Monday, October 2, 2017

Where Am I Now?

A recent comment on To You Who Wants To Die reminded me that I haven't updated in a long time-thank you, friend. I'm grateful to you for that note and for the knowledge that my words had meaning for you.

Life, you see, has gotten even busier than it used to be, and that's saying something.
I survived the pregnancy without murdering anyone. I had a beautiful baby girl, my little Wonder. Nursing is... a thing... and we're pretty much exclusively pumping.
She's gorgeous. Bonkers, Logan, and I all adore her, and judging by her giggles the feeling is mutual.

Bonkers struggled in school last year, mostly because he finally got his ADHD and DMDD diagnoses, but made it through and despite his issues he was deeply loved by his teachers, who were sad to see us go. We didn't leave due to any issues with the school, only because I can't afford both infant childcare and private school tuition. Now, he's at a public charter school with a language immersion program. We requested Spanish or Mandarin, but German is what was available. I won't pretend that that doesn't make me a bit uncomfortable in the current political climate, but it's also useful for him to be learning a language I'm already somewhat-conversational in.
I'm a Room Mom, because of course I am. Me, throw in a bunch of extra stuff to do? Never!

Postpartum depression is kicking my ass again, but this time I caught it earlier and Zoloft is my friend. I'm finally enrolled in the VA's healthcare system, although I got to have a lovely fight with my GP about my medications while nursing. Thanks, but when my IBCLC, psychiatrist, pharmacist, and pediatrician all agree that they're safe, you're general practitioner ass doesn't get to comment, kthxbai.
Exclusively pumping is also hella hard, but we're managing. I'm thankful that Logan is super-supportive, although I sometimes get major side-eye for the number of pump parts I've bought.

August made my 2-year anniversary at my job, but I'm sort of biding my time until I can leave. I love training, but I only get to do instructional design here, and that's driving me nuts. My boss gets it, and is trying to help, though, and I love my team.

Last week marked 4 years since Rush died. I'm functional, but not okay about that.
Logan adopted Bonkers, and I couldn't help but feel like it was a betrayal of Rush, despite the fact that it's much better for Bonkers this way. I still miss him, but I'm somewhat less angry now, and was able to remember him on the anniversary without completely losing it.

So yeah, that's my life in a nutshell these days.
We're down to 5 motorcycles, up 1 RV (we sold the camper), down to 3 cars (1 of which is in the process of being sold), and I finally started making the house feel like my own.

I'm still riding a motorcycle, just with a breast pump attached these days.
Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Yes, You're Racist. And No, That Doesn't Mean You're Evil.

Dear White People,

Yes, you're racist.
No, you're not a terrible person.

I grew up in the Deep South. In fact, *cue deep twang* the first place I remember living was the back-end of a dirt road that said 'end county maintenance,' 6 miles from the Mississippi state line. My town, Wilmer, Alabama (which no longer exists, for the record), had a mayor who was literally illiterate and had a record that involved inappropriate touching of children.
So yeah, when I say I'm a redneck at heart, and a Southerner, well.... trust me, I mean it.

So, I get it. We all grew up being told that, "racists" were those people who kept slaves, who said black people couldn't vote, or who beat them up for going to restaurants. "Racists," were those people in the white hoods who burned crosses.
"Racist," was one of the worst things you could be, said our well-meaning, "color-blind," parents who grew up during, or just after, integration of the schools and had a couple of black coworkers but probably not any actually close black friends.

Our parents meant well. They probably shushed our grandfathers, who hissed about, "n*****s moving into the neighborhood," at family dinners, and encouraged us to, "be nice," to the new black student transferring into our class.
Of course, if they're like my family they also decried, "those people in the ghettos," on the news, quietly and completely unconsciously encouraged us to make white friends at school, and made various, "I'm not racist, but," comments about, "welfare queens," the smell of textured hair, "thugs and criminals," and how hard it was to, "find good help who wouldn't steal."

Mixed messages much?
Yeah, me too.

