He believes he can fly

I was a little surprised by the depth and breadth of my four year old’s delight at the blue and lime track suit my mother bought for him.

He gasped. “It’s everything I ever wanted.”

I was bemused and confused, and called my mother. “Tell Grandma what you think of it.”

“It’s PERFECT,” he declared.

He wore it on a walk with his dad. He apparently flung himself through a sprinkler and came home soggy. I thought little of it, and his dad hung the suit up to dry.

In the morning, he came into my room, climbed on the couch, and took a flying leap at my bed, track suit jacket open wide.

It was not until later, when he jumped off the couch and explained to our roommate, “This helps me fly” that I realized what he’d seen in the royal blue polyester.

The track suit looks like this.

What he saw is this:

Needless to say we had a long talk about the difference between a squirrel suit and a track suit, and that the track suit wouldn’t help him fly.

And thus I crushed the dreams of my four year old. Who has already fallen out of one tree this year and broken an arm. I told him that he’d have to be an adult, and take a class, and be in really good shape, and not tell me about it until he was on the ground.

Generation WiFi

I’d call this kids born in the 20 years following 9/11

Currently ranging from 0-15 years old, these kids have an unprecedented access to technology even across a wide variety of demographics, wireless, cordless and intuitive. Many of them are competent at navigating a tablet and smart phone from infancy, and they have never lived in a world with the twin towers. Their first awareness of politics probably has to do with Obama on some level or another. Most of them will come of age in a world where gay marriage and legal marijuana are seen as inevitable, and they are the first generation to grow up with a significant cohort of kids who are not in the gender binary and also not in the closet about it. Kids who have literally never been in the closet about it. Sexual orientation is not particularly controversial for them, and by the time they hit college, almost every school out there will have clear consent policies. Their “Berlin Wall” is more likely to be universal health care (should we be so lucky) and the breaking of the big banks.

Gandalf for President

I was sort of absently ruminating about how a guy who bears more than a passing resemblance to my grandfather is managing to fire people up so much. Them I realized.

He’s filling the same ecological niche as Gandalf, Merlin, and Dumbledore.

He’s spent every damn Republican majority at the gates, staff in hand, shouting, “You shall not pass!”

Bernie Sanders *is* Gandalf. No wonder we love him.

So I dusted off my Photoshop skills to do this:

This lead to the following…

I printed out a copy to show to my husband, who was having his weekend morning bath in the deep tub.

He was appropriately amused, but asked that I leave the printed copy “over there” so it wouldn’t get wet.

Over there happened to be on the shelf over the toilet.

I said, “‘You shall not pass’ isn’t really the sentiment I want hanging over my toilet. Besides, think about the hashtag… #feelthebern…”

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen my husband laugh that hard at six in the morning.

Getting our house in order: the false competition between the homeless and the refugees.

I’m seeing a whole lotta nonsense out there about how it is morally reprehensible to go offering help to refugees when we have so many homeless. Leave aside that the people bitching the loudest are also the same people who tell us not to give to the poor because it “enables them” to buy booze or whatever they deem unworthy of the “lower classes”. Also probably the same people trying to cut food stamps and whatnot. Let’s just say the credibility of people who say, “but but but HOMELESS VETS” or “HUNGRY CHILDREN” is not high with me because I suspect they care very little for either, truly.

The fact of the matter is that if we got our shit together and did the things that science and research and public policy data say are the most effective at caring for people, we could actually solve a whole bunch of problems and spend less money than we spend now.

I’m not exaggerating. I’m not making shit up here. This is well supported by data.Continue reading

A TV post almost entirely devoid of actual content

So, fall TV stuff… what have you been enjoying?

Things I’m still watching:

Quantico: It has the CW pretty people problem but once I get over that, the underlying story is interesting enough.

Heroes Reborn: I am unapologetically enjoying this. Both in spite of and because of Zach Levy.

Blindspot: I’m a sucker for a good partnership, mystery, and shows involving the FBI. Suffers from plausibility issues, but if I couldn’t look past those, I wouldn’t have fanned 90% of the shows I’ve obsessed over.

Minority Report: I’m really getting to like the people in this, and the show as a whole is better than the first couple episodes taken alone. Plus, Dash is just adorable. I want to pinch his cheeks.

Stitchers: Ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculove it. I think I kind of apologetically love this one, as I kept watching it trying to figure out what was annoying me so much about it when I suddenly realized that I adored a couple of the characters. It’s not the strongest thing out there, but it’s campy and cute once you get past the initial self-conscious tropes-and-lampshades game it plays, especially about women in tech. Plus, I’m ridiculously fond of Allison Scagliotti as an actress. Technically summer TV that I didn’t find until now.

Ongoing shows:
Grimm: I… they ripped our hearts out and then…. were too busy to let us recover. Which creates so much empathy. And yeah. If you haven’t already been watching Grimm, you really should start at the beginning. It’s cheesy and campy and very, very Portland, and has some amazing characters. Were…everything of Portland. Funny and tragic and monsters and mayhem and our chosen hero and really ordinary folk who just happen to also be beavers. Because Portland. Lovely complex characters of a wide variety of people and an undercurrent of “looking past stereotypes” that is timely and a useful metaphor. If for nothing else, watch it for Monroe.

Sleepy Hollow; This is new to me and I’m not past the first season yet, but I’m *really* enjoying the first season. It’s smart and funny and stars a young black police officer with a destiny, and she is partnered with, well, Ichabod Crane, returned from the dead. Don’t tell me about how I won’t like it later, right now I’m enjoying it.

Bones: Getting long in the tooth but I’m not sure I’d say the quality has declined, because the places where it doesn’t “flow” for me are the places where it has literally never flowed for me. I have a blast watching this ensemble tell their stories, in spite of, not because of, the gross-out.

Castle: Sigh. It irritates me when a show that made me love it for its intelligent characters and their relationship makes major plot points happen because the characters are being absolute dingbats. But that’s not actually out of character in this show. It’s has good moments this season and a couple of episodes I enjoyed the crap out of, but adding artificial tension to the ‘ship for spurious reasons feels like they’re more afraid of the ‘ship than any of them have ever admitted. So unnecessary. Will I stop watching? No. Will I keep being annoyed by this? Probably for a while.

Agents of SHIELD: Some of this season I have found profoundly compelling. Simmons’ story… my god. Daisy is less annoying than she used to be. I don’t watch this particularly critically because critical watching of Marvel Universe stuff sucks the joy out of it when it is good and doesn’t really enhance the rough bits.

Under the Dome: Managed to lose my attention, as it does. I’ll probably pick it back up. “Between” bore a close relationship to it and i don’t remember what made me stop watching that one except that they finally explained the WHY and it was so asinine that I just turned it off forever. But Under the Dome is a reasonable diversion, if weirdly structured and contrived. The farther they get into explaining everything, the less impressed I am.

