We have some big news. #notababy

by renegademama

Well, I’m just going to say it: We’re moving to the Netherlands.

We are selling our house, getting rid of most of our stuff, and moving to the Netherlands this summer.

I’ve started this blog post about ten times and keep giving up because I know you’re going to ask me “Why?” and I really want to explain why, but it’s hard. We’ve been contemplating this for years and I don’t know how to wrap ten thousand hours of conversation up in a single blog post.

And no matter what I say, out loud or to myself, I am acutely aware of how lucky we are to do this, how we are nowhere near the people threatened by or suffering the most from what’s happening in our country right now, and our reasons for leaving sound a little like a blend of Eat Pray Love (puke) and some sort of DITCH THE CUBICLE FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS weekend workshop in Missouri.

Our reasons are small and material and vast and, dare I say it? Spiritual.

Fuck.

Fine.

We want to live. We want to do something. We want our kids to witness a reality that isn’t American.

Our lives aren’t working. No. They are just working. That’s it. We are surviving. Full stop.

We work and drive and pay and sleep and work and pay and drive and look to the future for relief. Someday. Someday it will get easier and better and we won’t feel like we are spending our ONE SINGLE FUCKING LIFE working and paying and driving in circles, all of it in circles, still living paycheck to paycheck, so we can turn 65 or 70 and maybe retire, hoping we make it that far, ten or twenty years before we die, thinking finally Oh good, now I get to do some shit.

When I say this, I think of how damn near all of us live this way. I feel the privilege of even contemplating a different life. My life as a writer. A house we can sell. No dependents we need to stay and take care of (as in, ailing parents). A family that I’m 99% sure would buy us plane tickets home if we were about to hit the streets of Amsterdam.

I don’t think a life lived in the crushing grind of late-stage capitalism is a wasted life, a life less lived.

What I think is that Mac and I are tired of being trapped in a life that works on the outside but costs us everything we’ve got on the inside.

We want to try something else, somewhere else.

We have always wanted to not live here for some portion of our lives, but when we had kids five minutes after we met, we gave up that dream. When we visited Spain and France in 2017, it re-planted itself in our foreheads and refused to leave. It spun around our brains but always fell dead against another thought: But we can’t do that. How would we do that? We have four kids. We aren’t trust-fund babies.

Eventually, we began to wonder who gets to decide what we can and can’t do with our lives, what’s “immature” and “irresponsible” versus “mature” and “reasonable.”

WHO GETS TO DEFINE WHAT MAKES SENSE IN OUR LIVES?  Who convinced us that this is life? And why and how did we buy so fully into it?

When you’re on your deathbeds, you’ll never regret going. But you may regret not going. Those were the words of my friend Lisa that did us in.

 

We’re going on a freelancer visa. Mac is going to make & sell custom steel and wood furniture (as in, starting a new business) and I’m going to continue writing and teaching.

I don’t think everyone can do this, wants to do this, or needs to do this for “fulfillment.” I don’t think we’re braver or more profound or harder workers than anybody who wants to do something like this but isn’t or can’t. I don’t think we are special and to be quite honest I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite as exposed as I do right now, telling you this, which is why I’ve waited so long.

Because I can’t control what others do with this narrative. Of course I can’t control what the internet does with any of my words, but normally, by the time my fingers hit the keyboard, I know what I think and I know what I want to say and I am prepared to stand in the truth as I see it, knowing, of course, that I could be wrong, but that’s another topic.

Normally, I have considered and thought through and feel comfortable standing by what I say.

But I don’t know shit about this. I don’t know if it’s the “right” decision.

It’s messy and I’m afraid.

And the truth is, if we fail, we’ll move back. What else can we do?

 

And so, here I am, telling you this, and inviting you to hang out with us on this fucking adventure. We are packing and selling our house now. This is the first place I’ve ever felt is a real, real home. That’s another post, but we’re saying goodbye to the happiest home we’ve ever had, the brightest, most comfortable place, even though there’s a triple bunk in one bedroom and Arlo’s dresser is in a hallway.

I don’t know how to leave my parents. I don’t know how to leave my friends. I don’t know how to say goodbye to the roar of the northern California ocean and the redwood trees and Lake Tahoe and the vineyards of Sonoma County. There’s so much here for us.

Mac has never lived outside of this county. Not country. COUNTY. We don’t speak Dutch (I know everyone there speaks English but still).

What if it all goes wrong? What if we just can’t do it?

But what if we didn’t try?

 

the trip that did us in

****

If you read my book, you’ll know this was a dream of mine since I lived in Spain in 2000.

Fuck it, here we go.

