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Guest Post on Praying the Rosary

Woo hoo! I got to write a guest post for Carly Gelsinger‘s series From Grape Juice to Red Wine, stories of people shifting from mainstream, conservative, or fundamentalist evangelical to “high church” liturgical traditions.

I had the chance to meet Carly in person at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference a couple of weeks ago.  She’s really cool, the sort of person who makes you feel like you’ve known her forever even though it’s only been a single weekend.  She has a way of putting people at ease with her warmth. The coolest thing was finding someone else who shared my own experience–that of choosing (rather than having it forced on us) a conservative evangelical path before finding our way out again.

I’m excited to add my voice to the conversation, especially because it echoes my own journey so well.  Go check out my post, and while you’re at it, give Carly some bloggy love on her other writing.  Happy Friday!

Housekeeping, Honesty, and Changes

I promised I would post more about the Faith and Culture Writers Conference, so I’m back with another post.  I could tell you about the almost magical experience of having my eyes opened to new ways of thinking about my writing and the practice of writing.  I could go on forever about how good it was not to feel alone in some of my feelings about writing.  But there is one big thing I learned about myself that pretty well overshadows the rest, if only because the rest falls into place after understanding it.

Here it is: I discovered that I have a lot of trouble being honest with myself as a writer.  I’m pretty good at knowing what I’m feeling, even if I don’t always handle myself well.  But when it comes to writing, I still doubt, second-guess, and let shame and fear hold me prisoner.

Those are things I need to let go of.  I’m tired of the emotional drain of holding back because I think someone won’t like the real me through my writing.  Oddly, I don’t fear people disliking me the person–life has shown me I have nothing to worry about there.  People like me or they don’t; it doesn’t bother me either way.  Yet as a writer, I still want approval in some way.  I’ve seen it happen time and again that people become the devil incarnate for writing something that someone else doesn’t like or agree with.  It’s this tendency to put people on pedestals and then have our hopes dashed when they turn out not to be perfect.  I suppose I would rather have people see me as flawed first, rather than hating me later because I ruined their image of me.

While I was at the conference, I missed an opportunity to use my writing honestly.  I volunteered for an exercise, and our charge was to write an obituary for one of our fictional characters.  Instead of writing what I wanted to, I crossed it out and started over, using humor to cover my insecurity that what I had wasn’t good enough or might offend someone.

I’m done with that.

I realized that I’ve been hiding my fiction writing from my regular blog audience by keeping it compartmentalized.  Sure, I link to the occasional stories or snippets of my work-in-progress.  But it’s still in its own space, a gap between that and what I write here.  I told myself it was because they’re too dissimilar.  Fiction can’t possibly belong here because the first “rule” of blogging is to have narrow focus.  In reality, I just didn’t want to have to share it and be vulnerable that way.

As part of my move forward, I need to be able to share what’s inside me.  My fiction doesn’t stray far from my passion for a more loving, inclusive faith as expressed here.  Years ago, a friend said that when I was ready, I should “keep open house with my heart.”  That’s what I want to do.

Next week, you’ll see some changes.  First, I’m combining my other blog with this one, and I’m going to change the look of the page.  This is temporary; I’m in process of creating my own piece of Internet real estate in the form of purchased hosting.  I have a lot of reasons for this change, not the least of which is my own readiness to move forward with my writing.  That will take a while, and when it’s ready, I’ll let you know what’s coming.

Second, I’m going to begin using the name under which I plan to publish.  This is not dishonesty; the name still belongs to me, and I’m reclaiming it as part of my identity as a woman and as a writer.  I’ll be using my initials and my birth name.  I promise I’m still the same person.  My legal name is still important to me as it relates to my connectedness with my family, but my family is not who I am.  I need that separation from my label as WifeMommy.

For those of you who have subscribed, liked my posts, commented, and followed me, many thanks.  I hope you’ll stick with me on this road.  Further up and further in, my friends!

Faith & Culture Writers Conference

So, I did something.

I put on my grown-up pants and flew across the country for the 2014 Faith & Culture Writers Conference.  About six weeks ago or so, I had a mini-meltdown.  I was feeling utterly burned out and frustrated, and I needed a change of scenery.  My husband suggested finding a conference to attend.  I tweeted that I was looking for something, figuring maybe someone would know of one within driving distance.  Jessica of Faith Permeating Life suggested the FCWC, so I looked it up.