So then what happens when you're an adult, you're trying to be a good person and you see awful things happening and you decide you want to help, so you start researching.... and suddenly, everyone's saying you're a racist!?
"What?! No! I'm not a racist! I would never do those awful things!" you think, hurt and shocked and feeling absolutely awful that these people you only want to help would accuse you of something so vile!
I mean, maybe you've complained that Black Lives Matter would get an awful lot farther if they didn't block roads, and surely Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wouldn't stand for those awful riots. Maybe you've made comments about how they really need to tighten up the requirements for unemployment and food stamps to keep people (welfare queens/black women) from "taking advantage of the system,". Maybe you've worried about going into "those parts of town," because there's so much more crime there, and those gangs (of young black men) are out of control! But you know, that's not racist! That's just acknowledging a problem!
Weeeeeelllllll, seeeeeeeeeee, here's the thing: You've probably never been told this, because our schools (especially if you're also from the South!) sanitize and 'whitewash' this stuff.

  1. Dr. King referred to riots as, "the language of the unheard."
  2. Most of the Civil Rights Movement marches blocked roads. Oh, and shut down an entire city's mass transit system....
  3. In FY 2015, "nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants were children, elderly, or had disabilities. Forty-four percent of participants were under age 18, 11 percent were age 60 or older, and 10 percent were disabled nonelderly adults. Many SNAP participants had jobs. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of all SNAP households – and more than half (55 percent) of households with children – had earnings in 2015. Overall, 44 percent of SNAP participants lived in a household with earnings."
  4. There's a LOT of data to parse on this topic, but the TL;DR version is that on average, white people commit just as much crime (and in some areas, far MORE crime, such as forcible rape) but are less likely to be arrested, less likely to be jailed, and less likely to serve prison time... all of which means that racial criminality statistics based on arrest or incarceration rates are artificially inflated in favor of white people. Constitutional Rights Foundation

Look, the long story short here is: you grew up surrounded by quiet, insidious racism. You didn't know it, most likely, and had absolutely no idea you were internalizing it.
No one is mad at you for that.
Seriously, we're not! You were a kid, you had no idea that those little things your parents said and did, the little ways you watched your teachers send your black classmates to detention more often (for the same things you and/or your white classmates were doing!), the fact that your history textbooks focused almost exclusively on European/white history, were racist. You had no idea. It's what normal looked like to you.

But see, here's the things: unto every child comes a time to grow up. A time to be stronger and wiser than your parents. See, your parents probably argued with their parents that integrating the schools was going to be fine. They probably told you happy stories about Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott, and how the Civil Rights Movement was important and good.
But every generation has an obligation to outgrow its parents'.
And now, here's yours.

Got questions about racism & race? Here are some resources:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tomorrow, the Work Begins

Today, I got to tell my 4yo son that bigotry had won in his country.
Today, I got to tell him that my life matters less than his now.
Today, I got to tell him that his teachers, his school-mates, and his therapist may all be in danger.

Today, I will grieve and rage and cry and scream.
Today, wear hijab in solidarity with my brothers and sisters of every faith, orientation, gender, and ethnicity who have been given an unequivocal message by our country that their lives do not matter.

Tomorrow, however, I will work.

Tomorrow, I will download the schedule for the local city council meetings and begin attending them.
Tomorrow, I will look at the volunteer schedule for my LGBTQ+ homeless youth organization and choose 1-2 days per month to provide meals for the shelter.
Tomorrow, I will renew my membership to the NAACP.
Tomorrow, I will plan out my holiday gift shopping at locally-owned business, ideally by POC and women.
Tomorrow, I will make arrangements to attend Shabbos at the nearest synagogue.
Tomorrow, I will confirm my reservation for my local masjid's community potluck event and look up halal recipes.
Tomorrow, I will write a letter to my Representative, and ask him to recognize that he is obligated to stand for all of his constituents, and not only the ones who attend his church or share his skin color.
Tomorrow, I will set recurring donations to my local abortion fund, and my local rape crisis center.
Tomorrow, I will call El Refugio, the building run to help family members visit those in the immigrant detention center at Ft. Stewart, and ask how I can help.

