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The maxim goes – almost exactly something Voltaire said but a concept that dates in record to Aristotle and Confucius – that the perfect is the enemy of the good. I’ve been practicing blogging for the past week or so, and I have the document ten pages long and full of over 6,000 words of talking to myself about my fears and blocks, getting out what’s too personal to put on the blog.
I want to get back to blogging in a totally different way. I’ve been holding back because of what I call “The perfect,” or the idealized form of what I want to write before I write it. I want to write about many things, most of them political. I find myself ranting in my head, thinking about how I would phrase each sentence and structure each paragraph, but I don’t follow through. I remind myself that I am very self-critical, and I have valid excuses to not have been writing very much for the past six months, like that I’ve been taking care of a really ill partner, and I started a second job as a deli clerk in that time. Finally, though, I feel that I am ready to balance those things and get back to writing on my blog as well. What I want to change is that I usually write aimlessly for thousands of words before I write anything that I feel is worth publishing, waiting for months to feel inspired by something I’m working on. Instead, I want to free myself to publish even what isn’t my best.
While I’ve been taking a break from the blog, I have still been writing a great deal. I spent a lot of time writing by hand in my journal, and filled over 100 pages in that time. My old computer was slow and buggy, but I now have a working keyboard that actually records each letter accurately as I type, on software that doesn’t crash or take extra steps to navigate. I have my sponsors to thank for giving me a 2019 full of generous gifts that have altered my entire way of living. I have furniture now, and a new computer, and equipment for recording high quality videos. I want to fully utilize these resources to create in the upcoming years, and I’ve had this new computer for less than a month, but I want to get back to blogging now that I have it. It’s just a matter of being decisive enough to pick topics from among my notes and getting to work, and one of my biggest struggles is indecision.
This is generally the part where I stop and distract myself from the task, to be quite honest. I am a master of writing in circles without getting to any real point. I hate the way it makes me feel to be writing what feels like nothingness, yet another entry to file away in the not-good-enough pile. Today, I’m determined to begin an everyday practice. Today, I choose to look back on the last ten years, even though it’s cliché at this point because it seems like everyone else is doing it. I’ll pick something else to talk about tomorrow.
2009. This is the first picture I have of myself on my Facebook. One thing hasn’t changed, I’m still a writer. My laptop ten years ago was a white macbook, because my dad was really into Apple products and idealizing Steve Jobs. What I remember about 2009 was being on TV for the second time with my family, this time for a show called “The Secret Lives of Women” for ABC’s WE-TV channel. The episode my family was on was called “Born to Breed” because my parents had so many kids. Being 17 made me feel very grown up for an inexplicable and subjective perception of the number, and I felt like I should wear jeans that flared a little and choose cute shirts, but I was very self-conscious about my body and felt that I should be very modest in my appearance and loyal to god in my very thoughts.
Image description: In this picture I’m in an airport under blurry gate numbers, typing away at my laptop. My long brown hair is pulled behind my ear, I’m wearing rectangular glasses with metal frames, and I’m smiling at the camera.
2010. In this picture I’m dressed in a light blue blazer over a black dress, wearing the same glasses, and my hair is pulled back into a simple partial bun over loose long hair. I’m standing and addressing a row of judges at a homeschool speech tournament (the judges aren’t in the picture), with my right hand raised. This was for a speaking event called “Apologetics,” in which students were expected to research questions of theology and present defenses of our religious beliefs. In this category, even then I was raising controversial questions about the bible and the supposed nature of god. The more I researched Christian theology, the more contradictions I found. At this point in my life, walking away from the religion altogether was impossible, so I started by rejecting certain details of theology that didn’t add up. This was just one of several speech and debate events I participated in between the ages of 12 and 19, for as long as it was possible to compete in the leagues (NCFCA and Stoa) that I was in.
2011. In this picture I’m holding my newest and youngest baby brother, Elijah. He was the 16th child in my family, and after my two oldest sisters moved out, an impossible amount of responsibility was on my shoulders to help raise and educate my younger brothers and sisters. Even at 19 years old and starting college, I was incredibly ignorant about human rights issues and marginalized people, knowing only that I was expected to get married and have dozens of kids myself.
Image description: I’m sitting at a desk in my bedroom, with a bookshelf and a row of speech and debate ribbons along the walls behind me. I’m holding a very young newborn baby with wide blue eyes. I’m wearing oval plastic-rimmed glasses and I’m smiling sidewise at the camera.
2012. Even though I’d finished high school, I was still debating as a coach at my dad’s camps. I was responsible for many management and odd tasks, including being a lecturer and coach. A lot of people ask me about what having an education surrounding debate was like, and I’m working on a whole chapter on the subject in my memoir. I told myself that I enjoyed it, but the truth is that I was so sick of it by the time I was debating these rounds, I was dissociating and have little memory of my last few years of debating. My dad liked to call debate “the homeschool sport,” and it was something of a sport, which required intense focus and training of my mind to perform and think a certain way. Speech and debate competitions and camps were the main reason we traveled anywhere throughout my teenage and young adult years.
