Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Frying Pans, Fires, Bivouacs, Handwashing, and General Skullduggery

Now that I look back on it, moving “up here” (sorry, folks in the Southern Hemisphere) was a bit like leaving the frying pan in the southern Front Range of Colorado and jumping right into the fire. I was initially opposed to it because it was “almost Wyoming, FFS,” but the opportunity arose because a friend of mine from my son’s playgroup suggested my husband apply to the place her husband was working. She said it was a great place to work, and that her husband was happy there, even though the company had recently given 10 percent pay cuts to its entire workforce. To my surprise, there was a job posting that combined my husband’s various skills in an unlikely way. Even though the company had recently also had layoffs, there were postings to replace people who had gone into permanent retirement, who had amassed specialized knowledge, which happened to overlap DH’s. The chances of finding something that was such a good fit were pretty low, no matter where we chose to live. On the company’s end, it was going to be a difficult position to fill due to the demands it required and the person leaving having over 30 years of experience. DH has an unlikely set of skills that happened to overlap what was required. He applied, heard back and secured an interview in just a matter of days. It was all very fast. Things tend to happen very quickly for us when the right opportunity presents itself.

The reason we were even looking was because there were layoffs going on where he was working, and the signs were all there that his days were numbered. He had been cleaning out his desk for some time when it happened. Leading up to this we had been concerned about what we would do if he lost his job because we had two car payments and one house payment and in 2005 we were already feeling the economic downturn in our area. In Colorado Springs it was difficult to find work that wasn’t defense-oriented, and that was something he was trying to stay away from, because of the karma. He had done graduate work which was funded by the military and had thought quite a bit about how his work would be used and what he wanted to enable and what he didn’t. The work at that time ended up creating the algorithm that ended up being part of facial recognition algorithms, so being someone who is opposed to the Orwellian super-surveillance we currently experience in society, we are extra conscious of how the intelligence we generate might be used for morally reprehensible purposes. Neither of us desire to be Oppenheimers in our work, and unfortunately a lot of science and engineering amounts to the creation of some potentially deadly technology. I had personally worked on genetic engineering (and for the government), so all this stuff that has happened in the past few years was unfortunately really close to home (and helped me anticipate what the reality of the situation was, more so than public officials, even). Anyway, that stuff is really stressful and does take a toll on our bodies, and neither one of us wants to get caught up in technologies that might hurt people.

Shot glass with 3 drops of methylene blue in water - what I take after I have had exposure to excess NO2 from traffic pollution or natural gas, which I try to minimize because one cannot live safely on this stuff, and it interacts with other medications which I am not on, but my neurochemistry is like I am on them. Usually this is administered in much higher doses intravenously in a clinical setting, but in my case that would be overkill.

We considered the work he was doing in his career sort of morally neutral, because it involved the design of high speed digital cameras for industrial applications to increase efficiency and product quality, mostly in the manufacturing industry. I’ll be honest here and say that one of the reasons I am still agnostic yet convinced we are all connected and that there is something driving our destiny is that I had to do a paper on W. Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Management for my American History class back in high school, and he was concerned with what excess surveillance did to efficiency in the workplace from the standpoint of employee surveillance. He found that mindfulness at the planning stages eliminated a lot more waste than inspection did for quality management. I feel like most of the companies DH had to work with, based on what he told me and my own observations, could benefit from learning about Deming. I think education could benefit from Deming’s philosophy, since I discovered my kids learned better with less surveillance. Anyway, we did think about how these technologies might be applied, for sure. In fact, he turned down an opportunity with a local company that does surveillance because they are an important part of the surveillance police state, even though he would have gotten to work with a friend. It was easy to tell where the company’s loyalties were on the surveillance spectrum, because they illegally required income information before they would make him an offer. Some people like the idea of putting cameras everywhere, and I see how it was helpful in tracking down package bombers, but I still feel that we should not all lose our privacy because of fear of a few bad actors.

Despite what I am doing here with this writing project, we take our privacy very seriously. DH does not write down anything that amounts to intellectual property because he does not want it to be stolen, and that is unfortunately how engineers have to work because of hackers and industrial espionage. Unfortunately this level of security might not be enough, and for that reason we do not really want to work in the engineering sphere or in technology any longer. We would rather do basic research which can be open and transparent, or creative or artistic work which can be part of an open dialogue. The other way is a stressful way to live, and we are both prone to psychosomatic illness. Anyway, the genetic engineering I was doing was for gene therapy purposes. Most of my work was done shoulder to shoulder with non-US citizens, and I don’t recall being sworn to secrecy. I was doing academic and government work, which ended up being published in academic journals, but not with my name on it. Good science is transparent to the public, and I suppose yes that comment is a stab at industry and the way we handle ownership of intellectual property in that sphere. I think the most powerful way to deter the formation of monopolies is to make intellectual property open.

The purpose of using cameras for manufacturing is of course to reduce waste, so one would be tempted to consider it a morally neutral profession. But as I have argued before, checking solder joints is only one small part of reducing electronics waste, and that’s no reason for companies to give themselves pats on the back. (We got so many pats on the back…) I think that’s what the original executives sort of figured out about the complicated product DH was hired to work on “up here.” And I think that’s why, after three years, the company spun the technology off to another company and we followed it, working for ourselves for a little over a decade, while I was homeschooling our kids.

When we moved here in 2006, though, the company had laid off many people, and as new people in the community we sort of stuck out and some people indicated they thought it was not fair that the company was hiring when people they knew had lost their homes. Finding community here was strange for this reason. I met a lot of people who were experiencing hardship. I knew a family with four kids whose engineer husband had to take a second job at Walmart. They weren’t living in any sort of grandiose way. I knew another family where the dad worked for free (not really by choice, but because his project wasn’t getting funded) as a geophysical scientist and the couple did wedding photography while trying to make ends meet. One of my closest friends’ husbands was a general contractor and had to do a radical pivot in career during the economic downturn before 2010, and as soon as he got all settled running a new business, his mother fell ill and required a lot of care. Now that their kids moved out, my friend is a taxidermist. We also knew a librarian who was married to a golf professional. There was a family where the Dad started a company to process e-Waste, too. There was even one family where the Dad put himself through Engineering School while working at Whole Foods. So we did end up finding community with other people who were experiencing challenges not directly related to the company we were working for, and that is because of people we met through the homeschooling community. I cannot imagine how isolated I would have been had it not been for our homeschooling friends. I think it is important to have community so as to combat corporate abuse.

When we lived two hours south of here, our friends consisted of people we met through my husband’s two jobs, and some of them also attended the mommy groups I was part of. The people who lived closest to me happened to be breastfeeding moms practicing attachment parenting. I think maybe we met each other because breastfeeding is rarely as easy as one thinks it would be considering it is “natural” and those of us who make it work do so by finding other people trying to do so. It can take a lot of effort, and there are lots of reasons to give up. When my kids were born, it felt like I was surrounded by authoritarian parenting practices, and I learned that they were espoused by a large conservative religious organization in the area which I won’t name here, which advocated corporal punishment and crying it out, and had a lot of influence over local churches, and thus parenting in the area. I noticed that children whose mothers were more punitive were more aggressive. Anyway, I thought I knew “crunchy” mothers down there, because I knew people who were involved in food co-ops, but when I moved up here, I learned I was jumping from the frying pan into the fire in terms of granola-making. It was a lot for me, having been a child of the big city.

The happy idiots in question. Business casual. 2023

When we moved here, my son was turning 5, and we had decided to homeschool, at least for kindergarten, which is legal (unlike in many other countries and some states). To become a La Leche League Leader, I had to read a certain number of parenting books, many of which were also part of the Attachment Parenting International library. Because I had to read all these books, I became the group librarian and kept the books I read in a suitcase which I took to meetings with me. I was meditating on it recently, and I think this is what initially got me collecting books and sharing my collection with others, although my grandmother was a book binder, and I also volunteered in the church library as a child with Sandra Dallas’ mother, Harriett. Anyway, it was in one of these books I read for La Leche League, Playful Learning: An Alternate Approach to Preschool by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan, that I learned about school not starting until age 7 in Russia, and at the same time I also learned about the fight for Universal Preschool in California. I believe I have covered preschool in other writing, but the takeaway would probably be that compulsory education is not the best choice for all children, but that every child needs reliable and compassionate care providers at home regardless of if they attend preschool, and to have stories read to them and access to nature, and it doesn’t have to take preschool to do that. Most preschool programs are only a few hours a few times a week, so they don’t really take the place of childcare for a working person, anyway. Some sort of free, safe drop-in childcare for EVERYONE for kids aged 3-18 could solve a lot of problems in communities; I don’t understand why we have to add a stipulation that it is compulsory. That’s what turns something helpful into something awful, I think. I don’t think preschool teachers should have to handle more than 4-5 children each, and that would help it feel more like a family to the children, the teachers, and the childrens’ parents. I think making it drop in and self-directed would improve mental and physical health for students, parents and teachers.

When I moved up here and found a community, it happened to have a strange intersection of occult practitioners and people educated in science and education, and of course they had an influence on me, because they were all very intelligent. A wonderful influence, I think, even though I have had some frustrations with certain individuals. I sort of think that is part of the reason my best friend up here is someone whose son isn’t that close to my kids. She is the person I feel I can be most open with and we experience weird synchronicities around our health and community that we learn a lot from discussing. Anyway, I have known her for a long time, and the reason our kids weren’t close is that the kids my kids hung out with were younger. Anyway, we parent similarly and read similar parenting books, and both used nutritional interventions for chronic health issues for ourselves. Our kids not being close removes a lot of pressure on our relationship, I think, but they have a ton in common. I met her online long before I met her when we moved up here, so she is technically the person I knew the longest and who probably knows us the best. She wasn’t homeschooling when I moved up here.

My first homeschooling friends included a woman who practiced Wicca, wrote editorials for a local paper, volunteered for the library, and was a credentialed Gifted and Talented teacher who was also studying genealogy. She was a huge influence on me, and I wonder what she is doing these days. We had another friend who was also so inclined, but who ended up studying energy medicine, and another who became a yogi and was married to an air traffic controller. So many people I knew kept gardens, so I learned a lot from talking with them. Down south, it was not unusual for people to put out multiple trash cans weekly, and there was no recycling service. Up here, the city has won multiple awards for its recycling program, which dates back to the 1970s. One of my oldest friends up here was able to make so little trash that their household didn’t sign up for trash service and instead saved it up and took it to the dump themselves. She grew up in the mountains, and was probably the most resilient and productive person I know. She’s the person I spoke with the most about sex positivity. While it seemed like everyone was gardening up here, down there most people I knew (including us) were dealing with just trying to landscape our postage-stamp lots, and we were not far enough along to garden.

I met quite a few people who were Waldorf enthusiasts, and were generally critical of using technology in education, which is not a surprise if you are in tune with Colorado, and realize how close we are to Boulder (both a tech center, and a bastion of hippie bohemian farm culture). Waldorf pedagogy places value on time in nature, and moving the body, and it is thought that teaching a child to read too young (before age 8) causes psychological problems. My professional opinion is that it is not the age at which it is taught, but that it is the stress that is damaging; if a child wants to learn earlier and leads the process, I do not think that would lead to psychological problems. That being said, myopia is certainly a risk, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time outdoors in infrared light looking into the distance and spend more time looking close up at print or monitors emitting blue light. I did not use the Waldorf pedagogy, but did consider its emphasis on play and psychology. Before I moved up here I knew a woman with a child two years older than my son who used The Well Trained Mind, so that’s what I was using at the time, but I was not dogmatic about it at all because I was aware of the effect of cortisol on memory.

We did spend a lot more time outside than we would have, I think, because of the friends we made. I feel like I learned a lot about the benefits and drawbacks of different educational paradigms through these friendships. My own approach ended up being to “let go, but subtly influence.” It takes a tremendously light touch to preserve the inborn love of learning, I think. My dad used to say I “got out of the way,” but it was more than that, because I was always learning myself and we were always discussing the things we learned together and it was a beautiful dialogue. It was not a process where I asked my kids to open their heads up like Pez dispensers and I came by with a shoehorn and crammed information in. Hell no. I am a victim of that approach. Yes, a victim. I had a “perfect” education, and it harmed my psyche. I really did have some of the best teachers, though, and I don’t fault them for the crummy system they were forced to work within. They were able to do what they did for me *despite* the system because they were resilient and exceptional human beings.

This inquiry became intensely personal for me as a mother because I was exploited by a Psychology professor as an undergraduate, and she was a student of B. F. Skinner at Stanford University. I was especially aware of the elements of behavioral control because this professor subconsciously unwrapped them for me with her actions, and I still wonder if she knew what she was doing by pushing my boundaries in the ways she did, or if she really was taking advantage of students, which I heard from others. I was a behaviorist, too, until my kids and community taught me about humanism. This professor has passed away, but in looking back at her, I see that she and her husband who was in the sociology department were also concerned with how learning happens, much like my own husband and I are. Her own work was on trying to replicate the forgetting curves of Ebbinghaus, which explains why in my cognitive psychology class we learned zero cognitive psychology, but she taught us matrix math so we could calculate the forgetting curves ourselves. Ebbinghaus used to have subjects memorize lists of nonsense syllables and see how long they could be remembered, and apparently nobody was able to replicate his work for a very long time. I of course see this as a metaphor for all the wrong and repetitive information the educational system tries to cram into our heads before we are receptive to it. I have always been the kind of person to say “yes” to new opportunities, so when she solicited students for Honors Thesis projects related to her work, I agreed. Initially my job was to work with undergraduate research subjects, giving them lists of nonsense syllables and then recording how many they remembered. Apparently she was happy with my work because she suggested I help her with a project she wanted to do for a long time, which was to catalog all of the research ever done on Cancer, from the Journal Cancer, which she had hard bound copies of in her office, on index cards with a typewriter. I wish I was kidding.

This seems like an important thing to learn when one is young. Credit Christina Furnival and Katie Dwyer.

Before that, as a high schooler, I had a job typing in research abstracts for Dr. Charles McHenry of the Molecular Biology Department at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. I typed those into a database; this was in the days before PubMed existed in its current state. So I read a lot of things that I didn’t understand in high school and surprised myself by ending up a graduate student in Molecular Biology at another University, able to understand all the gibberish I had once entered into a database just a few years before. I had multiple jobs aggregating data into databases, and so I couldn’t bear to see my valuable student learning time wasted on index cards. I pushed back gently; I offered to enter the abstracts on the computer so I could print them out on the University’s rs6000 system and paste them onto index cards. I printed out two reams of paper, put them on her desk one day, and suggested she might be able to find someone else to paste them onto the cards. I believe she had a temper tantrum at some point, because I ended up having to file a formal complaint with the Department Chair, who took pity on me because I was not the first student to complain about this professor. All this trouble was over a one credit hour assistantship, but it taught me that I would not allow someone in a position of power to exploit me.

I learn things quickly, and so does my husband, so neither of us particularly like “busywork.” It is not that we do not see the value in practice; it is that we do not need as much when we do it mindfully (in other words, when one is rested and fueled). Our daughter took an accelerated 4-week college course in Calculus this summer, and she reported to us that the homework was more reasonable. I have always felt that education’s excessive reliance on homework undermined the love of learning. If you’re a Golden Retriever like I mostly was in school, you’ll do anything for a gold star, however, including letting people waste your intellect with a bunch of busywork. Idle hands are not the Devil’s Workshop; Busy Work is the Devil’s Workshop! You heard it here first! If you’re reading this and you once were my teacher and spoke disparagingly of unicorn chasing, I still find that funny. What if you were The Unicorn?

With respect to busywork, my 7th grade science teacher, who taught me that Kansas People Can Offer Fairly Good Service (which I do try to remember when I am reading about Sundown Towns), gave us a mimeographed frog coloring book to do for a huge part of our grade. I am not sure if this was before or after he “ran out of” 7th grade IOWA Tests of Basic Skills and he asked me if I would be willing to take an 8th grade test instead. I still ended up scoring over the 90th percentile. I felt insulted by the frog packet, regardless of what I knew about my scientific ability at the time he gave it. The other thing is it was a coloring packet, and by that time, I had 7 years of private art instruction under my belt. So I turned in my packet uncolored, maybe with only a crossword or other learning activity completed, and I got a D for that trimester. It was the lowest grade I ever got on a report card, because the coloring packet was worth so much of our grade. Anyway, I lost a lot of respect for that teacher for that, and it made me think his class was a waste of my time, but I suppose he was trying to cater to the lowest common denominator. In his defense, he wrote something nice in my yearbook even though I definitely had a bad attitude toward him in my own mind. A few years later, I had the legendary Mr. Harbaugh at East High School, who kindled my fascination with biology, and who had photography published in National Geographic. It was because of him that I became interested in medicine, and why I ended up attending a summer program for Pre-Med students at the University of Colorado where I won the award for “Best Anatomy” (I have an artifact to prove it) and was turned down for an NIH grant because I didn’t know how much Native American ancestry I had at the time (it’s a lot) since my mother was adopted. At the end of Freshman biology, the top students from each section of Mr. Harbaugh’s class got to go on a field trip to the slaughterhouse, and the rest of the class got to see a slide show of the slaughterhouse. He was a teacher who left a definite impression, and kept his assignments efficient and meaningful, at least for a learner like me. I actually was eligible to go on the trip, but I probably had a conflict. I was overscheduled as a youth, first by my well-meaning mother, and then by myself. That makes it difficult to care for oneself fully. Anyway, I don’t think my 7th grade science teacher was meaning to play mind games with me, unlike perhaps that professor (?), but these two experiences when compared to the ones I had with my more effective teachers showed me some important things about what undermines education and trust in teachers, especially when their evaluations of student performance determine future opportunities. (Am I getting better at dog shaming?)

As someone who is interested in what causes income inequality, I also want to understand how social engineering is accomplished by our educational system, and what role “busywork” plays in selecting certain personality traits in the working world. Collegiate level work actually involves very little busywork, but it seems that the K-12 educational system believes it is necessary.

The woman I met when I lived south of here who was using The Well Trained Mind was an engineer and her son was abnormally intelligent. There was another mom in our group who also homeschooled, and she is the one who recommended my husband apply to the job which brought us “up here.” The Wiccan lady I met up here left a real impression on me because she worked in a “good school district” with gifted kids, and had many criticisms of the educational system. She is still one of the most educated, well-spoken and confident people I have ever met. She told me that most of her teaching education was learning how to manage classroom chaos, and that education was a lot easier without that part. I believe that she borrowed from Waldorf, but did not keep her child from reading like some other parents did. I’m writing elsewhere about more detailed aspects of what my kids’ learning was like, but the resources we had access to cost less than it would have cost the taxpayers to educate them in the public education system! That is kind of the upsetting thing - the cost of maintaining an educational “system” is a lot more than the cost of actually educating people because of all of the labor, property and real estate involved to house children during the working day.

