Sunday, June 30, 2013

My son

He pulls his weight, and then some.
Despite having been raised by the two most clueless parents on earth, he is shaping up to be a respectful, thoughtful, and patient man.
Maybe he's not a straight A student...that's because he doesn't fit into such a broken, militant school system.
Maybe he uses a swear word now and then...that's because he realizes that the power of words is much greater than their censorship.
He wears earrings and rainbows and listens to heavy metal...that's because he's confident in who he is, and he knows that a person's appearance does not dictate their behavior.  He is a brilliant soul, wrapped in colorful packaging.

He's a typical teenager.  And he isn't.

He's a goddamn miracle.
He works his ass off around here.  Sometimes without the recognition and appreciation he deserves.  And still, he loves us.  Even when we don't deserve it.  His father and I have failed so many times at this point that the boy has every right to have descended into a cycle of booze and drugs and violence.  He has chosen to learn, and to grow with us.  He has watched us fail repeatedly, and he has chosen to love us, and himself regardless.

I don't know how.

But I do know that the boy is amazing.  He is deserving of your love and admiration and respect, and he gives it freely.

The people in his life are respected, and treated with love and patience, even when they do not deserve it.
The people in his life are forgiven, and forgiven endlessly.  

The people in his life are loved, and loved greatly, without prejudice, and without hesitation.  Even if they are assholes.
Or drug addicts.  
Or racist people.
Or abusive.
He will forgive you.  He will love you.  He will respect your differences, and make infinite space for you within his sphere.  Because it is the treatment he wishes for himself.

I look up to him.  And not just because he's six feet tall.  <3

Monday, May 20, 2013

An orgasm of emotions

Mental illness has many different faces.  I'm not exactly sure how to label my own, and I don't necessarily want to.  Several doctors have tried for me, and all of their classifications and categories fit me in one way or another.  The "scarier" ones get pushed into the back of my brain and ignored, and the "easier" ones get their names spoken occasionally when I need to explain some sort of odd behavior.  
"Sorry I didn't answer when you called.  I have anxiety."
"Sorry I was so lame at your party.  I'm pretty depressed."
"Sorry I acted like such a boob the other night.  It's my ADHD."

Not that those are excuses.  But they help explain what's sometimes an uncomfortable weirdness for me and everyone unfortunate enough to have to be around me when I'm, well, weird.

And there are moments where I go beyond weird.  Where I sink into such a scary space that I start to entertain scary thoughts and say scary things and behave in scary ways.  It's like trying to claw your way out of a dark, dirty pit deep in the earth, and every attempt to make your way free only scratches more dirt down on you.  Sometimes it's short-lived, and sometimes I'm stuck down there so long, that I just give up, and sit.  And wait.
The desperation grows a little stronger every day, and that's when the weirdness starts.  Weird thoughts.  Weird words.  Weird behaviors.

And I sit there at the bottom of that pit, hoping for some sort of ray of hope.  Some sort of ladder, or rescue that will pull me from the darkness and back up to the surface to feel the light of day on my desperate face.  It eventually begins to feel truly impossible, and truly hopeless, leaving me to wonder if it's even worth the bother to go forward for another second.  And when I'm at my darkest, I know it isn't...

It's the scariest place in the world.  Rational thought does nothing to sway these types of feelings at this point.  There is literally nothing that makes it seem as tho moving forward is a better choice than...not.  My body begins to feel like a big fleshy cage, and I sincerely resent every breath my brain forces me to take.

Relationships are strained.  Family dynamics begin to shift.  The whole world feels surreal and foreign and wrong.  And I truly believe that nothing will ever be good ever again ever ever.  I just sit, and wait.

And then, without warning or reason, like a dormant tree suddenly budding in the spring, I begin to look up.  I begin to see that all the dirt I've clawed down onto myself has built up under me, and I'm within reach of the top of this horrible pit.  I can see daylight, and smell fresh air, and hear birds sending their songs out into the breeze.  And I know I'm going to get out...I'm going to be ok.

And when I do, it's goddamned glorious.  The-hills-are-alive glorious.  Dawning-of-the-age-of-Aquarius glorious.  Pinocchio-finally-gets-to-be-a-real-boy fucking glorious.

Every sound is electric.  I can hardly contain myself and my excitement as I start blasting awful techno-y house music thru the atmosphere, soaking in every cliche note as if it were gourmet food and woody wine after a year-long fast of flour and water.
Every face around me immediately becomes the most beautiful face in creation.  My children are so goddamned lovely I can hardly take it.  My husband's graying head and foot-long beard are irresistible  and I can hardly stand the moments where his face is not immediately touching my own.
The wind thru my hair, the sun on my cheeks, the air in my's all too much, and I feel so happy that at any given moment I could burst open and release an infinite flow of brilliant light powerful enough to heal the whole world.  I really could.
My brain full to bursting with thoughts of self-improvement and hopeful desires.  And because I suddenly have all the energy in the world, I know without doubt that I can and will fulfill each and every self-appointed task.
"I will walk to the end of town and back every single day, rain or shine.  I will shrink this body and build these muscles to strength that will carry me well into my hundreds without effort.  I will eat nothing that doesn't come directly from this beautiful soil, and I will harm no creature in order to satiate my carnivorous desires.  I will be a better wife and a better mother and a better lover and a better friend.  I will answer every phone call, and reply "yes" to every invitation.  I will finish every half-written story I've ever started, I will expand my vocabulary and stop using so many fuckwords.  I will forgive my mother.  I will call my father.  I will I will I will I will."

And I believe it.  Even the ridiculous.  Even the impossible.
Even knowing that it's a temporary and probably "unhealthy" chemical balance causing me to think and feel these things, doesn't dull the brilliant sparkle inside me that's surely radiating from every pore for all to see.

I don't know which is harder to tolerate; me as a dark wad of a person at the bottom of the pit, or me as the hyper-elated crazy lady who's practically an orgasm of emotions.

Eventually, it will settle again, and a kind of quiet peace will take over.  I think that's the best part.  Sometimes I think it's worth the violent despair I have to endure to get to that point.  Sometimes...

I won't medicate.  Not conventionally.  I have tried it, and I know it's not for me.  Most of my teen years are irretrievably hidden under a fog of Lithium and Depakote and Prozac.  Not only do those things fail to "heal" me, but they rob me of the beautiful euphoria that follows the dark phase.  They rob me of everything, actually; of happiness and compassion and orgasms and desires and appetite for life and want for death.  They leave me stale and empty, like a gutted carcass left to bloat and stink in the summer sun.  They leave me malleable and compliant, willing to be or do as requested, in a vain attempt to be something.  Even if it's for someone else.  It isn't for me.  

And so, I find my own ways to medicate, to suture, and to survive until I can climb back out of the pit, and into the dazzling spray of light waiting for me on the outside.

