Felicitations #15

I play violin good, do you like me now please?

Last week, a butterfly fluttered through the jujitsu studio where my 4-year-old daughter takes class. Of all the little kids politely standing in an orderly line, waiting their turn to tackle the teacher, only one of them spotted said butterfly and started dancing after it, giggling and bouncing the whole time. No joke, it looked like she was doing the Snoopy dance.

Yup, you guessed right. It was my daughter.

“This is so on brand for her,” I muttered from the sidelines. The other parents laughed. Because it was true. My kiddo is bright and creative and full of life, but she has a nebulous understanding of waiting her turn. She has a “better way” to do every move the teacher tries to teach the kids, and is very vocal about sharing it. She will rarely do anything for the sake of pleasing anyone and she needs to be cajoled or engaged on HER level or she won’t do it. I know. I’ve tried. A lot. I always used to sneer at other parents when their kids would act out, “Jeez, did you raise that kid in a barn?!” and now I’M the one with the hard-to-handle one. Joke’s on me, Judgy McJudgerbutt!

At her age I would die rather than step out of line in class. My goal in life for my entire childhood, probably from birth, was to be the teacher’s pet. “Would you like me to poop in the diaper now, or after you finish your coffee, mama?” I used to think this was the way my parents raised me (and it probably contributed) but now, having tried to get my daughter to do anything compliant around an extracurricular lesson and failed totally, I realize that genes are powerful things and I must have gotten “sucking up” as a genetic skill bonus.

The thing is though, that I don’t WANT her to be like I was. That’s actually my #1 goal as a parent. Because my whole life, my identity has been wrapped up in what skills I’ve achieved, so I could drop bombs in conversation like, “I have a math degree!” and “I was in a symphony at age 16!” and “I was doing calculus at 11, aren’t I fun to party with?!” I remember distinctly as a child picking up a Latin book and thinking, “I should learn this, adults will really think this is so cool and can speak like Cesar.” Like, slow down little Felicia, you’re defining the word “try-hard” right now!

Sure, the people-pleasing thing has gotten me far on a certain level, but to the detriment to my mental health. Because the conditional belief that my achievements ARE me has been very hard to shake. I’ve had to work on regulating this feeling, within myself, ever since I realized it was the root of a lot of my anxiety and depression. During my last stint of therapy a few years ago, my therapist looked at me, with tears in her eyes, “Oh. You don’t know you exist, do you?” and that struck me in a very profound way. Because…no. On a certain level I didn’t. I WAS my achievements.

But thanks to massive introspection and an excellent crying therapist, I’ve been able to identify that insatiable praise beast inside me that will never be satisfied, no matter how much it eats, and work to cut it off at the knees. Er…stomach. You get the idea. I’ve worked on myself and stuff. It’s been a hard journey, and at times I’ve had to question whether anything I’ve done, aside from playing video games, has really come from a rooted sense of ME wanting to do it, rather than the idea that other people would want me to do it. “HOLD UP: Do you want to learn the mandolin for yourself, Felicia, or for sharing on Instagram, hmmm?” I’m constantly questioning myself. And it’s paid off! Case in point: I’ve never learned the mandolin.

On an earnest note, I’ve come to believe that the whole muddying of identity with, “You are what you achieve” is flawed and destructive and the root of a lot of problems in peoples’ lives. No, we are not what we achieve, we just ARE. We are whole and complete and wondrous without anything else on top. No “straight A” cherries, no “tri-lingual” icing, nothing. If we can all focus on THAT as a starting point, then I think we’d all be guided toward more fulfilling paths in life. /earnest

I can genuinely say that, MOST of the time lately, I’ve figured out how to identify and work on things that give me intrinsic satisfaction, rather than always trying to guide myself toward the lowest-hanging praise from others. And I’m working on projects, like this newsletter, because I NEED to work on them, NEED them to exist, outside of any result or praise. The pace I make things might be slower and less frantic than before, but they’re coming from a sense of ME rather than OTHER. And it all feels right!

And then…we turn back to my “definitely not compliant” child. Sigh.

