with that. It is probably healthier that way. Maybe. Who knows.

Yes. Yes, I want pushy.

I think people misunderstand suicide prevention. There is a lot of shaming. “Don’t do it because it is selfish. You hurt people.” I hurt people by living too. I promise. It’s always complicated. It is always about the balance of hurting people vs being hurt.

I think it should be framed as enlightened self interested selfishness. Someday I will get to the point where I am out of good days. I’m not there yet. I’m trying to construct a future so fantastic that I absolutely want to stay alive to see it.

I know we are giving up the WWOOF year I’ve always wanted because of a baby I want more. You know what? I bet I will still go to Africa with Sarah someday. I bet I will still go to Taiwan to see Pam someday. I bet I will still go to South America someday. I don’t know who will go with me or who I will see… but it’s probably going to happen.

I’m like that.

I go do things.

No more travel for a long time though. I need to save money. We don’t really travel cheap.

The kids and Noah have promised to veto all requests for travel in 2017 even if I say, “but we could…”

Ha.

I love my reminders.

My Eldest Child likes to say, “You should listen to yourself more, mom. You are a smart lady.” But I don’t listen to myself. I need to hear it from you. I need to hear it in your voice. I need to have you replace my inside voice. Do you know why? Because when I talk to me I’m so god damn mean. When you remind me of something I just said a few minutes ago… you usually sound so nice.

I know I sounded nice when I said it to you. That’s because it is easy to be nice to you. No, I can’t remind myself in that same nice way. I need you on a tape in my head. Because my tapes are all so bad. Thank you for reminding me.

I never mean that sarcastically.

Well… maybe once in a while but I’ll make it obvious with a funny voice.

Shiny change of topic. I feel like it is wise to restate a thing about voice in my blog. I talk to “you” a lot. That’s a moving target. I often consciously create sentences so I’m addressing multiple situations and multiple people at once and I phrase it as a singular. So if you feel paranoid that I’m talking to you… maybe…. inclusively…

Or maybe you’re the one. Noah gets a lot of direct address. Ok, other people do too and I hide behind the group thing. Let’s be honest. But I do the group address thing too!

I’m just tricksy.

I sat here for a while and just went through some visuals of stuff I’d like to have happen in my life. Oh let it be so.

These are a few of my favorite things…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh goody.

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

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

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

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

Fuck yeah.

My garden is coming right along.

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

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

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

Thank you, Noah.

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

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

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

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

I love you all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 high points

I slept for TEN HOURS last night. That’s practically a miracle. And I did it on less than half the amount of pot I have been taken at night for the past few months. Yes!

I’m going to Portland for the first weekend in February. It’s Dad’s birthday and I need to chat with Blacksheep about some stuff for later in the year. w00t.

Lucky. Lucky Lucky.

Holy crud out of the blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope we will have fun together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who has been telling her this crap?!

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

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

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

I felt like I got sucker punched.

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

She nodded.

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

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

It sucks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was lovely

Yesterday we had a going away party. It went pretty well. I had a lot of fun. I felt like I got to have interesting conversations.

It turns out that I am going to stay with some of my friends in New Hampshire. Friends from the bay area who go out there to vacation in the summer. They are going to make sure they line up with my schedule so we can hang out. That’s… that’s friendship.

There are even people who want to go on the cruise. I’m shocked people want to spend that much money.

I am enjoying looking around my life at the demonstrable evidence of people caring about me. I’m very happy that I can look at the behavior of many people and say, “Clearly when I doubt you I am being delusional. You love me.”

It was a good party. The people who are very sure they want me to come back showed up. I know who my friends are.

Thank you.

Today I packed again. Like I do. I am almost settled in the van. I can’t think of anything other than perishable food and water I need to add. I need to pack the potty and the bikes on the trailer. Then I’m ready.

I’ll deal with the potty and the bikes tomorrow, probably. Just get it done. If someone steals my potty on this trip I will cry but I will just have to take the risk.

Tomorrow I have to make the garden watering directions. I’m still procrastinating. I’ve been seriously resisting this process for years. Not for any particular reason, I just…. don’t want to do it.

We see our dear baby sitter twice more. Eek. Tuesday we have a date for dim sum and I have a chiropractic appointment.