Today, I am outside.  I feel the molecules of everything on the planet against my skin.  I literally tremble with goodness and happiness and lightness, and if I don't hold onto something, I know I will fly away.
Even knowing that it won't last doesn't dull the glorious light tearing thru me right this very minute.
I am unwell.  And it's beautiful.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Further Adventures of Alice and Ophelia

It started with a chili dog.
I don't eat chili dogs.  Partly because of migraine-y reasons, and partly because, gross.  Hot dogs are made of hair and wood and the skin of circumcised baby boys.  And bum.  And sick.

But I ate it.  I slathered that skinny, weird food-type product in generic canned chili, shredded cheese, enough mustard to cause an ulcer, and I salted the whole thing like I was preserving it for the winter.  It was terrible.  And glorious.  I haven't eaten anything so sinful and amazing in months, and it was all I could do not to stick my whole face in it, and wallow like David Hasselhoff in a cheeseburger factory.  

And then I realized what I had done.  

"I should go sit on the front porch, and think about what I've done."
So I did.

Our yard is, well, the only way to say it is to say that we're "that" yard.  Our grass is always overgrown.  Always.  And because one of us is a militant tree-hugger, we're not allowed to use chemical lawn sprays.  And you shouldn't either.  But that's not the point.  The point is that the dandelions in our yard are plentiful, and they are hardy.  And they are approximately a foot tall.  

No, for real.  

And there is nothing more fantastic to do with a dandelion, than to take it's firm, cool stalk, and split it into two sproingy, cool curlicues, perfect for slapping an unsuspecting bystander.
Well, you can eat them, but this blog isn't about why you shouldn't poison off all those wonderful, edible, medicinal, curlicue-able wonderplants in your own yard...

This blog is about me, sitting on the front porch, fat-full of gross chili dog, splitting dandelion stalks with my daughter.
Or at least that's how it starts.

She produced a frisbee.  Well, I mean she found one.  She didn't pull it out of her ear or conjure it up from Hades or something.  She found a frisbee, and she challenged my honor with a firm frisbee-slap to the arm fat.


Thus began an hour-long frisbee-slap, dandelion-slap fight.  With British accents, because, well I'm pretty sure you have to when it's a duel.

Somewhere along the way, I got totally "into it."  If you've got kids, you know what I mean.  If you don't, it's pretty much like forgetting that you're a grown up, and regressing into some sort of enormous adult-sized child-beast as you play with your kids.


In my defense, she did throw like a fanny, and it's high time someone told her.

For the next hour, Alice and Ophelia chased, insulted, and violently assaulted one another with giant dandelions, sending clouds of white fur into the air, and causing passers by to double-take.  

Is that fat girl running?  After that little girl?  Did she just slap that little girl with weeds???  

I may, or may not have become so engrossed in our weird game of tag, that I ran until my baggy laundry-day underpants made a less-than-graceful descent beneath my sweat pants.  Note to self...purchase new underpants.

And I'm not saying I tackled her, but I did manage to get that frisbee from her, and immediately declared victory over her entire pitiful kingdom, and loudly decreed that "ANYONE FURTHER DARING TO ASSAULT MY PERSON SHALL BE IMMEDIATELY AND MERCILESSLY EXECUTED BY DRAGON-FIRE!"

She reacted by flinging an armful of dandelions in my direction, and collapsing into hysterics.

Then we found horse shit.
Then we found cat shit.
Then we giggled over all the shit we found.
Then she put an "old lady" spell on me.
Then I had the bright idea that we should wander to the park next door, which now contained a selection of six or seven people who kept taking cautious glances in our direction, as we grew louder, weirder, and more British.

She thought she needed roller skates to go to the park, which turned out to be the most absurd, awkward and painful "walk" thru the park ever.  She's pretty adept at carpet-skating, but on a hard surface she's about as nimble as a newborn giraffe.  Legs in every direction, squealing, stumbling and giggling, and both of us with wet bottoms from rolling in the grass, dandelion fuzz in our hair, and covered in dirt.

"SHH!  Don't let the humans get suspicious!  If they find out we're aliens from the Klutz Galaxy, they'll chop us up and stick us in jaaaars!"

"Mom.  We are not aliens.  Act right."

Apparently the game was over.

We stopped to take off her skates, and started toward our house breathless and exhausted.
"Mom, that was the funnest day ever."
Yeah, it kind of was.  
Alice and Ophelia had a much-needed play together, after far too long without.  
I immediately retreated to my bedroom to remove my bra, and dump out about four thousand little dandelion seeds.  I have also since discovered that I sprained an ankle, and that I'm pretty sure I actually injured a bicep throwing that fucking frisbee.  Rockstar.  

There really isn't a point to this whole thing.  I just want to brag about the fact that I can play British dandelion war with the best of them.  And that my daughter throws like a fanny.  

You play ball like a GIRL!  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gorilla Pits!

There are some fuckwords in today's post.  And some asshole punches.  And lots of creepy information about the current state of affairs in my armpits.  If you don't like swearing, or the armpits of a fat girl, you should skip today's post, and have a read of something a little less unsettling.  Here's one about my embarrassing indifference to all things "Star Wars."  

If you're still here, here's the fucky, armpitty post as promised.  Enjoy.

It's an ongoing balancing act between wanting to be conventionally pretty, and acceptable by society's (ridiculous) standards, and wanting to embrace my nature-made flesh-vehicle, hairs, cellulite and all.  It's a total crapshoot what I will look like on any given day, depending upon whether I've been gung-ho on self maintenance, shaving, and styling, or whether I've grown into a human azalea bush in an effort to "damn the man," and embrace all my hairy parts.

This afternoon, you will quite literally find me somewhere in between.

Because I somehow managed to shave only one armpit during my last "full body" shave.
How does that even...

One baby-smooth pit, and one middle-aged-man pit.
One barren desert pit, and one humid jungle pit.
One of these, 
Don't you want to touch my warm fleshy goodness?  

And one of these, 


I am somewhere between a warm, demure hairless kitten, and a sarcastic, impatient gorilla.  

This is actually the perfect metaphor for my personality, I guess.  

One part "let's all get in a snuggly circle and hold hands, so the love can flow freely thru our souls!" 



A little, "we should start a neighborhood make-out day, so we can all get together and show our love for one another as tender little human bean-things!"


And let's not forget the "oh, she's sick, the poor thing.  Let's meditate upon her wellness, and send our positive vibrations and telepathic hugs so she'll recover quickly!"  

VS. the


I need to leave one armpit permanently beastly, as a gentle reminder to myself to calm the fuck down, and remember that it's a big world, full of big personalities, and big ideas.   Even wrong ones.  And getting fired up and angry about someone else being at a different point in their journey is as ineffective as shaving that hairy pit in an effort to calm humanity.

