Bugger

People.
Humans.
Blech.
They’re vultures.
As soon as they discover you have some sort of talent from which they can benefit, they pounce on it like a starving cat in a dumpster.
In large part, that’s why much of my writing- and this blog- sort of took a shit.

Some chick I may have passed twice in the halls of high school asked me to write a college term paper for her, as though it was a completely normal and perfectly moral thing to do.
As though I would be nothing but flattered and jump at the chance.

Art/drawing/painting, especially the less-than-well-known woodburning, calls the vultures to the doorstep even more.

Shit, you don’t even have to be an artistic genius, just mildly talented, to cause the storm of vultures to circle overhead.

Surely, I must be churning out artwork at lightening speed. Surely, this doesn’t take more than a week or so to cull a “masterpiece.”

Surely, I can conjure up an Army retirement plaque or family portrait in a few days’ time.

And even worse is the second question- after “can you have this done by next week?”- is “How much is it gonna cost?”

I want, more than anything to respond with “Three months at the least and $800 bucks or back the fuck off.”

My mistake for being proud of my work and posting it on Facebook. Believe it or not, I wasn’t looking for customers. It was as simple- and as shortsighted-  as being proud of myself.

I never expected- nor wanted- to post a picture of a work in progress and expect someone to toss their money at me. But it’s happened. And it’s soul-sucking.

You’d think I’d learn by now that anything I create, whether it’s writing or artwork, should remain anonymous.

Sure, I love selling my work. It’s fine. I just….

COMMITMENTS.

EXPECTATIONS.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard for people to understand that I do this for fun. If people want to buy it- WHEN IT’S FINISHED- fantastic.

But there are exactly 3 people on this planet for whom I’d ever do anything free or at a discount, and it probably ain’t you.

Vultures.

Vampires.

I’m annoyed.

Übermensch

“This world can take everything from usIMG_485580441
can forbid us everything,
but no one has the power to keep us from wiping ourselves out.” – Emil Cioran (eternal pessimist, died a recluse- “suicide by wasting?”)

“Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.” (Friedrich Nietzsche- suffered a mental breakdown at aged 44, among other things, from which he never recovered.)

I often wonder if I carry a responsibility to be more open about the truths of mental illness. Or, rather, open at all. Or rather, admit that it even exists…. within myself. I started a silly blog once. I intended it to be anonymous for this very purpose. It didn’t turn out that way and evolved into the silly blatherings of a woman who thought there was purpose in owning an identity given her at such a young age, medicated for it, and came out the other end. It backfired tremendously. Talking about it in such a frank manner only made it a gaudy, ornamental elephant in the room- a dramatization of who I really was. The words just poured out of me and turned me into something I wasn’t- an overly dramatic banshee of verbose poetry and flash fiction. There was one thing- or person- or friend- perhaps beautiful muse- that did come from it, which I do not regret. Yet, for the most part, it was ridiculous blather.

This past Tuesday, my cousin’s wife committed suicide. After he failed to reach her on the telephone, he came home to find her in her bathtub. She’d put a .45 to her temple after fully stocking the kitchen with groceries, tenderly making their bed upon which she splayed her favorite hoodie, and left steady-handed, carefully-worded letters to her husband and a few friends.

She was part of our family for seven years, and in those seven years, she was never a woman known to be given to mental illness, despair, disillusionment, or inescapable sadness, not even to her husband. This was not a marriage in trouble. Quite the opposite. These two humans, my cousin and his wife, did everything together. They enjoyed all the same interests. They laughed together. Constantly. They fished together. All the time. They  took precious Facebook photos together. She had a huge social network of friends who adored her, including her husband and  my mother. She was a country girl, no doubt. She loved getting dirty, catching gaters, and running her and her husband’s fishing and boating business likaboss. Her unflappable greeting each time my mother answered one of her phone calls was “Hi, Aunt Jeanne. It’s your favorite niece-in-law!”

On reflection, the only hint my cousin could conjure was her more frequent mentions of how tired she was. In the stoic and methodical letters she left to him, it became clear that her fatigue was emotional and not physical.

