Sometimes you have to carry your home on the inside.

I have a recurring dream, one that always brings me comfort, though to some it might be considered a nightmare. There’s a place I visit, and when I’m there, I soar with freedom. Sometimes literally, because hey, dream. I know when I’m in this place again, not because I recognize it, nothing in it is ever truly familiar. It’s not the look of the land, it’s the spirit.

I might be walking down a prosperous neighborhood, admiring the occasional flash of stained glass and enjoying thrills of delight at lawn gnomes tucked discreetly in well-tended flower gardens.

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I’m always on the move, a quiet pressure deep inside urging me away from where I was, and onward to where I am going. Looking for something intangible, looking for something I can hold, something to satisfy the desire that can’t be filled.

Sometimes, I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m looking for something to steal. Stolen treasures are even more exciting. But I never find anything. There is nothing that calls to be mine.

Maybe I enter a home, only to pass through to the other side, winding my way through backyards and over fences. Maybe I turn down an alley, or take a shortcut across an empty lot. Maybe I stick to the streets and simply make another turn, and it all falls away to something else. A new neighborhood, a new adventure.

On this street, colorful laundry flutters in the air. Cautious eyes on strained faces peek through open windows while the sweat drips from their brow. The colors of the homes change from brick to adobe, and strong spices flow from a market on the corner.

A breathless push through the excited market might turn me into a rustic neighborhood of wood and pine, or one that likes to mix up its architectural style with a minimalist modern flare. Every street has something new, everything a gleaming snapshot of the shiniest treasures that area has to offer, be they succulent or depraved, glitters of the exotic or the luxurious, the serene or the mysterious, and always, always out of reach. No matter how simple the treasure I have found might be.

Always. Be it a lawn gnome, or a family sitting down at the table together for a meal.

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I never live there, I am always walking through, and everything I see is out of my reach, therefore exotic and exciting.

I know exactly why I have this dream, and I know exactly why it comforts me. I won’t tell you every detail, but I might hint that when I wanted to live in the woods, there was a reason it might have been preferable to home. Maybe more than one reason.

Those reasons stopped in my teenage years, and so did my attempts to run off and live like a feral child. I was always caught, but those moments of freedom wandering around unfamiliar streets affected me forever. To the point that they molded my dreams.

When I started riding a bike to explore, the dreams started sometimes taking on the feel of flying, racing along in pure joy up and down the roads. Never high enough to reach the sky, or even avoid cars without a lot of effort, but a nice smooth gliding flight that I had the joy of recreating when I woke up and got on my bike again. I don’t have a bike anymore, but I still fly through neighborhoods in my sleep.

When I lived on the street, the longing to be a part of the places I passed through grew to something more intense, darker, but comforting and familiar in its own way. The dreamy landscapes I wandered through grew more colorful, more diverse, more like an entire city contained in a small area, each street a representation of the best of all the towns I’ve wandered through, secret treasures and fascinations intact.

Know what reminds me of that oddly comforting dream, that recurring expression of an emotion I know no name for other than wanderlust? That word only expresses the desire, not the blissful satisfaction of something new and exciting washing over you in waves as you experience temporary release from despair (or, more recently, mild annoyance).

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Walking around Staten Island, that’s what. The smallest, greenest borough of New York City. A variety of cultures stacked on top of each other, some streets new and shiny and some streets cracking and mossy, and all of them beautiful.

If I were forced (well, persuaded by love) to live in pollution and population filled New Fucking York City, this would be the place to stick me. Home of protected marshlands, deer, subcutaneous egg laying sand fleas, and reputedly practically the whole damn island is haunted.

Seeing the state of many of these places, once shining and now peeling with grief, crammed right up next to homes oozing prosperous promises, I can see why rumors of ghosts linger. Also, there was that serial killer with his associated scandalous hospital, then the other abandoned hospital that’s supposed to be like an entire village, the mob hitman who cut up that dude in that mansion… Anyway, you know. Fun history alongside all that birth of our nation stuff.

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I want you to take a moment and put yourself in my skin, with forty some-odd years of that dream driving your spirit. Now add twenty years of living in virtual confinement, restrained by poverty, lack of transportation, and the life of a single mother struggling to get through school (before I met Joe), followed by a new bundle of joy and the chaining to the home that brings.

Then suddenly…

I’m living in a landscape that holds some of the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood of my spirit. The landscape around me mirrors adventures that have called to me for decades. I play in unexplored landscapes and unfamiliar cultures just when I’m walking to the store. Awesome.

