Category Homeschooling

46 posts

I Helped Start an Organization Once…(and you can help)

About a year ago some homeschool alumni and I got together and founded the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. When Homeschooler’s Anonymous started exposing the stories of abuse and neglect in the homeschool community I realized that I wasn’t alone. It encouraged me to keep writing my story and I’ve written a lot over the last several years.
Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) exists to do what we can to make homeschooling better for families like mine – families who use homeschooling to get away with giving their children a sub-par education, to cover for abuse, or as a thinly veiled attempt at isolation and indoctrination.
Here’s the thing: Homeschooling can be awesome, and most of my fellow board members had great home education experiences, but the fact that people like me, and many others, exist, means there’s a problem and we need to fix it.
Homeschooling should be a tool to give children the education that’s right for them, that equips them for the future, and gives them the tools they need to succeed at whatever they do –  not whatever plans their parents determine for them.
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Which is why I work for CRHE, and we advocate for the interests of homeschooled children – by doing research and creating resources. It’s an issue that’s close to my heart and it’s hard, grueling work, but we have ambition, passion, and big plans.

But here’s where you come in: It’s December and we have our 501c3 status which means any donations are tax deductible, and I would personally, really appreciate it if you donated what you can, get on our email list, and share this organization with anyone you know. Because what we’re doing is important, and what we’re doing has the potential to help so many homeschooled kids, now, and in the future.
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**Also, if you donate at a higher gift level (and opt in) I’ll draw you something, because you’re awesome. <3

Fault and Educational Neglect

I don’t usually post about things Kevin Swanson says, and I usually try not to pay attention to it, but this week’s broadcast…hurt more than usual. For a synopsis/highlights that will keep most of your eyeballs intact, you can read this post from HA.
One of the highlights, and…what’s sort of turned me into an odd little puddle, is this bit (emphasis mine):

Kevin: when someone says, I could have had a better education than that provided by my mother or by my father, that’s really, really, really hard to prove. How, how, how do you know that? Maybe it was a character problem on YOUR part. Maybe you didn’t obey your parents! Maybe you didn’t study your books like you were told to! And to think that you could have had a better education if you had done it this way versus that way is extremely hard to prove.

Steve: Right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Extremely hard to prove!

Steve: Because you can’t go back and do it that way!

Kevin: You can’t! (laughter) You can’t… and even if you could have, you would have dragged your same old person, with your same old character flaws, with your same old slothfulness issue, into the public school or private school setting or other setting ‚ and you could have done worse…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …than you did with your parents — trying to do whatever they could have done with you, even with all of your character issues that you’re dealing with. It’s fun to blame your parents for your OWN lack of character!

And then there’s this charm (emphasis mine):

Kevin: I’m talking about Christian homeschool families. Their values are primarily first and foremost not to get their kid into Harvard or get them a good job.
Steve: Right.
Kevin: That’s not primary. It’s not being sure that the kid can read Plato before he’s 12 years of age…
Steve: Yeah.
Kevin: …and get really messed up with the wrong worldview. (laughter) That’s not the goal. See, homeschoolers bring in other values: like relationship building, character building, work, worship. These are important.

What struck me is my parents have said essentially the exact same thing that Kevin did in the second quote. Multiple times. I remember in no uncertain terms hearing that the most important thing educationally was that we were able to read and understand the bible, write just enough to communicate, and do basic math. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED. This is what Kevin Swanson advocates, this is what my parents believe, and importantly: this is not a full, well-rounded education.
He talks about how fake educational neglect is, makes fun of the people who have pushed through it, pretends the people living in it don’t exist, and blames the (current and former) students with little to no power over their own education, for their own neglect.
He talks about how children should be learning “work, relationships, character, and worship”….
Well sir, that was my entire childhood, and you know what, I was educationally neglected! I taught myself and my parents bragged about it from the age of 10, I did everything I could possibly do, everything I knew to do, and it doesn’t change the fact that my education was neglected. It was not my fault. I’m not lazy, and wasn’t a lazy student – I was  an over-worked student who’s parents cared more about being served and looking good than their children and the quality of their education.
Swanson is advocating for educational neglect, and then turning a blind eye to the people who say, no, my parents did do what you said and that’s the problem, and instead labeling them whiners, traitors, and Benedict Arnold’s.
Well if talking about my lack of education and working to put regulations in place so my siblings and other kids have a chance means I’m a traitor, so be it.
But don’t you tell me that my lack of education was my fault as a child. That was out of my control, it’s not blaming my parents for my flaws, it’s abuse.
 
