living a life of mediocrity

Ok, so I stole this sentiment from a former student of mine (yes, in a past life, I was all set to begin a career in teaching.  A little ironic turn of events now that I’m a homeschooler).  In a short encounter I had with him, he told me, probably mostly in jest, that he had already accepted that he was going to live a mediocre life.  I used to think it was such a depressing sentiment.  I couldn’t believe that this young person uttered these words as a mere teenager, not even yet 18, I don’t think.  I mean, in this country, aren’t our youngsters supposed to have an incredibly inflated sense of confidence?  What was with this kid?  How had he missed the boat so profoundly?  He wasn’t supposed to have this outlook until at least age 35….ahem.

It’s funny how some things stay with you.  I mean 96 percent of everything that happens to us is like water through a sieve, isn’t it?  I mean, not exactly.  We’re always being changed by our experiences and learning new things each day but it’s funny how such a small amount of our experience actually stays with us vividly.  And it’s always like the most random shit, too, isn’t it?  This was about 10 years ago and I can still remember his precise wording as he spoke to me.  Strange.

Ten years this phrase has been clanking around in the ole noggin.  Bangin’ into stuff and coming to my conscious mind at the most odd times.  Like today while I was doing the dishes.  I was singing away as usual chipping away at a crusty plate with Miles sleeping on the rocking chair in the living room, Ruth and Joel still yet to get up and I was thinking about my day and my plans.  Make breakfast.  Hang up the laundry.  Make the beds.  Water the herb garden.  Sweep the floors.  Do a circle time with the kids (if they don’t mutiny…about a 50/50 chance).  Take the kids to the park later.  I mean, you get the picture right?  What word is popping into your head right now?  The same one that popped into mine I bet as I was thinking these thoughts and going about my life: mediocrity.  I am living a life of mediocrity.

You might upon hearing this, like I did 10 years ago, feel pity towards me for having such a downtrodden outlook on my existence but the truth is, in another ironic turn of events, this simple phrase spoken to me by a random 16 year old boy on a random Wednesday afternoon in a random classroom in Metro Detroit has become a sort of mantra that I carry around with me.  I now see it as the quintessential anti-consumerist, anti-competitive, austere, back-to-basics, simplistic sentiment that I seek to infuse every part of my life with.  It’s with pride that I tell myself I am living a life of mediocrity (my sort of inside joke with myself).  I am living, or trying with all my might to live, a life of simplicity and real, authentic values (the values that come inherent with being human, not values sold to me by a television commercial, and yes, there is a difference).

Ok, I’m doing it again.  This is what my spouse warned me about.  I’m sounding too self righteous.  People don’t like that.  More likely, people feel threatened if you contradict something that they have taken for granted (such as it’s a good thing to consume a lot of stuff and things and buy more and more ’cause it’s fun, duh?) and seem overly confident about it.  Ok, that sentence was also self-righteous, I’ll give you that.  What can I do, though?  I’m a know-it-all.  It’s in my nature to think I’m always right.  Just joking.  I don’t always think I’m right…though I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of a time that I was clearly in the wrong…just kidding again!  I’m often wrong.  Just ask my kids and spouse and mom and brothers and in-laws and friends and acquaintances and Kroger check out people…you get the picture.  Ok, I think I’m done now.  Enjoy this post and go out and live a humble life of mediocrity!  And enjoy every second!

 

 

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summer solstice

Since becoming so in tune with the solar year with all of my Waldorf leanings,  I’ve begun to realize something.  Now, brace yourselves because this is profound shit right here.  There is no summer solstice.  Actually, there is…sort of.  But it’s not really what you think.

From childhood, I’ve harbored a certain type of thinking.  I call it “plateau thinking”.  It’s when I see things as having sort of rising action and the final culmination is the plateau.  You’re there.  You’ve reached your goal.  You’re done.

Do you think like this?  I blame it all on Disney and all that “happily ever after” stuff, as though you just live for the rest of eternity in a perpetual state of bliss, right?

