on saving the world

Like many of the strong, ethical, wild-plant-medicine-witch, back-to-the-land women I know up here, I recently moved out of an off-grid bus and into a house in town. It’s funny how those stories come out when I open up about what I’ve been doing: “Yeah, we lived in a bus for ten years, we had a woodstove and the kids were all babies.” And this person did, and that person did too, or there was a cabin, with chickens and goats. They always say “But what the fuck Elliot, you can’t do it alone. You need someone else to help chop wood and carry water and watch the kid, you can’t do this shit by yourself.”

And they’re right. I get caught up in thinking I can do everything by myself, or I rely  on people who seem to be interested but who aren’t as committed as I am (because I can’t read the nuance of social interaction or anticipate other people’s desires when they’re different from mine because lol #autism).

I finally realized I’ve been really poor for a really long time, and it’s hard to give a damn about saving the world when you’re cold and tired and hungry and scared.

So we’ve all moved back to houses in town. We find the work that needs doing. I keep reminding myself I’m here to forgive myself. The mantra that has evolved from my internal conversations is “You’re here to sit the fuck down and forgive yourself.” Sit the fuck down.

Forgiveness for not raising chickens so I wouldn’t have to buy meat at the store.

Forgiveness for not understanding how autism and PTSD impact employment and intimate relationships, including parenting. Forgiveness for having those conditions in the first place. Not good enough? Forgive.

Forgiveness for failing as a farmer: for thinking I could do everything without considering whether I could do any of it well enough.

Forgiveness for believing I could think my way out of PTSD and autism if I just tried hard enough or stopped eating gluten or took reishi tinctures or whatever.

Forgiveness for making mistakes.

Somewhere at the other end of this is the focused and consistent effort necessary to join in the co-creation of the world we want to live in. This is a terrifying world to live in, and I can’t seem to escape constant reminders of how climate change is already impacting us, or the manufactured tensions between the US and Russia (are we trying to instigate a nuclear apocalypse?), or  whatever the fuck is happening with our rapist in chief. This world requires hard work. But you really can’t do a damn thing about it if you can’t see the high wall between you and that work. You can’t try harder if you don’t know what’s holding you back.

I’ve tried “acceptance” and I’ve always wrestled it away from quiet observation into action requiring change, I’ve shoved a few “shoulds” into there. Yeah I can accept that I’m ____ but I should be ____.

Forgiveness seems to just turn that off. Feeding those hungry ghosts. Just sit there and look at them.

Maybe if I can forgive myself all my bullshit I can forgive all of us for whatever mess we’re in as a species and then I can see clearly enough to do something about it.



words matter

I just spent two hours writing a hellacious long essay, complete with citations and references, contrasting autism with  physical disability and mental illness and other developmental disorders, focusing on the fact that Autism is unique even among developmental disorders (it’s a developmental disorder) because treatment is focused on making it more comfortable for other people.

But ain’t nobody going to read that shit so I’m gonna try to make this quick.

Somebody wrote a comment today on a family member’s Facebook post about my autistic son, and I’ve been stuck all damn day thinking about why that comment pisses me off.


So what the fuck exactly is wrong with this? It sounds like a compliment, right? People with “Asbergers” are “refreshing”.

Okay it’s a fucking problem because number one it starts out by assuming an us/them dichotomy. The author is neurotypical or they’d have said something like “Those of us with Autism”, and they assume the audience is also not Autistic, or they’d have said something like, again, “Those of us with Autism.”

Second this whole shit about being “completely trainable” what the fuck is that.

Do you think it’s okay to “train” a person who has a degenerative muscular disease to try really hard to use their legs? No, you get them a fucking wheelchair and a fucking wheelchair ramp. This is in fact enshrined in legislation through the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For fuck sake, there’s Braille on drive through ATM’s. Because folks who have physical differences deserve to have the physical world around them shaped in a way to accommodate their existences.