P.S. I would have done amazing in a traditional school setting, before my parents took me out of pre-k, it was amazing and I loved it. No one asked me if I wanted to be homeschooled, they just said “we’re gonna homeschool you from now on” and being the ripe age of 3 or 4, I just wanted to make sure I could be picked for Show-and-Tell still. I don’t remember doing show-and-tell after leaving school though.

Introducing Don't Panic[k]: Life Beyond The Kitchen Table

I had this idea several months ago, about making a site that’s basically just a compilation of advice, thoughts, and resources for people just leaving/graduating the world of homeschooling and religious fundamentalism.
It takes a lot of work and energy to find resources for life in the real world when you don’t even really know how or where to start, which is kinda why I liked the idea of Don’t Panic[k]. I hope to grow it, with the help of people from similar backgrounds submitting resources and articles and ideas, into something useful for people just leaving their parents kitchen table.
So check it out, share it, submit ideas/resources/etc if you have any, and don’t panic (you’ve got this).
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Book Review: Homeschool Sex Machine

rough cover-fixedThe author of Homeschool Sex Machine, Matthew Pierce, writes from his perspective growing up in a religious homeschool environment where purity culture reigned supreme and being pubescent meant you were trouble.
I read it earlier last week, and was just overcome with feels. It’s a short read – and captures that cringe-y kind of hilarity that you get when you read something funny but it’s also oh-so-relateable. That “been there” kind of thing that reminds you of when you were also a young pubescent kid trapped in that crazy world, and the mental lengths you went to so you could maintain purity but still also…be dealing with puberty.
Homeschool Sex Machine is also a great way to understand what it’s like to grow up male in the midst of purity culture. As much as I could relate, it was also eye opening to notice just where some of the emphasis changed. While Matthew maybe wasn’t told to cover up or get raped, the idea of attraction being evil (and by proxy dehumanizing women to be temptresses placed by satan, and men mere hormone balls) and all that entails was rampant. When your complete virginity and purity is the most important thing about you, things get fucked up pretty fast. Crushes? what are those even? pre-marriage feelings? sounds like a bad idea.
Anyway, I could go on, but for a cheeky look at purity culture and growing up in that world, just…go read the book. It’s funny, it’s cathartic, it’s a little uncomfortable in a good way, but mostly, it’s just good. Find it on amazon.

Giving Too Much

Ever since my family became devout, they became regular tithers and givers. Before I go further, I should point out there is nothing wrong with giving as long as that giving isn’t negatively affecting your life (or that of your kids/family).

Which, I realized somewhat recently is the case with my own family.
They started out giving 10% (the actual biblical definition of a tithe) all the time. Then, they realized that wasn’t enough, and “god told them” to give more and more and more until the last time I remember was them “tithing” 50-60% of their income and waffling with  giving more, because their faith, at one point, wasn’t strong enough to give 70% because they had hungry mouths to feed.

When I was 10, my family chose to allow our house to be foreclosed on because “god told them” to pay another families’ mortgage, and when my parents couldn’t financially afford to pay both, they decided (knowing full-well the consequences) to stop paying their mortgage instead, trusting that “god would provide” a way to keep our house, or a new place for us to live.
“god’s provision” happened at the hand of my grandparents who noticed the building next door was for rent and the landlords weren’t picky about having a family who’s house had just been foreclosed on (every other place my parents looked turned them down), renting from him. This happened the day we had to be out of our foreclosed-on house and we were looking at being homeless.