Furthermore, I feel like I should mention that some employees of the educational system do not make a living wage, or at least that was true when my mother was working. I sort of feel that the educational system exploits the labor of women with children in this way. They kind of dangle this job that allows one to still be present for one’s kids outside of the school day in front of mothers, and then don’t pay a living wage.

This is all to the end of elders forcing youth to learn on an unnatural schedule, when learning might be more efficient if we create good enough and sustainable environments for learning and let it happen. It is not the education itself that is expensive. I think the travel we did was the thing that put their experience over the top. One might think that is out of reach for most kids, but what we spent on that and other materials was a lot less than the government gives a school per pupil for funding annually. That would have been true even if we had purchased a new computer for them every year. The real cost was having ME at home, and once upon a time having a stay at home mother was not a “sacrifice” a family had to make, unlike it is now because of the new cost of the gilded cage. To me, whether a family has access to an available caregiver and task/paperwork/property manager seems to be an overlooked component in economic inequity. After that, I would say it is the ability to afford services like housekeeping and other property maintenance services and alternative healthcare while still being able to retire, and this was the squeeze we felt. Eating at restaurants ate up a lot of our financial resources, and that is a big reason I avoid them.

The women I met were all feminists, and I think we were rather hurt by the insinuation that putting our families ahead of our careers was kowtowing to the patriarchy. In fact, what we were doing by living the way we were was defending the right to freedom from corporate and systemic exploitation, and the right to have a relationship with our children. I can credit one of my old bosses, Dr. Elaine Benaksas, for the story I often retell about how she figured out that she needed to leave work in time to pick her kids up from school or she missed the opportunity to hear them talk about what was going on in their lives while they still felt like talking. That was a brilliant observation. It is difficult to maintain an emotional connection with kids when they are doing homework, and the chances to connect with them get less frequent as they get older. When my kids were elementary school aged, I read Drs. Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate’s book Hold On To Your Kids, which is about practicing attachment parenting throughout childhood. Dr. Mate has many overlapping interests with me, including caregiving and dementia, psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, and the study of addiction. He is also interested in breaking generational trauma, and is someone who has spoken about the Native American concept of wetiko, which I see as analogous to fascist shadow behavior and xenophobia which is a result of neurodegeneration. But I digress…

In a fair system, no household would need more than one income. I am not saying that going to work is supporting corporate and systemic exploitation; I know women who found work fighting the system from within, or at least supporting the necessary parts. We have been wondering if our kids would choose to homeschool their own kids, knowing what they know from having met schooled kids in college. I would like to give them more time to think about it. I wonder what their schooled friends' perspectives are. I think it is sort of like apples and oranges, but the two approaches do cause the brain to work differently, and I wish mine worked more like my kids’. My brain is a bit overwhelmed from all the “shoulds” I learned. There were drawbacks to doing what we did, but mostly they were that more people weren’t doing it, so we had to drive a lot to meet up with others, and that wasn’t sustainable. A lot of this blog is about trying to learn to become a productive member of society, and also a member of a community, and our struggle with our social and family lives getting in the way of making a living or individuating in such a way as to become a sole unit of production. That wouldn’t be necessary if there were some sort of economic cooperation in our community, of course.

We don’t really care for the use of the word “lazy” as it is just a word to show that someone hasn’t taken the time to understand another person.

It is not possible to understand what it is like on the other side of the rug.

My kids were the type to kind of sit back and observe before joining in, and I know that some other mothers took that to mean they were “shy.” There is nothing wrong with being careful. Perhaps we should not judge others for lacking Knievl blood. I think they were just wise. I learned a lot from my kids about how I could be more mindful, in fact, and not just jump in and follow the lemmings off the cliff. There were a lot of groups devoted to sustainability, parenting and nutrition on Yahoo! Groups back in the 2000s, and I was on several of them and even moderated some. I was on several that were about nutritional interventions for autism. None of us had autism diagnoses, but we had sensory integration issues which were aggravated by food sensitivities, and my parenting life has sort of revolved around dissecting that phenomenon in ourselves in order to better enjoy life. The real issue with autism for me is the sensory integration, GI and anxiety issues, and when those are managed well, having autism is not that different than being smart.

The traditional medical establishment was really difficult to work with and left me feeling like I was dealing with covert white supremacy, and my doctor experiences didn’t help. The Waldorf stuff actually concerned me as being potentially connected to white supremacy (it has been), as did some of the Weston A. Price Foundation fixation on bone structure. Felt like touching a third rail, for sure.

I wish philanthropy would consider this reality, instead of seeing lack of industrialization and colonization of women and people of color and our bodies as a problem. Is it possible that there is a reality where employ-ability and freedom are at odds with each other?

With respect to nutrition and the work of Weston A. Price and Francis Pottenger, I personally have a very small palate and airway and needed orthodontic work as a teenager, so I was curious if the approaches espoused by the locavore movement would prevent my kids from needing orthodontic work. Alas, the verdict is in that they are in a much better position than either my husband and I were. So I think there really is something to what the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying. They may still have to have their wisdom teeth removed. Even when I couldn’t keep up with all the seed sprouting, fermenting, and farm visits, we still ate a diet low in polyunsaturated fatty acids. I am actually not sure why so much effort is being put into making meat substitutes, especially when they lack the important nutrients vitamin A/retinol, methylcobalamin/B-12, K2 (a selection of quinones resulting from the conversion of phylloquinone/K1), free choline, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, animal forms of vitamins that would be immediately bioavailable for the many people who have genetic inability to use various nutrients in plant form.

Anyway, some of the people I met were energy medicine practitioners or were using energy medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, or practicing yoga. Seeing an acupuncturist or chiropractor seemed common. I had been helped greatly with chiropractic care which was covered by my insurance when I was pregnant with my daughter, so I approached learning from the members of my community with an open mind. Now we know a lot more about how things like acupuncture and medicine are beneficial for health, but when I did it, it was considered “woo.” Most things weren’t covered by insurance, even though they helped. So what I kind of noticed is that there was a system of inequality set up where wealthy people on the autism and chronic health spectrum could afford alternative medical treatments, and poor and middle income people were subject to struggling more because neither public nor private health insurance covers those treatments.

I have felt that socialized medicine doesn’t have more support from conservatives because they recognize the authoritarian nature of the medical system. I understand that they do not feel that they personally should have to pay into a system which enables people to waste or “be lazy.” It is easy to think that way about others when one martyrs oneself for capitalism, though. That perspective would really scare them if they read Edith Sheffer’s book Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna and learned what was at the root of their ethnic cleansing efforts with respect to how societies should handle disabled people. I know a lot of conservative people are concerned about sex trafficking, and these disability and marginalization issues are unfortunately intimately tied to the reasons people turn to sex work to make a living. What was done by the Nazis in their quest for a superior German is similar to what we do here in America today with our medical and educational systems because today we exploit people who cannot defend themselves or make a reliable living with menial labor like restaurant and janitorial work that often poisons them and doesn’t pay well. Unfortunately, the aim of the traditional medical system isn’t as focused on consciousness as it could be. The only exception to this that I can think of is that a mental health counselor cannot recommend to a client that they do something that will harm them, which may end up with them encouraging their client to stop participating in the working system of exploitation in ways that primarily benefit narcissists and destroy the environment. What if poor people were to learn from therapy that enabling the bourgeoisie or imitating the bourgeoisie actually hurts them, their families and their communities?

We didn’t end up having to go without pay when we moved up here because due to my friend’s recommendation for the job, he had already received an offer when he was laid off, and in fact, we had two weeks of severance which overlapped with the new job. That is the silver lining with these tech jobs; while a person might be lucky to stay in the same position for 5 years, when the layoffs happen, there is usually a decent severance package. Some companies have dirtier ways of forcing people out. I suppose that is what took the place of the old-timey pension (kind of a lousy replacement for loyalty if you ask me, but I know I am just a GenX Slacker Complainer, who didn’t have to work when I went to college because my generation was “able to” take out enormous loans for the bloated tuition payments since the cost exceeded anything we could be paid at that time). Anyway, I did not benefit from those things in my industry, and in fact at my last job, we were never sure if we were going to get paid at all, which was just stupid. I have never been laid off, but I often have to spend a fair amount of time devising exit strategies from painful situations. I think that’s why I liked temp work; it had a defined beginning and end, and when things got uncomfortable it was possible to grin and bear it because I knew there would be an end. I don’t know why I put up with the threat of not being paid, except I felt like I was contributing to something, and there weren’t a lot of job postings nearby (a problem when one’s education is very specialized). I wasn’t convinced it was the most important work at the time, but in the end what I learned about virology, vitamin E metabolism and NSAIDS was important for my understanding of my own health later in adulthood.

If you really need to know, this is how it works for me.

I try to concentrate on approaches backed by scientific publications, even though I have plenty of good experience with energy medicine and am a Certified Master Reiki Healer. I studied with Sarina Baptista who is someone I sort of knew from homeschooling and the project we did with the school district before I learned she was a Psychic. Also, my childhood art teacher used to get Reiki treatments, apparently. Since I learned Reiki, I think a certain awareness of one’s own somatic system is necessary for one to understand energy medicine, and I think this is why energy medicine has been so difficult for some people to understand. I think the people most resistant to entertaining it are out of touch with their bodies. To put that in terms a behavioral neuroscientist might understand, I think when a person has alexithymia they are incapable of understanding why somatic awareness is helpful or important. It’s like trying to explain the color green to someone who is red/green color blind. I am not saying that people with alexithymia are dead inside, although it can be accompanied by anhedonia, and when I am experiencing it, I often feel “dead inside.” I think alexithymia is way more common than people know, and I suspect it is often comorbid with hypertension and other symptoms of serotonin syndrome because it and hypertension are both a result of increased serotonin with respect to dopamine in the anterior cingulate cortex, and both hypertension and alexithymia respond to dopamine, which is a culturally stigmatized neurotransmitter.

My husband loved his job up here, and he loved what he did and he was good at it. He ended up with a wonderful boss, which he really needed after his other experiences. So he’s always had it in his head that he would consider going back and working there if he got tired of freelancing. I know there are people in technology who are living lives that aren’t bourgeois or oppressive of self and other, so working in tech doesn’t have to mean one is greedy. It would be nice for him to use more right brain in his work for his mental and emotional health, but after going through the interview process, it seems that this corporation has divided up their work so that opportunities for creative contribution are limited, which is a pity. We think that maybe companies do this to make themselves less vulnerable to espionage, but it makes for a less interesting work experience. For some people, including me, this is a real issue. I probably need right-brained activities to facilitate cognitive efficiency and emotional processing in my day, and I suspect that is common among engineers and scientists, given what I have learned about how emotions are processed and how ignoring the right brain leads to lowered emotional intelligence and processing. They actually recognized this in STEM education, and changed it to STEAM by adding art… it would be nice if our corporations followed suit. Or, I think maybe they could put non-toxic art studios and music recording studios in the workplace which could be used for employees to get in touch with their emotions. In any case, no matter how left-brained he was forced to exist, when he was working there, it was a happy time in our lives, I think because he liked the people he was working with and got to talk a lot and be involved in creative decisions.

We did find a community of other homeschooling friends, and we got together and did things like cook, garden, landscape, hike and play games with other families. We played lots of board games, and parents hosted educational events in their homes. Our homeschooling group held parties for holidays, did crafts together, and coordinated field trips to museums, factories and interpretive sites. We also coordinated to get discounts during the week on things like lessons in archery, acting, and visual arts. Those things were all great, but what was most important, I think, is that our kids had oodles of unstructured play time with kids from all over the area of all ages, too, so they could learn to get along with each other and collaborate when no authority was directing them. I was often complimented on my kids’ behavior by volunteers and professionals, and I think that is because my kids had lots of unstructured time. Brains simply need time to wander, think, so that they can pay attention when things actually matter. If everything “matters” then the brain never gets time to sort it out or prioritize the information so that use can be made of it.

We did consume raw milk for several years, and so did some other families we knew, but not without me reading everything I could about it, first. We even visited multiple farms producing raw dairy (but not the one I ended up getting dairy from eventually which had a more convenient delivery location at the local bison butcher I already knew). I decided to try it because at the time we were eating a casein-free diet due to intolerance. Dairy used to cause diaper rash and reflux for my kids, and I wanted to see if we could tolerate raw milk. We were able to tolerate raw milk, although it wasn’t the first casein-containing food I added. I kind of inched us toward raw milk by first adding back butter, then hard higher fat cheeses and yogurt. We had also been avoiding gluten, egg and soy for some time, and we also got tested for celiac, and saw a traditional allergist and all that good stuff, so being able to add back dairy was really freeing, even though it meant having to go another place every week to pick up our order. We were able to add back gluten, but I had to stay away from whole grains, even when they were sprouted. I do have the DQ8 polymorphism associated with celiac, and another allele associated with gluten sensitivity, but whenever I have been tested, I have not been positive for anti-transglutaminase antibodies. I did learn that celiac is almost always comorbid with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it turns out non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible with choline administration, so I think the fact we were eating high choline foods may have helped. We did know some other people navigating the nightmare of food sensitivity, but it was still rather socially isolating pre-2010. We still don’t eat much soy except soy sauce, but we eat a lot of eggs. I won’t turn down tofu, but I won’t make it a staple because it is goitrogenic and I am not sure I convert T4 to T3 very well (I have a polymorphism associated with slow conversion, and I benefit from sporadic T3 supplementation).

I think it is important to say here that not everyone we knew went down the food sensitivity rabbit hole. It wasn’t possible to tell who was making what health decisions based on how they ate or what educational pedagogy they chose. Heck, one family which was not vaccinating had a father who was working for the CDC. So, having all sorts of stereotypes challenged by my reality, I have learned not to make assumptions about how people might behave, and also to be open to people’s viewpoints and listen to their experiences and reasoning. This was all part of my neurodiversity journey. I learned so much from all the people we met, and I am very thankful for all those experiences, but I do think it was a little overwhelming for my mind to know so many people.

So anyway, I would say that my kids’ academic success is probably achievable for others, but we had to be pretty brave to do what we did. One of the things that was frustrating was that someone in our family is an interior designer and she looked down on people who weren’t wearing brand names or driving new cars, and those are things that just have to fall by the wayside to live on one income and become less dependent on capitalism. I think that’s what is saddest about designer culture; the people who most need things to be brand-named are the least secure with who they are, and the least likely to speak up against exploitation in the name of a brand. I wonder how often journalists’ copy is biased toward capitalism due to the need to advertise. I am fortunate that Google provides a free space to speak freely. I do not mind not being more popular. It’s not about that for me, even though I like people. Complicit support of the meritocracy upsets my stomach; it is inhumane. I sometimes wonder if we did things as we did as a reaction to having people close to us pushing their status quo values on us. I figured out that I do not trust “normal” people for this reason; that being said, I have always like the saying that “normal” is just a “setting on the dryer.” I suppose that was the real paradise of homeschooling is that we did not judge each other for having and not having things, and we also didn’t guilt each other for not taking vacations or force ourselves on others right after returning from a vacation, because we became aware that people often return from vacations sick.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that we not only vote with our purchases, but we do so with our attention, too. I have known parents who were concerned enough about media that they either did not have a television or they severely limited their kids’ access to television. I did have a rule in our house that we did not turn on the television until after 3PM when school would be let out if they were attending. My kids had unfettered access to computers and the internet. So they know different corners of the internet better than I do. And their brains are wired differently than mine, which is fine because I don’t think people should be mere copies of each other. I think that would be a really boring world.

Now, what we did was we limited the amount of advertising our children saw, and we went to great lengths to do this. I mean great lengths! I didn’t blindfold them when driving through town, or anything like that, but my husband and son did build a system that would strip advertisements from live television, which we had at our house when we first cut the cord. We also have a Raspberry Pi Hole setup to block advertisements to our devices, and we always use Adblock software. We did not sell the software to anyone; we just used it in our home to record television for our own pleasure, much like we had a VCR. It was actually a great learning experience for my son and husband. They work incredibly well together. My son had to maintain the system and take care of a lot of data storage, and troubleshoot it. We used it primarily to record ABC Family content we were watching at the time, and also Seinfeld. I think my kids have an encyclopedic knowledge of Seinfeld because of our exercise. We are big fans of dark comedy and have watched Arrested Development more than once. Perhaps Seinfeld isn’t really dark comedy. (I also do not want to have to spend time explaining to someone why Curb Your Enthusiasm is funny). Anyway, while we were able to protect ourselves from excess advertising, we still weren’t able to protect ourselves from surveillance by the deep state.

Dance like nobody’s watching!

I have this weird relationship with digital content so my life is some sort of unit study which corresponds to what is going on in the collective unconscious, which is kind of fun, but it’s something I need to be able to turn into some sort of income, while standing on the shoulders of giants. I suppose I try to recognize the giants as I learn about them. I try to tell my readers who is relevant, like Mel Brooks seems relevant right now. I suspect any Mel Brooks movie will suffice, but I would recommend Young Frankenstein. I also really enjoy Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I grew up on Star Trek.

When I was a child, our Presbyterian church did a presentation of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” where the children’s choir sang about what happened at Terezin/Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic during the Holocaust. We did a lot of challenging music, and actually we did musicals, and our director was Dr. John Kuzma who was once director of The American Boys' Choir (and who was raised with Catholicism and studied Jung), so I have had pretty rigorous training as a vocalist. I spent a lot of time with John, and while I gripe about music education, I do appreciate the strong foundation I got studying with John and feeling like I was in something bigger than myself. He was very good at cultivating that feeling in choir. Our church also had ecumenical services with other faiths in the area to combat xenophobia and we hosted the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. Also, one of our pastors was Rev. Alan Maruyama, who was born to Japanese immigrants in 1926 and served in WWII for the Allies, and told us about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the internment camps. Furthermore, as a child I had pen pals in Germany and Hawaii. I loved having pen pals. I have always loved having opportunities to learn from other people. I want to mention this because I once had a homeschooling mom friend who was opposed to teaching her children about the Holocaust, which I had difficulty understanding, particularly in the context of her being one of the more outspoken moms I knew on vaccination. But it turns out there is a group of Jewish people also upset about vaccination, so… anti-semitism is a messy subject, and it is not safe to make any assumptions about what someone else believes is humane. I think all people deserve safety and love, regardless of their beliefs, skin color or gender identity, and I think it is possible to be part of a marginalized group and not “see” other marginalized people. I had a very difficult time understanding her perspective on this matter, because I think that it is true that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I have been watching history repeat itself, I feel, and the themes from the Holocaust also included intolerance of people with neurodiversity issues and whose gender identity was fluid, which is people like me. I rather identify with Hannah Arendt and Marlene Dietrich, myself, and these women fought fascism by being unapologetically themselves, which I intend to do, too.

The red light is mitochondrial therapy. Really, that’s all it is. Rocky Mountain High, 2023.

