Tradition is The Support Frame — Generational Home

Last week I spent a while talking about how economic stability is the foundation of a family, and for a family that will hold together through the generations, this usually means a family business to provide that stability.

The caveat, that I didn’t mention last week is that this assumes the family business is successful. Obviously, and unsuccessful family business (like the one my grandfather tried to start) won’t provide any financial stability. And my grandfather’s business did fall prey to what may be the most common danger a family business can face — heirs who couldn’t keep the business running.

But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. Because really, what our heirs in this generation do is out of our hands. Never mind all the future generations.

No, today we are talking about something different. If economic stability is the foundation of the family, then…

Tradition Forms the Support Structure

I know for a lot of folks these days ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ are dirty words. And there’s good reason for that, given the way claims of ‘tradition’ have been used to attack or exclude many of us in recent decades.

But tradition is like a knife. It is first and foremost a tool to help people.

Tradition is what creates culture. And this is true whether we are talking about a family, a religion, a fandom, or a country. Culture is critical to the survival of any social instutition. Culture creates a sense of belonging. Culture is also what creates non-economic value. My words are failing, but hopefully you get what i mean. There is value to art forms, sports, holidays, etc, that is completely separate from whether or not someone has managed to commercialize them. That those things are all part of culture.

Why do we play baseball and (American) football in the US, but soccer is the big game in the UK? Culture.

Why different cuisines in New Orleans and Maine? Culture.

Why Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC? Culture.

Culture, which is created by tradition. After all, Maine and New Orleans both have seafood heavy diets, there’s no practical reason why their cuisine would be so different today. But they each developed separate traditions based on the available spices, needs of the people living there, and ideas brought in from other cultures. Those traditions became embedded in the cultures of those regions and they continue today.

Evolution vs Creation

Of course those traditions (and cultures) evolved naturally over time. No one set out to create them.

A family can evolve traditions as well. But bringing multiple people who have different backgrounds and personal and/or family traditions from other families can easily cause conflict. So I prefer to intentionally create our traditions.

For instance, there are some holidays that I really want to be part of our traditions. So I put together a short write up on what those holidays are, why they are meaningful for me, and why I think they can be meaningful for everyone in our household even though most of them are Jewish holy days and only I and Michael are/will be converting to Judaism.

And I asked everyone else to share if they have any holidays that want to make part of our family traditions. The risk here was that we would end up with too many holidays to feasibly observe. Everyone agreed with my holiday suggestions, and only one other holiday was put forth. Halloween.

So, yeah. Fall is going to be an… ah… interesting, not to say intense season in our home. What with Rosh haShana, Sukkot, and Halloween back to back (or sometimes overlapping).

Of course, there are more to family traditions than holidays. But holidays are a good place to start. Especially since we can (sometimes) share them now, while we work up to being able to live together.

Hey, I’m writing a fantasy story with a group of folks building a generational family.

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The Foundation of the Family — Generational Home

It’s one thing to say that I want to build a generational home, a family that will develop its own existence beyond my lifetime.
It’s another thing to make it happen.

To Build Anything, You Need a Foundation

Social and economic pressures in the US are actually working against family as a lasting social structure. That’s something most of those folks decrying the ‘death’ of the nuclear family aren’t getting. This isn’t some moral failing or rejection of good-old-family values. It’s a rational response to the world we live in.

Nothing has a stronger impact on culture than economics. Even religion must bow to the basic necessity of putting food on the table.
But that, ironically, also explains how some families have managed to maintain coherence across generations.

I used to wonder how you could have business or farms that had been held by one family for decades or even centuries. It was only when I learned about the impact of economics on culture that I began to understand. A successful family business protects the family unit from economic disruption. After all, if Dad has a company you’ve been trained to take over, whether it’s a corner store or a Fortune 500 company, you don’t need to move across the country to find a job.

A family business provides a foundation for a family to last through the generations.

We Don’t Have One — Yet

For our family that will be the farm. If we are successful with it, then our heirs will have at least two cushions against economic disruption:

1) They will have land that they own. That means a home, shelter, a place to live. As long as they can keep the tax payments up they will always have a place to live. (Admittedly, tax payments have driven many people out of their family homes. But fewer people than rent or mortgage!)