Of course, if the whole world bursts into war and flames and horror tomorrow, you have my full permission to blame my dreadlock armpits.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Adventures in Homeschool!

Ok, so it's not exactly an "adventure," really.

But so far, our decision to homeschool still feels like a great one.

Firstly, having both kids home all day long, instead of having them be gone for nine hours every day, has made great changes in the way we relate to each other.  The "shortness" and irritability seems to have vanished nearly completely.   Of course we still have moments where we'd rather drink bleach than spend one more minute looking at stupid mom's stupid ugly face, gawd.

Mom you are a freakin' idiot gosh!  
But those moments are rare, rather than being nearly every day.  A "bad" day at school for a teenager quickly becomes a monumentally shitty evening for the entire family.
We spend more time together than we ever have.  And not simply because we *have* to.  But because we enjoy each other's company.  I sincerely thought something was wrong with me as a mother, because spending extended periods of time with the kids on weekends and in the summer felt like a chore, rather than something to be enjoyed.  We all brought our funky attitudes, and made it nearly impossible to enjoy one another.  Embarrassing, and sad, but true.  It sucked.
Now that we're together every day, learning together, we're more supportive, more patient, and kinder to each other.   God, we needed that.

At the beginning of our "adventure," I kept hearing that learning happens naturally; that kids want to know, and they want to learn, and they want information.
I was skeptical.
And so, in order to avoid letting my helpless babies lead themselves into a life of ignorance and mouth-breathing stupidity, I set out trying to teach them much in the same way they learned at school.
"Here's this worksheet, and you need to do it whether you like it or not, because I need evidence that you're learning, and not just fucking around on the Xbox all day long."


And they did what they were asked.  But it didn't feel like "learning."  It didn't feel productive.  It didn't feel good...
So I backed off a bit.  I let things become much less structured.  I stopped trying to "make" them learn.

And suddenly, my daughter began to display an amazing curiosity.  She wants to be a part of preparing every meal, from start to finish.  She wants to learn how we cook certain things, and why we cook them that way.  She wants to learn.

And in between all the moments we've spent cooking, she's asked me so many questions.

"Why is it called a 'dragonfly?'"
"Is the mayor part of the government?"
"Why can't everyone get married to the person they love?"
"Where is Bangladesh?"  

It's as if her little brain is overwhelmed with all the things she wants to know, and she's only just realizing it.  It's as if she was so scheduled and so focused on learning what they wanted her to regurgitate for her standardized testing, that she didn't have any time to discover what she's really curious about.  And because her curiosities are so fast, and so never-ending, I'm forced to learn along with her.  I'm forced to seek out knowledge right along side her, and I find that she teaches me.

With our son, the changes are more subtle.  While he hasn't begun to dig into all the knowledge in the universe, he's showing a greater interest in documentary films, and he actually pays attention when his dad and I are geeking out on The Discovery Channel.  He comes up with questions, and "what-ifs," and has begun thinking critically about what he sees, rather than just accepting it at face value.   He is also a complete 180 from the scowling, brooding person he was before.  I have no doubt that the "drama" of high school occupied so much more of his brain than the education of high school.  He has also spent more time with his friends.  Because he doesn't spend 8 hours a day throwing spit wads with them, and having fart contests, he now makes a greater effort to nurture those relationships outside of school.  I think it's great.  And I like having his friends over, much to my own surprise.

We have yet to find a homeschool group to meet with regularly.  It's pretty much impossible at this point, since we still only have one car, and Dad needs it to get to work every afternoon.  But he is in the process of getting his truck running, so that will open the door for us to get out of the house, and go make new friends!  

I've had days where I've been overwhelmed and frustrated, feeling totally inadequate, and certain that I'm going to raise the two stupidest kids in the entire universe.  I suppose that's probably a normal fear, and one that I'll continually have to work to overcome.  But the decision, on the whole feels like a good one.  *snicker*

The pros still outweigh the cons, and watching them become interested in learning, and learning who they are in the process is a gift I will never want to give up.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Not-So-Amazing Moments in Parenting.

It's so easy to appear to be a "good" parent.

Posting pictures of smiling faces, engaging in enriching activities, and fooling everyone into thinking you're the most perfect, most loving, most amazing parent ever in the history of parenting.

Several times in the past, I've had moments of weakness and frustration, and have confided in my friends about my perceived failures as a loving, adoring mother.
Their reply is always the same.  In one way or another, they reassure me that I'm a "good" mother, and that I'm doing an amazing job with the kids.

I agree.
To a point...

Like nearly every other mother in the world, I am sure I love my kids beyond what anyone else could even fathom.  Even when wading thru shit and vomit, there isn't even the slightest waver in my adoration of them.

They're my babies, and I love them so much I could just squish them.
And we do our best to be predictable and reliable with our discipline, while still making sure they know they're always loved.   Loved, even at their most unlovable.  Even thru their rolling eyes, their disgusting rooms, and their terrible hygienic habits, we love them irrevocably.
And they know that.

In that regard, I think we fall into the category of "good" parents.

However, there are moments that we don't share.  Moments that I think we would be better off sharing.  All of us.  Because nothing sucks more than believing you're not as "good" at being a parent as the rest of your friends.  Nothing sucks more than believing that despite your best efforts, you're fucking up your kids on a grand scale, because of all those funny little things that happen in between the "good" moments.

In the spirit of honesty, and parental camaraderie, here are a few of our more embarrassing, real, and "bad" parenting moments.  

Yeah.  Here they are.  

Gonna type 'em.  Riiiiight now.

Taking a pretty big leap to the assumption that I'm not alone in this...

"Bad" parent moment #1

Bitching at your kids for dropping cereal all over the floor, and leaving it.
Promptly dropping cereal all over the floor, looking around in all directions, and kicking it under the fridge.  That was me.

"Bad" parent moment #2

Revoking all TV privileges for the rest of the afternoon, simply so I don't have to hear the sound of the Phineus and Pherb theme song for one more god-forsaken second.    That was me, too.

"Bad" parent moment #3

"NO, you may not have cake.  NO MORE JUNK FOOD today.  Too much junk food is bad for you."
Followed by a sneaky midnight visit to the kitchen, to eat the cake I told them they couldn't have.  For the sake of their health and safety.
Goddammit, that was me, too.

"Bad" parent moment #4

"That does it!  Early bedtimes for everyone!"
When I just want a moment to myself, for fucksake.
These are all me.  This is becoming an embarrassment...

"Bad" parent moment #5

"Your grandma is coming.  Make sure your rooms are sparkling!"
Meanwhile, I ignore my own room, and opt instead to just keep the door closed while she's here.
In my defense, I'm usually so exhausted from scrubbing the other 95% of the house, that the cleanliness of my own bedroom can suck my balls.

"Bad" parent moment #6

"Don't listen to what that mean kid at school said.  Her mother is an alcoholic barfly."
Not my finest hour.  But dammit, if she raised her kids not to be assholes, I wouldn't have to comfort my kid after hers went out of her way to break his fragile heart.