I truly believe that I was gifted a free-spirited, hard-to-wrangle kiddo, so I would be forced to guide myself away from my worst instincts. Or maybe the universe was just f*cking with me when she sent her down, lol. But when I feel myself getting riled up that she’s not paying attention or doing her dance moves right in class, I slap down the beast inside who wants to criticize her. “Don’t you dare talk to my baby like that! No Twitter likes for you later!” Of course I don’t let her be wild and disrupt the class (I hear your “but Felicia!” internet), but I certainly don’t speak harshly to her or let my irritation take over. I simply lead her away to take a break until she’s ready to follow the class. OR we don’t go to class at all if she’s not in a place she can receive the instruction. Is this going to be bad for her later in life? I dunno! But there’s no way on earth I’ll ever let her think that I’d love her more if she put a bow on her violin strings properly.

And above all, I never want her to stop dancing after butterflies.

(Yeah, that’s caterpillar poop on the bottom of the cage, cut me some slack. I raised these buggers from scratch and the picture is royalty free, jeez!)


NEWSLETTER SHOUTOUTS: Thanks for supporting!

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PERSONAL LINKS (Also Interesting):

  • We will be doing NaNoRiMo on my Discord server together for the month of November go to this channel and start planning what you’ll work on!

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  • Undressing The Witcher just posted the review of the last episode of season 1. We will be watching the ANIME film on Netflix for next ep in two weeks.

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See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3

oxox
Felicia

Felicitations #14

So, Gaming...is it a good or bad thing?

My 4-year-old used her first video game controller last week. By herself. It was such a proud mama moment, like when she first walked, but you know…cooler? We played Mario Kart and she even beat me once. (For the record I was distracted showing her how to play. I totally could’ve won if I was paying attention. For the record.) But the joy in my daughter’s eyes after kicking my ass was incredible to see. I was so happy! And then I though…hold up, Felicia.

Do you actually WANT her to be a gamer?

I know, this is wild for me to bring up. Gamer Girl/Woman/Female personality of the 2010’s, lol. But everything I expose my kid to has the chance to change who she is, and possibly the trajectory of her life, which then she might blame on me in therapy in 10-20 years (which I will probably pay for), so obsessive self-consciousness in this area doesn’t seem unwarranted.

In my teens, I could’ve easily spend eight hours of a Saturday on a video game. I mean, I definitely did. And a Sunday. And a Monday annnnd…you get the idea. But I was homeschooled and had tons of time to burn. She won’t have that kind of time if (and when) I send her to be properly socialized so she doesn’t develop an anxiety disorder, like her dear ol’ mama. And the thought of my daughter binge-gaming all her spare hours away instead of practicing something useful, like oboe or some crap, is genuinely upsetting to me. I mean, I’m not turning full-Karen (hopefully) but my priority is that she become the best person she can become. And I don’t know if that includes using her entire formative years to kill zombies or arrange RPG inventory. So yeah, maybe I’m becoming Karen-lite. But time is precious! And the window for “getting good” at stuff is narrow. And that oboe or “some crap” won’t practice itself.

Being a gamer also means setting her on a path to be a bit of an outsider. Which can be lonely at times. I know that more little girls play video games nowadays, so she wouldn’t be THAT ostracized as she gets older due to peer pressure (hopefully), but it could be a factor. I was so hurt by being rejected due to my weirdness early on, it chafes that I might be putting her in that position. Or ever having to justify her gaming abilities to gatekeeping little boys. That would make me so mad I’d call a parent-teacher conference that literally no one would support.

And then, there’s the whole “gamer parent” of it all. For the past month I’ve been going on school tours for her Kindergarten, and at one fancy private school I forgot to change beforehand and accidentally wore a Mario shirt. The teacher looked at me like I pooped on the swing set. So…it’s not a MAINSTREAM thing. Is my kid going to be embarrassed of me one day because I refuse to be like other moms and wear flats and logo-free tee shirts? (Sadly, LAN parties are few and far between at PTA meetings.) So…yeah. More than a touch of loneliness probably comes with the territory. I’ve accepted that, but does she have to?