My parents refused to pay their mortgage and take care of their family because “god told them” to do that for someone else. 
Not to mention, at this time, we had another family living with us because my parents believed god brought them into our lives so this woman could get her children back from CPS.

Because my large family + this additional family who my parents payed to live with us, so she could homeschool her kids but still say she “had a job” were moving in to this house, my brother’s room was a closet, literally, he lived in a closet. My sister’s all roomed in a portion of the master suite my dad partitioned off from their room, and I shared a room with the other families’ eldest daughter, and the rest of her family had the separated off room/bathroom combination. At one point their cousin came to live with us too, and he slept on the floor outside my room, in the dining room.

My parents didn’t really mind the fact that this mother was taking as much advantage of me as my mother until I had a breakdown one day and they decided everyone should do chores and cooking, not just me. Eventually, my family had to ask the family they invited to live with us for free to leave, because the mother had started abusing pharmaceuticals again after regaining custody (which was part of the reason she lost custody of her kids initially).

At some point between these two events my parents did stop paying the other families’ mortgage, I think because they found out and asked them to stop (how they didn’t know, I don’t know, I was a kid,  this was all foreign to me).

This whole time my parents have been tithing more and more – by the time we moved to GA to live in the house my grandparents bought for their retirement, my parents were tithing close to 50% of their income. After my dad found a job that payed significantly less than the one he had previously, they tithed 50-60% of their income, fully believing that “god would provide” and by refusing to acknowledge that my grandparents are the reason we had a house, food, and shoes that fit, “god” did provide.

There were multiple times, aside from being forced out of our house, that I was worried if we’d even be able to eat, and I remember my mom talking to my grandma, and at one point, there was a series of weeks where my grandparents paid for an Angel Food subscription for us because we couldn’t afford groceries.

At birthdays, and even in-between them my grandparents would buy us new shoes and clothes (which was always really nice because most of what we wore was hand-me-downs from pitying church folk, or old clothes of mine passed down to my sisters) because, really, we couldn’t afford a lot of that either – at least not at the rate that 8 kids grow. I think it was a relief to them when I stopped growing at 15, and had only grown an inch or two between then and age 12 (stunted at the I-can-still-technically-shop-in-the-kids-section size – I’ve since grown curves, so, yay?).

But you know what we could afford? buying and donating a shit ton of everything to the Crisis Pregnancy Center, throwing extravagant donation-only christmas parties, putting together lavish packages for the Shoebox/Samaritan’s Purse group, making a ton of cookies and buying presents for everyone in church (and only keeping the cookies that didn’t come out right for ourselves after slaving in the kitchen for a week), putting together care packages for nursing homes, buying presents and making gift baskets for the entire neighborhood, and since I’ve left: creating the most elaborate easter baskets for all of the church kids (but my siblings only get the $1 chocolate and whatever is cheap and on sale or left over).

My family gets the short end of the stick because they have to support 6 kids-at-home on 40-50% of whatever my dad makes. Everything else goes to churches, people (projects), and random “ministries”, in the name of “god”.


I remember having long devotions about tithing and how you have to tithe to be a good christian (also, the more you give the better christian you are), and how if you don’t tithe, your life will be horrible and “god won’t bless it”

I’d heard so often that if things aren’t done X way, then your life will be bad. Given my already hellish childhood, when I was a teenager I was actually scared of what would happen when I left home.

I was afraid that I would have to live my childhood all over again, on my own, but worse, because god would be after me, specifically.
Part of the reason I didn’t want to get married for so long was because I couldn’t imagine having to go back and make all the decisions my parents made and live through that all over again.

When Alex and I were getting serious I tried to get him to promise me that we would always tithe. Because if we didn’t, I knew that there would be horrible consequences – because my family was “so blessed” and doing everything right, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if we didn’t. 