2) If they keep the farm going (which will, of course, be out of my hands once we pass it on to said heirs), they will always have food to put on the table.

Those are powerful things to pass on to those who come after us.

We Aren’t a Traditional Family

Two major differences we have from a traditional family business come from our basis in polyamory. First, and most, this is a group enterprise. Second is our nature as a chosen family. While these bring challenges, probably including challenges we haven’t yet recognized, they also reduce challenges faced by traditional family businesses.

I’m still working through a lot of it. And I’m mostly working it through on my own. I do need to talk all this through with the rest of the family, but, hell, we are years away from getting the farm and none of us have the energy to spare right now. I happen to be one of those folks who obsessively plans for all possible futures. Partly a level of anxiety/paranoia. Partly because as an autistic person, the more I plan and prepare for the future, the less the changes the future brings fuck with my head.

Tradition and Freedom

That said, a big advantage this household will have is that as a group, there isn’t pressure for any individual to take up the family business. Only two or three people in each generation are needed to keep the farm going. Other members of the family who don’t want to take up the farm will be able to pursue their own life goals and bring in money from other careers. Basically, it’s kind of best-of-both-worlds. The food security of a family farm and the economic security of literally anything other than farming. Because, yeah, the economic prospects of farming in the modern world suck. Trust me, we’re not going into this blind.

Communal Isn’t a Bad Word

The most economically successful small-farming approach historically has been communal farms where a whole village works together. Why: simple. Farming is labor-intensive, and economies of scale apply to labor too. 10 people working together on 10 acres can do more than 10 people each working 1 acres. And our household being a family group means that extra labor will be available for labor-intensive work. Sure, no one wants to put an hour or two into harvesting before or after working an 8 hour day at the construction site or office. But for family (and food over the winter) people will do that kind of thing. And having those extra hands available makes a big difference. (In theory. I think. Yes, I’m making this up as I go along.)

Economy Over All

So, yeah. This probably isn’t what folks were expecting out of this post, but this is reality. The foundation of any human endeavor is economic. Which is another way of saying how will this be maintained. Either money, labor, or both are required to build anything lasting. And not paid once, but continuously. For social constructs (which is what any family is), the critical maintenance is food on the table and a roof to shelter under. This is true whether that food is scavenged from dumpsters or served on gold plates. Whether the roof is a cardboard box or a palace. If the food and shelter aren’t there or aren’t adequate, people who can will leave to find them.

I don’t need the gold plates or palace. But so long as I have any say in the matter, I’ll be damned if any of my family is food insecure or homeless again.

First Annual Jess Mahler Bookshelf Report and Reader Poll

Polyamory on Purpose Poll

First off, I’ve been talking about writing a book on raising kids in a polyamorous family for some years now and kept putting it off because of lingering emotional shit from my custody case.

I think I’m finally healed enough to tackle that topic and I know it’s one a lot of people want to see a book about.

BUT I already said I’d make my next book about abuse in polyamory, which is also a topic a lot of people are interested in.

Being the indecisive type, I decided to hand off the decision to y’all.

Here’s the poll for what the next Polyamory on Purpose book should be. Go vote on it!

(I a vague memory that I may have done a poll like this before? But if I did I don’t have any record of it? Anyway, sorry if this is a duplicate, but please help me out!)

Book Progress Updates!

Of late all my writing time has gone to Polyamory & Kink and Planting Life in a Dying City. All my other theoretically-active-projects have been on hold. My original goal was to finish both of them by December, and then be able to shift my focus. Unfortunately, this summer happened, and well… there was that too.

Anyway, as I write this, the re-write for P&K is 8% done. I actually have far more than that written, it’s just I haven’t yet gone through most of it to see what needs to be fixed, cut, added, etc. In total, I have over 21,000 words written, which is a bit more than 50% of the goal.

As long as I am able to keep writing regularly, I think I have a good chance of finishing on time.

Planting Life is another matter. While I’m ‘officially’ further along (32% finished!), I’m trying to get a lot more total words done (2.5x more, actually). Add to that, P&K is my priority (unlike my fiction work, my nonfiction actually has a following). So Planting Life only gets time when I’m at or ahead of my weekly goals for P&K.

Still, I’m making progress and really happy with how the story is coming. Paiokp is finally developing a personality and role beyond ‘random background person’. (I always figured ey would, but in a story with this many ‘main’ characters, it can take time to get to everyone.)

