since the end of the year is here, i decided to revisit my treasure map for the year, which i made in march then displayed dutifully on my computer's desktop for months before forgetting about it upon the death of the computer. later, i reinstated it, but my husband replaced it with a day of the dead image and i'm reluctant to argue with him about the matter by usurping his desktop authority.

today i examined the individual parts. read the words, thought about what i'd intended, what i'd had in mind. in large part, there is no way to determine if what i seek will come at all this year or the next. jon being on the job market means that things like "stability," "certainty," and "security" are somewhat difficult to come by. i've learned to try to not get my hopes up too high lest they be dashed in short order. of course, this goes against everything the map is supposed to be. i retain a sort of cautious optimism and continue to make plans, but try not to say them out loud too much. at least not yet...

the entire map centered on a theme of growing: personally, practically, literally, spiritually... i wanted to grow. i wanted to build on the new things i'd already been doing and simply grow them. i wanted to continue and deepen my involvement in my community, my commitment to local foods, my work with my children's education, my relationship with my husband, and my exploration of my place in all of it. most of this was pretty easy: i was already set for it, already on that path. recently i've surprised myself with a sort of dismissal of all of that as nothing much though. it may be simply an end-of-year, post-christmas-doldrums-feeling speaking, or it could be a bit of burn-out (which i hope is temporary).

i'm still sitting here clinging to the belief that all of the work of the last decade will come to a fruition of sorts where the next phase will begin. there is still time for that. it will come one day, one way or another.

the section that really caught my eye, however, was the phrase, "everyday limitless art" displayed carefully on leaves as though dripping like rain. it's hard to say whether it was accomplished precisely, though it was certainly attempted. the "everyday" part struck me. i thought of keri smith, of all artists that i admire, of the notion of free art everywhere all the time. the notions of creating and experiencing and really, ultimately, appreciating the small acts of creation that exist everywhere in our lives all the time.

so i thought, what i really need to do is embark on it with intention and a full heart. what i really ought to do is aim for everyday limitless art for real. be it writing or photography or collecting/catching or daydreams spun in doodle or any other real or virtual object i can see or experience, i should aim to make it every single day of all of my life. but maybe i'll just start with this coming year. i'm thinking art 365. we'll see where it goes. and if it goes. and how it goes.


I am busy and complainy about it. I want nothing more than to write lists and check them off again. When I think of my life, what I might say about what is going on right now, it is all the to-do-list, as ever, whenever I stop any more to think about it and write it out. Occasionally there is the drama between friends, which I cannot blog or really journal as it is not my own drama, but theirs. Or there is the strife and struggle of marriage which is decidedly not good entertainment for anyone other than my poor damaged heart. It needs its privacy and no ears but good friends. Most usually, there is the struggle of children and my feelings about everything with them and how that grows and changes and drives me crazy. But I have the other blog for working that out and feel that I must do so there.

So what I am left with is my own constant struggle to define myself by outside activity - by the writing and the arting and the constant volunteer work. The hum is getting louder by the minute with the volunteer work just now. There is also the whole life to organize and predict and arrange for. I have not the disposable income to outsource all that grief and oftentimes there is much to be haggled over, rather than merely purchased. The efficiencies of capitalism have sadly created infinite bureaucracies that I navigate alone in a sea of the alone.

I was thinking about joy and cultivating joy. It's something I like to say with deep sarcasm - "cultivating joy." It's a phrase I roll my eyes at quite dramatically. It's a bit of an inside joke at this point. It is not to say that there is anything wrong with actually working to cultivate joy, if that's your thing, and the rolling of eyes is not to say that I do not actively seek to be happy myself. It's just a matter of being an incredibly sarcastic person, focused mainly on the obstacles to certain paths rather than the great journey of getting there. I see obstacles as opportunities for problem solving, which is serious work, rather than as fantastic adventure.

Actually, I say all that, but I've not yet been able to articulate what it is that so supremely annoys me about endless optimism. I suppose it's a sense of entitlement. That one would expect the good outcome seems hopelessly naive to me rather than as a method of manifestation. I don't believe in the universe. I do not buy the secret laws of attraction. There is no logic in it because there is too much suffering by the innocent for it to be so. In my mind, it is a mark of utter, blind privilege. And to that end, I instead view the world as a struggle. I expect the worst so as to create the best possible outcome rather than to be disappointed.

