Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A bit of navel-gazing brought on by my 37th birthday

Zach's been going through the process of searching for a new job the past month or so, something that got me thinking about my own "career"... and remembering that I don't have one. It has been a full decade since I last held a paying job. If I had to write up a resume and try to get a job right now, I would have zero marketable skills to put down.

This recent realization hit me like an 18-wheeler. I instantly felt two things, very strongly:

1)  Shame, that I've "wasted" these past 10 years with no professional experience to show for it. I even got a letter from the social security office recently gently reminding me that I haven't paid in enough money to qualify for benefits, if/when I should need them. In a world that measures your worth by your earning potential, this means I am an utter failure.


2)  Pissed Off at this capitalist system that measures your worth by your earning potential. Because I DO value the work I have devoted these past ten years of my life to doing-- there is intangible value in this time I have spent with my children, with my family, it is priceless to me. Not to mention tangible financial value in the childcare costs we haven't paid (because I've done that work) and how my work here in the home has allowed Zach to follow his career wherever it's taken him, whether across the country or across oceans, or to small towns in the middle of nowhere to get an advanced degree.  He would not have been able to do those things had I had my own career that we had to worry about and negotiate over. It sucks and pisses me off that those things don't "count."

So what do I do with those feelings? Do I want to seek a paid career? What would that be, and in what sort of a time frame? What steps do I need to lay out and complete to achieve that? How would I juggle that with homeschooling? How do I figure this shit out with my limited mental energy & free time?

Which kinda brings me to the other thing on my mind these days, as Zach goes through his job search process and I am reminded yet again of the disparity in opportunities for those who are able to jump through certain hoops, and those who can't/don't-- hoops such as going to a top tier MBA program that required you go into six-digit debt, but opens up doors to ludicrously-well-paid jobs afterwards. That's a hoop we were able to jump through thanks to a combination of hard work and lots of good luck, and now gets to reap the benefits by being in the top 10% of earners.

Sure, I could say that Zach has earned this, that he has worked really hard and he is super talented and that is why people are willing to pay him the big bucks. All that is true.

And yet, why does he get to enjoy & benefit from that, when so many others who are just as hard-working, just as talented and smart, get paid much less, or don't get hired at all, don't even get the chance thanks to the layers of discriminatory housing, schooling, and hiring practices rampant in our past & current laws and culture?

I talk about how I hate the way capitalism values people based on their "profitability," yet I am very much complicit in this system that I benefit from simply because I managed to marry a guy who went on to win the class lottery.

(Excuse me while I cry my rich white privileged tears into my starbucks latte)

So my life is deeply steeped in privilege of all sorts, and drowning in guilt isn't really productive or helpful to anyone. So what is? How do I use this privileged position to help others in a way that is meaningful, rather than just assuaging my own guilt? I feel like the work I do now (donating money, doing my homework, helping educate others) is just the very tip of the iceberg, the bare minimum I could be doing.

So those are the things I am pondering on this 37th anniversary of my arrival into the world. I have some vague, nebulous ideas, but not a lot of concrete ones. So I guess my resolution for the coming year is to sit down with these questions and hammer out some solid answers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016: what I've learned so far

I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. This is technically my third time to attempt to write 50,000 words in the form of a semi-coherent novel. I won the first time (in 2009), and gave up within a few days the second time (in 2011, when I had a 4yo and a super-demanding infant, I really don’t know WHAT I was thinking). I’m at it again this year, and feel I have a pretty good chance of winning again. We’re a full week into this thing, and here are some things I’ve learned so far:

