Monthly Archives: May 2015

8 posts

Book Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

I have to admit, I was really hesitant to start reading Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu – not because I doubted it’s good-ness (she worked with my friend Hännah on it, so I knew it would be good) but because I wasn’t sure I was ready to face the story I know so well, again. Devoted is about a Quiverfull daughter escaping, and Jennifer worked really hard to get the story, and the feeling, and capture everything it means to leave that environment right, without making it over the top. She did so beautifully.


It was painful and cathartic, as a former quiverfull daughter myself – I remember what it was like to leave and not say goodbye, I remember what it was like to have to clear my browser history, and feel like the eight of us who existed just weren’t enough. Devoted captures those experiences perfectly, and I think people who are curious about what it’s like to grow up in that environment, now have a way that they can understand.


If you’ve ever been curious about what my childhood felt like, this book is it. Read it. This is the book I wish I could give to everyone who wonders, or everyone who thinks maybe this lifestyle is totally awesome.


If you’re an escapee from this environment, Devoted is so good it hurts. Someone else understands, and I can’t put into words how good that feels. We’re not alone, we’re not freaks, and we are undeniably tough as nails.
Devoted comes out June 2nd. Go buy it. My copy is tear-stained, so.

PSA: Re: Smiling in Public

Just because someone is smiling in public does not mean everything in their life is happy, perfect, and healthy.
 
I’m reminded of this, in light of the Josh Duggar situation, because both parent-like sets of people in my life see the Duggars as The Best Family Ever. And because the Duggars are good at being The Best Family Ever, it makes it hard for their fan base to see past the barrage of smiles and actually listen to what’s being said and taught and what the consequences of those are for the Duggar kids.
My family was a poorer, less popular, less business-savvy version of the Duggars. Bill Gothard aside, they believe basically the same things the Duggars do. As much as the Duggars want to tell you they just love kids and are totally not quiverfull, their line about just “doing what God wants them to do” re: breeding is quiverfull ideology, and my parents (like the Duggars) are quiverfull.
 
My parents spent my and my siblings childhoods training us to always smile and look/act/be happy even when that wasn’t the emotion we were having. Happiness was godly, happiness meant no one thought anything was wrong, happiness made my parents the go-to parents in our local community for child-rearing tips and advice.
So it pains me when people don’t see that the smiles are fake. They look at families like mine, like the Duggars, like countless others, and say “But look, they’re smiling! they’re happy! everything is obviously great!” as if the mouth is not a series of muscles that can be willed into an upside-down frown on demand, or out of necessity.
 
A smile does not indicate a healthy, happy situation. It doesn’t take much to see past the plasticity and into the tired eyes behind the upturned lips.
Just because a family is smiling on tv doesn’t mean it’s happy. Us quiverfull kids are great at smiling. Listen to our words and our silence, not our masked faces.
 
Use your empathy.

Imposter Syndrome

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It’s annoying how I can be doing really well one day, and the next I plummet into the abyss of self-confidence and creative crises. 
What if I’m a fraud? 
What if my art is shit?
What if I’m a horrible person and all the voices in my head affirming that are true?
 
I have to write to get it outside of me, is that stupid?
 
Am I as shit as I feel? As my parents said I was?
(no)

Hand Fish

I’ve been watching nature documentaries lately. The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans, to be specific. Because I like water, and whoever the standard BBC narrator is has a soothing voice. I’ve been learning a lot about fishes, interestingly enough, and how life in the ocean works, which isn’t surprising as it is a documentary series, but it’s left me fascinated.
I wish my actual “education” had embodied a sort of holistic approach to understanding the natural world. I love how everything is so connected….how one fish being hunted and eaten and the rest discarded is used by other fish to continue to live and every bit of every creature is as useful in death as it is in life. Their deaths aren’t nothing, they’re just a part of enabling others to survive.
Even coral reef erosion by being eaten goes on to create sand, which later, eventually creates islands, which then goes on to house birds and other animals. Land and sea animals depend on each-other to survive in a way I didn’t realize before. Also, did you know, Polar bears eat whales? If they can catch them…
Just…nothing is wasted (even in death), and that’s beautiful to me. Everything is connected and everything needs each-other to continue. I think sometimes we forget that – or sometimes, you end up having gone out of your way to not know that – but we are and it’s kinda magical.
Also hand fish.
HAND. FISH.