137 Comments | Posted in .....I make bad decisions..., Netherlands | March 10, 2019

Hey Dems, can’t we just hate Trump together?

by renegademama

No matter how many times I attempt to bend my brain around it, I cannot for the life of me comprehend why those of us on the left feel compelled to vehemently attack each other over which candidate is the most perfect ever when what we’re fighting is a steaming pile of kleptocratic dog shit hellbent on deconstructing democracy.

Can dog shit deconstruct democracy?

Clearly, yes.

We are fighting against the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States but sure, let’s definitely bring up that one thing Dem candidate #267 (that’s how many there are, correct?) did in 1974 that was super un-woke and really pissed you off.

I don’t mean balanced analysis. I love that shit. I’m talking about the diehard shit-slinging based on…what? Something. Personal preference. Every one of our candidates is flawed, and every one is better than Trump.

Every single fucking one of them is better than that guy, so yay us we don’t have to hate anybody for liking a candidate we don’t like. We don’t have to freak out and attack each other.

This should be the most chill primary season ever.

We should just hang out and vote for whichever live body presents itself as the Dem candidate in the general. In the primaries, VOTE FOR WHOEVER THE FUCK YOU FUCKING WANT.

There is nowhere to go but up.

We are at the bottom. So, what are we fighting about again?

Here are my questions for a Dem candidate:

  • Do they refer to NBC, CNN, The New York Times and all other media that dares critique the GOP as “the enemy of the people?”
  • How do they feel about random pussy-grabbing?
  • Speaking of which, do they believe it’s a “very dangerous time to be a man?”
  • If they want to critique a political adversary, do they deconstruct that person’s ideas or make up catchy, often racist nicknames like “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas,” “Lyin’ James?”
  • Do they view people with opposing views as “adversaries,” or do they see conflict and debate as a cornerstone of a healthy democracy?
  • If somebody suggested the government rip babies from their families, cage them, then traffic them into evangelical orphanages somehow connected to Betsy Devos, would they agree or disagree with this plan?
  • Do they believe bears wandering onto campuses is a critical problem among schoolchildren or are they more concerned about, say, kids getting murdered in their classrooms?
  • By “tax break for the middle class,” do they mean corporations will continue to pay zero taxes, the 1% will pay less, and the middle class will pay more?
  • Who does this candidate rely on for intelligence: Rush Limbaugh or, um, United States intelligence agencies?
  • In general are they cool with the rule of law?
  • On the ever-pressing issue of healthcare, does this candidate believe people should have it or like nah just the rich people?
  • Should students spend their entire lives paying off student loans at 7% interest because America can’t afford to provide free education but also Amazon can make $11 billion in profit and pay no taxes?
  • HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT ALL CAPS TWEETS and the use of stunningly Random Capitalization?
  • Authoritarian leaders around the world – e.g. Putin, Jong-Un, Orban – tyrants or mentors?
  • Does this candidate refer to Mexican immigrants as “vermin?”
  • How about inventing fake national crises?
  • If pressed, can the candidate speak in full, coherent sentences?

Do I really need to go on? I feel like I don’t.

Why the fuck are we sitting here shredding people into oblivion for supporting Harris or Sanders or Booker or the goddamn fucking fire hydrant across the street?

The fire hydrant doesn’t grab pussies. It can’t even attempt to sell nuclear arms to Saudis.

Is it cool that my main question for a candidate is: “Are you an entirely trash human?”

Is it cool that the bar has been lowered so far that I’d settle for partially trash human?

No, of course it isn’t cool. Of course we should be enjoying some bullshit rhetoric from multiple candidates on both sides, weighing their arguments and forming decisions while watching staged inflammatory debates of nonsense.

But no, we’ve been robbed of that circus. Instead we are staring down the barrel of four more years with Racist Trash Clown and his Band of Criminals.

So again, I ask you: Who fucking cares.

Let’s be friends. And get the hell outta here together.

 

 

NOWHERE. TO. GO. BUT. UP.

****

In my book I am less political but probably equally “offensive.” High five.

1.11K Shares
11 Comments | Posted in FUCK TRUMP | February 20, 2019

My daughter turned 17. I turned into my mother.

by renegademama

I distinctly remember being a teenager and thinking my mother was the most ridiculous human in the world with her constant “worrying.”

“Call me when you get there,” she’d say. And then I would nearly fall over in shock at how “dramatic” she was.

Or when she would ask me to be home by midnight and I’d roll in at 1:30am and she’d tell me that she had stayed up, wondering if I was alive, and I would fly into just a touch of rage at her desire to “control me.”