It was in Newberg, Oregon.

I actually laughed out loud because the idea of flying alone across the country to meet a bunch of people I only know online was completely absurd.  Right?  Turns out not so silly after all.  My husband practically hovered over me to make sure I didn’t chicken out as I registered.  He booked my flight and my rental car while I took care of the hotel.

Was it worth it?  You bet–every minute.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that the best part was meeting a bunch of pretty awesome people from blogging, Facebook, and Twitter.  Forgive me for name-dropping, but it was incredible seeing these people face-to face.  Believe me when I say they’re as cool in person as online.  Besides Jessica, I spent time with Natalie Trust, Carly Gelsinger, Stephen Carter, Aaron Smith, Kate Schell (who is definitely one of my favorite people to have met–she’s just a really neat person), Emily Maynard (whose breakout session on speaking up was outstanding), Ben Emerson, Justin Hanvey (who graciously forgave my frequent introverted awkward silences), and Micah and Sarah Murray.

One of the highlights of connecting with so many wonderful people was the chance to chat with Sarah Bessey.  If you’ve never met her in person, one thing you need to know is that she is every bit as terrific as she seems from her writing.  I had the privilege of driving back to our hotel with her after dinner on Saturday night.  In the car, she asked how I ended up at the conference.  I confessed my emotional drama and how I had desperately needed a break, and instead of thinking I was weird or oversharing, her response was, “Of course.”  Two words that made my feel about as validated as any lengthy blog post could have.  If you ever get to meet Sarah, you’ll see what I mean about the kind of person she is.

I promise to write more another day about the conference itself and why I came back changed.  For now, I’ll sum it up by saying the trip was one of the best decisions I’ve made in ages.  Here’s hoping I can make an annual trek somewhere to meet and talk with my fellow writers.

I’ll be back later this week to write more about the conference.  Tomorrow, please check out my other blog, where I will have another piece of my work-in-progress.

Some housekeeping and a writing project

I know, I know.  I promised I would get back to blogging.  But I’ve been wrapped up in another project, which I’ll share with you.  For the last few months, I’ve been working diligently on . . . a novel.  In case you didn’t know, I keep a second blog where I post mostly fiction with an occasional book review or post about writing.  For about a month, I’ve been participating in WIPpet Wednesdays (WIP = work in progress) with a wonderful group of writers from all over.  The link-up is closed for this week, but if you’re interested, you can join in next week.  I always post the link in my WIPpet posts, but I’ll post it here, too.

Now for some links for you:

Here are this week’s WIPpets (link-up is closed, but do go and read them–they are wonderful!)

This is the writer who hosts WIPpet, K. L. Schwengel.  The link is on the right side of the blog.  Just in case I’m silly (like I was this week) and forget to link to it.

Here’s a link to all of my WIPpets since I started.  They list newest first, so I recommend scrolling down to the first one and reading them in order.  It doesn’t really matter, but they are chronological to the story.

This is the series I posted this week for my fiction blog, inspired by one of David Hayward’s cartoons (linked in the posts).

Happy reading!  I’ll be around occasionally.  I’m hoping to finish a good chunk of editing on my novel and on a secondary project this weekend so I can get back to snarking about Fifty Shades next Monday.  I’m rethinking how I want to do that–I may stick with finding the worst lines per chapter and mocking them because that was far more fun than going through the whole damn thing and trying to summarize it.

Have a great rest of the week.  Catch you all later!  (Er, “laters, baby”?)

How Plato ruined everything

All right, maybe “everything” is a bit of an exaggeration.  Still, I’m convinced that Platonic notions color so much of our culture (not just Christian religion) that it’s hard to know where to start.

I suppose a word of explanation as to why I’m thinking about this is in order.  I haven’t blogged much this fall; there are several reasons why not that I won’t go into here.  One of the reasons, though, has to do with online politics and the constant pressure to get it right.  It was a crisis of correctness, I suppose, that led to my on-and-off writing over the last three months.  I blame Plato for that, too.

In an ideal world, life would work like this: No one would ever be distracted by the appearance of another person; every act of justice would take into account every possible situation and person; and no one would ever get off on picturing themselves licking whipped cream off a naked celebrity.

