Waiting for Diamonds

I hear it just takes pressure and time


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Why didn’t you leave? 

… And other stupid questions rape culture apologists ask. I read this article. Go read it first and then come back, okay? 

2010 was a weird year for me. I was 24 with a 4 year old, a two year old, a failed marriage, and 5 missed years of young adulthood.

Any time my kids were with grandmas or their dad I was out. I drank A LOT. I hooked up A LOT.

I had a lot of fun consensual sex. I also had a lot of sex for the wrong reasons. Because I was sad and lonely and needed to feel good about myself etc — those things, not anyone’s fault. I’ll own that.

But 3 instances stand out in my brain:

1) A female friend, “Oh, you’re drunk? Yeah you can totally catch a ride with me and my boyfriend. We’ll take you to your car in the morning. You can sleep with our roommate-friend Scotty. He has a queen bed. He won’t mind” —- except upon laying down next to Scotty he starts trying to make out with me. I’ve never met him. Apparently the cost of sleeping next to him was 5 minutes of quickie sex. This was before Uber. What exactly was I supposed to do?

2) I’m on a date and I go home with the guy. I make it clear that I’m cool with fooling around but don’t want to have intercourse. Tell me how he stomped out of the room like a petulant child after the third time I said no to intercourse and then came back and proceeded to angle for it again. Guess who gave in and felt pretty sick about it and coerced the next day… Mike was a pretty shitty dude, turns out.

But why didn’t you LEAVE?! Well, because it was 2am and my mom (who was letting me stay with her) had told me if I wasn’t home by midnight to find somewhere else to stay as a condition of staying with her. So, I had nowhere to go.

3) I go to a house party with a guy I’ve been talking to a lot on OkCupid. I drink a whole bottle of wine because we’re staying, so why not? When it’s time to go lay down we mess around consensually and when he proceeds toward intercourse I ask him to use a condom. He doesn’t have one. I say I have them in the car. He says, “It’s a bit late for that isn’t it?” I refuse sex without one. So he insists that I at least get him off, with manual/oral stimulation since I’d led him on. So…I did. Didn’t feel good about it. Never spoke to him again.

For YEARS I told myself these were not assaults. These were me not being assertive. I could have gotten up and walked away. Went to sleep on the couch. Totally refused to comply. Made a scene and drawn attention to this guy being a creep at a crowded house party. Not been drunk and put myself in these situations. And yes, all that is true. But, is there no accountability for these men? Are we REALLY excusing their behavior?

… No. These were violations. Perhaps not rape, but a very close cousin. Sharing a sleep surface is not consent to sex. Consent to fooling around is not consent to intercourse. I can revoke consent at any time, for any reason and not owe anyone anything.

Older, assertive me knows this. Much younger and brand new to hookup culture me didn’t. These men took advantage of me knowingly. They felt entitled to my body even though they knew there was not enthusiastic consent. These were shitty dudes who knew they were behaving poorly, but wouldn’t be called on it. 

I tried to tell a mutual male friend about one of them. He said, “Wait — are you throwing the “R” word out there about my buddy?” (He actually said it like that, r-word).

I was quick to minimize, “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing like that, but don’t you think being so insistent after I said no so many times is a jerk move?”

“But you eventually did say yes, right?” he asked as we played pool. And yes, eventually with an exasperated sigh I had. “Well, then it couldn’t have been that bad, right? It’s your shot. Lemme buy you a beer.”

And that was that.

And I thought I was being dramatic. But now, I know. I was not. I was in a crowd full of people to whom rape culture was so normal that identifying and challenging it was radical – offensive – UNHEARD OF.

I was a slut. Proudly. Pleasurably. Unabashedly even. And in that paradigm sex positive sluts were for consumption. Not beings engaging with agency in their own pleasure. We existed to pleasure others; our own was inconsequential and unimportant. 

That’s when I quit that scene.

I’m still a slut. Much more selectively. On my terms. With agency. When I’m excited about sex with a person I do it with no shame. And when I’m not I don’t. I don’t feel obligated anymore. But I also don’t hang out with people who engage in that kind of behavior.

Ladies and Gents, if you do – take a hard look at that in the sober light of day. Talk to your friends about enthusiastic consent. Men who push women who aren’t enthusiastic are true creeps*. Why are we tolerant of this?

Let’s let them know, Let’s call it out. Let’s do better.

*Yes. Ferchrissakes I know there exist women who pressure men to have sex they aren’t enthusiastic about. But much more often it’s men because men are socialized to think they’re entitled to women’s bodies so let’s not change the subject, okay


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Justifications of Nice White Women (Married to Racist, Trump-Supporting, Nazi-Sympathizing men):

“That’s just how he is…”

baptist woman 1

 

::Hushed:: “Well, of course he’s taking it too far. But you’ll just make it worse if you argue.”