Long, whiney story short, I’d love for my kid to share this hobby with me, but I don’t want to make her do it out of guilt or pressure. Or push her so much that at age eleven she decides to become a jock and go to soccer practice and GOD FORBID I have to go outside to observe her in a team sport. *shudder* #nightmarefuel

So when I’d almost talked myself out of gaming with her on a regular basis, “Let’s do chess instead, that’s good for the brain!” I stopped, gave myself a mental slap and said: “Shut up, Felicia. Who says that being a gamer HASN’T made you the most awesome, best person you can be?!”

On a basic level, gaming made me learn early-on that doing something over and over again will make you better at it. JUST LIKE THE OBOE. I’ve met some of my best friends through bonding over Ultima and Diablo and Skyrim, and later through WOW and The Guild. Socialization? CHECK! During college, I had way more fun playing Tank on my boyfriend’s retro Atari 600 than making out with him, which KINDA was a good thing. (At least, in my mom’s eyes.) And who knows what Tetris has done for my packing skills. I’m the only person I know who’s done 2 weeks of travel with a single carry on and a FANNY PACK. Those abilities had to come from somewhere!

Okay, yes, I have to admit, there ARE moments in my life when gaming has brought out the worst in me. Like when I tried to escape the real-life agonies of my acting career by playing WOW six hours a day (see biography). And a few weeks back when a group of seven of us spent around 67 minutes dying 156 times trying to finish the last level of a “cooperative” game called Pico Park. At one point I literally screamed, “I hate all of you!! Especially me!”

(Start the video at 3:42 to watch the agony. Or don’t if you want to keep your good opinion of me.)

But overall, I’m not a griefer, troll or bully, IRL or online for having spent a lot of my youth gaming. I’m not lazy, and I’m pretty good at a few things, because of gaming, and despite gaming. And I can’t help that my love of games is something, selfishly, I want to share with her. I have dreams of being a DM for her and her 10-year-old friends one day. I want to play co-op games with her on the couch, and legitimately watch her own my ass in Fall Guys (or whatever the equivalent game will be in ten years, probably holograms.)

So after overthinking my thoughts to death, I asked myself again:

Do you actually WANT her to be a gamer?

Yes. Yes, I do.

So I’ve decided to set a timer for playing 30 minutes every night (probably ending up at 45). We’ll play TOGETHER and then throw in oboe or “some crap” practice on the regular before bed. As she grows up, we’ll play through every Nintendo game ever, then move onto Minecraft, and then to something more aggro where we kill virtual boars together, and every step of the way she can decide whether gaming is for her or not. No parental pressure! When she’s a teenager, I’m sure she’ll decide it’s NOT for her because I love it so much. But I have hopes that, eventually, when she outgrows her rebellious “I hate mom” stage (sob!), she’ll want to sit down as an adult and play a game of Catan with me. And I will savor the hell out of it.

And hog all the stone, natch.


NEWSLETTER SHOUTOUTS!

I’ll probably do a whole dedicated newsletter to my new venture, GEEX soon, but until then, I want to do shoutouts to those in the community who decided to support this newsletter over there and help keep it free of charge for everyone. There will be more opps in the future to get a shoutout, stay tuned! (And going forward, I’ll only do 5 shoutouts an issue, sorry!) Infinite thanks to:

  • MST3kTemple

  • Cleavesmill

  • DragonPoking

  • LeePT: Nerd based Personal Trainer at skilltreefitness

  • The Bunneah Brigade

  • w3r3wolv3s

  • Fred Hill

  • Jet Jaguar

  • Geek Father Scott

  • And All Been Done Radio Hour, a scripted, modern, geeky comedy podcast in the style of old-timey radio serials performed LIVE in front of an audience!


INTERESTING LINKS:

  • RECIPE OF THE WEEK: I’ve posted creepy pics of my spatchcock’d chickens before, but you haven’t eaten good roast chicken until you’ve made it this way. Make sure to separate the skin and rub olive oil and salt between there too!

  • Here’s a great article on Sid Meier, who came up with the game Civilization. Def wanna pick up his new auto-biography too.