Yet I am in the place I always wanted to be in. I have arrived quite fully into the life I had planned. It's just not quite done, so I have a hard time recognizing it at any given moment. I see my children, I see their joy, I sense their adventure and I try my best to give them the freedom to be with that, to feel it. Yet inevitably, I fail. I come down on the truth of an act or event with far more harshness than is at all necessary. Or I skate the edge. It is not every moment, but I am not perfect by any means. And my sarcasm and downer attitude tell you that ahead of time. You know what to expect around here. We are not perfect. We are not perfectly happy, we do not excel at bliss. We excel at reality and at laughing terribly hard at it. We offer our guffaws and our chuckles and our cackles up in open mockery to the universe. I'm convinced the universe loves us for it.


i have been ill of late, in both body and spirit. my lungs are made of pork, so the joke has been going, their inhalations sporadically ending in coughing fits, like the swine flu that's supposedly everywhere and awful. here, we seem to be handling it well enough, if we aren't exactly well. the hacking has yet to manifest as pneumonia, so i think we'll be all right in the end. plus i've turned a corner and no longer feel as though i've been beaten along all my bendy points in the night whilst i slept.

my mood, on the other hand, has been dampened by one bit of bad news after another: an entire month spent in doctor's offices with aleks arranging and arguing with care providers about what he needed and when and how to configure it, resulting in his sixth surgery scheduled for 8 days from now, provided this illness doesn't incapacitate any of us further, then work and taxes and scary taxes and stress and work and volunteering, then a car break-in and the flu within but hours of one another, the smallest child vomitous all night long while i shivered unnecessarily, my body trying to muster heat to kill the disease, then travel and holidays and my 30th birthday, then the sudden and tragic death of a friend... then more birthday, then bad moods, then more illness, then our health care pulling a houdini, then discovering that jon has no job whatsoever come july-ish.

it can all leave a girl wondering what she did to deserve this last decade. and i have no answers there. i am smart and creative and have done my best to make decisions both in keeping with my heart's true desires and with protecting myself and my family to a reasonable degree. yet i have been bombarded by this onslaught of that which is out of my control and every time i am here, in this bell jar, as it were, i find myself meditating uncontrollably on all the horrible and awful things that have befallen me and wondering what i might have done to prevent it. i find it all weighing heavy on me. it's the helplessness and the uncertainty, the seemingly impossible heights of instability and it feeds the stressed us, our bad moods and short fuses, makes us entirely too human allthetime.

this is the real me that guilts and worries and frets over everything always. this is not the collection of short stories about my life that show us in the glaring yellow of eternal sunshine, its rays haloing the angelic downy heads of my children, their laughter ringing out, like the blogs of so many mothers or the soft-focused lenses of fabric softener commercials.

i try and try to see if i am being unreasonable, if i might not be able to somehow twist this all as advised by so many psycho-spiritual self-help gurus, into a storyline that refuses to elevate these traumas to such an important status that knit their way into everything else. but i've not found the way to do that and in many ways reject such advice as counter to my authentic self. i am not overly despairing, i do not think. i am simply in the muck of it, as so many are and have been. i can see the blessings, if i cannot always feel them beating heavy in my chest. i know my privileges, but i also know too well these obstacles. i am trying. i am always, always trying.


I've been cheating on my blog. For more than a year now, I've been keeping another blog. It's mainly about my children and what they're doing as unschoolers, but still. I think I've lost whatever tiny readership I had remaining here by straying, but I have not forgotten you.

Now it's the new year and I hope to make some new changes. Things got stale on the whole site when my web editor began disallowing me to update anything beyond the blog. That was quite awhile ago now. I tried doing some other things in my life. I began volunteering, moonlighting as a doula, and I tried to start my own business last year. The business thing did not go very well and now I have a basement full of SIGG bottles and some excess debt.

I have plans though... I'd like to combine the two blogs in some way and refashion the entire annakiss brand into a household name for the jaded, anarchistic crunchy unschooling mamas out there or those aspiring to be or desiring to mock such folks. I'd like to keep them each separate, but together and ever-so-slightly more equal. That may be quite the lofty goal there, but now that I've said it, I'll have to do it. First thing on the list is doing some web design, so this is all likely going to take some time. Especially since I am clueless about said web design myself and am otherwise occupied by, you know, raising these kids...So look for it when it comes!
It's one in the morning and Aleks has just slammed the door at me. Not on me, not in my face. Just at me. He's angry because I told him to go to bed. I was impatient because I am tired. I was folding laundry and he wanted me to find a hanger for his Darth Vader costume so he could hang it up so it would "look cool." I told him I would in a minute, but that he needed to go get in bed with Papa who was supposed to be reading stories. When he protested, I retorted with the cold, hard demand. That's when he slammed the door.