As pleasant as this place is, it is still New York City. Exotic, challenging, and bold. I walk, and I look around, and I feel my soul taking it in to store for later, material for memories that will become stories and dreams. My inner life grows wealthier, my need for stimulation being fed.

And Joe is talking about possibly sending us back to Tulsa.

Oklahoma. Land of flat, dull, and boring. We don’t even have basements, or homes above shops. I grew up surrounded by people who picked on me for reading for fun. People who had no idea how to eat an artichoke and had never eaten shrimp and ask you what church you belong to when you meet because it’s assumed you are Christian.

I mean, okay I get it. When it comes down to it, our current housing situation is not going to work out for a multitude of reasons. It would be less expensive to ship us off, we could save money to buy land faster, and oh boy, I do want land.

But I haven’t explored Manhattan yet, and it’s December so it’s cold and Joe’s commute is twice as long because of shoppers and tourists. I don’t think I want to face that crowd. Stuck in traffic that long with a hyper toddler, not a good idea either. If I were alone, the crowd and cold would just be part of the adventure, but I just can’t do it to her. I was hoping to visit the city with her in the spring, but now I hear I might not even be in the city over Christmas.

I had my heart set on so many things. I won’t get to tour the best graffiti, or eat a dandelion in Central Park. I might not even get a chance to see Poe’s banister before we leave. I did get to gather seashells with my daughter, and I do admit the beach was lovely (if you admire the tragedy of urban decay and can vaguely enjoy the horror you feel while you watch trash bobbing in the waves).

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I thought I would be here for a year, and that I wouldn’t have to be apart from Joe again. I wanted to walk through Washington Square park while wondering how many bones I was walking across. I wanted to drink with the ghost of Dylan Thomas. Now, instead, I may be going back to the trailer. To paint the walls in a vain attempt to inject optimism and a woodland theme into my life.

Or, as I was informed this morning, perhaps we’ll be moving to Long Island, with an actual view of the ocean. It would be longer until we saved enough for land, but we would stay together and I could continue my plans for the rest of the year.

This should be earth-shatteringly good news, a possibility to cling to, but it’s just making me worried it won’t happen.

Once again, I’m not sure of where I will be and when. The way possibilities keep popping up, then fading away around here, that might be going on for a while. In a way, it’s cool. All the possibilities have positive eventual outcomes, even going back to the land of flat, dead, and boring will lead to land, so I know I can adapt.

It’s just that, well, humans are complicated creatures and the seed for adventure isn’t the only thing in my heart. Lots of stuff lives there.

Fucking anxiety and PTSD to name a couple. Know what stuff like that doesn’t like? Instability. Unpredictable futures. Trying to get settled in, and just when you do, it’s time to move again. I totally signed up for this journey, I just didn’t realize it would jump around so much or move so fast.

I am not reacting well. Thankfully, middle age doesn’t just come with wrinkles. It also comes with a lifetime of experience and skill sets to stave off the waves of panic attacks that would have been hell in this situation when I was younger.

And I have a brand new, shiny skill set that hasn’t even gotten boring yet. Bullet journaling about organization, a routine, pain solutions, family meals, standard life skills that will remain consistent no matter where we live or what we are doing. That helps.

I mean, I just got a new journal for 2019 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve at least started notes on collections for more than half of the pages, so apparently it’s helping quite frequently. I have to say though, copying recipes from Pinterest into my BUJO is the most white girl thing I’ve ever done. At least I don’t think I’ve been so drunk that I’ve lost a shoe in public.

P.S.- I finally caved and got Scrivener, and had one of those moments where angels sang in chorus while light radiated so hard my hair blew back. I’ve already started a bullet journal page with custom icons.

P.P.S. – Posting Tuesdays now. I tried posting when my views were at their peak, apparently that is not a good strategy to get more views on my blog.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Last week I survived trial by fire to emerge triumphant, though embarrassingly dirty, in our quest to leap out of poverty and into the comforts of the middle class. Also, I learned that people are totally polite in New York City, or at least in the surrounding suburbs.

I have a promise of a visit into Manhattan this weekend, hopefully. I better see rudeness, I was totally promised snide behavior and am a little disappointed.

