I did not grow up in a world that told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Quite the opposite, in fact. The first seven or eight years of things I documented on this website were basically a series of posts in which I said “here’s something one of the darling men in my life told me I couldn’t do and/or was doing wrong and OH HEY LOOK I BUILT A HOUSE. (Oh and P.S. ladies: you don’t have to build a house, but you totally can if you want to.)”
My life has always been full of wonderful people–deeply amazing, deeply flawed humans– but there was no one role model I looked at and said “hey, I want to be just like that” and then modeled my life or career or hobbies after.
The very short version of why I am the person I am today goes like this: Despite what the world around me looked like, and despite the way everyone around me lived their lives, it legitimately never occurred to me that I couldn’t do or be whatever the fuck I wanted. And whenever someone in my life had the gall to contradict that belief, I was just stubborn and indignant enough to immediately turn around and do the thing they thought I couldn’t… sometimes just out of sheer spite. (See also: the archives.)
My parents instilled many great qualities in me– my fiscal responsibility, my love of nature, my empathy, my work ethic, my sense of humor, my ability to yell the loudest in a fight because whoever yells the loudest wins obviously (thanks Dad)– but that core principle of who I am… the ability to view myself and my life without the boundaries that other people see or believe in? That was not some intentional thing my parents instilled in me (I mean, imagine raising a kid who, from the ages of 2-22, believes she can do whatever the fuck she wants without regard for what anyone else thinks… and then lets all go buy my parents some alcohol.)
I started writing this website because I thought I was funny and because I like telling stories, and at first it never occurred to me that someone might read about my life and say, “holy shit, if that girl can do this thing I can do it too.” Or, even more importantly, “holy shit, that’s a real flawed, amazing human who accepts herself, and if she’s worthy of acceptance, I am too.” Because guys, let’s be honest… I’m nobody’s role model.
The percentage of people (women especially) who are like, “Hey you know what sounds good? I’d like to live in a garage for 18 months and build a house on the weekends because I like not having a life and sometimes finding dead mice on the top of the pile of dishes I haven’t washed in a week“… yeah, that percentage of people is so small it might actually be a negative number.
So many of you have written to me because of the stories I’ve written on this website. You’ve told me your hopes and dreams and the hard shit you’re going through, and all the things it never occurred to you that you could do until you found my website. And that’s not because I’m particularly admirable, or because you want to live my life, but because even though I’ve never said this explicitly, in the stories I tell there is one common theme: Despite what the world around you looks like, and despite the way everyone around you lives their lives, you can do or be whatever the fuck you want. And if someone tries to contradict that belief, you turn around and you do the thing they said you couldn’t… sometimes you do it for yourself, and sometimes you do it just to spite them, because fuck anyone who tells you you can’t.
I realize that maybe I haven’t been shouting that message as clearly in the last few years, because as I’ve grown older and gained more experience to back up the things I always knew I could do (or that I was at least sure I could figure out eventually) people stopped questioning my abilities. And, oddly, the world around me stopped looking so different from the things that I intrinsically believed– that being authentic is important, that there are consequences for your actions, that we can connect with people even if they’re different from us, that you work hard for the things you want, that despite our age, height, gender, sexual orientation, race, or education, as a society we’re taking away all those old, antiquated barriers that tell you who you are or what you can be.
And now, I find myself in an interesting position…
I’ve made a deliberate choice for twelve years not to discuss “current events” on this website. No matter my personal feelings, I don’t talk about natural disasters or school shootings, or civil unrest, or fucking crazy people… and I sure as shit do not talk about politics. Because, in a lot of ways, the political machine and society’s current events are the EXACT OPPOSITE of the authentic, personal story that I want to tell here. Also, in a lot of ways my political beliefs don’t fit into a two-party system, and if I wrote another decade’s worth of posts I don’t know if I could cover all of those topics.
Here’s the truth: My life is a mix of the two worlds we’ve created in our political system. I was raised in a upper-middle-class white family who ran a small business in order to provide for us (and benefited from all the legislation that small businesses of upper-middle-class white people benefit from), but that business came from the bluest of blue-collar foundations. My immediate family is mixed religiously, racially, and economically, and my friends are straight, gay, trans, bisexual, and also sometimes fucking crazy, but I love each and every one of them so much that I would lay my life down for any one of them. I live in a community of old, white farmers and I very often employ old, white (sometimes traditionally “uneducated”) tradesmen to help me with my projects, and I’ve both respected and learned incredible things from all of them. I spend 50 hours a week working in a young, hip, culturally progressive company whose cause is to “invigorate the power of human beings to make a difference” which we don’t just say to people, but actually fucking believe, which is almost unheard of in the kind of corporate culture I grew up in.
I am privileged in so very many ways, but, also, so many of the things I do in my life are influenced by my desire to protect myself. I have 8 years of martial arts classes under my belt (and know three different ways to remove a persons eyeballs from their head, should the need arise) and I sleep with a handgun under my spare pillow because as a single woman of short stature, I don’t expect this world to protect me, so I’m prepared to protect myself. I fear another recession (or worse) that could put my little farm in jeopardy and so I’m financially conservative, and I make sure I have marketable skills not only with my job (and multiple degrees) but with my hobbies a well. Regardless of their religious affiliation I am fucking appalled when anyone– rich white male, or otherwise– tries to have an opinion about what I can or can’t do with my body. And, while I don’t have a personal desire to marry or have kids at this time, it is still astounding to me that we’d try to prevent other people from having those same things because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
What’s become clear in the last several months (and increasingly in the last week) is that there isn’t a political party that represents my beliefs. The world still isn’t a safe, comfortable place that is telling me that I can do or be anything I want. And so many people out there on both sides of the political line feel the same thing (for very different reasons, and sometimes for reasons I think we all haven’t properly examined.) So here’s my plan…
I’m remembering that girl who started this blog as a “powertool wielding badass” because a lot of people said that’s what she couldn’t or shouldn’t be. I’m remembering how many friends I’ve made in my life (and through this website) who fall on a different side of the line that I do on either political and religious issues, and how if I needed help I every single one of them would be there for me. I’m remembering how many of you have written to me, not because we believe the same things, but because the human stories on this website have resonated with you and made you feel less alone in the world. I’m remembering that I have this small space of the internet where it’s not about clickbait or fearmongering or politics or drama, but where people can come to hear real, authentic stories… and I’m remembering how important it is to keep telling them.
I don’t care who you are– male or female, college educated or not, LGBTQ or straight, white or black or latino or any other race, whoever you voted for– despite what the world around you looks like, and despite the way everyone around you lives their lives, you can do or be whatever the fuck you want. Through all this shit, I’m the girl who thought she could be a powertool wielding badass one day, and you? Remember who you are, remember who you want to be. And if you think there’s no one else in the world who supports you right now, write me an email, because I want to hear your authentic story. I want to know who you are, and, whatever the world around us looks like, I believe you can be whatever you want to be.