Yet, everyone within miles of her realm of influence had absolutely. zero. clue. Not a single soul, many with whom she spoke on a daily basis, was anything but completely and utterly shocked.

But I know how she engineered that. I know exactly how she did it, and exactly how it made her feel.

It’s simply a false vacuum of reality painstakingly, and often subconsciously, constructed over time. It is a mask of normality patched together in the image of all the social norms perceived in the life swirling just outside of one’s reach. Its construct is based on shame, guilt, worthlessness, emotional exhaustion, and a darkness to which the soul can travel that few humans can ever conceive. This is not a place one finds themselves upon waking overnight. It’s a long journey into that abyss, one in which the scenery never changes but your perception of it warps in darwinian time until there comes a day when all you see and hear around you is acutely not what others see and hear.

That is where a road in the mind forks. One person, such as myself, living in this same intolerable vacuum, will scream aloud for someone, anyone, to puncture that bubble because although that journey and that mask took years to create, I realize how false and fragile it is, and how quickly it can be dissolved by merely shedding my mask before one whose feet are firmly planted where my toes no longer reach. Another person, such as Amanda, cannot see the bubble but only what the peepholes of her mask show her. Her perception has become irrevocably real, her mask flesh, and to even the soundest mind, there is no escape from flesh but through the destruction of life.

How can one person see the bubble and the other cannot? How can one person see the fork in the road and another sees only a straight path on a dead-end road? How can one be so loved, so surrounded by those who’d hold her hand in an all-night vigil as she sheds that mask, no matter the screams or chunks of farce that must be bleached away, yet not see any hands at all?

It seems to me that, in 2016, with all the attention paid to ending the stigma of mental illness, the fact that anyone can define that kind of stoicism- the mask of zen hiding a gauche perversion of the psyche- as a personality strength is confusing and antithetical. The failure to have the courage to reach out, to anyone, is a weakness. A terrible, tragic, and selfish weakness.

And that brings me back to my original perplexion. Do I have a responsibility to be vocal about mental illness? Do I have a responsibility to talk about how I have learned to live alongside it, maneuver around it, find courage and strength in knowing I need help rather than creating a false reality of strength in the lie of normality?

Only five people on the whole of this planet know who, or what, I truly am. I am not something I talk about in casual conversation. Diagnoses of the mental sort are not something I talk about. I am not even sure I believe in them. But I do believe in dark places. I do believe in that mask of zen and the vacuum of false realities. I’ve worn that mask, and I’ve found myself locked in that vacuum. But I also believe that no one has the right to allow someone to love them, emotionally invest in them, rely on them, lean on them, cry with them, laugh with them, plan their lives around them, and then violently and purposefully rip themselves away from the world.

There are no do-overs. There is no absolution. This person has not only taken themselves away, but taken away the options of all those in their sphere of influence. They have irreparably, and without permission, changed the course of the lives of dozens, or hundreds, of people. They have damned them to a life of questions never answered, pleadings never heard, guilt never assuaged, anger without a target, screams without a receptive ear, inextricable violent memories- the permanent intricacies of the scars of the most selfish damage a human being can levy upon another.

I’ve admitted to at least one, or all, of those five people who know the me behind the mask that suicide has never been a thing that has crossed my mind, not even in my darkest of moments. I’ve joked that I am far too narcissistic to think the world could possibly be better off without me.

The truth is that I feel a responsibility to whatever chaos patched my organic subatomic particles into a living being, a responsibility such that as long as there is air within my lungs, I must breathe it. Whatever may come. However laboured that next breath may be. However painful that next inhale and exhale, as long as my lungs expand and contract with that beautifully perfect mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, I must allow them to expand and contract.

The stardust that congealed the chaos which became me is still within me. Who am I to scatter it to the aether, only for it to congeal into some other being, perhaps far more frightening and damning than I could ever be?

I have no right.

No one does.

Nietzsche also said
“I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.
Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.
‘What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?’ thus asks the last man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.”

I am not the last man, and I am surely not the overman.  I am merely a flea among fleas, with a responsibility to take every breath required of me, even when accepting my own fate, over the bridge, toward the Übermensch I may never become, but have no right to deny myself, but more importantly, to deny anyone else.