“I can’t agree with the way they’re going about things, but what did you really expect?”

“I actually agree with why they’re upset, but I wouldn’t be so loud and mean about it”

“You can’t stop them, and you can’t change them. <To me> Why do you have to stir the pot?”

 

White mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and cousins – This is on us. For years of quietly rolling our eyes at men. For wishing someone would say something. For not engaging our fathers and husbands and brothers when they were WAY over the line. For opting for a tenuous peace in our homes as long as we didn’t voice our disagreement. For trying to see both sides and be tolerant. For trying to understand that ‘they’re from a different time’

No. Full Stop.

Don’t do that.

Don’t excuse them because it makes your life easier.

Every time you heard him use the N-word and said nothing? You allowed this.

Every time you didn’t at least walk out of the room/leave the house when they implied that black people must have done something to deserve to be shot by police so often? THEY THOUGHT YOU AGREED WITH THEM!

When they voiced their support of Trump and you didn’t say “Are you insane, that man is UNHINGED!” – you are complicit.

*I* am complicit.

 

“But Amy, we WON’T change them, we’ll just cause arguments, we’ll just make our home lives miserable, what good will arguing with my crazy male relatives do. We all know they’re crazy!” – You say.

When you don’t speak up they are emboldened. Their ideas are normalized. They think their actions are okay. When you speak against them its like using a fire extinguisher on a small flame. Sure, that relative may always be flint and tinder waiting to happen. But you can be an extinguisher.

Whenever we choose non-confrontation over standing up for what is right, we choose our privilege. We, white women, have the privilege to roll our eyes, to put up & shut up. And we do.

We can’t do that any more. We just can’t. We can’t just let these crazy men we are yolked to by blood or marriage start WWIII. You have to choose harmony in the world over harmony in your home. This is important. Speak up already.

I know you are afraid. I know these men are scary when they’re angry. I know they have the capacity to make your life very uncomfortable. I know it might cost you relationships with other women you care about, because you’re butting up against the men that they, themselves, refuse to. I know that its much harder than it sounds.

But when, if not now, then WHEN? When do we say too far?


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The Kid is Alright

In 9 days I will have been a mother for ten years. Yes. As in a decade. Ten years of experience at this gig and I still haven’t gotten any better at it.

Or… Maybe I have? Like, if I had a baby now I feel like I’d actually be really amazing. The perfect amount of chill but involved and aware of developmental milestones and providing appropriate stimulation.

But I don’t actually have a baby. I don’t want another baby. I have these big, awkward bodied, free thinking, baby-adults. They hardly seem like children to look at or speak to. And yet, they have the common sense of a distracted squirrel and the work ethic of a donkey. They require constant oversight and rebel against any form of gentle reminding that the world does not exist to cater to their whims.
I have no idea how to parent these unwieldy creatures and I constantly think I’m screwing it up. Just when I think I’m getting the hang of this phase of parenting they grow up and the rules change again. But there are glimmers sometimes, of these kids growing up to be really great people…

Like tonight at dinner. I made coconut chicken curry. There I stood in my HOT kitchen, with no AC and the ONE window in the house that sucks and is hard to put up and cooked this food. And it made the whole house smell wonderful and I got a text from Chris on the third floor asking when it would be done because it smelled so good. 

So I plated it. And put it on the table and I called the kids. And everyone comes down and sits. And Logan tells me it smells delicious and takes a bite and says “Mmmmm!”

But Quinn looks at his plate and says, “Why is there cat puke on top of my rice?!”

Its hot. I just spent an hour cooking this. I’m hungry. Also, its delicious. WTF little man. WTF. 

But before I can really get out my apology that it’s not visually appealing food, but to please try it Logan is jumping in to my defense. 

“Quinn, I know it doesn’t LOOK good. But it really does taste good. Just smell it.”

Quinn sniffs…

“See. Just try it. You’ll like it.”

Quinn tastes it, “Mmmmm…it still looks like cat puke though.” and then he launched into a discussion about how some things are like that though. And olives are dumb because they look like they’d be really good but they taste just awful. We smiled and ate and talked.

The kids finished their meal. Logan thanked me for making dinner and told me it was really good and gave me a hug. 

He’s going to grow up to be a pretty great person. Maybe 10 isn’t going to be that hard after all. 


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Dear Boy-Children,

Dear boy-children,

There are things about me that I want you to understand. I want to explain myself to you. But yet, I don’t want you to know this. I’m glad you don’t see it yet. But someday you are likely to have a girlfriend, a wife, a femme-presenting partner of some variety… so it is important that you understand.

You stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell up “Moooom. We’re ready!”, as I stand in front of a mirror and try unsuccessfully to execute a side French braid. I rip it out. It looks like shit. And I look back into the mirror and I think “I look like shit.”

side braid

What I was going for ^

Boy-children, this is what it feels like to get ready to go to the beach, or the pool, or the summer picnic where there will sprinklers and water balloons, when you are a woman. I know that wearing a swimsuit is the most practical choice. I mean, I’m going to get wet. But my body is not the size or shape that is deemed enjoyable for public consumption. And it shouldn’t matter, but the thing is that it does. Because what you, as boys, have the incredible privilege of escaping is that the content of your character is not likely to be judged by how much skin shows when you swim. Your degree of self-control or judgement skills will not be measured by the size of your thighs or belly. Your hairstyle and make up are not indicative of your time management skills. Your outfit is less likely to be seen as representing your level of success. You are so much less likely to be looked at, weighed, measured and found severely wanting within 20 seconds of someone sizing you up and deciding you don’t meet society’s unreasonable presentation expectations.

cover up

Apparently, mothers who are truly together coordinate their cover-ups with their children’s cover-ups

And so here we are. I have tried on two swimsuits and three different cover ups (none of which will I actually take off to get in the water) and attempted to braid my hair three times. And I don’t have makeup on yet. And here you are again boy-child, yelling up the stairs “Moooom, a drink leaked in the snack bag” – kiddo, your step-father is downstairs. Why did you climb two sets of stairs to make me aware of this problem? Oh, right… because I’m the woman and so in addition to looking lovely all the time I’m also the go-to for solving of problems and management-of-activities. And you will all be impatient with me for taking so long. You will not care or understand the things I overcame in my head to get out the door today.

mom body

This mom has it figured out. 

And I know, KNOW, what will happen when I publish this post. My partner will tell me he prefers my very large breasts and slightly thicker frame. Not realizing that I don’t care. That his view of me does not help the situation at all because it is not reflective of the majority of society no matter how much he prefers just-under-plus-size. And a few friends will read it and echo his sentiments, that I am absolutely lovely the way I am and they don’t understand my anxiety. And another few friends who are heavier than I am will read it and take it personally that I must think they are truly unattractive. I don’t. I’m complaining about a societal problem that we all experience. And a few friends will talk to me about diet and exercise plans so that I can obtain that golden body and be ‘happier with myself’ as if I was actually unhappy with myself instead of just aware that society is unhappy with the way women like me look.

me

I actually really like my face, just for the record…

I’m pretty. Through some lucky genetics I got these big almond shaped eyes that change color from blue to green depending on my mood, and this strangely eastern European nose that’s just a little bit too big for my face but somehow it works with my high cheekbones. I have skin that caramelizes in the sun instead of burning and naturally wavy hair half down my back. I am the kind of woman you look at and think “Bet she used to be gorgeous when she was younger.” Or maybe the more generous, “She’s still pretty hot…for a mom.” Or the always popular, “She wouldn’t even need to lose that much weight. Wonder what’s stopping her?”

I would not dislike my body if I didn’t feel like it was unfit for public consumption. If it were not FACTUALLY true that women will be judged for the myriad of things discussed above (and more) by what we are wearing, how it sits on our bodies, how we adorn ourselves with accessories, how we arrange our hair and how we paint our faces. Does this not seem archaic to you?

I don’t have the solution. I don’t want you to try to talk me out of the way I’m feeling. I’m not fishing for compliments or reassurances. I don’t want to be told how to stage societal protest and that every body is a beach body if you just put a swim suit on it. I don’t want you to tell me that I just need to learn to be more self-confident. I just want to take my kids to the beach.

I can’t be the only one who struggles with all this nonsense. This sucks.

beach


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Can I be alone now?

This morning I got out of bed at 9:00. I frantically rushed to get dressed and drive to my weekly supervision with my boss at 10:00. Now, if you’re not familiar with social work it may seem very strange that I meet with my boss for 90 minutes every Tuesday morning. Its just part of the job.

I’d like to point out that I have the nicest, most reasonable, positive-intention-assuming boss in the world. Weekly supervision is actually intended to be somewhat therapeutic. A place for me to process the difficult things I’m helping my families through. And boy do I have some families that are just incredibly emotionally taxing… I’m not allowed to talk about who they are or why they’re hard or why I left a family and swallowed my own tears in my car then stopped by a church to light a candle for them. I can’t complain about the hard that is my job publicly like some people can because my clients have privacy rights. As they should but the ability to not have to hold their hard things all in my head would be nice sometimes. 