We will leave right after eating lunch on Wednesday.

I absolutely over packed food. It is… kind of humorous just how much I over packed food. It’s going to take over a month for us to start making a dent in what I have packed. Once I lighten the food load I will probably be able to take half the stuff out of the sky box. We have a ridiculous quantity of food. I didn’t realize quite how overboard I was going. Whoops.

There is the non-zero possibility we will be eating the same fruit leather in February.

Good thing they like fruit leather.

I’m going to have to eat a lot of fruit leather. Oh crap.

Shanna seems to be unfazed by her tooth extraction. It’s hard to get her to stop running around in circles. She’s ready to chew again. She’s happy about the pain being gone.

I guess we’re ready.

I will be blogging mostly on medium because that’s where I’ve elected to shunt my kid friendly writing to for now. For this year. I’ve migrated so much around the net that I no longer assume I’ll stay somewhere forever. Well, I hope I’ll stay here.

This is the stuff I can’t say anywhere else. This is my proof for me that I’m here and thinking.

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m ready. At this point we’re within the 72 hour window. Less than 68 hours to go.

Not that I’m counting.

The fun never ends

Shanna is going in for a tooth extraction today. I’m grateful we found someone who could do it before we leave. She’s had intermittent discomfort and her dentist is worry about it exploding into a big problem while we are traveling. It’s a baby tooth and has to come out anyway.

Noah has a long day. We won’t see him today until bed time. I’m glad I switched weeks with the baby sitter so she will be with the kids for four hours tonight while I go see the chiropractor. I hadn’t been looking forward to bringing them with me.

Tomorrow I have an appointment to update my medical card. I forgot about that until this weekend. Whoops. I need it to be current. The place I had been going to for evaluations is closed and I am very sad. I liked the doctor I saw there. Even if he was getting a bit skeazy.

So I found a place in town and I can go during baby sitting time on Wednesday. And Pam is coming and it is Noah’s birthday. It’ll feel busy too.

Thursday is pretty insane. We have an appointment in San Francisco at 11. Then appointments back in Fremont at 4 and 6:30. Woof. The first and third appointment will take multiple hours.

At this moment I have no plans on Friday. We invited folks over on Saturday. Sunday is a maybe play date that has a high chance of not happening.

Only eight days to go.

Next week I have baby sitting scheduled on Monday and Wednesday and dim sum with a friend on Tuesday and that’s all. I’m packing and resting because we leave on Wednesday.

From here we go to Noah’s aunt’s house in Davis. She’s excited about seeing us. I will bite holes in my tongue to not yell at the homophobe. The very first time she met me she felt comfortable making very homophobic comments and she’s lucky I’ve worked hard on my manners.

I’m not done cleaning the house. It’s Noah’s birthday present. I’m leaving a very clean house. I worked a lot yesterday. Today I will work after we get home from the dentist. Shanna will be sitting still and feeling woozy.

Oh, and tomorrow morning before I go to the doctor my wonderful neighbor is coming over to weed. We’ll work in the garden together for a few hours.

I feel like things are set. I don’t have a lot left to do.

Should I stay or should I go now

I leave in 32 days. On one hand… I’d like to leave tomorrow. On the other hand… I am scared. I’m scared of pain and failure. My hands hurt. Sometimes gripping things is a problem. Notice how good I’m being about not typing much? Trying to heal.

My belly hurts. I’m hungry. Dinner was light.

So many feelings. My shrink is pushing me to change how I interact with people. Make my plans and move forward. Don’t try so hard to get people on the same page. Don’t ask for specifics. Don’t try to nail people down to actual agreement. Either they show up or they don’t. Either their plans work or they don’t. She wants me to stop canceling a whole day of plans when someone in an inner circle speaks up and wants time. She wants me to reserve less time for people based on the emotional weight I give the relationship.

People will show up or not and I burn a lot of energy on planning and trying to get people to commit. Folks don’t like committing.

I feel like my shrink is being really fucking bossy lately. She’s given me more specific feedback on “X friendship doesn’t seem to be meeting your needs and you should step back” over the past few months. She’s pushing me to push people away. I have feelings about that.

She wants me to have more boundaries around me.