Folks with mental illness have a right to treatment through medication and therapy as enshrined also in legislation: The Affordable Care Act specifically. Mental illness is treated usually through a combination of medication and therapy, where the pills reduce the symptoms and the therapy teaches you how to cope with it. In some cases therapy teaches you how to change your patterns of thought and behavior which contribute to or exacerbate the intensity of the symptoms you experience as a result of your mental illness.

The important thing here is that intensity is measured by how it feels to the person with the illness, and treatment is designed to make life easier on the person with the illness.

In fact it’s not even diagnosed unless it causes you problems. You might have the “odd” habit of straightening everything on your desk into right angles, but it is literally not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder unless it causes you problems. I mean literally in the diagnostic manual it says the behaviors must “be a source of distress or interference with activities.”

Guess I couldn’t resist a citation. Anyway.

If it ain’t a problem, it ain’t a problem.

It really wasn’t that long ago that we were locking up and hiding away people with physical differences and mental illnesses because they made people uncomfortable but these days it’s pretty much understood to not be okay to do that shit any more.

Autism is a developmental disorder. While certain symptoms can be alleviated through medication (specifically, certain antipsychotic medications can increase flexibility and reduce the tendency to get stuck on routines or schedules), medication does not cure it.

There is no pill to make an Autistic person comfortable with eye contact if that’s one of their symptoms.

Autism is not caused by dysfunctional patterns of thought and behavior. While depression might be exacerbated by the belief “I am unlovable”, people with Autism are not literal in their communication due to an underlying belief like “I don’t deserve to use metaphors”. That’s just how their brains are put together.

The most common treatment for Autism, Applied Behavior Analysis, is very controversial because it uses reward and punishment to make the Autistic person more comfortable for other people around them.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an article from a respected source. 

ABA is controversial because you literally punish an Autistic child to make them stop hand flapping.

If you’ve got a kid whose neuromuscular disease causes repetitive movements you don’t punish them to make them stop because it bothers you. If you’ve got a kid who has seizures you don’t punish them to make them not have seizures. You might use medication to reduce the seizures because they’re fucking dangerous, but you’re not implementing treatment there because the flapping bothers you.

Even with other developmental disorders, like dyslexia, the treatment is to change the way information is given to the dyslexic person. A change in the external environment is the treatment.

Autism is unique within the category of diagnosed “difference” in that the most commonly used treatments primarily focus on making the people around the Autistic person more comfortable.

And that’s a fucking problem.

Because literally every other difference, the right to self-determination is essential. Except with Autism. When you’re Autistic, you don’t have the right for other people to change how they interact with you to accommodate your differences, like you have with dyslexia or as a person who uses a wheelchair. You don’t get to require other people to chill the fuck out about eye contact. You instead get punished until you make eye contact. That raises your stress level and causes you to stim to the point of self-harming when you’re alone? Doesn’t matter. Gotta make the neurotypical people comfortable.

Fuck all that shit.

We have a right to not be “trained” to interact in a certain way to meet other people’s expectations. We can both accommodate each other. My friends are fucking wonderful at this: they understand that I’m really literal in how I communicate and they adjust to be more direct with me. But they also tell me that they do this because I’m a fucking human and I deserve to be part of the conversation. To say “they can be trained” removes the right to self determination. If you’re my friend and you want to help, you can say “Hey, could I help you to learn how to better understand when people mean it when they say ‘It’s OK’ and when they don’t mean it?” And I can be like “That would be fucking great let’s talk about how that could work!”

I understand there’s a shit ton of variation here, because Autism is a spectrum, and some people on the spectrum literally are not capable of understanding communication or communicating in anything other than violent outbursts, and that is fucking tragic. But you know what? Some people with Schizophrenia are like that too, but you don’t try to “train” that out of them. With the exception of extreme cases where there’s an immediate risk of harm to self or others, folks with Schizophrenia have the right to self-determination regarding treatment for their disorder, and the focus on treatment is on making their brains work better for them. Because they’re people, and they have that right.

Autism is unique. The right to self-determination is removed, and treatment is focused on making non-autistic people more comfortable. And that’s bullshit.