Narcissism or self-deprecation?

Perhaps both, or neither, depending upon one’s impoverished understanding of Zarathustra. And fleas.

But, truth.

I know that I cannot create a caricature of myself for the benefit of others to define mental illness or to navigate the labyrinth of the darkest corners of the mind. I cannot lead anyone by the hand through that maze. I cannot stop those whose mask of sanity has fused to their flesh so tightly that the only way they can free themselves is to crumble back to stardust, the velocity of their final wisp of existence and the violence of their self-destruction measured in Planck time.

I can only take responsibility for my breaths, for those who are bathed in them and those whose breaths search for my body in turn. I can only think of human things, wonderful and awful human things, like unsated passion, the desire for a flicker of life in eyes looking into mine, my desire for them equaling their desire for me.

I can only take responsibility for the lives I brought into this world, the men who look to me as the woman who will define all other women in their lives. It’s a yardstick any mother would be a coward to shatter.

I am no coward.

But I am also no savior.

I cannot take responsibility for those who do not want to be saved. I can only look into the stars on this Blue Moon and think of eternal recurrence, all that which is repulsive, but also all that is divine.

 

Long Real

A bit counter-intuitive perhaps, but there comes a time when being given a diagnosis is more of a relief than despair.

Years of various procedures. Poked and prodded.

A seizure.

Actively, purposefully eschewing medical care of any kind for well over a year because when there are no answers, convincing oneself of hypochondria is an inevitability.

A pawn in a game of fatly-paid-specialist one-up-manship.

Having to be dragged to the ER, against one’s will, because the symptoms are no longer easily hidden.

And then. It becomes real.

Numbers and pictures don’t lie. Neither do they matter when there seems that no diagnosis is worse than that of “hypochondria.”

Numbers and pictures on ultrasounds and MRIs are manageable. Curable, no. Manageable, yes.

Abandonment, no.

Dismissal by the wave of a hand, no.

The look in the eye (of one whose degree says they should know otherwise) when they believe they’ve caught wind of malingering, flights of fancy, jazzspinning, pining for the sacred script- that look will kill a woman like me, one who complains to no one except those closest to her. Some of whom she’s sure, deep within their souls, saw flashes of crazy and hysterics they never voiced. But they lingered.

They’d linger in me if it were happening to anyone else but me.

I’d rather it be curable. I’d rather it be a smashed toe or a gash on the noggin.

But as forever as it might be, it’s real. My reality was not the perception of a madwoman. An idler. A manipulator whose weapon was the drama of physical ailment.

I don’t even care about the word. The word forever stamped in my medical record. The bottles of medications. The tipsy road I’ll travel to find my new normal. I don’t even care.

I’ll take the medications. I’ll travel that road.

I’ll survive. For a million years, I’ll survive. To give birth to all the creations I’ve not even given myself the time to conceive. To love. To love until my soul melts in the pyroclastic flows of the mischievous quirk of his lip when he flashes a smile in my direction. We’ll meet, on the quantum strings of that grand piano. Oh yes. To love en pointe in the aura of a muse.

I’ll never tell.

Never tell.

Close it away in my medicine cabinet and smile. Smile to hide the crazy I own, wriggling from the skin of the crazy that was never there.

 

Marmalade

I had a dream last night that I’m sure would make a brilliant- if not Huxley-esque- story. Of course, it’s like all my dreams, simply fragments of ideas.

It begins with the idea that there are certain children suddenly being born with the inability, or lack of desire, to eat human food. They grow and develop normally, but no one can figure out why and how.

From what I can gather, these children are alien spawn. Kind of like a purposeful panspermia thing. Otherworldly beings are putting their fertilized ova inside the wombs of human women.

Turns out, the interloping alien parents are actually feeding these children with some kind of marmalade-flavored drink. I don’t know how these children procure the drink, all I remember is a quick scene where one child, maybe 10 or so, is in a car with his mother. She is circling a parking lot looking for a place to park. Suddenly, Bruce Willis shows up.

