I just realized it’s the 20th.

And I am a day late for my blogaversary.

You know what else I just realized? My 4-year anniversary with Mr. Katje was 4 days ago and we have marked the occasion in no way whatsoever. I think because we forgot.

Either way, it’s clear that I am terrible with anniversaries. And so is Mr. Katje. We make a good team.

Anyway. There was a draw for ebooks. WINNER ANNOUNCING TIME

I used Random.org to pick a winner, and the winner is Shawna! Congrats! Check your inbox for an email from me.

In other news I will be volunteering at the Writers Fest all this week, as I do every year, so I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here in the next several days. I am going to be very busy. I may already be suffering from intense overwhelm. Send help in the form of tea and Nutella.

If you’re in Vancouver and you haven’t done the Writers Fest before, you totally should! There are still events that are not sold out and it’s a really cool opportunity to see authors speak and maybe even meet them or get your books signed. If you’re into literature, you’ll probably enjoy yourself.

Until next time,
-Katje

A day in the life of someone who has a spinal injury

It occurred to me that, while I often mention my injury or identify as disabled, I don’t really talk about what it’s like to live with this injury. I think people get confused, because some days they see me doing things that make it look like I’m a-ok, and the next day I can’t even get out of bed.

The fact is if you don’t have an injury like this, or chronic illness or disability, you don’t know what it’s like, and you really won’t unless something happens to make you end up in that position. Before the spinal injury I was a much different person. I was suffering from various chronic illnesses, some of which I’m not even sure of the name, but they did not take as great a toll on my health and wellbeing as the injury did. Before the spinal injury I could not have ever conceived of what life would be like right now.

But I can still try and shed some light on what it’s like. For me, at least — I don’t claim to speak for anyone else who may have a similar injury or situation, and I certainly don’t claim to speak for people who are disabled or chronically ill in ways much different than I am. I’m only speaking for myself, and I hope it helps explain things to people who don’t live this every day.

Ok. So, every day I start out with a pool of units of energy — I refer to them as spoons, and so do many other chronically ill people. (That link goes to the article that started the use of the “spoons” terminology.) I’ve personally extended the spoon metaphor to include forks (mental health energy) and knives (social energy), but as this post focuses on my physical energy I’m only going to be talking about my spoon supply and demand.

My Oma's spoon collection. More spoons than I get in a regular day.
My Oma’s spoon collection. More spoons than I get in a regular day.

On a Perfect Day, I have about 100 spoons. Please note, perfect days never happen. I’m only including them as reference. A perfect day means I had a perfect night’s sleep (no nightmares, didn’t wake up during the night, slept in a perfect position), woke up in no pain, am full of energy, didn’t borrow against spoons for the past week, and feel only minimal pain for the rest of the day. The first two things never happen. The second two happen, but only occasionally.

More likely than a Perfect Day is a Good Day. That means I had a good night’s sleep (minimal nightmares, only woke up a few times, slept more or less in the right position that doesn’t exacerbate the pain), woke up with minimal pain, had a pretty good amount of energy, didn’t borrow against spoons for the past few days, and felt minimal to moderate pain for the rest of the day. A Good Day gives me about 80 spoons.

The days I have most are OK Days, and especially so now that I’m recovering from a broken leg (which has made my back worse, as it’s been overcompensating for the lack of left leg support). Ok night’s sleep — moderate to heavy nightmares, woke up several times, didn’t sleep in good positions — wake up in moderate pain, have minimal energy, borrowed against spoons minimally to moderately for the past few days, and felt moderate pain for the rest of the day. OK Days yield a pool of 55-75 spoons.

Bad Days are the worst, and they happen more often than Good Days. I have a shitty night’s sleep, wake up in a lot of pain, have almost no energy, borrowed against spoons heavily in recent days, and feel a lot of pain all day. Bad Days yield a max of 50 spoons, but that’s a high estimate.

What’s borrowing against spoons? That’s what I do when I’m out of today’s spoons but I must continue to use spoons. I borrow tomorrow’s and sometimes the next day’s, too. I actually borrow a lot — way more than I should. This is why I have so many OK Days and more Bad Days than Good Days. Part of the reason I find myself borrowing so much is because I’m still not mentally adjusted to being sick and tired all the time. I keep signing myself up for things I could have accomplished three years ago but can’t today.