I couldn’t imagine how dire the consequences of not tithing would be, after living my entire life in a house that was so other-centric it neglected their own children’s needs. I thought it would be a nightmare. I was just so so afraid of what would happen if I left home, if I didn’t tithe, if I didn’t live exactly the way my parents did, because I knew what that was like and I hoped that eventually it would get better – that they would get their 100 fold, and everything wouldn’t be so scary.

I was terrified at the thought of having to walk that path again, myself, starting from square one.


As an adult now, and learning how the world works…I was lied to so much, and so much fear was ingrained that was completely baseless. Never once have I had any cause to be legitimately worried about food (not to say that I haven’t, because an empty fridge is a huge trigger even if it just because we ate out all week instead of shopping), never once has my life been anywhere near as hellish and scary as it was in my childhood.
“god” has not come after me like the mafia for “his money”, and I have a lot more satisfaction giving what I can to who I want, than giving more than is financially wise to whatever church I’m in that day.

My family could have, at any time, started paying their mortgage, or maybe cut-back on tithe for a month so we could eat. Instead, my family decided to bring financial crises upon themselves because they thought “god told them” and it made them better christians. 

And that’s really all that it’s about, isn’t it?

20 Things About Me That You Probably Already Knew But I Talk About Booze And Look, The Title Is So Hip Right Now

When I wrote that letter to my parents, I included a list of things about me because…I don’t know, it felt like the thing to do, and then I realized some of this stuff might be handy to list here because it’s interesting and a lot of this isn’t new at all, but I also talk about octopi and white russians, so hey. Here’s a list of random shit about me, that I know  you’re all dying to know…

  • I am a strong person who has lived through a lot of unnecessary trauma.

 

  • I am a creator and an artist – I make comics, I process my deepest emotions through making beautiful things – and, despite the voices that sound an awful lot like my parents in my head telling me otherwise, I am really good at it.

 

  • I am a gamer and I think that playing games and immersing myself in enjoying a story is time well spent.

 

  • I think the world is beautiful and colorful and full of wonder and not as scary as I thought it was supposed to be.

 

  • I am imperfect and there is beauty in the imperfection.

 

  • I make websites for people and causes I support! Like homeschool reform, and an art magazine for people from the christian patriarchy/homeschool/quiverfull movements.

 

  • My favorite color is blue and I feel most myself when I have blue hair.

 

  • I give a shit about the world and I want to make it a better place – this is why I make things, this is why I write, vlog, and make art.

 

  • I LOVE science fiction and fantasy, it is what I didn’t know I knew I was missing.

 

  • Politics was the only venue of expression I had that was accepted and lauded my interest in it was really only because of that – because it was encouraged – because I was finally told I was good at something that I didn’t violently hate.

 

  • I stopped crocheting regularly in 2009 because I started drawing and painting in 2010 and haven’t stopped.

 

  • I love Rum and Coke, I can make a mean White Russian, and I discovered the Angry Apple Stag and plan to buy the ingredients to make it at home because hard cider + whiskey is awesome.

 

  • I have crippling depression and anxiety and it’s hard – sometimes so hard that I am numb again and stuck and I don’t know if I’ll be able to come out of it. I’m on medication now and even when I’m in that rut, I know now that there’s a way out – even if I don’t really know it in that moment.

 

  • I’m actually pretty good at building things, and I’m amazing with a soldering iron – one day, I plan on making a light up cube to put two-player board games in.

 

  • My happy food is pizza and rum and coke at our local italian restaurant.

 

  • I don’t cook, or make my bed, or fold laundry.

 

  • I had my wisdom teeth out, and they knocked me out for it, and now my teeth are straightening because dentistry.

 

  • I love Alex. Still. A lot. So many. No end in sight.

 

  • I collect octopi plushies. I have a tiny tiny pink one, a tiny pink one, and a very very big pink one.  Because octopi are obviously pink?