For real.

He knocks on the window of the car and asks the boy if he has any marmalade. The boy opens a secret compartment in the car and hands over a bottle.

Next scene.

It then appears as though this boy, or the whole lot of these alien hybrids, are transported to the world from whence their DNA came. They are told it is a world where they have no needs because they are all provided for, but they have no wants because the concept of wanting, whether fulfilled or not, does not exist for them. And, of course, everyone lives happily together. Lalalala.

*Then there is something to do with a purple nitrile glove with legs which scuttles by my feet as I am inspecting a factory*

Cut scene.

The caveat is suddenly revealed.

The Earthling-hybrids are told they will be allowed to move to this world, but while all their needs will be met equally as with the pure-bloods, they will continue to retain the Earth-trait of wanting…..  which will forever be unrequited.

OR…. they could return to Earth, forever doomed to a fate of drinking marmalade juice, facing the ever present possibility of going without a need, but also the hope and self-determination to fulfill a desire.

Hmm…..

the end.

Short Reel

I dreamt last night about someone I once loved.
He sat at a table with his back to me
I walked in a crowd behind him.
He turned.
I saw his face.
He reached to acknowledge someone he knew, someone walking ahead of me.
Me, he did not see.
I shrouded my eyes.
As I passed him, I reached for him,
letting my fingers run across his back, from shoulder to shoulder.
I could feel his skin
warm beneath his shirt.
Just a touch,
he flooded into me.
I passed.
Me, he did not see.
I’ve never dreamt of him before.
I rarely dream of much.
Though, I know-
and so should he-
that one of his red t-shirts
smells of cocoa butter
from the lotion on my fingers.
Look for it.
Unfold it.
I was there.

My Big, Fat Homeschooling Post- Revised

This original post was written almost 3 years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, when several of my friends were asking questions about homeschooling. I’ve had a couple of people ask me again recently, so I decided to repost it.

In the past 3 years, I have very little to change from my original post except to say that at 19 and 20, while my little bugsies are now growed up……. they still live at home. So, take any advice I give with a grain of salt🙂

They’ve been homeschooled pretty much from day one.  I think Jake made it to the middle of first grade.  Andrew never made it past preschool.  His preschool teacher took it upon herself to diagnosis a 4-year-old little boy with ADHD because he liked sticking his fingers in the fan and wouldn’t sit still for story time.  That just happened to coincide with Sarge getting orders to South Korea.  I took them out of school, we moved across the world.  We actually did have every intention of putting them back in school when we got back to the States.  Then we got back.  And I really cannot explain what Sarge and I saw in our boys that made us change our minds.  There was something about them that was just different.  We never put them back in school.

I spent the next several years patchworking every kind of curriculum I could think of.  Everything from the little workbooks at Wal-Mart, all the way to full-on school-at-home with Calvert School.  I read an article on the Department of State website geared toward foreign ambassadors and Calvert School was one of the distance education options they suggested.  Good enough for ambassadors, good enough for my kids, right!

I beat myself up.  A LOT.  If I regret anything, it would be that.  Beating myself up for not being organized.  For not sticking to a schedule.  For not sticking with a curriculum.  For not forcing them to do schoolwork.

I beat myself up because I thought I was ruining them.  I would never be good enough.  They would never be good enough.  They would grow up and hate me.  On and on it goes.

Honestly, it wasn’t until about 3 or 4 years ago when I quit beating myself up and made a decision.  Although, I never really told anyone that decision except my mother.  That decision was to officially become an unschooling parent.  You can read all you ever wanted to know about unschooling here.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling I read a lot about John Holt’s philosophy, read Sandra Dodd’s blog.  I had really been doing it all along, I just kept trying to be something I wasn’t and would never be.  But it was at this point when I just let go.  I completely let go.

I didn’t tell anyone because I knew the whole thing had the potential to be a gigantic clusterfuck freight train headed for disaster.  I knew that would be the thought process of everyone who knew, and they’d all be looking at me out of the corners of their eyes just to see the train wreck.  Perhaps, I thought, if I don’t tell anyone and this all goes horribly wrong, maybe I’ll still have time to fix it?  I don’t know.