  • This Life Stats mini-game-ish thing made me feel WAY too mortal. Plug in your birthday and join in some existential angst!

  • Scientists used an AI to finish Beethoven’s 10th symphony. Can I hand them a few of my half-done screenplays to polish off, please?

  • You guys know how I’m obsessed with credit card points lately. So this list of the cheapest 5 star hotels in the world got me dreaming for 2022!


PERSONAL LINKS (Also Interesting):

  • Undressing The Witcher has a new podcast up. Learn what animals Tom Lenk won’t date the owners of. Next ep will be up next week, wrapping up Season 1!

  • Voyage to the Stars, my improv comedy sci-fi podcast is still releasing season 3 episodes. Great guest stars abound!

  • Yes, I have my own creator coin now, GEEX. It’s a fun way to play in web 3.0 tech and build community in a new way. And it doesn’t eat up any more energy than a website does. If you want more info on it read here!

  • If you want to be notified when I have new content, click here and text SUBSCRIBE to the number if it doesn’t pop up immediately. It is FREE!

  • Lastly, please subscribe to this newsletter so you get it directly in your inbox.


See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3

oxox
Felicia

Felicitations #13

How I sleep now...or ATTEMPT to anyway.

I used to be a solid 10-hour-a-night sleeper. That probably sounds ridiculous to most people, and I get it, I’m an a-hole for even bringing it up. But remember, I was homeschooled and had NO structure to my days as a kid. So I slept whenever and for as long as I wanted. Because clearly, sleep RULES and I made the most of it, yo!

Yet note the PAST TENSE of my first sentence. “Used to”. So…yeah. We’re gonna get into it.

Even before I had a baby, I considered my sleep time inviolate. Invited to a movie premiere on a Friday night? Um, HELLO, that meant I’d be pushing my bedtime to maybe 11pm or 12am. I’m not staying up until the NEXT DAY for anything! Pass.

But after I had a baby…well, my body and mind broke down and “sleep” turned into an elusive legend from the past, like gramophones and size 25 jeans. It took three years of struggling with every non-medical technique on the planet for me to finally seek help with anti-anxiety drugs. WHICH WAS THE RIGHT MOVE! My brain was so broken, that to regulate my sleep any other way was impossible. I would literally lie in bed, vibrating with anxiety, like a violin string. And the drug helped! BUUUUT a low dose of Lexepro is not a cure-all, sadly. I am still in sleep jail in a lot of ways, especially around my hormone cycle (hello TMI!) and when I travel. Since it seems like a lot of other people have this issue too, I wanted to share what I do to get semi- functional sleep at night. And, IF I follow it, I sometimes have good sleep! But you’re not gonna like it. (Also I’m not a doctor, so please don’t act on any of this without first researching and asking an official medical person. I don’t wanna get sued lol.)

1) No caffeine and as little sugar as possible.

I’m awful for even typing this, right? I hate everything about this very good advice. It 100% works to help sleep happen, but is 100% torture to adhere to. I hate that when I test it out, “No black tea this morning!” I sleep better. I hate that if I have a tiny bit of chocolate at 3pm, I can’t sleep that night. I DESPISE that I can’t have a huge baked Alaska at 8pm and then lay down without my heart palpitating like I’m having a panic attack. It sucks! But hey, so does reality! (Sorry that was jaded.) If you can cut back on any of it, just do it. I’m sorry. :(

2) No screens 2 hours before bed.

Again. This sucks. What do we have to do, be in JAIL to get sleep?! If you’re a parent, the two hours between their bedtime and your bedtime is often your only window for media consumption! I NEED to watch a few hours of home decorating shows before bed. ITS THE ONLY THING THAT SOOTHES ME IN THIS WORLD BESIDES THE CUPCAKES I CAN’T EAT NOW, SEE ITEM 1!

I dunno how not to be a hypocrite here. I can’t listen to my own advice. But after I play Fortnite in particular I HAVE to read for an hour before bed because my eyes are so jumpy in my head, it takes that long to calm them down enough to read a sentence properly. (That’s actually disturbing to think about? I’m still playing Fortnite though. You can’t stop me.) I think this item has something about the body reacting to blue light, which on a lot of devices you can turn on “night mode” to remove that after a certain time, so definitely do that! And read something on paper 30 min before bed. Whatever, this one is a lost cause.