One of my lovely neighbors asked if I wanted her to come over so she can help me weed the garden. We will work on my abysmal Mandarin and her moderate English at the same time. Sounds fabulous. (Oh, Pam: she was sad when I said you were not available to join us. She wishes your grandmother a speedy recovery; she wishes more grandchildren were so dutiful.)

Splitting the kids into separate rooms was the right choice. As was coming down like a box of hammers over eating out. That stopped the fighting that was reaching a fevered pitch. Calli hasn’t felt the need to get in my face and tell me off since. Thank goodness. Having separate space is such a fabulous novelty that when I declare cool-off-time in separate rooms everyone is cheerful and excited. I’m aware that it will change over time.

We are going to have adventures with “I get to decide who is allowed in my room”.

We are still slowly dividing up belongings to figure out what gets stored where. It’s a process.

I think it is funny that Shanna wanted her bed flipped back into a bunk bed because this way it has sides and she doesn’t fall off the platform. A low bed isn’t safer for her.

Calli has been exhausted lately. She must be growing. She’s been napping more days than not for a week or two. Good timing. Outgrow your clothing now, before we leave on the trip.

I’m bleeding. This will be my last period using cloth pads until December. It’s disposables for most of the year. Ew, tampons. Owie, yucky, fuss, and ick. And yet the cloth pads hurt my tail bone.

32 days to go. I’m slowly getting the house cleaner. I’m not sure why I prioritize this as much as I do other than… when we come home it will be such a pleasure. I won’t have cubbies of delayed work waiting to crash on my head. I’m even doing my fucking filing.

My garden is wonderful. I have taken pictures. I should post them. Which means I should plug my phone in and transfer pictures. erk.

I like changes.

Things are moving around in the house. This is glorious for me. I love rearranging. Lots of furniture has left. Very little is going to replace it. We will get a small dresser for Calli. But the armoire and huge dresser are gone. This means Calli’s room and the garage feel much more open and spacious.

The van is mostly packed. Tomorrow I will probably get everything else out of the garage and side shed. Food won’t be packed and that’s ok. There are a few hanging details left to arrange, but things are plugging along.

I ordered Shanna a larger bathing suit because all of her size 6 stuff is getting ridiculously small. She’s between size 6 and 7–it depends on the brand and the style of clothing. It’s kind of funny, this is the closest her age and her size have been in her life.

Signed on for AAA. The ultra-woo-hoo version where they will tow you for 200 miles. Card is in the mail.

Emailed the travel itinerary to most folks. I’m sure I missed some people.

Because I’m a dork I now have Shanna’s birthday present, Santa present, Christmas jammies, and a new fun outfit. Most of these things have just kind of been sitting around waiting for her to get to this size. They are not new purchases. So I will have to look for Calli on the road. They both have ornaments for this year, barrettes, and a glitter tattoo thing for their stockings. I am not going to be willing to come home from this trip and do a lot of Christmas shopping. So I’m trying to be mostly done before I leave.

I have a bad habit of buying stuff WAY too big. Which means stuff sits around waiting for Shanna to grow into things. Then I scramble to have Calli get something. But, she actually gets stuff she wants. Shanna gets whatever I bought however long ago. Ha.

I’m resettling the school stuff. Only 12 more days in our school year. Things are going so fast.

Surprise

When I woke up this morning I had 59 days left to prepare for the road trip. Then I spoke to a friend who let me know that she and her family are making sure they are available when I’d like to see them. After I’d counted on not being able to see them.

I’m making the trip longer. It’s not just them. I’ve been feeling really angsty and sad about missing Aunt Cookie. I’m very happy to add her back onto the itinerary.

 

But we leave in 47 days now. Because that’s just how things roll sometimes.

Good thing I ordered the plug in cooler thing this morning so it can ship in time. I had better go to REI today to get the stoves fixed. All of a sudden I have less than 7 weeks to go.

YAYYYYYYYYYYYY

Small is fine.

Noah, Shanna, Calli and I spent the morning talking about our upcoming Disney cruise.

I have a surreally privileged life.

All three of them need to update their passports. I’m good for six more years.

Shanna will be Noah’s Best Person. We negotiated for a while about a tux and how sharp Shanna would look. She’s contemplating. Calli wants to be my Best Person. I think that sounds divine.