 

  • And, I have not yet gotten frostbite.

parents

I’ve had really vivid dreams lately, probably due to getting over the lingering effects of a cold (it was a horrible cold, and I’m mostly better but still dealing with minor sinus issues). My dreams have been weirdly stressful and tend to feature my family and I wake up feeling like I haven’t slept, but last night…last night I dreamt that my dad was shooting at me. A lot, constantly, I was trying to leave and he was just shooting and shooting and following me and shooting, and that’s the first time that’s happened. The last time I had a similar dream, my dad was a bear trying to eat Alex and I…this is the first time there were guns.
Which makes sense, my family has at least 3.
A few weeks ago I sent my family an open letter, addressing the things I knew they were upset about (my hair, my sexuality, my lack of pregnancy, telling them once and for all that I’m an agnostic), and telling them things about me that they probably didn’t care to know, and ending it by telling them to stop using me as a bat on my siblings, and to leave me alone (with the caveat of, if they ever get over themselves and decide to accept me as a human and get to know me and not just spy for creating-drama purposes, to talk to me instead of going through other people). Considering all my family really cares about is using me to create drama, I think that my letter shut everyone up about me like I thought it would.
My theory was that by giving everyone the same information about me they wouldn’t have anything to gossip or speculate about or reason to use whatever means necessary to spy – since I answered all their questions/issues and took the interestingness out of it.
It’s been radio silence and I hope it keeps. It’s weird, you know…my parents said they wanted nothing to do with me until I apologized to them in 2010, but then conveniently forgot that when it suited their purposes (I’m assuming, to make them look good in front of church people – it’s what they do). I unfriended everyone on my mom’s side in November and the family freaked out when they realized it, but I’ve never once been asked, genuinely, how I am, no one has tried to get to know me in five years, they’ve only been intent on spying and using me as a tool to inflict guilt on my siblings and that’s just wrong. Every contact I’ve had with them has been silently self-serving, done of obligation, or not-so-subtly implied that they wished I was who they wanted me to be and approved of and not who I am. I don’t have time for that.
I will never live up to what they want me to be, and sometimes that hurts a lot more than I want to admit.
I put up a strong face – I throw up brick walls the way Elsa made her Ice Castle, bury the pain inside the mortar.

 
It’s easier to be callous and cold and numb, than angry, and vulnerable, and hurt. So I act like it doesn’t bother me, Fuck them all is my mantra, but it does bother me and I wish that it wouldn’t.
I wish that I didn’t feel as though the most abusive people in my life mean something. Because I feel like they shouldn’t. I wish I didn’t feel sad because I know that by merely existing  I’m letting down the people who spent my entire childhood neglecting me and using me.
Sometimes I feel like the Hulk and my secret is that I’m always angry. Because I am angry. I’m angry at how they get off scot-free, I’m angry at how the world thinks we need to revere parents even when our parents are the bullies we couldn’t escape. I’m angry that they can keep on manipulating people and lying and living with no guilt or remorse, with aid from family, and keep people on their side and looking up to them – as people with Narcissism and Borderline are really good at doing.
My family is looked up to in churches, cited as examples, people seek out my parents to ask them advice about homeschooling and child-rearing (and other things), they think the fact that my mom has destroyed her body having kids is awesome and noble.
No one sees the dark underbelly of what it looks like to grow up with them and their life choices, no one registers the fake smiles, no one sees past the masks.
And I get to pick up the pieces.
I can’t look at an infant or pregnant person without feeling ill and stressed out. I panic every time I see a stroller, or an entitled parent at a restaurant. I get to be condemned for not having or wanting kids, for not doing anything for mother’s day, for doing what I need to do for my sanity and quality of life that involves cutting out the toxicity that is my family. I can’t leave my apartment without being bombarded by triggers, I can’t talk to any nosey old person without being patronized about my existence, the general consensus of the world does everything in it’s power to tell me that everything about me is wrong and flies in the face of what is approved of and wouldn’t it just be easier if I killed everything-that-is-me and conformed?
I’m planning out how to help my siblings after they reach adulthood because my parents thought it was unnecessary for half of my sisters to have identification, and everyone born after 1999 is unvaccinated.
This is the aftermath of growing up with abusive and neglectful parents and extended family who enable them. You bet your ass I’m angry.
And also crying.
Because no one fucking deserves this.

