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 We have been extremely busy lately.  The girls have started computer-based classes at Khan Academy, which eats up my computer access.  More importantly, Brighteyes has taken the ACT.  She got a bit confused on the math section, which lowered her grade.  She only made a 34.  Out of 36.  Nobody's complaining.  She started taking duel-enrollment classes at the community college this week.  The house is so empty in the mornings now.

A teacher in my husband's department died at the start of the spring semester, and the subsequent extra work load led to him being very overworked this year.

Owl has started piano lessons.  He may have the best ears in the family for identifying notes.  Unfortunately our piano teacher seems to have retired on us.

I tried to be a laid-back Mom and let them set their own pace, but they did nothing and then complained about not being able to sleep at night while they dragged themselves around all day.  This spring I kicked them out of bed for morning exercises and meditation.  They're sleeping better as a result.  But now that schedule has to be readjusted for morning class at the college.

After watching various local classes and fitness opportunities crash and burn over the years, I was shocked to find a tiny Shotokan karate class that had been going on for six months in a neighboring town.  The children and I signed up, and I am verypleased with it.  The teacher, whose kids are also in the class, is great with the children, who are all local homeschoolers.  It's wonderful to have someone else tell my kids what to do for a change.

Shotokan karate:  in the early 20th Century schoolteacher and karate instructor Ginchin Funakoshi stripped karate down to something that could be taught to young children in a grade school classroom.  In the process he also made it very easy for non-athletic adults to pick it up as well.  It didn't catch on in Japanese schools the way he hoped it would, but it caught on like wildfire in the rest of the world.  The teaching style is meant to reward and encourage youngsters, and it does a pretty good job with anxious grownups as well.

The karate proved helpful with Brighteyes in a most unexpected way.  When we started lessons I told my kids that learning martial arts had been on my "to-do" list for a long time, and this was the first opportunity I had had in a long time.  As the date for the ACT got nearer, Brighteyes became more and more agitated, until she exploded and accused me of trying to live vicariously through her, expecting her to do all the things I had not had a chance to do.  I told her I wanted no such thing.  While I had put my other plans on hold to homeschool them, now that they were old enough to start seeing to themselves I was beginning to pursue those plans once again.  I didn't want her to pursue my dreams, I wanted her to get out of my way so I could pursue my dreams.  Surprisingly, this statement actually calmed her down quite a bit, and she even became more empathetic afterward.

That's all for now.  More later.
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Part 1:  Recollection, Remembrance, and Discovery
Part 2:  That Old Time Liberal Religion

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there

None other has ever known.

1974 - A few months before we had moved from Vicksburg to Birmingham, from a small ranch house to a split-level ranch house, from a traditional elementary school to an "open format" elementary school, from the big Southern Baptist church in a small town to a big Southern Baptist church in the suburbs of a city.  The least turbulent transition was the church.  There was a distinct change in decor -- the Vicksburg church had a huge mural of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden behind the baptismal font, quite unusual for a Protestant church but very welcome for wandering eyes to rest on.  The suburban church had varnished pine boards, with nothing for a bored child to do but resist the urge to count them, for once they were counted, what else was there to do?  Fortunately there wasn't much boredom at that time, as the services were very similar.  There was an emphasis on free will and God's love to provide an answer to all our problems, on God's expectation that we would stand on our own feet, work together, and get things done.  The ideal relationship with God was the one described in the song above, although the song itself wouldn't be composed for almost another decade.  With intellect, love, and will-power, any problem could be solved.  I had just turned eight; and I believed, I believed, I believed.

But church wasn't only the calmest place in my life, it was the most intellectually stimulating.  School was deadly dull, and there was no other place around me where people were having interesting, open-ended discussions about life's problems.  In the early 70s there were a ton of problems to discuss, and many people were getting all gloomy about them.  But not the church, which was a haven of optimism and reason.

When we joined a few months ago, the preacher had welcomed us individually, shook my hand, and told me that if I had any problems I could come see him.  When I felt comfortable there, I took him at his word.