Today, I will rage and scream and cry.
Tomorrow, the work begins.

“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
Dorothy Day

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Brief Update

Our camper was stolen.
We survived the wedding.
We survived our honeymoon.
We totaled our car.
We bought a new car.
We found out I'm pregnant.
We bought a new camper.
We survived another round of leadership for the burn.

Yeah..... stuff and things. So much stuff and things.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A brief FAQ for those "concerned" about Bonkers' enrollment in an Islamic school

So, I already wrote the polite version of this.

This is for the people who should damned well know better.
This is for the people who want to talk shit about myself, my son, and my parenting without having the ovaries to say it to my face.

Most of you won't bother to read it, because education is hard, yo.
See.... I'm pissed. I'm furious at your racist and xenophobic questions, and the fact that you know so little about Islam that you're actually asking them.
So here's a little FAQ for you:

But why send him to an Islamic school? If you're okay with him in a religious setting, why not send him to a Christian school?

  1. Islam won't tell him he's going to hell for not attending the right church. (Islam believes that those of Abrahamic faiths are treated for the most part the same after death as Muslims. Non-believers are treated according to their faith and acts.)
  2. Islam respects science, and doesn't teach Young-Earth bullshit. While evolution is still a source of some debate among Muslim adults, Islamic schools teach science the same way that it is taught in secular school systems, with a reference that concerns about how faith & science interact should be discussed with one's imam other other religious educator. (It is worth noting that the Qu'ran has a number of verses that are often read as support for evolutionary biology.)
  3. Christian (and many secular) schools are often hotbeds of bullying, whereas Islam teaches that one of the principles of the faith is Zakat, which translates specifically to mandatory alms-giving (think tithing, only to the less fortunate rather than necessarily the church/mosque) but is broadened by most Muslims to mean an obligation to be kind and helpful to others. 

Aren't you afraid that they'll convert him?

I couldn't care less if they do. It is my firm belief that he will choose his own faith (or lack thereof) in time, and he will do it with as much accurate information about as many faiths as I can manage. If he chooses Islam, I will be just as pleased as if he chooses Judaism, Wicca, or decides that 'God,' doesn't make sense and ends up an Atheist. 

Aren't you afraid that they'll turn him into a terrorist?

This question pisses me off to no end. Yeah, Islam has extremists who do awful things. So does Christianity, or have you forgotten about Westboro Baptist Church? (And before you say, "Oh, but they're not really Christians, let me remind you that the 99.97% of American Muslims will tell you in a heartbeat that the extremists are not really Muslims, either)
I am no more worried about Sr. Rima turning my kid into a terrorist than I am about him stowing away onto a plane and skydiving without a parachute. One's about as likely as another. 
I am  mildly worried about some 'Christian' asshat shooting up or bombing his school, though. 

So why send him to a school you're worried about being bombed?

Because in case you haven't noticed, secular schools aren't super-safe these days, either. And if you're going to fly the false flag of this concern, "ZOMG but you shouldn't send him there in case someone bombs the school," then maybe you should discourage anyone from bombing any school full of kids instead of acting like this Islamic school is somehow an okay target.

But what are they teaching him about Islam?

I have a copy of his Islamic Studies curriculum, and it amounts to, "God is Good, Listen to your Parents, Take off your shoes indoors." 
If you're really interested, week by week the basic lessons are:
  • Muslim Greeting (Asaalamu-Alaykum, which means, "Peace be with you,")
  • Who is Allah/God?
  • Allah loves me
  • Saying a thank you prayer
  • Saying grace before eating
  • Who is the Prophet Muhammed
  • Why Muslims read the Quran
  • Islamic Character: Honesty
  • Islamic Character: Kindness
  • Islamic Character: Patience
  • Islamic Character: Bravery
  • Islamic Manners: Greeting people politely
  • Muslim prayers
  • Islamic Manners: Cleanliness
  • Islamic Manners: Listen to your parents/elders
  • Islamic Manners: Sharing and caring
  • Islamic Manners: Thankfulness
  • Islamic Manners: Respecting others
Dangerous stuff, yo! 