Now. Each activity I do throughout the day takes a certain amount of spoons — a price tag, if you will. But those prices aren’t constant. On a Good Day prices are much lower than on a Bad Day. On a Good Day, loading the dishwasher and starting it might only take me 3 to 5 spoons. On a Bad Day, it might take 10. And it should be noted that, with my leg still healing, the prices have all spiked, no matter what kind of day I’m having.

So, let’s look at Monday, October 13th. Thanksgiving.

Continue reading A day in the life of someone who has a spinal injury

Imagination is like Compost

So a few days ago I saw this image floating around Facebook:

knowledgeimagination(VeryBestQuotes.com is an interesting site, though I wish they would provide sources for the quotes.)

I find that I somewhat agree with this. Imagination is super important, yes, and possibly more important than knowledge.

However.

Imagination is like compost. You get out of it what you put into it. If you never put any info into your head, your imagination is going to have a very tough job. It’s by absorbing knowledge that we feed our imaginations.

So many times I’ve come up with a story idea because of something I read or saw or absorbed some other way, ages ago, that I can’t even remember the source for and it doesn’t matter anyway because the thing that grew out of it is waaay different. When I read things, when I learn about things, I put that info into my brain’s compost heap. And I churn that compost heap around and eventually it becomes fertile soil.

That fertile soil is my imagination. Amazing things grow out of it.

But the unlimitedness of my imagination would not exist were it not for the knowledge I am constantly pumping into my brain.

So while imagination may be more important than knowledge in the long run, it also wouldn’t exist without it — and I think that’s important to remember.

Today, I am grateful for my fertile imagination and the many gifts it has brought me.

-Katje

Moon Moon

So last night was supposed to be this big blood moon eclipse thing, right? We didn’t see it. We tried, but by the time it was supposed to be happening we got a nice big fog cover, so. No luck.

We even went so far as to drive around looking for a better vantage point (there are a lot of trees on our street) just in case the moon was poking through the fog…of course, we didn’t realize until after we’d driven for a few klicks that we’d left the front door unlocked and our gate open.

We are not smart people.

(Everything is okay. I came back into the house waving my cane wildly in the air so I could hit any intruder before they struck. There was no intruder, and I didn’t break anything. Win win.)

What we did see, however, was the pre-eclipse show: a huge (I mean HUGE) halo around the moon at about 12:30am. We took out the garbage together and looked at the moon for a while, and I even got a picture. When we looked at it on my phone screen after, it turned out really well — I managed to capture not only the moon but the halo and the trees below. Ok, so the halo wasn’t that clear, but it showed up. That was way better than what I expected.

So I immediately uploaded it to Flickr and got…this:

Full moon pre eclipse

What the fuck?

I double checked on my phone, thinking maybe Flickr had screwed it up somehow and that I had to re upload. No such luck. Apparently the really great picture I took somehow changed itself to, well, what you see above. Which is a picture of the moon taken with a phone and looks about how you’d expect from that description. No halo, no trees, itty-bitty moon.

(And no, I’m not crazy, because Mr. Katje saw the original picture too. It was better. I have no idea why or how it magically changed.)

(Well, okay, I’m not crazy about this.)

My phone works really well for most pictures but things like this make me really wish I had a proper camera. Like an SLR or something. (I am so not hip to the lingo but I believe an SLR is the thingamabob I’m thinking of. *waves hands vaguely*)

Anyway. There you go. A photo of the moon, sans all the cool stuff happening with it that I actually wanted to capture in said photo.

-Katje

Change

It occurs to me that I do this blog switching thing around the same time of year — autumn or winter. I tend to get restless during this time. Especially autumn. Autumn comes round and I want to do everything, be everywhere, and change up my life.

It makes sense; autumn is short, here in Vancouver, and it’s my favourite season. I want to experience as much as possible. This time of year is when I go back to school, usually, and that’s a big change. Nanowrimo also adds to this feeling of restless need to do something.