"Bad" parent moment #7

Shushing the beautiful, yet constant singing of your sweet daughter.
Seriously.  She's got an adorable little voice, complete with vibrato and accurate pitch.  And she loves to hear herself.  At great length.  All.  The.  Time.
And I'm not proud of it, but sometimes, I just need her to shut the fuck up.  A lot.  No, really.
Even knowing that I will miss her little voice constantly filling the air with music, I still need her to quit it sometimes.  Because, damn.

"Bad" parent moment #8

Shouting the shortened "STFU" instead of actually saying, "yo!  Shut the fuck up!"  Because, well, that's rude.  However, we've used the relatively PG rated "STFU" so often that we've had to explain what it meant.  Although, when you really think about it, knowing what "STFU" stands for is better than not knowing, right?  Education, yo.

"Bad" parent moment #9

(God.  This is turning out to be a much larger list than I anticipated...)
Sending both kids to their rooms for an argument that was pretty one sided, simply because I want them to STFU already!
Honestly.  Does every pair of siblings argue this way?  Sometimes it's literally over the sound of the other breathing.  They fight over an involuntary bodily function that's fucking necessary for being alive.  I mean, stick a fork in me.

"Bad" parent moment #10

We argue in front of them.
I mean, it's rare that we ever get into those really awful arguments that everyone has, but no one admits.  And if we do that, we take it to our room.
But for every-day skirmishes, we air all our business right in front of our poor babies.
In our defense, if we fight in front of them, we apologize and make up in front of them.  If they're there for the carnage, they ought at least be present for the stitches.

"Bad" parent moment #11

Hoping like hell that your kid acts up, talks back, destroys room, etc., simply so you can ground them, instead of letting them go do the terrifying, yet totally reasonable right-of-passage type thing they want to do.
Seriously.  Every time my son wants to go out with his friends, in their car, that they will be driving, I silently hope he behaves like a douchebag before the event arrives, so I don't have to let him out of my sight.  Ugh.

Somebody tell me we're not alone.
Somebody reassure me that we're not raising serial killers, and that they won't have to spend thousands of dollars in therapy trying to undo the damage we've done to their fragile little brains.
Somebody tell me you, too, keep a stash of secret cookies in your room, for the sole purpose of not sharing them with your kids.
Fuck.  I guess that should have been "bad" parent moment number 12...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why today sucks, and requires *this* many swear words.

It's not a good day.

It's not even a bad day.

As a matter of fact, fuck this whole day.  In the ear.

It started off with a general grumpiness that wafted its way thru our entire family.
Both kids argued over video games.  Dad argued over video games.  Everyone wanted to play, and no one wanted to share.

Then it escalated when it was time for Dad to leave for work, and for the kids and I to start our school time.  We usually watch an hour-long video about frontier living, move on to journals, and then the little one does a few various worksheets while her brother does his GED courses online.

Today's schooling, however, was met with loud, exasperated sighs, and rolling eyes.  They sat watching the video as if I were making them watch someone simultaneously giving birth and eating warm dog shit.  Their disgust was immediate, and they wanted me to know it.  The little one even went so far as to hide her entire body under a stuffed animal, to show me just how much she was NOT watching that goddamned video.   Behold their amazing display below...

Oh my gawd, mawm, this is stupid.  Let me show
you what I mean by way of my facial expression!

Finally, I put an end to it, and told them to "just do what you want for a while," and we all went to our separate corners.
Well, I went to my separate corner.  They plopped down on the couch like the boneless fat people from Wall-E, and proceeded to play an hour of Minecraft.
Highly productive, successful homeschool.

My son had previously asked about having a friend over later, and I told him we'd "see how the day goes."  He must have remembered that statement, because I heard him start prompting his sister to start her journal assignment, and he began cleaning the kitchen top to bottom without being asked first.
I don't know of any teenager who does things like that without being asked first...

Sure enough,
"Hey, Mawm.  Can I see about going out with my friend tonight?"

I'm sure my raised eyebrows were enough of an answer, but instead I replied with a short and to-the-point "no way.  We weren't able to do school today, so there will be no running around and visiting."

Why, such an accusation!  He looked at me as if I were drunk and proclaimed his innocence over the lack of school, insisting that it was his sister, and not he, who behaved like a hyperventilating heathen when we tried to watch our video.

Of course he didn't like my sticking to my "no," which I still don't understand.  These kids have known me long enough to know that if my "no" is going to change to a "yes," it does so immediately, and continuing to harp on the subject will result in nobody getting anything they've asked for.  Dammit.

Then he called his grandmother to ask if they could sleep over.  Because everyone knows that if Mom sucks, Grandma is the anti-suck.  He sat there on the phone with his arms folded, speaking to his Granny.
"Ooohhh, nothing," he said, "just been sittin' around playing video games all day."

REALLY?  Because it's not bad enough that people think homeschooling is a crazy, lazy, tin-foil-hat thing that weird people do with their kids.  You have to go and reassure your grandma that we're pretty much sitting around on our stupid asses all day, hooked up to the stupid-box, and ensuring a lifetime of drooling idiocy.  Thanks, kid.

And then, the final slap-in-the-face.

Brooding, huffy teenager comes into the room where I am, and begins wandering around aimlessly.  A sure sign that he's about to say something he knows is monumentally offensive, and will probably warrant another week's worth of grounding.

"Hey...Mawm?  What would we have to do to get me back into public school?"

I don't have a clever picture to put here, but you probably heard the sound of my fucking head exploding from your house.

After all the stupid nonsense and drama we went thru in making the decision to homeschool...after planning field trips and fun family outings, and ensuring him that this meant we trusted him enough to take it seriously, this little ingrate wants to drop this steaming turd of a question in my lap.

He didn't like my response, (which consisted of me glaring, and saying "leave this room right now.")  He vanished into the recesses of his bedroom, I'm assuming to write me a lovely "thank-you" note for all my hard work in raising him for the past sixteen years.

I did take a cue, however, from his half-truth confessional to his grandmother.  I immediately turned off the TV for the rest of the day, and declared it to be "reading time" all around.   The little one went off to her room to choose a book, and I selected one from our bookshelf for the big one.  Upon handing him said book, he immediately rolled his eyes, head, and body in a dazzling display of teenage angst, and took the book out of my hands as if it weighed 500 pounds.

(The Hardy Boys, by the way.  It's a goddamn paperback that he could probably read in less than a day.)

So here is my salute to today, this bastard fuckface of a day.  This nails-on-a-chalkboard, shit-splatter of a horrendous day.   
Go eff yourself, Today.  With a fork.  In the neck.  Because you suck.  