We think red and blue will be the colors. Outfits maybe kinda sorta Dickens-costume-like so they can be multi-purpose.

It doesn’t really matter if anyone else likes it. Jenny has said she will try to bring her family. I’m barely close to counting on that because Jenny doesn’t bluff. Outside of that I’m not sure that we will have more guests. I don’t think anyone else will be up for paying for it. And it interferes with school.

(But going this week is way the heck cheaper than going during the actual summer break season. And this is our real anniversary. Small is fine.)

I talked to Disney. We are booked for a vow renewal. We have our cruise line details. I’ll talk to a wedding coordinator this week.

We’ve paid deposits. (And insurance in case of cancellation because whoa.)

If Jenny ends up not being able to go I will recover. I’ll be sad and disappointed, but I’ll recover. It’s ridiculously expensive. It is not ok to expect people to hemorrhage that kind of money to prove their love. I do not expect anyone to come with us.

No matter what the four of us are going to have a very good time. I’m very glad I get to hang out with them.

It is weird finding out what living in the walled garden is like. This is what the protected, safe, security feels like. I may not have hoards of people but I have safety, love, and so much privilege.

I feel kind of ashamed of myself for spending this much money like this. I could pay down my mortgage. I could remodel my house. I could donate it to people who actually fucking need the money. Instead I will be a selfish piece of shit and go play on a Disney cruise with my family for my 10th anniversary because I really want to. We will have a lot of fun together.

It will be very relaxing and snuggly and loving.

I even got us a veranda. So we can wake up in the morning and sit outside in our PJs on our veranda above the ocean.

Because we can. Because why not? Because it’s wasteful. Everything is wasteful. I want to. I’m selfish. I’m going to.

It will be so much fun.

You just know that Noah and I will be having sex on that veranda. It’s a way of having semi-privacy on a boat.

That will be fun.

Noah wants to do this. He’s been poking at me for a while. It’s funny that he wants to do it… but really he wants me to do it. It’s not like he’s going to handle details beyond what I force him to handle.

You know what? He’s busy earning the money to fund it. I can be uhm magnanimous about the time division here. Ahem.

Noah treats me like a very expensive pet. It’s both lovely and weird.

I like it.

 

Good & Bad

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about something. Most things are neither good nor bad as part of their intrinsic “existence”. They are good or bad in the eyes of someone who is judging.

For example: my kids can’t sit still to save their fucking lives (literally) so they can’t move up to a booster seat from a car seat even though they are WAY big enough compared to the legal minimum. I could be really annoyed with them for being so immature. I could be frustrated that they won’t “grow up”. Or I could recognize that I live full time with ants in my pants and I can be glad that they are in an environment where they aren’t punished for the nature they have. I just keep them in car seats. (This goes through my head because I have to install four carseats in the van again. Sigh. I loathe installing carseats. I always break half my nails and have numb fingers for days. CAN’T WE MOVE INTO FUCKING BOOSTERS ALREADY?!?!?!!!!!!)

I sent a reference to a study to a friend. She was afraid I was trying to say something mean. It was a study that finds that how much time parents spend with their kids has little effect on outcome for life. Being a working parent is no worse than being a stay at home parent according to this study–specifically they found that socio-economic level is most of what decides how your kids will turn out. (Shocking, I know.) I sent this to a friend who works in a “See! You were right all along!” sort of way. She didn’t read it that way. I’m sorry it seemed hurtful. I meant it more like, “I’m totally wasting time obsessing over my kids. I should get a job.”

I more meant to poke fun at myself. But things are neither good nor bad in a vacuum. They are good or bad depending on how they are received.

I pick sensitive people to be friends with. That means there are times when we all feel thin skinned. I keep praying that I will get better at riding through these times.

Shanna asked me if she was stupid for loving the boy she’s had a crush on for years. I told her that if loving him brings both of them joy and happiness… it isn’t stupid even if you don’t love him forever. It is never stupid to enjoy the time you have with someone. Even if it isn’t forever.

I need to work on my perspective around the home school group. I fear that we are nearing our exit date. This feels so sad. I’m not going to be an asshole about doing anything dramatic before the trip. I just don’t know that I will try hard to rejoin the group when we come back. I really don’t know.