3) No eating 3-4 hours before bed.

SHUT UP FELICIA! But again…effective. Sigh. Here’s a podcast I love, Found My Fitness, interviewing a scientist who specializes in circadian biology that is 100% worth a listen for tons of good advice around this topic. Basically, don’t eat 3-4 hours before you go to bed, or 1-2 after you wake up, and try to eat within a 8-10 hour timeframe each day. Your body will love you and you’ll sleep better! And you won’t get acid reflux as much! Sigh, acid reflux concerns? God, I’m old.

4) Meditation tape as you go to bed.

Hey! This works and is not as annoying to implement, yay! I’ve listened to this recording about “Releasing Anxiety” from psychologist Gwen Randall Young almost every night for the last few years. It’s amazing and ASMR-ish, but not in a creepy sexy way, sorry Gwen. When she starts to talk about shining pink light I just zzzzzzzz….. Just find a calm person to tell you to visualize trees and ponds and crap and it will be worth it, trust me.

5) Melatonin.

This one is sometimes a big winner for me, although I don’t think nightly usage is a good idea since Europe actually treats this hormone as a prescribed drug, lol. I use it sparingly for travel and for days when I know I have to set the alarm to wake up, because just HAVING an alarm looming over my head gives me anxiety and prevents me from sleeping. Yes, I am extremely high strung.

I take melatonin 1 hour before bed and I take ONLY .3 mg! YES, THAT’S RIGHT. POINT THREE MILLIGRAMS. Here’s a VERY comprehensive article on the drug that cites scientific studies that .3 mg is the ideal dosage for people for sleep. I found this fact very weird considering that in the store, all the pills you can buy are like 1-10 MG!!! So I basically get a chew tablet of 1mg and bite it in half.

5) Just get up and read something.

I hate this one because there’s always that FAINT HOPE I’ll get tired somehow after the lights are out, so it’s hard to just make myself give up and GET up. But I think at this point in my life I’ve developed a touch of PTSD about NOT being able to sleep? So when the light goes out and I’m not feeling sleepy, I get anxious that I’m not gonna be able to sleep, which prevents me from sleeping MORE! It’s messed up, ya’ll. But if I get up and read something pretentious, like Greek or Roman literature or theoretical physics, after an hour or so I’m too bored to be anxious anymore. Also it helps me sound pretentious during the waking hours, and that’s always nice.

6) The marble/spinning/hacker technique.

This is the desperate move. I use it often. And I THINK it might be tied to the eye movements in my head while I imagine these things? Which is completely something I personally stumbled upon, and not related to actual EDRM therapy which seems cool and I would love to try out one day. But basically, sometimes my mind gets fixated on thinking about anxious things and I cannot stop. Things like, “Four years ago you offhandedly mentioned you don’t like Long Beach, but that person was actually FROM Long Beach! They hate you now! How can you make it up to them??!” Fun stuff like that! With all these techniques, it’s like I’m trying to overload my senses to break up my anxiety and allow my mind space to calm down. So I imagine one of the following things, all with my eyes closed:

-A ball spinning around the inside of my skull, which I try to make feel real in it’s weight, and the sound of it spinning around like a pinball in my head and stuff. It’s a technique I learned in acting class to help you seem drunk on camera. But hey, it works sad and alone in your bedroom, too!

-A windshield wiper going around in a circle that bangs to a stop at 1pm mark every time, and then starts going around again. This is a weird one, but it works for me. Here’s a diagram.

-Hacker coding in green on black, you know the old school stuff, scrolling upward infinitely. I force my eyes to try to read the code in my head as it whizzes past. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. This is ultra nerdy and calms me down too. Win win!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I hope any of these items help you get better sleep. Because it’s so glorious when it works! And so very dismal when it does not.

I hope at least it makes you resent having to curb all of your life choices in order to get functional rest! And know that at least you’re not alone in your struggles. I will be with you, trying to resist drinking an 11pm mocha while binging Game of Thrones before bed, every not-snore of the way!