I continued folding and went back to my thinking about parenting, homeschooling, unschooling, our financial situation, Jon's job situation, whether or not I should be able to support myself, whether or not I actually could if circumstances demanded it, and ultimately whether or not I would be happy with whatever hypothetical horrible scenario I found myself in without a college degree. I imagined the worst - Jon dead or us divorced, me moving back in with my parents, dragging my two kids with me to a life where they are not allowed to do whatever they want and I have to go get some horrible corporate job to struggle at for all of eternity. It does not sound terribly happy at all. Certainly, it does not sound satisfying.

Maybe I could find some down-on-her luck fellow single anarchist mama to found Hobbiton with instead of my husband. Maybe that way I could maintain the illusion that I would be okay, that I could maintain all this ideology I walk around with through the worst of it. In all likelihood, reality would be closer to the former scenario. In any case, there's a veil here, isn't there? Some sort of tenuous grip on philosophy? Do we exalt it beyond what is reasonable? Is it all merely masturbatory? Are our children set up for failure at the hands of a culture that does not remotely resemble this world we create? I am forever defending that my children are not sheltered, goddammit. They interact with people of all walks of life and do things I would rather they not do and make choices I would rather they not make. Things that are not in line with how I feel it all should be. I defend this to some of the very same people who have argued against the things I do on both sides - that I allow them too much exposure to harmful elements and too little exposure to beneficial ones. I find more and more that I do not have hardly any of the answers.

What would I do if it all came crashing down? With my ideology on clearly shaky ground, what am I defending anymore? What am I even doing? What should I be doing? And if it doesn't work out? What will there be left to defend or do or attempt? Soldiering on through sludge that probably has no place with philosophy. That's not what anyone ever wanted for me and I know I've got to be smarter than that. Three of my four parents have master's degrees and I dropped out of college three times. My husband and I go to these departmental shindigs where the new grad students and post-docs ask me questions like, "Are you in academia also?" I pretty much always scoff at them. Right in their faces. "Ha! No, I dropped out of college three times." It doesn't sound very smart.

I think back to why I dropped out of college all those times in the first place. It just wasn't ever a good fit. As I say, "Me and school don't mix." It's not like I went to the same kind of school over and over again at all. My university experience ran the gamut - a small liberal arts college, community college, and a major state university. What would have been a good fit? Was there ever a time where I could really have just plowed through and become what I wanted to be? The last several years, I thought I'd been figuring it out, that there was still plenty of time to change my mind, to become what I am. Mainly to write. I've been busy raising these kids though. I thought that was good too. I thought we were here building a life, or trying to reach the point where we could. Jon's finally finishing his degree, but that's putting us in a transitional space that is rather unpleasant and more unbalanced, it would seem, than anywhere we've been before, at least in some aspects. Which is what's making these questions feel ever more immediate. What can I do to keep us from slipping into abject poverty? And why didn't I do anything the last ten years to secure my own position? What should I have done? What could I have done differently?

I was busy raising these kids. That was the life I was trying for. That is the life I am trying to do. When Aleks slams the door at me though, I think that maybe I don't want to be here, doing this, trying to build this life. I remember when we first moved here I was so excited about trying to conceive Bastian. I sat on a bench at the park and told Heather all about how much I loved being a mother - that it was like I had finally found my calling, what I wanted to be when I grew up, my career. These days I can only remember saying it. I have no recollection of that feeling. It's gotten too confusing. I've gotten too lazy. Their energy is too much. The stakes have suddenly changed. Now that they are three and six, it's as though suddenly I have to be doing things to make them grow up. They should be better behaved. Aleks should be reading. Bastian should be speaking better. They should not be playing video games as much as they do. They should not be up at one in the morning.

There is so much pressure from so many places for them to be something we just aren't. I wonder a lot lately if I just don't have it in me. Maybe I can't muster the energy to do the things I'm supposed to be doing with them. Whatever those things are. The baking, the art, the nature walks - none of it's enough. Nothing is ever enough. Maybe I'm just not one of those women who can feel satisfied by mothering. I don't even know what that means.

The philosophy in me says that all of those expectations are ridiculous. All children need is free time to figure things out. All they need is time with me and my husband and eventually more with others. The philosophy says that the expectation to socialize early and often is too much of an expectation - it becomes uncomfortable and contrived and lacks the freedom of empty space and time. The notion that anyone has anything figured out at all is ludicrous. No one knows what they're doing. Most of the people my age are still figuring out their lives. My parents are still making it up as they go along. I am no different. I am merely trying things out and praying for them to work and that's likely the best I can do. That, and apologize for the demand made that caused the door to slam at me.