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Shedding labels

This last while, I have found myself, after the worst 6-7 months of the decade, immersed total confusion. Circumstances have become better, but I am not sure what to do with them, with me. As I have written before, being all these things that I am, or say I am, or think I am - musician, writer, activist, anarchist, feminist, traveler, artist, mother, creative, intellectual etc. - is just so confusing and time consuming. Am I really all this stuff? Are they callings? Or are they just the labels that I have acquired?

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This beautifully sums up all my criticisms of Disney princesses (and a lot of those horrible sexist stories that fairy tales became). Except for the part about Disney's monopoly of princesses. Click image for a bigger, easier to read view.

A couple months ago, when Ramona was wearing her princess dress, we ran into a little girl who insisted on knowing what princess Ramona was, (as in Ariel, Belle, Rapunzel, etc.) as she didn't recognize the dress. She could not fathom that princesses existed outside of Disney Characters

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re-entry into life, rethinking the blog.

As my crazy work schedule winds down, I find myself mired in the chaos of an unattended life. Not the good kind of chaos, the uncomfortable kind. The house in total disarray and me lacking the energy to do anything about it. The regret of missing the beginning of what seems to be the biggest social movement in my adult life. A feeling of estrangement from my daughter and fear of loosing our connection. A feeling of estrangement from society. The realization that in doing everything that I do, I can’t do anything well. Many things aren’t working, and as I reenter my life I see an opportunity to make some major decisions about it. I need to pair down.

I have started with the decision to forget working in public education. I can not meld into the professional world. I have spent too much time trying to fit into places that I don’t and I am done. And I hate the way that it has made me constantly want to correct people’s grammar (especially people’s tendency to use adjectives in place of adverbs). I loved the fluidity of the English language before it was netted in my standardization and Webster.

But outside education I am a writer, a videographer, and artist, a musician, a single parent, an activist, a “home educator,” an intellectual, a traveler and wanderer, a member of the working class, an urban homesteader…how do I manage? I want to spend time with people too!

Shall I start with integration.

Video is a great tool. It is a job I feel comfortable doing. It is an outlet for creativity. It is something I can be paid for. It is a project I can do with my daughter, and help her learn. It is a way to document. Video is a tool for activism.

Writing is something I love. It keeps me sane. It is a form of activism for me. I recently stopped journaling after reading an article from someone I respect saying that in order to be a “famous “ writer, I should write for others, and not waste time journaling to myself. I took the advice and it had devastating effects. For me, writing is not only a mode of communication with the outside world, but a mode of communication with my inner self. I am an introvert and much of me is deeply buried. Writing is an exercise in digging. I am working on adding journaling back into my life. When I journaled regularly I liked my writing.

I am rethinking my blog. What is it here for? I liked it when more mothering was happening in my blogging. When my mothering looked like acts of rebellion. But really I guess it still is. I feel strong in my ideas about how to raise my daughter without regular schooling, at least for the short term. I have plans. I am determined to have a life that doesn’t revolve around my daughter as well. And integrated life is an act of rebellion.

I don’t feel like tackling the other stuff on my list right now…

We will see where all the sticks fall as I come out of super worker mode. 55 hour work weeks plus 6-7 hours of commute time is a lot, even for a hip mama. The cat is laying herself on my wrists as I type this.

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Selling the mind and the body

Taking a minute to write. Something I haven’t done in a while. I worked 25 hours in on Saturday/Sunday. Might pull the same thing again tomorrow. Work comes in waves it seems. Just the way I like it. I had been remembering fondly my days working on the fish processor boats in Alaska. We would work all day every day for months, and then be set free with a large check to explore the world, or support our families. Some people think I am crazy for liking that sort of work, but I do. For one it is work. Like real honest work, and something of value is actually being produced.

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Working on Paradise

I was home for a day from camping, and then went to Mendocino to visit a friend. She happens to live in an intentional community. Its still forming. They have a beautiful house. Their first baby chicks ever hatched while we were there. So sweet. It was great and it was nice to feel so comfortable somewhere. I like it. Community. Self-sufficiency. They are eventually planning to be completely self-sufficient, off the grid, ect.

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Getting out of a rut and plastering my face all over my house

Wow, what a difference a few days away makes. I have to say I would implode if I were not able to travel. Since I can’t afford to really travel right now, I went with my daughter up to Sierra Foothills, next to the most beautiful river that I know of. Though I didn’t get silence due to my chattering daughter, I did get out of the rut that staying in my town, in my house puts me into. The first night I spent hours laying in the tent worrying about things at home, but soon the change of scenery disrupted my worry/thought loop.