If repetitive behaviors are causing problems for the Autistic person, like bruising caused by repetitive motions, then by all means, do something about that. But back to that comment.

“They’re completely trainable in the aspects of relating if you’re specific.”

Why the fuck did you not say “If you ask a person with Aspergers directly, they can often change their behavior to do what you asked?” What the fuck did it have to be “trainable?” I’m not a fucking dog. That phrasing hurts. It’s offensive, because it denies the participation of the person with Aspergers/Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you  modify your behavior to explain a request slowly and carefully and frequently, the Autistic person can probably learn to change their behavior. That’s how you involve the person like a human.

Training is what we do to dogs. But you know what else? Good dog trainers? If the dog isn’t interested, you don’t force them.

hippy problems

(trigger warning: rape)

We want to believe if we just straighten up and live right all our problems will melt away.

For a lot of us, that means living close to the land. It’s more than an aesthetic desire: it’s an ethical orientation. We’ve read Micheal Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver and Joel Salatin. We understand that food is a fundamental and primal method of connection and ritual and a means for social change and environmental justice. We use cloth shopping bags and recycle our (local) beer bottles and make things out of recycled pallet wood and worry over whether there’s glycophosphate in our kid’s Cheerios.

If we just straighten up and live right all our problems will melt away. For a lot of us, that means growing our own food and being as off-grid and sustainable as possible.

After college, I lived on an off-grid intentional community in the woods for two years. We were too far from town to drive in for work, and we weren’t an income sharing commune, so we needed to either generate income or have access to cash.

Mothers  lived there whose husbands worked construction or climbed trees with chainsaws, they co-parented with a divorced husband living in town, they worked online or had businesses of bodywork or alternative healing.

Sometimes folks lived there whose parents subsidized their lifestyle. I used leftover financial aid money meant to cover living expenses, and I tried to work. As a single mother with no co-parent, I’d have to pay someone to watch my son. If I worked on the land, I’d get paid the exact same amount of money I’d turn around and give to the babysitter. We all received food stamps (shh).

For a few months, my son stayed with an older woman in the big house I lived in with a dozen other folks while I worked out of town. They believed in me and I believed in us.

Eventually I realized I just couldn’t afford to stay, and I left.It took me a long time to realize I’d started with myself in the wrong place.

I tried to be a farmer. I tried to live off-grid, later, until the effort of making sure batteries were charged and carrying in water and not having enough income to afford the repairs on my space became too much to carry.

You want to be a farmer? Do you have $10,000 an acre for land (minimum), plus the costs of building a home, or 10% down and credit good enough for a mortgage? Do you have the money for all of the equipment and infrastructure you’ll need up front? Can you afford to pay all of your expenses (mortage, equipment, labor, tools, seeds) for the first year(s) while you’re not making money? Do you have an extra half a million just laying around?

I mean I know folks who made it work without that. And they’ll get angry if they feel accused of not doing the work themselves. And they usually don’t talk about how it works, or worked, for them.

Maybe their family owns the land, a hundred acres in the family for generations. Maybe the husband is a carpenter who builds houses. Maybe there was a cleverly written USDA loan or even a grant that bought the farmland and built the house. Maybe there was incorporation into an LLC and investment income from straight jobs for several years while living minimally in an RV park. Maybe they just had their shit together early in life.

Finally I realized everyone I know who lives the way I wanted to has some kind of hand up or hand out that I don’t have. Maybe that hand out was just good health and a clear mind and a wise partner. I made the mistake of not realizing I was poor.  I tried to live like money didn’t matter because I can make things with my hands and “make do” and put up with it.

Eventually I realized this door is closed to me, at least for right now.

I have disabilities that have caused me to be fired from a couple of jobs, and that preclude having intimate relationships (nobody’s gonna put up with this shit). Intersectionality is a bitch.