That’s what supervision is supposed to be for. Processing that. But we’re getting audited by Healthy Families America this year. Which means every time I go to Supervision its my boss asking me (nicely) to do this that and the other thing so that we can get into compliance. The amount of paper it takes to PROVE that I’m doing my job ethically and effectively is absurd. But anyway. That was my morning. Rushing into work to be politely told about all the shit I did this week that wasn’t perfect the first time.

SuperV

Y’all know that’s an anxiety trigger for me right? Having to do things over because I didn’t do them well enough the first time. You do not want to hear the ugly things I tell myself when I have to redo work. And this happens every Tuesday at 10.

And then after that I get three referrals. People who’ve said they’re interested in my program but then often don’t pick up when I call them. Or worse, they say they’re interested, they make an appointment and I get their intake stuff already and when I call to confirm before heading out they ghost. Getting ghosted by clients is the most annoying thing. And it happens all the damn time.

Good news though, my 1:00 cancelled. Yay for the gift of time. I got work stuff pretty well caught up. I prepped for my 3:00 who ALSO cancelled. Even more time! You know how I spent it? Digging up paperwork that my lender needs (I’m buying a house), running to two different banks in order to make rent on the house that I currently live in (and being stressed that I wouldn’t make it there by 4:30 when they closed. I walked in the door at 4:29 – not kidding!) and then running the paperwork across town to the lender.

Then I went and picked up my kids and had dinner with my grandmother. She reminded me she desperately needs a haircut. So I gave her one. You know, in her bathroom. Don’t all granddaughters do this? Then I dragged my kids out of her house to go home and had a power struggle with the smaller hooligan that no, he could not climb on top of my car.

“But you used to let us climb on your car!”

 

Yeah, dude, that was when I had a ’99 Contour that was legit worth $500 and sat 3 feet off the ground. I now drive a Rondo (its a crossover wagon thing) that is significantly nicer and taller. He didn’t get down until I threatened to drive away with him on top.

rondo

I feel like saying “Hey, don’t climb on my car” is pretty fricking reasonable. Honestly.

They asked me to drive past our new house on the way home. I’m a terrible mother and bought a house that my kids still haven’t seen. In my defense I dragged them to look at almost 2o houses and they got real sick of looking at things and told me they didn’t care anymore to just buy whatever I wanted. So I did.

We drove past it and then we had to go drive and see what else was around in the neighborhood. They were most impressed that they would be permitted to ride bikes to the playground down the street and the ice cream place around the corner. And then I showed them just how close we are to the lake (We’re on the corner of 5th and Hamilton. The lake is on 1st)

K Cream

The ice cream place with the yummy orange and vanilla twist. Because Quinn hates chocolate.

So of course we had to park the car and get out and walk all the way to the end of the pier. It’s a super long pier. Without fences. And I had to ask them about 45 times to stop running and hopping on the edge because I was sure that they were going to fall in and its still cold in Cleveland and I didn’t want to jump in the lake but I would if they fell, but could they at least TRY to not fall in? Kthx.

And then after we came home they NEEDED to get some Steam game. Only its 9:00 at this point and I just want to crash out onto my couch and stop being a human. So I hand them the gift card that my sister bought them and say “You can have the game if you can figure out how to get it all by yourselves, mkay? Here’s money.” And then of course they went up and down the stairs like elephants at least a dozen times:

Mooom, we don’t know how to ________.arragh

It says to do this, but we don’t see that option.

How do you….?

And each time I’m trying to hold my cool, like, “What did I say? I said if you could do it on your own you could have it. Otherwise it’ll have to wait until tomorrow because I don’t feel like fooling with it right now.”

“But could you just come look at it and tell us how to….?”

“You can honest to god read as well as I can. Use problem solving skills. I am not getting up”

“Uggggh.”

::Grump::

::Stomp, stomp, stomp::

 

This went on for 20 minutes but they figured it out. AND they hooked my speakers back up to my computer which I had unplugged to use at Quinn’s Birthday party and never plugged back in. Thanks guys!

Anyway, finally 10:00 came and I sent them off to bed. And I turned and started up the stairs and Chris goes, “Where are you going?”

Upstairs. To be alone. I am done, done, done, done with humans for the rest of today. I have had enough of all things pulling my attention from breathing into my OWN thoughts and wants and motives for the day.

Sat at my computer and typed my whole day out and processed it. And now I’m going to go play with the awesome pictures I took of the kids out on that pier that I was 89% certain that they were going to fall off of.

And the past hour has absolutely been my favorite part of my day. Just me and my thoughts and some buttons.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

/end scene.

 


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My Voice

I went to dinner last night. A good friend had this magical idea that started while he was in college that every Sunday night he would host a potluck at his house. There’s a core group that almost always shows up. People who are regular but intermittent (like me) and then there always seems to be one new guest. How my darling friend has managed to create this magical space in a world full of people who ignore phone calls in favor of texts is beyond me but its lovely.