As many times as I’ve come to the realization that this is simply just not how life works, I still find myself falling into that trap, that line of thinking.  For instance, I have harbored the vague notion that once I reached adulthood and I was “an adult” that that would be my “real” life and it would stay the same for a long time.  I can often identify a vague searching in my brain for this plateau that I’m supposed to be comfortably reclining on that is no where to be seen.  I constantly have to remind myself that things, myself included, just keep changing.  There’s no goal line to cross.  No winner’s circle with wreaths of roses.  Life just keeps going.

It’s the same with the kids.  Every birthday of theirs, I keep waiting for some magical change or transformation to occur.  Like, “Now you’re eight!”  Yet they don’t ever seem to look or act any different than the day before.  Also, in the same way that I find myself groping for the plateau of “adulthood” that was only a mirage in the distance, I seem to have a similar lapse in thinking with myself as a parent.  It’s as though I had some vision in my head of what being a parent would be like and I’m still waiting and waiting for this vision to match my reality.  In the meantime, all of us are getting older and growing day by day, minute by minute, second by second.

Which brings me back to the solstice.  Now, the calendar marks this, the 21st of June 2018 as the solstice.  This is it!  We’ve made it!  It’s summer!  Yet the truth is that the Earth never stops moving.  The solstice is actually the point on the Earth’s trajectory that brings it the closest to the sun…which lasts a fraction of a second…and in the next fraction of a second, we’re on course moving further from the sun.  Poof, gone.

My point is this: we tend to view life as a series of plateaus.  Goals, things we are working towards and we think once we’re there, we’re “done” and we can just bask in the glory of those achievements for a while.  Summer for instance.  The truth is that nothing is a plateau, summer included.  Each day of summer is different than the last.  The Earth never stops orbiting the sun.  Certainly not for three months.  Not even for a day.  Not even actually for a second.

Life isn’t a series of plateaus.  It’s like the Earth: constantly in motion, constantly changing.  It doesn’t sit still.  Not even for a split second.

It’s at once shaking and freeing to realize this.

With that thought, I bid you “happy solstice” and I give you this recipe I found on Pinterest for “sun cookies”.  Enjoy.

1 and 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup butter, softened (should be pretty quick to soften butter.  It is the solstice, after all)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. minced thyme

1 tsp. lavender buds (Kroger doesn’t have this so I just use “Herbs de Provence” instead)

1 tsp. minced rosemary

1 tsp. minced sage

a few crushed cardamom seeds (I would probably just use a few shakes of ground cardamom)

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Beat butter and sugar.  Add flour.  Drizzle in honey while beating.  Add minced herbs, mix well.  Divide into 4 balls, chill for 1 hr. (why four balls?  I have no idea.  I would probably just leave it in one big ball).  Roll out and cut into round shapes.  Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes.  Let cool.

Icing (optional)

3 tsp. milk

1 cup powdered sugar

grated lemon rind

tumeric for color

Ice cookies when fully cooled.

 

my baby turned eight

Ok, so clearly from the title, Ruth is now eight years old.  So bizarre as I have clear memories of being eight myself.  I remember sitting on the swing set in my backyard thinking, “I’m eight but it already feels like I’ve been alive forever” (I was an oddly pensive child…who’s turned into an oddly pensive adult).  Why does the age of the first child seem to matter so much more than successive children?  I think because it really marks the beginning of this crazy journey in many ways, though truthfully, I really see the anniversary of my pregnancy with her as the real and true start to all of this (and when I say “this” what I mean is my rebirth into life as a parent or simply my life’s work as I consider raising my kids to be my sort of career or life’s passion).