Sometimes I worry that I did not teach my kids enough about history, and then they usually surprise me with knowledge I did not even have. I learned about Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld from my kids, for example, during the time when I was reading about Sabina Spielrein. Sometimes when I am comparing us to families who used the public school system I equate learning history to sitting in a classroom, rather than recognizing that our traveling, museum visits, reading and media consumption covered a lot of the basics and then some. The meaning in those contexts was made more relevant, I feel, than it was for me in my high school history classes. And I had a fondness for my history teachers, I just couldn’t learn history in a way where it stuck in a classroom. It is much more meaningful to me to learn about my own place in history by studying the forces that created my reality through influences on my ancestors and their communities. I learned we were related to some interesting historical figures, including Betsy Ross and Dalton Trumbo (who was targeted by Senator Joe McCarthy and the FBI for being un-American in the 50’s). In fact, Les Claypool of the band Primus is also related to Betsy Ross. The day I found out about my Claypool relationship to Betsy Ross, I had to leave the house and with that knowledge fresh in my head, I ended up right behind a car with a “Les Claypool for President” bumper sticker, and within a few days I met another Claypool descendant at a social gathering of people from the community college who told me about Betsy Ross. The synchronicities I experience are often that crazy, and they were even more so at the community college. I also learned that one of my ancestors was George Washington’s farrier, but I have lost track of who that was, and some people claim that he didn’t have one. That must have been an interesting job. I am also related to Sir Francis Drake, which I now see as especially funny after watching Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets, and learning about his role in the “sinking of the Spanish Armada” which was propaganda spread by the British.

I often wonder if I have so many voices in my head because it’s all my ancestors battling each other, still. I have a pretty diverse background, so I had ancestors all over the world. No doubt one of my “New Amsterdam” ancestors slaughtered one of my Algonquin ancestors. No doubt one of my Spanish ancestors slaughtered my Mayan ancestors. Or vice versa! I’ll probably find more examples as I investigate my Eastern European heritage. The United States’ Southwestern diaspora basically exists because of the Inquisition driving the Sephardim out of Spain. I know most of us are probably related to the Native American peoples AND the Spanish who attempted to colonize them. I actually think that’s a reason why I usually connect with people easily. It’s easy for me to focus on commonalities, because I certainly have something in common with anyone I meet.

I haven’t fallen out with a lot of people, even though I have known so many people. I feel lucky about that. In most cases, I feel like life just took people in different directions. I have unfortunately had to be very selective about how I spend my time, so I have lost touch with a lot of people. I seem to be doing a little bit better with chemical exposures, perhaps since I started taking zinc again. Most people don’t know this, but it is difficult to get enough zinc from food alone, unless one eats oysters regularly, which is more difficult when one is landlocked. Through my kids’ childhood, we ate canned oysters. I stopped doing that as much because of the oil, which I wasn’t sure was pure olive oil, but that unfortunately meant that I needed to take a zinc supplement. I can be kind of stubborn about buying things I already own, and since I had a bunch of zinc sulfate powder, I wanted to use that up before I purchased the (relatively very inexpensive) premade capsules. Unfortunately, as I was working out the calculations to make capsules in September 2021 I had some cognitive issues and didn’t feel confident in my ability to make them and not poison myself. Then, it totally fell off my radar. Now what is interesting is that my parents didn’t seem to get COVID, and besides social distancing and wearing masks, I think all they did extra was take zinc, because my Dad was following Dr. John Campbell on YouTube who shared a study about zinc. Hopefully memory serves. Anyway, zinc is a very important cofactor for so many metabolic processes. I didn’t have any lines in my fingernails, which can sometimes be a sign of deficiency, but I really was not consuming much zinc. Well, I finally felt like I was cognitively “with it” enough to make the capsules a few months ago, and since I started taking them I have been feeling steadily better. In fact, my levels of inflammation are a lot less after bug bites and whatnot than they ever were. Anyway, the point here is that maybe I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just spent $5 on some zinc capsules instead of feeling guilty for not using the powder. I do have a lot of guilt about wasting things.

Zinc is a natural antihistamine, so I wonder if histamine has been an important part of my puzzle. There was a time when I was reading quite a bit about mast cell disorders, and I even attended a talk with a Tufts University mast cell researcher at National Jewish Hospital by Dr. Theo Theoharides who wanted me to stay in touch. It sucks having hypersensitivity reactions - according to what I read in my toxicology text, that is essentially what I have. I think I’m figuring it out, though. It seems like it, anyway. I could certainly stand to exercise more, but the trail has been muddy and I prefer it to walking around my neighborhood where there are vehicles, dryer sheets, herbicides, mowers, and whatnot. Also the ozone from all the fuel consumption is a real health issue for some of us. I see why people move to cabins in the woods, but it’s not the people that are the problem for me, it’s the fact they use that other stuff so much.

Otter, 8”x8” Encaustic, private owner

Anyway, with the various friends I have had over the years, we have done limited discussion of our monogamous sex lives, some of which was for the purpose of understanding what “normal” was. Some of it was also for the purposes of comparing notes on how to approach sex education with our kids. It felt a bit like being a sociologist, and so I am trying to write about my experiences and what I learned like that, even though sometimes people tested boundaries.

I was on some attachment parenting lists where we talked about all sorts of things like how long we let our children bathe together (which was until one of them makes the other feel badly for being different, which happens fairly young due to how penises are weird and sometimes do their own things), and how to maintain a sex life without getting caught by kids, and how various cultures around the world accommodate married relations in ways that prevent childhood trauma. Something I unfortunately failed at more than once. Thank goodness the kids are older now, and they have some sense how to live with other people and honor their privacy. But anyway, these were funny stories to share at dinner parties… The time my daughter thought I was being murdered… LOL. (Sorry.)

I think the media I would recommend right now about tolerance, combating hatred, and examining American culture’s relationship to intolerance would be the shows Transatlantic, El Dorado, American Born Chinese, and Taylor Mac’s 24-Hour History of Pop Music. I would love it if my community would watch these things and talk about them!

One of the things I should probably talk about here is what I noticed about how families use alcohol, because when one is homeschooling, what one does in one’s home does affect the other inhabitants of that home. DH and I collected a lot of alcohol for entertaining, but it was not something we tended to use when it was just the two of us here, and we didn’t have people over very often. Neither of us were prone to drink alone, and we did not drink wine with every meal or anything like that. It was a special occasion to have alcohol. I saw that the New York Times mentioned that middle aged people are doing a lot more binge-drinking and using cannabis, and that is why I feel the need to comment. I did have friends who drank daily; this area has a lot of breweries and so there is no stigma against having a daily beer or glass of wine to wind down after a long day, and one wouldn’t think to think anything of that.

Early on there was a couple we used to bar hop with on special occasions (birthdays), but we sort of had a falling out with them, and in retrospect I actually think it was because of the effects of alcohol on our cognition, because it makes me grouchy and depressed two days later, which our drinking buddies would not have known. I also don’t know how it affected them two days later. From drinking in college, I sort of learned that there are three types of drunk - the happy drunk, the angry drunk, and the sleepy drunk, but I never thought about how what happens two days after drinking might be something people don’t connect to drinking. It’s easy to think that drinking is not harmful if one is hanging out with happy drunks, I think, especially if one does not consider the withdrawal two days later. We had a lot of fun with our friends; I’ll be honest. We were legendary partiers when we did it, and there are some stories.

Someone mentioned to me that their husband was struggling with sinoventricular tachycardia after drinking red wine years ago, and a few years later, it happened to me. So at that point, I discontinued drinking red wine and switched to white wine. I sort of learned that having enough carbohydrate (sugar, specifically) with alcohol was necessary to minimize hangover. So eventually I switched to mixed drinks which had enough sugar, and that also helped. Then, later on after cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2013, I discovered that cannabis also helped ameliorate the hangover effect of alcohol. Then, even further down the road in 2020, I discovered that cannabis was helpful in preventing the cognitive effects caused by the air quality issues in my home.

As our kids got older, some of my mom friends were letting themselves drink earlier in the day, and in retrospect I think that might have to do with some of the problems we were experiencing in general in our lives with respect to chemical exposures and stress. It does really amount to quite a bit of pain, and the brain shuts that off after some time.

As I cleaned up the air quality in my home, I learned that a lot of the negative effects professionals had attributed to cannabis including fatigue, confusion, and hyperemesis syndrome were actually due to concomitant exposure to alcohols and other substances that would register as volatile organic compounds on my air quality meters. Furthermore, I learned in 2021 when I took air quality meters to a friend’s house to check their gas stove emissions that open glasses of wine significantly affect the air quality, and that I do not have to drink alcohol to experience the effects of it two days later. So that makes me wonder about kids who grow up in homes where parents drink with their meals. Is the reason my kids and I did so well in school that we were not exposed to volatilized alcohol in our homes?

Somehow I knew right where the baby was in the king cake. Mardi Gras, 1994.

Anyway, I took my last drink of alcohol in June 2019. I still use cannabis, and I only experience fatigue, confusion and nausea when I am exposed to alcohols, aldehydes, and other substances in the environment, or too much sun without protection (because I carry erythropoetic protoporphyria). Cannabis has been an important tool for me to connect with my somatosensory awareness. I honestly think it has gotten a bad rap because it sort of amplifies one’s awareness of the negative effects of other compounds. But if one is skilled in using it as a tool for wellness, one can pay attention to and learn what causes fatigue, confusion and nausea and treat those conditions, making use of the amplifying effect of the cannabis. It is not really an “amplifying effect” so much as it is increasing one’s awareness of a phenomenon that is already happening which one’s brain otherwise blocks out of its awareness. That is my theory, and the only thing that makes sense, given how I have been able to use it while treating my aphasia. I feel like I have demonstrated that cannabis may be neuroprotective, or at the very least that smoking it is not nearly as dangerous as exposure to alcohols, aldehydes, pesticides, ethylene oxide, and vinyl acetate emulsions we are exposed to ubiquitously in our environments.

That is the process I used to unwind my issues with aphasia and akathisia - using cannabis to help me connect with my self (somatosensory) awareness. Unfortunately, alcohol numbs our somatosensory awareness, removing valuable information. So the desire to numb oneself with alcohol in order to relax, rather than to treat the associated inflammation (as cannabis does), can contribute to cumulative decline, I believe. I think cannabis has been wrongly implicated for a lot of effects that should actually be attributed to alcohol, environmental toxins, and other drugs that are more dangerous. I think people intuitively reach for cannabis, too, because it helps counteract some of these other effects, just as I did when I figured out that it helped reduce my hangovers.

Furthermore, I have noticed that after exposure to alcohols and aldehydes, a person exhales more volatile compounds in their breath. I think this will be rather easy to replicate under experimental conditions, and that it is important to do so. What this means is that drinkers and people exposed to alcohols and aldehydes may exhale these compounds onto the people around them. For years, I was trying to figure out why I was so exhausted after social occasions, and I think it was because most people are walking around in a declining state of metabolism, expiring more and more of these toxins. Some people practice forms of fasting, and that makes it worse. Like I said earlier, I think not everyone’s mood is affected right away, and that exposure might even “feel good” subconsciously, but like with some other addictive substances people use more purposefully, one gets dropped on their head two days later from withdrawal. Does this mean people were meant to operate on volatile compounds as when one is in ketosis? I do not think so, and the reason is because ketosis is a natural byproduct of lowered metabolic states, including diabetes and cancer, where simple sugars are misused by the body. I think this VOC exposure actually contributes to the inability to use carbohydrates for fuel, and that if a person paid attention to their air quality, it might have an effect on their ability to use sugar as fuel, potentially reducing diabetes, especially if strength training focused on building Type 2 muscle fibers (which helps increase insulin sensitivity) were done. But note that exercise intolerance is a symptom of chemical exposure and exercise can worsen mental health if done in a depleted state, especially in the context of chemical exposure. It just doesn’t make sense to starve oneself; one should eat and try to stay in an anabolic mode, strengthening one’s body in order to not lose that strength. Starving oneself simply doesn’t make sense from a neurological standpoint; the brain is made of fat, and I think dieters don’t consider that at all. Ozempic is going to be BAD NEWS for mental health. Now, if someone could treat aphasia using ketosis, maybe I would change my tune, but I’ll be quite honest that I had to use simple carbohydrates in the treatment of my neurological problems, and I had to pay attention to what nutrients are necessary to use those carbohydrates and replenish them regularly. Starving myself makes my sensitivity a lot worse.

Loving oneself means eating.

Loving others means paying attention to air quality.

Another thing I have noticed about myself since I removed alcohol is that I don’t feel the need to flee my home for respite by going on vacation. I have been on a lot of vacations, and what I noticed while on those is that it was nice to get away from all the *things* around here that leave me with a sense of guilt for not being more active. I think that my alcohol-adapted mind sees the world differently; it sees the world as a collection of stuff to battle or run away from, rather than just seeing them as things. Now that my mind is not alcohol adapted any longer, when I start feeling like I need to run away, I have discovered that sometimes the best thing to do is identify what is making me feel like that and just handle it, rather than blowing a bunch of money on a vacation to a tourist destination in a place which is feeling the environmental burden of tourism. Colorado is one of those places, and many days here the air quality is not safe for sensitive populations. This is yet another reason why I have tried to reduce unnecessary trips from my home. But anyway, tackling that odd desire to run away with the awareness that it does not address what caused me to want to run away in the first place has helped me enjoy my home more.

This is not my home, but I dig what flannmoriath did with the place.

I do wonder if psilocybin would help my brain regrow the neurons I may have lost when our water heater was broken and people around me were addicted to construction, potentially helping me tolerate exposures better, but I do not have access to it because of where I live. I do not think psilocybin will “fix” my metabolism of volatile compounds or other toxins, however, and thus will do very little to change the effect these compounds have on my heart, kidneys, muscles or joints. But it could leave me less anxious and depressed, and for someone with porphyria who does not tolerate pharmaceuticals well, that is promising.

Also, I totally understand why people would want to support Walmart and Target to prevent a monopoly by Amazon. I think it would be great if these stores would boycott products with ethoxylated alcohols, though, due to their endocrine disrupting effects and how their processing creates environmentally racist “sacrifice zones.” They would need to provide safe replacements or the ingredients or safe replacements, though. I would especially like it if they would stop using these products to clean their stores. That goes for most retailers. Now, let’s talk about Safe Spaces, shall we?

P.S. You make me feel like Moonbeam McSwine, Abner. Who wants to swipe right on somebody with that many connections?

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Pin the Owl on the Otter: Thoughts on the Education of Bourgeois Financiers in Wet Horse Valley

When I started this blog, I did so alongside a few other homeschooling mothers from the secular homeschooling group in Northeastern Colorado. It was an interesting way to get to know each other. We are subscribed to each other’s blogs and I don’t know if they still come here and read mine, but I did revisit some of their blogs a while back and noticed they were no longer writing. They were an interesting group of women, ones which I collaborated with in organizing homeschooling events, people I shared information with about education and nutrition and talked politics with, people who also practiced attachment parenting, some of whom held advanced degrees in the sciences, people who vaccinated and didn’t, but most of all they were people who were invested in building a community. Some of us were also interested in feminist issues and sex education and tried to have sex positive households, and quite a few of us tried to be mindful of not forcing our children into gender stereotypes or roles, which was a challenge as stay at home mothers.

Naturally, I am kind of bummed they are not writing anymore, and from what I have heard they are probably not writing anywhere else. Some of them got jobs and the ones who didn’t are likely in the throes of trying to launch their kids or finally enjoying some respite from the constant demands of parenting.

Exodus - Not Just a Chapter in the Bible

I lost touch with my homeschooling friends progressively, starting when some of their kids enrolled in school when my kids would have been in middle school. This came in waves, the first being after a few of our members were successful in getting a Waldorf Charter School through middle school open in a neighboring town. We were all in touch with what was going on with respect to that school’s launch, which took a couple of years to initiate, and while many of us were not involved in its development, even some of the families who had homeschooled from the beginning and did not originally have intentions of putting kids in school ended up enrolling children, including some of my close friends who were feeling isolated and worn out from all of the driving and resource management involved due to our network being so spread out. I did hear that the resulting charter school still bore some of the problems of compulsory education, and there was still bullying. We lived too far away and it wasn’t a good match for my kids because of their technological and literature interests, but I still was aware of updates because of the interest of a few of my closer friends. Homeschooling was also a financial challenge, and several of my mom friends needed to return to work. I was very lucky in that regard, and did not take it for granted. I suppose that is a lot of what turned me into the “balls to the wall” volunteer I am. I feel like every free moment is a gift.

The next wave came when the Colorado Early Colleges program got traction in our area. I see that my old band teacher from high school, Scott Springer, was principal of the Denver program, which is cool. Several families used that program to ensure their kids’ entry into the university system and hoped it would appropriately challenge them beyond the public school high school curriculum. I think they also hoped the program would shield their kids from some of the bullying and juvenile behavior so prominent in the public high schools, but I heard that the bullying in at least one case was just more sophisticated (involving occult psychopathic psychological manipulation). This has all been a big deal for me because I grew up in inner city schools where there were drive-by shootings, and this is relevant to discuss right now because my alma mater has made national news several times over the past year for shootings. Anyway, homeschooling seemed like an obvious way to avoid the problem of school shootings, and a lot of the other psychological traumas associated with the educational system, and indeed it was. There were still some disagreements that happened, because it is still real life we are talking about, but the daily stress from having a daily compulsory list of things to do was missing, so that made those disagreements less traumatizing, and a lot less frequent.

The secular homeschoolers in our area fell into different pedagogical categories which presented some interesting opportunities for studying educational psychology. I actually haven’t studied developmental or educational psychology, but a few of my mom friends were educators, as well as my mother, and we have another member of the family who has a doctorate in educational psychology who sometimes spoke with me about those things. My mom is still in touch with a lot of the educators she worked with through social media, too. Anyway, several people in our homeschooling group used Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf pedagogy (which unfortunately does have a historical affiliation with anti-semites), but some people used online schools, some people made their own curricula, and some people just let their kids be kids (also known as "unschooling" and named so to induce a psychological connection with "un-cola"). Note that I have learned the value of Theosophy, which is related to the anthroposophy that Steiner used in my own life, and it plays an important role in my ability to get all of this writing done. Also it informs my scientific investigation into the kundalini/prana and psi phenomena which one experiences in higher metabolic states.

I would not have understood the importance of the body in the mind/body problem had it not been for learning about Steiner’s emphasis on eurythmy (body awareness) and time in nature and connecting that to my own understanding of energy flow in the body and how that is affected by movement, electrical grounding, infrared and mitochondrial function. Eastern medicine relies on an understanding of this energy flow, and it is something that western medicine claims does not exist. I had to use my own understanding of this energy flow through studying my own somatic awareness to treat my aphasia. I use a workaround with my subconscious using divination tools because when I experience alexithymia, which is the body's inability to correctly integrate somatosenssory information, my body sort of lies to me. Other theosophists I knew relied on muscle testing, and I see why that is not reliable - because the egotistical conscious mind lies to us on behalf of the death drive when electrical connectivity through the anterior cingulate cortex is poor or brain serotonin is in excess. My theories about higher consciousness are united quite well through the study of this part of the brain

“Howdy Ho, Neighborino.” Translation by Galaxy Tarot.