WHY DID MY SCIENCE BOOK NOT TELL ME ABOUT THIS.
Oh wait, it would be harder to sell evolution not being a thing with a fish with arms, wouldn’t it be?

My Summer Looks A Lot Like Ruby

I never had a summer break as a kid, the whole concept of taking like 2-3 months off and just doing whatever you wanted was never something I grasped until I was an adult. We had “winter break” which basically meant we were too busy for school because we were doing “outreach” and cleaning. Fun was…not really a large part of consideration.
Over the last couple years I’ve implemented a sort of summer break of my own, usually I take a few months off of making the things I usually do to reflect, work on new projects, and keep myself from being burnt out. Do all the things I didn’t end up doing because I was busy, read, and take a lot of naps. I suspect much of that will be happening over this summer too, but during my break and reflection, I really really really want to make some headway on all those Ruby projects calling my name.
I feel kind of stuck with where I am, language wise, and I feel like I really need just a block of time that I can spend focused on working on that. I not-so-secretly want to start working on Ruby projects in June and emerge a full-stack butterfly by August. We’ll see how that ends up going, but I feel like it’s a good goal.
I’ll probably start off with Code Academy, then get in to making my apps, and then finish off with this script project I know how to do but don’t know where to start on. And a greater goal with the finished projects is to open-source them and put them all on github.
Which means I have a few weeks to make a lovely cliff-hanger in E.R.A. for everyone to keep you on the edge of your seat until I’m back to balancing comic-ing and internets again in the fall.
 
Note to self: don’t forget to rest. and go to Pride. and have fun.

Undo.

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Sometimes I wish for an undo button, not because of regret but because I’m afraid. I applied to a job doing IT support and now I’m anxious about it. What if they hire me? (Like I’m not the one with ultimate say?) How will my life change? 
Before applying it seemed like getting a job would be a good way to get myself out of my apartment (and make money) but in a way that’s maybe easier than all the MeetUps I talk myself out of? But now I’m nervous. 
What if I suck? What if I’m just harassed because I don’t look like an IT Person (TM)?
Change – even theoretical change is scary. Change that involves leaving my apartment and interacting with other humans is terrifying. I wish it wasn’t. 
But when I write it out, these are all factors I can control for, and when I remember I have agency, a job offer isn’t so scary. 
Strangers on the other hand…

Life right now.

I feel the need to be more present physically in my world, but I don't like the implication that the digital world is unimportant or doesn't matter. Because the internet is more of the real (painful, brutal, honest) world than my physical experience is. I don't want to sound dated when I say I need to be more "here" - but I do need to re-gound and center myself. I need to touch and see things outside of my screen. I need to tether.
I feel the need to be more present physically in my world, but I don’t like the implication that the digital world is unimportant or doesn’t matter. Because the internet is more of the real (painful, brutal, honest) world than my physical experience is. I don’t want to sound dated when I say I need to be more “here” – but I do need to re-gound and center myself. I need to touch and see things outside of my screen. I need to tether.

Past Selfies

I’m tired of looking at pictures of myself from last year, or even a few years before, and thinking “damn I looked good then!” while simultaneously remembering how stressed out I was about my body, and about gaining weight, and….how I was very rarely able to just be okay with it. It’s a patten I’ve yet to get out of – medication induced weight gain leaves me feeling down about my body and I look in the mirror and want to go back to bed and hide because of it…. but next year, will I look at the pictures of me now and wish I could tell myself: dude, you’re fucking perfect, you have a body, you’re going to weigh something, you have a stomach, and a uterus, it’s a thing, chill the fuck out about it. Things I tell past me from the pictures. You looked great, why were you stressed about it?
 
Why am I stressed about it now? Besides that it’s all I really know how to be for one reason or another?
 
I’m so tired of it.
I need to figure out how to be happy as me and how I look –  however that is – and not deal with what that communicates about me to other people…..because I’m not here for that.
I don’t need to stress about looking X,Y,or Z enough to prove A or B to people, unless X,Y,or Z is going to make me feel good about being encased in skin and fabric.
 
I looked great then, when I didn’t feel it, and I wish I’d just let myself be. I didn’t then, but maybe I can now.
I don’t know what that means for me yet.
I’m stuck in a strange rut of wanting to isolate myself into oblivion and also be out and around people and taking care of myself and wearing cute things.
Mostly I want to feel good about myself again.
And I think that means I just need to let myself be.