NCIS: Y’know, this could have ended a couple years ago and everyone would have said it had had a nice long run. They’re still managing to tell interesting stories, but Pauley Perrette is 46 freakin’ years old and her character has not changed markedly in any way shape or form in 13 years. If the show goes on another 4 years, she’s going to be 50, playing, in essence, a teenager. I wish they’d let Abby grow up. They let Tony develop. They let Tim develop, They even gave Gibbs a makeover. Leaving Abby where she is is just lazy.

Doctor Who: Last season was excrable. This one I’ve connected with more times, but I’m still not THERE. I’m two episodes behind I think?

Things I watch when they land on Netflix:
The 100: A CW show, this looks a lot like a lot of CW shows, but the actual story is interesting to me.

Daredevil: Yes. Liked.
Sense8. My god.
The Fall: Gillian Anderson is a godess. We are not worthy.
Things I stopped watching that Huluflix Prime keeps trying to shove in my direction: Supernatural (2 seasons ago? I think?) Arrow. Gotham (Too depressing, and written in an unpleasant box). Once Upon a Time (Because Elsa. I just couldn’t.) I got 5 minutes into the Muppets and couldn’t continue. Resurrection (Might pick this one back up again but have a hard time caring). Haven: First four seasons I loved. 5th season lost me in short order.

Things I’m waiting for eagerly:
Jessica Jones
Next season of Continuum
the X-files reboot even though it will probably disappoint me. What am I saying. It’s Gillian Anderson. Who has an amazing ability to make Chris Carter’s nonsense addictive and compelling.

And something Netflix is making that I don’t even know exists yet because clearly they have my number. Looking at my history, and knowing how netflix does things, it will be a science fiction police procedural with a horror twist starring Gillian Anderson and Whoopi Goldberg as lesbian lovers living on a space station and solving crimes by day with the help of a squad of intrepid super heroes.

Explaining gender spectrum to a 3 year old

So, with four nonbinary young adults in my immediate circle, Miles has been a bit… delayed in his inquiries about gender. His use of pronouns tends to be kind of vague and all over the place, and I haven’t been correcting him much because he wasn’t quite to where he could really digest the fairly complex answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a boy or a girl.”

Well, today he asked specifically if his cousin was a girl.

“Yes,” I answered. “She is.”

“I’m a boy,” he said.

“Yes, you are. Do you know what your daddy is?”

“Is she a boy?” he asked.

“He’s a boy. And I’m a girl, kind of.”

“Is Kailea a boy?” he asked.

“No,” I answered.

“Is Kailea a girl?” he asked.

“Not exactly,” I said.

He thought about that for a moment. “Is Kailea a KIDDO?”

I blinked, and blinked again, and said, “Sure!”


Bias exists

So I admin a few groups on Facebook. We get new people applying every day to our co-op and the related subgroups. And our criteria are simple. People need to be local-ish to our area. They need to be actual people and not business puppet accounts (i.e. if the facebook name is “Rubbin Yerback” and all visible public posts are for the Rubbin Yerback Massage Therapy Studio, we’re probably going to send them a note asking them to join with a personal account. ) We need to have some sense that they are not shoe spammers. (These are accounts that will sit in any group they are in and autobot-post shoe advertisements for discount shoes.) And… no, that’s pretty much it. Local, not spammers, not business accounts (because usually business accounts join in order to advertise their businesses, and having a blanket policy just reduces headaches.) There are a couple automatic “ins”, including having friends in the group, mutual friends with me, or having a group member add them. But the automatic outs are business name, not local, and obvious spam account.

So, when you’ve been doing this for a couple years, you get a feel, just by looking at names and profile pics, as to which accounts are going to be “real” and which are not.

That’s bias. If I see a picture of a young Japanese woman, or a “supermodel-esque” professional shot of a young blonde woman, especially with name that doesn’t jibe with the picture, my first guess is going to be that this is a spammer. If I see a picture of a mom and a baby and a green background to the pic, I’m going to guess they’re probably local.

But I don’t make my decisions based on those things. I might say, “Bet it’s a spammer” and click through, and if they have my city as their home town and are NOT members of 200 groups and joined facebook yesterday, I’ll probably add them. A recent one was a very pretty picture of a girl with the name “Freckleton Molles.” The account was brand new and no visible friends… I ignored the request. If Freckleton wants to pm an administrator, we might reconsider (but given that the account was deleted a couple hours later, I’m guessing not.)

My point is we all have bias. It is natural for human brains to want to sort people and things and animals into categories. Predator. Not predator. Safe. Not safe.  Humans are amazing at pattern recognition… but we also tend to overcategorize. And when we have assigned categories, our default is to not look further. “I know this thing, I know where it goes, I know how to react, I no longer have to expend effort.”

We are deeply uncomfortable when things don’t fit our categories. And we often flat out don’t see unless it is pointed out when the categories are wrong.

But we MUST reexamine, and frequently, any categories we’ve made for people.

Lives depend on it.

A guide for my kid, on their “emboozeling”.

I’ve now been a mother for 21 years. My eldest child requested to try a fair number of drinks for their birthday, and so we had something of a “tasting menu” after dinner, which we dubbed their “emboozeling”, with a variety of cocktails and sips and smells of a variety of other things. They had maybe the equivalent of a drink and a half over the course of the evening (tasting at least 8 different drinks), and then came home and made themself a rum and coke float.

They have been plied with much advice over the past few days. I’m putting it here so that it is in one place.

1. Understand the size of an actual serving of alcohol, and be aware that drinks vary wildly in their alcohol content.  Or as my aunt says, “Stick with beer or wine or straight spirits unless you can watch the bartender.” My cousin amends, “Or make the drink yourself.” Object lesson: a “California Libre” (rum, coke, and lemon slice) has half a serving of alcohol the way my husband makes it. A Manhattan has two and a half servings. And some cocktails have as many as five shots in them. That’s one “drink” that is actually five servings of booze at once.

There are two main categories of things people do with hard liquor… some are “sipping” drinks that you keep in hand for a while so that people don’t keep offering you booze faster than you want to drink it. And others have a ton of alcohol so that you get as smashed as possible as quickly as possible. You cannot tell which is which just by tasting them.

The shorthand is that a shot (1-1.5 oz) of hard liquor is a serving.  But hard liquor can vary from 35% to 75% alcohol (not counting everclear types), so this is a rough guide. Know what you’re drinking. 5 oz of wine is considered one serving, but wine also can vary from 6% to 16% alcohol, give or take. We’ve seen firsthand what happens when someone used to 7% wine suddenly starts drinking 13%…. And 12 oz is one serving of beer, which varies from about 2% to about 5% alcohol (with some outliers).

Glasses are deceptive in their sizes… if you really want to know how much alcohol you’re getting, measure it. Don’t eyeball the highball.

2. Know your limits. In order to avoid most of the problems that can come along with alcohol consumption, it is wise to limit consumption to no more than 3 servings of alcohol in one sitting, or 7 servings in one week. Binge drinking kills brain cells, and most of the worst things that can happen to people related to alcohol happen when they have a lot of booze at once. Your liver and brain are precious to you. Be kind to them.