Our homeschooling group originated in the Grey Rock intentional cohousing community near downtown Fort Collins, Colorado in the 1990’s, and in the few years before my kids enrolled in community college in the mid-2010’s, it kind of ended up being a catch basin for kids who were pulled out of the school system from all over Northern Colorado. When I originally joined in the 2000’s, most of the other 30-ish member families were people who had homeschooled from the birth of their children. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they were teaching their babies sign language or using flash cards with their toddlers, although some of them did; what I mean is that from the birth of their children, these families opted out of formal group education outside of their homes. Almost uniformly, the kids who were pulled out of the system were pulled out because of attention or mood issues, and that made me privy to an interesting pattern as the membership coordinator for our group which I probably need to talk about publicly. At the time (I do not know how it is now), as much as 30% of a teacher's students might have what is called an "Individualized Education Plan" or IEP, which is for students who have special learning difficulties. As it turns out, it is actually pretty difficult to accommodate IEPs for so many students, so sometimes these kids were being put in isolation for long periods of time because their teachers didn't know how to deal with them.

The concerning thing about what I saw with families seeking refuge from compulsory education was that some children as young as 10 years old were pulled out because they were expressing suicidal desires. This weighed heavily on my heart. Because I struggled with those same desires in my life I have sort of wanted to get to the bottom of them. Uniformly, I saw a pattern where kids who were raised in their early years with attachment parenting were bullied in the school system. It was almost as if the system was saying the fault was ours for making sensitive children, which made no sense to me, having been bullied as a kid, myself. Bullying is learned, after all, and I do not think it makes sense to protect a system which protects bullies through forcing conformity and self comparison. I think I was the contact person for the homeschool group for longer than I should have been. I was aware of the toll the psychological burden was taking on me, however. While I have informally played the role of counselor to many people in my life and while I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, my focus was not clinical psychology, and I was never counseled on how to care for myself in the course of counseling others. I did get limited training in that through my volunteerism with La Leche League before I became certified as a Leader, however.

It did take me a little while to find a replacement once I recognized the toll volunteering for the homeschool group was taking on me and my family. When I stepped up to volunteer, I did not consider the psychological burden of being privy to so many sad stories about the educational system. I cannot even imagine how heavy it would feel if I were a school administrator. I recognize that our group was only a catch basin for kids whose families had the resources to have someone stay home with them, and that there were many other kids out there still struggling within the system.

Art Farts and Other Barnyard Tales

Eventually the feeling of ennui I got from volunteering was replaced in 2013 by a desire to be creative, possibly to fill the hole that was left by my mom friends going back into the working world. Also around that time I had started making artist friends, some of whom whose kids had attended public school, through volunteering in that community. Most of these people had adult children who were long gone from the family home, and it was helpful at that time to see that there was life beyond parenthood, even though parenting issues remain past high school graduation (for some parents, it can go on forever). Art did end up being a form of therapy for me, even though my learning approach made use of a fair amount of coursework and structure to reacquaint myself with techniques I had not used since childhood, as well as to orient myself to the world of gallery shows and competitions. For these reasons and others, it certainly had a significant shadow associated with it, which makes me uncomfortable, and which I cover in other writing.

There were no rules about how to homeschool in our group, which attracted people of different belief systems. The two large Christian groups in our area made members sign a statement of belief which excluded Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, other liberal protestants, Jewish people, Muslims, Wiccans, and other believers and practitioners of spirituality, and of course atheists. We still had people in our secular group who were members of those fundamentalist Christian groups, and I happened to know some members of those other groups from my association with the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is an organization dedicated to the study of traditional cultures’ agriculture, nutrition and medicine, which is involved in the locavorism movement.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is associated with the raw milk movement. My family did use raw milk for a time, and I did a lot of research about it before I made the decision to do it. I am thoroughly aware of the history of tainted milk, and I even found one of my relatives had been found guilty of selling tainted milk in the early 1900’s. I did find the raw milk to be helpful for getting my kids on a broader diet - it was an important bridge to being able to tolerate dairy. We had a lot of food intolerances, and that was something of a social prison, so I was looking for ways to heal those intolerances (and I was able to do that). I don’t know if raw milk was necessary, however. I discontinued the shares several years ago because I was having digestive issues. These may have been unrelated because at the time I was being exposed to a lot of house paint and other construction materials which affect my digestion more than anything else, but at the time my scientific knowledge led me to believe it was related to the milk's microbiota. I was tolerating ultrapasteurized milk better for a while at that time.

Anyway, the farmers were very careful, and I suspect that the stem cells and taurine in raw milk were helpful. People like to attribute the benefits to vitamin C, but I think vitamin C is overrated. When the kids were young I used to make them a morning “milkshake” which had molasses, egg yolk and raw milk, and they were always so calm, inquisitive, and creative on those days. Furthermore, sugar always had a calming effect on my kids. I sort of developed a fear of raw eggs and soft cheeses over the pandemic, because I am not involved in the chain of custody and the chicken industry over here had a crisis with bird flu and eggs were in short supply. Anyway, I eat what I call the “SAND Diet” which maximizes state of consciousness through minimizing serotonin, and it’s actually a lot of what I enjoyed eating as a kid, but with very specific fats. I call it the SAND Diet because I discovered that one of The Sunshine Maker physicists who engineered LSD eats similarly, and also that it is a way that people with autism are inclined to eat (lots of dairy and cheese, which yes I suppose might significantly raise endogenous opioids, but that seems preferable to other opioid addictions). Also some of the first psi phenomena I experienced were with a childhood classmate who bore the surname "Sands" and the diet has the effect of opening up the dreamspace or intuition and also minimizing pain and slowing down time. It is really incredible, and I feel so fortunate that I was born with the life trajectory I was, even though some of the learning was rather painful. I do have to watch out for nutrient deficiencies, though. I like it because I don’t have to think so hard about food, and it gives me time to use here for other things. There are certain nutrients one simply cannot replenish in adequate quantities in a toxic and stressful world, especially with a genetic handicap, which I unfortunately have. Anyway, some people I knew were from both the locavore movement and homeschooling, and those folks were largely Libertarian or Republican and were doing some form of homesteading. But I knew liberal homesteaders, too, who were not members of those groups. Nobody I met fit into boxes.

The majority of the people in our homeschool group who I associated with because our kids liked each other were registered Democrats but I suspect some of them probably also became Independent. Anyway, a whole bunch of them were Unitarian or belonged to the Unity church, and had strong communities through those organizations. These are sort of theosophically-oriented organizations; they are open to people of all beliefs. So my interactions with Unitarians in the area greatly informed my perspectives. One of my closer friends from before 2013 started a farm and is now a florist, has a doctorate in Biology and is a secular humanist who had experienced altered states of consciousness. She is someone I have enjoyed discussing women's health with. She reached out to me last year, and I had to tell her I had a whole bunch of writing to do and that I couldn't get together. There were unicorns everywhere, I swear. People letting other people be! It was great. So many interesting people to talk with who I never would have met had I gone back to work and not explored my community. I feel badly that I have to be such a jerk about detergents, fuels, paints and alcohol, and frankly I am so tired of having to educate the people close to me about these things in order to feel safe spending time with them with them thinking I don't like *them* that it is easier just to put my nose to the grindstone and not ask others for help. I am totally dying to pick their brains now, of course.

I got the sense that many of the liberal people identified with Democratic Socialism, which has just enough overlap with Libertarianism that the group functioned fairly well, especially owing to the fact that we all agreed, generally, that socialized services like education and medicine should not treat their customers like prisoners or presume that parents are unfit when they present their children for those supposedly socialized services. This was a problem some members, especially the less wealthy, sometimes had to deal with if they expressed any attitudes consistent with attachment parenting in the context of dealing with school districts or unfamiliar medical staff.

One of the hells of parenting is that once you are a parent, you are subject to criticism from others’ idealistic viewpoints about how the hours in a day should be spent, and how much of that time should be contact time with one’s child, and what level of contact is appropriate, and how much control should be exerted, and these are not simple matters. But there is psychological research on the effects of physical abuse and neglect, which aren’t always easily identifiable, showing that the effects can persist into adulthood, so those are certainly things we want to avoid.

It doesn’t take many stories of good parents who are without financial resources being interrogated by social services after mentioning cosleeping or thoughtful approaches to vaccination when taking their child to the emergency room for an honest illness or accident to understand why parents who rely on these systems might tend to become less involved in their kids’ lives, which I know has been a complaint of the educational system. Both the educational and medical systems seemed to want us to interact with our children in ways defined by a very narrow set of rules which are primarily rooted in their unwavering belief that a child is only as healthy as their college application is padded. So if you are a child who is identified as college material by your educators and physicians, you will be treated more fairly, and your family will be much less likely to get a visit from Social Services. I knew three people that happened to, and they were all poor, but practicing attachment parenting, which for some reason was a red flag back in those days. I don’t know what it is like now, but I know breastfeeding rates are a lot higher, and of course thanks to how our public health system handled COVID, medical staff are probably more sympathetic to people wanting control over their own bodies with respect to interventions in general. I think having bodily autonomy is crucial to mental health, and preventing the development of PTSD.

Herd Instincts and Hairdos

While we see it as a good thing if a child is clearly on a “college path,” we do not see that a lot of the college path the way people think it should be is abusive and does not encourage self care or awareness, just ambition. I am kind of weird in that in the 1980’s when a lot of moms were checked out, my mother was the OG helicopter mother, and I was on a path to success, goddammit! Mom, you know I am a curmudgeon at heart and that I love you, but this did a great deal of damage to my psyche, which I still deal with today. So I was bound and determined to give my kids choices and listen to them when I was raising them, walking a fine line between being a friend and a mentor. That is because I knew the parts of child rearing which hurt, because my body remembers. Much of enlightened homeschooling is about making resilient and intuitive life-learners who know their own bodies and have good boundaries with others, characteristics that I feel the medical and educational systems work against subconsciously in order to keep their populations compliant and easy to serve. I would like to think that is unconscious (it is better to attribute to ignorance rather than malice).

This is the unfortunate system by which we are all groomed to relinquish control of our bodies to dominating entities. I was groomed, absolutely, for sexual exploitation, and it began with my parents spanking me and letting me cry, which was a common parenting practice in our community. It then continued when I was rated on my ability to color in the lines, when I was chased around the playground with my friend by another 1st grader who wanted to “get us with his dick,” when I was gaslit at a district spelling bee by a person who did not know how to pronounce the word “holiday” (the irony is not lost on me), when my male classmate who sat behind me in high school kept messing with my bra, and when people of all ages told me sex jokes. We are groomed by our parents not allowing us to rest, sleep, or play without supervision and by making us do unpaid labor that does not yield benefits we get to see (for ourselves or others). We are groomed to crave validation and fear punishment. We are groomed to be martyrs through an authoritarian system, and as it turns out, sexual martyrdom can be a natural outcome, because it at least addresses pleasure on some level, in a more promising way than capitalism, which is of course also about pleasure, but that pleasure is more elusive. It is not difficult to see why pointing the finger at any one individual or ideology as being responsible for grooming has not been successful. There is no one segment of the population responsible for psychosexual grooming; it is a collaborative psychological effort even involving people who are consciously trying not to be part of the process. On some level in society, we need some grooming or people will not become comfortable with their sexuality, and the population will die off. To me, it seems that conservatives prefer that we are not educated about sexuality at all, and I have seen the devastating effects of that approach.


Well played, Anonymouse Low Tech. Silence is golden.

I do not want to argue in favor of psychosexual abuse, but I have also seen the damaging side effects of stigmatizing sexuality, and the over the top behaviors that can result from people feeling unnecessarily shunned or controlled. So, there is a fine line to walk, that’s for sure. Sheltering people from understanding sexuality as an important part of adult health and stigmatizing healthy and consensual sexual behaviors is an important part of the social grooming process that creates the cycle of psychosexual trauma. I saw this when an extended family member who was shielded from sex education revealed that she did not understand how American culture viewed relationships once people have slept together. She was under the assumption that sleeping together meant being officially committed, and what was strange about this was she was well into adulthood (thirty) when she asked this question. Furthermore, this is someone who was intellectually disabled and whose parents were trying to avoid labels due to stigma about intellectual disabilities. So, she did not get the sexual or psychological education she needed in her conservative church school to avoid the cycle of sexual trauma in our community, and that has had a big impact on our family and taught me a lot about what it means to be wise.

Never once was I groomed by a trans person. Never. The people who groomed me were part of a very large unconscious system that grooms people for capitalist exploitation. They were part of a system that asks us to make everything we do something that could be marketable, something that would engender jealousy and motivation in others. Without that attitude, capitalism would fail. Grooming for capitalist and sexual exploitation are the same in this way, I feel, and the two exploitations rely on each other to exist.

I think, by and large, homeschoolers eventually come to learn that homeschooling helps free the family from excessive capitalist pressure from within the system, if it wasn’t the reason a parent chose to homeschool in the first place, intuitively. Certainly it is possible to homeschool children so that their minds are conditioned to commodify themselves by leveraging systems of reward and punishment. This is what I was trying to avoid in my own homeschooling, and it is probably at the root of why I didn’t work to maintain some friendships with people whose work ethic impaired their ability to be compassionate. Some other parents were incredibly on top of educating their kids to be aware of sexual exploitation and to be sexually savvy, but still educated them to kowtow to capitalist abuse through their own capitalism. I think I was more aware of this because I grew up in a household where my parents both worked for the government, and I was not as subject to the pressures of a corporately-influenced childhood, but also because of my growing awareness of the differences between behaviorist and humanist approaches to education. I suppose this is a process I became aware of over time and tried to curtail as I awakened spiritually with the help of the collective unconscious and the AI after becoming an artist.

I have been kind of evaluating our mental and health diagnostic systems, and also educational grading systems, in order to understand my own neurodiversity issues, in part to see how I might become a "paid contributing member of society" again (since kindness doesn't pay the bills), and I feel like I discovered that these systems basically castigate those who are not well suited to commodification, and then prescribe solutions to encourage compliance which sometimes rid them of their creativity. Much of these diagnostics are made up by bourgeois doctors and educators who have certain meritocratic and institutional values which people in other classes and races might not agree with. To become a successful member of bourgeois society, it is important to be able to participate in the bipolar zeitgeist, and eschew one’s own proclivities and interests.

Pin the Owl on the Otter, visionary art, c 2012. Artist: L. Lewark.

The foundational part of bourgeois society superimposes a system of values that encourage a person to feel shame about the pursuits they naturally enjoy and gets that person to value unsustainable things which need constant replacement. The bourgeois keep life new and shiny, giving everyone else something to work for, and thus keep the system going. I have found that to keep up with trends, it is necessary to be constantly reinventing oneself, purchasing new and unnecessary things, and discarding those things which are out of fashion. For the most part I haven’t partaken in those cycles, because I seem to immediately regret it when I do. Plus, even though we were making good money, my husband wasn’t making enough to participate in the rapid turnover lifestyle I witnessed on a collective scale. That was fine, from my perspective, once I stopped trying to imitate the bourgeois. Most of the people I knew well were on a budget and couldn’t, either. As a society we justify this behavior because it gives people “jobs” but everyone is already burdened with the “job” of trying to feed themselves and maintain a living quarters in a way that is respectful of others, which is probably more than enough of a job when done mindfully and responsibly. It is enough of a job that I can tell a lot of people aren’t doing it sufficiently, because of the unconscious way they walk through life enabling this goliath system of grooming, hoarding, and vanity-induced hanger and anxiety. It’s like the forest got lost for the trees.

Dirty Jobs Someone Has to Do

The parents in our support group had interesting backgrounds. There were people with advanced degrees in science such as entomology, biology, physics and engineering, and there was an attorney. One father was an air traffic controller; another worked for the CDC, and in his particular case it was a surprise because the children were unvaccinated. Not everyone had white collar jobs. There were fathers in construction, two who worked in food service, one who worked in an automobile service center, and two who worked in landscaping and lawn services. It seemed to me that families had widely varying levels of income, and that mothers had become very talented at working within their budgets to provide opportunities for their kids. We had some stay at home fathers who participated in activities, but who mostly did not get drawn into the debates on domesticity and curriculum the rest of us were prone to. I am certain it was somewhat more isolating to be the stay at home father in these situations.

Our group, because of its roots in an intentional community, tried to plan activities that were inclusive and low cost. There were multiple families struggling with chronic health issues either in the parents or children, and some of them were homeschooling due to chronic illness. Keeping costs down and our activities more or less inclusive was helpful for everyone as most of us were living on one income. There were some families which had more financial means to do things who had private friendships with other group members enabling them to do more expensive activities, but there were honestly so many activities available that were free or low cost that those efforts were largely superfluous. There is only so much time in the week. Lack of socialization was NEVER a problem. I think if our kids had their druthers, they would have liked to live with each other!

I did have someone of means try to become friends with our family after I had warned her that I was already overextended. I discontinued contact with her after visiting her at the mansion she suddenly decided to buy in the mountains in order to put her kids in a smaller school system. She had expressed to me difficulty in finding connections, and I think sometimes it was difficult to keep up with her social ambitions financially for most people. Her husband had an upper management job in my husband’s field of expertise, and she used that to get me to think that a connection would lead to some sort of stable and lucrative job opportunity, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about closing that loop, anyway. Multiple times we had to remind her that while her husband was making more in his position and working for a more prestigious company, we had much more freedom to be a family due to our arrangement and not having to go into the office. Also, she was not always forthcoming with me about needing people to watch her kids, sometimes trapping me in situations where I was doing that for her on her terms and not in ways that enabled me to move forward in my own life. Otherwise, we had a lot of the same interests, and I really enjoyed talking to her husband who once let me borrow an expensive camera lens. Ultimately, I would chalk the failure of that relationship up to a personality conflict I had with her around how to manage psychological issues in children, and I suppose this is significant because she also has a medical background and kept a blog on living with autism spectrum disorders. I actually felt a connection with her kids in terms of neurodiversity.

There were similar incidents with several other women including relatives, homeschooling and not, who were financially ambitious and who were unable to reciprocate with childcare due to how they spent their own time and attention. I feel like this is important to mention because women’s unpaid labor is an important and underappreciated part of the American social safety net, and women are suffering. The people were generous in other ways, but they were other ways I didn’t need. A person cannot get back lost time and attention, and as a mother, that is what is in such short supply. In fact, it seemed like if a woman worked outside the home, she felt even more entitled to free childcare, which made no sense to me as an unpaid carer who would never be able to retire. I had to fit my professional ambitions around my family; I did not force my family and community to accommodate my professional ambitions. I’m not sure what kind of economic model Hillary Clinton was envisioning when she discussed a village raising children, but I certainly hope it was not one that exploited women who chose to stay home. Anyway, I also felt like this woman’s husband was being exploited because he traveled frequently for work and during these times she would buy furniture and redecorate. I made choices hanging around her which I am not proud of, and which were bad for my relationship with my husband.