I must have just turned eight.  My sister and I had been dropped off there for some children's function, and I found the opportunity to speak to the minister alone in the sanctuary.  I told him that Mom and Dad were doing things to us that they shouldn't, and, maybe, he could talk to them and make them stop?

The preacher thought for a moment and then asked if my father sang in the choir.  Yes, he did.  He asked if my mother was the treasurer of the PTA.  Yes, she was.

He did not ask why I had requested an intervention.

Then he kindly explained things to me.  He explained that since my parents were members of the church in good standing, they couldn't possibly be doing anything wrong, especially not to their own children.  If I thought that members of the church in good standing were doing something wrong, there could only be one explanation.  Somehow I had become possessed by Satan, and Satan was inside me making me believe lies about my parents that could not possibly be true.  Then he prayed to Satan to leave my body and stop plaguing my thoughts with such lies, and sent me on my way.

I was dumbfounded.  I may have just turned eight, but even then I knew the only thing I was possessed by was the good sense to realize how ridiculous the preacher sounded.  It was without question the single stupidest thing I had ever heard in my life, either in stories or in real life.  But if he took it seriously, then that could only mean -- dangerous things. I remember staring at the thumbs of his clasped hands in shock, not daring to look him in the face.  Then my mind started to work.

This was a modern, liberal church in the early 1970s and he's threatening me with Satan.  I don't think half the congregation even believes in Satan!  It's not a serious topic of conversation in or out of sermons.  Here people talk about using love to solve real problems, they don't threaten people asking for help with stuff that belongs in old movies.  It's like be threatened with leeches or water torture or -- or footbinding or some other bit of antique nonsense.

But if there were even a tiny minority out there who actually believed such things, then I could never, ever tell anyone about my own spiritual experiences.  I had never told anyone about tallking to God because I had never met anyone who would have a positive reaction to the news.  The negative reactions would fall into two camps, the ones who would want me shipped off to a loony bin and the ones who would want me burned at the stake.  Of the two I figured I could talk my way out of the loony bin easier than I could talk my way off a burning stake.  I seriously thought the latter camp only existed in old books, but apparently I was wrong.

 That hurt.  I'd been looking forward to talking to someone about it someday.

Obviously I couldn't talk to any spiritual ministers about anything else going on in my life.  And I had made a mistake not waiting until I knew someone long enough for them to trust me before asking them for help.  Next time I would wait longer.

That was what went through my concious mind at the time.  For over 40 years whenever I consciously remembered it, that is all I thought about, that and the image of the thumbs of his clasped hands.  It was not until I finally committed to writing about it after years of dithering that I realized my subconscious had ruminated on it for a long time, and reached conclusions that I did not fully realize were connected to this memory.

In my subconscious I realized other things as well.  I realized that my parents could do anything they wanted to my little sister and I and no one would rescue us.  According to the preacher, they weren't the only ones.  Any "member of the church in good standing" could do anything they wanted to us and if my parents didn't stop them no one would.  That meant no one would protect me not only from my father but from any man at church who wanted to abuse me in any way.  It meant that the church would attract abusers who wanted to be "members in good standing" for the cover it provided for their abuse.

But it's church, right?  There can't be many abusers there.  At the time I believed that.  I didn't have any evidence of any other abusers -- other than the preacher's disturbing response.

Time would prove me wrong.  The evidence would mount.  And I would have a hard time feeling safe in a church again.

Meanwhile I had a decision to make.  I was being abused at home, and apparently the larger community in the form of the my community's spiritual leader thought that my abuse was the right and proper way of the world.  Where did that leave me?  At this point there were two things I could believe.  Either 1) there was something wrong with me that made people think they could get away with treating me like shit, or 2) the whole damn system was fucked.

I'll take Door #1, Monty.

I can hear the chorus now.  "You just wanted to be a special snowflake!"  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I knew that what distinguished the scapegoat from the rest of the herd was the mark that others placed on it.  If I could figure out where the scapegoat's mark was on me, I could wash it off and vanish into the crowd. If #1 was correct, that meant I could someday escape.  If #2 was correct I could never escape an entire world that saw all children as suitable playthings for monsters.  I originally chose to believe #1 not out of shame, despair, or any perverse pride; but out of a desperate, desperate hope.  In time that hope would fade, and despair would take it's place.  In even more time I would realize that what I had refused to believe was true.  The whole damn system was fucked and no one was doing anything to fix it.