We don’t live in that world.

The problem with that world is that it doesn’t exist anywhere except in the heads of would-be online philosophers.  In all things, there’s some imaginary line that Must Not Be Crossed when it comes to behavior.  It might not have overtly religious overtones, but there’s still the same message:  If you don’t do things right, you are flawed.  Broken.  Damaged.

Instead of learning respect and consideration, we end up with the same fears often instilled by our religious communities–that we are not good enough and must seek to work towards this imaginary standard to which no human can measure up.  How many seconds is too long to stare at someone’s half-undressed body?  Which fantasies are okay to have when masturbating?  How carefully do we have to phrase things to make sure someone disagrees with our views and not our word choice or tone?

There’s no answer to that outside the heads of a few people who have styled themselves the Gatekeepers of Blogging.

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other night.  He’s been taking a philosophy class–don’t ask me the details; I’ve never had much interest in that sort of thing.  I didn’t entirely follow everything he said, but the gist of it was that some people live in the realm of ideas and some people live in the realm of practicality.  About eighty percent of people are in the latter group.  The difficulty I see is that (at least on the Internet), the other twenty percent often see themselves as being at the top, and the rest of us should conform our practical existence to fit into the theories they’ve developed.

Well, screw that.  I can’t live that way.  When I started writing, it was because I was in a religious context in which I felt that there were specific people being marginalized (namely, LGBT people) and that the church had it dead wrong in how to care for them.  I remained anonymous for about a year and a half.  When some of my Christian LGBT offline friends began sharing my writing (not knowing it was me), I told them.  At that point, I decided hiding was a disservice to people I love in my non-bloggy life.  If they were out, why shouldn’t I be public too?

Note that I never said I blogged because I had some Magic Words of Wisdom on the church and LGBT people or any other issue regarding church teachings (which I also covered).  Honestly, I just wanted those I love to know that, and I wanted anyone like me who might be an ally in enemy camp to know they were not alone.  Practical purposes, people.  Nothing philosophical.

I recently stopped blogging as much because I had started to feel the same sense of “not good enough” that I’d had for over twenty years in the church.  I couldn’t blog about LGBT issues and the church because I didn’t know enough about intersectionality.  And other people who needed my support.  And not tagging every post on social justice issues as triggering (because, realistically, every post could trigger someone for something).  And not actually being LGB or T myself.  And not criticizing progressive Christians correctly.  The list goes on.

That, right there, is Platonism at its finest: There’s a right way to blog about these issues, and you’re not doing it.  There’s often a sense that the critic doesn’t actually know what the right way is, just that one must exist.  Well, no.  There is no hypothetical idealized advocacy.  There are some things that get it decidedly wrong (go research Human Rights Campaign, for example;p see also the Good Men Project).  Most of the time, though, it’s a matter of different people wanting or needing different things.

Another serious problem with forcing advocacy into a Platonic ideal is that the vast majority of the time, the people pushing it at the rest of us genuinely believe they have it right and we have it wrong.  There’s no sense that they might also be falling short of an unnamed ideal or that their particular philosophy might not be the best version because it still leaves some people vulnerable.  It’s an unfortunate reality that there are people out there who simply do not care about hurting people they think are in the wrong.  I’ve seen things get pretty ugly when one person gently explains why they need a particular type of ally and another person says the equivalent of, “That’s the wrong thing to want” rather than, “Tell me more.”

I spent several years deconstructing my faith.  I’m now in process of reconstruction, and there are some great people I can trust along the way.  Deconstructing social justice advocacy feels pretty similar.  I’m disappointed with the online community in a lot of the same ways I was disappointed in the church.  Before someone gets all heated about it, I’m not saying that social justice movements are abusive.  But are there abusive, powerful people within them who want to control the rest of us at any cost?  You bet. (“No! I don’t want to control you!  I just want you to get it right, dammit!” is, in fact, controlling–particularly when the person saying it does not belong to the group for which they are advocating.)  Those are the people I’m trying to steer clear of.

There’s no way to know where this will end up.  I don’t want to stop writing, but some days, I think I have no choice, at least when it comes to blogging.  I do know that it won’t change anything in my everyday life; my loved ones will still know they can count on me.  As for the online advocacy police?  There’s no reason I should care about their Platonic ideals.