I remember my eye roll. As if she didn’t trust me to live in the world. I have it handled, Mom.

That’s what my eye roll said. That’s what my yelling said.

Also it said: “I am an asshole.”

(I was terrible. My parents were saints. The end.)

 

It was the morning I stood in the doorway and told my daughter, Ava, who’s seventeen, to “be careful in the fog” that I knew I had become my mother.

It’s really poor visibility. Leave early so you don’t have to drive fast. Don’t tailgate. Don’t speed.

I wanted to tell her all these things. I wanted to low-key beg her to listen to me. I willed myself silent on the barrage of guidance I wanted to pummel her with. I allowed myself just one “It’s dangerous to drive in the fog. Please drive slowly.”

Oh, and: “Text me when you get there.” I did it. I went there. I went “text me when you get to school” because of a heavy blanket of fog.

I never understood my Mom because I didn’t know that the fog dropping onto the world drops on your baby, too, who got her driver’s license only six months ago. I didn’t know the fog is a blanket over her eyes, too, and you think about all the times you’ve driven in the fog, and how it’s her first time, and you think maybe let’s just wait until it clears, while also knowing this is ridiculous and you should really pull it together. 

I didn’t know that every New Year’s Eve is a million drunks waiting to plow into my baby while she cruises home listening to her favorite Beatles song.

I didn’t know that every screaming ambulance within earshot brings with it an instantaneous mental calculation of each child’s coordinates, that even though you know your daughter is nowhere near that ambulance, you wonder. Just for a second, you wonder. You calculate.

I didn’t know that the world becomes, against your will, against your intellect and better judgment, a landmine of threat, and even if you’re reasonable, a stone-hearted analytical type, the type of person who rarely cries, you get a little fucking weird.

You hold it inside to not freak your kid out. You allow yourself one “Drive safely,” and a kiss and “I love you,” followed with a “Have fun” because the last thing you’re going to fucking do is teach your kid that the world is a thing to be feared, to be tiptoed around, to be cautiously and barely lived.

But I’m a mother and you’re my baby and you’re new at this.

 

I watch you drive away. I watch you head out the door at 10pm to come back at midnight. You always respect your curfew. How did my parents survive me ignoring it, and before cell phones? 

I always wait for the sound of the front door – opened, shut, locked – the dog hopping off his bed to greet you, your face in my doorway with a smile, or a “Goodnight, Mama” from the hallway.

The sound I could never understand until I became my mother.

A rite of passage, I suppose, this learning to live in the in-between, a part of me running around loose and wild for the first time, in a world that terrifies and delights me.

I watch you drive away in the fog. I smile when you remember to text. I smile at the roll of our eyes.

We were babies.

 

*****

 

 

***

13 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 4, 2019

Believe the grin of white supremacy

by renegademama

I am so tired of America demanding I not believe that which is front of my own eyes.

I’ve written about this before, about the gaslighting of America, but my god, it’s coming at us from the fucking left, too.

Let’s talk about those Covington boys. Let’s talk about the sneering video and then the counter interpretation and then the counter interpretation to the counter interpretation. Whatever.

I don’t want to recount the details in excruciating detail because it doesn’t matter. IT DOES NOT MATTER. Yes, I understand some Black Hebrew Israelites were slinging terrible slurs at the #MAGA teens.

And that’s wrong. Yes. Excellent. Thank you.

I also understand that this has no material effect on what happened there, other than to give Trumpers and white middle-of-the-roaders everything they need to frame those boys as victims and uphold the white patriarchy they embody.

We all saw that teenager’s sneer. We all know that grin, because it’s not new. Those assholes aren’t new. I know them. You know them. We all went to school with them. We encounter them daily still.

That is the shit-eating grin of white supremacy.

At this point you have to be downright delusional to argue that Trump supporters are anything other than:

  1. Outright racists; or
  2. Accepting of racists as long as it brings them something they want.

And the line between those two is thin as hell.

 

Okay, so we see a group of Trump-supporting youth sent to march for “life” (hahaha) or, in more accurate language, against women’s reproductive rights, and then we see them chanting and blocking and sneering at brown people, and moderates are like let us not jump to any conclusions.

Motherfucker the conclusion has already been jumped. IT JUMPED TO ITSELF. The conclusions were jumped at the appearance of the red #MAGA hats.

At this point, it is unequivocally true that wearing a Trump hat is screaming into the world: “I AM AT THE VERY LEAST COOL WITH RACISM.”

So get the hell out of here with “Let’s not jump to conclusions.” Those are tiny misogynistic racists acting like tiny misogynistic racists who will become big misogynistic racists just like their parents, Brett Kavanaugh.