Aren't you worried he'll be bullied for being different?

See, this is where Islam is awesome- that 'good manners, zakat, caring for others,' thing? Well, it means that bullying is a major no-no, and in fact many of the parents are so excited to have us there, they've been encouraging their kids to make friends with him.
(And it's worth noting that we're late into week 2, and he complains about leaving school because he loves playing with his friends there.)

Aren't you worried they'll try and make you wear a veil?

I discussed with the Vice Principal appropriate clothing for me to spend time in the school in, and what I wear to work is perfectly acceptable- jeans, flats, a flowy tank top, and a cardigan or blazer. They'd get fussy if I wore shorts & a crop top, I'm sure, every Muslimah (Muslim woman) interprets strictures about 'modesty' individually, and I've seen a number of Muslimah parents there showing more skin than I do. 
That said, I do wear a hijab when I visit the masjid (mosque) because it's courteous- I also wore pants and long sleeves when I visited the Vatican. 

What about the gender dynamics in Islam? I thought you were a feminist?

I am. And part of my feminism is the recognition that every woman has the right to choose her own life and femininity. Eventually, I will move him to a secular school, I'm sure- partly logistics, and partly because I'd rather not fight an uphill battle about girls and boys not being confined to gender roles. However, I want to make damn sure I say here that he will also see that bullshit in secular schools, and at least in this setting he's being told that there's a reason behind it that both genders choose, versus "it's just the way things are," A choice to abide by gender roles comes with the corollary implication that he can choose otherwise- not an option given in secular schools. 
But at age 4? Dude, the only things they're teaching him about 'boys v. girls,' is to stay out of the bathroom while someone else is peeing- I checked. 

So, TL;DR version? 
Thanks much for your thinly veiled Islamophobia disguised as worry for my kid, but we're good. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016


I've been in crappy shape lately, physically and emotionally.
Wedding stuff is killing me (why are they so expensive?!?!?!), finances are terrifying me, Babybutt starting school on Monday is freaking me out (normal first-time-mom jitters, but still totally real), and the general household management + career/work stuff is all combining to really mess me up.

However, I think a chunk of that may well be physical. I know for a fact I don't get enough calories most days, which will absolutely contribute to exhaustion/fatigue/lethargy. I am pretty sure some of my vitamins/minerals may be off, I might not be getting enough sleep (I am actually a cat, and require like 12+ hours of sleep LOL), and it's entirely possible that more exercise will help.

So, to that end, I am going to try and make some changes to my daily routines to help:

  • Add a multivitamin to my morning routine. They're not perfect, but if I'm currently malnourished (more likely than you think, trust me), it's still a help. 
  • Figure out a better morning food solution, since I frequently skip breakfast
    • Premade smoothies? Premade breakfast sandwiches? Granola bars I actually like?
  • Try and figure out a time to do some exercise
    • Challenge: where in my schedule can i do that without leaving Babybutt at school even longer?
    • Bonus: maybe get rid of that one bit of arm flab that bothers me about my body?
  • Arrange to go to bed earlier
    • Challenge: Get Logan to stop talking to me in bed
  • Increase my fluid intake all day
    • Already started: I don't like plain water (I know, first world problems!) so i bought some presweetened koolaid to make at my desk
  • Look at investing in a sleep tracker 
    • Challenge: spare money pre-wedding = HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  • Increase overall calorie intake
    • Challenge: I suck at stopping working long enough to eat. I may need to re-implement snacking all day type meals. 
  • Add specific supplements for nutrients that I might be low on: Vitamin D & Iron, specifically
  • Consider that if everyone I know is dying of allergies, some Claritin might not hurt.