Passive Peeve

I’m going to stray off topic today, because this is my blog and I’m in that kind of mood.  So, I’m going to talk about writing.  Specifically, I’m going to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves: People who edit badly because they’re too rules-bound.

I volunteer for a beta-reading web site.  For each chapter or story, the moderators assign two readers.  This week, I had the misfortune of being paired with one of my least favorite fellow betas.  I was the second reader, so I got to see all his comments before mine.  I should mention that this guy is frequently a complete jerk.  This is the same person who thought Wikipedia was an appropriate source to correct my use of upstate New York lingo.  Dude, I live in New York.  I’ve been upstate many, many times.  I worked in the system I’m writing about (education), and I’m married to a teacher.  Wikipedia?  Really?  Some of us have an affectionate nickname for this beta which I won’t repeat here.  Suffice it to say, he’s one of the people I would like hand over to the woman who wants to punch people in the throat, or maybe Jenna Marbles could just tell him where to get off.

Throat-punching lady and Jenna aside, my problem with this particular assignment wasn’t just this guy’s beta-reading personality.  No, he did something that is increasingly making me want to throw things at the computer screen: Correcting “passive voice.”  I can’t believe how many people–including professional editors!–have no idea what passive voice actually is and choose to correct anything that even looks like it could be.

The Jerk highlighted two paragraphs of the piece we read and commented that the passive voice “stood out” in them.  First of all, out of seven sentences, only two were questionable.  Second, neither needed correction.

In the first instance, it wasn’t passive voice.  The writer had used a legitimate verb tense, past continuous.  Past continuous is important–it distinguishes between discrete events and ongoing actions.  In the case of the story, the writer described several characters entering a room to find someone sitting in a chair.  Using the past continuous verb form, “was sitting,” informs readers that the person did not sit down when the others arrived but had been sitting and continued to do so after their arrival.  It’s an entirely appropriate phrase, and it is not passive voice.

The second sentence was legitimately passive voice:

A door opened in the wall.

Doors don’t just open; a person, the wind, or some other force has to act upon the door.  However, the above sentence is good use of passive voice.  Active phrasing, “Someone opened a door in the wall,” wouldn’t have worked here.  It’s boring.  Telling us that a door opened is mysterious.  We, the readers, do not know who or what opened the door.  This is a situation in which we want a less active phrasing in order to draw the reader into the story.  The door opening as the result of some as-yet unknown force builds tension and intrigue.

Which brings me to why this makes me so ragey.  When we–as writers or editors–become so focused on not breaking the rules, the writing becomes constricted.  Grammatical rules can be broken under the right conditions.  Provided we know and understand the “official” way to structure sentences, we can bend words to suit our purposes.  It’s what separates good writers from great ones, and good editors from great ones.

New school year, new leaf

By Ktsquare from Canada (Autumn canadian maple in Ontario Canada, own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. I picked it because I like maple trees, I like red leaves, and I like Canada.

An hour ago, I sent my big kid off to his first day of fifth grade.  As I type this, my newly-minted third-grader is playing brain games on the computer, gearing up to start school at home.  She’s already had her first dance class of the season (big brother’s is today).  In less than a week, Girl Scouts and piano lessons begin, followed by music lessons and band practice.  I’m already two weeks into orchestra rehearsals.  Yes, I can tell it’s a new school year.

Which brings me to my blog post for today.  I had in mind how I was going to roll this week.  Today is my first official day back on the job–blogging, editing, and keeping up with life in general.  That was blown out of the water when I posted yesterday and nearly 17,000 people viewed, shared, and commented on my post.  I honestly wasn’t expecting that.  I am in awe, and I want to say thank you to everyone who was part of that.  I even received several personal messages and emails.  You, readers, amaze me in all the best ways.

There’s no way to follow that up with anything nearly so brilliant–at least, not immediately.  Stay tuned, though, because I might say something awesome and snarky and intelligent at any moment.  I’m stealthy that way.  I’m sure I learned that from having kids and from having to tuck that part away for so long in conservative religious circles.