I’m still trying to shake off the hippy culture belief that mental illness is neither real nor valid and shouldn’t be treated with pharmaceutical medications. If you just lived in the woods in community and used the right kind of homemade plant tinctures you wouldn’t have depression or anxiety. Then again, I lived with people who believed “modern medicine” was contributing to the downfall of society and the destruction of the planet by preserving people who required resource-intensive interventions, like wheelchair ramps or oxygen tanks or dialysis or insulin. That’s called eugenics.

I have PTSD from domestic violence and more rape than I can count. The last time I was raped was at the big house on the intentional community, by someone I lived with there and loved. Friends there who knew told me it was an accident (yes, we both had too much to drink at a party) and to speak with him and forgive him. Yes, it’s my fault, because it was the only time I’ve ever been blackout drunk. When I realized how drunk I was I went to bed, he came with me.

Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I still remember waking up that night, intermittently coming to consciousness, his fingers in my mouth. Sometimes having sex with someone I love and trust there’s a familiar taste and I go catatonic, unresponsive, and the person I love doesn’t notice and doesn’t stop what they’re doing. Retraumatization. I don’t bother trying any more. It’s too much.

Most of the time I forget. PTSD impacts short term memory. I just fucking forget everything all the time: where I parked my car, why I’m in the grocery store, what I just said yes to at work. I write everything down. If I write, it exists.

Therapy? The most effective treatment for PTSD is EMDR. Guess who’s too much of a special snowflake to use EMDR, because bilateral physical stimulation / eye movements are distressing and distracting? Hey there.

Oh poor me. So sad. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. I’m such a fucking victim I even managed to get raped at a commune. Goddamn. It must be my karma. I must have to try really hard to be such a failure.

Around 9pm every night for the past year I usually text some friend or another: 9pm is the time suicidal thoughts start drifting through. I mean, it seems kind of reasonable when I tally up all my failures.

Mental illness is cool if it’s a meme on Facebook about awareness But we still carry this sense of revulsion and fear when we find out someone close to us has it. And that’s why I keep writing about it: because fuck all that. Especially lately, when I have a physical tick I call “retard hands” that gets me snickered at by other adults in public. Fuck all that. Other people carry things inside and you have no idea. Do you know me? Are we friends? I want you to remember, not about me because I’m not special, I want you to remember about EVERYONE you see every minute every day. The only thing I have left to give away is compassion. When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

We are all struggling.

Yesterday I posted a picture of my new apartment on Facebook and a friend commented “You deserve this.”

And that’s so fucking important to remember.

I can’t do any good until I can sit down and forgive myself all my faults and failures. I can’t do any good until I can show up and do the work, and if I’m bringing my problems into a situation I’m just burdening other people, often without realizing it. But if I don’t understand how I’m impaired and affected by illness and disorder, I also can’t do the work, I can’t do anybody any damn good.

Recognizing that I struggle with non-literal communication means I can make adjustments in communication rather than getting upset over not understanding, or upsetting others when I don’t understand what I’m expected to.

I didn’t know I was poor. I didn’t know I was disabled. I can “act like it doesn’t affect me” all I want but I end up blaming other people for things that happen because I’m different. I bruised my wrist during a panic attack a couple of days ago: it wasn’t the fault of the guy in the Santa costume, he was trying to be friendly, he didn’t know. Before I realized how I’m wired, when these things happened I would get angry and blame the other person.

These days I can sit with it.

Sometimes knowledge is how you let it go.



what failure looks like

It took me a long time to realize I was poor. I don’t know the moment I became poor: is it when I had to choose between food and putting gas in the car? Or is it the moment I realized I’d lived that way for so long that the choice had become normal?

For a long time as an adult I lived with partners. Together we weren’t starving or homeless, so I thought we weren’t poor. I thought I had enough, I thought I had what I needed. I thought I could give my son what he needed.

I saw people around me who lived earthy, connected, conscious lives, and I wanted to live close to the land, because I believe that’s how we should live. I wanted to express directly through my daily choices that I believe in fundamental interconnectedness. I had partners who believed too, or who were willing to tolerate line-dried laundry and backyard chickens and fermentation projects in mason jars all over the counter and cloth shopping bags.