(And for future reference, pregnant women should drink no more than 1 serving in a given day, preferably no more than 1/2, and no more than 3 to 3 1/2 servings per week. There’s lot of research showing this to be a safe maximum level of consumption for pregnancy, with no increase [and possibly some decrease] in negative effects short and long term for the baby vs. abstaining. Negative fetal effects are caused by heavier drinking, more than 1 serving per day, more than 7 servings per week, and any binge drinking. Even one binge drinking episode can have negative effects, and those effects can be devastating and lifelong. We don’t know where the cutoff is between 3-7 drinks per week, erring on the side of caution is keeping it under 1/2 measured serving per day. The curve is “J” shaped, and steep.)

Moreover, if you find yourself “needing a drink” or reaching for alcohol after stressful events on a frequent basis, be aware. Never treat drinking as “mandatory” or “assumed” or “expected”. It should be a choice you make, each and every time, and done mindful of the consequences. Do not slide down the slippery slope. It’s okay to be the designated driver, and it’s okay to choose friends who do not lubricate every social event with alcohol. Drinking is not bad or wrong in and of itself, but there are risks, and a potential for abuse, and it’s much, much simpler in the long run to have personal rules that limit the possibility of it becoming a problem.

3. Alcohol metabolizes at approximately one drink per hour. Not one cocktail, not one large solo cup full of beer, but one SERVING of alcohol per hour. Men may metabolize a little faster, women a little slower, and body weight matters– smaller people metabolize slower than bigger people when it comes to booze, most of the time. The best rule of thumb is do not drink and drive, ever. With a great deal of experience with both my personal limits for drinking and driving, I have learned that I can, in fact, have a small amount of alcohol at dinner and then drive safely a few hours later. But it’s less than a full drink for me to be comfortable doing that, and I can feel the minute I should stop, and I’ve been driving now for 26 years. If you have a measured drink and must then drive somewhere, make it be at least two hours after you finished the drink. Or call me for a ride. Or call a taxi. ESPECIALLY if you are at a party, do not count on “I only had one cup”. I have had the experience where I thought I had one glass of wine and a boy kept surreptitiously pouring more into my cup when I wasn’t looking. Not to get into my pants, but just because he thought it would be funny. Taxis are way cheaper and less dangerous than DUI. Much less hassle.

Even small amounts of alcohol can dull reaction times, way under the legal limit. There are people in this world who are capable of driving competently at .08. But even if you’re under .08, you can still be impaired enough to do damage, and the cops can arrest you for DUI if you’re intoxicated at all and driving badly.

If you are at a party and your designated driver is drinking, call me. Call a taxi. I don’t care which.

4. You can make really delicious fancy drinks without alcohol. Mixers can be very tasty. Tonight we had ginger ale, peach sorbet, grenadine, rose water and mint. It was every bit as good as the version that also had zinfandel in it. Virgin margaritas can taste way better than the boozy ones if made from scratch (and restaurant margaritas can be the worst for giant drinks that get you smashed quickly.)

5. Regardless of the politics of rape… the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of rapes are committed with the use of intoxicants (not only “mickies” like roofies or GHB, but just flat out getting someone so drunk they can’t resist or consent) and by people the rape victim knows. Keeping your hand over your drink (to avoid the sneaky top off or drop in) and keeping an eye on your drink from bottle to mouth is prudent. If something happens and someone rapes you while you are drunk or drugged, it will absolutely NOT be your fault. But there are ways of minimizing the risk of that happening in the first place.

When I went to college we were warned against leaving drinks unattended (males and females alike), not because of the risk of rape or roofies, but because at that point there were assholes running around who thought it was hilarious to drop PCP into people’s beverages and then watch them freak out. Especially at campus parties and special events, where eating brownies was just about guaranteed to get you high (pot), and taking random cups of beverage could be a long trip off a short pier.  If you choose to experiment with drugs, do it knowing exactly what you’re doing and what you’re taking and what the consequences might be, legal, medical and psychological. Don’t do it blind. This kind of stupidity does, happily, tend to be confined to bars and college parties in my experience, the more random people at the party, the more vigilance you should have, in general.

And if you see someone doctoring drinks or encouraging someone who is already too drunk to drink more… call them on it. Loudly. Make a scene if you have to. Call the police if necessary. Any group of people worth hanging out with will back you up.  That shit isn’t cool. Pushing alcohol past the body’s natural limits is dangerous. And drugging people without their knowledge is bullshit.

6. There is no sorority, fraternity, group, social club, or date worth risking alcohol poisoning to stay involved with. None. Any group or person that does not take “I’d rather not” or “I’ve had enough” as a completely valid reason not to imbibe intoxicants is not worth being around. See #2 and #3.  (Also: if you are going to violate the “no more than 3 drinks” rule, it better damn well be spread out over as many hours as you’re having drinks. You only have one liver.) You can do a drinking game with non-booze or diluted booze.

7. You’re legal now. You can buy all the booze you want. Do not, ever, under any circumstances, buy it for minors. They’ll ask. You can blame me if you want… “My mother would never forgive me if I bought you booze and something bad happened.” Secret: I might, eventually forgive you. But it would take a very long time. Don’t do it. That kind of popularity is not worth having.

8. Drink as much water as you do alcohol. On days when you have more than 1 drink, consider taking extra b-vitamins and an aspirin to help your body have fewer side effects. If you ever DO drink more than you normally would or should, consider R-lipoic acid (or the more easily available alpha lipoic acid) to help protect your liver and brain from the toxic effects of alcohol.

9. Caffeine cannot make someone sober. Nor can exercise. It takes time to metabolize alcohol, period. If someone you are with is having a hard time (vomiting, passing out) do not treat it lightly. Watch them. Call for help if needed (and err on the side of calling for help vs. waiting it out if they are having trouble staying conscious). It’s okay to be the person who says, “Enough.”

10. Alcohol is not just alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages also contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, sulfites and other preservatives. Mixers can be particularly bad in this department. Distilled beverages derived from wheat are unlikely to contain gluten, per se, but may be irritating to the system for other reasons. If you notice negative effects after a particular beverage, it may not be the alcohol causing the problem, but something else. Wine headaches are usually sulfite allergies. Beer can contain gluten, though it often is tolerated okay, because of how the fermenting process works. There are wines that do not contain detectable sulfites, beers made from sorghum which were not made from gluten-containing grains. “Malt beverages”, often referred to as “wine coolers” are often made from gluten-containing grains. You can mix your own coolers (Lemonade and red wine is delicious) or highballs (little bit of rum, lot of limeade) with things you handle better. Get to know what you tolerate. Keep in mind that some beers and wines are clarified with a variety of substances that precipitate out things that make them cloudy. Some of those “finings” are possible allergens. If you notice yourself reacting to a beer or wine, it may be a brand-specific issue, not “all of that variety”. Cheaper liquors are notorious for the artificial colors, flavors, and HFCS. They often don’t list ingredients. It will take time and experimenting to find the ones you handle best.  Clear, good quality alcohol (gin, vodka) diluted in fruit juice is probably your safest bet, potato vodka and sake are probably the least allergenic things out there.