Yes, both parents are Brett Kavanaugh.

The willingness of people to show up for these boys. To minimize their racism. Why? Because people were mean to the boys?

Is the entire context of this situation – namely, boys screaming I AM A BIGOT AND LOATHE WOMEN’S BODILY AUTONOMY – erased because they were called names?

 

Once again, we bring knives to a gun fight. We are so fucking quick to let them mostly off the hook. We are so quick to see them as victims and declare that we just shouldn’t “ruin their lives!”

These are Hitler youth and we’re worried about their futures.

We are staring into the face of fascism and saying “Let’s just hear out both sides.” We are staring at babies in cages demanding the officers have a chance to explain. We are Donald Trump saying surely there are some “very fine” Nazis. We are getting angry that Antifa broke ATM machines during a white nationalist rally. We are yelling at #BlackLivesMatter protesters for shutting down our freeways.

These boys did not happen in a vacuum. They cannot be separated from the social situation surrounding them.

And those hats, those boys, hold all of it. All of that context.

They are pussy-grabbing.

They are “Why is the term ‘white supremacist’ a bad thing?”

They are “brown people are dangerous.”

They are babies in cages.

They are “laziness is a trait in blacks.” – Trump, 1999

They are “shithole countries.”

They are remove access to birth control but also abortion but also you need to sleep with your husband at all times.

They are “that rapist has such a promising future ahead of him.”

They are the endless lies streaming out of Trump’s mouth.

They are the deconstruction of the free press. 

They are the government shutdown and government officials calling it a “free vacation.”

They are the trans military ban.

They are the shit-eating grins of white supremacy, and we saw it with our own fucking eyes, and instead of recognizing this, people are concerned about the boys’ feelings, with making sure we aren’t mean to them, that we get them every benefit of the doubt, that we protect their fragile little selves.

 

They made clear where they stand when they put those fucking hats on. Why are we so hesitant to make clear where WE stand?

They’re over there screaming “I hate brown people!” and moderates are like, “Oh, honey. Were those black people mean to you? I get it, sweet boy who looks like my son, you were overwhelmed. It was complicated.”

Oh, you were praying for your safety around those mean black men? TOTALLY GET IT NOW, JOSH.

You think the Trump-sycophant GOP is telling everyone not to jump to any conclusions about brown people? About women who say, “I have been raped?” (It’s a very dangerous time for men, you see.) You think they’re extending grace and decency to the children ripped out of their mothers’ arms at the border? Are they respecting Americans while they feed us endless lies to further their nationalistic, authoritarian agenda?

I’m not saying “They did it to us so let’s do it to them.” What I’m saying is that we need to stop playing nice while these motherfuckers are happy to let us die, to kill us, to decimate democracy, to remove my daughter’s rights over her own body.

Fuck the expectation that I allow these assholes a way out from themselves because some PR firm wrote an adorable letter stating his shit-eating grin was actually the face of a humbly praying, scared young man.

I am tired of not calling this what it is: Racists acting like racists, gleefully.

We will gaslight the hell out of people to protect white patriarchy. All we have to do is flip the narrative to turn the white man into the victim and boom! Miracles happen! Now #MAGA smirk guy is all over TV, adored across the land.

No more unearned “grace and courtesy.”

I have an idea: If you want grace and courtesy, stop supporting a neo-fascist who refers to human beings as “vermin.”

If you want grace and courtesy, speak out against what your party has become. Speak out against this racism.

Sure, not every Trump supporter is an overt white supremacist, but every overt white supremacist – KKK, neo-nazis, white nationalists, proud boys – is a Trump supporter.

Mere coincidence?

Nah, it’s because that is the party, the platform, Trump himself, and a person wearing that hat is loudly declaring they are just fine belonging to the party of Nazis.

I don’t care that they’re teenagers. They are the face of the next wave of everything disgusting about our country, and we’re over here worried about paving the way for them to succeed. Actions have consequences, and all these boys learned, as well as all the boys watching them on TV, is that they can be race-based bullies and not a goddamn thing will happen to them.

In fact, they will be coddled and celebrated.

Can we please for the love of god stop being so fucking “polite,” stop playing by the rules in the name of some faux wokeness we’ve invented for ourselves? Can we recognize the part of ourselves that defends white patriarchy? Can we face our own lingering investment in white supremacy and the benefits it affords us?

We need to fucking stand for something, just like they do.

All of this middle-of-the-road false equivalence delicate flower bullshit is partly what got us into this mess. The GOP is a flaming pile of dog shit, but they sure as hell own that pile, don’t they? They have built an entire platform on bigotry but goddamn that message is clear, ain’t it?