By the end of the trip I was refreshed and full of ideas and to get back to work on my home and garden, to work on my writing and to work on my music playing. X-guy was completely out of my mind and I felt relieved to be free of him finally, after two weeks loss feelings. I hadn’t realized how much energy he sucked and how unmanageable our relationship was until I was able to look at it in hindsight. I was suddenly so much more grateful for the friends I have (sometimes I can take my relationships for granted).

I also decided to tackle something that has been bothering me forever, something I need to change for my own personal growth. Though my daughter is beautiful and very photogenic, almost every time I see a picture of myself, I am repulsed. When I look in the mirror it isn’t so bad, occasionally I even think I am hot, but seeing my face and expressions frozen in time is usually sort of hideous for some reason. It is annoying. I am not very judgmental of the way others looks, though sometimes very beautiful women make me uncomfortable. Maybe jealously…cause jealousy is uncomfortable. I don’t have a hard time seeing beauty in a lot of people. Many times it is their uniqueness that I find beautiful. But not when I look at me. I am often afraid to be seen without make-up.

Growing up, my sister was the pretty one. My sister hated me and made sure I knew I wasn’t wanted, that I was repulsive. I was also very awkward and an easy target for kids as well as always being the new kid at school. I was also often the only white kid in a sea of children brought up in poverty and under white oppression. What I am trying to say is that I grew up thinking I was ugly, repulsive, disgusting. Then as a teenager I started getting some attention. But what I noticed is that the attention always seemed to be hinged on how sexy or pretty I made-up myself. All superficial stuff. So then I was like, oh guys like this fakeness I can project. They don’t like me.

So when I was camping I took many many pictures of my self. No make-up, dirty, in the morning, whatever. I decided to print them all out on 8x11 pieces of paper and hang them around my house. Stare at them every day. Stop being repulsed by me and rather see me as clearly as possible. Get used to my face, begin to appreciate my face. Start to draw my face. Self portraits. See what I really look like and then learn to appreciate it and see the beauty in my own face. Is that being extreme? In a way I think it sounds crazy, but on the other hand, I am tired of being repulsed by myself.

It would also help in my relationships with men. I am always suspicious when someone compliments me. I have this feeling, way down inside that they are saying what they are saying cause they want sex, or something. That they say it to everyone. And then if I think they really do think I am pretty, then I am afraid for them to see me on a bad day, au natural. It is very unhealthy and something I need to grow out of.

I am also considering not wearing make-up for a while. I haven’t worn anything but lip gloss and clear mascara since I got back…

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What does a four year old know?

My daughter tried out shoplifting for the second time recently. I didn’t know about it for days. Then one day I notice her eating something, and I asked her about it. First she says a friend gave the candy to her, then confesses that she “snuck it” from the corporate copy shop (that I only go to when I need off hours copies). I explained to her that it was called stealing, not sneaking. Then I told her about all the horrible things that could happen if she were caught, and I talked about the police. Problem is that, though I don’t condone stealing from people or local businesses, I didn’t really care since its apparent to me that corporations steal a lot more from us than we do them. A friend of mine told me I should take her into the store, and make her give it back and apologize for stealing and that she would never do it again. I remember getting caught and embarrassed stealing as a young age and it just made me better at it. I also know that I would rather have an open line of communication with my daughter than shame her in public. Shaming isn't respectful, and respect is the central tenet in my personal child-rearing philosophy. In the end she told me that next time we are in the copy shop and I say that she can't have any candy, she won't take any.

Last night I was closing the blinds so I could walk around my house naked. My daughter asked why. I told her it was because adults aren’t supposed to let strangers see them naked. She asks me what the police would do if someone was naked. I said I didn’t know, and what did she think they would do. She said that she thinks the person would get arrested, or if they were a girl they would get a ticket. I grilled her a little on her thinking, because I thought it sounded pretty accurate. After asking a couple times why boys get arrested and girls get tickets, she responded, “Because boys are just a little bit more nasty than girls.” Huh. She couldn’t tell me who told her that boys are nastier. She says she just knew it. I didn't contradict her, but I wonder if I should have. I like her to think that being female rocks, since it will probably get harder to think that as she gets older and is assaulted by our cultures twisted norms. .

Watching children grow very entertaining and a great learning experience if you are paying attention. I’ve been noticing other things, as in how different parenting styles and parent thought processes affect children in their development, beliefs and mannerisms. It is especially obvious between around 2.5 to about kindergarten, when they are old enough to be expressing themselves, but their thought processes have not yet been mediated by government schools.

Kids are fun.

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no trip, no beer, no facebook

My tooth is going to cost me $230-300, so the road trip is postponed. I need to move farther towards the black before I go deeper into the red. I know, what a let down. I plan to re-evaluate in a couple weeks to see if I can go before the cold and rain start up north. But at least the dentist will be giving me an exam and x-rays, so I can see to what extent the corrosion that my mouth is in and what needs to happen to repair it.


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