Anyway, the big thing I’m doing is cleaning things up a bit.  Not here–I plan to be my regular old self on my blog.  I want to be more authentic, though, and to do that, I’ve needed to clean up my social media.  Over my vacation, I discovered that a big source of my distress whenever going on social sites (Twitter in particular) was my fear that I was going to say something and piss off the Royal Gatekeepers of Activism.  I’m not honestly sure what I thought they could do to me, other than possibly make me cry (they’ve done that to others) or gossip about me (yep, done that too).  I couldn’t place what it was, though, that kept me trying to fit in there.

And then it hit me.

I grew up with a parent who had unpredictable mood swings.  I have always been drawn to unpredictable people and situations, because it feels familiar.  On vacation, I learned that such vacillation isn’t actually normal.  Huh.  Go figure, right?  So I’ve now excised the scary, unpredictable people from my life.  I stood up for myself.  I pushed back on another blog.

It felt great.

My next order of business is going to be to message several people who I’ve hurt deeply in my quest to stay on the good side of the Pretentious Activist Brigade.  I don’t actually expect forgiveness, but I hope for reconciliation and a future of mutual respect.  Caring for people who I’ve personally hurt is a lot more important than trying not to offend total strangers on the Internet.

I hope all my lovely new followers will stick with me.  In case you’re new and didn’t know, I like to shred the Fifty Shades series on Mondays (once a week is all I can handle of that trash).  I link to my favorite posts of the week on Fridays, and I try not to link to already-thriving blogs (unless I know the blogger; I do enjoy posting my favorite Naked Pastor cartoons, particularly since I consider David a friend).  If you are a blogger, feel free to shoot me an email or a comment with your blog link and tell me which post you’re most proud of this week.  Similarly, if you’ve read something you liked, let me know so I can read it too and link up.  Between Monday and Friday, it’s a hodge-podge, but I mostly post about issues of gender, sexuality, and faith.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for making yesterday so fabulous.   Now, go make it fabulous for each other!

 

Looking for Super Girls

This post is a bit lighter than my last one.  It was written for the Creative Buzz Hop; this week’s theme is “Superheroes.”  If you’d like to join us, write your post and link up at either Pen Paper Pad or Muses from the Deep.

I was a little disappointed to see this week’s theme, superheroes.  After all, I’ve never been much of a fan.  I don’t think I’ve been to a superhero movie in the theater since Spider-Man 2, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one at home in that long either.  Neither of my kids is much into superheroes.  So what the heck was I going to write about?

Even though I have some thoughts on comics, superheroes, and geek culture, that didn’t seem appropriate.  It’s true that there is a distinct lack of super women, and the women in comics play a wide range of “stand by your man” (even if it means death) roles.  I’m put off by the skimpy costumes on the women and the disgustingly large muscles on the men.  I could probably write forever about that.  On the other hand, there are already some women writing about those things who have more of a vested interest than I do and who can speak to the issues better than I can.  I’ll leave them to it.  It also occurs to me that lots and lots of people love superheroes for a variety of reasons, and I’m sick of the feeling that we’re all being policed for our choices in books, movies, and television (see my post yesterday on why, sort of).

Where does that leave me?  It leaves me with the one “superhero” my daughter actually likes: WordGirl.

Yes, people, I know it’s a PBS kids’ show and it’s meant to be educational.  But come on.  Who wouldn’t like something that, in the last year, has helped my daughter expand her vocabulary by several hundred percent?  Besides, WordGirl has an enemy called Lady Redundant Woman.  What’s not to love?

For those not familiar (probably because you don’t have any kids under age 10 in your house), WordGirl is an alien from the planet Lexicon who lives with an Earth family and goes by the name Becky Botsford.  She has a sidekick, a monkey named Bob (or Captain Huggy Face, when he’s in full superhero sidekick mode).  WordGirl fights villains such as the meat-slinging Butcher, the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two-Brains (his second brain is a mouse’s), and the conniving knitter, Granny May.  The whole show is just such campy fun.  The best part is that WordGirl is a strong, smart, and capable role model.

The show’s writers have created one of the most likeable characters, appealing to kids of all sorts.  The feminist mama in me rejoices that there is a fantastic television girl out there that is relatable for both boys and girls, something sorely lacking in a lot of our culture.  At a time when so much of kids’ literature, television, and toys are separated into boy and girl categories, we have a show with a main character that appeals to everyone (even mom and dad).