And then I would begin to get angry.

But I was eight and still in the grip of Persephone's cruelest demon, hope.

(It would be 41 years later before my husband pointed out the most disturbing part of that conversation:  the preacher did not stutter or fumble his words.  To the veteran schoolteacher that meant only one thing -- he'd had plenty of practice on other girls and boys.)
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I stared angrily at the scale.  Where had all my hard work gone?

Four years ago I started an exercise program to get my body back in shape.  Two years of steady, constant exercising later, I was feeling fit and fine -- so fit, my subconcious deemed me able to handle a huge heap of repressed childhood horror.  The next two years were taken up with nothing but repairing damages done to my mind and my soul.  The work was so intense I could do nothing else.  Some days just making it out of bed was all I could manage.  In the process I've lost all the fitness progress I made over the previous two years.  My weight is back up and my stamina is nonexistant.  Physically I'm right back where I started.  I've got all this psychological stuff seen to  but -- I know the metaphor of life being a great big spiral but I don't need it to play out so literally, darn it.

At least there's nothing else hidden in the recesses of my mind.  There are still things I have trouble talking about, and one thing I can't out of respect for the privacy of another, but I doubt there's any more long-repressed unpleasantness waiting to erupt.

Unfortunately it wasn't just my body that suffered.  It was also two years out of my relationship with my children.  Now I have to sync up with them and repair that.  That  hurts.  Even the parts of it that aren't difficult still hurt.

Quests of self-discovery have a higher price tag at my age.
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The kids were pestering me for snacks while I was deboning chicken for supper tonight, so I threw the skin in a skillet and made cracklings. First time I've done that, but the kids liked it and it can't be less healthy than the chemicals they put in junk food.
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AKA "Shit gets real."

"Fracture reduction" is the fancy term for resetting a broken bone that's healed the wrong way.  Somebody breaks a bone.  They should lie up and have someone else take them immediately to the doctor, but that doesn't always happen.  Maybe they can't get to the doctor, maybe there's no doctor around, maybe they have to use that broken bone anyway just to get by until they can find a doctor.  Whatever.

So when they finally get to the doctor's office, what happens?  The doctors get out the bone saw and the knives and takes the broken bone back apart.  They "break" it again into at least as many parts as the first time, if not more.  They have to do this in order to set it properly.  It's the only way they can ever hope to restore the limb to full functioning.

But the pain is out of this world.  The patient screams and struggles, fighting to escape from the excruciating suffering.  Knowing it's the only way to regain the full use of their body does nothing to spare them from the agony they are going through.

That's sort of what's been going on inside my head the last two months.

Between abandonment and bad parenting my spirit was shattered at such a young age I never knew what it felt like to be whole.   But broken or not, I still had to get around.  I glued my psyche back together as best as I could with what I had on hand and went about the business of growing up.  I didn't know which pieces went where, but I tried.  Over time things fused into an ugly but functional mess.

Now I know more about how the pieces are supposed to fit together.  The old glue is coming undone, and the pieces are starting to slide around into a better fitting alignment.  I'll be a stronger person when it's done.

But right now the pain is out of this world.

It isn't that anyone's been mean to me. I spent a weekend listening to stories from my First Cousin and his wife at their vacation home, and met some other cousins.  And a few days past my 48th birthday I got a phone call out of the blue from my mother.  We made awkward but functional small talk for a few minutes in spite of my pulling the phone out of the wall and breaking a pen trying to write down her contact information, and promised to get back in touch later.  And then I went to bed and was a complete basket case for the next two weeks, because it took 48 fucking years before I heard the sound of my mother's voice.

No, everyone's been perfectly lovely.  And that's the problem.

The reason given for closed adoption in the first place is that absolutely dreadful parents who couldn't cope on their own.  Both of my parents were married within a year of my birth, and began having children within two years who have all turned out to be fine adults.  While none of them are saints, there doesn't appear to be a real ogre in either set.