It’s also two hours away and this is very sad. I still make the drive about once a month. I don’t have intentional community here in Cleveland and going there always feels like a much needed break. It’s a space where I don’t have to worry about dishes or kid’s school work or all the documentation I need to catch up on. I can go and breathe and enjoy just being with others.

ScreenHunter_47 May. 02 22.58

If you’ve driven from Columbus to Elyria enough times you know this sign. It’s the one that tells you it’s time to get off I-71 and drive through Amish-Land.

Anyway, last night I went and unexpectedly my good friend from college-version 1.0 was there. I introduced her to my “Columbus Friends” a few months ago while I was visiting. I invited her to Sunday dinner so that I could get to see her and catch up and somehow she has become an intermittent regular to the group in her own right. Told you it was a magical place…

But, I digress. In the course of talking she admitted that she loves all the articles I post. Apparently, I’m a wealth of interesting. Who knew?! I certainly had no idea. I feel like I have a wealth of really interesting friends. If I reposted everything I read that my friends share I’m pretty sure people would hide me from their feeds. I just post the highlights of what I see. I can’t imagine engaging so much in this medium of communication if it didn’t grow my brain. At least sometimes. ( I like your memes, and comics, and cat, and Disney, and baby pictures too though. Keep that shit up!)

cat

I mean, why would you NOT want this?

My friend though insisted that of everything I post she likes the things that I write best.

…I haven’t written in so long. And I have every excuse in the book. I’m too busy. I have nothing to say. I’ve kinda been down this hole of low level depression and anxiety that keeps slowly growing. I keep thinking it’ll get better but it’s growing. Kind of like a plant. Not fast enough to really notice or see but I feel like one day I had a little seedling of dysphoria popping up and then two weeks later I went “Fuck. Where did this crippling anxiety that has kept me in bed all day come from? What the shit is this?”

God, that’s not the pvoice.pngoint either. The point is my friend asked me to write. And I lied and
said I didn’t have anything to say. And she told me to say anything because she was listening. Because she enjoys hearing my thoughts and my voice.

I forget sometimes, you
know? That people need to hear that we enjoy hearing them; that their thoughts and perspectives and voices matter and even bring enjoyment. Your voice matters to me friends. I promised my friend that I would use mine more often. That I would sit down and write my truth even when I felt like I had nothing to say. Because when I say that I have nothing to say, what I mean is I don’t think I have anything of interest to say. I don’t think I’m engaging or motivating or clever or informative enough for my voice to be of value. Thank you, friend, for reminding me that my voice has value merely because it is mine. I’ll write more often. Promise.

Starting today.


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You’re Not Bad at “Adulting”

There’s this word that’s gained popularity in the past year or so: Adulting.

 

I presume the word was made up by young twenty-somethings or older teens talking about their challenges with learning how to run their own lives. Learning how to budget for groceries and your car insurance and cell phone. Purchasing your own health insurance for the first time. Picking up after yourself, going to bed at a reasonable time, having your very first employee performance review at your grown up job.  Which, lets be honest – all that’s super challenging. I don’t wish to detract from their experiences. Learning to adult is hard.

mom

Lately though, I’ve noticed something disturbing about the world adulting: Moms – especially single and poor moms are using it to talk about what we do. Specifically to talk about how “Bad” at adulting we are.

Full stop.

I’d like to submit a list for you, if I may, of things that do not make you bad at adulting:

  • Not knowing what to do as a parent 60% of the time. Pro-tip: No one does. The ones who say they do know the least. Let it go and roll with it. If no one is screaming or bleeding you’re doing it pretty well.

 

  • Looking in your cupboard and trying to figure out how to make a can of this and a can of that and some rice into a palatable meal you and your children will eat. Whether this is because you ran out of money or because you ran out of time is irrelevant. You’re not bad at adulting because you got to that place. Being able to come up with something out of that cupboard makes you a boss at adulting. It grants you level up points, mmmkay?

 

 

  • Working hard and not having enough money to pay all your bills. Let’s get one straight here: Being poor is adulting on HARD mode, okay? There is nothing that says adult more than calling your utility companies to make payment arrangements. Understand; that is a VERY adult thing to do. If you were bad at adulting you’d just say screw it and let things get shut off or go to collections. You didn’t do that. You didn’t have enough so you found a way to beg and borrow to make it work. Excellent adulting in the face of adversity. High Five!

 

  • Having a messy home. Mama, get off pinterest. Seriously. Just get right the fuck off of there. No sane person has a magnetic labeled spice rack and color coordinated closet. No one. Especially not moms. Especially not moms who are poor. Being cluttered does not make you bad at adulting. It means that you spend A LOT of time doing actual adult things, like working and playing with your kids and homework and laundry. Even if it sits in baskets, you have clean clothes to put on your body. That’s excellent adulting. Anyone who says otherwise is a jerk.