I know my daughter’s time with WordGirl is limited.  It won’t be long before she wants to watch things she perceives as more “grown up.”  Maybe someday she’ll be interested in more mainstream superheroes; maybe she won’t.  Maybe the culture will have changed enough that we’ll see more and better options regarding women in superhero comics and movies; maybe it won’t.  For now, she and I can enjoy watching Word Girl and learning something new–and hoping that once again, WordGirl will protect Fair City from the likes of Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy.

______________________________

For the very curious, you can see what I’m talking about:

A Moving Target

By ange Embuldeniya from Somewhere… (Stop Cyber Bullying Day Uploaded by Doktory), via Wikimedia Commons

Warning: This post may be triggering for people who have grown up in abusive homes or churches, particularly when there were unclear expectations, or for those who have been harassed/bullied (online or off).  Also, it’s long and kind of ranty.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write today.  I’m feeling a little burned out.  I still love writing, and I still love talking about things that need to change in American evangelical Christianity.  But right now, being part of the blogging community doesn’t feel like a hopeful pursuit.  I’m not going to leave, as I believe I still own my words and have things to say.  But it’s hard to put my feelings into words these days, especially when I’m seeing online friends experience bullying by other bloggers.

I’ve been complicit in this because I haven’t wanted to be victimized myself.  This is probably understandable, given my long history with bullying.  When one has the appearance of having made it to the cool kids’ table, who wants to go back to being the outcast?  I was horrified when I realized that I was doing the very thing I’d experienced for years.  I stopped, and the repercussions were immediate; I lamented that blogging can feel like middle school all over again.  Some of my fellow writers, who happen to have encouraging online blogging personalities, really helped me feel better, and I started thinking about the power dynamics.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the rules keep changing?  Years ago, I was in a friendship like that.  The other person–I’ll call her Lulu–had a long list of expectations.  Disagreeing with her was never a simple matter of saying, “I disagree.”  She wanted me (and others) to use specific words and phrases.  If we made a mistake in our language, she would refuse to respond to our concerns until we rephrased things “properly.”  It could even result in weeks (or, in one situation, years) of being ignored or complained about.  This would have been annoying on its own, but what made it worse was that the line kept moving.  She would change her mind about what she wanted or how she wanted it on a regular basis, or she would add rules on top of rules.

It took me a long time to extract myself from that friendship.  I kept telling myself that it was me–I wasn’t a good enough friend; I was overreacting; her abuse wasn’t that bad; I would have the same issues in any relationship.  When I finally left, I discovered that there are people out there who like me for me, not for what I can do for them.  Friendship means being allowed to receive as well as give.

I experienced similar situations at home and at school growing up.  I never actually considered my home abusive, but my mother was highly unpredictable and could be volatile under certain circumstances.  When it came to peer relationships, the ones that always left me devastated weren’t the kids nasty from day one but the friends-turned-bullies.  The worst part was the inconsistency–the unpredictable nature of the abusers.  Which version would I have that day?  The kind, gentle loving person or the monster?  The friend who invited me to sleep over or the one who turned around the next day and told everyone that she made me eat candy she’d put down her underpants?  The mom who baked ten kinds of Christmas cookies or the one who spent the entire holiday raging and crying, holed up in her room?

That is how I feel about the online world.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit the bulls-eye.  I receive praise and encouragement from fellow writers.  Other times, I feel like I can’t keep up with the shifting expectations.  Every time I turn around, there’s a new thing I’m supposed to say differently in order to demonstrate that I’ve properly heard and understood something.  Just when I think I’ve gotten it, the target moves again.  For example, I thought I was doing pretty well as a parent, particularly in how I speak of my children on my blog.  Then along came some new rules:  Don’t say you’re proud of your kids because it takes away their autonomy.  Don’t talk about your kids’ issues because you’re speaking for them.  Actually, don’t write about them at all without their express permission, which of course you can’t get in writing because they’re not of legal age.  Also, don’t have any feelings about their needs at all because it’s not about you, despite the fact that you’re the one who has spent years learning to care for kids who have challenges or don’t fit in with societal expectations.

Seriously?