Ham on Nye

I actually didn’t plan on writing anything about the Ham on Nye debate Tuesday night, I planned on drinking and eating popcorn and watching  everything implode in a talk-past-eachother kind of way. My mouth hurt, (still does, I have even better numbing stuff now, but it makes my lips stick together :P), we ended up getting milkshakes because Ham is more triggering and milkshakes are more comforting.
The debate went as I suspected it would – more cathartic for me and those of us who have left the Young Earth Creationist camp we were raised with. Ham had all the same material, I’d heard everything he’d said before at VBS, in DVD’s, and his theology permeated my “science” books even though they weren’t exclusively AIG. I knew all his answers, I’d seen all of his graphics, he said absolutely nothing new, at all, I remembered everything verbatim from my previous encounters with AIG as a child. To Nye, this idea is so unfathomable that he had trouble grasping and understanding his audience and I don’t know that he knew what he was getting into. To the people in that room, YEC is more than a science…theory(?), it is, in a very real way, a (the) foundation of their religion.  Believing in a Young Earth is somehow, essential to this brand of christianity, my whole family, I think, is Young Earth, my immediate definitely, if not my grandparents too.
None of the arguments made in the debate were really going to change anyone’s minds I don’t think. I don’t know how many people were listening to it like a presidential debate, being really on the fence about religiously-intoxicated creationism and mainstream science, but who knows.
During the Q&A session though, Nye said one thing, one groundbreaking thing, and I don’t know if he even realized it. He said “I don’t know“.
What he probably didn’t know (or maybe did) when he walked into a room and an audience loaded with people who have been raised or told all of their lives and all of their childhood that they have to know all the answers to everything all the time and that “I don’t know” is not an answer and if you don’t know, something is wrong – saying “I don’t know” in a way that did not have defeatist or negative connotations is something that people raised in this sheltered and toxic environment have probably never heard. Their parents may have, but have denied themselves and their children that option, they’ve rejected the idea of not knowing for the burden of having to always know and have thrust that upon their children at very young ages.
Fellow homeschoolers have written about having to know the answers to all questions – even questions about the legality of homeschooling from the time they were like 6. This is true and this is devastating and this is too much, no one, let alone any child should be required to know the answer to everything. Yet this is what fundamentalists do – they require themselves and everyone they gather into their brand of religion (or non-religion) to have all of the answers to everything. They must always be able to back up a question with a pre-scripted answer that allows for no nuance. I don’t know is invalid.
People asked him the questions creationists are scripted to ask evolutionists (because they don’t know the answer but we do! HA!) and he answered, happily, excitedly, unashamed, and like he had been waiting to say it all night because it’s such a beautiful answer: I don’t know.
Ken Ham, and every entrenched creationist in the audience I’m sure scoffed at Nye’s reply. But what he said, in those three words, is something more powerful than he can know.
Because to the people who were watching who are tired of having to know everything because they realize they don’t know, who are maybe doubting, who are maybe thinking, who are maybe just trying to keep their head down to get by but secretly (even so secretly they may not realize it yet) want to taste something different, something not straight out of the book, Bill Nye just introduced the concept of freedom.
Because the freedom to not know (and that be an okay, even good thing) after coming from an environment where you must know is so so powerful. But one of those things, where you only realize it’s power once you’ve come to terms with the idea that it’s okay to not have the answers.
Bill Nye just introduced hundreds or thousands of people to the idea that “I don’t know” is valid, and okay, and not wrong.
That is the most important thing (I think) that happened in the debate, that’s what I haven’t been able to get out of my head. I don’t know. And it’s beautiful.
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Oh, I did THAT thing (2013)