Jess Mahler Bookshelf Progress

So… the goal is to publish enough books to fill a bookshelf. In order to track this goal, it would be useful to actually have physical copies of the books so I can (ya know) put them on a bookshelf.

Which means at some point I need to format, submit, and order a paperback version of The Bargain and Whips & Fangs. As well as order copies of Polyamorous Home and Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous. That might be a good idea. To bad I didn’t think of it sooner. See, I’m starting a new tradition — Each Rosh haShana, lining up all my books on an empty shelf and taking a picture to record my progress.

Unfortunately, as noted, I don’t actually have copies of more than half my books, so…

Here ya go.

Shana tova.

Why I Don’t Write About Cuil Press

Okay, time to fess up.

I’ve been avoiding writing about Cuil Press. I know it’s one of my goals, and I know I said I’d be blogging about all of them regularly. But I dropped the ball on this one.

Actually, I dropped several balls on this one.

The truth is that the main reason I haven’t been blogging about the Press is it has been too depressing. Between my summer-from-hell, Desy’s health issues, and the shit Michon had dumped into hir life, the Press took a major back seat. This resulted in multiple reschedulings of our current projects, among other issues.

Hard truth: more than any other goal, the Press is where my insecurities eat at me. They eat at my badly enough that if Michon and Desy weren’t depending on me I probably would have quit by now.

Which… is ironic since the reason my insecurities are eating at me so hard is because other people are depending on me.

It’s this lovely downward spiral of self flagellation.

Let’s review those goals —

The Bookshelf?

If I don’t manage to get my books out, no one is hurt. At worst, a few readers are let down but… real talk, I have no evidence to date that there are folks out there waiting (eagerly or otherwise) for my next release. And while that does a bit to my ego, it also means no real pressure.

The Farm?

That’s literally a situation where any progress is improvement. If we never get the farm, but I figure out how to grow veggies indoors, that’s a win. If we never get the farm, but Michael learns project management, that’s a win. If never get the Farm, but Michon and everyone moves close enough that we can be in each other’s lives regularly, that’s a win.

Old ‘Woman’?

Hell, that’s all me. My friends and family may cheer me on, but I’m not letting anyone down if I change my mind or decide to take a break.

Generational Home?

I mean, that’s mostly my thing. Everyone else in the fam agrees we want to live together and do a communal thing, but I’m the one who wants to find a way to make it last past our lifetimes. If anyone else wants that, well, they haven’t told me, ya know? And honestly, I wouldn’t expect them to. We work because we each provide something to the synergy we create. And I’m the one who is inward-focused. The one whose goals center around caring for and nurturing the family.

But the Press?

*shudder* Not only Michon and Desy, but every author we sign a contract with is depending on me to get things write. To not fall apart during the run up to publication, to stay on schedule, to manage our goals and deadlines, to, to, to…

I’m going to fail them. I know it. I know it the way I know the sun rises in the east. Because for all that I’ve healed and grown and fought back, I don’t think ever really recover from a childhood of emotional abuse.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

So yeah. There are definitely times I catch myself looking around for the exit sign. This is one thing left in my life where I am legit scared of failing. And times like this summer when I couldn’t do fuck all for months at a time, they don’t exactly help.

We are slowly getting back on track. I finished the Once Upon a Green Rose cover and am making progress on the cover for Kindle a Fire. Deadlines and schedules have been updated since we pushed the publication date for Green Rose back into January.

I should (please God!) have the formatting for Green Rose finished by Oct so Desy can send it out to book reviewers. (Contact her if you want a review copy.)

And, if we can keep the momentum going, we’ll have two books out early next year. Fingers crossed.

Now, where’d that valium go…

Needed: Polyamory & Kink Rewrite

So…. I mean, the title kind of says it. For the second time, I need to take one of my polyamory on purpose books and do a major re-write just as I thought I was finishing up. So… Polyamory & Kink…

Similar to the major re-write of Safer Sex a couple years ago, what triggered it was recognition of what I wasn’t saying. In this case, somewhat embarrassingly, I found as the book went on, I was saying almost nothing about polyamory. It had become a kink 101 book.