(side note on the topic of my life’s work: I get all kinds of reactions when I tell people I homeschool from people singing my praises and congratulating me for prioritizing the “right” things in life to looks of confusion and condescension.   My most common reaction, though, among people who are currently around my age and raising children of their own, would have to be, “I could never do that,” which at first glance might seem a little bit like a compliment but what I’ve found out really actually translates into, “You crazy, girl.”  Among older people, the reaction seems to be much less defensive.  I’ll often have older people, whose kids are already grown, tell me that they wish they would have homeschooled.  So, take each reaction for what you will.  I try not to put too much stock into what anyone says as I’ve found that peoples reactions often have less to do with you and more to do with themselves or else they are just mindlessly regurgitating the overall consensus of society towards the idea of homeschooling).  Shrugs.

In any case, Ruth is eight, and as such is like a real live kid and everything, no ifs ands or buts about it.  I could probably go on and on about her talents, achievements and abilities and how proud I am of her, as you might expect me to do, but what I feel like has come to define our time together as she’s aged is really trying very hard to segregate myself from that very attractive way of thinking and instead to steer myself away from putting labels on her (and each of the kids).  I try, sometimes unsuccessfully, very hard to keep my mind totally open to who the kids are and how they change instead of trying to box them into one way of being.  I also try not to use a measuring stick against the things about any of them that I could list off as what people might see as “proof that these kids are progressing”.  I try instead to give her the space to grow and come into her own in her own time on her own terms.  It’s not easy though when every way you turn, it seems like all anyone can talk about is their kids achievements and activities and interests and yadda, yadda, etc. ad nauseam…  Especially around here…you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone on their way to their private rock-climbing lesson or some shit (not that I throw rocks at my neighbors or their kids.  It’s an expression, people).  It’s really hard not to want to follow suit, especially being a homeschooler as I think that inherently comes with a little bit of extra insecurity as you are so far removed from what’s considered “normal” that you want to try and overcompensate even more.  But I try to resist these impulses as they may feel good for the moment but in the long run, I think are short-sighted, fragile, and meaningless anyway.

That’s all just a really long-winded way of saying that I’m not really going to say too much about Ruth and what she’s like these days.  Except that she’s eight.  That and it’s simply a wonder to watch your tiny babies grow long limbs and thick hair and big teeth and run and play and fight like you remember doing not that long ago (wasn’t it actually yesterday??).  This is how one generation to the next ebbs and flows, how family lines grow through time.  Amazing.

Now I’ll segue into something totally unrelated but that I think is really funny.  Or really telling I guess.  I was at the grocery store the other day, with all three kids, of course, and we made it through all of our shopping trip when Joel asked to “look at the books”.  For those that don’t know, Kroger has a book aisle.  In our store it’s hidden behind all the pharmaceutical paraphernalia.  I was like, “Sure,” and swung the cart over and parked it right in front of the book area.  The kids proceeded to sprawl themselves out on the grocery store floor poring through the kids books while I just stared off into oblivion for a while.  People came and went, minutes passed and I thought to myself, “This is like a mini vacation!  And it’s free!”  Yeah, that would be me: basking amongst shelves crammed with vitamins, Band-Aids and Epsom salt, soaking up the florescent lighting to the tune of elevator music. (Sigh.  My life:)

Update on ovulation station: I’m getting better at reading my fertility signs, but am by no means a pro.  It would help if my dang cycle didn’t fluctuate so much!  I did get a positive ovulation test yesterday which means I am probably ovulating like…right now.  Possibly this minute.  Which is possibly not the best timing.  And I’ll leave you with that vague statement and wish you “good day”.  (Tips hat).

 

A Day in the life: Unschooling Edition

Hey, spell check.  Unschooling is too a word.  So stop underlining my shit in red.  Get with it.

First of all, let me just say as an update on ovulation station, that my fertility tracking is going pretty successfully.  Translation?  We haven’t made any more babies yet, so….I must be doing something right.  Right?  Or maybe I’ve just been lucky up to this point.  Who knows?  The one snafu with the whole system, though, is that I inevitably forget my head (or the hormones highjack my brain) and start to want another baby really badly right around the time of ovulation.  Also, as one would expect, I guess, would you know that the time that I’m most in the mood would be right at the perfect time for conception as well?  Go figure.  Mother nature….you got this thing figured out pretty well, eh?  Go you.  Those two major issues aside, though, and it’s a piece of cake.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that my fertile window (time when it is possible for me to conceive based off of my longest and shortest cycle) is basically like two weeks long.  So half the month.  Cool beans.