On one hand I’m having a hard time with this because I feel like a quitter and a bad person. My kids NEED FRIENDS. But… my kids have friends with or without this group. And really… they didn’t bond that much with anyone. Near as I can tell most of the group doesn’t like us very much. It is hard that we have put in the time to get established in the group. It’s been four years. If we have more problems than good times… why bother?

This is still going to be the school group I’ve been associated with the longest for my life. Maybe I’ve hit the limit of what I can handle. If my kids were going to preschool then regular school we wouldn’t get upset about graduating from one group of people to another. Why do I feel like such a quitter with this crowd?

I’m tired of driving 40+ minutes to sit at a freezing cold park. I’m the one with the problem so I’ll solve it by backing away.

Apparently I’m the one with most of the problems. I should promise to not be a problem any more.

Maybe I should just stay home.

Maybe I’m just the problem.

The group doesn’t care about having institutional memory as to which kids have done what. I need to not care either. I have no power, influence, or status. Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch.

I …

I feel sad.

So I’ll say that today I took the trailer to the CHP station to get the VIN verified. On Friday I get to visit the DMV for registration and licensing and what-not. I’m excited. I get to run away from home soon. So I can forget that I’m not very wanted.

Tonight my bonus kids will come to visit. They stay till Friday. I’ll drop them off on our way to PonyCon (Officially named BabsCon but who knows what the hell that means). I’m so excited about seeing them. I haven’t been feeling very successful with kids lately other than them. I feel like I’m doing everything wrong because I’m bad. Because I deserve to be kicked. Because I am bad. Because I’m angry that I was told to promise not to be a problem any more. I don’t know how to stop feeling angry about this.

I’ll stop eventually. I’m just not there yet.

Next week a different set of kids is spending the night. We have never kept this pair before. I have more apprehension than with my bonus kids just because I’ve never been alone with these kids for long. They have very different rules in their family. (Not evaluating them as better or worse.) It’s going to be an exercise in “setting expectations”. I love those. I do better with kids than I do with adults.

With kids I’m good at saying, “Oh! I didn’t explain this right. That was my mistake. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you how to be successful.” With adults I’m all, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you fuck up?” Which is… not so helpful. I’m such an asshole.

I feel very good at handing patience to people I perceive as younger than me and horrifyingly bad at doing it with people who are older. One trick to force me out of this pattern is to have someone older than me as my designated student. (I have taught writing classes to adults much older than me.) Then I know going in that I have the “power” in the exchange and I can be gracious.

Such an asshole.

We got our summer sandals yesterday so we can work on breaking them in before the trip.

The thing about not feeling wanted… I spend a fair bit of time feeling like Noah doesn’t want me around. If ever there was an irrational, unfounded feeling… this is it.

The problem lies in my ability to perceive. Part of the trouble is people are so spread out that everyone needs a lot of driving from me in order to facilitate relationships. That hurdle means I need to feel pulled like a magnet. If I don’t feel wanted like that… it gets harder and harder.

I called my friend on the phone every day for over a year. We had a hard communication issue. We are still friends. I love her so much. I don’t really call any more. I can’t. I’m not punishing her. I just… can’t. I start crying as soon as I pick up the phone because I don’t feel invited enough so I put it down without dialing. Which isn’t her fault and I don’t want her to do anything to try and change this. It just is. Instead we are emailing a bit more often and trying to arrange in person time. I can feel wanted enough for that. Once I get there her facial expression lets me know that she really wants me there. But a hurdle got put in front of the phone. And I don’t know how to get over it.

I do this with people and methods of communication. This is a constellation of problems I have over and over with a wide variety of people. This isn’t someone else’s fault. It just is.

Living with it is hard. Is my over sensitivity a good thing or a bad thing? It just is. Being this sensitive is part of what makes me me. It’s part of what makes me good at being empathetic in the ways I am. I wouldn’t give up that part of me for anything. It just means that I am hypersensitive to feeling like my presence is not making peoples lives better.

I want to make peoples lives better. I’m terribly afraid that mostly I make the world a worse place. I drain people of energy and resources and I’m really not worth it. I’m a needy motherfucker.