January has been brutal, really, I don’t even. But I had a handful of moments and I remembered I did stuff – that feels so far away, and the hugeness of that sort of set in for a brief moment before I got the wind knocked out of me again.
So, while I’m remembering and drinking rum and staving off random/exhaustion tears, here’s some of the shit I’m proud of that happened.
1) I ran a successful kickstarter campaign
Seriously, like, it got funded, and I was shocked, still am, but I think now that the last of the rewards are out and I’m nearing halfway through season 3, the accomplishment is sinking in. It was funded, and I did a thing, and I delivered the rewards, and I’m making the content and people still like it, and that’s huge. It’s huge just to have reached funding.
2) I started making comics regularly
Humorotica is now on an every-Friday schedule which is pretty cool, and when I’m not broke again, I’m hoping to upgrade my tablet. When I’m not making Humorotica I’m regularly drawing in my art journal and making personal comics.
3) I competed in the Geek and Sundry Vlogger’s Thing
And finished in the Top 10! Even though I didn’t continue on to the next round. I still competed, and kept going and stuff even though it happened while I was also in the middle of a horrible PTSD flare up.
4) I finally got a tattoo
And it’s the Deathly Hallows with a Sonic as the Elder Wand and the best. mashup. ever. shut up.
5) I worked on the website for the Coalition For Responsible Home Education
I’m really happy to be part of a group, both in CRHE and Homeschoolers Anonymous working to make the negative experiences and abuses less common in homeschooling, and protect and advocate for homeschooled students (while we all still sort our own stories, and create a support community for processing).
6) Came out of the closet, twice
Two closets in one year! I came out as bisexual in the spring, and recently, as an agnostic. I’ve also talked a bit about identifying as a person and rejecting the gender binary, which is less closet-y and more self discovery and processing and trying to find the right words.
7) Wrote some poetry
I did 30-in-30 on Tumblr this summer, before/between the G&S competition and the kickstarter. I’ve made pomes (roll with it) here and there since. It’s been a good practice and nice because my disjointed thoughts have a place where they can be disjointed and not feel bad about it.
8) I learned how to solder
AND I AM DAMN GOOD AT IT. Because I want to do more science this year, I made an LED D6, and next month, I’m getting an LED watch from AdaFruit which is this amazing company run by an awesome lady with badass pink hair.
9) I chopped off my hair
I got a pixie cut and I LOVE IT. It’s so me and perfect.
10) My cat’s butt was in a picture that The Daily Mail took from my Facebook on their  re-run/write/tabloiding of the Daily Beast Piece
I almost thought about asking them to change it and sending them something WITHOUT Tonk’s butt in the picture, but it was too comedy (much doge. wow.).

Child Marriage: I dodged the bullet

I don’t know that I’ve written much about the process of the relationship Alex and I had before we got married. I started this blog after the fact and before I had even begun to process the hellmouth that was my childhood.
With three creepy-as-fuck-patriarchs coming out in favor of child marriage – something they’d always been in favor of, I suppose, but just now coming to light – I keep remembering how close I was to that being my story, our story.
This might be timey-wimey.


Ever since I can remember, my mom really really really wanted to be pregnant at the same time as me. I don’t know why, I just remember her telling me this, often, and it creeping  me out before I was 10 – and after I was 10, but I remember being REALLY damn young when she was telling me this. I feel like I was 8.


When we started homechurching, my mom become obsessed, I mean obsessed with jewish culture. Like everything about it was perfect and not at all weird, and by jewish culture, I guess I should clarify, I mean old testament jewishness, and whatever of that was referenced in the new testament. Yes, how women were property and bought/traded for dowries, and how they were surprised for when they were getting married, and their parents picked out their husbands (my mom is also obsessed with betrothal), and then how they wait for the couple to do it, and then they bring out a sheet that had better have a bloodstain on it to prove…virginity – because, obv’s everyone bleeds (<nope).