Oh yeah, also, the hormone shifts during the days leading up to menstruation really closely mimic the symptoms of early pregnancy (did not know that before I became so in tune with my cycle) so every month, I spend a few days convinced that I’m pregnant.  So that’s a fun roller coaster ride of emotion.  Ah!  Womanhood.  It’s so fun to be a life-bearer!  Not.  (Just joking.  It really is and I actually feel totally honored with this ancient vital and sacred role.  But, you know.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Greg’s vasectomy is looking like a better option all the time).

OK.  What I really wanted to write about is our unschooling.  It’s going great also!  Except it’s confusing as hell and I have no idea what I’m even doing.  So, I’m probably on the right track.

(Wow, I’ve got this whole life thing pretty well figured out.  Yup, better just give myself a great big ole pat on the back.  Nice work, me.  Way to be winning).

Wow, I’m in a sarcastic mood today.  I guess that’s my passive aggressive way of venting.  But hey!  Just because I’m clueless doesn’t mean I should give up.  On the contrary.  I see my stumbling around blindly, feeling desperate as a good sign (really, I do).  In my experience, floating around directionless is a very difficult yet vital step to any path worth walking.  The alternative is to go with the flow (a.k.a.the road most taken or swim or even just float downstream) or just immediately commit to and cling on to one ideal before really considering all or at least more options in the name of “having it all figured out”.  Having shit figured out is, in my opinion, way overrated in our culture.  Hey guys, what’s wrong with not having shit figured out some (or all) the time?  (I know the answer to this.  Because not having shit figured out is scary!)  But listen.  Even though we’re taught from an early age in this country that being scared is unacceptable and we are encouraged to instead form all kinds of insurmountable walls of defense (against each other (see: “having shit figured out” above) and also what scares us (aging, for example)) I am here to tell you.  It’s ok to be scared.  Life can be scary.  Instead of turning and running, I think it might do us all a world of good to really sit with our fears.  To get to know them.  To be on intimate terms with them.  In my experience, we have a lot to learn from the things that scare us.

Well, that’s my arm chair philosophy for the day.

Ok, you clicked on this to read about a day in our life as unschoolers.  Or maybe you just stumbled here by mistake while you were trying to order something on amazon.  Either way, welcome to my head space.

Now I will describe to you a typical day in the life as unschoolers (or more likely an atypical day as there pretty much are no typical days).

One day last week, the grandparents carpooled out to spend the day here so that we could show them our local zoo.  The kids, high on anticipation, were up way earlier than usual begging me every five to ten minutes or so how long until the grandparents would be here.  We had cereal for breakfast, which, oddly enough, though I think tastes like cardboard, my kids love and see as an extravagant treat.  Ruth probably helped Miles get dressed as sometimes, she informs me, very seriously, that she will be his mother for the day, and then proceeds to care for all of his needs, from dressing him to buckling him into his car seat.  Joel is finally dressing himself though I am still the main hair-brusher around here.

Once the grandparents finally arrived, we drove to the zoo and I purchased us a membership so we can now go anytime!  We spent the day just walking around the zoo, looking at everything.  Ruth, who can be quite drill-sergeant-like, kept us moving at a brisk pace, anxious to show her grandparents everything there was to see, though often, we have the opportunity, because we usually have no other place to be, to take everything at a leisurely pace.  We did spend a relaxing bit of time just watching the moose who were being uncharacteristically showy and close.

It ended up being a hot day.  That combined with the stress of waiting for the grandparents’ visit proved to be a lot for the kids to handle and by the time we left, everyone was a bit sweaty and careworn.  An impromptu visit to the park just outside the zoo seemed to be the perfect balm to everyone’s tempers.  Ruth immediately shed her footwear, followed shortly thereafter by her little brothers, and was soon climbing all over the play structure amongst the crowd of preschoolers and parents who eyed her suspiciously as if to wonder, “Why isn’t this kid in school?”  I’m getting used to these looks as I watch the calculations go on behind these peoples’ eyes as assumptions are formed, watching my wild and zany daughter violate all kinds of social norms of a kid her age.