INTERESTING LINKS:

  • RECIPE OF THE WEEK: I’m trying to detox from too much sugar, so I’m eating Kitchari for dinners now. I used this recipe to make it with mung beans and served it over a bed of spinach. Yummm! Great spices. BEST meal!

  • Toucan is a Chrome extension that will change random words in your browser to a language you want to learn. It’s really slick and I’m enjoying it!

  • Do you know about today’s competitive NES Tetris scene? I didn’t either. So this video will blow your mind. Naively, I thought I was pretty good at the game!

  • Stumbled on a cool text adventure game maker and player: Written Realms. I SO want to make something with this! Link me your game if you use it yourself.

  • Should we cut our children off from the internet? MAYBE? Uh, what about us?!

  • There’s a whole underground trend of “Dreamscape” music — Old timey music mixed with storm sounds? Strangely riveting in a Fallout-esque kind of way.


PERSONAL LINKS (Also Interesting):

  • NEW!!!! Subscribe to my TEXT MESSAGES for updates on livestreams, new projects, newsletter releases and more! Click on: https://my.community.com/feliciaday and text SUBSCRIBE to the number if it doesn’t pop up immediately. It is FREE and I promise not to spam you!

  • Embrace Your Weird, my creativity book, is a great self-help tool to work through to find your post-Covid self. Or current-Covid self, really.

  • Shoutout to my Discord channel for chatting and fun! I’ll be starting some new community activities there soon you might want to participate in!

  • Undressing The Witcher and Felicitations podcasts both have new eps up.

  • Voyage to the Stars, my improv comedy sci-fi podcast is releasing season 3 episodes NOW!

  • Lastly, please subscribe to this newsletter so you get it in your inbox every week.


See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3

oxox

Felicia

Felicitations #12

Should I raise my child like a wolf like I was, or is that technically illegal?

Bye, July! This has been a wonderful month of actually FINISHING things. I got all the work done on my house that I’ve been in process on for almost two years. Setting aside the agony of living in renovation chaos over Covid quarantine, I have to say my new patio tiles look GREAT! I also got my acting reel edited and new headshots done so I can go out and attempt to do more acting. I posted one of the new pics on my Instagram, but here’s an exclusive look at the serious “I can be a badass but still have a little smile while I do it” shot:

Thank you photographer Violeta Meyners for making me look like I have a smidge of authority. This will convince the world I can be a coroner or crap on and hour TV show, right? Awesome! I’m hired!

I also just finished writing on an episode of the new season of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (so fun!), got a bunch of tax crap done, called my dentist and made the appointment for three cavities to be filled (SOB) and FINALLY plotted out my in-person convention schedule for the fall. Here it is below, thanks to my mod Rocketsoup, whose photoshop skills DON’T look like a 12 year old’s like, ahem, some people’s. (aka mine.)

So my schedule has now been freed up, bandwidth is a bit wider, I can now fixate on something new that will distract me from my writing projects that need to be completed! Yay! What fresh joy will it be?!?!

Kindergartens. Gulp.

When I get a deadline of ANY type, it’s like the Night King from “Game of Thrones” reaches out and grips my heart and fills my veins with ice. I can’t react calmly. I have “no chill”. So you can imagine my response last week when a woman at the preschool my kid said to me in a shocked tone, “You haven’t started touring elementary schools yet?!” I was instantly drenched in panic. DID I MISS A DEADLINE?! I NEVER MISS DEADLINES! DID I EVER MENTION TO YOU, RANDOM LADY, THAT I WAS THE VALEDICTORIAN OF MY COLLEGE MATH CLASS?! I tried to stay calm and called out, “Thanks for the tip. Lets get the kids together to do a playdate soon!” (I never will), then drove 5000 miles an hour home to start investigating this situation that CLEARLY I had screwed the hell up.