Now, being honest, I actually know very little about what is out there for kink 101. I learned my kink mostly the old fashioned way (from other folks in the Scene) or the Millenial way (from forums and blogs). Not at all from books. For all I know there are no books out there covering kink 101 and such a book would be desperately needed.

But… that isn’t my schtick, you know? Maybe one day I will write the books on kink, and autism, and queerness, and all the other ideas ideas I’ve toyed with from time to time. But for nearly a decade now, my focus has been on polyamory, and I’m not ready to give that up.

So What Went Wrong?

I’m back at the drawing board, as it were, and I think I see where I made my mistake. I took the approach of introducing polyamorous folks to kink. I should have been focusing on how to make kink work in your polyamorous relationships.

With that in mind, I’m starting over from page one, reviewing everything I’ve already got, rewriting as needed, and restructuring, well, quite a lot.

The ‘good’ news is, I actually have some measure of self awareness by this point. So I built an two and a half months into my writing schedule. Like, literally. I use an online app called Pacemaker (highly recommend) to plan out my writing schedule. And I said, “I want the book finished by Dec 31, but let’s plan for me to finish by Nov 30.” Then I plugged all my data into Pacemaker and it said that at my planned rate of progress, I’d be done by mid-October!

Fingers crossed, there’s a good chance I’ll still be done by the end of December.

Want to Watch the Polyamory & Kink Rewrite as it happens?

I re-started by old Patreon page. If you want to see the draft of P&K as it’s (re)written, hop on over there and become a patron!

Not Sure Where to Start…

So much has happened over the past few weeks, there’s so much I could say or focus on, that I’ve been spinning my wheels not sure where to start.

So…Most of what’s been going on the past month has been centered on family, farm, and me.

Family

The big family thing going on, I really don’t feel like I can talk about. It’s not my thing, it’s big, it’s life-breaking, and it’s the foundation of most of the family. We have plans to deal with it, and no one is in immediate danger. For me, personally, it’s sent my PTSD through the roof and occupied way more of my thought and function than I can afford and still keep up with regular life stuff.

And that’s in addition to…

The start of the school year is probably the hardest part of the year for my household, and the family as a whole.

Honestly, sometimes I wish that school just lasted the whole year, without the summer break.

Why?

Because autism.

Somewhere around half our family is is might be autistic, including three+ kids. The transition from summer schedule to school schedule is…. really really rough.
And rougher than usual this year because of this thing mentioned above.
So we’re going into a new school year with a lot of extra stress and problems. Which obviously doesn’t help.

Kid 1, Kidling and I had a nice visit with Nana for most of a week. Nana is struggling even more than I realized with being homebound and just not having anything to fill her time. Later today Michael will be bringing a pile of yarn over so she can start crocheting again (and yes, I will be introducing her to Ravelry!) If anyone has suggestions for things someone in a wheel chair with not much in the way of things (ie, books, games, computer, etc) can do, that would be awesome!

Plans for Boston fam to move down to where my household is have been modified thanks to the big thing, but may end up happening sooner than originally planned, which would be a silver lining to this fiasco.

Farm

I’m taking my fourth stab of the year at growing plants from seed. The first attempt failed because the area wasn’t well ventilated and mold started growing in the soil.

The second because executive dysfunction messed with the watering schedule.

The third because after I found a way to water with string irrigation I ran into lighting issues. It turns out having a window on the opposite side of the room from the grow light when you can’t turn the grow light on as soon as the sun comes up can cause some issues.

Unfortunately, the set up I had with the string irrigation wouldn’t fit in any of our windowsills, and we don’t have any place with enough ventilation that wouldn’t cause conflict between the sun and the grow lights.

So…

I picked up a handful of seedling pots (the last Walmart had in their almost-abandoned Garden Center), and tried just placing them right in the window. I started with four marigold seeds. After some fumbling, I found the best way to water them was to put the pots in a small bowl of water for a few minutes. For some reason this is easier to remember and less stress on the executive dysfunction than using a pitcher. Don’t ask me why. But since it’s better for me and better for the plants, I call it a win.

Two of the marigolds sprouted, two didn’t. No idea why, but I went with it. When I was sure the two unsprouted ones weren’t going to make a late appearance (and after we got back from Nana’s), I pulled two seeds for a green apple and planted those. One of them sprouted this morning (you can just barely see it toward the outer edge of the left-most pot). The other… well, we’ll see.