But if there are no ogres out there that I had to be protected from, then how the bloody hell do you justify what was done to me?  What reasons were so compelling that it excused subjecting me to a childhood full of alienation and abuse?

Misogyny and greed.  I can't think of anything that doesn't come down to a fancy way of saying misogyny and greed.

Other adoptees warned me that the emotional pain skyrocketed after reunion.  When the loss stops being ambiguous, it becomes acute.  Then you know for a fact that it didn't have to be like that, it could have been like this.  While this wouldn't have been perfect, it would have been a damn sight better than that.  I'm grateful for the warning, as I'm not sure I could have survived these past few weeks if such intense grief had caught me unawares.

As it was I was all but incapacitated, to the exasperation of my loving but very put-upon family.  At least my body spared me the physiological drama-queen antics of the past fall.

I had a dream while writing this.  I dreamed I was walking around with my brain exposed to the open air, to give it a chance to heal from deep lacerations that had been made to it.  And then my six year-old son wanted to run around with  his brain exposed as well, and ended up nearly cutting through his brain stem.  **sigh**

I'm going to take it as a sign that I'm getting better.  Maybe the poison is finally working its way out my body, and not a moment too soon.
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I got word that the DNA sample for my ethnicity test reached the lab today.  Yippee!  I'm so excited!

You can expect to receive your results in the next 6-8 weeks


And that's what I'll be doing for Lent sorted out.
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We installed the kitchen drawer pulls, drawer facings and the lower cabinet doors.  Yay, I have drawers now!  There's an actual place for cutlery, as opposed to the used plastic tubs it was dumped into.  With more room to spread things out we were able to put the dinnerware and silverware at preschooler height, and turn over the job of setting the table to an excited 5yo.  An excited 14yo got promoted to cook's helper/dryer, and a not-very-excited 12yo got promoted to dishwasher.

Now I can bring down some of our nonessential cookware, like the John Wright decorative cast iron muffin pans and cookie molds I bought at Service Merchandise (back when that store existed) 30 years ago.  After 3 years exposure to humid Southern weather, their Victorian-era curves were hidden under a thick layer of rust.  Repairing and re-seasoning them are giving my arms a workout.

I don't even know where you can get John Wright now.  Someone said Williams-Sonoma, but there isn't one around here.  I went in a Williams-Sonoma store once on vacation.  It reminded me that there is a dividing line between "elitist" and "snob".  My nose doesn't tilt high enough to shop there, and they didn't have any John Wright.

With a bigger kitchen I can also round out my Lodge collection.  Cooking just got a lot more adventurous.

Dh is building a table for the arts-and-crafts shop with built-in storage for oversized art papers.  After that it's on to the kitchen island.

Update:  Today also begins the pre-spring gardening, with moving a willow sapling that had grown up too close to a building to a boggy spot in the backyard.
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I found a good therapist this time.  (You'd be amazed how often that isn't the case.  Kind, yes.  Well-trained, yes.  Good?  Not so much.)  He's willing to dig down past all the obvious layers to go after the deeply buried stuff.  Right now we're at the level of dealing with being an abandoned child adopted by child abusers.  It's not a comfortable topic, but it's one that needs to be addressed.

I know it's completely against the stereotype of all adoptive parents being loving adoptive parents.  "Every adopted child is a loved child," the saying goes.  Whenever I hear that I just want to  pat the speaker on top of the head, hand her a Harlequin Romance novel, and make her sit in the corner while the grownups talk .  Because -- let's compare it to marriage, okay?  Is every bride a loved bride -- in a healthy way?  And even if she's loved in a healthy way at the altar, how many are still loved in a healthy way 2, 3, 5, 10 years down the road?

Yeah.  Now, do you honestly think it's any different for adopted children?  What happens when the "babymoon" is over and the adorable baby stops being adorable?


I'm not saying that all adopted children are abused.  My best friend has wonderful, loving adopted parents.  But statistically a greater percentage of adoptees are abused than children who live with their biological parents.

My sister and I were two of those children.

Whatever made the agency think that handing over newborn babies to a petty, domineering, narcissistic, self-loathing woman with the emotional maturity of a 13yo was anything remotely like a good idea was not a good thing.  Greed?  Apathy?  Naivete?  IDK, but if they fed my birthparents a line about me being sent to a loving home, then they lied through their teeth.