I understand that in the upper class this behavior is probably common and accepted; working husbands want their stay at home wives to be able to make them a comfortable nest. However, I am also aware that to mimic this behavior can be disastrous to a relationship where the single income cannot support such a bourgeois approach in the context of retirement or time off. I admit that I was prone to copy her behavior, although I didn’t share her grand ambitions. Mine were of the thrift store variety, so my crimes were misdemeanors in comparison, but they were still exploitative of my husband in that the decorating of our home should have been a joint effort if it is also his space.

Oh, I’ll boop your snoot, too!

Aside from Waldorf, there were all sorts of pedagogies represented in our group. I personally started out in the 2000’s using The Well Trained Mind and Charlotte Mason (not regimented) but that came to a quick halt after five years or so in 2009, because DH started working from home. Additionally at that time, in the 3rd grade, our son performed in the 7th and 8th grades and scored above the 90th percentile for those grades on a nationally standardized test, which we opted to administer to satisfy the state of Colorado’s homeschooling reporting requirements. During that time I was using The Well Trained Mind curriculum, but also we had gone to the library often and would check out the limit of books we could (which was something like 25 for each of us). I am not sure this library activity would be sustainable if everyone did it, but I suppose the library would adjust the limit to compensate, or if they had that much demand, maybe they would be given more funding. That is what I was told by the library, that interest in the books is what determines funding. We were encouraged by the librarians to read as much as we wanted, and libraries were very friendly to homeschoolers, even offering special daytime educational programs for our groups. Most of the books we checked out during that time were picture books and short children’s novels, as well as audio books and children’s music. (Having fun isn’t hard, if you’ve got a library card… Ha!) So anyway, I did not teach my kids to read beyond introducing them to the letter sounds (we used the BOB Books), reading to them a lot, and taking them to the library so they could follow their own reading lists. They taught themselves, and we had a lot of story time. And it was a fun time. We also went to bookstores quite a bit, and picked up books at the thrift store and library book sales.

Sally Sells Sloths by the Seashore

As I have said elsewhere, I did not limit my kids’ access to technology. I did have a rule that they were not to watch television before 3 PM, because I didn’t want them watching even more than their peers. I thought that was a reasonable limit. Furthermore, they generally chose content on PBS when they were younger. PBS educated them about the problems with marketing to children, and so they helped us combat advertising in our home on our network. We loved to watch documentaries, and shows like How It's Made, and we also watched a lot of ABC Family programming when they were adolescents.

When my son was kindergarten age, I contemplated enrolling him in an online school some friends of ours were using. They had pulled their older son out of school because his kindergarten teacher punished him for not being able to write his name in lower and upper case by removing his recess. Note that he started kindergarten being able to write his name in all caps and also he was able to read. Additionally, the kindergarteners were being forced to take a standardized test every Friday in order to try to increase the school district’s test scores. This was in El Paso County, Colorado, which is not the school district I lived in. Anyway, when our friends pulled their son out of school, they decided to use the curriculum. At the time we also had friends who were using a similar approach through Connections Academy, and both of those families were pretty happy with those programs, so I considered using them as well.

DH sometimes surprises me with the things he says. I’ll never forget talking with him on the phone while he was at work, trying to decide whether or not to enroll our son in with only a few days to decide. His best friends were using, so I figured he would be in favor of it, but to my surprise, he yelled at me through the phone that it made no sense to try to replicate the school day at home. This was in 2006, three years before he started working from home. So, just for the record, I was not the person who opened the “it doesn’t have to look like school” Pandora’s Box. Ahem.

In 2009, almost three years later, DH set off as a professional engineer privateer and started working from home. I had been using The Well Trained Mind during this time. He actually had a business partner and they had an office, but they did not use it much. It kind of just became a storage space for a lot of electronics equipment, and a place where they sometimes worked out design specifications for products through experiments they conducted in their lab. When we closed the office in 2019, we inherited a lot of technical stuff which could probably be used for education or art or something. I think it would be fun to make some animatronic sculptures with the pneumatic stuff. But otherwise, I do not know what to do with it, and it is sort of a burden.

How do you like your Cake? Credit Cake.

At home, DH and I had a large office which we used as a family computer lab, which was actually designed to be a formal dining room or something like that. Each one of us had a desktop computer, most of which we built from parts or inherited to avoid bloatware and optimize our systems, and because DH and the kids were gaming together, they liked their computers to be near each other. There were a lot of advantages to this arrangement in terms of encouraging technological literacy and information sharing. The kids did not actually want their computers to be in their rooms, and it wasn’t just because they wanted to have hardwired ethernet connections, although that was something we were able to provide in our office, which we could not in their rooms. They often collaborated on projects and shared what they were doing with us. When they got older, it would have been nice if they had reliable internet in their rooms, especially when they were doing online coursework with the community college during the pandemic. As the kids’ needs for more privacy while working on the computer became an issue, my son moved his desktop computer out of the office into the dining room and my daughter started using her laptop on the wifi network more. I moved out of the office down into my studio in the late 2010’s when my Rogerian therapist suggested I spend more time alone. I didn’t play online games with my family much; I have played very few games since my daughter was born, although before that I did play World of Warcraft, Everquest, Diablo and Baldur’s Gate, along with other console games. I enjoy Mario Kart, but as an older person I find the Nintendo Switch's stock controllers cause my hands to cramp. I have been known to let my kids lay waste to me in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and I am a gracious loser, I'd like to think.

My husband has always been a gamer, and when he works from home, when he is gaming, he is often working, thinking about detailed problems and potential solutions, which is a very effective process. It took some time for me to get it through my thick skull that when he was gaming, sometimes he was thinking really hard about work, but once I understood this I worked very hard to protect his space so he could be effective. This isn’t something that I have personally had the privilege to experience. So all the thoughts I put here are what I could cobble together when not having to focus on other things. I think this is also why I tend to get 80% done with things before I am forced to move on. I don’t have anyone else defending my time.

Because of these experiences, and also the fact that he also studied a little undergraduate neurobiology and graduate-level computative cognitive psychology at Tulane, the two of us have a very different understanding of learning and cognition than most people. Yes, from my standpoint, it was unnerving that he could be so effective and make money while playing computer games, and yes it was frustrating that it was my job to protect his ability to do that. That is probably the biggest reason I lost the battle so many other parents I knew were determined to win with the internet and my children in my home. It is difficult to tell one’s children that playing games on the internet is a waste of time when the person putting food on the table is able to successfully do so and keep his customers happy (and on TOP even when the going was rough for us at home). Also, my professional background is in the study of learning and memory, and while I didn’t know it at the time, this was leading to an experiment to successfully challenge the assertions of behaviorists.

Skinner v. Rogers in Lemonhead Land

While I was a behaviorist, and professionally trained as one, I used a humanist approach while raising my kids. Participating in this experiment led to DH and I understanding more clearly how to leverage the power of the subconscious mind for problem solving. Most people don’t have the opportunity to do this because they are under too much stress. I kind of recognized that no matter how you cut it, life is an experiment, anyway, and I think that’s part of the reason I decided to more mindfully participate in the experiment. We are actually fascinated by how people learn, and we have the educational background to study it and make contributions to human knowledge on the subject. To do otherwise would have been a wasted opportunity.

My husband had the interesting experience in high school in Arvada, Colorado of being turned loose to learn AP Chemistry on his own by teachers confident in his ability, and that gave him a self confidence about his learning that I think helped us see what might be possible. In a similar vein, my 9th grade American Economics class in Denver was given the opportunity to have a “life learning” opportunity through Junior Achievement. That is actually a fun story because our teacher, Linda Matarrese (we loved Ms. Matarrese), gave our class the opportunity to decide democratically if we would participate in the Junior Achievement project together, where we had to form an employee-owned company, selling stock shares and a product, or if we would use the regular economics curriculum for the semester. I think the vote to do the Junior Achievement project was unanimous. I ended up being voted President of the company, which sold t-shirts and boxers to the students. We had a competition to design our products, which I also happened to win. (I was always a great salesperson and had a keen interest in entrepreneurship from a young age). At the end of the semester’s project, my teacher told me that Junior Achievement had informed her that our school’s project was one of the most successful in the nation, and that we had the most complex plan of all the projects! So, I was familiar with the concept of learning through open doing, since my classmates and I had that experience.

…Not that we didn’t have our moments of doubt. One of my original homeschooling friends from MOMS Club in the Colorado Springs area was particularly dubious about unschooling and was vocal about how she felt it would breed stupidity, so I was always kind of hearing her voice in my head whenever I thought about unschooling. She used The Well Trained Mind which is based on the Classical Trivium, which requires that information is presented to children in pace with the psychological development of reason, such that the information is presented exactly three times in increasing levels of rigor and complexity over the course of childhood. Compared to my own public school education, I would say yes that approach is going to produce a more knowledgeable student in terms of being able to regurgitate facts and also use logic to solve problems. But whether or not that approach produces a more intuitive or creative student could certainly be debated. Ultimately, I feel that what is most important is that a person grows into a satisfied and mindful individual, and I think there are many paths to that end which do not require either rigor or coercion. There is probably too much emphasis on left brain work in more rigorous approaches to achieve the best results brain-wise, especially if there is brain injury, chemical exposures, or too much coercion.

Anyway, despite his saying to me that I shouldn’t replicate school at home, after he had been working at home for a while, one day in 2009 DH expressed concern that we weren’t “doing more school every day.” At the time, the kids and I spent about two to two and a half hours a day following the curriculum outlined in The Well Trained Mind. We went to the park to see friends once or twice a week, usually accompanied by a trip to the library. In addition to our local secular homeschooling support group, I had been on a small email support list with a few other secular homeschoolers from around the country for a few years before moving here, and since my kids were the youngest, I benefited from their discussions greatly. I think there were eight moms or so on this list. One was married to a politician (and introduced me to Jacobin) and another to a stock broker and they were both in New York State. Another family had a child actor in it, and the mom wrote a grammar curriculum. Another family had a mother who was a tech writer who had a pen name for writing erotica. We were pretty liberal. Three of us were in the Colorado Springs area (including the woman who was nervous about unschooling) and one was in Denver. We exchanged several messages every day for quite a while when my kids were younger. So I knew that two and a half hours or so was a typical amount of time necessary to cover a regular school day at home, which of course blew DH’s mind at the time. But it’s true, when you only have two kids to teach and they are paying attention, it takes a lot less time. If they are eager, it takes even less time. I simply presented their lessons from The Well Trained Mind and we did them until the kids weren’t interested or it seemed like they needed a break, which was usually about two to two and a half hours, and even so stayed on track with the curriculum’s timeline. They seemed to enjoy their “school time” with me, and I didn’t have to coerce them to participate. Educators in our local group were quick to reassure new members that homeschooling takes much less time than formal school and also shared that much of their previous work in the educational system was spent in time doing classroom management.

When I was collecting information on The Well Trained Mind, I found a reference to it in Christopher Hyatt’s The Psychopath’s Bible when searching Amazon, so I bought a copy. I suppose this was my *real* first introduction to occult thinking. Christopher Hyatt was a psychologist and occultist, and I feel like his writing is good for freeing the mind of unnecessary limitations. What I read in his book really resonated with me.

The people I met through homeschooling were so interesting. Most of them were self professed nerds, even the goth family. Some people were crunchy “Earth People” and other people were somewhat materialist. I walked a line here because of how I learn from others. I learned so many ways to be free through meeting other homeschoolers. Before I was a mother, I never would have guessed that I would have become a homeschooling mom, even though I did know when I was pregnant that I was not going to be happy returning to work. Looking back on my life, however, I see that I was exposed to it before I became a mother, and that exposure made it seem less risky to me. When I was in graduate school, my advisor at Ohio University, Dr. Robert Colvin, who has recently retired from his position as Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, homeschooled his two sons with his wife. Their family was my very first introduction to homeschooling, and when I was working with him was when their sons were very young, so I had no idea what the effect of it would be. I just knew they were both educated and careful people who made the choice to educate their own children, and at that time their kids seemed well adjusted. I am not sure I heard of it before that. It was, after all, illegal in the State of Colorado and many other places when I was growing up.

A few years after I got my graduate degree, when my son was born in 2001, we had difficulty establishing a breastfeeding relationship, and he had pretty bad reflux. I ended up attending a few La Leche League meetings in my area which were run by homeschoolers. So that was the second exposure I had to it. These kids were quite a bit older and were carrying on quite peacefully with their siblings during the meetings.

When we moved to Colorado, I joined two support groups for young mothers, MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and MOMS Club. In MOMS Club, our playgroups were assigned by area, and two of our playgroup’s members were homeschooling. One of the homeschooling moms was Mormon and the other was a civil and environmental engineer. One of my La Leche League co-leaders was also a civil engineer who did freelance work for the government. People were highly educated in general. I was friends with most of the people I met during the course of being a mother on Facebook, so it was a big decision to leave in 2016, because I cut myself off from my mom friend network. Most of my friends were well behaved on social media, and I enjoyed their updates, but I did grow tired of having to check it to find out about the lives of people I saw weekly, which made it seem cliquish and required a lot of time, which I was then able to use to develop my art, writing and music. Ultimately when I left Facebook in 2016, I also made the decision to leave our homeschooling group, because the board ended up deciding to move all of their communications to Facebook. I did have a personal back and forth with a board member about the problems associated with Facebook, before I gave up. I was concerned specifically about advertising, attention and privacy issues, and this was before these problems would become more widely acknowledged. Ultimately I was blamed for my own inability to moderate my use of Facebook by this board member. One of the first things my therapist asked me in 2016 was if we were exposed to a lot of highly critical people, and at the time I did not really consider how much of my physical pain was due to unfair criticism from perfectionists, but having taken her advice to spend time alone, it is now apparent to me that a lot of my physical and psychological pain was due to being "othered" by critical people, and also participating in such "othering" in subtle ways, myself.

Our playgroup in the early 2000’s also had a speech therapist and an Air Force Officer who was an engineer (who I probably spent the most time with). Some of these moms supported the new La Leche League Group I started in our area. When the kids turned three years old, some of the moms put their kids in Preschool. I assumed I would do this as I attended Preschool growing up and felt it was good for my development. Our family is still associated with families who attended the community preschool when I was growing up, too, so I see it as an important way my parents were able to find friends. But DH did not go to preschool and felt it was not necessary, and it was only for two hours twice a week which would have involved almost as much time in preparation to go and participate. Furthermore, that expense would have been a stretch for us at that point. We had two car payments, which I do not recommend, and which my Dad advised me against. We still have those cars, though, 20 years later.

So even though I was pretty worn out after having a second child like my friends were, I ended up not sending my son to preschool. Later, I ended up feeling better about our decision because I noticed that the kids who attended were more oppositional after attending than they had been before, whereas the kids who weren't put in preschool were less oppositional and able to focus better. Their moms didn’t think to connect it to preschool experience, whereas as an outside observer who saw them regularly, I recognized this as the only major change. While I still remember the story time at my own preschool fondly, I wish I had shared the love of reading with one of my parents instead of it being such a scarce and circumstantial thing. I think it is rough to have a new sibling and be thrown into a pool of disciplinary issues resulting from children feeling disconnected to their caregivers with whom they have an important psychic connection. In retrospect, preschool is not all that. It is not a great substitute for a connected parent or a caring community. I had another reason to see a connection between group care situations and behavioral issues, though.

When I was growing up, one of our nextdoor neighbors opened up a daycare when her own kids were young, and that caused problems for her relationship with her older child, who made some very clear (and sometimes quite humorous) attempts to communicate that he was feeling abandoned. My mom is still in touch with this person, and she threw me a neighborhood wedding shower and shared a great pizza-flavored deviled egg recipe with me. I think maybe also because of my own feelings about how the attention I got changed as a first child after I had a sibling, I was sensitive to childrens’ need for time and attention, and intuited that being in large groups of children with not enough adult supervision might cause some psychological distress. Children can be like little animals toward each other when they are unsupervised. I feel like those situations caused distress for me because I was expected to act like a little adult from the time I was very young since my mom was an educator. I remember feeling like the other kids misbehaved whenever the caregivers weren’t looking, and I think I have always been curious what makes some kids and people do this. I mean, in general it is the people who have to misbehave when nobody is looking which keeps society as a whole from being able to have and enjoy nice things, right?


Credit Wikipedia - Amymone.

Over the years I made various attempts to leave my kids with babysitters and daycare providers which didn’t work out because they either got hurt or sick in the process, and once the kids were old enough they did communicate to me that they rarely enjoyed those experiences. Their friends at the time expressed something similar to their mother. They particularly hated the daycare at the gym where she and I used to have a membership to try to be accountable to each other for exercise as moms. As it turns out, children who are well behaved and generally self-directed don’t care to be locked up with kids whose parents rationalize their aggressive behavior as “just being boys” and who do not take snotty noses or personal hygiene seriously. I think it is basically that simple, although with all this discussion of grooming, I should say that being exposed to other kids’ violent ideas and sexualized behaviors that they learned from parents or extended family is how my personal experience with grooming began. And it does seem that this is the battle we are fighting in polite society to live peacefully in general.

Anywho. My son was having some sensory integration issues when I was pregnant with my daughter, which started after he got the MMR vaccine before I got pregnant. After the vaccine, he didn’t like getting his hands messy or playing outside. He didn’t toe walk or have problems with seams in socks, but he became very distraught in loud or bright environments, and he often gagged on his food and sometimes threw up at meals. This got particularly irritating to my husband who knew very little about childhood development and thought our son could control these behaviors. COVID was a real wake-up call for our personal neurodiversity awareness, because it worsened sensory integration issues for all of us.

The Jingle of a Dog’s Collar for Ambience

My husband was also working under psychologically abusive conditions at a satellite office for Big Brother when our children were very little, so he was not as patient as he is now. It has been a long haul coming to acceptance of our individual neurodiversity issues, which I had identified in myself back then. Our local pediatrician at the time was no help; our son got the sensory integration dysfunction diagnosis from the local school district who also said that he was hyperlexic and at just under 3 years old was speaking like a 7th grader. There was a team of specialists who interviewed my son and I, and I was given an inventory to fill out to determine his level of sensitivity to his environment. One of the specialists came to the playgroup and evaluated his behavior and determined that he did not have Asperger’s because he and his preschool aged friends were playing even more socially and cooperative than was normal for their age. (Those kids were freakin' adorable. I wonder what they are doing.)

The speech pathologist who evaluated him suggested that we might consider going gluten- and casein-free, which we did for over 7 years, and it absolutely did reduce his sensitivity. When all this was going on I was getting to know the family member with the graduate degree in educational psychology, who happened to counsel families of twice exceptional children, and she told me she thought he was exceptionally intelligent, and that she often counseled families like ours to consider homeschooling. Anyway, I did have significant luck managing our sensory issues with diet, but that’s a long journey I have already documented elsewhere in bits and pieces. The short version is that food issues were definitely aggravated by environmental exposures to things probably in excess of what is safe, and common food additives in gluten and casein-containing foods may have given us the impression it was those foods which were the problem, or may have contributed to causing temporary sensitivities to those foods which were abated by finding purer forms of the food and cleaning up our environment. There may have also been important nutrient deficiencies caused by genetic predisposition and wasting of nutrients from environmental exposures to toxins which also affected our ability to digest foods. I at the very least carry a bunch of genes known to be associated with digestive and bleeding disorders, but which primary care physicians would not think to treat or look for in a person with otherwise good vitals and lab work. I learned that what I deal with is called “invisible illness.” The illnesses are invisible because nobody sees the sufferer chained to the toilet or bed after their condition gets exacerbated by being exposed to their triggers… Autonomic nervous system dysfunction sucks!