We aren’t allowed to have window boxes here. And besides, it’s going to be getting cold soon! So I’m hoping that once the plants are established, they’ll be alright with the grow light. We’ll see what happens. I may need to rearrange things in the apartment. I’ve got a side table by my desk that is right by one of the south facing windows. The table currently has a printer on it, and the window a heavy curtain (screen glare is a pain). But I may be able to rearrange things to work better…

Me

I’ve picked up my crochet hook again for the first time in a year or more.

In the last week or so I’ve added 10 rows to this, which is close to half the total. I goofed the pattern, using blue instead of black there at the bottom. But I’m thinking of leaving it this way. I’m at the mid-point, and I thank having the pattern reverse in the middle will work well.

Oh, what is it?

When it’s done it’s going to be a cowl. So I can keep my neck warm and my head covered at the same time 😉

I stopped doing crochet because it felt like it was making my anxiety worse–I’ve had a pattern of repetitive motions that I need to think about doing that. The reality, I think, is that they don’t make the anxiety worse so much as create space for the anxiety I’ve buried to come to the surface.

But I’m doing a lot better now, and wanted to try again. Obviously, it’s going well.

I’ve also been making progress at staying in touch with people. Some folks who hadn’t heard from me in too long got phone calls or emails this month, and I think I’ll be able to keep up the pattern. Fingers crossed.

I am who I want to be (and that surprised me)

A couple of days ago there was a lot of talk on Twitter about autistic masking, and one corner of the discussion focused on how hard it can be to find yourself after you’ve masked for so long you forget who you are under the mask. During that discussion, I became consciously aware of something that I had been slowly recognizing for a while now.

Okay, if you missed the backstory, in January I did a series of posts about life goals. One of those posts was When I Grow Up I Want to Be HER. I acknowledged at the end of that post that,

It embraces things which have always been core to me–family, connecting with and learning from people, taking care of folks I love, music, being a home-body, not liking in-person socializing. But it also challenges me to grow, not into something different, but into a more capable, confident, comfortable version of who I am now.

But I still saw ‘her’ as someone I needed to grow into, and I realized, that’s not it.

I already am ‘her’

Or at least, I would be her, right now, almost no growing required, if I had the resources and health to do everything I’m already trying to do right now. I am the center pole of my family. I am in contact with friends across the country as often as my health and sanity allow and the only reason I haven’t pursued a closer connection with some folks I know across the globe is our mutual health and spoons makes it difficult to stay in touch beyond an occasionally ‘glad you are still alive.’ My home is as full of books and music and fresh baking and everything else I want as I can manage. I even got a bread machine so I can always have fresh bread, whether or not I have the sanity to manage the kneading/rising cycle myself.

Everything I wrote about wanting to do or have — I am doing and do have to the best of my ability right now. And if I had the resources (primarily money and health), I’d be doing even more.

So… yeah.

Growing into me

The biggest differences between who I am and who I want to be mainly come down to experience and confidence. And, well, you get confidence from experience.

It’s the first time in my life that I can say, I am who I want to be. I still have a lot of healing and growing to do. But I am the person I always want to grow into. That’s…

Seriously awesome and kind of scary. Because that means it’s time to stop working towards a future self, and start focusing on being who I am today to the best of my ability.

Or, to pull out an old cliche, time to spread my wings and fly.

It’s gonna be epic.

In, you know, a down home, introverted, fresh bread and butter kind of way.

Adventures in Zucchini Bread

We got a couple of zucchini from the foodbank last week. Initially, I had images of salads, stir fries, maybe breaded and deep fried… there are so many things you can do with zucchini. But two things came together to change that plan. First, I was still recovering from burn out and just didn’t have the energy to stand over the stove. Second, we were out of bread. So yesterday afternoon I popped on the internet to find some good zucchini bread recipes.

I found a few that looked promising, in particular, one yeast bread meant for bread machines and one quick bread. Based on the amount of zucchini we had (all of it starting to get a bit spotty), we went ahead and made both recipes. Unfortunately, I, ah, kinda forgot to read each recipe through in detail before we started.

When meant that my network on the Fediverse got to see my rant midafternoon yesterday:

zucchini bread rant
Seriously!