I bought a RV and parked it at a friend’s farm and remodeled the interior and lived in it for a while. It was tiny and it felt good enough and safe. I tried to be a part-time farmer while working a full-time job. It left no room for things like parenting or self-care or relationships or friendships.

There was a gradual slide downward. I lost a job, and got another job, and lost it, and couldn’t afford to continue working on the RV.

I dated a guy, and moved in with a guy, and stayed sometimes out at the farm. He was from a wealthy family – but they never know they’re wealthy, do they? I remember studies that indicate people who are impoverished typically self-identify as middle class, and wealthy people typically self-identify as middle class. When self-reporting socioeconomic status we seem to be blind to our position relative to others. I got tired of the guy’s drugs and addiction,  and the way addiction is excused and tolerated in wealthy families who can financially cushion themselves from consequences. I left. I started wondering why I fail in relationships.

I started to realize the extent to which PTSD and autistic traits affect my performance as an employee in jobs that aren’t a good fit, and in relation to others: short term memory is impaired, I can be overwhelmed by too many noises and the close unpredictable proximity of strangers, I become unhinged without scripts and routines.

I realized the people I know who live the way I want to live had some kind of hand out that got them there. Maybe their parents own a hundred acres of farmland and lease them the part they farm on. Maybe their parents bought the house they live in. Maybe she married a a man skilled in construction work who took the wise step of acquiring a trade instead of student loan debt and supported her while she went to school for her MBA and they waited to have kids until all their shit was in a row.

There’s always something.

I threw away any handout I was given.

I made poor choices because I listened to friends who agreed with me and I didn’t recognize that I sometimes have tunnel vision in personal planning. It can be a strength because I can get things done, but it can be difficult to consider the ways in which one path can go wrong.

Lately my identity has narrowed to a few bright points in a sea of unknown dark:

I have failed as a parent. My son is nine and I wasted his childhood on myself: trying to get a degree, trying to do work I believed in, falling into a pit of just trying to survive while pushing him aside so I could think about groceries and packing his lunch for tomorrow.

I believe I’m not capable of intimate relationships. I do not understand subtext, subtlety, hints, or when people say the opposite of what they mean. It’s hard enough to ensure my son has scripts and routines and timelines for the day, and I thought that was a normal way to live, but it’s not. Normal people don’t need that. It’s unfair to expect them to cope with it. Sensory fatigue, literal fact-based communication, and PTSD make a relationship impossible.

Instead of farming and living with my hands in the dirt, I’ve moved into a world of clicking keyboards and number puzzles. I’m going  back to school for an Associate’s in Computer Science, attending a six-week Code Bootcamp in the spring, and working as an Accounting Assistant. I’m looking for an apartment that will accept my son and my dog.

Maybe someday I can buy a piece of dirt and put a tiny house on it and grow food, and bring in income through my skills with databases and code. But I can’t do that right now.

I have to just sit down for a while and get all the parts to work before I can push into trying to make change. It’s hard to care about the environment when you’re cold and starving and afraid and I can’t do anybody any damn good when I have to rely on a friend’s couch because I got kicked out of a relationship and didn’t have savings to fall back on.

Somewhere in here is hope, somewhere out there past the realism. I don’t feel bad about having failed. I just feel sad.

Fair Housing

Boone is a divided town. Maybe all of our towns are divided these days – I sit in the hip downtown coffee shop with liberal professors who certainly voted for Bernie, and I shop at Goodwill with the downtrodden impoverished  families who believed Trump was their savior. Taking the economic climate and the daily micro-politics of survival into consideration, it’s not difficult to understand either perspective.

The small, vibrant downtown is constantly under threat of being swallowed by the university campus, whose recent ascent in the world of football has, anecdotally,  brought more students from wealthier backgrounds into the town. There are few major employers : there’s the university, but good luck getting employed as a professor when you’re a local and if you do manage to get hired you’re lucky to be more than an adjunct. Christmas tree farms offer seasonal employment, backbreaking and cold. Ski slopes are the engine of our winter tourism industry, but climate change has shortened our long winters. It’s December and we’ve seen one light sprinkling of snow – this is a town used to slogging through a foot of snow from October to April. We walk outside in our shirtsleeves in mid-December, smiling for the warmth but afraid.

