Tag Archive: children

I spent much of the morning today thinking about artichokes. Working on my forthcoming zine, Oyster Lexicon.

In case I haven’t already described it (my understanding of this project has evolved over time, so I might have written about it before in a less specific way) Oyster Lexicon will be an alphabet of me (aka Lainie the Oyster) and A is for Artichoke. I have an artichoke drawing, a recipe, and artichoke mix…originally I thought I would just do 6 letters of the alphabet per issue, but it’s starting to seem like I might be doing 1-3 letters per issue, what with all of the artichoke media I’m going to gather. The zine will also be fully or partially full-color. I’m still debating about the size format. It will be hand-lettered (no computers will be used in the creation of the pages, but I will be scanning the hand-drawn/hand-lettered pages to do the layout and MIGHT do some computer editing after that.)

I’m super excited about doing a zine again. I had started to do one years ago after a trip to Chicago, but never really sustained an interest in it (though I do still have some great pieces that I was going to include in that zine that I might use for my “C is for Chicago” pages of Oyster Lexicon.) My plan is to put out the zine, as well as postcards and maybe notecards with the illustrations I’m making for each letter. I’d love to encourage people to send out actual mail, so I feel like making things that other people can use to brighten up the mailboxes of friends and relationships will accomplish another goal.

It’s been a long time since I last put out a zine, so I’m not entirely sure how I will do distribution. Ideally, I will be able to get some advanced orders to help fund the printing and mailing of the initial print run, which will hopefully continue to (mostly) fund any additional print runs. It’s not like I work at Kinko’s and can get free copies anymore. Speaking of which – do I still know people who work at Kinko’s and can get me a deal on copies? 😉

Etsy? WePay? Amazon books? iBooks? How are people promoting/distributing zines these days? If anyone reading this can give me any advice/suggestions, I’d really appreciate it.

In other news –

My new rhythm of days is working really well for me. I feel like I’ve achieved a pretty decent balance of internal/external time, and I’m making time for art and education as well as day-to-day practical things. I’m a little less worried about completing everything on my list, and am working on finding chunks of my week where I can just forget about time completely and focus on a task until *I* feel done with it, rather than when a clock tells me it’s time to be done with it. I still need to work on eliminating distractions and focusing on the task at hand (as evidenced by the fact that I got caught up in several facebook discussions during the writing of this blog post.) but I do feel like I’m spending the time I have doing things that are important to me, or essential to my family and community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dating, and how people without children maybe don’t really grasp the challenges in the lives of single parents – particularly custodial parents. Primarily, it’s odd to me how even very kind and understanding people can misunderstand how much of a financial and logistical burden it is to be the custodial parent of children – even when those children are older and not in need of constant supervision. As a woman and a feminist, for instance, I’m not really keen on a guy always picking up the tab for me. As a single mother who is struggling financially, however, you are damn straight I can’t even afford dating unless the other person pays. I’m totally cool with non-extravagant dating. I’m especially cool with cooking in or creating our own DIY entertainment…but it’s really difficult for me to help people understand that my inability to pay for a date is not a “reverse sexist” thing, but a “financial necessity” thing…and if I was the person in the relationship in a better financial situation, I would definitely be the person who offered to pay, or I would adjust my expectations of what a date might entail to ensure affordability. It’s a tricky subject, and it makes me want to avoid dating rather than having to attempt to unpack it with someone. hahaha.

Also, my children are not baggage. It might be challenging to date a woman with children, but it is hopefully a net positive. Oddly enough, I feel like my children become more of a challenge to my dating relationships as they get older. When they were younger, they tended to be more agreeable and open-minded about accepting people into our lives. Now they are more set in their ways and can be resistant to inviting new people in, even temporarily. I’m sure it’s difficult for a man to come into my home and be shunned by my adolescent boys, but that is the way adolescents sometimes are. It might be more exaggerated in my household because I am not a strict authoritarian, and my boys have always been very free to express themselves (for better or for worse) – but it’s the way it is. It’s really up to the adults in the relationship to navigate these issues…and I seem to find men who want instant acceptance from people who just aren’t designed to be uncritical of new people in their lives. It takes time. It takes time. It takes time. And the last thing I need is to be this person who is trying to solely balance the needs of the children with the needs of a potential new partner. Guess whose needs are going to come first every time, guys? You got it – the non-adults! The ones who I am obligated to care for until they are able to care for themselves. Which, by the way,  might not be the very day they turn 18. It could possibly take longer than that. Because all kids mature differently.