Imagine yourself a child and everyone is always telling you how lucky you are that your wonderful adoptive parents rescued you from a terrible beginning and took you in.  Imagine that those same parents belittle you, neglect you, beat you, and worse.

Imagine yourself trying over and over again to get help and no one believing you because those things don't happen to the "lucky" adopted kids with their "wonderful" adoptive parents.

Imagine telling your life story over and over again and every time being told flat out that you must be lying.  Those things don't happen to adopted kids.

Can you even begin to imagine the special kind of Hell this creates for abused adopted children?

Even if you can imagine that, here's the kicker.  Other children can imagine that they were switched at birth, and that somewhere there is someone out there who will rescue them someday.  Abused adoptees don't have that luxury.  We know we were rejected at birth, and that no one is ever going to come and save us.  We have no hope at all.

So we're in pretty bad shape to begin with.  A remarkably high number of men abused adoptees become serial killers:  Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, etc.  The women are more likely to become drug addicts or suicides.

But the icing on the shitcake is our social invisibility.  Nobody wants to hear our stories.  Nobody wants to know that things like this happen.  When we do speak we're told to shut up and take one for the team so that potential birthparents won't be scared off and keep their kids instead of giving them up.

But whose team are we taking one for?  The children, or the abusive adoptive parents?

There's an awful lot there folks would rather you didn't talk about.  So much so that the stopping of it has kept me from being able to talk about anything personal for most of my life.  I don't have much in the way of funny or pleasant anecdotes about my childhood to exchange with people in the process of making friends, and an excess of the sort of soul-searing horrors that should only be shared with good friends -- which leaves me little way of making good friends so I can share those stories.  Talk about a Catch-22.
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It's been a year since I posted a  house update.  We've spent most of that time waiting for the rain to stop.  Global warming has pushed the tropical storms north and the rains that used to blanket the Great Plains south.  Guess where they meet?  In the past year we've had two dry weeks, one at the beginning of summer and one at the end.  It rained the other 50.  The apple and hazelnut trees we planted drowned.  It's played hell with farmers too, so don't be surprised if  you see the prices of food and fabric going up.

We haven't done a lot of gardening, although we did have a small vegetable patch.  We found a pick-your-own blueberry farm this summer and picked about a dozen gallons, so we'll be eating blueberries all winter.  The few dry afternoons we had we sent the 14yo out with the push mower; she's starting to develop an impressive set of shoulders.

We spent the winter and the spring fixing up the sheds.  We insulated them, put inner walls in place where needed, painted said walls, and laid down linoleum.  The previous owner left a collection of old bathroom cabinets behind.  We fixed them up, repaired or replaced their drawers, and replaced their tops.  Now the shop has a lower cabinet and the back shed has a wall-length work desk.  At that point we put locks on the doors and hauled down the first load of tools for the shop and my parents' old china cabinet for the house.  The glass in the china cabinet was broken, and it had sat in storage for years.

As summer started we repaired the glass in the china cabinet.  Some of the trim had been left undone in the den last fall as we weren't sure how we wanted it; we made our decisions and finished everything except the pantry door.  We used the scrap from that project to build a back-of-the-closet bookcase for the girl's bedroom.  I suppose in another family it might have been a shoe rack, but here it's a bookcase.

When our late-summer dry week came, we finished painting the outside of the sheds, then dug and poured a concrete foundation for the chickenhouse.  My husband spent hours truing it up to our immense exasperation because he was "sick and tired of walls that aren't plumb!"  Maybe in another six months we'll get another dry week to work on it some more.

Finally it was time to finish the kitchen.

The "retro" faucet that went with our house's "look" broke and we replaced it with a newer model; apparently they no longer know how to make pieces that both look good and last.  We'd saved the kitchen drawers until last so we'd up our experience with them; now we built the drawer boxes and mounted them on drawer slides.  They don't have facings yet so we can't use them, those are waiting on the countertops to be finished.  The scrap from the drawers became a wall-mounted bookcase for small and regular size cookbooks above the corner cabinet, in a space we couldn't do much else with.  Then we painted the kitchen ceiling, hung the little bookcase on the wall, and prepared to do battle with the countertops.