Now the rationality.
Teenagers are selfish.  And mean.  And purposely cruel to their frazzled parents.  Even the good ones.
I have a good one.  I know I do.  And I'll do well to remember that the next time I see some horror show on the news, about some lunatic kid who lights kittens on fire, or throws his whole family irretrievably down a well.  
He's a good kid.
He's just a teenager.  And therefore, he is an enormous asshole sometimes.

Like, say, today for example.  *grumble*  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Expectation vs. Reality

My circle of friends and family is filled with culinary artists.  People who take ordinary food, and morph into amazing displays of cuisine fit for a king.

And then there's me...
Gordon Ramsey would have me caned to death, if he ever set foot in my kitchen.  It's bad.  There are literally scorch marks on my wall behind the stove, because I apparently don't have the necessary cooking skills required to avoid catastrophe.  Nobody has yet perished from my glorious lack of culinary ability, but that may indeed be due to the fact that I don't make it a habit of cooking for other people.  When it's time for a large family potluck, I'm always the "mashed potatoes" person.  I'm told it's because I make good ones.  I believe it's because nobody is brave enough to eat anything else I make.  And rightly so.

I came across a recipe on my newsfeed.  Something sweet and sinful, and something requiring ingredients that we regularly keep in the house in plentiful supply. 

Chocolate cobbler:
Great for any chocolate fix

2 stk butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c milk
1 c sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 c boiling water


1 Preheat oven to 350. In a 9x13 glass baking dish, melt the two sticks of butter in the oven.

2 Meanwhile in a bowl, mix together the 1 1/4cups of sugar, flour, vanilla and milk. Once the butter is melted pour the batter over the butter, but do not stir.

3 In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa and remaining sugar.

4 Sprinkle cocoa/sugar mixture on top of batter. Do not stir.

5 Pour the 2 cups of boiling water on top of that (don't stir) and bake for 30-45 minutes. I bake mine until I have a nice golden brown crust. In my oven this usually take about 35 minutes. Serve warm. Great with ice cream

Don't I look fucking delicious for such a seemingly simple, albeit weird recipe?  

Ok, so the boiling water was weird.  I've never come across something like that before.  But what do I know?

Upon mixing everything, we (yeah, we...he least I don't have to take the blame for the whole thing...) we realized that the dough was looking a little thick-ish.  Seems weird.  But what do I know?
We "poured" to the best of our ability, and ended up with several large lumps of what looked like paper mache.  Then we covered the whole thing in cocoa and sugar, and pondered whether or not we were indeed in the midst of a practical joke.  

Forty minutes later...

"This doesn't look like the picture..."  

It looks like one of the first few horrifying diapers we changed when the teenager was a newborn...weird, watery, and in no way resembling something you're aching to put in your mouth.

The good news is, the taste is much more appealing than a watery infant shit.
If you can get past the strange, half-liquid consistency, it's pretty awesome over ice cream.

Google and good friends have since informed me that you can make due with all purpose flour by making a few simple adjustments.
But until then, I'll just eat this runny chocolate gruel.  Nom.

Give it a try, and let me know how it turns out when prepared in the kitchen of someone who knows what the hell they're doing!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kid-sick, and the turd incident.

Kid-sick.  It's different from grown-up-sick.

A terror that lurks just under the surface of the put-together facade of every parent.

Today, the youngest kid is sick.
She started off this morning, lazy and whining, running the smallest fever.
A little peppermint oil on the soles of her feet, and all was well.

For a while.

When her fever returned, she got lazier and whinier, and decided to take herself to bed to rest.  She stayed there for several hours, sipping water, and barely moving.  I moved our vaporizer to her room, and diffused some oils of lemongrass, eucalyptus, and cinnamon bark, to help with her aches and pains, stuffiness and general gross feeling.
She fell fast asleep, and I relaxed, settling into the big chair to watch Wayne's World with my son and his friend.

And then I heard it...

It sounded sort of like a distressed "MOM" and a drowning gurgle.


I raced to the back of the house to find her looking panicked and green, and shouted "GET TO THE BATHROOM, QUICK!"

Then I saw it.  Everywhere.  On the floor.  On her blankets.  On her books.  On her.  Dripping out of her hair, her nose, off of her hands.

Hurk, again.


So, we made the long treck to the bathroom together, her leaving a slimy trail of vomit the whole way.  We blew her nose and ran a bath.
I stepped in her vomit.

HURK, you guys.

At that point, the smell hit me, and I did my best to hide my complete and utter disgust, because I didn't want her to feel any worse than she already did.  But, vomit.  Vomit everywhere, and now, vomit on my feet.  My sock feet.

She soaked in the bath, and I made seven hundred trips between the kitchen and the vomitorium, er, her bedroom, carrying piles of blankets to the laundry room, gathering up various sprays and rags, wiping down every conceivable surface, mopping up her mattress, and trying to make this newly-created cesspool of a bedroom into a sanitary space again.

"Mom, I am so sorry," she moaned from the bath.
"Honey, it's not your fault.  You couldn't help that you threw up while you were sleeping...were you sleeping?"

"No...I was awake.  I just didn't want to get up."

" knew you were going to get sick, and you still didn't get up?"

"Yeah.  I'm so sorry, Mommy!"

Jay-zuss, Mary and Jose.  The entire back of my house is covered in vomit, smells like a public toilet, and I have another person's puke on my sock feet.  

"Honey...when you know you are going to vomit, get to the toilet.  I will come and help you, but get to the toilet.  You can't just throw up like that.  Now your sick germs are everywhere.  And they are on my feet.  Ok?"


Nearly done with the de-vomitization of her bedroom, I got some fresh sheets to make her bed.  And that's when I

It was brown.  And smushy.  And kind of wet in the middle...
And it smelled like poop.  Yeah.  I smelled it.  With my nose.


"Sister.  Is this POOP?!"  

It was poop.  Poop, mashed into her mattress.  Actual poop, you guys.

"Oh my god.  Why is there poop?!"

She explained, "I'm sorry, Mom.  I thought it was a fart."


So, I'm done.
The vomit is clean, the poop is clean, the child is clean.
The mattress is going out the door as soon as the Mr. gets home from work, and if I am able to restrain myself, I won't set it on fire.  Maybe.

The good news is, the sick kid is back in bed, clean and resting, and feeling just enough guilt that I know she won't purposely barf and shit everywhere next time.

And I am done in time for the Alice Cooper scene in Wayne's World.
Which is perfect, because I'm finished thinking like a grown up for the day.  


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"I don't know what to do, and I need someone to help me."

"I don't know what to do, and I need someone to help me."

Seems like a simple thing to say.  Seems like a very straight-forward, to-the-point declaration, which one should rightfully assume would lead to actions.  Specific verbs, in a specific and logical order, meant to assist the asker.

Attach this sentence to something as abstract as mental illness, and the result is anything but helpful.


These are the things that typically await a mentally ill person, when they finally reach the point that they know they need to ask for help.