2012-11-03_1351942404

And then, of course, there are the leaves. Gorgeous leaves changing out green for red, yellow, orange, and then falling all around to blanket the ground in an explosion of color.

Fuck I love this season.

So today, I changed my blog. Moved back from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. I spent hours combing through themes trying to find the perfect one, before finally giving up and settling on this one as a stopgap. We’ll see how long it lasts.

I’m also pondering a name change for the blog. I no longer am attached to Amoeba Kat Musings, but I am not yet sure what would be better. Letting it percolate.

One thing that hasn’t really changed is that I’m still stumbling around, trying to find my blogging center. And you know, I’m beginning to think I don’t have a blogging center. I mean, look at me: change is my middle name. What I want to blog about may never be a steady thing. So I can no longer tell you what to expect, except “things by Katje”.

Finally, I’m making a change to the comment policy. Comments will be allowed on new posts. I’m going with a “One strike, you’re out” rule, and commenting will be closed 2 days after a post is made. Every comment will be manually approved by me.

This is on a trial basis. If I start dreading looking at my comments again, I will turn them off completely.

Now. Time for me to get some lunch, and work on changing my house from “unholy mess” to “slightly less unholy mess.”

-Katje

Perfectly Broken

Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression, anxiety, and self-loathing, and I figured I’d talk about it here, because chances are other folks go through this too and it’s always helpful to know one is not alone. General content warning for the post.

So, first: I want to say that objectively, my life is pretty great. And subjectively, too. I’m engaged to a really awesome person who respects me and my career. We live together in a nice place, in a nice neighborhood. I’ve started a new business and my career as an author is going pretty well. Overall our life is a nice thing.

But of course this does not preclude shitty things happening to us, and of course our lives are not 100% great. There are definitely areas that are causing some long-term stress and, for me at least, depression, anxiety, and all those other fun things I get to deal with already for no particular reason. Except now they’re being given a reason, and I’m finding my already fragile mental state being poked at constantly.

The main thing that’s poking the bear of mental illness for me right now is my physical state. Some of you know that almost 3 years ago I suffered a spinal injury. That’s actually not entirely accurate; the injury itself happened in 2009. It didn’t flare up like a fireworks show, however, until 2012, leaving me bedridden and unable to walk for weeks. After a lot of hard work in physiotherapy, I slowly was able to walk with a walker for short bursts, and then longer bursts, and then finally upgraded to a cane. I’ve been walking with a cane since 2012, though there have been times when I’ve been able to go without for a short period of time.

Likely, had I continued with the physio after getting to that state of wellness, I would eventually have gotten to a point where I could walk without a cane, and probably get somewhere near the state of health I was at before the injury knocked me down. Even in the years I had the injury but it hadn’t flared up I was doing pretty well, despite the new, sharp, knife-twisting pain in my lower spine that I had chalked up to “Another weird permutation of the chronic back pain I’ve had my entire life because genetics is a shitty lottery.”

But I didn’t continue with the physio. I quit in 2012. This wasn’t because I wanted to, or because I thought I was done: I wanted to continue and knew I needed more. But I could not find a new physiotherapist when I went back to Nanaimo after staying in Coquitlam for several weeks, and not only that — the price went up. You only get a few visits at the reduced rate with a doctor’s prescription, you see, and I would need to continue to go every week to see progress.

Fifty dollars a week is too steep for me. Then, and now.

So for 2 years I have lived no where near what “normal” is for me, just dealing with the pain, taking a strong painkiller on the days when I can’t move without it, and continuing to do things that are probably contraindicated for my spine’s condition but hey, what else am I going to do? My social life has dropped off considerably and my ability to do a lot of things in a short period of time has gone to zilch, approximately. I now need a few days to recover after an event that wouldn’t have left me winded 3 years ago.

It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I still overextend myself because I am used to a body that can handle more than it can. And though mentally I have gotten better since it first happened, I still have dark nights of the soul.

So when I broke my leg this summer — 3 months exactly as of this coming Saturday — I slipped into depression again.

Continue reading Perfectly Broken

Getting a straight answer from a doctor

Post Doctor's appt selfie. This is my "well that was a depressing waste of energy" face.
Me, post-doctor’s appointment. My “that was a depressing waste of energy” face.

