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.
Thank you, just thank you
What Maria said! Also this is just what I needed to hear.
You are one amazing woman with amazing insight. Don’t ever think you’re not a role model. At 56 years old I stumbled upon one of your blog stories on tiling and after reading from your first original post through every single post thru today, you certainly became my role model. I am not one bit scared of trying any project because of you. I research the shit out of my intended project, – amazingly you usually appear in the research 🙂 – and I dig in thinking about your adventures and successes.
Kudos to you and keep up the wonderful blog posts.
Thank you for speaking about topics that are challenging no matter what the results are. Power to the people!
I literally just wrote this on Facebook. I can only hope my daughters feel the same as you…
Ok, so bear with me because it’s been a very long, emotionally draining week so far. But I sat here tonight thinking about my kids. I realized that I have always been very vocal and very firm in my decision that my children should have the right to choose.
The right to choose who and how they worship.
The right to choose who and what they believe in.
I didn’t want anyone – myself, their dad or our families – to make those choices for them. I always told them that no one could tell them what to believe in – they had to question and research and look inside themselves and make their own informed decisions. Determine their own beliefs – it’s a very personal thing.
Most of the time they rolled their eyes at me.
I have one who is not so happy about the results of the election.
I have another who’s ok – dare I say- even happy with it.
Although both of them talk about and believe in God,
I have one who has shown an interest in Church and organized religion and another who questions everything and doesn’t really show much interest.
At first I wondered what the HELL happened (ha!)?
Then I realized – I didn’t raise robots.
I didn’t raise kids who only believed what I did because they knew nothing else or were told that my beliefs were right.
I told them what I believed in and what I felt strongly about and they took my words and formed their own opinions.
They don’t always agree with me and have no problems telling me they don’t agree and I FREAKING LOVE THAT (most of the time).
I love their arguments.
I love their convictions.
I love that they don’t believe what I do simply because I told them they should or drilled my belief system into their minds as the “right way to think”.
I love that they aren’t worried or afraid to disagree with me about politics and religion because they know I’m still going to listen and respect them and love them.
Most of all I love that they aren’t influenced by the crowd.
That they aren’t afraid to disagree with their elders (so long as they are respectful about it).
That they make their own decisions, whether they are popular or not.
Whether I agree with their beliefs or not, I respect the hell out of them and they give me hope for the future.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I absolutely love your attitude. Women are so much more than just “sugar, spice and everything nice”, and it’s great to see that represented in you. Your writing resonates with me for a number of personal reasons and is inspirational as well, so thank you.
PS…if you’re ever come to Alaska (Kenai Peninsula), my wife and I’ll buy you a good local beer!
You are so fucking [insert whatever the fuck you want]. I know I can’t define you so I didn’t want to try. Love you and your authentic self.
Courage. Drive. Authenticity. Acceptance. Much love.
After a very unsettling 48 hours, I thank you for putting your unique perspective on the current state of affairs in the US. At 67, having lived thru the 60’s and 70’s and our attempts to make positive change in the world, after finally feeling we HAVE made a difference, to see the results of this election are truly mind boggling. I can’t describe the despair I have been feeling…thx for giving me hope that thru our own efforts we can still power thru this current miasma…with our own personal determination to maintain our ideals and seek the best for all…I needed that…
If I feel shocked and distressed here in New Zealand I can’t imaging what folks are feeling over there. This kind of response (your thoughts) is maybe the way it can all be made better. You can take all you have learned and then all come together to fix what left people feeling so lost and forgotten that they wanted change so bad they would risk it all.
Thanks Kit – Your voice is one of the voices of America that I actually listen to, there is so much in the US that is hard for people like me (Danish) to understand. But you always make sense and on top of that there is good humor !
Secondly I just want to tell you and everybody else how grateful my husband and I felt this summer, when we visited Normandy (Northern France) and went to the American cemetary at Omaha Beach. There are all the graves of nearly 10.000 young men (and a couple of women)from all across America, that came to Europes rescue and gave up their lives for our freedom. Totally selfless gave up their lives in a war that the US could have just ignored – at least the European part of it. When I think of that forest of crosses I know that the US is made up of a lot of essentially good people. Just such a shame that not one of that type made it to be a nominee. Again thanks Kit for making sense.
Thank you for verbalizing how so many of us feel. You are such a kick ass person who continues to inspire those around you. Don’t ever stop doing what you do!
One Big Circus; ’16 The year of The Clowns, too few choices, This is the only political referance I’ll make…I voted my consciece 🙂 all I could do 😐
“Thank you for verbalizing how so many of us feel. You are such a kick ass person who continues to inspire those around you. Don’t ever stop doing what you do!’ What Jen said Kit 🙂
stay authentic, be real, express yourself n damned the consequences
enjoy reading n learning
<3 Thank you!
You are my role model (whether you like it or not) 😀
Thank you – I teared up reading this. You have expressed my thoughts exactly. I’m scared by what I’ve witnessed this week, especially in the wake of the election results…and this helps, a ton!
Thank you. 🙂
Thank you. I appreciate this post a lot. I LOVE your blog, and your attitude, and your ability to learn while doing and then write about the experience with such wit.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank You! I love your blog!
Ahhh, the power of a woman and the power of words. Keep moving forward and growing and building and being the badass woman you are; it’s the only way to live. Thank you.
