Monday, August 31, 2009

The Artist's Dilemma

"Conferences are life-changing." That's what my friend Isabella said, when I asked for an idea of what they were like.

"Technically, brushing your teeth changes your life" was Trevor's input as he left the room. He was being dismissive, but he was right: everything you do changes your life. How could it not? I figured that must be what Isabella meant too, that it would change my life in the same way as any other trip to a new place, to do new things with new people. Any change in scenery is good for the soul. But how much change could three days playing Bananagrams in a hotel really bring?

If I didn't give Isabella enough credit, it was only because I had to experience it firsthand to know how right she was. Conferences are life-changing. Short though it was, after the Northeast Unschooling Conference, I will never be the same. Not only did I gain new friends, I also came home with a new mind, new eyes, a new heart. I am changed and still changing, as thoughts and feelings sink in and meld together and connect in new ways.

I want to put the whole conference into words, to capture its essence in a form I can reopen whenever I need a refresher course on love, hope, and joy. But how can I catch the wind? How can I take all the things I feel, all the new ideas, the new perspectives, and parcel them out into individual essays? My feelings are swirled together, freely flowing, and stubbornly wordless. They resist being captured and tagged. All I want to do right now is spend some time getting to know this new heart. It's warmer than the one I left with, and I want to bask in its glow.

And yet, I need a way to share these new ideas with others. This is the dilemma of all artists and writers: how do you give someone a river? If you bottle the water you lose the flow. If you take a picture you lose the sounds, and the smells, and the feel of cool water against your skin. The best you can do is take someone there, but even when this is possible, their eyes are not yours. Maybe they'll focus on slime and snakes instead of trees, rocks and birds. Maybe they won't swim to the same depths or sit on the same bank or feel the same breeze. And mostly it isn't possible anyway. You can't take someone to a memory-place; while a few people may still be at the hotel, the plain fact is that this year's conference is no longer tangible in three dimensions. And those who were there saw through their own eyes, not through mine. Others may echo my experience, but ultimately it is mine alone.

So for a few days I'll jot down some imperfect metaphors, describe some favorite moments, and share some new thoughts in their most verbal and shareable form. Hopefully you'll get an idea of why this experience was so important to me. But I can't give you the feeling that's in my heart right now, nor can I save it as a gift for the person I will be tomorrow. I wish I could, because it's a feeling everyone should have at least once, though it's likely that only a few ever will. So I'd love to bottle this river and send it out to everyone on Earth, to give them each a piece of the joy and the inspiration and the confidence that I feel right now. But I can't do it.

All I can do is write.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

(Wednesday) Thirteen: Travel!

Okay, this is a little early, but that's because I leave tomorrow (housesitting) and don't know how good of a computer I'll have access to/how much I'll feel like being online. So as the official kickoff to all my travels, here's a Thursday Thirteen.

13 Reasons I am super excited about my trip!

Part 1: Boston/Northeast Unschooling Conference

1. This will be my FIRST unschooling conference!

2. I'll be staying at Valerie's house, and I have not seen her in a whole year! Then I get to kidnap her and bring her down to Florida and then to Atlanta.

3. So far I have only left the southeast once, when I went to Arizona last year. This will be my first trip to anywhere "up north" (farthest north I've been is Virginia), and only my third trip to a major city (Atlanta and Miami were the others - I don't count Phoenix because we only kind of went to stuff on the outskirts/more in Tempe. And, really I only saw certain parts of Miami, to be technical.) I'm always excited to see someplace new, AND I'll get to learn how to use public transportation. That sounds kinda silly, but I've always lived here, where everyone drives everywhere, so it'll be fun for me.

4. I'll be with plenty of unschooling friends I already know: Keti, Isabella and Trevor (I assume David too, although I've barely met him); Gail, Broc, Logan and Brenna; the Lovejoys (Duncan and Cameron - I'll be meeting Kelly and Ben for the first time). Maybe others, I haven't even kept track of who all is going!

5. I'll be finally FINALLY meeting a bunch of unschooling families I've only known through blogs, but who seem like awesome people. I'd list, but again I haven't been able to keep track of who is going. It's a lot of people! I'm particularly excited about getting to hang out with young adult unschoolers: Cameron and Brenna of course, but also Idzie, Eli and many others who I've talked to a little through blogs. Talking to others who are doing the "uncollege" thing will be particularly great. And, of course there will also be people I have neither met nor heard of that I'll get to meet for the first time.