You know what?  I am proud of my kids, dammit.  And I do have feelings about raising kids with learning and behavioral needs–it can be emotionally and physically draining.  I will write about them because other than my husband, they are the two people I love most in this world.  The most common complaint I’ve heard is that if I think it’s hard to parent a neurodiverse child, I should try being one.  Know what I say to that?  Up yours.  Why the hell do you think it’s so hard to parent a child whose needs exceed his or her peers?  One reason is that we do know how hard it is for them, and all we do all day long is try to help it be less hard.  My kids tell me they feel loved, so I’m pretty sure I’m not screwing them up for life.

Writing about my kids is just one example.  There are rules for everything, including what words we should use (I’m not talking about proper terms for things or not using slurs or insulting phrases).  Today, one thing will be considered appropriate phraseology; tomorrow, another.  And through it all, the real problem isn’t so much the changing expectations but the fact that there are segments of the blogging world that have unpredictable reactions to the use of yesterday’s terminology–often on behalf of others rather than themselves.

That’s the thing I can’t do anymore.  I can’t follow all the rules, and I’m not going to try.  If someone wants to be pissy that I talk about what it’s like to parent a kid with ADHD (or even that I mentioned having one with ADHD), so what?  Be pissy, then.  Don’t like how I apologize when someone has told me I’ve hurt them?  Fine–go make amends your own way.  Think I’m not the perfect [whatever kind of] ally?  Then what you want is a robot, not another human being (and honestly, I’ve never heard this from people I’m being an ally to–only from other allies).

I know why I’ve spent so much time trying to fit in.  I desperately want to be accepted, and part of that is trying to offend as few people as possible–or at least those who seem like the cool, popular ones or the influential ones.  Today, I realized that I view everyone I meet in these terms–when will they stop liking me and start behaving erratically?  I’m done.  I refuse to try to contort myself for the sake of someone else’s unpredictability.  I can’t live like that.  I wasn’t able to maintain a friendship like that long-term, and I can’t maintain online relationships that way either.

None of this means that I will stop working for change or pointing out where we can improve.  But I don’t want to be part of an unhealthy system.  I did that growing up, I did that in my former friendship, and I did that at church.  At this point, I need to protect myself from further harm, and that includes not allowing myself to be influenced by my need to fit in.  This thing called life is hard enough without feeling like if I so much as twitch it might be taken the wrong way and I’ll get an earful of how I’m defending some terrible injustice even when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Maybe one day, I won’t feel the need to be on the inside anymore.

Notable News: Week of August 10-16, 2013

It’s been hard staying in a rhythm over the summer, with both kids and my husband home.  I’ve also had twice as many editing/proofreading projects as last summer, so that’s left me little time to keep up on my blog.  Along with that, we’ve had several unexpected things happen, including sending my faithful Nissan Altima to the Great Body Shop in the Sky.  I’m now the proud owner of an SUV.  I never thought I would say that–it really does make me feel like such a suburban mom.  Anyway, I may not have been writing much, but I’ve definitely been reading.  This week’s list is a bit short, due to my own limited time, but here are some of the things I really liked this week.

1. Penal Substitution

Anyone who’s been reading my stuff for a while probably knows (or has at least guessed) that I’m no fan of the penal substitution view of salvation.  This Naked Pastor cartoon nearly made me snort my coffee out my nose.

2. Too many to list separately

Registered Runaway is my go-to blogger when I feel like I’m just done being harsh and frustrated.  I have a pretty forceful personality, and that’s not going to change, but the gentle people in this world are a good balance and keep me from toppling over the edge into cyclical rage.  I couldn’t pick just one of his posts this week, so I’m just linking the blog and you can read them all.

3. Well, all righty then.

Simon Chan wrote this.  It made me wish I’d had time this week to write something scathing and witty in response, but buying a new car broke my sarcasm function.  Fortunately, there are other good writers on the Internet.  Check out these excellent responses: Women Are People, Too: A Conservative Baptist Take On Inclusive Language and Why We Call God Father: a response to Simon Chan.

4. Today’s short story

I just posted this on my fiction blog.  Haven’t put anything up there in a long time, so it feels good to add a new story.

I’m not sure how the next week will go.  I’m volunteering every morning at a summer camp, so it will be sporadic.  I’ll do my best to keep up, though.  Have a great weekend, everyone!