New Book Title: Music in the Dream House

I’m known for having fifteen brothers and sisters, narcissistic parents, an upbringing in a house of chaos, and an education rooted in fundamentalist religion. No, I’m not the only one. No, I’m not from the Duggar family on TV, but I have been on The Learning Channel and a few other spotlights.

One by one, my parents have kicked out all of their adult daughters, and have lived in quiet denial of my story. Their aim was to have as many children as possible, so that those children would participate in dreaming up a reality of their own making. It was a dream house, with no reality but what our parents wanted us to believe.

My oh-so-perfect family had hidden a life of misery under my very nose and commanded me to pretend that I was happy, and I obeyed. Recovering from the gaslighting was like waking up. So I’ve decided to go with the title “Music in the Dream House.”

The thought process behind this is several years in the making. Notably, the Duggar sisters wrote a book called “Growing Up Duggar” since I announced my tentative book title. I didn’t want my story to simply be a reference to another large family.

People want to hear a success story, a win for the underdog, and about triumphing over circumstances. My tone has always been a little different. See, I haven’t escaped. The nightmares haunt me to this day. My lack of education directly impacts my financial stability, which is why I live on about $12,000 per year. The outside world that I escaped to when I fled from my family feels like a much bigger cage. My understanding of what it’s like to start seeing through the cracks has made me incredibly skeptical. So Music in the Dream House will include quite of bit of discussion about science, psychology, education, and infrastructure gridlock.

I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs, and noting that my story is far more universal than just being in a big family. This year I finished “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” by Sue Monk Kidd, and both impacted me deeply. I loved singing and dancing in the title of these books, because it gave them an ethereal sense of stepping into a world of visceral feeling.

The themes in these books were also far broader than merely writing an expose about abuse and cult-like lifestyles. They encouraged me to sense that while my story has many unique details, my experience is not a spectacle, but a perspective on common experiences. Coming to terms with our childhoods and culture, religion and emotional development, relationships and illnesses – all of these are subjects I hope to treat with care in my book.

I’ve always written with descriptors from the music that has shaped my life. And I’ve always been a dreamer, and my siblings were dreamers, so the illusory nature of our reality in a world of sheltered gaslighting is naturally described as a dream. My parents’ book was titled “Love in the House,” which was a far-off dream compared to our reality. So I call it the dream house.

Writing this book has been slow. My draft document, with an innumerable amount of notes gathered as I think of them, is over 42,000 words of JUST NOTES. They aren’t complete sentences or stories. I had to make peace with the idea that it will not be a quick read. There is simply too much to tell. So far, the book has been an emotionally draining process, but rewarding in my trauma recovery. I’ve also found countless subjects that can’t be covered in a memoir and keep a constant flow, so I’ve been saving those notes for later projects.

If you’d like to support me in writing Music in the Dream House, you can find more details on my Patreon page.

‘Working from Home’ While Homeless

A very kind person has made sure that we aren’t sleeping on the streets. They didn’t have a room to spare, but on hearing that we were facing homelessness, figured a garage would at least provide shelter.

We hoped to save enough quickly to get a place to rent, but for six weeks now we’ve been sleeping on a stage block in that garage.

It’s become a little makeshift home, and it’s oddly the most welcomed I’ve ever felt in my years of forced wandering. Once my shock wore off, I had to accustom myself once again to the process of waking up each day. Being in the rainforest that is the Pacific Northwest has done wonders for our mental health. The air is cleaner here, the people are kinder.

For the past six months, I’ve been fighting hard to make writing my primary source of income. I’m a virtual assistant, a marketing content specialist, and a writer. The more I work at it, the better the pay and projects get.

Such work happens to be sporadic, so I don’t always get consistent paychecks. I generally research and describe products and services, still serving industries I ultimately find futile. Though my rapport grows with my clientele, I am living an odd irony of working from home while homeless.

People like me are seen as non-participatory in the workforce, so we don’t really count as unemployed or employed. I feel abandoned by the system as a rather privileged person. But my little chunk of injustice is only a taste of how many human beings are made to suffer. I am not angry for myself, but angry that my situation is so commonplace, so invisible, and so stagnant.

Here’s what I’m working on and how you can help:

Most authors don’t really involve their audiences until after the book is published, but because I’ve had so many people check in on me over the years, I want to reveal a little bit of the process. I’m putting up a full announcement later this week on where I’m at with my book, but you can read more about it on Patreon. It’s called Music in the Dream House (former working title Growing Up Jeub), it’s been four years since I started working on it, and much of the process is done. I’m finally ready to draft the proposal and full chapters. I have several agents picked out, and I will contact them once I have something they can work with me to finish and edit.