It’s not easy. I feel that’s one way The Doctor is very much like regular doctors — give you a straight answer when you ask a question? MADNESS

But, finally, I did. Yesterday, at my follow-up appointment at the cast clinic. After he told me that I’d probably have to be in the brace and off my feet until October, basically (so, a bit longer than originally thought), I finally got an answer regarding the possibility of ligament or meniscus damage:

They don’t know.

They won’t know until my fracture is healed up, because they can’t do an examination to figure out if the ligaments or meniscus are damaged without risking further damage to the fracture. So in several weeks, I may get an answer to that question.

I’m guessing it’s going to be “Yes, your knee is damaged,” mostly because my knee still feels like it’s been smashed with a hammer and I can’t bend my leg without extreme pain.

But apparently the reason they kept avoiding my questions about the knee was because they didn’t know and couldn’t tell me for a while. Which is all I wanted to know! Just an answer, any answer.

So now I know it’s still on the table, the possibility of more severe damage, and I just have to wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, don’t put any pressure on the broken leg.

This weekend we’re picking up a wheelchair for me and maybe getting me a proper shower at the in-laws’ place. If I’m up to it, Mr. Katje might even take me out for dinner at our favourite restaurant.

I’m honestly pretty excited about the wheelchair. Apparently it has a leg rest on the left hand side, which already makes it a million times better than those stupid hospital wheelchairs. (Yes, I totally have the muscle strength to just hover my leg straight out the entire time I’m in that thing. Not.)

I don’t mean to sound bitter about our experience with BC medical this time around. I’m getting the help I need. I’m just frustrated and tired of being cooped up in a chair 24/7, and looking at another 2 months of being cooped up like this.

Book has been proofed, as of last night. now to change the files and ship em off.
I think I went through 5 stacks of post-it notes.

So, I’m trying to set my brain to productivity. Namely, edits, rewrites, and writing fresh words (and, on the other side of the business: publishing). I’m just finishing up the work for a book by Kaimana Wolff, called Broken Sleep. It’s a really good book, even if the subject matter is hard for me to take. I said in my review that it’s a harrowing exposé of abuse, and I stand by that. It needed a lot of proofing, though, as you can no doubt tell by the picture. Right now it’s on round 3 of proofs. I’m waiting to hear back from the author, and then I can finish up work on it.

If you want to get an ebook ARC — advance reading copy — you can sign up for one here. They will be sent out as soon as I’m done with the ebook formatting.

Regarding my own writing, currently I’m working hard on The Jade Star of Athering. When I started re-writes there were 9 entirely new parts I had to write. Now there are 4, along with the various continuity edits and smaller rewrites within the finished chapters. For the record, editing and re-writing Jade Star has been like trying to marathon through a swamp filled with eels and unspeakable horrors. I am never doing vomit-out-words-and-fix-it-in-post writing again — after this, I’m going back to the much-more-natural-for-me edit-as-I-go style of writing. Fixing it in post is torture.

After I finish my edits and rewrites, I’ll be sending off the manuscript to my editor for the first round of edits. When she’s done, it’ll be time for beta readers to have at it. Once I’ve implemented beta feedback, it goes for its final round of edits, and then I start the publishing process. It’s at this point I release an ARC for advance readers. During the publishing process, we proof the manuscript several more times (and likely find more errors). Hopefully by the time release day rolls around there are no more errors left. (I say hopefully, because we are human.)

When Jade Star is off with the editor and beta readers, I’ll be focusing on finishing up the first draft of From the Ashes, sequel to Stranger Skies. I have a deadline of the end of the year to finish the first draft, but if I’m lucky I’ll get it done sooner.

I’ve got a lot of writing projects planned out for the next year or so. I really want to finish Jade Star and From the Ashes soon because I have another book I’m starting in November — Anala, the sequel to Jade Star and third book in The Third Age. It’s going to need to be outlined very carefully, however, as it happens during the same time period as Book 4 (which is so far untitled).