  1. The second-week slump is real, yo. The first several days I was rocking it, writing over 4,000 words on Nov 1st, 3,000 on the second, and over 2,000 words most of the days since. All of a sudden, yesterday and today I’m having a harder time with my story. I’m proud of the 15,000 words I’ve written so far (or, well, of having written 15,000 words) and at the same time 15k seems a long way from 50k. BUT! I will push through. 
  2. Ergonomics are important. I spent a bit too much time yesterday slouched over my laptop, using a table that was too low. My back is paying for it today. 
  3. Shutting down your inner editor is key… having an audience who likes your story is even better. I’m writing a fantasy novel about our pet rabbit, and my 8yo son asks me every day to read him what I’ve written. I’ve been looking at NaNoWriMo as a writing exercise, with little intention of doing anything with the product of my writing come December 1st. Having my kid be so into the story has me wondering if it might be worth going back later to edit and clean it up, perhaps looking into self-publishing (if nothing else then for the fun of having our own paper copy on a shelf). 
  4. I’m really glad I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year because writing my story and reading the constant discussions on the NaNoWriMo facebook group I’m in have proved great ways to distract myself from the election. This has done wonders for my sanity. 

Now to stop procrastinating and get back to writing…

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A round-up of things I've done elsewhere

New photos on
New thoughts on Medium:

And last but not least, I just published a piece on Ravishly about our experiences with unschooling. I'm pretty excited about it and hope others will enjoy it, too. =) 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Amsterdam so far...


Amsterdam, so far:

  • being greeted by rain, and a Syrian refugee asking for help, at the airport upon our arrival into the country.
  • dodging hordes of bicycles while trying to cross the street with our 5 massive suitcases + hand luggage.
  • getting up to our apartment and basking in its sheer adorableness.  
  • holy jetlag, Batman.
  • being invited up for tea at the neighbor's flat, and feeling thankful that they're so welcoming and casual. 
  • freaking out at the boys because they keep spilling water on the nice wooden dining table (we've already added a few nice new water stains). 
  • bicycles, bicycles, everywhere.
  • feeling like an asshole American every time I speak English to store clerks or anyone else I need to ask for help, and for being so clueless about Dutch.
  • thanking Google Translate multiple times a day.
  • realizing no one seems to care about speaking to you in English.
  • trying the infamous frites and pannenkoek and your kids rejecting them bc they're different from US fries and pancakes (they'll come around, I'm sure). 
  • also trying poffertjes and experiencing love at first bite. 
  • spending 30 minutes googling words like "spoelen" and "sterkdroog" to try to figure out how to work the washer and dryer. 
  • facetiming with our best friends back home, marveling at how it's nearly bedtime here but morning there.
  • walking past the brick buildings with their cute windows and flowerboxes, and the canals lined with leaning trees and sweet little boats.
  • stumbling upon some of the coolest playgrounds ever. 
  • being very pleasantly surprised that our closest grocery store is not only open till 9pm most nights, but it's even open on Sundays!
  • really, really liking this little neighborhood we're in. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

the night before

It's our last night before we take off for The Netherlands tomorrow. I am in the midst of every emotion you can imagine having before such an adventure. I'm feeling that heavy exhaustion deep in my chest and shoulders that comes from feeling stressed and excited and anxious and nervous all at the same time, trying to plan and pack and envision what the full packing job will look like but not being able to get it finished till the last minute and hoping, hoping, hoping it will all fit and be under-weight. Fighting that nagging feeling of I must be forgetting something.

I am excited about the apartment we got, what it will feel like to walk down those old city streets alongside the canals, the travel opportunities from Amsterdam. I am excited for the fries and waffles and hagelslag. I am also nervous about the flight, about how the boys will adjust, how long it will take us to get used to the time change. I know enough about going abroad to know how difficult and frustrating aspects of it can be. I am alternating between "this is going to be amazing!" and "What the heck did we agree to?"

It is also a bit surreal to go around our house and our bedrooms and try to tidy things up and imagine what it will be like to come back to these same spaces in 6 months.

It all feels a bit surreal. And somewhat overwhelming. I'm trying to just trust that everything will work out, and to enjoy as much of the experience as we can (and the rest will make for good stories, right?).

Unrelated, here are some of my recent posts on Medium:

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence?  On looking at the different factors that contribute to our culture of violence.

Men, We Need Your Voices. Realizing that the majority of people speaking about sexual assault are women-- and that we need men to speak out, too.


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