I woke up on Wednesday and felt that as a gay, Mexican-American woman, I had just been told that the American electorate feels I have no place in this country. Since then, I’ve alternated between sadness and anger. When my straight male boss saw me tearing up at work, he chuckled and said “look at the markets – everything is fine” (we work at a bank). The failure to see the “other” as a human being is what got us here. That failure rests not just on the heads of the people who voted for that man whose name I will not speak, but also on the heads of those who did not adequately acknowledge some of the very real concerns that drove people to vote for him. We all have work to do in the coming years.
Don’t give up – stand up and scream.
You matter to me. I see you.
Laura, you are a part of what makes our country great. We need diversity and America would not be what it is today without people of different backgrounds with different stories to tell. As Barbara said, you matter. I’m glad you are part of our nation. I won’t stop fighting if you won’t ;-).
Yours is the first blog I read every day. I’ve shared your space with many, because it is so authentic and healrtfelt and your words mean something to me. I needed this today, and I appreciate you putting yourself, and your perspective, out there for all.
Hugs from Phoenix.
Thank You. You are amazing.
One of the reasons I love your writing so much is because I relate. I have 15 years of working in directions that are not ‘traditionally female’ (my degree is in construction management). I have always been positive and ready to work hard for my goals, and obstinate enough that anyone who tries to block me just motivates me to blast through what I can and change minds one at a time. It’s easier on my personal projects that no one else has a say in, harder when facing the same old same old seeing me as a dismissed category instead of an individual in the workplace. This week I’m a little mentally exhausted though. It’s infuriating that it feels like my daughter will face so much more resistance to things she wants to do than my sons will. It’s fine, I’ll regroup and stiffen my spine to the whole ‘life isn’t fair’ thing and go on to meet life with optimism again. But this week I’ll just allow a few days of rage.
Thank you for this, Kit.
Thank you for being such an inspiration in such a dark time.
Thank you so much for this!!
Thank you for your words, because mine have left me.
I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who so eloquently put into words the same feelings I have but could not express. I couldn’t even put a finger on why I’ve felt so downtrodden these past few days. Your post, and everyone’s comments, made me feel that I’m not alone. Even though we are far flung and don’t know each other, it feels like we all have a common thread with one another. We believe in being true to ourselves and with others. We can do what we thought we couldn’t if we try. Kit, you might not be aware of how much your outlook on life buoys us up, gives us confidence and courage, and gives voice to the wee thoughts and hopes hiding in our hearts. This post feels like a big group hug. And it feels like you have our backs. Thank you!
Amen, sister. I’ve missed your posts.
I might blow your mind, but here goes. I was born in Amarillo, Texas, but spent 9 years in L.A. I traveled across the USA and back in my early 20’s. I married a Baptist preacher and we had 6 children, one of which passed away as an infant. I attended law school but never took the barr. I ended up being a sous chef. I spent years as a kid growing up ranching and farming and continued that once married. My children would love having you for a friend if you only lived in Texas. My oldest daughter has spent 23 years working for Texas Dept. of Corrections, married a mexican (his words,) had 2 sons and 2 grandkids, one with Downs Synd. My second daughter is a manager for Applebee’s, married a black man, and has a son who is bi-polar. My oldest son served in the USArmy, married, has 2 children, both with ADHD. My third daughter married a jew, she is very much like you. Animals, builds things (barns for chickens and goats,) makes goatmilk soap and cheese, sews quilts and clothes, fantastic artist, loves her bow and arrows and cross bow and throwing knives. She can’t have children so the 3 cats, 3 dogs, 2 lizzard, and turtle, chickens and goats are her children. She has been know to sleep with a sick baby goat. My youngest son is single, gay, manager for Pizza Hut/Wing Stop, has 3 degrees in computer stuff, doesn’t ever want to own a house (too much work.) He writes poetry that has been published. All of my children have tested IQs of 132-186. My husband was in a car accident and spent his last 21 years as a quadriplegic. He passed away 3 years ago. My hair went gray in my early 30s. I love your blog. People are interesting. lol
P.S. I believe in the secret ballot idea. My world does not revolve around Washington because I don’t let it. As you can see by my previous post I have so much more going on in my life. By the way, the daughter, and her husband, with all the animals, lives with me in my big old house.
Thanks for writing down your thoughts. I’ve been at a loss of words lately. It helps to read your’s.
I have to say thank you. At 25, making $13/ hr, I told my mom that I was going to buy a house, she laughed at me. The woman who encouraged me to be whatever I wanted and who had overcome many gender equality issues in her own work place told me, her daughter, that I couldn’t do something. I know it came from love but I took the challenge on and I moved into my house a year later. My mom was probably the proudest when I got my keys and also became one of my biggest supporters. The house was built in 1920, was not kept up well, no AC (I live in California’s Central Valley so it gets HOT!!), horrible flooring, etc. The day I got my keys I painted that whole house, a couple weeks later I redid the bathroom and a few months later I painted my kitchen cabinets. These are all small projects and managible for a broke girl. If it wasn’t for this blog I wouldn’t have even tried any of those things. I struggled and struggled for two years in that house. I sold that house about a year and I half ago! I regret in everyday! I loved the projects that I always had. I don’t think I would have worked half as hard on that house if I didn’t see someone else doing it.
Could’nt have said it better! Thank you!
Oh, my gosh! Everytime I walk into a hardware store with my husband they always talk to him. At least, until he says they need to talk to me b/c he doesn’t do our DIY stuff! One time, I almost got into an argument b/c the guy was telling me I couldn’t hang my porch swing like I was describing. I had to go home, look at my research again… and then go back and get the stuff without asking!
That sucker is still up there, so I guess I did it right!
Girl power, yo.
I love you, Kit!!