I’ve officially had 3 people say, “Oh, wow, she must be such a sweet baby to be so good on the trip,” at which point she beams with delight for she thinks she’s a pretty-princess-angel-baby, but I have to fight laughter because I know she’s a pretty-warrior-princess-monster-dinosaur-wrestle-maniac, and who on earth said she wasn’t screaming half the time?

At one point we were so relieved to see a rest area where she could run wild for a bit that the son and I took a photo to commemorate the occasion.

Joe got to ride with the bird and the dogs, he was still exhausted from driving down here followed immediately by lots of heavy lifting and way too many errands. It seemed more kind to keep the baby with me.

We left about 10pm on Sunday and arrived about 10pm on Tuesday, though we did have a 12-hour break in a town called White Castle, in I forget which state because hell I was so tired when we started the trip that I forgot my shoes in Tulsa.

I didn’t have a clue where we were pretty much 90% of the time, and I stared at the back of Joe’s car co much that I wouldn’t be surprised if it started showing up in dreams. Probably very surreal dreams where I’m drifting or lost.

When you’re exhausted and need to stay alert, I recommend stand-up comedy over music, most podcasts, and audio books. The variety in sound and speech patterns kept it from getting too repetitive and soothing, the laughter kept my adrenaline going and the mood up. Even the baby seemed to be enjoying our laughter, occasionally.

When the baby was at her worst, I switched to noise-canceling headphones and soothing nature sounds of birds singing in the daytime. My son was a tremendous help, working hard to soothe her while I focused on driving. I owe him, big time. We had the back seat packed tight, next trip I’ll make sure to seat him next to her and pack the front seat instead.

If it was a family trip with enough time to relax, it would have been way better. If we had twice the time and not as much stuff in our way, we would have been able to stop at tourist attractions, stretch our legs and chill. Alas, our schedule wouldn’t allow it, but at least it’s over.

I also kept getting disappointed that I didn’t have time to play in the weeds. Unfamiliar plants that I had a strong suspicion on what they might be kept tempting me along the road side. I would have loved to snap a few pics and grab a few seeds around the rest stops while the toddler ran her little monster butt into the ground.

All discomfort and frustrated travel wishes aside, it was so fulfilling to watch the trees and hills zoom by, running through places with familiar names and enticing mysteries. I totally wanted to plunge the secrets that Hershey, Pennsylvania held. Watching glimpses of towns zooming by is a daydreamer’s best friend.

So, the trip was too short and too long. When I woke up Wednesday morning to a knock on the door, I answered it feeling oddly hungover and filthy. My butt-length hair was a wild unfettered wreck, I was covered in sweat because the new place has window unit air conditioners and the one that cools most of the house is broken, and (best of all), because I am last on the needs list like a proper mother, I still hadn’t had my turn in the shower yet. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where a clean change of clothes might be.

It turned out to be my awesome upstairs neighbor who is an artist, a scholar, and a gentleman. He graduated from culinary school, and is putting the finishing touches on a book of poetry. He was polite enough to not be noticeably shaken by my fat ass running around without a bra on in filthy Hello Kitty pajamas. He gave me a picture frame as a housewarming gift, and offered to cook us dinner sometime.

I might be forced into displaying manners. I better study. I should re-read I Like You, by Amy Sedaris.

P.S. – I now belong to that exclusive group of people who have been told multiple times that their accent is charming, but we ourselves know we actually sound like hicks back in our home town.

P.P.S. – I’ve lost count of how many times Joe has told me how much weight I have lost. Even better is the fact that if I hadn’t been working so hard, moving and a long road trip like that would have had me convalescing on a heating pad for a few days, instead of contemplating picking up some beer to take the edge off the pain while I continue unpacking. Hiking, you will be mine.

For What It’s Worth

I’m up to my neck in packing, we leave in two weeks. So I’m going to repost an adventure I shared back on my old blog when I had the realization that I was moving into a thicket of people rather than trees.

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This is longer than a blog post, so grab a refreshment and kick your feet up. I’ve been stuck inside for days with a migraine, but I am feeling well enough to look at a screen and write, so I’m going to tell you a story. My current life is nice and peaceful, a quiet little family life. But man, things used to be different.

Once upon a time, I was a street kid in pre-Katrina New Orleans. I landed in town early January, 1996. I had been homeless for about six months due to a failure to see eye to eye with my grandparents when it came to religion, and because I lived with them, it reached a breaking point.