She had, before I was a teenager even, basically planned out my wedding to be like that. Complete with my future husband building an apartment attached to their house, and even as a kid who knew nothing, this was the thing I fought against, this was the battle I always chose, I was NOT going to allow my mom to pick out my husband, and dictate my wedding and create the most humiliating ceremony I could imagine – just so she could get her jewish fix and fulfill her dream of carrying children simultaneously.


For context: She had also decided that I would marry at 18 to ensure that pregnancy thing would be feasible. She was pregnant when I was 18 (I’m 18 years and one-week older than my youngest sibling) and I did end up getting married at 18, but the simultaneous pregnancy hasn’t happened (and never will, thanks to my own birth control and my grandparents stepping in after the last baby and paying for my mom’s sterilization).


Anyway, back to the story…

So, my childhood was already riddled with disturbing fantasies from my mom in relation to my future love-life, and I had been fighting this battle for as long as I can remember. Thankfully, my dad was on my side here, and also thought that my mom’s whole wanting to control all of that thing was ridiculous, which made it easier to just look at her and say no whenever she mentioned it (that was the only thing I was ever able to do that with) even though she ignored it.


I had read too much Elsie Dinsmore to be cool with the idea of betrothal. 😉
Anyway, after we moved to Atlanta I went to TeenPact State Class and then TeenPact National Convention where I met Alex and we became fast friends over the course of the year. Later that year my parents told me they were done teaching me/had taught me everything I needed to know when I was 15 and they said I’d graduated. It was 2006.

I turned 16 in February of 2007, had my graduation ceremony at the state homeschool convention in May, and Alex came down for camp, and that fall we started courting (which is, in our case, another kind of hell). Because he lived in Maine, our relationship was Long Distance and we saw eachother less than a handful of times a year – which means most of our relationship involved lots and lots and lots of talking and getting to know each other over IM/Email/Phone calls.


Nonetheless, as soon as my dad said “okay” to us courting in September of 2007, my parents – especially my mom- heard wedding bells. Courting is basically like, “dating with the intent to marry” but with everyone sticking their hands and ideas into the situation but without actually caring about or getting to know the two people involved – they just want power and think they can because they’re parents, so they must be right, right? (no)

My mom, at this time, had just had my second brother, and so, my broom services weren’t as desperately needed. By december they were pushing Alex to propose, made him buy me a promise ring, and kept asking about when we were getting married, and don’t you love him? (yes) don’t you want to marry him? (sure) but why not NOW? (because I’m 16) We’ll sign the paperwork! eventually I just looked at them and told them, I feel like you’re pushing me out, and I don’t know why. They were like, we’re not pushing you out! and I forget what else they said, but in retrospect, that conversation, and me not coming home engaged after visiting and meeting his family for the first time after christmas changed things.


But one thing remained, they wanted me married. STAT. They wanted him to propose like, right away, and when he didn’t propose by my birthday, in February (because we both decided it wasn’t a good idea to get married at like, 17 and 19) they got pissed and over the course of the summer of 2008, decided to do everything they could to sabotage our relationship.


It was brutal and nasty and deserving of more than one post because it was fraught with verbal and emotional abuse, withholding, and bribery – complete turns of opinions and demeanor’s, saying one thing and then the next morning saying something else, the last pregnancy that ruined everything, and the reason I had to run away.


If I had complied, as I did in every other thing, my relationship with my parents would have been less strained for a short time, but neither Alex or I would be in a healthy place. 16 is too young. Much too young.


So when people talk about child-marriage proponents, I remember being 16 and pressured, unbelievably pressured by my parents, to make my boyfriend propose and marry me.
because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion 


I wonder if some of the logic of Swanson, Maranatha’s dad and husband, and Creepy Duck Guy wasn’t part of the logic my parents had too: female independence is bad, marry them off young so they can do what god commanded women to do – be fruitful and multiply.