After a while, we had to leave so that I could get home and make dinner in a timely fashion (how’s that for 1950’s era family mentality?).  We drove home and the grandparents hung out with the grandkids while I cooked and, as it is on a daily basis, dinner was steaming and on the table by the time Greg stepped his foot in the back door and kissed me on the cheek, “Leave it to Beaver”-style (where the hell are my high heels, apron and pearls??)

After dinner, the grandparents left to go home and then we took a walk around our neighborhood.  We probably had our nightly herbal tea ritual (we all drink some herbal tea together) read some books and then went to bed.

Thanks for tuning in.  Join us again next time for a day in the life, unschooling edition.

 

on learning

It doesn’t seem that learning would be a very controversial topic, does it?  I think the general consensus is that children are supposed to learn stuff.  It’s our job to teach them.  That pretty much sums up modern western philosophy regarding learning, right?  What’s controversial about that?

Delve a little deeper, though, and we can see that there are hidden, lurking assumptions about humanity just under the surface.  The first one is that kids need to be sort of coerced or forced into learning because, naturally, they have no intrinsic motivation for learning or at least not for learning the things that our society deems necessary or worthy of knowing.  This reveals, I think, a sort of negative outlook on humanity.  It reminds me of missionaries and the way they view “barbaric” religions or cultures needing saving.

Which leads me to my next assumption: that we somehow know better.  “We” being adults, the school system, the government, or, as in the case above, whatever religion or group is sending out the missionaries, supposedly “spreading understanding or enlightenment” or “showing people the “right way”” (I use a lot of italics.  I guess that means I question a lot of accepted things.  Or I’m just piss poor at writing. Shrug).

These are interesting assumptions.  And ones that, mere years ago, I would not have questioned much, despite my own experiences in my own life with learning, both inside and outside of institutions.  After all, my own experience is quite fallible, right?  Who am I to question the validity of giant educational systems that serve millions of people and that have been created by, what one would assume to be, people with knowledge and understanding of what’s best for us as a society?  No one.  A little nothing of a female human being from a lower class midwestern family of little to no consequence.  Yet, as I’ve had to learn time and time again as I’ve grown into adulthood, my perspective is valid, is legitimate, has value.

Perhaps this is something that I will never fully accept.  It seems that whenever your personal experience tells you something that goes against the grain of modern thinking you doubt yourself, though the proof is right in front of your eyes.  You still doubt.  Maybe that’s one of my biggest struggles as a homeschooler: accepting that what I’m seeing and experiencing with the kids is real and “right” (for us) and that I can let go of other ideas that I’ve grown up surrounded by and immersed in that don’t hold any truth for me or my family.

Like the way kids (and people) learn.

I embarked on this homeschooling/unschooling journey thinking some things about learning.  These were things that became clear to me upon reflection on my own education and Greg upon his.  Yet it was all just ideas: that the way I had been taught to view learning wasn’t the only way and perhaps not even the “best” way.  I had faith, or at least, I hoped, there was another way.  But I had no proof.

I read some things, blog posts, essays and books, written by other people, other parents, on the subject of unschooling, their rewarding experiences and status quo-shattering epiphanies.  But I had yet to experience anything like it in my own life, with my own children.  (Well, perhaps I had, but I just hadn’t recognized it as such as the kids were so young and were mostly just “playing”.  They hadn’t actually come up against any of the things that, our society at least sees as, “real” achievements.  The kind you can brag about to your friends and relatives or that get gold stars in school).

Thankfully, those first early days of this journey are now behind me and though I still consider us really still just starting out as homeschoolers, we’ve come a long way.  I now have a few concrete examples that I use to bolster myself when the doubt starts creeping in.