My reverence of nature, science, and evolution has reached spiritual levels, and I see myself as Pagan because of it. Grandma is Catholic. I had no problem with her religion, but she took issue with mine. I willingly left, but my housekeys were already gone from my keyring. Later, she opened up to it and realized I was neither Satanic nor being rebellious. But that wouldn’t happen for a couple of years. So, for about a year and a half, I went on various adventures in a few cities.

I was not fond of New Orleans. Maybe if I had a safe place to sleep, my opinion would be different. Probably not, because crowds kind of freak me out. A combination of loud noises, darkness, and a crowd is likely to cause panic attacks. That will come up later, I promise.

I got stranded in New Orleans trying to get to a Rainbow Gathering in Florida. This is basically an acre of hippies living it up on someone’s land, as sustainably as they can with everyone pitching in. This sounded like where I wanted to be, I was hoping my ability to work well with my hands would mean I could get someone to let me join them on one of those crafty tribal nomad type things, travelling the country selling handmade goods at fairs.

I managed to get myself to the French Quarter where a friend of mine had arranged a ride to come and pick me up, but they never showed. I heard a rumor they were busted with pot in their van. I tried to find another ride, but it was right before Mardi Gras, so everyone was going into the city, and no one would be leaving until the whole thing was done. Nothing to do but go along with it.

Adventures happened, a few weeks passed, and I found myself invited to a protest march for street kid’s rights. Now, I don’t know exactly what was truth and what was rumor, but it was said that cops were picking up street kids under “Napoleonic Law” (I was told it was summed up as “anything to keep the peace”). Personally, I’ve always had positive experiences with cops, even in New Orleans, but I understand the problem.

Kids were being arrested for ridiculous infringements. One girl was “impersonating an airplane” (just walking along the sidewalk making plane noises in the sunshine). One kid committed “assault on a cheeseburger” (took off the pickles and threw them away). A common one was “leaning with intent to fall” (sitting against a wall intending to fall over and go to sleep on the sidewalk, even if the person was fully alert and in conversation with their friends). The city’s method for keeping nasty street children out of the eye of tourists was to arrest them.

To make it even more concerning, these street kids were going to be held until after the next festival (this one being Mardi Gras, but they have festivals all year long and this was routine). Then, when the crowds were gone and the streets were trashed, the kids would be shuffled along in orange jumpsuits sweeping the vomit out of the gutters.

Now, we knew we weren’t the most beloved part of city life, but it all struck us as rather unfair as we were Americans too, so a group of the more politically inclined among us decided to speak up and perform a march. We would all meet in a warehouse that had been converted into apartments, they had a giant community room that they rented out to us.

The huge space was mostly open, except for a few office sized rooms at one end to live in. Residents bathed in the shared kitchen’s industrial sink, sponge baths behind a curtain on wheels. Clothing lines dripped dry near the common area, a wide-open space with scattered couches and a few coffee tables.

The march was to start at midnight, and until then we just hung out. In this crowd of people, that meant there was someone present, a legend I had not yet seen with my own eyes as I was only a casual visitor to drug cultures. A mad doser. Someone who tells you to open your mouth, and if you do, they put a generous dose of LSD onto your tongue.

There was only one sober street kid in the room, and due to the bitter rivalry between street hippies and gutter punks, the room was more populated by flowing scarves and ankle bells than it was spikes and anarchy signs. As a goth with only the soul of a hippie from a midwestern suburb reminiscent of Donna Reed, this was an unfamiliar atmosphere all around.

I was in a room full of kids who wished with all their hearts it was still the sixties, and we were all high as kites. They had drums, guitars, a didgeridoo, tambourines, and finger chimes. Most of them knew how to belly dance from practicing around bonfires. Some of them knew how to juggle fire, but in the warehouse they could only throw their unlit toys in the air. They sure did put on a good show regardless.

You know that scene in the third Matrix movie, the one inside a giant cave where they’re all dancing? Take away the fire, make the music some acoustic world style music, and picture it inside a warehouse with thrift store decor. That’s the party I was at. Similar to a bonfire at the beach, but with a grungy ultra-urban decay feel, almost post-apocalyptic in it’s coolness.

It was amazing, but it was also a crowd in an enclosed space. I needed some air, so my moronic teenage self decided to find some peace and quiet by stepping outside for a little walk. Did I mention I was on acid? By the way, it was the weekend before Mardi Gras, two blocks from Bourbon street.