11. If you don’t drink beer very often, it’s way easier to afford getting the good stuff. That’s true for most alcohol. Booze can be expensive, the temptation is to go cheap. I tend to prefer to drink less, but better quality stuff when I do.

12. Alcohol can be medicating. Like all medications, it has potential side effects. It is a depressant by nature, both in that it depresses the central nervous system, and that it can worsen depression. The worst time to drink is when you are depressed. It is a muscle relaxant. This can be useful, in moderation, occasionally. It tends to reduce anxiety and inhibitions, and in small quantities this can be useful in some circumstances. It can also reduce your control, coordination and general competence level, which is not usually worth it in high pressure situations. It can relieve pain, temporarily, short term. But it tends to “put off” difficult things, rather than fixing them. It is not an easy way out, no matter how simple it seems. There are times when a stiff drink (stiff=probably containing several servings) may well be an expedient short term “solution” for emotional pain. That’s *a* stiff drink. If you find yourself needing that drink on a regular basis to deal with an ongoing situation…consider finding other ways of dealing with the situation, or the “cure” may become the problem.

Alcohol can be fun. It can be delicious. It can be relaxing. It is not without risk, and being aware of those risks and intelligent about your choices will reduce the chances of having an alcohol-related disaster.

Personally I’ve gotten throwing-up drunk three times in my life. It is not fun and it is not worth it. 2 drinks are more fun than 5, and more than 5 is a trip to the porcelain throne. There are people who will brag about having a much higher tolerance for that. Don’t be those people. There are much better skills to develop and higher aspirations to have.

You don’t have to be obnoxious or superior about not wanting to get drunk, easy enough to say, “I’m a lightweight” and act a bit sillier than you feel, while sipping your highball (heavy on the orange juice, light on the vodka) slowly. My personal interest is in you preserving your brain cells. And the rest of you.

Happy birthday. I love you!

7 years ago…

….we started house shopping for the last time.

When I was born, we lived one place for 6 months, I’m told, then another place for about 4 years, then another place for about 5 years, then we were in an apartment for a month, a rental for a year and then we were at the longest home of my childhood, from 1982 through 1990… at which point my parents moved and I went off to college shortly after and between those moves and the vagaries of dorms and roommates and temporary accommodations and having a baby and becoming a single mother I ended up moving 17 times in 4 years. (I don’t even know if I can remember all of them, I counted once and remember the number–I counted a move as “dragged most or all of my shit from one place to another and slept there for more than 5 nights.” It’s the shit dragging that gets you down.)

That brings us to 1995, the year I got my first “on my own” place, just me and Kailea. She was 2 1/2. We lived in that place until she started first grade, at age 6, so 3 1/2 years.  It was  rathole of a townhouse (literal rats, worst part of town, had to call the cops a lot, got my car stolen, blah blah let me tell you the story about the people having sex on the front lawn some time…)

Then she got into an alternative program and we moved immediately to a townhouse about two short blocks from her school. That was Tyler, and we lived at Tyler until I married, in 2003. So pretty all but the last couple months of K’s elementary school years. 5 years there. We bought our first house.

4 years later we learned we would have to move again. The initiating factor ended up being a non-issue, but by that time the pressures to move were immense from other angles, and in 2007, we moved into The Uncommons. Seven years ago. Most of Shiny’s life. She’s nine. How is she nine? Hard to realize that my mother in law, who was the biggest factor in moving, has been gone for more than 5 years… and was only in this, the last place she ever lived, for about 20 months. Miles has always lived here. Miles will probably live here until he graduates high school, and for one of my children, the permanency I never had (and didn’t really, to be honest, miss–many of our moves I was very glad for) will be real. I fought tooth and nail (and succeeded) in keeping K with the same group of kids but had to move to do it. Miles… his home will be his constancy, and we may be more flexible with where he goes to school.

In another year, I will have officially lived here as long as I’ve ever lived in one place. It is not a flawless house, but it is ours, and I doubt we will ever move again.


Miles is 20 1/2 months old. He is about 28 pounds, maybe a little more. He is talking in sentences, but sometimes his sentences are kind of wacky. He can imitate almost anything he hears… unless he already decided he knew how to say it before he really figured out how to say it properly, in which case we get things like “Gapes!”  and “Boop!”

The other day a friend came over with her son, who we’ll call Joseph, as she doesn’t generally identify him online by his real name. Joseph is about 5 months older than Miles. That makes him 2 years and a couple months. Joseph is not quite as verbose as Miles is around strangers, but has the word “Mine!” down pat.

Miles was fascinated. He said, “Joseph!” clear as  a bell a moment after the boy came into the room. They played, fought over a toy, shrieked at each other briefly and then settled down to play. His mother said, “Joe…” and Miles picked up on this. They were here for five minutes. Ever since it is “Joseph. Joe. Joseph. MY Joseph. Mine.” Those who know the child in question will be able to substitute his real name into this dialogue, and his nickname….

He’s also wild about his cousin, “Lala!” He sometimes says Laura, but usually it’s “Lala!” and his pitch and decibel level rise in excitement when she’s around, usually to the level of sonic torture within moments. Lala is the one who teaches him things like “Flying with Cars” (stand on table, take flying leap onto Cozy Coupe toy car’s roof, go skidding across the living room), “Perching on cars” (climb onto roof of car, be lord of all you survey) and “Gate scaling 101.”

Laura commented today that when he is four he will be bigger than she is. What she doesn’t realize is that when he’s four, he’s going to be bigger than she is when she’s six. She’s about 30 pounds. He’s 28. He’s been catching up steadily since birth. I’m guessing age 5 or 6 is when he’ll catch up to Shiny. For all that, he remains RIDICULOUSLY average. I think his weight is like 65th percentile, but we won’t know for sure until the next time he gets sick, because I put my mama foot down and will not set foot in the doctor’s office with them unless there’s a damn good reason, and having the doctor weigh and measure an obviously thriving child is not sufficient to risk setting foot in the office. We haven’t been in months… he hasn’t been sick in months. Coincidence? I think not. Screw you, well baby checks. We’re not vaccinating until he’s at least two, so there’s no point.

He’s my first kid to NOT fall percentiles in the second year of life. Kailea went from Sumo Baby to average during that time, Shiny went ages not gaining and then we went on a cruise and started her on CoQ10 and she put on 5 pounds in about 2 months. Kailea spent a year putting on a pound and then put on 3 pounds in 3 weeks right before her 2 year growth spurt. Miles just keeps ticking merrily upwards, his proportions changing very little, he just keeps getting closer, you know?

The baby isn’t all gone from him yet… what remains is the child who roots desperately in his sleep when the nipple falls away, and then who turns his head away and purses his lip when he’s sated. When he’s awake he’s all kid, but he clings to that last bit of baby in his sleep.