The Trump GOP stands for evil but by god it STANDS FOR IT.

Can we do that? Can we be absolutely unwavering in our fight against Trump and everything he stands for?

We aren’t being deep over here in the gray area. We aren’t being a “bigger person.”

Change comes through those willing to stand on the right side of history even if it makes them uncomfortable, and they do it every time.

They believe that which sneers before their very eyes.

 

 

****

Hey, hi. I wrote a book, and the paperback comes out May 7, with new content in the back. 

Check it out.

51 Comments | Posted in politics | January 23, 2019

Low-hanging Resolutions

by renegademama

You know when you leave a bar of soap in water too long and the bottom gets all squishy and useless, becoming at that point exactly what a bar of soap should not be? Well, as you probably know, that useless degenerative paste is our President. I mean, if soap scum could be a white supremacist, misogynistic, neo-fascist with poor grammar skills.

So everybody settle down with the New Year’s resolution situation.

America, take it easy. Not only do you have slippery soap scum as President, you probably have at least one family member excited about it.

For two years, my American friends committed to reality as opposed to collective partisan delusion, you’ve endured a President who behaves worse than you’d ever let your kids behave while listening to you mother say things like, “Yes, he’s a buffoon, but look at the economy!”

For two years, you’ve wondered what the hell is wrong with these people, how it’s mentally and spiritually possible for them to believe Captain Pussy-Grabber is the man leading our country “in a better direction.”

For two years, you’ve watched Trump hold his Mein Kampf rallies with thousands of gleefully hopping white people chanting hate rhymes, and while you watch them, you realize you’re supposed to raise kids on a planet with these emoji-loving humans, the same ones who lie in bed at night inventing pizza pedophile Clinton crimes.

(Yes, hopping. Whether figuratively or literally, they seem like the type of people who hop.)

And here we are at the end of 2018 and everyone is telling us to “do better for the New Year.” Have we not endured enough without the addition of arbitrary self-improvement requirements?

America with decency, you have done enough. You’ve run a motherfucking marathon barefoot on Legos.

We’ve survived, and we’re tired. Personally, I’m sticking with low-hanging resolutions and suggest you consider the same.

Here are mine:

  1. Cut down my coffee consumption for a “more healthy alternative.” I’m kidding. I will however consider buying organic half-n-half for my six cups of daily coffee. If it’s on sale.
  2. Continue my streak of occasionally allowing a vigorous unfollow to replace the complex, nuanced diatribe I just wrote to a woman in Minnesota with feathered hair who thinks Nickelback is a good band and Jesus elected Trump.
  3. Buy some fucking bins for something.
  4. Put some shit in the bins.
  5. Fold a fitted sheet once.
  6. Wear my gym clothes three times a week.
  7. Turn forty in March.
  8. Complete ten pages in one of those eclectic adult coloring books of jungles or fish or whatever.
  9. Watch every episode of Black-ish next to my children because it’s bonding.
  10. Take 150 baths.
  11. Yell at my children 2% less.
  12. Do not eat simple carbohydrates I’ve discovered in the kitchen between 1am-4am because I can’t sleep thinking about the nation degenerating into steaming piles of dog shit. Eat peanut butter or cheese or something.
  13. Convert three more people to the use of CBD vape pens to treat their insomnia because there is no joy like hearing your 69-year-old aunt ask you where she can get that “weed sucking thing.”
  14. Only spend thirty minutes a day scrolling trending topics on Twitter then staring out the window wondering where it all went wrong.
  15. DO NOT READ EMOJI-OBSESSED TRUMP SUPPORTER #QANON MORONS AT ALL EVER JANELLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVEN IF YOU LIKE PAIN WHICH YOU CLEARLY DO BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEEM TO STOP.
  16. Make a vision board of ways Mitch McConnell may face a sudden and untimely demise.
  17. Make a vision board of ways we can help Ruth Bader Ginsburg not die.
  18. Read books that aim to not make me smarter.
  19. Put stuff in my phone calendar and then look at it occasionally.
  20. Miss three school commitments instead of five.
  21. Go on nature walks with my kids once a month, or put on a shark documentary or stand in the backyard grass or whatever.
  22. Recommit myself to my marriage by not divorcing for another year.
  23. Try to remember not to let my third-grader wear my “I gave a fuck once” socks to school again.

Low-hanging resolutions, motherfuckers. For Jesus.

 

***

ACTUAL 2019 GOAL: Write another book. Or something. 

Until then, will you check out the one I already wrote?

24 Comments | Posted in .....I make bad decisions... | December 31, 2018