I suppose dating as a single parent of adolescent boys is a good filter for me, though. It’s a lot more difficult to get involved in relationships and situations that are overly-complicated and require more of me than I should be expected to reasonably give. I’m just not capable of accommodating another person’s needs above mine or my children’s right now. It’s challenging for me, because my tendency is to accommodate. My tendency is to invite chaos. My tendency is to try new and different things, experiment, and see where they end up. And while I might be giving up on some things that might, after some work, end up being beneficial…I just can’t spare the time and energy to get there at this point in my life. I require a partner who is able to give more than take right now. I require a partner who accommodates me, more than requiring me to accommodate him. That FEELS selfish to me, but it’s reality. It’s where I am. And, really? I’m fucking worth it! hahahaha.


Under the Moonflower Tree

Under the Moonflower Tree

A lot of discussions about rape culture and consent have been happening  lately. This story, though, was I think the first I’d read written intimately from the honest (though not very redeeming) male perspective about the subtle nature of consent. It made me think about situations I’ve been in, and how appreciative I’ve been about the boys/men in my life who understood boundaries, however confusing and passively enforced on my part…but also how overly-forgiving I have been about some men who have not been so understanding. How easy it is to take the blame. And how fucked up it is that I walk around feeling appreciative of people for NOT violating the most basic boundaries, rather than feeling absolutely freaking outraged about those who have.

I want to be clear, this is not regarding any experience I have had in my recent past. Lest anyone think of accusing anyone (or themselves) of wrongdoing. I’m pretty sure those who have overstepped are well aware of who they are, even if they refuse to admit it to me. BUT…to be fair (probably more fair than I need to be, but considering I am the mother of two young boys – probably necessarily fair, if only as a cautionary tale) what occurred to me today is that our culture sends so many messages to men and boys that tell them silence is consent, as a parent it is imperative to actively counteract that culture. NO MEANS NO, for sure. But so does “I don’t think so,” so does shying away, and so does silence.

This is why I’m so thankful for a post that I read on the blog Silence is not Consent about talking to children about consent. This morning, after I read that short story, the kids and I had a good discussion about consent. We talked about consent not being limited to the first time you have sex with someone; that it’s something that needs to be renewed before (sometimes even during (thanks for that reminder, K.)) each encounter. We talked about the fact that long term relationships, including marriage, are not implied consent. We talked about how “talking someone into” sex is not consent. We talked about safe words. We talked about enthusiastic yes(!) And I was reminded by a friend later in the day that most of us can perceive when someone is not enjoying him or herself. Sex should never be a compromise. It should never be “giving in.” It really should be something fun and eagerly approved of by all participating parties for the duration of the act.

My children responded: Mom. We are the children of a feminist single mother – I think we know all of this stuff.

But I didn’t let that stop me. hahaha. Because I would really hate to be the feminist single mother of a son who managed to grow up without a VERY CLEAR understanding of consent. So we also talked about validating the experiences of those who approach us to communicate difficult feelings about sexual encounters with anyone, including ourselves…and seeking to heal, rather than defend. In my opinion (and this might be difficult for others who have had any experience on the spectrum of what I’ll call sexually questionable behaviors) it’s entirely possible for someone to inadvertently violate the rules of consent. Or at least ignorantly. We live in a culture that so frequently projects fucked up ideas of what is and is not healthy communication with regard to sexuality, and within which so little is offered in the way of useful sex education, is it a wonder that we are confused about healthy boundaries? As difficult as it is to do so, I find myself empathizing for men who have crossed a line, almost as much as I empathize for women who aren’t experienced enough to understand that not saying no is not the equivalent of saying yes, and therefore blame themselves for whatever emotional damage they incur from not only the non-consensual experience, but the ensuing self-doubt that often occurs.

In short, as the mother of boys, it is MY responsibility to continue to make sure all of this is absolutely crystal clear. It starts with me. And that responsibility is where I start to heal.