I can remember crying, in a ball on the couch, begging my mother to help me.  Telling her very specifically that I was planning to harm myself, and telling her very specifically that if someone didn't step in to help me that I was "going to die..."
She stormed out of the room madder than I had ever seen her.
My loving and wonderful stepfather at the time stood over me and looked at me with disgust.
"You are SUCH a brat.  And a huge burden on your mother."  And he left.
They all left.  And I sat there, desperate, wishing I could consciously force myself to burst into flames, and swallow our whole wretched household in flames.

I wound up in the hospital several months later, after my despair reached such a boiling point that I took a knife to school and threatened a boy.
I'm sorry.  And I'm embarrassed.
After I returned to school, I made amends.  I apologized to the boy, and we smoothed everything over.  We made jokes about it until it sort of faded into the background amid all the pregnancy rumors, the guesses about who was sleeping with whom, and whether or not this teacher or that teacher was gay/alcoholic/perverted...
And things got back to normal for the rest of the world.

Things never got back to normal for me.  I was embarrassed.  I am embarrassed.  And I am sorry. And I'm embarrassed again.
I don't think anyone understands that I never wanted to hurt anyone.  I never wanted to hurt that boy.  When I cut myself so badly that I left myself with scars that I must explain still to this day, I never truly wanted to hurt myself.  Really.

I wanted someone to see.  I wanted someone to notice that things weren't "right" and I wanted someone to reach out their hand in concern.  I wanted someone to help me.

No one did.

Of course, it's my own responsibility.  It's my own battle, and I am a grown up, who should damn well take the steps needed to receive help, if help is indeed what I want.

I know that.

I would venture to guess that most "unstable" people know that.

But tackling that seemingly impossible mountain when you feel utterly deserted by those you love...when you feel so alienated by your weirdness that losing those people is a legitimate fear...

It's enough to take your breath away.

Asking for help, while it seems like such a small thing, is really so frightening that words don't do it justice.

Because saying "I am afraid I will hurt myself," or "I think I might be suicidal," is hard enough in itself, without the added fear that such a disclosure will lead to ridicule.  Or blame.  Or anger.  

Even hinting at such a thing seems to bring out the worst in people.   Even as recently as my last hospitalization nine years ago, terrible comments were made about me, by people very close to me.  "So, is she just fucking losing it, or what?"
This is not sympathy.  This is not helpful.  This is not at all an acceptable way to assist a person in the throes of a mental health episode.  It's damaging.  And it's an enormous, ugly member of the group of reasons that people hesitate to ask for help.

My dad killed himself last year.

That sentence just hangs there, being unpleasant.  Like an old fly strip covered in bugs and dust, that no one's bothered to remove, despite how offensive it's become.
Whether or not he's my "dad" remains an awkward topic for me, because according to DNA, he isn't.  He wasn't.   He never was.  But for the first 8 or 10 years of my life, he was my daddy, and that was fact.  I eventually learned otherwise, but it didn't change my feelings for him.

He chose Father's Day weekend to drive far away from his house, and take his own life.  No one knows why.

There was shock.  There was disbelief.  There was confusion.  Typical emotions that a person would expect to arise out of a situation like this.

And there was this other part of me that wanted to question why he never asked for help...and an even bigger part of me that already knows why.

What if we were belittled and shamed for seeking out chemotherapy for our cancers?
What if we were greeted with anger when we showed up in emergency rooms in need of stitches?
What if we were met with rolling eyes and loud, exasperated sighs when we sought treatment for our broken bones?

Why do we accept it as the norm for people seeking help for mental illness?

Why wasn't my mother able to scoop me up in her arms, kiss my head, and tell me everything would be ok, and that she would do everything she could to help me?

Why wasn't my step father able to reassure me, and promise me they'd stick by my side until I was better?

Why wasn't my dad able to reach out and tell us how he was feeling, and just ask us to help him?

Because there is shame attached to mental illness.
We are conditioned to feel shame about our condition, and our loved ones are conditioned to feel ashamed of us.
We are asked to believe that these problems are weakness of character.  We are asked to believe that we are spoiled, seeking attention, or otherwise just socially inappropriate, and that such things should be swept under the rug and hidden.

So we go about our days, driving to work, folding our laundry, shopping for our groceries, and pretending that everything is fine, so we don't upset the natural order of things.  So we don't make the people around us uncomfortable with all of our icky feelings.

I would give everything I have just to be a "normal" person with "normal" emotions.  I would never choose this for myself, nor would I choose it for anyone I love.  Or even liked a little.  Or anyone at all, for that matter.  I would love to be ordinary and boring and firmly gripped inside a "normal" reality, rather than constantly riding this never-ending roller-coaster of emotions.  I would give everything just to be "right."

And I can't.
No matter how hard I wish.  I just can't.

Being expected to feel such an ugly shame about it, just magnifies the terrible despair that already drags me so deeply down into the pit.  Repair for my broken brain feels like it might be impossible.  And with no support, nowhere to really be accepted for what I am, and being treated as a selfish, broken person, I know it is.

This has to change.  Mentally ill people are everywhere, to varying degrees.  Some of us get sad now and then for no reason.  Some of us go on shooting sprees in elementary schools.  Most of us hover somewhere around the middle of the two extremes.  But we are all hurting.  We are all in need.  And we are never going to heal if things remain unchanged.

I suppose there is no easy answer.  If there is, I don't know what it is.  I just know that it has to change.  We need each other.  We need love, and reassurance.  We need to feel safe.  We need to feel as though we are valuable, and important.  All of us.  Every last soul on the planet.  We need acceptance.  And love.  We need each other.

People's lives are literally depending on it...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scolded in the Name of the Lord.

I call it being "God scolded."

It's happened to me on more than one occasion.  I make a seemingly innocuous comment about the current state of affairs, my personal feelings on a certain subject, or my point of view in general, and I think I've made the point without being offensive or combative, when suddenly I find myself in the middle of what feels like an actual scolding from someone who seems very angry that I don't share their beliefs about God.  God scolded.
Normally there are bible passages thrown in for good measure, and, since most of my conversations these days take place in text, MANY words are CAPITALIZED so that I KNOW the person is UPSET, or at least in irritable disagreement with my statement.
I have a pretty large grouping of religious followers in my immediate circle, varying in degree from  "yeah, I go to church sometimes" to "I'M A GOD WARRIOR!"  And most of the time, it's surprisingly easy to find my place amongst them without feeling the kind of weird isolation that tends to creep in when you know you're amongst people who think your views are plain fucking weird.
Peace.  And love.  And humility.  And respect for every thing, and every one.  A person would think those are the ideals any reasonable God-follower would appreciate.  A person would think that my constant attempts to keep those ideals close to my heart and on display within my behavior, would earn me at the very least, their appreciation for my desire to be "good."
And mostly, it is.  I know deeply religious people who are amazing in their compassion and nurturing of me.  People who embody to the very best of their ability what it means to be Christlike.  People who see me stumble, and fail, who see me spit and swear, who see me on a daily basis maintain my firm stance in my very *very* different spiritual beliefs, and who still reach out to me in genuine friendship.
Very, very good people.