Someone I know was talking about how she has “no friends” but I know of her knowing a lot of people. Near as I can tell she meant, “I don’t have anyone I can call on a bad day for support”. Uhm, do you know what I do on my bad days? I talk to the internet. I don’t get a response the vast majority of the time. I don’t call anyone. I don’t have anyone in my life right now that I feel that comfortable with. I’ve had it at points for periods of time, but it comes and goes.

Mostly on bad days I isolate myself and cry and try to wait for it to end; I hope it ends fast.

Does that mean I have “no friends”? Well that seems mean to all of the people who give what they can.

My bad days are just too much. They are too bad. They are too frequent. It isn’t fair to burden people. My shrink tells me over and over that I just can’t expect to ever have that kind of support. Period.

So I stay home. And I cry. And I write. That’s how I get through bad days now.

Well, at least it is better than cutting myself as a reminder that everyone would be happier if I was dead. If I stopped being such a problem.

My feelings are all over the map. High and low at the same time. This is overwhelming and shitty.

Just run away. Just run away. Just run away.

Plan D

Today I am going to rework the first section of the road trip. We will be skipping the Pacific North West. We will get back there in the future. There is no shortage of ties that pull me in that direction. I am going to take it as a sign that I should explore other areas. Specifically I will take it as a sign that most of my friends won’t be there when I can be there anyway.

Going from the bay area to Salt Lake City then east will be easier anyway. Instead of having it take 16 days to get to Salt Lake we can get there in 6 and take a detour to see a neat geyser in Nevada that Shanna heard about. Hilariously, this route will take me past where Burning Man happens and this will probably be the closest I ever get. Maybe I’ll look into camping on the playa just so I can say I did it once. I have an extra 10 days to play with now. Ha.

I love my friends very much and they love me. Many of my suggestions don’t work out. The ones that are meant to work out do. It’s ok that not everyone is along for the whole roller coaster. They give me what they have to spare. I do the same. Sometimes that means we can’t meet all of each others needs. Life is like that.

Doesn’t change how much love there is. Just changes where I’m driving in June.

I’m a talker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m going to fucking find out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh. I want to stay with you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m really sorry they hurt you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is very complicated.

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

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

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

Spoons, glorious spoons, we have to count them.

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

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

think not.

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

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

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

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

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

Every year snow trips, apparently. Oh well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s pretty fucked up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When oh when will I stop looking for substitute parents?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I’m kidding.)

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

Ok, now how do I get it done?

Without living on packed foods plus restaurants. Ahem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch me justify my awesome bun binge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know. I’m still a bitch.

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

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

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

Life is hard. 5010 words. Time to stop.

Busy day.

This morning the kids and I woke up and did an hour or so of house work. Then we went out in the yard and did 3-ish hours of yard work. Then we went to a tea party with friends. Then the friends came back to the house with us to play for a while. Now the kids are with the babysitter and I’m hiding in the garage for a while.

When I say “we did yard work” I mean I told the kids they had to weed under the trees before they got screen time. I’m so mean.

I put up the travel trailer for the kids (and their friend) to play in. I put it up, took it down, and they had a lot of time to play in an hour. Yay! This sucker will work out.

I feel like today I’ve had more energy than I’ve had in months and months. Part of me wonders how much of that is related to mending bridges with a friend. Not sure.

I finished attaching the landscaping fabric to the pallets in the back yard. I lined the planter boxes with fabric then covered it with cardboard. I moved all the stupid decorative white rocks into one of the planter boxes and I probably have enough rocks for drainage in that one. I need more rocks for the other two boxes. Then I need fill-dirt. Unfortunately Fremont soil is a clay nightmare. Tomorrow we have a few hours in the morning to work before Lego Club. I’m not sure what we will work on. Probably housework. Lots of laundry to fold.

I miss Noah. But I’m actually having fun with him not being here. I cleaned the bathroom. I’m hoping to get the house really clean before he gets back because he likes coming home to a clean house. I haven’t had the house clean since the housewarming party at the beginning of December. I know people think I keep my house spotless all the time… not so much. I go months without cleaning up entirely.

Heck, I only file once a year. That mess gets kind of insane. I file right before tax time. Because I’m a lazy bastard.