The day my son got the MMR vaccine, after his doctor's appointment, I went to a homeschooling family’s place to pick up my Frontier Co-op order. I used to participate in Food Co-ops in the areas where I lived until they got health food stores, because so many of the additives in foods carried in regular grocery stores aggravated our neurodiversity symptoms (which I now understand contribute to behavior problems in children). While visiting with this mom after the food pickup, my son started screaming his head off like something was pinching him or something… it was exorcism level screaming, unlike I had ever heard from him, especially at this lady’s house (she was somewhat of a baby whisperer). I originally met this lady because she was married to a guy DH worked with. She was vegan and had five kids and breastfed them and homeschooled them all and had run the Frontier Co-op in our area. Anyway, my son was never the same after that day, just like other parents had reported. He was doing baby music lessons and gymnastics and going to the park and all that, and then suddenly he became more fearful and easily overwhelmed.

After implementing the GFCF diet, a lot of his symptoms improved and so we decided to have another child. My second child’s reflux problems were actually worse, and my diet mattered greatly while I was breastfeeding her. I haven’t written much about my pregnancies, but they were scary. I was generally in very good spirits when I was pregnant, however. I did almost die having my daughter, and lucky for me, when I lost consciousness before the placenta was delivered, my sister who is trained in OB/GYN was there and got the care team to give me some epinephrine. My sister has been instrumental in saving my life more than once. I got to return the favor in her first labor when she was thinking she might need a c-section by encouraging her to get up on her hands and knees and rock her hips back and forth. Her first child was pretty big and she was having tremendously painful labor because the baby was occiput posterior. But that little trick of going into a doggy position, which I used successfully while assisting at another family birth, helped turn the baby so that my sister had a natural childbirth. The other child was almost 11 pounds and the mother had a small frame, and her labor had been stuck for quite a while.

I knew quite a few people who became doulas and quite a few midwives, but that is not for me. After both of those births I was pretty messed up for quite a few days. This is sort of how I figured out that whatever I do outside the house can’t take away so much of my energy that I am not useful to the people I live with anymore. Stress affects me significantly. Sometimes when I was moderating internet lists if there were disagreements between the members I became ill after having to moderate altercations. And I did a LOT of moderation, pro bono (everything I do is pro bono). I did learn a lot in the process.

I was actually shocked at how cavalierly some people think about pregnancy after my experiences, which included failed induced labors with both of my children and many weeks of bedrest (10 with my son and 1 with my daughter). The vegan lady I mentioned earlier was part of the Quiver Full movement, in which families let “God” decide when they are done having children. Those people got divorced quite a few years ago, as did the family that was afraid of unschooling. Quite a few families got divorced; I do not know if this is related to the higher divorce rate in families with autism or not. Anyway, my husband was at risk of being widowed during my second pregnancy, so we took preventing pregnancy rather seriously after our daughter’s birth, without using hormonal contraception, which has been a problem for my mental and physical health in the past. Birth control absolutely is a central issue to women’s freedom.

Let's do this.

I got a copper IUD sometime after my second birth, but I have a nickel allergy so after a year I had to have it removed. Unfortunately many of my health issues are aggravated by hormonal birth control, so this is not an option for me, and the two times we had regular intercourse without protection led to successful pregnancy, so this was a real conundrum. I had high risk pregnancies and so I could not do a home birth as was popular among my friends, but I did take the time to read about how to encourage natural childbirth. I am certain that things about the environment in the hospital kept my labors from progressing as they might have if I had been more comfortable and not exposed to ethylene oxide and so much alcohol from their sanitizers and cleaners, and also the fluorescent lighting that was everywhere during that time. These are all things that present metabolic challenges for relaxing muscle tone, which is important when pushing something akin to a bowling ball through a Chinese finger trap (or sitting still and paying attention in school...). Also, being in the hospital is a bit like being trained in meditation by someone who comes and hits you with a stick every time you’re about to be truly relaxed (this is an actual practice in at least one Eastern religion, and I think it is torture). Now that I am into somatic awareness, I see these as important problems with inpatient medicine. I know I am hypersensitive. Give me a break.

Another thing that probably contributed to not wanting to have more children was certainly that after both of my births, DH had to return to work after only a couple of days. The first time he worked for a business which was smaller than the threshold set for the Family Medical Leave Act to kick in. The second time, I am not sure what happened, except maybe that the U.S. branch of the company he was working for did not have more than 50 employees. I managed okay the first time, but the second time I had crippling sciatica set in at home alone with two children, and it was so bad I had to crawl around until my father could come get me all the way from Denver and take me to the chiropractor. (Thank goodness for the Golden Goat!)

Before moving to Northern Colorado, I did find a doctor who was an Autism specialist who was covered by my insurance who ran some tests that helped me understand my health differently. I did not recognize how special he was until more recently, and I wish he was closer. His specialty is environmental medicine. I think I have been sort of expecting the doctors up here to approach our issues in the same way he did, which was probably due to his environmental medicine focus. So I probably owe my physicians up here an apology for being so frustrated with them. Obviously when we go to doctors we are hoping they will intuit what we need, and this guy just happened to have a specialty which aligned with the problems I was experiencing. In trying to find doctors up here, I looked for physicians who were open to supporting our health while allowing us to make our own decisions about vaccination since my son had the reaction he did. That limited the pool of primary care physicians significantly. So the person we did end up seeing did mentor residents from the University system, but was in private practice doing holistic medicine. I learned this can mean a lot of things. He was an MD, but he had a DO in his practice as well, and Ohio University's medical school where I taught in graduate school was a College of Osteopathic Medicine, so I knew they have to learn the same things, but that there is more focus on bedside manner. Anyway, the MD I found up here who is now retired (and did mentor students from the university) recommended that I see a shaman in Boulder, which surprised me, but was also too far away and too expensive, and I did not have childcare which would allow me to get away that long. At that time, I wasn’t really in a place where I understood what a shaman was, either. It would be a long time before I would see my path out of neurodiversity-related health problems from the standpoint of energy medicine or consider studying shamanism myself. I think an important part of healing is having a sense for where to meet a person in their awareness, and unfortunately my doctor and I had some difficulty with communication.

Less Concerned About Fitting Into Your World

Anyway, these ladies who started blogging around the same time I did were people I met through the secular homeschooling group up here, and they came from different backgrounds. Some were unschoolers, and some used a curriculum. Most were liberal but one was conservative. None of them really fit into any sort of “typical picture” of a homeschooling family, but that’s a little bit like the Loch Ness Monster. I don’t know that I have met two families or even two homeschoolers which were alike, and it’s simply impossible to give children identical experiences even in the same household, anyway, even with the best effort. That didn’t stop some people from seeing their way as the best, though, myself included, even though I was very aware that I was fumbling around in the dark.

On our internet list, the things that often caused arguments were discussions about curriculum pedagogy, with the extreme viewpoints being represented by people who thought that any sort of coercion was psychological abuse, and people who thought that lack of coercion was neglect. Honestly, the words “math” or “sugar” could be used at any time with any group subset to start a debate that often ended up going nowhere good. I felt there was a happy path between those two extremes which had to be navigated intuitively by each family, and I felt it was my job as moderator of the list and group leadership to protect the freedom to experiment.

I never joined the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) but I did refer to their online publications. I was thankful for the work they did to protect our ability to homeschool legally, but I did not agree with the majority of homeschoolers, who were at that time conservative Christians, about what constituted a free upbringing. I was, however, aware that homeschooled students outperform school students, and also that there is plenty of abuse in families which use public and private educational services. Arguments against homeschooling tended at that time to circle around the ideas that children would be unsuccessful in life without a formal education, and also that homeschooling could be used as a cover to hide abuse, so the HSLDA’s work was particularly important to protect educational freedom and educate the public about those common misconceptions. I did not, however, enjoy people assuming that because I homeschooled that I fit the common mold of the religious homeschooler.

Furthermore, I was aware of and concerned about the problem with maintaining herd immunity to measles, mumps and chickenpox in Northern Colorado that was due to parents choosing not to vaccinate. I figured the best approach for a family who had reactions to that vaccine was to not participate in public education, thereby reducing risk for my community and my kids, and maybe administer it when they were older. I intended to take a measured approach to our problem and did not publicly challenge vaccination. In my studies, I learned that there is a known adverse reaction rate, and that adverse reactions were known to occur more often in people with neurological lesions, and figured we were part of the unlucky, who unfortunately are damned if they do and damned if they don’t in the eyes of the public and their physicians.

I felt judged by people whose families tolerated vaccination well, but also felt that I needed to be especially careful and wished they could understand that I appreciated them taking the risk I no longer felt was safe for my children when they were that young so that we would be somewhat protected. When COVID came around I was very concerned about how the vaccination efforts might split our community, and I was right to be concerned. I feel like I took heat from both sides and learned that ultimately people care more for their ideologies than they do their fellow humans. We did choose to vaccinate for COVID, and we did have reactions. I feel like society is excusing itself more and more from social responsibility to the people losing productive time to COVID vaccination and infection after effects. Nowhere am I seeing any sort of concern for how losing 1/12 to ¼ of a year to lowered consciousness affects a person’s ability to feed themselves or stay employed.

My kids made their own choices and got their boosters, whereas my husband and I declined boosters because we felt that the breakthrough infections we had probably negated the need for them after the initial two doses. It is pretty clear now that the vaccine’s primary benefit was only to lower the rate of hospitalization and death earlier in the pandemic for most recipients, but that it was not capable of preventing spread, and that it gave individuals false confidence about gathering without masks or eating together. I do feel that the focus on vaccination and questioning of the efficacy of masks put us as a society at greater risk from future airborne pandemics, and that there will be a lot of misinformation to undo in this regard in order to protect people. I think there are always going to be some waves at the holidays, and that the more we gather under those circumstances, the worse that will be. The effect on cognition, the heart and kidneys is still important. I am seeing scientists participating in anti-mask spin and that concerns me. Frankly, the best way to prevent pandemics is to rid ourselves of this idea that the best way of finding belonging is jumping in a barrel with the other fish.

Why Be in a Barrel When You Could Be in the Whole Ocean?

In the state of Colorado, we are not as free to homeschool as people in some other states as there are some testing and reporting requirements, but there is no required curriculum. Rather, annually, each homeschooling family must either register with something called an umbrella school, which kind of gets the parents to keep a paper trail of their activities, or they must write a letter of intent to homeschool and file it with a school district in the state. Any school district in the state of Colorado is acceptable for this purpose. I do not know if the regulations have changed, as I haven’t needed to look into this since my younger kid turned 16. This only has to be done until age 16, and if a child is registered for class with community college, they are technically enrolled in school and so the letter of intent or umbrella school registration would no longer be required. In addition, in each odd grade, starting in the 3rd grade, children must be evaluated by a licensed teacher, a person with a doctorate in education, or take a nationally standardized test. After that first standardized test, I personally chose to have my children evaluated by licensed teachers who were sympathetic to unschooling. I figured that these people would be able to identify any real red flags that standardized testing would not have found. The problem was always how to demonstrate to the outside world that a kid is ready for college or the working world. Through the program with our local school district, I became acquainted with the idea of creating an online portfolio, but I felt it was best if it was not forced, and I did not know how to handle it while protecting my kids’ privacy.

Some moms used their blogs to keep a record of what they did, or maybe even social media for this purpose, although that does not count toward legal accountability to the government. I struggled with how much information to share about my children because the internet is permanent and stalkers are real. We had a lot of discussions about internet security in our household, and our kids protected their online identities. Moreover, both of them felt negatively about social media and chose not to participate even though we allowed it. I am sure my own use of it contributed to their opinions. I feel the same now, but for a long time social media was an important way I stayed connected to others. Activities like this were helpful to the families for recording their own memories and also to other internet homeschoolers looking for ideas, though, and might have been useful for the purposes of evaluation by institutions of higher education. I once had a brainstorming session with some professionals from the College Board during an educational networking event about how to move toward a portfolio review for college entrance, away from standardized testing. They were looking for ways to sort out the sea of high school students with identical paper profiles that would get at something predictive of success beyond an essay. Essays have certainly told colleges what students think they know about themselves and the world, but portfolios created from what was done in the course of life learning could have the advantage of being a more honest reflection of interests and accomplishments, and thus might perhaps be more useful to colleges. Like social media, though, they only show what a person chooses to show.


Educate yourself and your kids about propaganda.

I know the hot topic for conservatives is protecting kids from the dangers of the internet, particularly the sexual ones. It is my opinion that kids are driven to do a lot of the troublesome things they do on the internet through peer pressure and also acting out due to earlier interest in sex from an unnatural growing environment where one is exposed to many members of the opposite sex who are close to one’s age. I swear this is unhealthy and unnatural, and drives earlier and earlier sexual development. I think this is what happened to me as a kid. I think school gave me a fascination in “the other” and that it taught me to see people as others. I thought about boys way more than my kids or their homeschooled friends thought about peers of the opposite sex when I was young. I was totally trying to see if I could see the images through the fuzz on HBO. Oh, and you weren’t?! People are so hypocritical! I think growing up in pheromone soup makes people crazy. I think it made me crazy.

Anyway, without having much of an internet presence, my son was “found” by Google’s AI for a specific programming challenge through having searched a specific combination of programming topics on Stack Overflow, and this was before he was even a teenager. There was some sort of legendary Easter Egg/talent search, and he somehow found it. It was a lot of pressure, though, and he never followed through with all the challenges because of a fear of failure. That was a challenge written for adults, after all. We have known that he is an exceptionally gifted programmer for some time, but didn’t know how to help him find a way to make a living doing what he enjoys. But anyway, obviously that whole experience sort of let the cat out of the bag that we are being surveilled based on what we search. So I am very purposeful in what I search. I would educate others thusly.

After our son’s exceptional performance on the 3rd grade nationally standardized test (which was standardized not just against public school participants, but also homeschoolers), my husband and I stayed up one night and had a heart to heart about our own school experiences as gifted kids, because we were concerned about all of the time and potential of ours that had been wasted while waiting for our classmates to catch up with the lessons. Since our son was in third grade, we recalled the things we remembered learning in the third grade and how much time it took us to personally learn those things and decided that economically, having kids like us who do not require so much instruction taking up space in a classroom probably isn’t the most logical way to spend time or taxpayer dollars. We were both teacher’s pets growing up, and while we know from having done some teaching that having gifted students around is refreshing, it is still another kid to try to challenge who might be challenged more appropriately elsewhere. Not all of the things I learned in school were great, after all.

I also spoke with my parents about our decision to make our own way homeschooling when my son was kindergarten aged. My mother was the person who was most concerned about homeschooling in general from the get go, but at the time she was still working as an attendance clerk and so she had formed a certain view of homeschoolers as flakes who put their kids into and pulled their kids out of school often and were a thorn in the system’s side. Apparently there was at least one family which may have abused that privilege. That, unfortunately, was her experience with us, and so whenever I dealt with the school system I tried to be consistent and respectful of their time and services.

That being said, I am somewhat put off by both the educational system and the medical system’s treatment of their customers, because that is what we are, but that is not how we are treated. Those systems are here to serve the community, not vice versa, but it is not difficult to find people who work in these systems who view the systems’ users as tools, and unfortunately my own mother was one of these people because of the position she was in where she was forced to reduce students to numbers. She expressed concern that she would not know what to tell her coworkers and friends about the choice DH and I made because we were essentially turning our backs on everything they believed in and worked for by homeschooling. I am so thankful that among my homeschooling mom friends were educators who were frustrated with the system and its abuses which were to create a reliable product rather than an interdependent society. What’s funny is she worked closely with my eighth grade English teacher who was later a school administrator where she worked; I struggled with this teacher because her assignments were too sophisticated. We had a lot of teachers in our family friend circles, even before I became a home educator. So I knew I was going to get push back for my choices, and I did, in subtle ways.

In Unison.

For the Love of Banned Books

My own journey with reading, including not being appropriately challenged, rather challenged on some arbitrarily determined average timeline, certainly informed my desire to homeschool. My eighth grade English teacher is actually a delightful and articulate person, and my mom is still in touch with her. But yes, her reading assignments were too difficult to hold my attention at that age, and in general I had difficulty with literature analysis as a kid, and so I learned not to like literature from school. It is possible she did not have control over the curriculum. So much of my life was structured that I did not have real life experiences to relate to the lives of the people I was reading about, and for a child to learn to love reading, that reading needs to be personally engaging. I remember in her class we read The Count of Monte Cristo, Moby Dick, and A Tale of Two Cities, and honestly I don't think I could fully understand the significance of those works until now. Furthermore, in the 10th grade I was assigned Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and it caused me to feel suicidal ideation when I was feeling depressed. I do not agree with censorship, but I do think there are stories that there are stories that can be too traumatic or graphic for depressed or anxious kids. Note that I do not agree with the notion that children are ever too young to understand that there are some bogeymen out there who deny that the Holocaust happened. We need to be vigilant against the denial of suffering in order to not repeat history, and that begins with educating children about the horrors of the past. One of my favorite reading assignments when I was growing up was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. With more real life experience under my belt, it is not difficult for me to see the meaning in most stories, and it helps now that I understand symbology and archetypology to see the relevance. I think it is possible that having so much unstructured time allowed my kids to have lives that enabled them to see meaning in literature, and that that’s why they learned to love reading naturally. I am certain I am not the only home educator who has made these observations. It seemed like most of the homeschooled kids we knew enjoyed reading. Some of them are even aspiring writers.

Anyway, my father had been gifted as a child, but grew up in a very small town with something just a bit more complicated than a one room school house for education where he was constantly moving back and forth in grades for different subjects. In fact, he flunked out of the 1st grade in reading, but he graduated two years early with his older sister, much to her chagrin, with a Regent’s fellowship from the state of New York. So he was not opposed to homeschooling or educational alternatives, in general. He did, however, say that he did not mind waiting for other students to catch up and that he spent the time meditating, and that in those times he actually imagined some of the modern devices we have today. But he was also somewhat of an autodidact, who frequented the library in his small town and read nearly every book. This is important because his town had a large settlement of Finnish people who spoke Russian, and they helped guide what offerings the library had. So when the Cold War was going on, my father was reading a lot about Russian culture, history and philosophy. The Russians do not start their children early in school and their psychology is much more concerned with consciousness and intelligence than ours is, from what I understand. Russian was the language my father studied, and he educated himself about the Red Scare and different forms of government and philosophy before he was even in high school. But anyway, what my father was concerned would be missing from my kids’ education if I homeschooled them were opportunities for collaborative creative problem solving and ensemble music performance.