While I was measuring out a ridiculous amount of sugar, Michael was adding grated-zucchini-gone-yellow, rosemary, and yeast, to the bread machine.

Eventually we got everything finished and started cooking. The quick ‘bread’ finished before the yeast bread (obviously). I let it cool a bit then dumped it out of the pan. I will say that it baked well, nice solid loaf that came out of the pan cleanly and held together well. But it looked way more like carrot cake than any bread I’ve ever eaten.

Michael got the first slice and declared it delicious, and rather like pumpkin bread. (I’ve never had pumpkin bread, but took a quick look at the recipe. Another ‘bread’ with a ridiculous amount of sugar, clearly meant as a snack or dessert. I repeat THIS IS NOT BREAD!!!!) Kidling and I split a slice between us and… yeah. neither of us took more than a bite each. For me, the taste was okay, but the texture was just impossible. Don’t know what kidling’s issue was, but kidling eats just about anything we put in front of her, so her not liking it was a thing.

Michael finished the last of our slices, the rest is wrapped in the fridge to be shared with friends and family so Michael doesn’t end up eating the whole thing on her own.

The yeast bread didn’t finish until late and just got wrapped up until morning when I decided to try a slice for breakfast.

My first thought when I sliced it open was ‘am I having a memory blip?’ This zucchini bread just looks like bread. No sign of zucchini or rosemary. Just a regular slightly-lighter-than-usual whole wheat bread. I want the flavor as ‘natural’ as possible, and I need to go food shopping anyway, so I keep it simple, some butter slathered on top and some raisins on the side.

OMG. This bread.

This is just moist enough, somewhere between fluffy and chewy, with a subtle savory flavor that…. UMMM.

I can probably give this bread to Kid 1, who is notoriously picky, and he won’t even notice it isn’t ‘normal’ bread. I can use it as sandwich bread, toast, bread crumbs, for dipping in soup, all the ‘usual’ bread stuff. (Which is exactly what I wanted.) And it’ll actually be better. Not ‘practically eating air’ with store bought bread. Not ‘so chewy you get your exercise eating’ with regular whole wheat bread. And better tasting than either. Just… yum. *happy sigh*

According to the recipe site, it you figure the cost of the ingredients, this zucchini bread is $2.49 per loaf. Which means even with the zucchini and rosemary and sesame seeds (and those last two are pretty damn expensive per pound) it’s still cheaper than store bought. Not as cheap as a regular whole wheat loaf (for comparison, a basic whole wheat bread from the same site is listed as being until $2). But still cheaper, while being healthier, better tasting, and easy to make.

Win-win-win.

*happy sigh* Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some bread to eat.

I Hope I’m Not Starting a Dumpster Fire

As mentioned elsewhere, I’ve got that collection of short stories coming out this week. One of those stories, A Hole in the Pack, has a situation with very ambiguous consent.

At the end of the story, I invite readers to consider whether the… initiation ceremony David goes through to enter his new family is consensual or not.

Now, I have strong feelings about consent and the complexities of it. And even stronger feelings about how we don’t actually talk about the ins-and-outs of consent nearly as often as we should, instead throwing around sound bites and assumptions lacking heavily in nuance.

So… for folks who read/have read A Hole in the Pack, I invite you to use the comment section here as a discussion space. Share your opinion, respond to other folks, let’s see — not if we can come to an agreement, but if we can come to an understanding of the many different ways to view this situation.

Obviously, comments will have spoilers. I’ll put up a comment with my take on the 31st.

Warning: Moderation may be erratic (due to spooniness), but comments will be heavily moderated.

  • Commenting is a privilege. This blog is my space and you are allowed access to comment at my discretion. If you have a problem with this, feel free to start your own blog with your own comment policy.
  • Your first comment must go through moderation before being approved. After this comment is approved, new comments will be auto-approved unless you give me reason to revoke your commenting privileges.
  • Personal attacks of any sort will be deleted and you will be blocked from commenting further.

You can pre-order Whips & Fangs on Amazon and elsewhere. If you don’t want to wait, you can read A Hole in the Pack now, by joining Jess’ Pack.)

With that said:

A Hole in the Pack Discussion below!