My back hurts and my arms hurt. But my front yard has made lots of progress towards being ready for the remodel. (I cleaned up the front yard a lot.) I have a few plants I want to move. The mums can go further towards the street in the front yard. The rosemary and sage and oregano I hope to propagate and move them to the back yard. I want an herb garden in the back.

I’m probably still a few days away from being ready to plant the mushroom kit. I only have like three more weeks. Eek! I hope to be ready to plant it before Noah gets home on Monday. Oh crap. We should also do the carnivorous plants kit. The seeds are in the fridge. I forgot about them. Crap.

Today the kids impressed me. We were in the car and Shanna and I were bickering. Calli said, “Will you two stop arguing. I am hungry and I’m getting grumpy and I’m tired of hearing arguing.” Then Shanna said, “Yeah. I’m hungry and getting grumpy too. Can we stop arguing?” I thought that was awesome. Yes ma’am. I’ll stop arguing. So happy.

Holy crap my arms hurt.

Think about something else.

I don’t really want to think about whether or not I will ever believe I deserve to be alive.

So I’m transferring the planning stuff I’ve done online to a paper notebook that will be my bible for the road trip. Plan A on the assigned route is mapped out. There are places for plans to change and places where the plans really can’t change. I used the US map that AAA sent me to map out the route in blue.

I’ve already started making reservations. Aug 4-9 is for sure nailed down (Michigan). August 29-September 2 (New York) nailed down. November 16-20 (Disneyland) nailed down. That means a lot of the frame of the trip is now non-negotiable. I’ve paid money. I’m doing this. Even if I have diarrhea the whole way. Whatever.

I’m moving packing lists into the journal. I’m writing down the GPS coordinates of all the places we hope to camp so I don’t have to depend on my computer and being able to log into a website to look it up. My phone GPS (or really I have a non-phone GPS in the van too) will be able to handle things if I have the number even though I can’t get to websites.

It is going to be hard to wait till June. I want to run away. I can tell that part of it is wanting to run away from my problems. I know that doesn’t “work”. But space can give you perspective.

By the time we leave for this trip I will have lived in this house for three times as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere. I am so antsy to go.

I’m partially doing this stuff on paper so I can color coordinate. Blue pen is Plan A. That’s the pre-planning before the trip. Who the hell knows how much of it will be accurate later. Other colors for other stages.

I’m making a list of what books I want to bring with me. I’m not the biggest fan of ereaders (they make my thumbs hurt) so this is a weight/size consideration. I may have to do a bunch of ereading stuff for the kids anyway because I just can’t bring a bunch of kids books. I am trying to figure out books on audio and I’m not there yet. Yes, I’m slow for the modern era. I did download the BBC reading of The Chronicles of Narnia. The whole damn thing. That will take us a few weeks to listen to in the car.

I suspect that part of what I will do about books is prepare bags in advance and Noah can exchange some when he comes out for weekends. That will allow us some variety without having to carry it the whole way. And let’s be honest that we will buy new books. It’ll just happen.

I’m already feeling panic about how much money we will spend on hotels/camping through the trip. I’m arranging as many free nights as I can, but we will have to pay several thousand dollars in camping/hotels. Given that we will be gone for five months that won’t be the end of the world.

I need to get a AAA membership, both for the obvious reason and so I can get the discount camping. I’ll probably also want to join KOA and just stay loyal to their campsites as much as possible so I’ll get the discount.

Chicago, Washington DC, and Boston are my currently unpredictable hotel expenses. Noah will be with us in Chicago and Boston. None of those cities have convenient free camping and if we want to be in the city doing stuff we will need a place to drop the trailer and that means a hotel. Or I suppose I could look harder for KOAs near there. Hm. Haven’t decided yet. Depends on the difference in price, probably. If a KOA is $35/night and I can get a hotel for $50… the hotel might be easier. Either way eating is still kind of a pain. Although camping eating will be cheaper than hotel eating. Dinno. I’ll probably wuss out and do hotels with Noah.

Mostly I should consider what set-up is most likely to result in us being able to have sex. Hotel rooms have the benefit of bathroom doors with locks. I promise you that Noah would be happy to pay a little more for a space that facilitates sex.

It is feeling crazy to me that I have this year planned all the way through Thanksgiving. 

At least I know I won’t get bored.