6. I saw a list of funshops that I *think* is for this year, and it includes some stuff I am really looking forward to. Particularly interesting to me are the GLBT group, making games, ATCs, tie-dye, instrument zoo... okay okay, I want to do ALL of them! I probably won't be able to hit every single one, but it sounds like I'll always be able to find one worth doing.

Part 2: Atlanta/Dragon*con

7. I get to bring Val and Sabrina to Atlanta - have I ever mentioned how much I love Atlanta? Well, if I haven't: I love the hell out of Atlanta. I can't think of any other cities that could manage to combine real diversity, a mostly liberal and gay-friendly atmosphere, a culture that encourages the arts, and Southern friendliness the way Atlanta does.

8. ROAD TRIIIIIIIIP!! We're driving up, so that means six hours of blasting music, acting goofy, pestering Sabrina people who fall asleep in the car, and so forth.

9. I could truthfully list each of these people as a separate reason why I'm excited, but for the sake of brevity I'll put them all here: Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Terry Gilliam, Dana Snyder, and Adam Savage are all going to be at Dragon*con (along with about a zillion other special guests, but those are the ones I care about). Hell yes. I don't know if I'll get to all of their panels, but if I just see Shatner and Nimoy I'll be happy.

10. We're going to Dragon*con night at the Georgia Aquarium! I wanted to go to the GA aquarium last time I was in Atlanta, but money was short. This time we got tickets ahead of time, and it seems like it'll be a huge party with lots of people there.

11. Since we're trying to save money on food, I get to practice my bento skills again. I haven't made bentos in months, so I'm excited about that.

12. Val and I are planning to participate in this. I should not have to explain why that is epic.

13. Surrounded by all kinds of geeks for a whole weekend - need I say more? This kind of con is awesome for a similar reason to unschooling conferences: I get to be surrounded by people who "get" me. (I also get to be surrounded by people I do not get, such as erotic furries and people who speak Elvish, but that is okay. I'm all about diversity among nerds.)

So put all of this together, and you see why I am SUPER PUMPED. Those of you who are going to either of these events - I can't wait to see you there!

Musings on girl geeks, math, science

This is mostly just brainstorming/train of thought stuff so it might not be totally coherent. I was thinking about how my next computer will be built by me, and got to wondering why more women aren't into "geeky" things, and realized it's more that women aren't into technical geeky things. There's quite a few women into media-geeky things, like sci-fi, fantasy, anime... the more technical you get, though, the less women there are. Less women are into video games, even less into roleplaying or tabletop gaming, very few into computers and technology, and even less than that are into hard sciences or advanced math. Women are just as capable of this stuff, so why the gender gap?

Some possible reasons:

-Little girls are much, much less likely than boys to receive things like Legos and video games as gifts, and toy store displays and toy commercials tend to reinforce this. I loved the idea of Legos as a little girl, but would never have thought to ask for them because they were in the "boy aisle" with things like G.I. Joes and whatnot, and were usually covered with pirates, firemen and other things that focus on male-oriented roleplay. I did have video games, but I got the sense that most other girls my age didn't think they were cool. I don't think the solution is to cover Legos in pink unicorns, but simply to offer more unisex options rather than marketing directly to boys. I do think video games are fairly unisex and the gender gap there puzzles me, so I can't comment on that as much.

-Little girls are also less likely to be involved in what is stereotypically seen as "dad work": often dads include their sons in things like repairing the car, building things, or fixing things around the house - all of which build math, science, and technical skills - but might not think to include their daughters. Partly this is a bias in the collective unconscious of Americans about what work is appropriate for either gender, and partly it has to do with little girls being more protected from injury, etc. Both attitudes are sexist, but are usually not done with the conscious intention of depriving girls; they're oversights due to culturally ingrained messages that are unfortunately slow to change.

-Women are frequently driven away from roleplay-type gaming (WoW, D&D, etc) by sexist attitudes among male players; often these games are for whatever reason like a boys' club and there is an air of talking down to women. This is unfortunate as this again is another area which is rife with opportunities to gain mathematical and technical knowledge, plus more girl geeks = more guy geeks with girlfriends. Everyone would win!