I find myself cherishing where he’s at, and cherishing the progress he makes, and regretting his passing through stages not in the slightest. When people say, “Stop growing, baby!” I shudder. I’ve been there, done that, and it’s not all that. Grow baby. Grow at your own pace, do your thing, you’re doing just fine.

A snapshot or two, verbally

“Go ahside? My Ah-side? Go car? Go car Shiny?” (Commenting on the process of picking up his sister from the bus.)

He no longer runs for the street when the front door is open. Until hubby turned it over, he ran for the kiddy pool instead, to splash in the 2 inches of water and muddy leaves and sticks he’s put in there like its his job. And for a few precious weeks, for the cluster of blackberry bushes, where he separated the berries into “Yayboowies” and “Yumboories” and “Yucky boories”. He chases our tenants’ cat and runs from their (giant) dog… (Atari the dog is a big black goofball. He’s half black lab and half newfoundland. He is a seriously HUGE black goofball. He can knock Miles over with his tongue, and often does.)

“Gimme dat” and “Leh GO!” and since our young friend’s visit, “Mine!” are becoming frequent refrains. He tried pulling that crap with Laura, who was all, “Dude, I’m an expert” and promptly stopped when she shriek retaliated and sat on him briefly. That said, he’s rapidly breaking her of the idea that she gets to set up elaborate play structures in this playroom and expect them to remain…. get this…. *rofl* untouched. She has her house, and her only child queen bee status, and she can do that THERE. Here, if you walk away from your six small creatures each in separate cups, you’ve got to expect that Miles is going to haul off two of the cups with creatures in, and that Shiny will pull the creatures out of the rest and then stack the cups, and then mug Miles for the cups he’s got and stack those cups too.

It is noisier but easier, marginally, with her here, though I find her talking to be endless. It’s been a long time since I had someone asking me that many questions.

Miles does ask questions but he’s not sure why yet. He loves saying and signing “What?” but doesn’t get that when I say “What?” to him that it’s a request to repeat what he previously said. If he’s getting in trouble and I start to catch him he’ll preempt me by saying, “Wha arn you dooning?” or the variant, “Where arn you go-ning?”

The inflection is priceless, as he apes me quite well. Including things he shouldn’t, like, “Dammee!” which is always said in as appropriate a situation as you can get for a 20 month old… such as, I drop my mouse, and he says, “Dammee! Dopped eet. I get it.” Since he then hops off my lap and hands me the mouse, I can’t complain.

He’s exploring cause and effect, and consequences. I handed him a bunch of grapes on Tuesday as we drove home from the produce co-op… and he ate many, but then started hollering, “Oh no, Gapes!” as we drove to Kailea’s house. A mile away from our destination, he started crying.

When I opened the door, I discovered many, many grapes lying on the floor of the car. I picked them up, handed them to him, and we were off with Kailea to go home…. as I drove we heard a small. thud…thud thud… and then, “Oh no, Gapes!” We glanced at each other, and tried to keep a straight face as we heard again…thud..thud thud…. “Oh no, Gapes!” And again with the crying…. by that point we were laughing out loud. 13 grapes he threw overboard, every time yelling, “Oh no, Gapes!”

He is SUCH an easy going kid. I mean, he has opinions and will get mad, but he genuinely enjoys having other kids around and seems to instinctively know how to insert himself into their play in a way I certainly never figured out. It’s like he’s surfing the top of the bell curve.

Oh dear god, I think I’m raising an extrovert.

18 months, 8 years, 20 years…

Miles…. language abounds. I put Signing Time season 2 on Shiny’s iPad, and he is thrilled and picking up everything. “Win? Ky? Shining Tie! PIN!” (wind, sky, singing time, spin, the last usually accompanied by him turning himself in circles until he falls down.) The other night he woke in the night, a rarity, and cried… I came in and he said, “Duck. Duck. Meow.”

I blinked for a moment and then said, “Dark, not dog. (he’s constantly mixing up dogs and cats).” Then I pulled back the curtain to allow a little moonlight in, and he agreed, “Dock. Boop.”

I went downstairs after obliging him by nursing him, and he was quiet for a bit, then I heard crying and, “Dapoo? Dapoo?” so I went back up to change him. Found that he wasn’t poopy but had gotten some crumbs in his diaper that were chaffing… changed, rinsed and voila… he went to sleep without bothering to nurse.

Shiny’s summer  vacation sucks rocks. Even the parts where she’s in school are exhausting. Last week, by Friday I was 15 hours short of sleep over the course of 5 days. I got enough sleep over the weekend but it barely made a dent. So, so rough. She was being gone for 5 hours a day but I had to ask them to cut it back because the morning commute was a whopping 88 minutes long. Insane for a young-for-her-age 8 year old to be on the bus that long. She was starting to have accidents, plus they weren’t feeding her often enough at school. I was the squeaky wheel, got her day shortened and food opportunities increased and voila, she stopped pissing on things and started enjoying school. But it means that she’s not gone long enough for a decent nap for Miles or me, and there is no physical way for me to get enough sleep since I have to get her up at 7 and on the bus at 7:30. Going to bed before 1 am is futile for me–I will wake after 2-3 hours and be up for the rest of the night. So the week sucks the life out of me and I catch up on the weekend, which fails miserably when hubby goes out of town for the weekend. The last time he was gone for the weekend by the end of the second week with not enough sleep I was very near homicidal and suicidal at the same time. He will be gone for much of the weekend two weekends from now, and I am not looking forward to it.

Kailea is finally settled in a place that is pretty good for her, her job is working out pretty well, and she’s off to the south of England in a few weeks to visit her girlfriend for the first time. We do things like going to movies together. It’s nice.

I keep reminding myself that this summer is logistically the hardest things will ever be. It is challenging to get both kids out of the house at the same time because Miles runs and Shiny flops and they do it in different directions. Mornings to the bus go pretty smoothly but other than that it is a struggle, always.

Much time is spent fighting my own inertia. Or succumbing to it.  I strongly dislike spending the majority of my time as the only adult in the house. I miss K, I miss Cas. I miss having the freedom to run to the store or to physical therapy without dragging the kids along or waiting for the evening or weekend. The last time I took Shiny and Miles to Trader Joe’s Shiny pulled all the forks off the sample counter and I had to put all the groceries under the cart to keep her from screwing with them.

I feel demoralized a lot of the time. But the kids are both alive and without too many bruises, and they both have sufficient food and I clean their butts regularly. So not a total fail.

Shiny bit me about 5-6 weeks ago, on the chest. I still have “fang” marks there… it is healing really slowly. Every time I look at it I am reminded at how little control I really have of my life.

Good Intentions Microwave Cake/muffin

Microwaves may be evil (see my last entry), but this cake is so nutritious it’s actually good for you. So you can call it a muffin. Even if it has chocolate chips.

This is FAST, flexible, allergy-friendly and really tasty.

Get a mug. The narrower it is the taller your cake will be. Don’t preheat anything.