 

I Refuse to Be Futile

When I was a child, I used to dream about being the next Martin Luther King, Jr. The next Rosa Parks. The next Victoria Woodhull.

I was going to be a world-shaker, one of the people who refused to accept the horrors of the world and forced the world to change rather than changing to live within the world.

Over time, as I learned more about myself, and about the world, I accepted that this was one dream that couldn’t be. I don’t people well enough to be in the forefront of any movement, my anxiety and autism mean just taking part in a march, never mind leading one, would be impossible. And God knows I will never be respectable enough to be anyone’s flash point in this mad world.

So I turned my eyes to smaller versions of the same goal.

I would be a thought-leader in the polyamory communities. A writer whose fiction grabbed  minds and changed hearts. An online educator who helped people see and understand experiences and life-paths they had previously dismissed or denigrated. A homemaker who created a safe place for at least some of the people who have been chewed up and spit out by this world. A foster parent.

So many dreams. Some of them, I made progress towards, perhaps achieved in some small way. Many others are still on my to-do list.

But in all my dreamings, my hopes, my plans, my goals, there was one thing I never imagined I might be:

Futile


I have never written directly about politics on my blog or website. Indirectly, yes. The personal, after all, is political. I can’t write about being polyamorous, or bisexual, or non binary, or having trans partners, or disability, or mental illness, or poverty, or, oh, any number of other things I have written on, without there being politics lurking beneath the surface.

But as the ancient book says,

To everything there is a season.


I pride myself on my words, but words fail me.

How can I encapsulate the journey that brought me to this point? Where do I start? What do I say?

Because the truth is, that if you are in the US, and you follow politics at all, you know what this is about. Whatever your reaction, your thoughts, your beliefs, you can’t have even the most peripheral knowledge of what is going on in the US right now and not know. You’ve heard of it, seen the reports, had your own thoughts about concentration camp vs internment camp and who to believe in the ongoing political PR battles.

But, in the end it comes down to just four words:


Never again is now.


I have been tortured for weeks by one thought:

What will I tell my children?

Years from now, when they ask me what happened, when the ask me why, when they ask me what I did — what answer will I give them?

I cannot march. I cannot stand in blockades. I can’t even give much in the way of money.

But every time I find myself agonizing over this question, I find something else I can do.


Today, I am asking you:

What will you tell your children?

Years from now, when this is all over, what will you say?


If you disagree with me, and yet have continued this far, thank you. I know it is a hard thing for many people. You have your reasons for feeling, for believing as you do. I’m not going to dismiss that. Or tell you that believing I’m over-reacting or exaggerating makes you a bad person. Politics have gotten so angry, so many people have been crying wolf, and it’s so hard to know who and what to believe.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t the next step on the road to genocide.* But I ask you to seriously consider something:

If I am wrong, what is the harm in taking steps to ensure that detained children have medical care, decent food, and decent shelter? Even if the effort is wasted, is the cost so very high?

If you are wrong, what is the harm in not taking those steps? Is the cost of being wrong one you are willing to pay?

History always has the best quotes, so I’ll borrow this one, said on the eve of a long ago civil war:

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

*Did you know that at first the Nazis only rounded up foreign Jews? Invaders, job stealers, disease carriers… do you know enough of the history to understand why the words used about (illegal) immigrants and asylum seekers are physically painful to those of us who do know it?

If you want to do something, but don’t know what you can do, here are a few things:

Call your congress critters and urge them to increase funding for immigration services.

Election year is coming up. If your congress critters or representatives are running, let them know that concentration camps and fear mongering are not acceptable in the US.

Donate to Raices and other groups that provide free and low cost legal services to asylum seekers.

Learn about the immigration process and share what you learn with friends, family, and on social media. (Did you know that an asylum seeker not only can but *must* enter the US before they can apply for asylum? “To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.” — USCIS website)

Learn about the concentration camps and share what you learn with friends, family and on social media.

Contact your local government reps. Some states, counties, and cities have contracts with ICE. Urge your local government to cut any such contracts.

Get with the leaders of your church, school, company, etc, and see what your community can do to fight back.

Get out there and take part in those blockades, marches, and other in-the-wilds activism. Take an extra sign for those of us who physically or mentally can’t get there with you, but are there in spirit.


I refuse to be futile. I can make a difference.

So can you.