So, I am telling you now.  And anyone who wants to know.  My kids were unschooled.  We don’t have textbooks.  Or desks.  Or school hours.  Or any kind of studious discipline.

They take standardized tests every year, as per North Carolina homeschooling law, but they just fill in the little bubbles randomly, I send it off to be machine graded, and stick them in a folder.  I have never even looked at the stanines, or whatever the fuck it’s called.  Nor do I care.

My kids have taught me more than school ever did.  I truly believe this experience has turned me into a different person entirely.  Watching my kids discover their world.  Teaching them how to learn, fostering in them a passionate desire to want to learn.  Do you know what is more amazing than your child running through the front door waving an immaculate report card at you?  Watching your kid teach himself a musical instrument, and actually wind up being ridiculously talented enough to stand up next to professionals.   Watching that child you thought would never learn to read…. teach himself how to read.  And not with books or worksheets.  But just during the normal course of his life.

I stopped pretentiously dogging on formal schooling long ago.  It’s a bullshit attitude to have.  A lot of kids thrive in school.  They have wonderful experiences.  So, I am only going to say this once.  The other thing you learn the most when you have unschooled your children is…. okay…. this stings… but…. how little formal secondary education matters.   And how quickly an enterprising child who loves to learn is able to teach himself the few useful things he needs to know to move into adulthood.  I listen to both of them talk.  I have conversations with them.  In the course of those conversations, I tell them things.  Things I knew they probably did not know because they never went to school.  And I will tell them these things, and then they say, “Duh, Mom… everyone knows that.”  You know, obvious shit like how the axial tilt of Uranus makes it look like it’s tipped over on its side.  Sorta like, everyone knows Mickey Mouse, and everyone knows Uranus has an axial tilt of 97.77 degrees.  Duh.  Idiot.

Andrew does that all the time.  And I think he surprises me most because he’s not nearly as…. uuuhhh… vocal as Jake is.  Jake will just verbally slap me in the face and say, “Shit, I didn’t even go to school and I know more than you.” And I smile.  And nod my head.  Because he’s right.

But this blog post really isn’t supposed to compare my own way of teaching my children to any other mode of education.  This is not intended to convince anyone of anything.  Or to spit hatred toward formal education.  Or any of that.  Because I don’t hate formal education.  I just chose not to pursue that for my children.  The purpose of this blog post is simply advice.  I have had a lot of people over the years, and even more lately, ask me about homeschooling.  They ask for advice, where to look for curriculum, how to start, all of those things.  So here goes.

First, check out HSLDA.  The Homeschooling Legal Defense Association.  There, you will find the homeschooling laws and governing bodies for your state.

For North Carolina, it is The Department of Nonpublic Education.

Go to those websites.  Read, read, and read.  Follow the law.  Do the things you are supposed to do.  Some states have more lenient laws than other states.  But know that no matter where you live, you aren’t just going to fall off the grid.  You are answerable to someone.  Like it or not.

Second thing.  And this paragraph is most important.  Decide on how you want to teach, or not teach, your children.  Decide on a curriculum.  And then….. realize that this will change with the wind.  At any given moment.  Anytime.  All the time.  You are going to start homeschooling just like a kid on the first day of school.  Brand new backpack, brand new Lisa Frank pencils and pencil box.  Brand new Trapper Keeper.  Brand new clothes and shoes.  Everything smells new and exciting.  And by the time Christmas break comes around, you’re ready to stick an ice pick in your ear.  Homeschooling is no different.

Some homeschooling moms have the perfect personality for this.  They love charts.  They love being organized.  They love playing school.  They make a goal and keep it.  They dig in with both feet and barrel through it with guns blazing.

And then, there is you.  You are going to hate yourself.  Your charts will get lost beneath the electric bill and accidentally thrown in the trash.  You will have conversations with other parents about what their kids are learning in school, and will immediately be absolutely certain that your children are mentally retarded and it’s all your fault.  You will assume all of this means you were not cut out to be a homeschooling parent.  And you will assume that your only choice is to relent and run to your nearest principal’s office.  At this point, many parents quit.  Those are the parents who say, “Yeah, we tried it for a while, but it just wasn’t for us.”  If you choose to do that, there is no shame in it.  You do what you think is right for your child.  Full stop.