First, I looked at the calendar and realized, umm…it’s 2021? My 4 year old won’t be going to Kindergarten for over a year, why are we even talking about this?! But then I looked at the fine print…uh oh. Schools tours are in Sept. Applications are due in October. Admissions are issued in Feb-Mar…omg a whole year is flashing before my eyes. *reads fine print*…wait a minute. My kid has the potential to be REJECTED by schools?! *THE NIGHT KING GRIPS MY HEART HARDER AND LAUGHS*

Thus my dive into the world of schooling began.

I want to preface this essay with a quick grounding in my VERY strange perspective. Those of you who read my memoir might already know some of this, but, as far as school, I went to preschool, and half a year of kindergarten. That’s it, until I went to college right after I turned 16. Between that: Nothing. No alarms waking me up. No tests. No…other kids of any kind anywhere around me outside of group lessons where adults watched us like hawks every second. My brother and I like to say we were homeschooled…but really we were unschooled. There was no structure. No schedule. No benchmarks. We read books and watched TV and had lessons…sometimes. We never went to camp. We never played on the playground with other kids. I can’t overstate this: I NEVER HAD FRIENDS OR DID TESTS OR HAD DEADLINES EVER.

So the whole way I approach the idea of “schooling” for my daughter is warped by this very free-wheeling, anarchist, but socially stunting perspective. I mean, the idea of sitting at a desk…that’s a form of jail, to me. I KNOW! It’s not normal or functional! But I can’t help it! I currently send her to a preschool that is only 2 hours a day, otherwise she’s at home with me or a person who watches her while I work from home. In my heart, institutionalized learning is sooooo scary to even contemplate. I’ve tried to reframe my thinking to be more open minded for my kid, for her (hopefully) better adjusted social and emotional growth. But, in the face of this leap to elementary school, it seems totally overwhelming. Like ever parent, I want to do the best for my kid. No matter the cost, inconvenience or philosophical disconnect. So…what’s the move here?!

I started looking through school options in my area. Immediately, I was buried in terms I didn’t understand that made me panic more. “Traditional.” “Progressive.” “Magnet”. “Montessori.” “Immersion.” “SAS”! “Permitted applications!” “Independent Charters!” “Licensed Charter!” It goes on and on. LA has one of the biggest school districts in the nation. That doesn’t make the system EASIER by a long shot. I tried to start slow, I got in the car and just drove by the school that my kid automatically gets into for free with my tax dollars. There, I saw a concrete box surrounded by concrete with ten foot high fences around it. Basically, it looked like a place I’d loot in Fallout 3. It is not “highly rated”, whatever that means, and of course I panicked. “Damnit, 2006 Felicia! No wonder you managed to afford home ownership in Los Angeles way back when: Your school district SUCKS! WHY DIDN’T TEN YEAR AGO YOU THINK ABOUT POTENTIALLY REPRODUCING?! NOW WE’RE SCREWED!”

THAT little trip made me rebound to investigate the fanciest private school I could find, which was equally disheartening in it’s own way, and not just because of the price. (I mean, that too. But there was more.) On the website the school’s alumni touted internationally famous singers who performed at their fundraising events and other celebrity alumni who donated $$ for whole “wings” for the campus. They also boasted an “in-house archaeologist” on staff (FOR 6-12 year olds?!) which made me hurl with the insane decadence of it. The screening process also involved submitting ESSAYS from the parents and a “we’ll call YOU!” attitude that made me terrified to be rejected. (Thanks to Hollywood, it’s kind of a trigger for me.) To top it off, after asking around about these kinds of jaw-dropping educational institutions, I learned that, in order to actually be admitted into the schools, you mostly likely have to hire a consultant to TRAIN YOU, THE PARENT, FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND, SEPARATELY, YOUR KID, TOO! OMG. No thank you! Frankly, I don’t want to be a part of the diamond encrusted red carpet crowd, I can’t hang with that. And I definitely don’t want my kid feeling poor if she doesn’t fly in private jets or have a screening room at home or own a private island for “summer-timing”. ALSO I heard at 13, the kids at these fancy LA schools are doing the kinds of drugs Sherlock Holmes would shy away from. Soooooo, aside from moving to the woods and homeschooling her myself….what to do?!