As for the blog, here’s what you can expect from my writings: Though the majority of my traffic flow comes from people who are curious about my family background, the majority of my reflections on child abuse and large families will be saved for my book. One aspect I’ll be discussing at length from my past, though, is in relation to current events surrounding homeschool families. Namely, the Turpin, Hart, and Allen-Rogers family cases have brought to light a very ugly loophole in homeschool oversight in the US.

Oh, also: last time I sat down to work on researching the details of inequality and injustice, I wrote a 30-page essay. I trust that you are all quite dedicated, but I want to break this information down into pieces slightly more bite-sized.

People who have been following my YouTube channel as well will want to hear about my religious stance, so, fine, I may also reveal some of what I’ve been working on in my practice as a solitary witch.

I want to finish this book. I want to post more on the blog. But unless I have more support for my own work, I must focus primarily on work for others for the sake of feeding this machine of capitalism that I cannot beat by turning its gears. Please don’t pledge if you do not have funds to spare. We’re in this together, and unfortunately the system demands a tax to be alive, much less to criticize it with candid content.

This is not a request for charity, this is asking a group of people to sponsor me in writing the content I’m endlessly drafting and piecing together, rarely with enough time to finalize and post anything. My aim is to treat my patrons with the respect of clients, people who are consistently receiving updates on what I’m working on, and able to answer polls about what topics are most interesting to them.

I’ve gotten this far thanks to the gifts and support of so many people, in unexpected times and places. Apparently there many kind people out there who want me to stay alive long enough to say what I am here to say. I am simply asking, will you support me so I can write?

Me, irl

I wake up and walk to a quiet oasis, sit down, load a bowl, and light a cigarette. This is my morning routine, it is the only medicine that calms my anxiety enough to work, and calms my stomach enough to eat. I’ll be putting in a few hours of work from my laptop after a high-protein breakfast. Then I’ll be walking down to the store or an appointment, and spending time with my partner in the afternoon.

It sounds normal and even desirable, but this is day 45 of homelessness for me. My partner and I thankfully have access to food, shelter, and friends. Friends are a luxury – I hadn’t visited with any in person in nearly a year. I walk most days or get rides, take a bus, or order a lyft, because we don’t have a car. I smoke because I haven’t seen a doctor in months, and it helps with the pain, the anxiety, and the depression. I’m out of meds until I get my paperwork together and work my way up a wait list. I paid for the protein drink and fruit with my carefully budgeted food stamps. The laptop was a gift, sent with no strings attached, six months after my last one was stolen. I don’t know where I’d be without this trusty laptop – I’ve never saved enough to spare funds for a laptop in the 18 months I’ve had it. The worry and guilt and wondering if we’ll possibly have enough to feel stable is familiar now.

My partner and I worked the anxiety out by vigorously cleaning the apartment. A kind supporter of my blog had sent us a big enough donation to get tickets out of the desert we’d felt trapped in for the past ten months.

We turned in our keys, barely nursed the car to be disposed before we carried everything we own onto what is known as hell on wheels, or a Greyhound. Over three days of travel, there are no stops long enough for sleep, or places to sleep, for that matter. My boyfriend keeps a watchful eye and watches the luggage while I smoke a quick cigarette. We check that the bus is still being prepared, and he takes his turn. By the time we arrive in the Pacific Northwest, I’m in a haze of exhausted mirth that there’s rain and tall, green trees in my rainforest home.

For the first week, I was in shock. This isn’t my first time being homeless, but my first experience of it was something I never want to face again. I slept on a friend’s couch for many hours, and switched between violent sobbing and stone-faced repulsion for life itself.

I thought I would die, surely I would die, if I had to face that horror again.

Of course, my not-at-all-white boyfriend called me out on my privilege, seeing as I so feared homelessness that it felt worse than death and made me fantasize obsessively about suicide. He’s been homeless many times, and he was gentle and caring as I spiraled, helping me to endure until the instability had become normalized.

It took several days of adjustment, but I realized I was not dead. I also realized I was not alone.

Realizing that life goes on, even when we feel like we’re going to fall too hard to survive, made me more determined than ever to discipline myself and pursue writing.

Or maybe I’m just off my meds? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

All year I’ve been trying to get to a blog relaunch, and my boyfriend has encouraged me to just say what’s really going on. But as with everything I’ve written about that strips away a new layer of my internet visage, I’m afraid.

I’m scared to reveal this to you, my blog readers, while also job searching and trying to put on a professional face for my professional success. But I’m tired of the pretense. Being brutally honest about my own insecurities has never failed to bring a sense of welcome to this little corner of the web.