-The rarity of girl geeks is perhaps self-perpetuating, as men become accustomed to having few women around and may rush to get the attention of females who join their activities. Being deluged with unwanted advances makes women uncomfortable; thus, they leave.

These are just a few ideas; I don't pretend to have it all figured out. Certainly there are many, many factors. But these are the ones that, in my own experience, have kept *me* away from some technical/mathematical things I might otherwise enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A meme

I got this from Stella's blog.

My roommate and I once:
cut out a picture of Elton John and taped it over a poster in the dorm lobby. There was a Halloween poster up with a scary clown, and Spiffy hates clowns, so she printed out a small version of this picture and stuck it over the clown's head. We figured it'd be taken down immediately, but someone must have found it amusing, because it stayed up. It was still there by the time Spiffy left JU at the end of the semester (I had left before that).

Never in my life have I: had surgery or left the country. Hopefully I'll do the latter, hopefully I won't do the former, and I definitely hope I never combine the two. Unless I am in Canada.

High school was: hell except for marching band, which is why I didn't stay.

When I’m nervous: I feel like my solar plexus is full of bees. Angry bees.

My hair: is neither curly nor straight, but merely belligerent.

When I was 5: I don't know what happened, because my memories of four and five are lumped together. I didn't go to school until I was six.

When I turn my head left: I can't see a damn thing, because it's dark in here

I should be:, packing, getting pics off my camera, doing anything to get ready for my trip! Yet here I am doing an internet meme.

By this time next year: I hope I have some idea of what I want to be when I grow up, because by this time next year I'll be almost 25, and I can only postpone being "grown up" for so long.

My favorite aunt is: non-existent, technically, because my mom only had a brother (who died in 1962 anyway) and I don't know my dad's family. All of my great-aunts are gone, now.

I have a hard time understanding: why people can't just accept that we have a black President, already. If you don't like him fine, but make it about the issues, please.

You know I like you if: I seem comfortable talking to you. With people I don't like, I clam up.

My ideal breakfast is: waffles and hash browns from the Waffle House!

If you visit my home town: you will not be impressed, except perhaps by the astonishing number of churches per square mile. My town only has maybe a couple thousand people, and I'm convinced each of those people has his or her own personal church.

If you spend the night at my house: I will strongly hint that we should play board games, or Singstar.

The animal I would like to see flying besides birds: is something which makes very small poop.

I shouldn’t have been: sleeping all day!

Last night I: stayed up toooo late!

A better name for me would be: I have no idea. I was almost named Melissa, but that wouldn't suit me better, I don't think.

If I could have any car, what would it be? A hippie van

I’ve been told I look like: some girl Roni goes to school with. Apparently I have a doppelganger in Arizona somewhere

Back to unschool

I realized the other day that I had no idea if school has started back yet or not. It was a nice feeling.

A weird thing I've noticed though, is that because my summer was so quiet and now at the end of August I'm suddenly getting busy, I seem to be following the back-to-school pattern. My local tribe suspended its meetings for most of the summer because people were busy, and we just got together last week for the first time since early July. And now I'm going to a conference, and a convention, and planning to look for a job in September. I'm not sure why I felt like blogging this. It's just amusing that my year is following that sort of rhythm, I guess.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When I grow up

"So, what do you want to do with your life?"

I despair of having to say "I don't know" to this question, not because I think it's shameful not to know, but because in my case that answer is a lie. I know quite well what I want, but my answer is unacceptable, so I hesitate to give it. It's also long. Most people asking this question of someone my age expect to hear a college major rattled off and that's it. It's the young adult version of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The asker doesn't care; he or she just wants to hear a kid say "a teacher" or "a firefighter" and chuckle over how cute that is. At my age they're just checking to make sure your answer is practical and within the limits of current mainstream thought. Mine isn't.

Here is what I really, truly want to do with my life: I want to fall in love, with someone who can be my best friend, and who shares my desire for a peaceful, vibrant family life. I want to marry them, and then I want to have babies. I want to nurse them, cuddle them, pick them up when they cry, and let them fall asleep next to me. When they turn five I want to celebrate it as a birthday, not as a whole new era in life, because for them it won't be. Formal schooling will only be a part of my children's lives if they choose it for themselves. Otherwise, learning will come like the air they breathe.