Ruth learning to ride a bike was my first example and something I still use when thinking about my role in the kids’ education.  I think there’s this idea that we have to “teach” our kids to ride a bike.  I remember my own parents jogging behind my first pink two-wheeler holding the seat and yelling directions like, “Keep pedaling!  Steer, Steer!”  Despite their best efforts, and probably much to their confusion and dismay, I was a two-wheeler failure and was one of the oldest kids around to learn to ride one, only finally learning in the 4th or 5th grade.  Many friends with 5, 6, and 7 year olds converse about whose kids are riding the coveted two wheeler yet and how to go about teaching your kids this envied skill.

Ruth on the other hand, unlike me, was an early learner, mastering the skill after only a few weeks the summer after she turned 6.  What amazed me when I approached the topic after she showed initial interest was the way in which she learned and how superfluous I really was.

The first ingredient was an interest or desire to learn.  If that’s not there, no amount of bribery, coercion or otherwise convincing was going to start the process.

The second epiphany I had was, in watching her struggle with the bike over and over again, that it was more of a mental process than a physical one.  The physical part was in fact an afterthought.  Meaning that she wasn’t just using her brain to figure out how to balance and time everything right, but that she was battling inner demons of self-doubt, questions of confidence and ability, having to cope with frustration and resilience.  More than once she flew into a rage at falling and, in her mind, failing.  I wasn’t just watching someone acquire a skill.  I was watching immense internal struggle.

Finally, she “got it”.  Her feet turned the pedals, she kept her balance and steered without falling.  Then it was a few times learning how to stop, how to start, and she was on her way.  The whole process took about three weeks from the first try through many afternoons of trying and failing and giving up to the moment when everything clicked.

In this, what I’ve come to view as a very personal trial for her, all I did was stand by, offer a few tips for getting momentum and a few words of encouragement.  In short, I didn’t do much and my greatest contribution was probably just in being supportive more than anything else.

That experience really opened up my eyes to the real nature of human learning.  It’s a very personal thing, one that we each go about at our own pace for our own reasons, filling up our own minds and hearts as we piece together our own experience, asking questions and then seeking out the answers.  It is not, as one will find in mainstream educational philosophy, something boxed, one-size fits all, impersonal and handed down from a vested authority.

Learning is, as I experienced as I watched Ruth ride a bike for the first time, nothing less than a total personal struggle and a transformation, where who you are and what you can do and what you think all comes into question, and you emerge on the other side changed.

How’s that for a positive outlook on humanity?

The Wash

Though I’m not really Amish, I do pick and choose from their way of life from time to time and try to incorporate some of those, what I consider simplistic and hard-working, values in my day to day life.  OK, maybe I fall short (really short) of this ideal much of the time but it is still something that keeps me inspired and gives me something to aim at (much of the struggle of being home with young kids comes from no pre-fabricated structure and having to sort of invent your own context.  The rest of the struggle comes from how like psychiatric health patients small children are (I could write a book on this)).  So, you pick your ideals and I’ll pick mine.

That’s at least part of the reason I don’t have a dryer.  The other part is much more feelings-based.  When I was in my twenties, I spent a few summers in various circumstances that one might choose to call “rustic” and while in these places, it was often the norm (along with peeing on the ground, cooking over propane burners, and not showering) to line dry our clothes.  I became somewhat enamored of the look of clothing flapping in the breeze on a line, the smell of sun-crisped garments and the meditative quality of the task of hanging and then taking down the clothes.  I simply love it.

In my normal adult life, modern conveniences abound and, though I enjoyed my time roughing it as a way of life and often find myself daydreaming about ways to get back to simplistic living, it’s hard to resist the magnetic pull of modernity.  That’s why I took the opportunity when moving into our new house to not buy a dryer (which had the added bonus of saving us money.  Cha-ching!)  I just didn’t buy one.  So, for seven or so months now I’ve been line-drying our clothes.  First outside in the yard in the summer, and now in our basement (which is less than ideal as our basement has a very musty-moldy odor that infuses all of our wardrobes.  Meh).