Back when this project started three years ago we couldn't decide between Corian, marble or butcherblock countertops.  Each had their pros and cons.  Finally we went, "Hell with it", and made up our minds to use all three:  the waterproof Corian for the sink countertop, marble inserts for the baking area and a hot dish "landing zone" next to the oven, and butcherblock everywhere else.  Since we weren't using enough of any one of them to do a whole kitchen, we were able to buy seconds of each of them.  The Corian countertop with the sink went up in the first six months.  The other lower cabinets were finished with a 3/4" plywood countertop underlayer in the next six months, and we've used that as interim countertops.  The butcherblock countertops were ordered in the naive hope that the kitchen would be finished "soon" and stuck in storage right behind my office chair two years ago, where they've been cluttering up things ever since.  On the plus side one of the tops was bowed when it arrived, and the factory sent us a free replacement.  Butcherblock is insanely heavy.  We stored the bowed one underneath the others and in the two years it's laid here it's finally straightened out, so when the back porch finally stops being a covered lumber yard we'll turn the extra top into a porch dining table.

Two years later it was finally time to get the marble inserts.  We tried the local granite and marble countertop companies first, only to quickly conclude they didn't have anything worth buying and didn't know what they were doing.  They couldn't picture how we were going to keep the countertops from falling where they were joined.  They're laying stone countertops directly on top of particleboard cabinets with no underlayer and no support in damp environments like kitchens and bathrooms.  I can imagine what they look like after a year or so, and it ain't pretty.  We ended up going to a mortuary company and buying some of their commercial-grade architectural scrap, which they were happy to polish up nicely for us.

We carefully split the butchblock top that's going to form both ends of the baking counter.  Now we're leveling, sanding, glueing everything in place, and sanding "just a little bit more".  We'll finish it when Mr. "It Ain't Done Unless It's Overdone" runs out of things to overdo to it.

Meanwhile we found a sewing machine repair shop to fix the damage the baby did playing with my sewing machine.  Hopefully I'll have it back in time for Halloween costumes, then I can start making curtains.  We're all getting tired of this project.  Now that there's a place for the tools we're itching to get back to metalwork, especially since the 14yo is starting to show an interest in learning it.
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Last night my 14yo finished The Aquarian Conspiracy, a history of the New Age movement, jumped up, and stalked over to me.  "This book was written in 1980.  It talks about a bunch of things that were going to happen in the next few years.  That was 30 years ago.  They haven't happened yet.  What happened?"

"Frustrating, isn't it?"

"It's been 30 years!  What happened?"

"Honey, you just mentally calculated those 30 years.  I lived them.  Frustrating, isn't it?"
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I went to see a counselor today, and we figured out my personality is sooooo innately analytical that my PTSD flashbacks take the form of data stream insights.  While other people get visual and auditory hallucinations I get -- meta.  Okay....



If that doesn't earn me some kind of Nerd merit badge I dunno what will.
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Last fall I got out a Wii for the children.  (Yes, I know, late to the party and all that.  We couldn't really afford one earlier.)  In the ensuing months I've been amazed at how profoundly video games have changed since my husband and I stopped playing them in the late 80s.

I grew up in the 1970s as video and computer games were being invented.  Like all new technology, the video games of my childhood were clunky and difficult to operate.  In a classic example of making a virtue out of a necessity game developers bragged about  how hard they made their games.  And they were very hard.  Early 80s games are among the hardest ever made, a fact that had as much to do with the limited experience and poor "toolkits" of the developers as it did with their actual inclinations.  Video games of the time gave players a challenge for their reflexes, intellect, spatial skills, and stamina; and they almost always ended in defeat.  This idea for what video games should be like went along with a cultural motif common in the popular fiction of the day for what a challenge between man and computer should be like.  The challenge should always be head on, man vs. machine; the computer should always be relentless; and it should always be impossible for the human to win without cheating (hence the early popularity of "cheat codes".)  In a nutshell the relationship was always antagonistic and the life of an avatar was nasty, brutish, and short (at least until you fed the machine another quarter).