In terms of material things, I don't need much. The fast-paced, money-driven life of most Americans doesn't appeal to me; I have always seen money as a tool rather than a goal. I don't want a new house on a cul-de-sac and a shiny SUV. I want an old, simple farmhouse with just enough room for my family, on a piece of land big enough to have some privacy and to let my kids explore. I want a fixer-up van - not fancy, but roomy and good for long trips. I want just enough money to help my kids learn what interests them, and to travel to see good friends and new places. I don't mind if we have to save up a long time for trips. The main thing is to have the time to go.

All of this is what I really care about. Everything else is secondary, and I have no interest in setting any goals that will undermine family life. I got out of the path to teaching not because of unschooling (someone has to work with all those kids who are stuck in school), but because it was quickly making me bitter. I didn't want to be cynical by 25 and hardened by 30. I saw this happening with other young teachers, and felt it starting inside me. I heard it in my voice when I spoke to the children. Even now I'm horrified at how close I got to becoming everything I'd ever hated. That's not to say that all teachers are unkind, but school is an environment where if you keep your heart soft it will ache every day. I'm convinced that the gentlest teachers must cry an awful lot. The rest simply learn not to care as much, and that's the path I found myself headed down. It wasn't worth it to me. Soft hearts are hard to come by in this world, and I intend to keep mine. My children will need it.

So when people ask me what I want to do, and I know they mean a career, I hesitate. I hesitate because I spent five years riding one train, just hopped off recently, and the next one hasn't pulled up yet. I also hesitate because, to be perfectly frank, the word "career" fills me with dread. It just does not seem natural to me to do the same thing for 40 years. Maybe it's in my blood; my dad never stayed in the same field for more than a few years at a stretch. I'm also still suffering from the biggest lie our culture hands down to children: that there are only a couple of dozen careers in the world, when really there are thousands. Maybe in those thousands lie something that interests me, but I haven't stumbled on it yet.

As for stuff I want to do, I could make you a list a mile long. I want to learn classical-style guitar, I want to get good at canoeing, I want to paint, I want to sew, I want to write stories. I want to take dance classes, and volunteer at the science museum. I want to make webcomics and become a good cook. Any of those things could become a career, but it will take time, and not one single damn one is an acceptable answer anyway. "Artist" is even lower than "stay-at-home mom" on the acceptability list; just a few rungs above things like "pirate", "stripper", and "janitor" (I could go on another rant about how janitors should get way more respect, but that's off the point here). Basically, everything I want to do is going to be wrong in the eyes of anyone who values careerism enough to persistently ask me about it.

So I shrug and change the subject. But I know what I want.

It just isn't good enough.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thoughts on the Law of Attraction

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine got really into positive thinking, and I saw her life start changing rapidly for the better. I was inspired and started to try hard to think positively too - waking up and deciding to have a good day, that kind of thing. It didn't keep things from going wrong, but it did keep me from spiraling into a terrible mood when they did. I wrote to my acquaintance to thank her for the inspiration, and she recommended I watch The Secret.

I watched it, and found some parts of it ridiculous - it seemed to imply that if someone's cancer doesn't go away it's their fault for not believing hard enough - but I thought the idea of the law of attraction was interesting, and spent some time grappling with whether it could be true.

I was, however, interrupted from pondering this when a friend's son died two days later. He was a sweet, innocent kid of only 13, and he left us suddenly and unexpectedly. He had multiple disabilities and I had been newly hired as his caregiver - and let me tell you, I cannot be heavily involved in taking care of a child for even a short length of time without getting attached. I think if you have any sort of maternal instincts, then once you've given a kid baths and changed his diapers, that kid has a piece of your heart forever.

The point I'm getting to here is that all that "positive thinking" went out the window pretty fast after that. I'd been hit hard in the face with the fact that happy thoughts can't guarantee a pain-free life, and for a long time I forgot about all this "law of attraction" business.