There’s a meat-processing plant that produces hams, there’s a small computer software company with clients throughout the U.S.,  and there’s a Christian charity organization offering phenomenal salaries and benefits but only to people who profess a faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and who agree to constantly evangelize and participate in office prayer meetings several times a day. Otherwise, work is piecemeal, with wages kept low thanks to students who will work for little pay.

It’s hard to be thirty in Boone. If you grew up here maybe you have family, but your friends probably left for better opportunities. If you came here for school, your friends probably left after graduation. The social circle becomes smaller as we age. If you have children you begin to see the abyss that divides our town: on one side are those who can afford to live here, and on the other side are those who can’t.

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development operates a program to subsidize rent for low-income individuals and families. Section 8 sets a yearly income limit for eligibility based on the median income in a given area.

The median family income for Watauga County for 2015 is $61,600.

Section 8 eligibility for subsidized rent is based on income and family size. A family of 2 (say, myself as Head of Household with my son as a dependant) has an “extremely low income” if below $15,930, a “very low income” if below $25,450, and a “low income” if below $40,750.

Section 8 splits the rent, requiring the recipient to pay a third of their income toward rent, with Section 8 vouchers paying the remainder of the rent up to a set limit, the “Fair Market Rent”. The Fair Market Cost of a two bedroom in Watauga County is $872/month. 

This is where it starts to get tricky. You can’t really rent two bedrooms in Watauga County for $872. Maybe you can rent a trailer, I’ll give you that. But that trailer’s probably a twenty or thirty minute drive from town, so then what are you paying in gasoline for transportation?

I have friends, two adults and a child, who lived in a tent in the woods while looking for housing. They currently rent a very small two bedroom townhouse for $650, with rent going up to $750 soon. You can find these places, but you might have to live in a tent in the woods for a while. A friend has an old trailer he could rent me for $500, but it’s half an hour’s drive from town and you’ll need four wheel drive to climb up the side of the mountain to get there.

A 2013 study found that there is a surplus of student housing in Boone, and comments that the combination of students and retiree/second home owners has driven up the prices landlords can charge, creating a shortage of affordable housing.

Friday afternoon I looked at a basement studio apartment. It was one room, smaller than any hotel room I’ve ever seen. It costs $550/month not including utilities, and there was not physically enough space in the entire apartment for me to set up two beds. Standing in the doorway you could touch both the stove and the bathroom door, and in two steps you’d be sitting on the bed. First, last and security deposit brought the total move-in cost to $1,650, and there wasn’t enough physical space for more than a single bed.

At $10/hour I have not been able to save $1,650 for first last and security.

I’ve been browsing rental ads for two months now and I’ll be damned if I can find anything else below $650 per bedroom. Most two bedroom apartments are in “student housing complexes”, privately owned, not part of the university dormitories. That’s $1,300 for two bedrooms, while the HUD Fair Market Rent is $872. There are houses for rent, but they’re certainly not cheaper.

While individual municipalities can place their own occupancy limits, Federal occupancy standards set the rule at 2 people per bedroom.  Legally I can rent a studio, an efficiency or a one-bedroom with my son. Additionally, refusing to rent a home to a tenant because that tenant has a child is a violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 – that’s discrimination based on the protected category of family status.

This doesn’t stop FHA discrimination from occurring. I’ve taken to recording any conversations with landlords (North Carolina requires one party consent), but I doubt a discrimination complaint would get me anywhere. Comments range from “Oh honey this is student housing, you don’t want to live here” to “We do not rent to families.” Sometimes they’ll quote me one rental price for a single adult, and then double it “if there are two people living there”, even though one of the people is a nine year old child.