 

 

  • Taking time for yourself when everything isn’t perfectly done. Yeah, you heard me. That hour you spent on Facebook or going to bed early or even going out for a drink with your friend doesn’t make you bad at adulting either. I don’t care if you did sacrifice cleaning the bathroom or going to the grocery store in exchange for that time for yourself. You know what’s really good adulting? Self care. Self care is fucking important and you are good, and hard working and worthy of that time and taking it doesn’t make you bad at anything, babe, promise.

Perfect

Basically, I’m really tired of hearing moms subtly and jokingly self depreciate by saying that they’re bad at adulting because their lives are messy and real and imperfect. Stop. Please stop. Stop that right now. Parenting is adulting on challenge mode. You’re not bad at it. You are kicking ass. Keep it up +10,000 adult XP bonus.


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Gone Exploring

Today, my plan was to take the kids on a leaf ID hunt at Schoepfle Gardens. The thing is, the kids weren’t on board with that at all. Instead, they wanted to “treasure hunt” and then go play at the gardens.

So, treasure hunting we went. Cach-ing on our way to the garden meant scoping out some beautiful and historic places. Our first stop was the old Birmingham one room school house. Complete with the school bell.

image

That's not my dog. I admit it, I forgot to take a pic and stole this one from the internet.

We looked for quite a little while for this one. Turned out it was magnetized to the bottom of the bell. Tricky, tricky people! The kids were delighted to find that the bell does, in fact, ring.

We moved on to our next spot which was actually a cemetery. An OLD cemetery. Our cache was placed to honor the grave of a Revolutionary War Vet. Gave us a great opportunity to talk about how things from history aren’t just stories we read in books. But real humans with real life experiences just like us.

image

That point was pretty sadly driven home by this monument where an old man and his wife were buried together in the late 1800’s. Buried much earlier were a baby, a four year old, an eleven year old and a nineteen year old. All with different dates of death. What a thing for a couple to lose four children…

Kids were obviously disturbed by it. “But, what happened?!” – cue a discussion about antibiotics, and xrays, and IVs and access to clean water and good food and modern medicine. How far we’ve come in under 200 years.

“Imagine your kid being sick and not being able to DO anything!” said Logan sadly.

Imagine indeed…

We moved on. And wouldn’t you know it, the nearest cache was at *another* cemetery. At least this one was newer. Taking your children exploring in cemeteries in the interest of adventure, history and geography is perfectly normal, right?

At this one we parked right under an apple tree and Quinn was very insistent that we pick some apples. At first I wasn’t really sure about picking cemetery apples, but you know what, it was a huge tree and no one is going to miss those six apples.

Someday maybe someone should plant an apple tree near my grave and maybe cute kids will pick them and be happy. That’s actually a nice thought. They were very good apples.

Our last cache of the day was down old Gore Orphanage Road. I didn’t tell the kids it’s meant to be haunted. I figured we’d had enough of cemeteries and death for the day.

Old Gore Orphanage Rd is literally a one lane road that leads to nowhere until it dead ends. It’s gorgeous back in there. I should have taken more pictures. Here’s Quinn standing on a bridge over the Vermilion River.

image

He thinks he's very cool.

We found our cache after a lot of hunting. Way back here in the middle of nowhere GPS signal is pretty spotty.

But we finally found it. An old PB jar painted black and stuffed in a fallen hollow tree. This cache was full of good stuff. The boys chose two pretty seashells and I got a butterfly ring. We left our gems, some jolly ranchers, a matchbox car and a compass ring for the next finders.

We decided it was time to head to the garden.

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We take a picture at this archway every year. And every year I think, my god, they’re so big…

They’re so big. And wonderful. And spunky. And smart. And courageous. And awesome. They’re such freakin’ awesome kids. How did I wind up with such great kids?

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The arch is my favorite spot. This is theirs.

Also, they climbed trees.

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Quinn made sure to only step on sturdy branches this time.

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What a day…

It’s always an adventure!


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Technology is NOT Making ME Lonely

I’ve heard people talk about the appeal of a fresh, blank sheet of paper and a pen. To some, there is something satisfying about the physical act of writing. Myself though, as much as a tried to fight it, I’m a millennial. One of the oldest millennials – I was 15 in 2000, started college in 2002 and turned 18 in 2003. I was the first generation of teenagers with phones, DSL in our rooms and unlimited information at my fingertips. I love opening a new, blank word-processing page, or blog post or even messenger window. I learned to type using AOL instant messenger and for me, that platform was the saving grace of my teenage years.

Remember these?

Remember these?