First, pick your structure: Flax seed meal is a good base, you can use only that, or you can substitute part of the volume with almond meal (my fave) or ground hemp, or another seed or nut meal. My preference is half flax and half almond. Put 1/4 cup of this (total) in the mug.

Next, add cocoa if you want the cake to be chocolate. Muffin. Whatever. My favorite is from Frontier Herbs and is a dutch-process organic cocoa. It mixes really nicely and tastes fantastic. Trader Joes makes a good one too. How much cocoa you add is up to you, but it should probably not be more by volume than your nut meal. You can leave cocoa out entirely if you’re doing a fruit muffin.

You’ll need a couple hearty pinches of baking soda. Or, if you really want to bother getting out a measuring spoon, 1/2 teaspoon. I never bother.

Add cinnamon or other spices if you so desire. Don’t add too much. This is one tiny cake.

Mix the dry ingredients with a fork.

Into the dry ingredients you will need to add

1 egg. I don’t think egg replacer is going to do it on this one. Sorry. If you have access to duck eggs, one duck egg is perfect for this recipe if you’re using cocoa. But one chicken egg is fine. Or you can even use “one egg’s worth” of eggwhites. You need something that does what egg does in the microwave, which is basically cook as fast as it foams. This is essentially a microwave souffle. Much less tricky than the real thing.

2 tablespoons (at least) of liquid sweetener. This can be honey. Or maple. Or karo. Or even sugar free pancake syrup. But you need both the liquid and the sweet, You can use a tiny bit extra if you are using a lot of cocoa. I use honey if I have it and maple if I don’t.

Vanilla, if you want.

Other flavorings (orange zest? almond extract? the blood of the innocent?) as needed.

Raisins or blueberries or chocolate chips or…? Chocolate chips are a fave here. chocolate chips and raisins together make extra sweet not necessary.

Stir it all with a fork until it is a nice batter with no dry spots.

Stick the whole business in the gateway to hell microwave and microwave for about 90 seconds. If your first shot doesn’t cook all the way through, nuke it for an extra 15 seconds or so until it is firm and springy to the touch. If it seems overdone, do your next one for 60-75 seconds instead. I’ve got a reasonably powerful but not overpowered microwave and 90 seconds is perfect for us.

Pull the cake out. Run a knife around the cup. Turn it out on a plate and cut it into wee wedges if you want, or just grab a spoon and dig in. Particularly good with a smidgeon of ice cream or whipped cream or just a tall glass of milk, but works well all by itself.

This is very high fiber and filling. It is not low fat, but the fats in it are very healthy fats.

Still sick, slowly mending

but the internet is still funny. This little exchange between me and my cousin on Facebook still has me giggling. Backstory: Someone was talking very self righteously about how they don’t have a microwave because microwaves “change” food. So I did a quick google of “Microwave ovens are evil” and landed on this gem:

“Microwave ovens are evil, and that they cook food by opening a trans-dimensional gateway to Hell, and it is the heat from Hell that cooks the food.”

Which amused me so much I posted it to Facebook, where one of my brilliant cousins said, “2.4Ghz radio waves are microwaves. This the same band as wifi which is used to access the Internet. The Internet is full of sin and sinners. Hell is full of sins and sinners. The Internet is Hell. Wifi transmits Hell. 2.4ghz radiation is a gateway to Hell. Microwaves cook using a gateway to Hell. Yup, the logic is sound.”



Doctor says everything looks good and I should go back to normal activity but pay attention to my body and not overdo. Make up your mind.

Our cat is dead.

I mentioned in passing on Facebook how much I was liking our co-op veggies and Dan R. commented that he didnt’ think there was a functioning co-op in Eugene. My response: Oops.

There wasn’t. There is now. We’re now co-oping about 1/3 of our food, and will be increasing to about 2/3 once we get into the swing of things. If I manage to do what I want to do, we will get about 80% of our food from co-op within a couple months. The food is better. It is more local. It is less toxic.

One company said, “We haven’t had a local co-op ask for our products since the 1970’s.” Which is about when my parents were co-op-ing, and for similar reasons (more time than money, high food prices, a desire to eat better than retail would afford.)

If I manage to get a good price on fancy cheese, I will feel like I have won.

For an idea of the popularity of this creature I created… our first produce order ended up involving $1200+ of produce at wholesale prices, more than 20 boxes and something like 30+ people involved. I would not be surprised if we hit 30 boxes + 20 extra people who do non-boxed co-op produce (my produce orders tend to be $80-100 worth, the box only has $25 worth) this week.

We did a half steer last month. I would not be surprised if it was a whole steer this month.

The community it is building is priceless. If we need something to get across town, we know who might be going that way and get it there with the least extra gas. The efficiency of working this way is mind blowing.

And yet, it is a lot of work. I’m trying to structure everything so that I am not essential, that if I stopped doing any of it tomorrow it would carry on of its own momentum. There are far more buys going right now in our co-op than I am responsible for.

Oh Internets. Why?

People get so confused on the Internet. We grow up hearing that we have free speech in the US. What people don’t understand is that the Constitution does not allow the GOVERNMENT to restrict the right of people to speak freely in public. But just as you can’t expect to go into a library and speak loudly, and you can’t expect to go into a cafe and start shouting at people, you can’t expect to go into a topic-specific forum or group on the internet and start posting off topic and have people be happy about it, I don’t care how precious your cause is or how important. There are places to say these things. Facebook walls. Personal journals. Political discussion groups. Comment threads on RELEVANT news articles. But people go to moderated environments BECAUSE they are moderated. Because when you want to talk about diapers, or baby slings, or getting pregnant, or cooking, it’s really disconcerting and not fun if someone treats it like their own street corner and stands up on a soap box and starts yelling about dying children or a presidential election or the tragedy du jour.

And the response when someone gets moderated… I’ve been moderated myself, asked to remove something or post it elsewhere. The appropriate response? Apologize and do as asked. Sometimes a request will seem unreasonable. One board I have been on periodically gets hot under the collar when people post about any other forum, Facebook, or the rest of the internet. Post a link and you may have your account suspended. Enough of us didn’t like the rule that we…left. Went to another forum where we found the rules more to our liking. I still don’t understand why that forum wants to pretend the rest of the internet does not exist (the sharing of relevant links to the topics being discussed could get people banned, and it was a forum one had to pay to be part of) but hey, it’s their playground, their business, and as long as they’re not discriminating vs. specific individuals in their policies, they get to make their policies.

But many, many people get defensive when they get called out. They insist on their right to post whatever seems important to them, no matter how irrelevant to the situation. Yes, it is possible to be a patriotic, baby-loving, decent human being and NOT want to hear how someone had a house fire or someone else is being unjustly whatevered when one is in a group specifically devoted to the discussion of widgets. I like to compartmentalize things a bit. I get to know people in the context of babywearing, for example, I do NOT want to know that these people I adore are political idiots voting for the candidate I hate. If I’m on a group dedicated to getting good prices on household goods, it’s NOT the place I want to talk about homeless veterans. Politics and the public interest are important topics… but NOT THERE.