Federal guidelines base the Fair Market Rent, as well as several welfare program guidelines, on the idea that a person should pay one third of their income for rent. In order to afford a Fair Market Rent of $872, a family would need to make $34,008/year. According to census data, the majority of the workforce in the Watauga County area makes less than $30,000/year, with 39% of the employed workforce making less than $20,000. This is far higher than the national average of 28%. I need to get tighter with this data by removing college students from the data set and also compare the data with and without the few major employers (university, christian charity, etc). 

My highest paying job was $14 an hour, or $29,120/year. I split rent with my boyfriend, each of us paying $450 to his parents to rent the upstairs half of a duplex they own. When I lost that job I had to move out because I could no longer afford to pay $450/month, and he could not understand how I could possibly be so poor. He has a master’s degree and a job in sales and an income of $36,000 and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, a family who own multiple vacation homes, a family who loaned him a hundred thousand dollars to pay his way out of criminal charges for growing marijuana. While we lived together, he told me his friends had said I should pay more for rent because I was responsible for two people living in the space. Having grown up in a world of relative wealth, all of his compassion couldn’t make him see that for me the numbers just didn’t work. He seemed to think poverty was something I had to try to do, some deviation from the norm.

I also  have a hard time believing in the poverty I inhabit. Right now I’m making $10/hour, and that slight decrease has made it nearly impossible to pay for two people’s needs while saving money for move-in costs. Every weekend I sit down and I “balance the checkbook.” I have spreadsheets tracking income and expenses. And it just doesn’t work.



I’ve given up on beauty. I have for most of this year simply had nothing left. I do not recall being this tired and broken for a long time, the motivation to dig myself out again is gone.


Here is one thing : a map of farms in the Charlotte area. Maps and geographical data are fascinating, and while exploring this question about Charlotte, I stumbled upon a government map of crop data, but only commercial crops. It doesn’t overlap with the agricultural statistics census and is based on an entirely different methodology.

I want to combine these two data sources into a single searchable map, integrated with property history data and soil tests.

No fucking reason, just because I can.

I want to investigate, and write about, the tradition of ethics in library science regarding information gatekeeping/freedom, and the use of user data, in comparison to the utter absence of a tradition of ethics in programming.

There is motivation, but it’s difficult to be brilliant when I’m not sleeping.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor. I’ve been spending a lot of time crying.I cut my hair off. I’m no longer carrying beauty. People at work who don’t know what’s happening tease me for looking  angry and unsociable.

Living with an addict carries similarities to domestic violence. While there may not be violence or anger or yelling, the constant lies create an atmosphere of hypervigilance- was he where he said he was? Did it really take two hours to come back from the grocery store? Finding the stash, dramatic display of him throwing it all away and saying it was someone else’s, finding it again, finding it again, finding it again.

That honeymoon period after, just like the honeymoon period after violence, where he promises everything will finally be perfect.

Invoices for fake urine for drug tests. Mutual friends are used to get drugs, get urine, use drugs, cover for him.

“I’m sorry” never means for hurting you, it means sorry for getting caught.

And it’s always my fault when I’m depressed, suicidal, emotionally not intimate in response to the constant environment of distrust. Always my fault for not trying hard enough. And when he cheats on me, it’s because my (vague) suicidal ideation (I’m not going to do it, it’s just there,a crushing part of depression)in response to an environment of constant crisis (including my unemployment and my homelessness) was too much and he wasn’t getting his needs met.

I wasn’t allowed to live in the house because I couldn’t afford to pay half rent after losing my job.

Nights freezing because I can’t afford to heat the rv and I couldn’t stay at his house because he had his fuck buddy over. Because I wasn’t good enough.I wasn’t meeting his needs.

Fucking someone else and lying about it because I’m homeless and suicidal. You expect me to think I’m not a piece of shit?

This year I’ve realized how strongly my disabilities impact my ability to function, that I am unable to determine when “it’s fine”means “it’s not fine”, that I’m vulnerable to charismatic ex junkies. I’ve been hurting for a long time and I’m very very tired.

I don’t know how I found myself here. I thought I was better than this.