In this image I’m back to the wire rimmed glasses, long brown hair draped over my shoulders as I write intensely. I’m wearing a black vest and bright shirt under it, and I’m writing with intense focus with a red and blue pen (these were a signature product in our bookstore).
2013. Most of the pictures I have of myself are at these speech and debate events, and this is yet another one. This beach was sequestered off a cliff at one of our camp locations, and I climbed down with a few other coaches for a brief interlude, where I begged my little sister to take some pictures of me. In this image I’m trying to look happy for a profile picture, but at this point it was beginning to dawn on me that I was trapped. I was in college, but my parents weren’t helping to pay for anything, and I was being made to feel like a freeloader despite doing the majority of the caretaking for my siblings. This was a few weeks before I’d be kicked out with my little sister.
Image is of blue-gray rocky shores surrounding me, standing at the shallow edge of the ocean, waves gently washing over my bare feet. I’m looking off to the side and smiling weakly. I’m wearing that same black vest, this time with a gray shirt under it, and rolled-up jeans.
2014. This is the year when everything started to change for me. I was finding my feet, had a part-time job, and I dropped out of college. My dad really wanted me to stay in school but expected me to do it without any real support, which I found physically and mentally impossible and financially unwise. I dyed a bit of my hair bright red. I was still expected to show up and babysit for free, and got lectured if I visited and didn’t help with the housework while I was there. I took this selfie in front of a house where I was renting a room for a generously low price thanks to a friend who took my sister and me in the day our parents kicked us out.
In this image my brown hair is dyed red in the front right side, and on the other side I’ve braided a red ribbon into part of my hair. My glasses are rectangular and plastic now, and I’m wearing braces, which I got so late in life because they were part of a charity and required community service from me.
2015. Many things have changed at this point in my life. I’m no longer in contact with my family. I missed my siblings so badly that I decided to continue working with kids, so I worked as a nanny in the spring school semester of 2015, and then as a wilderness camp counselor that summer. I’d left my Christian faith behind and now identified as an atheist. I knew that I was bisexual and had come out online as such. I was reeling from the shock of coming out of a traumatic situation, and this work kept me busy. Late in the year, I would have my first experiences with psychiatric drugs and polyamorous relationships.
This image is of me atop a mountain, eating a green apple to make me look like an asshole, with rows of mountains stretching out below me. I’m dressed in a beanie, sunglasses, a blue windbreaker, jean shorts, and climbing boots.
2016. I don’t have very many pictures of myself from this point on because there hasn’t been much to photograph – living in a car or in a basement doesn’t make for great photography, and that’s how the next few years were. 2016 was the beginning of my current relationship, and my partner and I had a few parks we loved to frequent, and this one was taken of me in the top of a tree at dusk. The lighting is dim, but the tree branches look black against a soft blue sky, and I’m looking up whimsically, my long hair appearing dark over a blue jacket, the rims of my glasses barely visible.
2017. This was a hellish year for us. It was the year we move to Texas to avoid being homeless again. I was practicing witchcraft for a while to help me get through how difficult it was to rely on unfriendly people for survival, then to be isolated in a place where we didn’t know anybody, but would ultimately abandon the practice as useless the following year. Here I am in the home of someone I once trusted, who gave us a packed closet to live in for a few months until we could get a car and place of our own.
Image description: A photo of me in low light in front of a plain wall and off-white window blinds. I’m wearing plastic rimmed glasses and a sleeveless pajama top, and looking over my shoulder into the camera. My hair is dark blue, and looks almost black in this light. It is pulled over my left eye for an emo appearance, but mainly that’s to cover the blue spot of dye that lingers on my forehead.
2018. This time when we were homeless, I felt a lot more prepared for it and like we were at least in a place where people would care for us. I took the below selfie during this time, while I was working out of the garage where my partner and I slept on a stage block for a couple of months until we found a place with roommates nearby. To my surprise, we’ve lived in the same place since summer 2018, making it almost two years that we’ve been stable.
Image is of me with my head tilted to my left, smiling and looking up at the camera. I’m wearing wide plastic rimmed glasses, my hair is long and brown with hints of purple and red, and I’ve got a big grey coat on. Behind me is a wire fence and some green trees beyond it.
Bonus picture from my birthday on 2018. Image is of me, wearing a low-cut emerald dress, my messy brown hair hanging loose with hints of my last color – dark red and purple. With my right hand, I’m finishing a cigarette, and with my left, I’m flipping off the camera. I have a smug, unimpressed look on my face, traces of smudged mascara, and dirty plastic-rimmed glasses. I’m sitting on a lawn chair in front of a white fence.
2019. Stability is a new thing, and it took all these years to finally reach it, with the support of sponsors who helped me make rent and buy necessities and who gave me furniture to help me put down roots. Here I am after working a shift at my deli clerk job. Life is not perfect and things aren’t okay, but I’m far ahead of where I was ten years ago.
Image is of me in front of a bookshelf full of books and some folded cardboard boxes. I’m wearing big plastic rimmed glasses and am smiling widely at the camera in selfie fashion, and my long hair is all brushed to the right with the left side of my head shaved, naturally brown on top and colored black starting halfway down to the bottom, partially curled at the ends. I’m wearing a big soft purple blanket hoodie.