There’s a lot more on my plate, writing wise, but if I outlined my entire year’s plan here then I’d have no choice but to stick with it and I like to give myself some leeway for failure. (Insert winky face here.) Accountability is great, so long as I’m making myself publicly accountable for things I know I can accomplish.

So right now it’s just a matter of keeping busy with what matters to me, which thankfully is something I can still do while I have a broken leg. I have to be grateful for that — my passion doesn’t involve using my leg. I can still work on it even when injured and chair-ridden.

-Katje

PS: If you want to be first to hear about release dates, tours, events, etc for both my mother and me, then you should sign up for our mailing list. It comes out about once a month, and it gives you the opportunity to sign up to receive ARCs before anyone else can, or to pre-order first. Also, you get 2 free ebooks for signing up. July’s is set to come out in the next couple days, so sign up soon!

Worst. Birthday Gift. Ever.

The title is better if you imagine it being read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.

Long and short of my trip to the cast clinic is yes, I have a broken femur, there is apparently no tendon or ligament damage, and no, I cannot have a plaster cast, because my leg is shaped weird.

Yes, you read that right: I have a weird leg. The plaster cast will not stay on it properly, just as the immobilizer of doom does not stay on it properly — but, the doctor says, the immobilizer will likely be more comfortable, and I can take it off from time to time. There’s also a chance my leg could swell again, which would be very uncomfortable in plaster, apparently.

I have to stay off my leg for 6 weeks. I cannot put any weight on it. I can rest my foot on the floor if I’m sitting, but beyond that? Nope. Nope nope nope.

But anyway, besides all that — let’s focus on what’s really important. I have weird legs, guys. WEIRD LEGS. I can’t even argue with the doctor on this one because he’s right. I’m a freak of nature.

legs

See? This is right after it happened, too, so you can see the amount of swelling in the left leg. But that bend inwards at the knee? It’s super pronounced. When standing straight the edges of my feet almost line up with my hips, and the knees bend inwards to touch each other. And the kneecap is super high up. I know, because I saw it on my CT scan. IT WAS WEIRD.

Also there’s the fact that my legs are sort of shaped like cones, with the tiny end pointing down.

WEIRD LEGS, GUISE. ::does spooky arms::

After the cast clinic we headed home, and this is the conversation we had in the car (this was after my crying breakdown in the hospital).

Me: So this is the worst birthday gift I’ve ever gotten myself.

Mr. Katje: That’s what you get for getting it so early! And now you can’t even take it back.

Me: Nope, I’m stuck with it. Buyer’s remorse or what.

Anyway. I am immobilized for six weeks. In 2 weeks I have to see the doctor again so he can see how the leg is doing. But basically, no nothing for Katje until the end of August.

I have some projects to keep me busy while I’m stuck without a working leg. A big one is writing. I’m trying to get my word count up this month. (I’m participating in Get Your Words Out and I’ve pledged to write 150,000 words this year. So far I’m at just over 80,000.)

Things I'm working on today: writing....
Text from a short story I’m working on.

Another big one is editing and publishing — related to the first, of course, but I’m not always editing or publishing my own works, so it deserves a separate category. Right now I’m proofing Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff, and editing/revising The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica.

I’m also trying to get caught up on my reading. I read very slowly, but with not much else to do I might read more than one book this month. One can hope, anyway.

And finally, I’m powering through Stargate SG-1. I adore this show. I am on season 7, please no spoilers in the comments. (I realize it’s 17 years old but I’ve been able to keep myself relatively spoiler free.)

...and Stargate SG-1. (that shld rly say dreamboat tbh. Mmmmm, Teal'c.)

Mmmm, Teal’c.

Anyway, this is my summer. All this, and no showering (at least until I get the shower chair from Oma’s old place). Don’t visit. Your nose will never forgive you.

If you do want to brighten my summer up, however, you can nominate my book, Stranger Skies, for the awards for which it’s eligible! (Assuming you’ve read it. If you haven’t read it, most of the Advance Reading Copy is available to read here. All of the chapters will be released by October 5th.) Details in this post at my Livejournal. The deadline for one of the awards is July 15th, but the others have more time.

Now that would be the best. birthday gift. ever.