But lately it's been creeping back up, because for reasons I'm not really sure about, a lot of unschooling moms are way into the Law of Attraction. (Most simply call it LOA without clarifying, assuming everyone on Earth must of course be familiar with this philosophy.) So I've been thinking about it again, and here's the conclusion I'm at now:

Yes, the "law of attraction" absolutely works, in a limited "makes your life better but does not prevent death or hurricanes or Nicholas Cage" sense.

No, it does not work because of mystical voodoo moon prism power or whatever. I do personally believe someone or something, God or "the universe" or whatever you want to call it, is out there. But whatever that thing is, it cares not that you want a Rolex and a free trip to Tahiti. If you think it does, you are confusing God with Santa Claus. (I hasten to point out that this kind of thinking is not exclusive to LOA practitioners; I've known plenty of Christians who use prayer in a similar manner. This is a problem of attitude, not of religion.)

It works because of a simple, non-religious, non-magical thing: human psychology. It makes TOTAL SENSE, in a completely logical, rational way, that if you focus on getting something you are more likely to get it. Of course if you have a picture on your wall of all the happy things you'd like to accomplish, you'll have them in mind and be motivated to work on them. Of course if you believe you can find a way to go to Tahiti, you'll be more likely to get there than a person who just shrugs and says "nope, can't do it".

Early this summer I hatched a plan to go to the Northeast Unschooling Conference and Dragoncon. I had no money and no idea how I was going to get to either. But by deciding that, by god, I was going to find a way, I focused my energy and thought of creative ideas. I sold some books, offered to do odd jobs, looked into selling a car and some old furniture (ended up avoiding that because I'm a little leery of Craigslist). And a housesitting job came, and friends offered to send me gift cards to help cover food, and I made it, and I'm going.

All that stuff didn't come along because the universe manifested it, or whatever. (I mean, I guess in the absolute most literal sense you could say that, since my friends and I are part of the universe. But in that sense the universe also manifested the pancake I cooked this morning, even though I clearly cooked the damn thing myself, so this is kind of a circular point.) It came along because I decided I was going and decided to figure out how. I tried HARD to find ways to go. I told everyone I know that I was planning on going, and they knew how much it meant to me. A job wouldn't have come along if I hadn't looked for it. I wouldn't have sold any books if I hadn't dug them up and listed them on *I* did the work. Positive thinking just helped me do it. I could have just said "oh, I'd love to go to that, but I can't" and put the thought away without actually thinking about if I could go or not, and of course I would not be going. Duh.

This, I think, is the only connection shared between unschooling and the law of attraction: they are both largely about not squashing dreams, about finding ways to say yes. Unschoolers see the world as full of possibilities, and tend to have a "where there's a will there's a way" attitude. The whole LOA thing seems to be designed to foster that attitude in people who aren't used to thinking that way, who talk themselves out of dreams because it's too expensive and it will be too hard and I'll look stupid and it was a stupid idea anyway just forget I said anything. If you're deeply mired in that kind of thinking, I can see how it would be encouraging to be told that you can wriggle your nose and have whatever you want. And when you first change your attitude and things start happening more easily, of course it will seem amazing. Our society tends to devalue positive thinking, and many people are unfamiliar with just how much power a shift in attitude can have. Changing your thinking can lead to such profound, wonderful changes that it's easy to convince yourself there must be some kind of magic at work.

But calling it magic means you don't get to take credit for what you did for yourself. It takes the cause and effect out of it, fogging the mirror so that you can't clearly see what strategies you used to get the thing you wanted, so you can't reuse them next time. You're stuck hoping "the universe" cuts you another break, and so instead of building a toolbox, you're forever hiring a handyman.

If you want to believe in magic, believe in the strength of the human spirit, and the goodness of life. That's magic enough - and to many people, it would seem, it's a secret as well.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Wednesday was made of:

The bank and post office

Hanging at Keti's house and then meeting up with some more of our unschooling tribe (excluding Maria, who has Panera-induced amnesia) at Panera Bread and then moving to Barnes and Noble

Coming home and baking a cake from scratch (I came in my room without saying anything and looked up a cake recipe, and when I went to the kitchen to start on it my mom said "Hey, will you bake a cake?")