But sometimes...

And I am normally left wondering, "why is this person so mad?"

And then I remember.  I was mad that way once, too.

I grew up going to church.  At least occasionally.  As a wee one, my mother sent me off to the big red building on the hill every Sunday with our neighbors.  I was dressed in frills, and squeezing a handful of quarters for the collection plate.  I sat kicking my buckled shoes against the pew in front of me until it was time to join the other frilly kids for Sunday school in the back of the building.  I remember doing crafts.  I remember talking about the bible.  I remember being fucking terrified.  The idea of an eternal lake of fire and torment forever and ever was so frightening and impossible that I couldn't even deal with it.  And I just knew there was no way I would ever be good enough not to be sent there.  Oh sure, they comforted us with the whole "just ask forgiveness and accept Jesus in your heart, and you'll go to Heaven."
But what if I die suddenly on the way home?
What if I back-talk my mom, and then I suddenly drop dead of a freak heart attack?
What if I lose my memory and forget all about God and Heaven and forgiveness, and then I'm mauled by a lion?  IT COULD HAPPEN.
For a totally neurotic five-year-old, this was disturbingly scary.  I walked around with a sort of constant "sorry, God!  Jesus in my heart, really" echoing thru my brain, in an effort to ensure I didn't die a sinner.

As a teenager, my mother dragged us out of bed on Sundays and carted us off to another church.  It was lovely and adorable, and I had the snuggliest, warmest feelings for our grandfatherly preacher.  I loved his frailness beneath his robes.  I loved his warm, bony hand on my shoulder telling me how happy he was that I'd come.  I loved the genuine care behind his slowly weakening eyes.  I loved the way he'd stop in the middle of a sermon, to profess his happiness at the smiling eyes of his "little song bird" looking back at him.
I loved his sweet wife, who would sit behind me every Sunday, and sometimes pass me notes, asking me if I wanted a "small pillow" from the nursery for my newly broken back.  God, they were such adorable people.  And I loved them.
I loved singing in the choir.  I loved the fawning adoration from all the old ladies who ooo-ed and ahh-ed over my "god given" talent.  I loved looking out at the smiling faces when I sang for the congregation.  I felt welcomed and loved.
And amidst all that welcoming love, I felt like a liar.
Because I had sex with my boyfriend.
Because I was still somewhat unsure of my own sexuality, and I might be one of those hellbound homosexuals.
Because I smoked and swore, and I didn't pray.  Well, not in the way I was "supposed" to pray.
And because I began to have sincere doubts.  About all of it.

And I was scared.  Sure, I could smile and pretend and project purity for my church family to see, for my sweet preacher to see.  I could sing praises to the lord and keep the lot of them from seeing what I was truly feeling underneath my prayers and my proclamations.
But God knew.  I couldn't fool God.

And because of that nearly hysterical fear, I would occasionally find myself on the other side of a God-scolding.  Lashing out with irritation and anger that a person would dare to question the legitimacy or practicality of what I claimed to believe.  Because entertaining their points of view and their suggestions, no matter how reasonable, meant that I would, at least for a second, need to entertain the thought that my idea of god was inaccurate.  It meant admitting to myself that my religious indoctrination might not be all I was supposed to think it was.  That maybe there is another way.  That maybe the bible, and the entire concept of a biblical god wasn't real.

Talk about "holy shit."
I can immediately point to very specific journal entries at the time, that read something like, "WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION MY GOD!?"  Furious, to the point of trembling, that a person would dare offer me a different point of view, and put such doubt and unease inside of my soul?  How dare they ask me to question the very foundation upon which everything I knew about the world was built? How dare they.

My adorable preacher finally passed away, and was replaced by a younger, more progressive guy, and I was totally unable to get the same enjoyment out of church.   Then my wonderful and eye-opening choir directer died, his son filled his position, and I was completely unable to get the same enjoyment out of choir practice.
And then I just stopped going.

And I struggled, wondering why God would allow me to have such horrible doubts, if it meant I were hellbound because of it.  I struggled to accept that my "father" could truly be willing to punish me in torture for eternity, because I might die without being able to say "sorry."  And I finally decided that I was unable to accept the idea that I could behave like a complete asshole my entire life, and just ask for forgiveness when I was dying.

Years and realizations later, and I find myself here.  An unaffiliated heathen, an admitted homosexual, and a spiritual philosophy that asks for love and patience for everyone.  Even the humongous assholes.  Even the man who molested me repeatedly.  Even the murders.  Everyone.

And often I find myself being on the receiving end of a God-scolding.

I'm happy for my own religious experiences, without which I might never have come to any kind of understanding about such a thing.
I'm happy when I am able to step back and see the bigger picture, see growth within myself, and accept all the steps on my journey that have led me here.  I'm happy to know that there is always room for me to improve, and that admitting that doesn't mean I am bad or wrong.
I'm happy for the moments I spent in worship with my sweet preacher, and his adorable little wife.  I'm happy for the moments I spent in songs of praise and happiness.

I am happy and appreciative that I have both points of view, and my own experiences of being a self-appointed God-scolder.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Another post I'll likely write, and never share.

But I want to get it off my chest.  We're poor.
American poor.  Not the kind of poor where we live in a hut and shit in a jar and get water from the same place the local elephants take a dump every morning.
The kind of poor where we live in a house, and struggle every month just to keep it.
The kind of poor where we drive a car, and hope like hell that nothing breaks on it again until we have enough money to put into fixing it.
The kind of poor where we have food, and we eat it, regardless of allergies and migraine triggers, because it's all we can afford.

We'll start with our house.
It's lovely.  It's enormous, and everyone has their own rooms.  There are three separate bathrooms.  Nearly enough for every member of our house to have their own.  There are four bedrooms.  An attached garage.  A full basement.  An acre and a half of land for our very own, right next to the city park.  It's lovely.  I grew up here, and we bought the place from my mother when she moved.
And it's badly in need of repair.  Badly.  The north side of our house might actually fall off one of these days.  Just fall the fuck off.
The roof is in need of repair.  Half of it got repaired when we had storm damage several years ago, and got a little money to fix it.  "We" being my husband, of course, who does all the needed repairs himself to save us some money.  The other half of the roof is the same roof that's been on the house since it was built over 30 years ago.  With shitty materials.  It's due.
Every single window needs to be replaced.  The cold winter wind literally blows thru our house, which raises our utilities every month astronomically.  Handyman Husband puts plastic over them every year, and that helps a little, but not enough to keep our thermostat from struggling thru the night to keep the house at the balmy 68 degrees we're forced to live with, since we can't afford to turn it up.
The garage door needs to be replaced.  It needed badly to be replaced *before* my well-meaning son drove the car thru it.  Now it's just boards, in a last-ditch effort to keep the winter out of our house.  Even still, our bedroom is a good five degrees colder than the rest of the house, because of all the weather that's allowed to get into the garage, and come up thru our bedroom floor.
Those are the biggies.  There are also garbage disposals and sinks that need replacement.  A smashed heating and cooling duct that means no climate control in one of the bedrooms, a very drafty patio door, a 30 year-old deck that might literally crumble to the ground within the next few years...