And the poor moderators. People are insane, you know. They get told “No, don’t do that here,” and suddenly it’s Nazi this and Communist that and friggin’ death threats.” To which I have this to say.


And the person you’re attacking? Is probably not getting paid for what they do. They’re human beings. With feelings. And families. And lives. And life is too short for that shit.

Before you open your mouth or wiggle your fingers to yell at a moderator… STOP. THINK. And when all else fails, follow Wheaton’s Law. Don’t know what that is? Here. I’ll help you. http://ruleoftheinternet.com

Music makes everything better (a.k.a. Why I don’t hate Katy Perry)

Mornings are a struggle. This morning, something magic happened. Shiny went downstairs without me having to grab her by the ankle and slowly drag her down the stairs. Sound brutal? Well, she doesn’t like it but it gets her down safely, rather than up into her sister’s old room or into the bathroom with the medicines, and I physically cannot carry her with the baby on my back.

I asked her to show me she knew where downstairs was. She threw a book down the stairway. Then I said, “Okay, now go get it.”

She did. And then walked herself into the living room, where I rescued the book, and went to get her lunch and shoes.

Lunch in bag, shoes and socks were the next terrifying battle. Shiny has kicky feet. And when the shoes are on, hard kicky feet. Getting her shoes on is always a battle, as she loathes them, but they’re necessary for keeping her socks on long enough to get to the bus.

I started singing, the first catchy song that came to mind… You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no….

And a magical thing happened. She stopped fighting. She let me put her shoes on. I kept singing. She let me walk her to her wheelchair. We made it to the bus on time. And as I waved and signed our goodbyes, it occurred to me that I could probably sign 90% of that song.

Most of Katy Perry’s songs are actually written at a level which appeals very strongly to Shiny. She loves music, she loves opposites most of all. And I didn’t get kicked this time.

What is in someone’s shopping basket is none of your goddamned business: The politics of welfare

A cousin of mine posted this on facebook:

I looked at it, sighed, considered ignoring it… Yeah, no, not going to happen. Here’s some of what came out of her post:

So wrongheaded. This is going around. Having been a welfare mom, and now being a taxpayer, I have Opinions on the subject.

1. Florida tried it. 98% of welfare recipients were not taking drugs.
2. It cost them 179 million dollars to find that out… the amount of welfare they ended up not giving out was a tiny, tiny fraction of that amount.
3. Florida required people to pay for the pee test up front. It was about $50. When I went on welfare, I did not have $50. I did not have one dollar. I could not have gotten help from welfare, not because I was on drugs, but because I couldn’t have afforded to take a drug test for it.
4. Be very, very thankful your life is so blessed that you have not had to have this “help” from society. Because let me tell you, it is demoralizing enough to be dumped at 7 months pregnant by the “love of your life” and have to go on welfare to survive until you are back on your feet enough to get a job… it’s worse when people who do not understand what it means to be that poor sit back and judge you and call you names and make assumptions and nitpick every damn thing you do because it’s “Their money”.

You know what? I’ve paid back in more than I ever took out. And you know what else? If a single mama needs help, I really WANT her to have my tax money to get that help. Because I’d rather it help a mama get back on her feet than underwrite a corporation or a bank… because trust me, THOSE assholes don’t have to take their pee tests to get the government money.

Someone griped that not all people working in finance were assholes.

My response: “I didn’t say that people who worked in finance were assholes. I said banks and corporations were assholes, which may be overgeneralizing, but if people behaved the way the finance industry behaved, they’d be called assholes. And we’re told that corporations are people, ergo…”

“And I can guarantee that no corporation has been asked to take a pee test before getting government money.”

Someone pointed out that food stamps are relatively easy to get and use of food stamps has mushroomed in recent years. To which I responded:

Food stamps has a relatively low bar to clear to receive assistance, unlike TANF (temporary aid to needy families, which has a 5-year LIFETIME cap on receiving benefits, is what was once called welfare). TANF has many, many requirements and lifetime limitations, food stamps is mostly income-based. Food stamps are less loathsome to many people because they do not allow the recipient to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. they also don’t allow the recipient to purchase toilet paper or soap. When the economy tanked, you’d expect more people to end up on welfare, but in fact the # has decreased if anything. Food stamp usage has soared because it’s easier to get them (as it should be). I was on welfare from 1993-1996, during which time I did training, volunteer work and escaped a toxic relationship. I got the works, food stamps, housing, welfare, medicaid, child care subsidy. What this meant was that I was able to afford a very modest 2-bedroom townhouse in the poorer parts of town. I was able to get training because I had childcare to do so. I was able to go to the doctor when we were sick. I fed my child.

The first thing I worked my way off of was welfare. My daughter was 3. We still had food stamps and medicaid and child care subsidy, as well as housing. Food stamps went next, as my working hours increased. Medicaid went later.. that was hard, I couldnt’ afford insurance, got sick, ended up being on a very reduced work schedule until I qualified for medicaid again. We mostly ate with my parents during that 9 weeks. Once I was able to go to the doctor, I got better quickly on antibiotics, and I made the case with my employer that if they wanted me to be able to come to work on a regular basis, they really ought to provide health insurance. My productivity increased dramatically when I had “real” insurance, as at that point antihistimines that were non-sedating were all prescription, and my constant allergies were making me get sick all the time, but medicaid would not pay for antihistimines at all in Oregon. (They would pay for antibiotics, so i would get sick a lot and get better reasonably quickly, but I stopped getting sick constantly when I was able to go on antihistimines.)

I got a raise, was able to work more hours, and my daughter started public school, which meant no more child care costs… My share of my rent payment went up, and I got on a program where a portion of the rent increases was put in an account that could be used, when I no longer needed assistance, to help me put a down payment on a house. I have been assistance-free for nearly 10 years, and since then have been paying property taxes, etc.

I had ONE baby on welfare (IIRC the majority of welfare recipients only have one child)… and decided not to have more until I was off of assistance.

I got married. My husband and I now pay more for health insurance in a month than I used to earn as a single parent. You don’t have to tell me the system is broken. It is. But there is a social benefit to providing help and opportunity to struggling families.

Someone mentioned the belief that poverty is “deserved”, the result of bad choices rather than bad luck. My response:

Oh, my stint on welfare was certainly the result of a poor choice… I got pregnant accidentally due to an odd conglomeration of circumstances with someone I thought was my life partner, and we were very, very young (21) and he wasn’t as interested in sticking around as he’d led me to believe. Which is a pretty common story. My choice was to refuse to move out of an apartment which was becoming toxic for me and my child, or to go on welfare. This is probably THE most common reason women end up on welfare, a relationship ending, accidental pregnancy.

I happen to be of a mindset that I was not willing to have more than one child “on the system”, so I went so far as to spend years celibate rather than risk having another “welfare baby”. But having been in my share of stupid sexual situations, I don’t judge people who are less “lucky” at birth control. I have had one accidental pregnancy in my life despite being ridiculously intolerant of most forms of birth control (not morally intolerant, they just cause me problems). I’ve met born-again Christians who despite thinking premarital sex was a sin, would happily engage in it. I’ve met women who’ve gotten pregnant on the pill, with an IUD, while using NFP, while using condoms, even after a tubal. It happens.