Reminding myself - the hard, burnt, crusty, smelly way - why I should never try to make caramel

Thursday was made of:

-Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
-Giving Roni advice on working with autistic kids
-Our Dumb World and Engrish
-Dan Brown Universe

-Angst (hey, not every day is all fun all the time)
-Tears for Fears

Friday was made of:

-Making homemade Chinese food
-The Simpsons
-More ATCs
-More DDR
-Getting a plane ticket
-Making a scrapbook-y sort of cover for a notebook
-Writing a packing list
-Trying to make a chart of guitar chords for my wall while the book of chords was being sat on and chewed by a kitten

Monday, August 10, 2009


I keep logs of my days - not every day, but one or two a week, when I feel like it - just in case I start doubting myself - I can look back and have proof that I don't "sit around doing nothing".

Today was made of:

The history of Singapore and Malaysia

Rosetta Stone German practice

Super Mario 64

Looking at Mongolia on Google Earth

Young Frankenstein

Mental Floss books

Genesis (as in Peter and Phil, not as in Adam and Eve, or Sonic and Knuckles)

Fried chicken and baked beans

Looking up stuff to do around town

Making lists

80s music

Trivial Pursuit and mancala

Watching a kitten and a dachshund run around and around and around and around (this is every day)

Examining glass marbles from the 1920s, looking up how marbles are made

Browsing cookie recipes

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain


Sunday, August 9, 2009

You know you're really getting deschooled...

...all the way down to your bones...

...when you look back on the years you went to school, and wonder how anyone ever got you to go...

...because the idea of doing something involuntarily sounds completely alien now.

And you realize a lot of the stuff you do in your spare time...








would be called "work" in school or in a conventional life...

...but none of it ever feels like work when you do it.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My plans!

Here's my rough outline for how I want to spend my time for the next several months:

Now-August 20
-Work on planning/saving money for my trips

August 20-26 (or thereabouts)
-Housesitting/helping with Ket's mom

August 27-31
-Boston trip: Northeast Unschooling Conference and Val's house

Sept. 1-3
-Val comes down to visit; planning for Atlanta

Sept. 3-7
-Dragon*Con/ATL trip
-Backup plan in case Dragoncon falls through: poking around Jacksonville while we have Val captive :p

The rest of September
-Look for a part time job
-Turn 24! I have no birthday plans, but my trips MORE than cover that
-Get the house ready for Halloween
-Write Halloween articles for my other blog

-Halloween stuff
-Maybe the fair if money allows
-Start outlining/preparing for NaNoWriMo

-Prepare for Christmas

-Relax and enjoy the holidays :)

No plans so far

-Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering (if time/money allows)

March 12-14
-Autodidact Symposium

And that's as much as I've got planned right now, but I'm sure lots of other stuff will come up in between. I've been mostly laying low over the summer, so it'll be nice to get so busy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Apparently my mom's friends see me as some sort of asset she has, rather than an independent person. "Don't have much money? Why, you've got a perfectly good daughter, why not put HER to work? Why she could do [insert shitty job the person suggesting it would never do in a million years] and then you'd have no problems anymore!"

Why not? Here's why:

-Because my mom does not dictate what I do. I don't mean that in a rebellious "you can't make me" way. I mean it in the sense that she would never do that.

-Because I am an independent person, not some sort of money-making factory. I realize that some centuries ago parents viewed their children as simply good little workers to bring in cash, but that is not true anymore, at least not for families where the parents are not autocratic tyrants.

-Because if I had a job it wouldn't be fair for me to just turn all the money over to my mom and get nothing for myself, when I was the one doing the work. That is what would have to happen in order for my getting a job to prevent my mom from being poor. And you know what? When I was busting my ass working full-time at a job I hated, I *did* give my mom most of the money I made, and WE WERE STILL POOR. The idea that "get a job" is an instant solution to poverty is absurd. Most poor people have jobs. Many have more than one.

-Because if I spend all my time pulling weeds or working at McDonald's or whatever the person is suggesting I do, then I won't have time to learn skills that will eventually get me a *better* job where I will earn more than $7 an hour. I will be stuck working at those kinds of jobs forever.

-Because the reason we don't have enough money has nothing to do with me. Until recently my mom spent 1/4 of her income on cigarettes. She's quitting now, and once she does she won't HAVE to ask her Sunday school class for extra food. But it was never my fault that she did.