So, I wandered along, morbidly curious about what the fuss looked like, and I got a little too close to the edge of the crowd. I found myself shoved into it, and I was having difficulty fighting my way back out of it again.

Then, something just fucking perfect happened and some girl on a balcony twenty feet away from me lifted up her shirt. All the young men directly under the balcony looked up, causing a chain reaction that was terrifying to watch approach me. People started tilting backward to the point that they all fell down. Everyone laughed except me, because they all managed to get to their feet before I could.

They closed above me. It was shoulder to shoulder people and I was on my back on the ground, on a couple of hits of some quite spectacular LSD, and I’m prone to panic attacks.

I was no longer in control. I opened up my mouth and helplessly started screaming a wordless note with the very best of my ability. My ability is good. Anxiety makes me loud. Panic had me frozen in place.

Four beautiful, glorious young men came to my rescue, and I’m so sorry, young athletic frat boys glistening in your beautiful auras reminiscent of a paladin’s shining armor, I am so very sorry I could not stop screaming, I assure you I was mortified by my behavior the entire time. Yes, I heard your pleas to stop, and I tried. I promise. Thank you so much for delivering me to safety, despite my ragged appearance and probably not the freshest of scents. You are fucking heroes.

So, I got the fuck out of there as soon as the dizziness passed, and went back to the safety of the freakiest party I’ve ever been too. Well, until I made my way to bonfires later, but that’s not this story.

I settled into a couch where my future ex husband was saving me a seat. Not long after that, our mutual friend stepped outside to have a cigarette, and was immediately arrested. He was high as a kite, but he had no chance to misbehave or make a nuisance of himself before he was in cuffs.

Policemen started pouring into the room. There was complete silence for about five minutes. The young man who organized the event spoke with the police, the more experienced protestors passed around the word to be quiet, we had done nothing illegal (that the cops knew of) and they would not hurt us, be still and do not speak. We held hands.

Still reeling from my previous misadventure, I sat in the most tension filled room in my life. A small forever passed.

Then the one sober hippie did something amazing. He started quietly playing his guitar, something that’s been one of my favorites ever since, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I got to beware.”

We all started singing. We sat still, we didn’t talk to each other, we didn’t touch our things, and we all sang the parts we knew, one protest song after another. Some of the cops were smiling and dancing a little bit as they stood in place. Some of the other cops were giving them dirty looks.

So then, the fucking mayor and chief of police walk in. I’m in a movie or something for sure by now, right? I mean, this could not possibly get more surreal.

They quietly talk to our fearless leader while he trips his balls off. Josh apparently forgot to file a permit for his march, or he didn’t do it on purpose I’m not quite sure. I only knew him a little, and only got to talk to him for five minutes after this was all said and done.

Turns out the city of New Orleans did not want a large group of stinky hippies marching down Bourbon street yelling about the things they’ve been arrested for on the weekend before Mardi Gras. Bad for tourism. Therefore, when our friend stepped outside they decided to interpret it as starting a march he didn’t have a permit for.

We never saw our arrested friend again. I kept his teddy bear for him, hoping to return it because I know it meant a lot to him, but a couple of days after Mardi Gras we managed to find a ride out of town, and we took it. I didn’t have a safe place for his stuff.

No point to that. Just a couple of homeless teenagers carrying around a teddy bear. I can’t remember what happened to Toe Bear, I kind of miss him too. Probably one of the things I lost in the few times I myself got separated from my own bags.

Anyway, Josh the fearless leader negotiated with the two city bigwigs for quite some time. The guy who owned the building got in on it, as he was evicting us at midnight because that’s when our lease was up, and the cops were saying they would interpret that as the march starting, we would all go to jail. After several minutes of discussion, he offered to extend the lease for free to allow us time to work things out. Thanks, dude.

Eventually, Josh came back in a daze, and the cops quietly left. His eyes were all huge with shock as he said, “I got us a meeting where they will hear me out on Monday.”

No idea how it went, we left before the aftermath had settled enough for the rumors to make sense. Likely it didn’t accomplish too much, but possibly it got us a little more respect. Whatever the outcome, good job, Josh. You got heard, and everyone involved has a story to last a lifetime. I hope you’re doing well.

Crowds. Mother fucking crowds. Ah, New York City, you’re going to be another one of those magnificent times of both joy and rampant overwhelming anxiety, aren’t you?