If you choose to stick with it, I will say this.  Don’t do what I did.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Have faith.  And that is coming from someone who barely believes in oxygen because she can’t see it.  Have faith.  Have faith in yourself.  But more than that, have faith in your child.  If you believe in him or her, they will feel it.  If you truly believe they are smart, it will rub off on them.  If you value your child as a human being, if you ask their opinions and mean it, if you have conversations with them about real-world topics, you are telling them that you believe they are smart enough to keep up, and then, they will go make themselves smart enough to keep up.  See how that works?

Along with faith, be real.  Be real in front of your children.  Have faults, and talk about them.  Fuck up, and apologize.  Relate to them with real-life stories.  And listen to theirs.  What does any of that have to do with homeschooling?  Because you are making yourself more than a parent.  You are making yourself a human being they respect.  If they respect you- not as an authority figure, but as a human being- they will listen to you.  They will hear you.  They will consider your words, allow your words space in their brains.  They will know that you might not always have an answer, and if you don’t, you’ll find one, and then you’ll show them where you found it, and now they magically know how to find answers for themselves.

After a while, once you’re done with the initial freak-out, once you’ve spent gads of money on all sorts of curricula only to toss it all out the window in the second month, and then spend the next 10 months blaming yourself for it.  Once you’ve gotten over that, school becomes a non-issue.  Totally a non-issue.  That might happen sooner for some of you, much later for others.  It was much, much later for me.  Like, 2-3 years ago.  I did not belong to any parenting or homeschooling support groups.  I knew a few homeschooling parents, but they were nothing like me.  Even the unschooling ones.  I just never fit in.  Hell, the boys’ cub scout pack was almost entirely made up of homeschoolers, and that was a fucking joke.  That shit had to be the most pretentious and self-important bunch of human beings I had ever met.  And my kids never liked their kids, either.   So, whenever I had a “Oh my god, my kids are going to be on welfare and they will hate me forever” moment, I had no one else who could relate to me and tell me what to do, or how to feel.  I learned on my own.

A lot of unschooling parents do subscribe to the theory of doing a bit of actual textbook work in the older high school years, and in hindsight, I think I’d be an advocate for that. However, you may find that once your kids are that age, they will want to learn it on their own. They will find their own websites and information.  Because you taught them that.  You taught them to love learning.  You taught them how to find answers.  So when the idea of going to college becomes a little seedling in their mind, and you show them the kinds of things most high school seniors need to know (meaning, really, honestly need to know.  Meaning, seriously.  Considering most college freshman years are spent reviewing everything you just learned in high school), they will sit down and learn it.  More than likely, it will take them a month or so.  Maybe shorter.  Maybe longer.  But you won’t have to do anything.  You’ve already done your job.  Going over and nudging shoulders with your kid and trying to “teach” just annoys the hell of out them… because they’re busy learning shit.  And you’re in the way.   See how that works?

This is the point where I am going to give you some more links.  I’m going to look in my school folder in my bookmarks and pick out the ones I think are most helpful.  These should get you started pretty quickly on the road to that emotional breakdown that will cause you to either 1) Give up and enroll them in school tomorrow, or 2) Feel absolutely right in your element, your kids are thriving, you’re proud of them, and all is right with the world.  Or, 3) Lie to yourself with daily Stewart Smalley-esque affirmations until, 10 years later, it finally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you go online to your blog and admit to the world that you don’t teach your children dick or squat.  And they are still fucking brilliant.