-Katje

Auditory Processing Deficit: It’s not a hearing problem, but…sorry, what did you say?

I have Auditory Processing Deficit. I’ve had it for most of my life — the test that shows the age level one’s auditory processing is at starts at age 5 and goes to age 18, but we are fairly certain my deficit started when I was 2 years old. Trauma can often be the cause of these sorts of deficits, and there was a doozy of one directly associated with hearing and listening when I was two. (I’m not getting into the story right now. I might at some point in the future.)

Before I took the test, mom thought I was just being a teenager with selective hearing. She’d have to repeat herself several times before I would remember what she said. I explained that I wasn’t forgetting or mishearing things on purpose; it was just that I literally had no memory of her saying certain things.

When I took the test she realized it was an actual problem, so we took steps to fix it. The test, called the Gibson Cognitive Test Battery, is part of a program called PACE — Processing And Cognitive Enhancement. It tests several areas of processing and function in the brain — the framework upon which you put content learning. Auditory processing, memory, visual processing, and other areas are tested. Often people who bottom out in one area will max out in another, because it’s their brain’s way of coping. I had maxed out on visual processor and a few other areas.

It’s a program my mom does, and she’s damn good at it. I did the program with her, though I didn’t get the full benefit. Ideally PACE is done quickly — the 36 hours within a few weeks — because this ensures the most advancement for the brain. Because mom had other students and I was in theatre we were both so busy we rarely had time for PACE sessions. We did the program over 2 years, often sitting for several hours in a session, determined to get as much done in one sitting as possible. For the longest time I held the record for levels passed in a session — not hard when your sessions are 7 hours long.

Still, even though it took us 2 years to do the program, I came up several ages in the areas I was lacking. When we were done I was age 16 in auditory processing — that was an advancement of 11 years (14 if we accept that the deficit was lower than 5 and likely at 2 years of age).

We tested me again recently and I have somehow made it up to age 18. However, I still struggle with remembering things that are said, and when I’m stressed or tired my processing goes down the tubes. (It also does not help that Mr. Katje is an avowed mumbler.)

It’s important to note that auditory processing is not a hearing problem. It is not a physical problem with the mechanisms for hearing things — my ears work fine (with the exception of the constant tinnitus). It is a problem with my brain — specifically the area used to process sounds.

However, so few people are even aware of auditory processing deficit as an actual thing that when explaining why I don’t listen to podcasts or why someone has to repeat something to me a few times to make sure I remember I often default to saying “I have a hearing problem,” even though I don’t. I can hear you just fine. Unfortunately, my ears don’t always give my brain the memo — especially when I’m stressed, or when the words are said in certain tones (because said tones stress me out). And these days I’m pretty much always stressed.

It’s honestly pretty shitty having this. School has been a struggle since high school, and last time I asked a teacher to slow down because he was speaking a mile a minute and I needed extra time to process, he said “Why don’t you try just listening?” (As if I wasn’t.) I explained the processing deficit and he and the entire class laughed in my face. That was in University, by the way, but this wasn’t the first time I was treated like that for having learning disabilities. (I was in Special Ed throughout high school and I swear, the fact that my mom kept fighting for me to get certain help in school was the only reason I graduated. If it weren’t for my mom I would have dropped out.)

Because the test that shows the deficit isn’t considered an official source by most schools I often can’t get any concessions for classes. This, combined with my other learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, and more recently physical disability, ensured that it took me 10 years to get my Bachelors instead of 4.

There are tons of podcasts I’d really like to listen to regularly, but I can’t because podcast listening for me entails sitting stock still and concentrating very hard on everything being said. It’s exhausting, and soon my mind starts to wander and then I need to rewind and find my place again.

Also it contributes to lack of communication with people I love, which creates fights. Just the other day I thought Mr. Katje said something that he didn’t, and we fought for over an hour over it. I misheard a sentence because I was really tired and my processing skills weren’t up to par, and he was mumbling more than usual that day. We made up, and talked it out, and all is forgiven — but I hate fighting with him and for that hour we were both miserable.