I thought video games hadn't changed much.  I was wrong.  You can still find games that exist to kill the player's avatar, with bragging rights earned by how long you stay alive.  But that's not the only kind of game around anymore.  Along with more sophisticated programming techniques has come the idea of the computer as coach, offering accurate but noncritical assessments of the player's ability and gentle, steady encouragement for future progress.  This change has had an immense impact on my reaction to the games.  I'm an abuse survivor.  I'm not used to a steady stream of gentle encouragement, real or virtual.  I try to model it for my children, but I'm not used to receiving it.  It's loosening some old scar tissue -- slowly and gently, the only way to do that task.

Growing up, my family life was like one of those never-ending games that predated Donkey Kong, a relentless series of traps to dodge and pitfalls for the unwary with no victory in sight.  I couldn't understand why anyone would want to turn that experience into a game, when I had to live it only without the catchy music.  Mom was a devotee of unrelenting "constructive criticism", which while highly critical was anything but constructive.  I got encouragement from short-term acquaintances, one-year teachers and the like, but they were about as useful as a disposable raincoat.

There were a handful of people who offered steady, gentle encouragement and stuck around for more than a year.  They appeared to be good people, in occupations that seemed to be devoted to helping others.  After they encouraged me for a time to come to them I approached them with my problem.  "My parents are doing things to me that make me feel bad.  Please help me."

It was the 1970s.  "Child abuse" meant physical marks.  No marks = no abuse.  If a child implied abuse but couldn't show marks the problem had to be not in the child's experience but in the child's perception.  The child was wrong.  The child didn't understand, and needed to be reassured that her parents really loved her -- and in the process assured that her own perception of reality was completely unbalanced.

Either I trusted them and distrusted my own perception of reality or I trusted my own perceptions and distrusted everyone (and I do mean everyone) else.

There are some things I've never been able to do no matter how hard I've tried.  I've never been able to whistle.  I've never been able to disbelieve in God.  And no matter how hard I've tried, and I've tried very, very hard, I've never been able to completely disbelieve in myself.

And so it was that this handful of good, noble, kindly, well-meaning souls with the best of intentions cemented my absolute and unconditional learned distrust* of all of humanity except myself.


I recently found out that therapists are using video games in the treatment of children with mental health problems, especially anxiety.  Makes sense to me.

*I said "learned distrust".  I'm an innately trusting person, it bubbles up within me no matter the circumstances.  But sometimes it takes a very long time to seep through the cement of bad experiences.
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The family's been down with a seasonal bug.  Regular Life (TM) will resume at some later date.
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On the way back from church yesterday we stopped for dinner at Luigi's Family Restaurant in Louisville, which turned out to be a diner.  (That wasn't clear from the outside.)  We took the opportunity to introduce the girls to two of their offerings -- a "meat and three" and a Chick tract.  They weren't impressed with either, although the meal was at least comprehensible.  They thought the Chick tract was weird and stupid.   They far preferred Fred Van Lente's parody and with good reason.  Van Lente's a very funny writer.  I miss his work on Marvel Adventures.

We won't be going back to the diner, though.  Chick tracts insult 99.9% of the human race and God as well.  Jack's going to have some explaining to do on Judgement Day.
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Right now my internet connection is based on Las Vegas logic:  just a tiny blip every few minutes, just enough so you'll sit there and keep punching away at it instead of getting on with your life.  It sucks.  I hope they get it fixed over the holidays.

Friday's news was bad.  Is still bad.  Isn't likely to stop being bad for a while.

Y'all take care, and if I don't get a chance to say it later, Merry Christmas.
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The toddler is currently enthralled with a collection of the first three Raymond's Raving Rabbids games on the Wii.  The mini-games frequently ask the player to move his or her arms up and down to simulate running in a way the Wiimote can detect.  Owl prefers to move the remote and the nunchuk up and down by hopping in place.  It accomplishes the same job in a way that he finds more satisfactory and the rest of us find much cuter.
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After a bumpy period my life is settled now.  There's no problems current or on the horizon, and everything is going just fine.  Objectively I know this based on the evidence around me.  Subjectively I know this because I feel like I'm coming apart at the seams.