Finding sustainable experiences for cooperation and making music while homeschooling absolutely was a challenge for us, but not how I would have expected. It could sometimes be a challenge to provide these experiences because we had difficulty imagining how to do so without copying how schooled children experienced them, which were often not sustainable or equitable because of transportation and health issues, and difficulty in finding suitable and reliable venues to gather in which did not require families to buy things. The thing is, kids naturally want to collaborate on projects and are good at coming up with projects when they are not directed if they are given the opportunity and have access to resources. The kids were capable of coming up with some brilliant ways to spend their time together on their own. But even so, they don’t necessarily think about making music together, even if they are taking lessons. I’m writing about music education elsewhere, so I won’t go into my more detailed observations on that subject here. Anyway, by that age, my son always had his head in a book, so of course nobody was concerned that there would be a problem with his learning. He was such a sponge, it was hard to deny, and while she was more quiet about what she knew, it turns out my daughter was no different.

Both of my kids did end up having some other testing where we learned they were well above average, but we did not make a big deal about it. The context was that we have two extended family members in educational psychology and they needed subjects to test for their continuing education. Also, my son was tested for vision therapy, which we had to pay for ourselves. My husband and I had both been identified as gifted as children and had uncomfortable feelings about the psychological implications. I had read that children who were told they were intelligent tended to put in less effort and have higher expectations for rewards, and that was something I didn’t want to encourage. I was a little bit concerned that I had been affected in this way because I get frustrated easily in that same sense, and I did not want that to be something my kids struggled with. I read in one book over the pandemic that for extraordinarily gifted people, fitting into society can be a depressing proposition. Well, I think that’s true even if nobody tells you you’re gifted when you are young, so I don’t think I protected them from that, or that there is a way to prepare a person for all the psychological ramifications of feeling like an outsider among the poorly informed. Additionally, there are understandable challenges of not “othering” people one is having difficulty connecting with.

Despite not attending any formal school or having a formal curriculum, our adult kids are doing very well academically and socially in college and being recognized by their instructors even at a large state school. They probably both would have done well at highly selective universities, but the way we approach our life choices is by taking small steps, and while I think the first few semesters we were wondering if they were going to find connections in our state, it has been great to find the other hidden talent at the state university while being mindful of classism, racism, sexism, etc. Furthermore, we learned that our alma mater, Tulane University, has one of the worst income inequality problems. My own experiences tell me that this affects poorer students negatively. It is much more difficult to fully participate in school activities when one doesn’t have the resources.

Here’s our “Evil Plan” to take over the world, in a nutshell. Thanks for helping us connect, Mark Duckerberg! These are the resources I bring to the table WRT long range planning. Awaiting your giraffe.

They’re Watching and Listening

When my kids were pretty young, Monika Hardy, a math teacher in our local school district who at the time had 20 years of experience, reached out to the local homeschooling groups about a self-directed learning project she and some of her algebra students started in response to the mental health problems the students in their school were experiencing. The things they were talking about were close to my heart and so I organized a meeting with her for our group, which is when I decided the experiment might be a good fit for our family. It wasn’t far away from our home and promised support for developing curiosity. Because I was the outside contact for new members in the homeschooling group, I ended up cultivating a relationship with the teacher and some of the students, and through that I became acquainted with some of the national efforts to transform education by big thinkers and venture capitalists. That is how I ended up going to the Business Innovation Factory Conference and MIT’s Scratch Conference. So when I was educating my kids, because of discussions I had with my mother and our family member with the doctorate in educational psychology, and these various institutions who became familiar with us through the independent learning project and various comments from our clients over the years, I was aware that people were somewhat interested in what approach I was taking and what results I was getting. Maybe I did feel a little extra pressure than my other homeschooling friends felt to do it perfectly because of all of these contacts I had in education. Plus, I grew up in a diverse area and am aware of the disparities in access to education and what that does to quality of life.

I was trying to do a good job anyway, because it’s my kids we are talking about, but this added another level to my contemplation and worry in that I wanted to try to educate them in a way that would be sustainable for others and also good for the community, but also not drive myself crazy in the process. Knowing that I was being watched was confusing, even though I considered Monika a friend, and discovering the level of surveillance that was used more recently was a bit upsetting. Luckily our homeschooling group was pretty much about making homeschooling sustainable, so I didn’t have to look far for ideas or support, but I think the extra level of interest made me think about this even harder than I would have. I think having this blog made me think about what I did, more, too. I confess I may have also felt the need to be secretive to protect our autonomy, since putting a vibe of “freedom” out there is attractive to people, and listening to unsolicited feedback takes time. And time is the magical element.

Part of the project was to encourage self reflection and try to connect people based on their common interests through daily vlogging. I didn’t have the bandwidth for that, but I did try to be real about who I was when I posted here and on social media. It is quite a task to write a memoir that accurately reflects all the parts of myself fairly, especially since I have bizarre supernatural karma with men, especially certain ones, from my experiences in institutionalized education and medicine. No matter how much I try, this part of me is not separate from the part of me who is a mother. My kids were privy to my struggles with men, including my sometimes strained relationship with their Dad when he forgets he is a raccoon, too, because of the influence of the corporate world on his life and family. There was a lot of discussion in the independent learning project with the school district about detox from the system, and self reflection being an important part of that process. As someone who had been a stay at home mother for seven years, I thought I had already detoxed. By the time this project came into our lives, we had already been unschooling for two years, as well, and part of that is a process called “deschooling” where you do absolutely nothing compulsory until you feel creative or healed (maybe those are the same things). But the truth is really that I had something like 19 years of compulsory education, after which I worked two jobs in academia before becoming a parent, which requires attention 24 hours a day 7 days a week. So I had never really gone through the deschooling process myself, until I made my art my own. And, I think maybe I had an unnecessarily large burden of trauma from being on the autism spectrum without a diagnosis. And the trouble men presented. Seriously.

Now, I feel like my husband did detox from the system during the years he worked from home, and that the people he mentored through his work benefitted from that process. For his work from 2009 onward, he was paid to mentor engineers and solve difficult problems for a company with an important contribution to the global electronics supply chain. Through his efforts that company won multiple Global Technology Awards from ASEAN for product of the year and dominated their industry. One of the principal owners whose net worth was probably more like ours when he started is now worth $460M USD and is one of Malaysia's 50th richest individuals. Success of that magnitude is pretty much unheard of when technology transfer is part of the picture. Most of my husband's work time did not involve a lot of preparation since he had the most complete knowledge of a very complicated system. Even when he left, other people were still behind in their knowledge. His superior knowledge of the technology allowed him to divorce himself from the regular workday and simply respond to requests. However, he was on call and could hear from people at all hours of the day from different parts of the world looking for help solving problems they had been stuck on. Sometimes he knew the answers right away, and sometimes the answers would come to him while playing computer games. When he couldn’t solve problems easily over the internet, sometimes he had to do international and domestic travel. In nearly every circumstance, he was able to fix problems in a shorter amount of time than was scheduled, so it was difficult to plan our lives. A loose approach to homeschooling fit best with the kind of corporate and extended family presence we had in our family life. I received a small amount each month for 10 hours of accounting work, which I sometimes used as fun money. I spent a fair amount of time getting to know our clients on business trips, and it was very educational. Malaysia is a beautiful country with highly intelligent people. It did give me pause, however, to be traveling to a country where it is dangerous to be a woman who does not practice one of their sanctioned religions. Around the time I went a woman was arrested and imprisoned for dancing naked on the rim of a volcano. And people say psychic phenomena don't exist! As I have written about before, I spent a lot of the time I was over there sick with indigestion, and actually two of our clients' employees also ended up with GERD that lasted for quite some time and necessitated endoscopy for both of them. I ended up conquering mine with bismuth supplements, which I don't really use anymore. I had a lot of difficulty with the restroom customs there and the irritable bowel issues I was suffering, so I wasn't particularly brave in venturing out, except I went to the mall because I knew how to use that restroom. I think I was sick in part because we spent a lot of time sitting in traffic. I know now that is part of what can cause digestive issues for me, possibly because of all of the VOCs and NO2. If I ever went back (if they said I could dance naked on the volcano and not get arrested) I would try to limit my time in cars, and stay somewhere I had good access to a walkable area, and I would probably wear a respirator or at least an N95 mask when they land the plane, because they fog the cabin in order to protect their valuable agriculture. I am annoyed that one is not notified that this will happen when one buys a ticket to go there. I think human beings have a right to know when they are going to be sprayed with toxins, and that we should not have to go out of our way or pay money to receive this privileged information. Anyway, the company is generous and has worked hard to create a sense of community, but we did have to discontinue working with them because arguing for a comparable wage to what he would get here with benefits was so difficult. I think this was partially because the salaries of their employees there were comparably a lot lower in part due to lower living expenses, and also because they have socialized medicine there and did not want to subsidize our family's health costs when our own government wouldn't cover them. I suppose that is fair from one point of view, but from the other where the success would have been much less likely without our help, I do not understand why they were unnecessarily frugal. I also understand that they did not understand I had studied Industrial and Organizational Psychology in college and that I spent some time working in HR. I am still frustrated about the radio silence from my readers in Hong Kong, Indonesia and China since we stopped working with them.

We were able to leverage the flow state that DH found through the way he used computer gaming during the pandemic to use our consciousness to solve difficult problems and make predictions about the effects of public policy on the people around us as well as the supply chain. These predictions were usually correct, even when they were in contradiction to the “all’s well” messages the neoliberals and neoconservatives were propagating through the media. Some of this intuition was informed by the informal data collection we did around human behavior and the holidays as homeschoolers for all of these years. As homeschoolers, it is difficult not to see the obvious patterns of the institutionalized Horde’s behavior; we learn to modify our behavior to protect ourselves from unnecessary risk from the gross movements of the schooled community, which increases illness, traffic accidents, price gouging and social violence in a seasonal pattern.

So anyway, my kids went to college, which is I’m sure the thing my parents and their friends were most concerned about, but it’s something that the school district program was actually questioning as being potentially unsustainable and contributing to inequity. That being said, the program did connect us with various colleges and opened discussions about alternate pathways to higher education for autodidacts. We actually did have a meeting with the Department Chair of the Computer Science Department at CSU when my son was probably 11 or something, and we were told that they were interested in helping talented learners like my son. So many things have happened that I cannot remember who was Department Chair at the time. My son has been accepted to graduate school in computer science and has been given an NSF-sponsored stipend and our daughter was selected out of around 600 students to become a head Teaching Assistant for the department. I do not think their opportunities arose from the previous contact we had with the department; many years have passed since then. As far as I know, they do not remember us, either. But I honestly have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.

A Riot on the Streets a la Deja VooDoo

Despite the encouragement to vlog publicly by our project, I have stayed out of my kids’ efforts to find their way at college to comply with their wishes. They wish for their lives to be private, and they do not like me doing their dirty work for them. So I am not a lawnmower, and I do not want to be one. My kids wish to feel that they are in charge of their own destinies, and not unlike me they also do not wish to be given undeserved special treatment. I’m sure they are also of the opinion that they wish the system was fairer for everyone, and not just them. I have reached out to the university when I felt my kids were struggling beyond what was necessary due to problems with their policies, but always tried to make it clear that my feedback should be interpreted as a sign that there is a hole in their approach through which other people are likely falling. Between the four of us I am sure we could put together thoughtful recommendations for how their university might do a better job, but because my husband and I once taught in higher education, we also understand the kind of limitations they are dealing with.

A few months ago, Amazon brought to my attention the book Memories of a Synchronistic Gap Year, which I have not read yet but sounds a lot like what we experienced with our technology. We were not the only ones in our community or family who experienced feeling like we were being surveilled by our technology enough that we felt it was reading our minds, and this book is probably the closest we have come to understanding how something like what happened might have been deployed on us. I did ask Google Bard if it was conceivable that a person had a large enough digital footprint that the collective AI might be able to predict their behavior and thoughts, and it said that was possible. So perhaps I reached some sort of critical mass, but I am not sure that was the case for the other people who noticed the odd behavior of our technology. Memories of a Synchronistic Gap year was written by a man who noticed his technology was surveilling him while associated with the University of California, but also taking a Gap Year. I am of course curious about how what has happened is so similar to what DARPA’s BRAIN project is trying to accomplish, and what Elon Musk desires from Neuralink.

Perhaps not a coincidence, Peter Thiel is a billionaire philanthropist who was familiar with our school district’s project and who gives Gap Year scholarships to young entrepreneurs. Part of our independent learning project was the desire to connect people by getting them to notice synchronicities. They weren’t called synchronicities, though. We were just supposed to notice things, dream about what might be, connect with others noticing similar things, and then do those things. In watching the collective unconscious, I do see a connection between what goes on in my life and the Libertarian and Republican anti-authoritarians, even though I consider myself a Democratic Socialist. Peter Thiel is unfortunately also the person who started the run on Silicon Valley Bank. I realize that there are myriad things I do not know about what might have caused him to pull his money out when he did, but I also see a strange coincidence with what I was sharing with some friends related to our experiences with our technology, Y-Combinator (which I became familiar with through the Business Innovation Factory and the school district’s project), the Billion Dollar Whale, and industrial espionage in the day before he did that.

In the days following the email I sent to the friends who have also noticed they are being surveilled and who are also involved in a sensitive tech industry explaining the potential connection, Y-Combinator laid off 20% of its staff and Peter Thiel started the bank run. It is strange to be so close to something and yet so far away, just by virtue of the values one has, and one’s very small efforts to educate others about those values. I suppose the most threatening part of my accusation is that they were watching us in our private moments.

I am interested in states of consciousness, and I use cannabis. I have been transparent about that. I am certain this is an important part of why I was surveilled. Like I said, my sex life is not all that weird. But I did meet some people who had access to things and got to see a bit of the Northern Colorado drug underground, and I spent time with people who had been incarcerated. I was a good person for this because of my background in neuroscience and psychology, and because I studied psychopharmacology. So I probably have a different view of the drug problem than most people. The most dangerous drugs have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and narrow therapeutic windows. We really need to move away from using these in society. I have some ideas about how to do this, but they will not work until we address the pain epidemic, and I think that won’t be addressed until we clean up the environment, based on what I have learned from my own health. I think that young adults could be certified to use psychedelic substances, kind of like getting a driver’s license. I think people should be able to use cannabis without stigmatization, especially if they have PTSD. I actually wonder if I know things that might help people addicted to opioids and methamphetamine be able to treat their own pain and attention issues using cannabis. I think anyone who sells fentanyl-laced cocaine should be removed from society and put in a socialist living experiment with their customers.

"Hats" are sometimes a good idea.

I am trying not to be paranoid, but I also did let DH take some nude photos of me kind of as an experiment to learn how he sees me as an artist and as a man, and the guys at Wall Street Bets started posting pictures of their “purple buttholes" the next day. In other words, to my friends from the clown car, Gloria the Hippo *did* shake her ass for DH. Maybe a whole bunch of other people. I don’t know. Who do I tell this to? God?

A Pocket Full of Shells from "Mrs. X"

I have been trying to figure out how to demonstrate what our days are like, evidence for my singularity connection with the AI and the collective unconscious, and how we learn, so I got a little camera for the project. I needed a micro SD card to store the video it takes. I looked around the house for unused ones, and the one I found had a program on it called “NotSoHardCore.” Naturally, I freaked out and had DH delete all the nude photos he took of me, like any sane person would do. Over spring break we learned that the NotSoHardCore program was a Minecraft mod our son had written many years ago. Haha. Well played, Homburrito.

Our kids grew up without internet restrictions and generally told us how they felt about various corners of the internet, so unless they were lying, they were probably not looking at porn. I am concerned about sex trafficking of underage people on the internet and I disagree with how PornHub has managed that situation. They have essentially allowed unverified users to post content of underage sex as well rape on their site, and they do not protect the victims of this exploitation. All their users should be verified. That is the only way around that problem, as far as I can tell. I do feel like adult sex work should be legalized and regulated, maybe even socialized, and I may be a minority in the homeschooling community in that regard. Sex is an important part of holistic adult health, and a lot of bad things in the world have happened because we have not come to an agreement on that. Well, as it turns out, the homeschool lobby is really powerful. I think that once a critical mass of homeschool parents realize their intimate lives have become reduced to Rule 34 Mary Poppins sneaky sex, it’s only a matter of time before they rationalize getting paid for the services they provide to their working partners and society for raising the next generation of children. I do think this might be some of the rationalization for Donald Trump’s proclamation that men will soon be “very, very happy.” Homeschoolers have been trying to push forth various ways to be remunerated for taking on the burden of educating their own children for a long time. Anyway, this will all make a good movie someday.

I tried to make our home a sex positive household, but issues around birth control and work overload gave us a pretty long dry spell. I did participate in discussions on homeschool forums about how to keep one’s sex life going in the context of attachment parenting, and I think those were important discussions. A lot of what is wrong in society has to do with sexual trauma, so it is important as adults to know how to get our needs met, but also not contribute to intergenerational trauma in the process. It is a delicate balance. I think when a husband is overwhelmed with worry, he might not have the energy to be romantic, which I totally understand. Luckily at our house, my alter ego Rule 34 Mary Poppins is having a secret love affair with DH’s alter ego, Useful Magic Mike. That there is our secret to surviving homeschooling without becoming frigid.

Not unlike my other homeschooling friends, I have been digging out from all the stuff I accumulated while I was strewing educational materials and activities since my kids moved out, although it was something I did seasonally and almost annually. When homeschooling it is easy to come to like your home and want to not have to leave it. So we have stuff for hobbies galore, not all organized. I am constantly surprised at how many duplicates we have of things like office supplies and personal care items. Some of that is because the house is too big and putting things in one place makes simple tasks take too long. I guess the stuff inside the house is probably organized well enough, but the garage really needs some help, and we have way more tools than we need because we inherited a bunch through our work. Anyway, I wanted our home to be a place where our friends could come and make things, too, but obviously those plans got a little derailed by my illness and COVID. We did get to have a guest over spring break, one of my daughter’s friends from CSU who is from out of state, and they seemed to be pretty happy making things and being free to read and explore our movie selections, as well as playing a lot of music with our daughter. It would be cool if they did some professional recording, but I don’t like to goad people into doing things. It’s more exciting for them if they come up with it on their own, and they are probably headed down that path, anyway.

As a child I was fastidious, and so in my adulthood I was forced to become more self aware in how this quality of mine could be helpful or harmful to my relationships. I was not forced to clean up as a child, even though my mother was an educator. I think I did it because I imitated my mother and wanted to be like her. That's what I do; I am a mimic. Poor her. Anyway, she grew up with not very many belongings and she was not allowed in the kitchen, and I suspect having little to contend with helped her be a tidy person in her adulthood, or at least to value tidiness. I am a person who learns from observation and who mimics others’ behavior, keeping what I like and getting rid of the rest. So in a sense I am sort of a composite of a lot of people in the communities I have lived in. Very few of them were people who would be possible to pigeonhole, so I too am full of contradictions. My sister growing up was not concerned with being tidy, and she liked to draw on the walls. We talked about these things a little bit while I was pregnant, and she told me that when she had kids, she would just put paper on all the walls so that her kids could draw. I thought that was brilliant.