-Because my mom DOES NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING FOR ME. Not because she wouldn't, but because she can't and I don't ask her to. I don't cost her any money. People see me as some sort of horrible leech who is living off of her. Yes she buys the food we both eat, but my God, since when is it a crime for a mother to provide food for her own kid? I also drive her to the store to get that food or sometimes go by myself, I help her pick out the food that will fit into her budget, I usually put away the food when we get it home, I help plan meals, I often cook those meals, and I help keep up the house. I think I have earned my right to eat.

-Because I freely choose to live with my mom for the benefit of BOTH of us. I don't do it for me so I will have an easier life. I'd have an "easier" life if I moved away somewhere with roommates, into a city with more jobs, and only had to think of myself. But my mom would be all alone. I guess she'd have a little more money if I wasn't here (the electric bill might drop a smidge), but I don't see how her life would be better.

-Because if I had a parent with a lot of money nobody would EVER expect that of me, to be the breadwinner at my age. I'd be able to fart around in college for six years and go directly into a high-paying job - not that this is what I want to do, but that IS what the people making unsolicited suggestions all did. They are NOT self-made people, they either married into money or got it from their parents. They have no idea what it is like to try and claw your way up from the bottom. I'm going a different route, one that is MORE likely to pull me out of poverty than just giving up and working at McDonalds. It might mean less money right this second, but unschooling WILL lead me to a real career. I have yet to see an unschooler who wasn't able to get a real career, but the whole reason unschoolers are so free to find their niche in the world is that they're not forced out into the workforce against their will and expected to fend for themselves, like so many conventionally-parented kids are.

I did not ask to be poor. I did not choose be born to a mother with disabilities. I love my mom and I wouldn't trade her for anyone, but she chose to have me, not the other way around. Why should I be seen differently than a young adult who comes from a more privileged background? Why should my life already be planned for me by circumstances when others are free to choose? And why in God's name should it be anybody's business what I do with my life?!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I don't know what you said because I was thinking about Batman

Roni was ranting about a ridiculous test for ADD, so I decided to look at it and lampoon it a little. It really is ridiculous. In her words, "After every question I felt like I was being tested to see if I was the sufficiently submissive proletariat work slave. Hard to concentrate on boring shit? Something is wrong with you!!"

Here are some choice questions:

"I find it difficult to read written material unless it is very interesting or very easy."

I had trouble even answering this, because I had to think back for years to remember the last time I read something I didn't find "very interesting". What's the point otherwise? What use is there in forcing myself to read Silas Marner if my mind would be better engaged doing something else? How can doing something mind-numbing POSSIBLY be good for your mind??

"Especially in groups, I find it hard to stay focused on what is being said in conversations."

Well hell, that depends on the group doesn't it? If I'm listening to a group of people going on about football or Vampire the Masquerade or Brad Pitt I'm gonna be sitting there thinking about banana pudding or something instead. Any other topic and you'll probably have my attention.

"My moods have highs and lows."

Oh god, I stopped taking the happy pills and now the feelings are coming back! Quick, get me some more Zoloft! I want to be numb again!

Or, in Roni's words, "Oh damn, I don't maintain homeostasis."

"I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities."

Shall I do the laundry first, or the dishes? Gosh, I'd better make a schedule for the day! Goodly huswyves mustn't do their work out of order! It'll be 30 lashes if I choose wrong!

"I almost always am on the go."

Activity is bad, children. Sit in your Wall-E style hoverchairs and never get up. Getting up is for the unwashed masses.

"There is a lot of "static" or "chatter" in my head."

Don't worry about all that noise in your head. Those are just thoughts. Get a nice cubicle job and stop asking questions. They'll be gone soon.

"Even when sitting quietly, I am usually moving my hands or feet."

YOU!!! Yes, YOU! Sit STILL, laddie!

"My thoughts bounce around as if my mind is a pinball machine."

Why, it's almost as if my brain is made of millions of neurons, and many of them are "firing" in some way! I'd better cut that out, it feels like I'm making more than one connection at a time! OH GOD MAKE IT STOP THINKING GIVES YOU WRINKLES NOOOOOO