Homeschool Supercenter

Core Curriculum of America

University of Texas High School

Indiana University High School

Texas Tech University Elementary School

Texas Tech University Middle School

Texas Tech University High School

Calvert School 

Keystone School (Middle and High)

Time4Writing (online writing courses, elementary thru high)

Time4Learning (One of my kids’ faves)

Seton Testing (standardized tests)

Merit Software

Purple Math

Family Learning Organization (more standardized testing)

Mari, Inc. (reading, lit guides, etc)

eNasco

Delta Education (science and math)

E-Tutor

GeoMatters (geography)

LearnPlus (German and Spanish courses)

Neave Planetarium

Stellarium

Celestia

WikiSky.org

Your Amazing Brain

AncientWeb  (civilizations)

ReadWriteThink (K-12 activities)

Smithsonian Education

Instant Anatomy

Ascend Math

K12.com (free online public school in some states)

 

I have tons more links.  TONS. MORE.  And giving you my opinion on any of them wouldn’t matter.  First, because I really don’t have a lot of experience with most of them.  Second, and this is the most important thing, every child learns differently.  That is the beauty of being human.  We are all different.  The way we experience the world is as different as the number of humans that walk upon it.  I do not know any parent who wants their child to become another brick in the wall.   We are not a cookie cutter species.  That is why we are humans.  And not ants.  Or bees.  Or a herd of antelope.  We have self-awareness.  We are curious about our world and our place in it.  What works for my kids might not work for yours.

And lastly, if I had to sum it all up, and give you the absolute best advice I have, it would be these few things.

1)  Be the parent your child needs, instead of molding your child into the kid you want.

2)  Have faith.  In yourself and your kid.  What you don’t understand is that even though you have lost faith in yourself, your kid will think you’ve lost faith in him.

3)  When given the choice between worksheets or fingerpaint, always choose fingerpaint.

Vagabondage

It’s been a while, no? I think my last post was some philosophical Nietzsche-esque thing about how little our individual lives matter and the legacy you leave behind. Clearly, looking back on my thoughts I’ve scribbled over the past 7 or 8 years, my inherent self has always remained the same. Ever the skeptic, ever the searcher, the wanderer, disillusioned with humanity as it is yet fascinated by what it could be. Looking here and there, under the rug, over the fence. Deciding and undeciding. Overthinking the worthiness of a person, an event, the entire human species. Regardless of any simmering potential, frozen within the doubt that anything I do will make a difference. The way I choose to, or think I should, express that inherent self, however, has always been a labyrinthine evolutionary journey. So much so that, at times, it’s rather funny.

I take myself too seriously.

So I quit my job.

And despite never having drawn anything more than a stick figure prior to September of last year, I quit my job….. to become an artist. Well, to be more specific, a pyrographer.

Ha!

Really.

Because. Well. Why the fuck not? Tomorrow, I might be a philosopher again. Next week, I may finish my novel. Sometime this year, I may find myself pinned beneath an ATV in the mountains of New Hampshire and wonder why the hell I never allowed myself the latitude to say……

Whatever, man. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. I don’t know what time I’m going to bed. I don’t know what time I’ll wake up. And frankly, I don’t care.

Whatever, man.

All the experiences that have created the life that is me are a fantastic mosaic of stained glass and iron twisted, molded, and colored into this body and this mind and this soul, each of which I only have one.

I can’t do this over again. So. I suppose. For as long my body will allow me. I’ll try to do as much of everything as I can.

I wanted to be a writer. So I will write.

Once, I wanted to be a financial counselor, so I will advise.

I wanted to be a philosopher, so I will seek the irrational and illogical and wonder more about those who embrace them rather than refute them. Because.

Whatever, man.

And I guess, for now at least, I’ll wake up at some point every day and laugh at myself for never having known, or wondered, or cared that I had any artistic talent whatsoever.

Somehow, I’ve accumulated a ridiculous amount of wood and power tools, an incredibly expensive woodburning unit, and after four months, have somehow created things on wood that people are willing to pay me a few hundred dollars for.

Four months ago, if anyone asked me what ability I did not have, have never had, and would be the least likely to develop, “art” would not even have been on my radar.

But, today it is. Tomorrow, it may not be.

Whatever, man.

I’ve got my guide, my towel, my babel fish, and- of course- for purely sadomasochistic reasons- my book of Vogon poetry. And I am certainly, most definitely. Not. Going to panic.

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“Pearl” from “Standing Nude” by Bob Seidemann