I have always been an awkward person. Never knowing when I’ve been invited to join the conversation. Never quite sure if I’m being thought of as weird for jumping in like I know everyone, or thought a snob for hanging back out of efforts to be polite. (People’s first impressions of me seem to vary wildly). Interacting through typed words is my favorite way to communicate. There’s an audible “PING!” letting you know someone This saved me so many times as a teenager.wants to talk to you. You literally have to spell everything out for the person with whom you are trying to communicate. If you miss the sarcasm or joking tone from someone they don’t think you’re weird. They apologize to you for not being clearer. I have no idea what I would have done had real-time typed communication not come about as I came of age.

To this day if you want to know who I really am, what I really think, how I really feel send me a message. Give me a proper keyboard. I’ll tell you my truth.

I feel like there’s much angst being expressed in the social media world lately about how we’re all lonely because we don’t interact with the real world enough. I don’t know what to say about it. I honestly think there were times I would have died without my social network that I could go to day or night.

From 15 to 19 there were AIM and Myspace. My truest, realest teenage conversations were had with my best friend at 2am when she would go invisible to everyone but me, letting me know to reach out if I needed her. How many times did I ping her? “Hey, you up? I feel not okay…” How many times did others ping me and I was able to talk them down, empathetically, rationally with the help of my screen whereas in person I’d have excused myself because in-person-emotions are tricksy and I don’t know what to do with them.

And sex. My lord, what would I have done without instant messenger to explore sex through words instead of awkward interactions. When other girls were getting in trouble for bathroom blow jobs I was discussing in detail what I liked and didn’t like and establishing explicit consent and boundaries and interests. As much as my mother will likely cringe reading this, the internet was the safest place for me to explore sex as a teenager. I’ve never been good at confrontation or saying no, or advocating for my desires. The internet gave me a screen to hide behind so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed talking about what I liked and a very easy “out” should someone become rude or forceful. Wouldn’t real life be so much easier if we were all equipped with a real-time block button?

When I was pregnant at barely 20 I knew no one else who had children. I was completely without support or peers. I had a fiancé who liked to act like the 22yo he was and a sister and her boyfriend. I was the DD a lot. That was how I spent my pregnancy. Playing WoW during the day and driving crazy kids around at night. Trying not to be bitter and resentful that I never really got to be a crazy kid myself…

Pregnant

When, at the end of those 9 months I had an actual baby I was utterly lost. About to be swallowed whole again by depression, isolation, and social anxiety, I desperately searched the internet for community. I found it in the form of FrunchyMama.com; A now defunct forum for mothers who were following AP principles but who promised not to be competitive bitches about it. Parenting always seems to be a competitive sport. I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t some one-upping or feelings of insufficiency sometimes when I compared but for the most part, FrunchyMama was where I hung out. It was the place I could go if I needed help. If I needed to talk day or night there were twenty women to say “Hey, love you! This gets better.” And maybe internet community is a poor substitute for real community but it was all the community I had and I am eternally grateful.

This signature bar should look familiar to quite a few of my friends.

FrunchyMama ended when Facebook became popular. We all connected in real-time and, kinda like the end of high school, friendships withered or flourished depending on our personalities and values. But to this day, almost nine years later some of my most valuable friendships are with the women who shared the trials of their entry into motherhood with me.

Other dear friends have come to me by way of shared interest and facebook. Today I know if I need a person all I have to do is pick up my phone and open messenger or sit down at my desk and touch my keys. I think its because I have this safe internet space to be who I am that I am more confident than I have ever been in real-time situations.

Facebook

Social Media is not making me lonely. It is not making me isolated. It is not making me forget how to have an actual conversation (Let’s be honest, I was never very good at that). I would love to figure out how to do real people and engage in real community but that’s really hard for me. I don’t do people very well. You know what I do well though? Words 🙂 Thank you all for being my people and sharing with me your lives and your words. I kinda love the community that has grown up around me. I look forward to spending more time (face to face or through the keys) with you.


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The risk it took to blossom…

“Keep your weight on your left foot and pivot!”

Oh, good! Pivot turns! I was in marching band. I know how to do this! I thought. Only, I thought wrong. Apparently when you are dancing, your weight ISN’T transferred to the foot you stick out to pivot upon, but stays on the stationary leg.

 

hipOooof. As if learning to move my body in the prescribed way as a 13 year old         hadn’t been hard enough for someone who lives entirely in their head, now I           was being asked to do the complete opposite.

I felt it. I felt the shame start to build. The shame of looking around and                      realizing that this was rather simple for the other people in the class and that         we were clearly repeating it for my benefit. The shame of understanding fully          in my head what I was meant to be doing and being unable to communicate to        my feet, legs and hips what I would like them to do. There it was. The angry              anxiety gremlin who lives in my head and tells me that I look stupid and therefore AM stupid whenever I try to build a new skill.