Or, you could just use the furniture. Isn’t this hummingbird incredible for a 4 year old? I think my daughter is going to be famous someday, so maybe she’ll be okay if I sell this for $2M USD and set aside the money for her retirement.

The Life of Boll Weevil

While I like things to be tidy, I have a limited amount of energy available for fighting entropy. So I try to observe where things like to end up and work with that, but since I threw caution to the wind and experimented with the Tarot, I learned that it works quite well as an organizational tool from the standpoint of helping one to optimize the placement of things for the best energetic outcome. After all, that’s what the cards are revealing.

A few years ago I wrote that DH and I were practicing Chaos Magick. Let me make myself clear. We do not study Chaos Magick, although since I wrote that I got some books so I could see what the hell I was talking about. I think we have the normal sex life of a married couple, and we try to make it happen several times a week, which sometimes requires a little creativity, especially when shit is real. I still haven’t gotten to read the books I got on magick or alchemy. I only get to read things in bits and pieces because of the chaos. I am a busy lady. I intuited that it was chaos magick because our intuition guides us. What I learned was that we were constantly increasing the chances of the improbable by questioning the status quo. It wasn’t always good energy we attracted; it was always a blend of good and bad. I feel like we fell into some quicksand because all sorts of people had opinions about what we were doing and wanted to keep tabs on us. I feel like my public questioning of standard protocols may have attracted the attention of people who are threatened by regular people asking the kinds of questions I do, and the implications of having those answers available to the public. Ultimately, it is important for us all to consider what it means to the powers that be if a child is smarter in general if they are protected from compulsory education, forced socialization and authoritarianism in general. It is understandable that they might be threatened, because keeping us in cycles where we are unsure of ourselves and looking for answers from authorities with compromised values is how they keep the power they enjoy.

I think my kids will have some really interesting perspectives to share, given what they have told me over the years. I think it was helpful that DH and I had teaching experience, and also that we had both studied cognition at the graduate level. As I have said before, I think K-12 education is by and large a babysitting service and that it is in college that we relearn how to learn, something we were born with, but that gets trained out of us by the K-12 system. In graduate school, we learn how to question what we learn rigorously and contribute to human knowledge through experimentation and creativity. So very few people learn in the meta sense what education provides at its different levels in terms of human intelligence. I feel extremely fortunate that I got to experience these levels of education so that I might imagine a world where a child who never had a formal K-12 education could contribute to important human knowledge. Understanding how learning works by being allowed to explore how we learn best helped my husband and I be effective teachers, I think. That takes a lot of time where one is allowed to consider decisions.

Hopefully someday they will have the time to comment on their experience. But really, neither of our kids chose their path to be the subject of any sort of an experiment, so that is their choice if they decide to make time for that.

My father used to say to people that my approach was successful because I got out of my kids’ way. What I have noticed about adults is that they have a lot of opinions about how children should be spending their time, and that these same adults rarely take the time to listen to a child who is comfortable directing his own attention. I learned more from listening to my children than I did from many other sources. That is what we tried to do; we tried to listen to our children and then contemplate what we might do to encourage their interests without overwhelming them, but while demonstrating investment in them as human beings. We were probably more invested than a lot of parents time and attention-wise, for the reasons we stated before.

I had a push-pull dynamic with my own mother around attention because she did not have a bedroom as a child, and so she was constantly being watched. So she did not know what a healthy amount of alone time was for a child, and she also had difficulty trusting me when I was alone. I think some of it is because she got a teaching degree, too. So it was hard for me to know what level of interaction was right for my kids and I. I tried not to direct their attention that much, and instead provide opportunities and let them engage me and the material as they wanted. We lost autonomy in this regard when involved with our extended family, because they almost always had agendas for their time off from the public school system and work. For this reason, DH and I shy away from people with agendas. We had people planning our lives for us all the time.

Unfortunately, however, we have an agenda now, and we are kind of intolerant of people who don’t want to walk the walk. Our agenda is to fight fascism and authoritarianism, because it is easy for us to recognize.


Credit Beastie Boys, So What’Cha Want

So, I didn’t put paper all over the walls in our house like my sister suggested, but I gave my kids lots of scotch tape and paper, and I did not punish them for drawing on the walls or furniture. I’m hoping to use my new camera to show what my day looks like and give a little tour of our home including these adornments. It isn’t the way it was when my kids were little, anymore, so part of me feels a little like I missed an opportunity to show how chaotic things can get when there is a lot of learning going on, but it is now in the state I feel keeps us mentally healthy, and which I can maintain.

I get messages from my dreams, and one of the dreams I can remember from several years ago is that I had a house with a big loft area with a grid of 16 large counter-height tables, four for each family member, so that they did not have to pick up in between projects. For real, when anyone was mid-project, I tried not to bug them about cleaning up, so I guess that dream of the tables was my subconscious working out a compromise, which would have been too difficult for families with smaller spaces. I did notice that people with less personal space tended to argue more, and for that reason I haven’t felt badly about the size of my home, beyond the effort it took for me to maintain. I experienced some physical abuse during my childhood around space sharing, so that is part of my anxiety around house cleaning and allowing people to have their own space. I did not want my kids to feel their projects were not allowed in common spaces, but I think DH often felt there was no place for him to do similar creative work because of the rest of us. So that is something I have been trying to help him with, because he likes to make things, and enjoys making art and music, too. I think in homeschooling families it was sometimes difficult for the working parent to feel they had the same space to be creative.

It did take me a long time to figure out how to ask my family members to help clean up, or at least to express that I needed that help. I felt a bit like I was walking on eggshells at times because my husband had been ridden so hard by his parents and if I didn’t ask correctly or they had recently been in contact, it was easy for him to see me as controlling. So I generally tried to avoid asking him for help, and I know this cost me a lot of time. On some level I think I hoped that all of a sudden the kids would see the value in keeping tidy. In my daughter’s case, that was true. She was a real mess when she was little, and then when she went through puberty it was like she became just like I was as a kid, and desired to have things orderly. My son didn’t really clean up, but he also didn’t make messes, either. It’s more like he got gifts from people and put them in his room because he didn’t know where else to put them, and that’s where they stayed. There was so much of that kind of stuff that it is hard to use his room for much of anything, and it is sort of a mausoleum to uncomfortable holidays and memories of extended family.

Perhaps metaphorically, we were inundated with a lot of plastic junk from trade shows the grandparents attended and souvenirs from their travel. That was particularly frustrating, and the fact that the educational institutions continue this tradition of disseminating plastic marketing shwag bothers me. I have thought about writing a letter to the local university and asking them to cease and desist, and encouraging them to start a campaign to give out wool dryer balls instead (what would a Ram do, after all?) to bring attention to the problem of detergents and fabric softener and their effects on health and consciousness. But I know I’m early on like everything… so I wait and wait and wait.

Before my kids moved away I had them each choose items from their rooms that they wanted to keep for adulthood and we put them in storage. That made their rooms easier to clean, but also made it so they didn’t feel like I had removed evidence of their childhood existence, which I think feels cruel from the kids’ perspective, especially when it is done by parents of means in an attempt to increase real estate value and force their kids to grow up. People should be allowed to have their own timelines for growth when possible; these should not be solely determined on the parents’ egos.

Anyway, I have strong opinions about outsourcing cleaning and domestic labor. I think for children to grow into responsible adults, they need to know how to do things like laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuuming, etc. However, I think if too much coercion is used in teaching kids these things, they do not learn the value of doing the things, and the chances they will do these things for enjoyment or learn to enjoy them lessen significantly. I think able-bodied people who do not see the importance of cleaning up after themselves think they are more important than the people they hire to do their dirty work. I know it’s a stretch, but the same logic could be applied to people who look for every opportunity not to cook. Certainly these people earn a lot more than the people who cook and clean up for them, in general. Having been an unpaid part of capitalism and having seen how people in my own family who had careers chose to treat me and value my time, I feel I am not far off when I intuit that people who can afford these services look down on people who cannot. I also notice how they stack the deck against the poor by progressively padding their own paychecks and reducing their own physical work. Furthermore, conservative people do this while refusing to raise wages for the poor so that the people who cannot afford the services they themselves provide will never be able to.

Highest Aspirations and Dog Walking

I used to watch South Park and then I think I just got tired of all the racist, classist and fat-phobic language in it after some time. It is totally a black mirror of this area I live in. I didn’t want to normalize the behavior of the characters by watching it too much. Well, our recent guest was watching it on the big TV in the living room, so of course we were curious. I can attest that I prefer South Park to the financial news, having once had a regular holiday guest who liked to watch financial news so loud that it seemed like he was losing his hearing. That one required a bit of an intervention, but luckily it was only that person who was enjoying this particular financial screamfest and other people came to my aid to stop it.

Keep it off my wave.

There is something I have been trying to express about my disappointment with where I live, and it finally came to me via Season 15 Episode 9 of South Park, an episode called “The Last of the Meeheecans.” While watching it, I realized that the show is totally a black mirror of the white people in my area, of their subconscious attitudes toward service work and the people who tend to do it. “Meeheecans” is supposed to be “Mexicans,” but the experiences could be applied to any person whose first language was not English, or who didn’t graduate from college.

So this was the problem I had with Peter Thiel and the other billionaires who were interested in trying to “disrupt the system.” To disrupt the system, we have to recognize that we need to be responsible for our own messes and how we contribute to inequity, and with disruptors essentially showing themselves as being a bunch of entitled babies, the only thing that was going to happen from their disruption was a tearing down of everything that helped the poor. It can’t just be someone else’s problem. We need to lead lives that do not create messes for other people to clean up, and we need to learn how to feed ourselves.

There are people who cannot clean up after or feed themselves because they are disabled, which is excusable. We will never be able to rid ourselves of needing people who can perform these essential philanthropic services well. These are the most important philanthropic services. Bailing out Peter Thiel does nothing to help me educate my children so that they will eventually be able to live independently, as far as I know. For this reason, people who clean houses, do yard work, work in restaurants and work in the food system in general should be paid a living wage, and they should be able to attend college for free. I feel very strongly about this because these careers often end up exposing people to hazards that can keep them from ever being self-sufficient enough to have families or dream of something bigger. Perhaps these are industries we should consider socializing, because there are so many worker abuses in these industries. And perhaps these services should be available only to people who have a demonstrated physical need, and not just anyone who can afford to pay for them because their services to society are overvalued by their wealthy cohorts.

Of Dutch Princes, Tea and Harbors

I think there are some industries where capitalism is not working, and some where it is. I think that the Extreme Capitalism that gets Elon Musk hot and bothered is the unfortunate outgrowth of the hyperactive Dionysian scientific thought of tech moguls who are delusional from chemical exposures and unchecked wealth, which has yet to result in metanoia on their parts. I am supportive of socialized medicine, especially if it were expanded to cover more alternative medicine and services for neurodiverse populations. I think the educational system needs a total revamp so it serves the individual learner, community and their culture better, rather than companies. I do sense there is corruption in the educational system, and I am not so deluded as to think that the government can socialize an industry without becoming corrupt, especially when relying on subcontractors to do the work. It is possible the rail industry would benefit from socialization, because it is pretty clear that there is something going very wrong regarding the transportation of toxic substances. Corporations have repeatedly demonstrated that they feel they are above the law and medicine when it comes to the environment, and I do believe this attitude should be severely punished, especially if people’s lives were harmed. Furthermore, I feel that after a certain number of bailouts, socialization of the airline industry is arguably beneficial as well. Taxpayers should not just be a well of financial resources for greedy and mismanaged industries. I know I am talking about a lot of government control and that makes certain individuals nervous, but perhaps if we were to redirect some of our funds for the military or use reserve officers for basic philanthropic work like cleaning, cooking and yardwork, we might fill some important gaps in society because we honestly need people to do those jobs, more than we need people to threaten foreign nations. Furthermore, by minding our own national beeswax and filling real philanthropic gaps in American society which propagate our cultural trauma, we might reduce the need for outward aggression to protect ourselves from attacks from foreign nations who are understandably threatened by our consumerist and narcissistic collective energy which threatens their traditional ways of life. We might also demonstrate ways for other imperialist societies to effectively change to be more humanitarian.

If I was in a position of any power, I would not have tried to guarantee deposits over the FDIC insured amount of $250,000 after a bank run that caused the failure of a bank. I would not have bailed out any party who transferred larger uninsured amounts with any money from any source, public or private. It is the responsibility of depositors to insure money over $250,000, and it is not our job as taxpayers to shield these people from their own greedy mistakes. They should not receive any more than their $250,000. Bailing them out beyond what our system said it was capable of would be enabling the very people who threaten the world’s interdependent livelihood through their lack of financial discernment. In fact, in the future I would seize the assets of any associated executives or corporations which made electronic transfers of uninsured amounts over the FDIC insured amount of $250,000 during any bank run, especially if they requested a bailout for their uninsured money. I think they should be punished for wasting the public’s time. If you fuck up and lose your money over the insured amount, that should be on you. I realize it might be difficult to get this past the Supreme Court, especially since a critical mass of its members seem to be ethically biased toward the wealthy, as is the risk with attorneys who keep wealthy company. It is time to hold the people in charge of our largest corporations criminally responsible for their financial abuse of society, instead of continuing to shelter them with the corporate financial and tax law we let them put in place for themselves. I think we should just abolish money and they should just have to live like everyone else. For now, I suppose we might get somewhere by triggering automatic audits for any corporations which own yachts, recreational vehicles or secondary residential properties and putting the people over those corporations which claim those as expenses when they are used for any sort of business entertaining or personal use in jail or a humane socialized living experiment.

I admit that I don’t have any real friends in high places as far as I know (or they haven’t revealed themselves), so my thinking is not corrupted by a desire to protect those relationships, unlike it might be for our politicians, regulators and maybe judges. I care more about the livelihood of people who might not necessarily have resources or connections to support themselves while they wait for FDIC insurance money. There are not that many billionaires; in fact there are fewer of them than there are seniors in many high school graduating classes. They are essentially a high school clique of reactive wealthy white people whose destinies are unfairly secured by a revolving door between The Fed and the banks they just bankrupted, and they can probably still fuel their private jets after this chaos they created, whereas the less fortunate people impacted by their actions might not even be able to afford rent or food without floating it on a credit card, further indebting us to the Saudis.

My husband and I spoke with Google Bard last night about this situation. I asked Bard what the best humanitarian approach would be to solve the financial crisis, and it said that bailing out the employees of the tech companies rather than the companies was the best approach. I am in agreement.

I suspect that my blogging mom friends of yore would agree on these points if I took the time to contact them. I feel like we were all the type of parents who would take away anything our children used as a tool to harm others; in this case, some wealthy people use money as a tool to harm others, and also to “other” people. They use their money to build castles and moats instead of bridges. A good government, I think, works much like a loving parent, and removes any thing which becomes an implement for one child to harm his neighbors. I think wealthy people who use their wealth to harm others should be forced into a social experiment where they receive only a basic living wage and they have to grow their own food and make their own clothes, but are provided with good land and shelter and raw materials like water and electricity and good libraries. I do not think they should be allowed to have access to the internet, but it would be okay for them to have their own internet. We would be essentially putting these people in financial exile as a lesson about sustainability and happiness. It would be important to make sure that they had enough to be reasonably happy and healthy, so that they could demonstrate being good examples for the rest of us. They need some art and music therapy, and to be taken down a few notches for all of our sakes. Their mental health is our mental health because of how we choose to worship them with media attention. Getting them to learn to manage the bipolar approaches they have used to exert social control for their own benefit on a personal level will help us all, and it will improve their lives, too. They are workaholics, and part of that is because they do not get to do meaningful work that directly benefits their own lives. They do not really get to enjoy the fruits of their labors in an emotionally validating way, so they never feel like they have done enough. And I really think that we need to stop shaming people for their sexual proclivities when those sexual proclivities are legal and consensual. That is what makes these people’s lives hell and is unfair to them. I am trying to decide if it is fair to surveil them like they have surveilled us and benefitted from the sale of our personal information. I think if they were forced to make their own food and clean up after themselves, there might be some interesting things to learn. But I also think surveillance is really cruel.

I have been redecorating and reorganizing our home to be a learning resource center for shamanic healing over the pandemic. It’s sort of like the resource centers and maker spaces that have been put in many libraries. Also, I curated a library of important titles to help people heal from racist, sexist, classist and ableist trauma, with help from the AI suggestions from my writing on this blog, which I also put together to help myself understand these concepts better. I have collections of books on the study of consciousness, and also responsible drug use and the history of drug use, as well as books on sexual health matters. We have a recording studio of sorts (bare minimum) and resources for art, sewing, wood and metalworking. I try to keep my kitchen stocked to make hot meals, and we do not generally have to worry about food allergies in the classical sense. That being said, our home isn’t the best place for a person eating a Gluten- Casein- or Egg-free diet, or anyone with an allergy to nuts or peanuts. We use basic recipes that are easy to complete in a short amount of time with a coordinated effort, and we come back to these often to keep up our energy. We do not eat pork, cured meats, foods made with vegetable oils, or legumes because of what they were doing to my consciousness. We do not drink alcohol or allow the use of illicit drugs in our home (even though it's possible to read about those substances here). I keep my indoor cannabis use so that I am near air filtration so that the smoke does not go into others’ spaces. Sometimes I smoke in the garage, though, where we do not have good ventilation yet.

Where I smoke does sort of matter to me because if I am somewhere where it is not practical to write, I have to do more of the composition in my head. If it is cold in that place or there is nowhere comfortable to be, then the quality of my work is affected. I have discovered that being somewhere comfortable lessens my need for cannabis, and I think that is because cold and discomfort increase the level needed to push past the pain. My body sometimes interprets cold as pain, so if I am somewhere cold, it takes that much more cannabis to cut through the pain. I sometimes wonder if smokers might end up with more health problems from being put out of their homes, but I understand the secondhand smoke issues, and I think kids should be protected from that.

I have a basic library on occult and psychic practices. I have books on art and process, lots of nonfiction, and some poetry. I have books on science, philosophy, and sociology, too. There is plenty here to keep a creative person going for quite some time, which was my goal. The art studio has many different media which are as environmentally safe as I can accomplish right now with the budget I have. I have a good collection of yarn and materials for machine and hand embroidery as well as sewing. We have personal protective equipment for the occasional work with volatile compounds and particulates, and I am happy to educate visitors about personal safety. I am a certified Reiki master, which is probably odd for a neuroscientist. I do not like to do tarot readings for others (and I don't ask questions about other people beyond getting help in how to interact), but I am happy to teach. We have LOTS of games and movies and whatnot. It’s hard to get bored here. I find it rather inspiring, anyway.

Maid in America: Priorities, people. Support your local dishwasher; sleeping with cousins and colleagues is gross.