How Saturday Morning Cartoons Caused My Family More Than Their Share of Grief

Once upon a time I ran away to live in the woods. I was caught. I was brought back home where I was watched closely, until I wasn’t, and then I ran away again. This continued for quite some time.

My grandma said that it started when I was six, and that I came up to her and said, “Grandma, did you know you can live in the woods and get what you need there, and you never need to go to a grocery store, ever?”

Well, that’s when I started talking about the woods anyway. I started being the little escape artist way before that. Once when I was visiting Grandma they caught me in her neighbor’s back yard playing with their poodles at 3 am.

Those poor people hadn’t met me yet, so they had no idea where I came from. I told them I didn’t know where my dad lived, and my Mom lived in another state. I had climbed out my window, pushed my tricycle up to the six-foot fence and stood on it to reach the latch. From that point on, padlocks and bars on the window kept me indoors at night, until I was old enough to figure out how to move through the house silently.

I couldn’t figure out where I came up with the knowledge you could live off the woods entirely though, we thought maybe something I saw on a cartoon. I didn’t read Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain until I was around nine (man, that set my “live in the woods” desire aflame), so it was hard to pin down.

Recently though, I remembered that my Mom and I once had a major miscommunication. You need to understand that my mom is an avid talker, and hates to be interrupted. She also has a bit of an old school “children should be seen and not heard” streak going on that made it difficult for 6-year-old me to communicate with her, she was intimidating.

So, when she caught me out of bed at 3 am cleaning the windows and she asked me what I was doing, I told her I wanted to be a brownie. I didn’t correct her when she thought I wanted to be a junior girl scout.

You see, I had heard that the household fairies get milk and cookies left out for them in exchange for doing chores while the rest of the house slept, and I thought it would be cool to be a helpful little version of Santa Claus. I think the Saturday morning cartoon “The Littles” (based off of a book I remember reading very young) had some influence on this. I was always looking through the house and garden for little people. I had no desire to be a girl scout though.
Poor Mom blew some money on a uniform and handbook, happy that she was giving me something she thought I wanted very badly. I don’t remember clearly, but she may have tried to become a troop leader. I tried to be enthusiastic, but we stopped going after a couple of troop meetings. I remember she kind of resented that she wasted some money, but I don’t remember if I told her what it was I really wanted.

It’s a shame that I didn’t stick with it, because I think it was the Brownie handbook that ended up shaping my excitement about nature and the dream of living in the woods. Or, maybe someone I talked to at a meeting. I’m not sure. But I think those couple of weekends ended up being some of the most influential events of my life, because that’s the age when I started talking about the woods.

There’s a kind of tension between Mom and I sometimes, I’m sure you can tell from above. We’ve gone through some rough patches. As I said, she’s intimidating. Now that I’m all grown up though, the strangest thing has happened. I can stand up to her now. Confused the fuck out of her when it started happening, but I’m pretty sure that she knows to take me seriously now.

Know what that means? I can stand up to anyone. Well, almost. I’m not stupid and picking fights or anything, but there are a large amount of people who mistake my laid-back attitude for that of a doormat, until they get to know me a little better. If I hadn’t practiced on Mom, I probably would be a doormat.

My relationship with her has led to something else too. I am not seriously attached to the material aspects of life. Simple suits me just fine.

She was so mad at me for the Brownie thing, because she spent so much money and she was convinced that I would be into it. I think she was looking forward to bonding with me, but that’s not what she talked about. She talked about the money. How much money she spent on stuff that I didn’t want, and she blamed me for it.

I was in so much trouble, but all I really wanted was to feel safe to speak my mind. I understood she was trying to bond, but then she made me feel bad over money.

Mom is not a happy person, I think. But she works very hard so that she has money for nice things. A lot of nice things. I grew up with a maid and went to private schools, for a little while. I had the nicest, softest stuffed animals to hold and comfort me, but my mother wouldn’t.

She was working too hard to be able to afford the stuffed animals, nice schools, two-hundred-dollar hair-cuts, and a bunch of other things she stores in carefully labeled boxes that she pays expensive storage fees for, and only touches once ever ten years or so. I on the other hand, have found sources of happiness and comfort in being grateful for what I have, and I see rough times as a form of adventure, making me capable of enjoying very simple things that have nothing to do with money.

Mabey I did become a brownie. Happily delighting in a modest domestic environment, content to reward myself with simple pleasures like an occasional cookie and a quiet book.

P.S. I’ve already told Joe I’m with him to steal his last name.

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