I had been wondering when she would show up.

There she was…

And then, this cool thing happened inside my head. I decided to keep moving. I visited the space in my head where I had made a decision that being genuinely afraid of acquiring any new skill that was challenging was unacceptable. And I told her to shut up.

And right about that time the instructor realized that I was struggling and wasn’t gonna get it right that second and she just smiled and told me to come see her after the lesson and we’d sort it out. And then I kept moving.

After class I spoke with her, I explained (a little) about why I was there. About my inability to connect my brain and my body and about my anxieties that tell me that I can’t. And about deciding that I can.

 

On my way home, I thought about it. I gave myself a mental pat on the back for not spiraling into the “I can’t. This is too hard. I look stupid. Everyone must think I’m an idiot. Probably because I am an idiot…” negative self talk place. And in that space I remembered this quote:

Anais Nin

 

And then I thought about plants and my garden. Keep following, I swear I’m going to make a connection here. See, plants have needs. And the needs are really basic. They need sunlight, and water and access to nutrients from the soil and when they have that, they bloom. They produce fruit. They grow.

And when they aren’t getting enough of those things, they won’t. The plant won’t die. It actually takes a fair amount of deprivation to really kill a plant. But if its needs aren’t being met, it only has enough energy to survive. Not enough to bear fruit.

I feel like, people who are afraid to grow as people have spent a time in their lives like those plants. Or maybe I’m projecting. So, I’ll speak from a first person perspective. I feel like I spent a fairly big part of my life only receiving enough of my needs to keep on fighting to survive. And what we know about plants (and people) is when they’re fighting just for existence they just don’t have the energy to produce growth.

The reasons I felt like I was fighting to exist are complex and there are both internal and external factors at work here. To spell them all out and explain and dissect them would be another (long) entry indeed. But, the point here is that even after you reach a place where you’re no longer fighting to feel like your needs are being met – you develop this behavior pattern, this thought process, that tells you that you don’t have enough energy or resources to grow. That growing is too scary, and too exhausting to do.

Maslow - Copy

The thing is, my subconscious brain hasn’t gotten the message yet that my needs are acknowledged, met and supported. If we consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for a moment:

  • Physical Needs: Yep, I’ve got food, shelter, running water etc

 

  • Safety & Security: Yep. I have a home, a job that pays the bills & a car that runs to get me there.

 

  • Love and Belonging: Yep! I’m finally in a place where I have a supportive partner and friends who know exactly who I am and like me that way, where I don’t feel the need to be anything other than authentic.

 

  • Esteem/Self Worth: This, this is where I get myself hung up all the time and I do it to myself. This is the thing that that gives my brain the signal to say “You don’t have enough resources to grow right now.”

 

But, I can choose to work through that. I can choose to be kind to myself. I can choose to approve whatever my abilities are and keep building them. I can choose to grow. But, the choice is hard.

I feel like, this is where having had the experience of birth is somewhat helpful. Anyone who has experienced birth understands that when you’re 6 months pregnant you’re giant and uncomfortable, and you know its just going to get worse, but you’re not ready to endure the experience of birth just yet.

And then you get to 9 months pregnant and you’re just.ready.for.it.to.be.over! But the idea of actually giving birth, of actually pushing that baby out of yourself is still terrifying.

And THEN you’re in labor. And Holy Christ does it hurt, but if you could just make the contractions stop, make the pain stop and still be pregnant you probably would choose to do that.

And then, THEN you hit about 7cm. You hit transition, and it kicks in to your brain that this kid is coming out and there is but one way and if you want it to be over you’re going to have to power through it. And THERE, in that space, when you surrender to the experience is where you claim your power over the situation. It still hurts like hell, right? But suddenly you’re in control of it. You are the one with the power to end it and you start to think about and meditate on and visualize the idea of giving birth and you accept the idea in your head that you will have to push. And when its time to push, if you have surrendered to the experience, your body just does it for you.

You decided somewhere in there, that the risk of fighting it was greater than the risk of owning it and being empowered by it. Birth is the coolest thing.

I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here. Give birth to an Amy who is empowered in herself. And right now, I’m at that 9 months pregnant mark. I’m about sick of being burdened and bogged with all the extra cumbersome weight of guilt and shame of never quite feeling like I’m good enough.

The hard thing is that in order to get it done – there’s the labor. There’s the going through experiences that are scary and painful, and of hitting that transition point where its at one point the most terrible place you’ve been in, and in another, that place where you find your power and take control of your experience.

flower bud

     Send me some joy and peace for the journey friends, there’s only one way this          manifested dream is coming out. And I am both excited by and terrified of that prospect.