I have to say: though there are times, especially with little kids, when the ability to dry things in less time than at least a day and a half would be beneficial, mostly, I don’t miss my dryer one iota.  Not only do I not miss it, I look forward to hanging the wash as a rare moment of peace and contemplation in days that can be so messy, loud and dare I say “un-peaceful”?  I simply love the feel and smell of wet, clean clothes, the old-fashioned look of a line bursting at the seams with clothing, the quietness and simplicity of the task.

You can say what you like about the Amish, and you can scoff at my simple-minded nostalgia for a bygone era, but hang-drying clothes is where the Amish, in my opinion, got it right.

Tune in for more city Amish lifestyle changes hopefully coming soon.

IMG_20180226_080207600
I literally just went downstairs and snapped this picture right now. This is how our basement always looks.

Illness, infection and contagions

It feels like we’ve been sick forever at this point.  I guess that’s the way it is with a family of five.  By the time your virus has finally spread to each person and run its course, two weeks or more have elapsed.  That’s half a month!  By the time you can actually come up for air and take stock, life seems to have passed us by and left us behind.  When I or the kids are sick, all bets are off.  We don’t go anywhere.  We don’t do anything.  We are home for days on the couch watching Caillou, The Cat in the Hat and all other manner of obnoxious kids programming.  All of our winter activities have been derailed.  I feel so lost.  Anyone else have this problem?  Who am I?

Luckily, we, for the most part, avoided the doctor’s office.  I mean, modern medicine is great and everything, or so they tell me, but I can’t shake the feeling that every time I walk in there, I might end up under the knife.  Is this an irrational fear?  I’m not so sure.  With the way the system works, sure they have “our best interest in mind”…but also, is it me, or has the medical field become incredibly scalpel-happy?  It is starting to feel like you could walk in there for a cold and walk out with some sutures, vicodin, and maybe a colostomy bag (ok, maybe that last thing is a bit over the top but you get the idea).  Anyone else feel this way?  Especially with my state insurance card.  It’s like I can hear the “Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!” as I walk through the door and I can actually see the dollar signs in their eyes.  No lie.  Their mouths actually water when we’re in there.  It’s like Pavlov’s dog.  Fresh meat.

We did end up having to take Ruth in for an ear infection.  Up to that point, she had been the least sick with the actual flu bug (which may not have actually been the deadly strain that both my mother and mother-in-law were crossing themselves and throwing holy water over their shoulders hoping that we didn’t contract, but if it wasn’t, it was definitely a distant cousin) but ended up with a secondary ear infection.  Blast!  So we had to turn ourselves in to the authorities at last and come under their scrutiny.  We did avoid surgery this time, but not for lack of trying as they desperately questioned Ruth for underlying symptoms and possible overlooked syndromes at large.  Sorry.  Super healthy kid here, doc.  Just write the script and we’ll be going now (nervously eyes the doorway).

At this point, we’ve lost touch with all our people.  We’ve stopped going to all our groups.  This is really why I hate getting sick.  It’s not so much the physical discomfort, fevers, barfing and whiny kids (though those things do suck ass chunks), but the way illnesses totally wreak havoc on my fragile existence: the rhythms, the sustaining framework that gives my life structure and tethers me to my days in a concrete way that I’ve worked so hard to build up at home with the kids.  It all comes crashing down around me and I’m left standing like a foreman at a building site, all that rubble piled up at my feet.  It’s enough to make you take a union coffee break and never come back, I swear.

On an even more negative note, know what’s depressing as fuck?  Doing a budget.  Yeah, all the smoke and mirrors that you’ve kept your true financial situation hidden beneath: gone.  It ain’t pretty, folks, to take a real hard look at your real fiscal limitations.  Shudder.  One of the more unpleasant tasks of adulthood, to be sure.  Like all good hard doses of reality, it’s hard to swallow, but it does a world of good.  Kind of like kale.  Yeah.  Budgets are like kale.  That’s good.  (more on this later…)