But, like with all things I have to live with, I learn to cope. I’ve done what I can to bring up my auditory processing to a manageable level, and I’m planning on doing PACE again with mom — maybe it’ll improve some more. In the meantime, I accept that I might always have problems processing what people say, and I work harder to keep it from adversely affecting my life too much.

In return, I only ask for a little patience from my loved ones.

So next time I need to ask you to repeat yourself, or I don’t remember what you say, please don’t take it personally. It’s just my super fucked up brain making my life a little more difficult. (So original, brain. I applaud your creativity. /sarcasm)

-Katje

I was homeschooled. It was pretty cool. Can we stop with the dominant narrative that it is awful?

Last month, this post and various posts relating to it made the rounds on the internet. I don’t think I need to tell you my reaction; if you’ve been paying attention at all you’ve figured out I’m a sex-positive feminist. What happened at that girl’s prom is bullshit.

What interests me more right now is the reactions to the post. They’ve been varied, but something I’m seeing pop up now and again — and by “now and again” I mean “pretty often” — is the reaction of “It was a homeschool group, so of COURSE this makes sense — they’re all religious fundamentalist nuts.”

In fact, it seems that nowadays whenever the word “homeschooling” is even breathed online people are quick to jump all over it as the worst experience ever: religiously repressive, misogynistic, downright abusive. And when I’ve responded to that with “That is not my experience at all, nor the experience of many of the other people I know who have been homeschooled,” it’s made clear that my experience doesn’t matter — because what does matter, apparently, is that people from the South and Eastern United States will assume all those horrible things when I say homeschooling. So I should prepare myself for their responses. Even after I’ve explained that’s not the universal experience. I understand, of course, that there ARE homeschooling cultures that are like that, but it’s not everywhere.

It doesn’t matter that I explain this. The people with these reactions have already made up their minds. They have already decided that homeschooling is bad — and because they haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary (ie, people like me telling our stories), they have trouble believing it.

I can’t speak for others with positive homeschooling experiences, but for myself I haven’t done any big reveal on it because…it was a good experience. I felt no need to process past events via writing, as I often do with my trauma and abuse. It was one of the good parts of my life. So, naturally, I tend to carry the assumption that if I do mention in passing I was homeschooled, or that I plan on homeschooling my kids, the first reaction from folks won’t be to jump on me and tell me homeschooling is awful and I should reconsider doing it because it is categorically awful, no exceptions ever. This is a logical assumption on my part: before the majority of my interactions were on the internet, they were in person, on the West Coast or Hawai’i — places where people don’t have those sorts of biases against homeschooling.

Now, though, if I mention I was homeschooled I have to immediately launch into qualifications: “It’s different out west; it wasn’t religious at all; my mom is a Buddhist; it was totally secular.” And people still sideeye me like I’m the creature from the fundamentalist lagoon. Heavens forfend I mention wanting to homeschool (or unschool) my future spawn — then I’m a terrible parent who’s going to set up my children for years of therapy! Pretty impressive that I’m breaking all the Good Mom Rules, seeing as I’m not even a parent yet.

So, can we stop? Can we stop with the POV of the South and Eastern United States as being the dominant narrative? And maybe the Midwest too; those terms are sort of nebulous to me, to be honest. One thing I do know, as a resident of the West: in conversations online with United Statesians further east from this coast, on any topic, more often than not my experiences and opinions are consistently dismissed. “Well it’s not the MAJORITY,” I get told. Because “majority” apparently equals not only USian, but eastern USian.

(I see this sort of attitude directed towards west coasters in the US, too — not just Canadians. And yes, of course, not every eastern USian does this — but enough do that I’ve noticed a pattern. One that is tiring me out greatly.)

Dear people who have been homeschooled in really sucky or even abusive situations:

I am sorry. I really am. No one should ever have to go through that, and I understand you might have a kneejerk reaction to the word “homeschooling.”

But it would be really, really great if you could remember that regional (and individual!) differences play a huge role in determining how much homeschooling is going to suck or not suck — and out West, at least in my experience, homeschooling is largely seen as a positive, secular experience done by forward-thinking parents.

I’m not going to tell you your experience was positive, or your parents were forward-thinkers. I’m not going to tell you your experience.

Please stop telling me mine.