Being unlucky in love or unlucky at work or making foolish choices or acting badly… the fact of the matter is that in my current situation, if I act badly or make poor choices about birth control, I have the resources to not have it overwhelm my life. But for poor women, with the increasing number of hurdles to things like abortion and birth control and access to help from the law or charities regarding domestic violence, the simultaneous attacks on welfare and other social services become a deluge of hatred toward poor women. People may think of it as “helping people be less dependent” but it looks to me more like bullying. Calling it a war on women may sound like hyperbole, until you look at how utterly devastating it would be for poor women were the right wing agenda to succeed fully.

I see this sanctimonious attitude of “Well, if I need to get pee tested to go to work” (and usually work where there is some level of responsibility, where using drugs will likely affect the quality of output or the safety of others) “then you should get pee tested to get my money” (even though the majority of the people who have to get pee tested to go to work are NOT in fact paying the specific tax that is collected for welfare, and even though the amount of money in question is not enough to support a child, let alone a drug habit) as a wedge in the door. It makes sense, in a quid pro quo world. It’s hard to argue the “fairness” of it. But make no mistake… it is NOT an efficient use of funds. It helps no one. It harms a lot of people. And it’s aiming yet another attack at the people least able to defend themselves. The people most damaged by policies like these are children. Always. Period.


So ideas of privilege and entitlement started getting bandied around, and I said:

I learned about privilege in high school. I was standing at the bus and heard a boy say, “Damn” and a teacher nearby came down on him like a ton of bricks, gave him detention. He was a “stoner” and one of the “bad kids” but I knew as an honors student that I’d said way worse in conversations *with* teachers and never once gotten in trouble for it. As an experiment, I skipped a class, went off campus, bought lunch at a fast food restaurant, came back on campus, sat down in the middle of the quad, and ate it during a class where NO students have lunch.

Five or six teachers passed by, and each smiled and said hi to me, not one questioning my right to be there, where no student should be, eating lunch when no student should be eating lunch. When I was done, I went to the counselor’s office and said, “I didn’t feel like going to class, can I get it excused?”

She gave me a note without a second thought.

THAT, my friends, is privilege. And it is a clear example of how the same actions do not get the same consequences if society perceives you one way or another. I was a lawyer’s kid. I was an honors student. The teachers liked me. So I could get away with things that would have gotten other kids suspended. I didn’t abuse the privilege much, but there were others who did. And my perception is that it was extremely unusual that I even noticed it existed. The teachers did not even know they were doing it.

Then in another thread someone asked what the difference is between privilege and entitlement, and I said:

Entitlement says, “Because I am who I am, the world owes me X.” HOWEVER… there are things people ARE entitled to. Should be entitled to. Have every right to be entitled to. Children are entitled to have a safe place to live, enough food to eat, warmth, love and education. Old people are entitled to have society support them at a a basic level with social security and medical care. People who work and pay into the worker’s compensation system are entitled to have their work-related injuries treated and to have their lost income replaced.

So the radical right thinks that “entitlement” is a bad thing, all the while ranting because they think they are “entitled” to have their religion dictate public policy.

It means two different things, which get thrown around interchangably.

I am of the mind that no one is entitled to force their religion down anyone else’s throat (and the constitution agrees with me) and that we as a society are obligated to support each other at some basic level.

It is privilege that my whole life, if I needed medicine, someone in my larger circle was able to get it for me. Today I bought a friend some ibuprofen because she had none and no means to go get any, and no family worth mentioning to fall back on to help her.

In practical terms, “Entitlement programs” are programs that ANYONE can get if they fit the definition of “a person who should receive help from X program.” So anyone over 65 (or whatever the age is now) is ENTITLED to medicare, to social security. For a comparison, food stamps is an entitlement program. Section 8 housing assistance is NOT. There are waiting lists for section 8 that go for YEARS and do not open up, but there is no waiting list for food stamps. Which is why we have more homeless than hungry in our society.

*I consider people homeless or functionally homeless in this case who cannot afford to have a home of their own by choice, including people who live with friends or relatives because they cannot afford to live on their own when they would otherwise choose to do so. I rented a room I shared with my daughter for years before I got Section 8 and could move into my own place. I do not judge the living situation, I’ve done it, but there are far more people in my experience who have trouble affording a place of their own than there are people who actually spend a significant amount of each month hungry.

And entitlement abuse is a concept whereby someone gets access to an entitlement program through fraud or deceptive means. We already have many laws about such things. Trust me, being on welfare sucks. It is not a lot of money. If someone can’t find a way to live without the support of SSI or welfare, feeling “jealous” that they are getting free money is like being jealous of a bum for his cardboard box. Because that’s all they have. I worked my way off of welfare because it SUCKED. Because working gave me more money and gave my daughter more resources and us a better life. If someone is so bad off that they don’t work and require state assistance, I feel pity and compassion and I do not judge whether they’re “doing it right” or not.

Let me make this clear… if you see someone in the grocery store buying things with food stamps, it is NOT YOUR BUSINESS or place to look into their cart, to judge what they are buying. SO WHAT if they are buying soda? They may have a sick kid at home who can’t keep anything else down right now. SO WHAT if they are buying ready-prepared foods? You don’t know if they have access to a stove or not. SO WHAT if they spend all their food stamp money on chips? When it’s gone, it’s gone. The place to fix those problems is in voluntary education. Which I do all the time, teaching people how to cook. There were times on food stamps where I bought treats with food stamps. Do you really begrudge a mom the ability to buy her kid an ice cream once in a while? Pizza? If I managed my food stamp money so that we had a little extra to buy a take and bake pizza…. GOOD FOR ME. Sometimes we ate really cheap food or mooched off my parents for a while so there would be a little extra so I could buy the makings of a cake for my kid for her birthday. The point is that people think of it as “abuse” to buy foods they would not buy themselves or which are not healthy with food stamps. What it is? Is none of their business. It’s not like people get more money if they buy chips.

Then someone said, “But I see people buying stuff with food stamps who are better dressed than I am! How can I not judge?”

I answered:
You don’t know how they got the clothes they’re wearing. A bunch of mamas in my area just got REALLY expensive baby carriers gifted to them. Because they know me, and I know a manufacturer who wanted to donate them somewhere they’d be used and loved. I used to buy my kid very nice clothes… second hand. Or we’d get them handed down or as gifts. You really don’t know. You don’t.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who don’t use their money efficiently. But there are people who look very middle class who are drowning in debt because they have spent money they don’t have on “looking” affluent when they’re not. You judge them because they have evidence of poverty: food stamps. But are you judging the people who are 100k in debt and buying their groceries with a visa card they may or may not ever pay off?

The only real difference is that if someone shows up with an Oregon Trail card or other food benefit card, you know they’re poor, so you judge. They pay with a Visa card, you have no idea.