Handyman Husband works a full time job (just one, at the moment) to support four of us.  Himself, a wife, two children, on a laborer's income.  Luckily, we've got insurance because of that job, and if something drastic happens, we're able to seek medical help...
Provided we have the gas money to fill our broken car to get to the doctor.
And provided it's not the Husband who needs medical help...because he needs to be at work to make money to pay for the gas to get to the doctor...

He is currently at his laborer's job, operating a forklift during a migraine.  Not the kind of migraine where you think " head hurts."  The kind of migraine where you want to curl up into the fetal position and literally die, as you're writhing in unimaginable pain.  The kind of migraine where you can't see, and even in the moments when you can, everything looks disjointed and fucked up.
This has been happening for the last two days.  Because he is the sole income, he is at work right now, dealing with a two-day migraine, and an aura that won't go away.  I am worried sick over him, but the seeking of a medical opinion on the matter is impossible.  Every minute he's away from work is a morsel of food out of our kids' mouths.  Because he has no holiday pay, everything he missed during the holidays was unpaid.  We are so far behind that catching up will take a miracle.  And so, he works.  While he should be at home, resting in the dark so he can get well again, he works.  And his migraine worsens.

Sometimes being very careful with one's diet can help one avoid migraine triggers.  Fresh fruit, veg, minimally processed meats being best.  However, a poor person can't afford those things.  We buy what's on sale.  We buy what's "10 for $10."  We load up on things that will keep us from dying of starvation, and skimp on the oranges and broccoli.  Because of this shitty diet, we get sicker.  Several of our regular dishes are loaded with migraine triggers, and we have no choice but to eat them anyway.  Or go hungry.  So we feed this maddening cycle of sickness, with the shitty, processed, cheap food that we can afford.  Now and then we do spring for a bunch of bananas, or a bag of apples, and they disappear within two days because our kids are so excited to see such delicious things in the house.

My contribution is simple; I have none.
Getting an outside job means getting a second car.  Which we can't afford.
Getting a second car means getting second car insurance.  Which we can't afford.
Getting a second car with second car insurance means getting second tanks of gas.  Which we can not afford.
I also have no education.  None.  Well, as far as the system is concerned.  Being intelligent and self-taught means precisely fuck all when applying for jobs.  Potential employers want to see credentials.  They want to see degrees.  They want to see, at the very least, high school diplomas.  It's my own fault I don't have one.  But the fact remains, I don't have one.
Even if we could get past all of that, and I could get work, the work I could get would be physical, menial labor.  Scrubbing toilets.  Sweeping floors.  Which I am NOT above doing, and which I have done before.  But the pay for these jobs is meager.
The pay for these jobs would not cover the cost of a second vehicle, with its second insurance and its second gas.
And because our house payment is income-based, our mortgage company wants to account for every penny brought into the household, so that they can adjust payment accordingly.  My working means a larger house payment every month.

Factor in my own migraines, my own physical and mental limitations that have the potential to lay me up for several days in a row...let's just say no one is lining up to hire a person like me.

My mental health is severely neglected in the meantime.  We can't afford weekly therapy visits.  We can't afford the drive to weekly therapy visits.  We can't afford the medications or hospitalizations that will be recommended.  So we wait, and try to keep me alive in the meantime.  It's a constant struggle, and a constant mental talk-down that drains everyone.  My outbursts and hysteria sometimes carving out an entire afternoon, with children keeping their distance and a helpless husband grasping at straws to comfort me.

We manage.  We survive.  We scrimp and pinch, and do without.  We've learned to give up the things that aren't absolutely, entirely, and monumentally important.  I no longer use household cleaners, and use baking soda and vinegar instead.  I don't use laundry detergent, and use borax and washing soda instead.  We never buy paper towels or fancy hand soaps, and recently, we've been reusing plastic grocery bags in place of trash bags.  We reuse the same razor hundreds of times after it's painfully dull.  We're out of q-tips, and I doubt if we'll buy more.  When we do splurge on a dinner out or an unplanned "fun" expense, the guilt is so great that it nearly drives you mad.

We have not ordered yearbooks or school pictures in several years.  Which I understand is not a necessity.  But I'm sure we can all agree that it's heartbreaking to let such things pass you by.
We have not purchased new clothes for our children in ages.  Last year, our daughter got several items from a local thrift store, which she loved, but has now outgrown.  We haven't purchased new clothes for our son in over a year.  Thankfully, there are good people in our circle who have given him several pairs of pants and boots, and saved us a fortune that we didn't have to spare.

It's a maddening system, and it seems designed to keep us from getting out of it.  My poor husband will work himself into an early grave, and at the end of it all we will have nothing to show for it.  We will have wasted our entire lives together, just trying to keep the lights on.  We will have wasted our entire marriage wishing we could just be together, during all those moments he's busted his hump in some go-nowhere job.  I miss him so terribly sometimes that I can hardly stand it.  Seeing him walk out the door in physical pain from the light of the day on his face is gut-wrenching.  Knowing he needs to be in bed, being cared for and loved, and is instead bouncing around on a forklift in a noisy loading dock is enough to make me want to rip out the hearts of everyone responsible for this ignorant and failing system.  
Even applying for assistance means jumping thru hoops that we can't afford.  Such as job seminars in the city that we can't afford to drive to.  It means visiting doctors we can't afford, and obtaining medical paperwork (that doctors charge for) to prove my inability to work.

We don't have to walk miles to gather dirty water.
We don't have to eat dirt to stay alive.  Our children's bellies aren't bloated against their bony frames, and they don't go to bed crying from hunger.
So it seems selfish and silly to complain about our constant struggle.  It seems silly to beat myself up when I can't let my growing son have seconds.  It seems silly to complain about missing my husband, when other people would give anything to have such steady work.
I have lights in my house.  I have running water.  I have internet access.  I have more than I deserve.

But it's hard. If you've ever been in the same situation, you know how hard.  And you know the guilt and shame you're asked to feel, for believing it's hard.  Even titling this blog "Poverty" is hard.  It's shameful.
If you haven't been in the same situation, I hope you never are.  Knowing that a person's value and worth don't reside within their incomes, does not stop you from feeling utterly useless.