Welcome to life with PTSD.

Read more... )
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I've got a nasty cold that started yesterday.  I hate being sick on a holiday.

As the den nears completion, we've gone back to work on the sheds.  The lower one now has the inner walls in place.  The upper one is getting the extra insulation it needs.

The den now has the stairs, the floor, all the shelves and most of the trim.  The antenna is up, and we hung the TV on the wall and hooked up the antenna last week.  We now have access to two states' worth of public television signals (Mississippi and Alabama) and some junk.  Reception is intermittent, but we're still working out the optimal combination of position and equipment.

The toddler would watch PBS Kids all the time if he could, and we've had to start finding out-of-reach places to leave the remote.  The preteens are more laid-back about it, although the 11yo never misses a chance to watch anything that's on.  We're still mostly watching our DVDs and downloads, although Nova was a spectacular hit.

Today we hooked up the Wii for the first time, with Mario Kart, Boom Blox Bash Party, Just Dance For Kids, and four Wiimotes.  Thank Goddess I didn't start them off on any more complicated control system.  The toddler threw a temper tantrum whenever anyone tried to put on a non-racing game, and the 13yo threw a tantrum because she insisted on understanding everything inside and out before she made a single move.  She complained that her siblings were pushing buttons at random.  I pointed out that was a legitimate form of experimentation. The resulting explosion was not pretty.

Both girls sworn up and down they're going to get up extra early in the morning to master the Wii before the toddler wakes up.  We shall see.
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We finished the ceiling trim and the middle ribs, the latter a necessity in a room that has walls made of tongue-and-groove paneling, bead board, sheetrock, and plywood.  That's one of the reasons we chose a rustic "Western" theme for the room, that and the need to find something playfull enough for the children and palatable for grownups.

We've installed 22 shelves, including a video game case, a Doctor Who book-and-DVD case, and extra wide top shelves for puppets and stuffed animals.  There's also another 16 shelves in the pantry we built.  There's another DVD case to come, but it's far enough away from where the TV will sit that we shouldn't have to worry about the TV being damaged.

We tried to buy some linoleum at Lowe's but even though they've previously delivered the next day for free, now they want $79 to deliver in two weeks -- maybe.  We found an indie hardware store that sold us a better product $80 cheaper and was willing to deliver the next day for $15.  Guess who got our money?  But with all the extra running around it won't be installed until this week.

The TV arrived Saturday, our first new one since 1996, which means the first new one the children have ever seen, and our first flatscreen.  It's a mid-size LG, according to the reviews not considered good enough for those used to high quality HGTV, but we're not and our jaws dropped just fine.  It's currently screwed into the carpet in the living room, waiting for us to build it a proper base in the den.

My husband was concerned about the fragility of the screen, and had me prop it up under the edges with hardcovers.  "Now make a barricade of books around it to keep the children from getting close."

I raised an eyebrow.  "If I build a book fort, they're going to play in it."

"Oh, right.  That's out.  Can we put up an electrified fence?"

We got out our old DVD player and hooked up it.  It had a Clannad CD in it, the same one I'd been playing the day before the worst of the burgularies, when we realized the best locks we could buy would no longer work.  I flashed back to that night when we packed up the children and what little a theif might value, and fled the house right before the predawn light.

Clannad began to play.  My husband looked up.  "It's working!"

I grinned.  "You bought me a really big tape deck."

He grinned back.  "And a really expensive one, too!"

We got out My Neighbor Totoro.  The first break-in had been a few days before Owl's second birthday.  Here we were, a few days before Owl's fourth birthday.  It was the first time in two years that we had had the opportunity to sit down in our own house to watch our own TV and feel safe while doing in.  As we oohed and aahed over the picture, I may have shed a few tears.

Later, as Owl lined up flowers from the back yard on the table and we installed yet another shelf, my husband asked.  "Was that nice?"

"Uh, no.  Not exactly."

"Hmm?  Was it fun?"

"No.  It was -- cathartic."

He was silent for a while, then said, "Yeah, me too."