You might be thinking, “Just homeschool her, Felicia! You turned out okay!” Well, maybe…with decades of therapy, yes. And I definitely have thought about it. But…in the end, I hate to admit…I’m selfish? Because if I did that, it would and SHOULD be my full-time job to give her the best education I could. I would certainly need hours in each day, and put more thought into it than just throwing books on the counter and saying “try some math today!” like my own mom did for me. (God bless her hippie self, lol). At the end of the day, I guess I don’t want to give up my career (whatever this is, lol). So…at least for now, it’s not an option.

So I sat down and thought about it from all angles. Calmly. Logically. I ate a whole bag of popcorn while doing it. Really weighed me down in the moment. And then I realized:

GIRL, STOP WHINING! THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

It was a real tough love talk I had with myself, let me tell you. “FELICIA! Your weird background should not be deciding the education your kid gets! Your personal preferences about class size and if the building is pretty should not be determining this. You need to figure out what your kid, OUTSIDE YOURSELF needs! Also stop eating popcorn, you’re gonna get a stomach ache!”

I took it all in and decided that I had some good points.

So, after my stomach ache, I wrote down the basic things that I think Calliope HERSELF would benefit from in life, other than being taught facts:

-Empathy and kindness for others

-Exposure to things she wouldn’t encounter at home

-Social support

And then I happened to read an incredible essay here on Substack that summarizes what I would love to cultivate in my kid, at home and at her school: Agency. I urge you to read the whole essay because it is AWESOME, but a quote stuck out at me:

We should be thinking much harder about making sure children can make meaningful contributions to the world.

One thing I took away from the essay is that the point is not the schooling, but making sure the skills she learns are going to add meaningfully toward things she can DO in her life. Even WHILE she’s a kid. I mean, she’s only 4 now, but I vividly remember being in a political campaign with my mom around that age, stuffing envelopes for some candidate, and feeling so good to be DOING something REAL. I want that feeling of meaning for her, too! And I know there has to be a school out there that can help give her that. Or maybe I’ll just start making her farm stuff in WOW for me as a side job. (JUST KIDDING!)

So, with all that non-me stuff in mind, I’ve decided to take the whole schooling thing one step at a time. I’m going to go in, with my list and my questions, and I’m going to tour every option I can, public/private/and everything in between. I know that, whatever I pick, she might become a different person along the way as she grows, and we might need to switch streams at a certain point, and yes, maybe she might stay home for some part of her education, but the big question is WHAT DOES SHE NEED? I can only try something and figure it out one step at a time, together with her.

Sigh. Parenting is hard, ya’ll.


INTERESTING LINKS:

  • Weekly Recipe: I have made this Apple Cake recipe three times in the last month. It’s so good! Works with gluten-free flour too. Pick up the whole Snacking Cakes book for lots of other great cake recipes!

  • Loooong YouTube videos are my jam lately. Check out this guy making a 100 HOUR brownie recipe! His other videos are slow and great, too.

  • I’m fascinated by all these tunnels that were dug out by extinct gigantic ground sloth in South America.

  • Drooling for this modular home that’s set up in one day?! I really want to get one and put it in the woods and become a hermit. (Must have good wifi though.)

  • Cool study about how princess culture, in the long-term, might not be as bad as people portray it? Def made me think differently about Elsa and Anna!


PERSONAL LINKS (Also Interesting):

  • I will continue doing my podcast LIVE on twitch.tv/feliciaday Tuesday nights at 7pm PST in August (barring a week off for vacation)! I’ll have random guests on every week, like Mark Sheppard (8/3) and a guy who will train me in using credit card points (8/17). Tune in to check it out!

  • Undressing The Witcher and Felicitations podcasts both have new eps up! Also Voyage to the Stars, my improv comedy sci-fi podcast, just released SEASON 3!

  • Lastly, please subscribe to this newsletter so you get it in your inbox every week.


See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3

oxox

Felicia

Felicitations #11

YOU WANNA GO OUT? NO!

It’s summer! It’s official! Covid is waning! The “normal world” is back!

Eesh. 

Between a family birthday, a weekend vacation trip, my own birthday, and July 4th weekend, I have been overwhelmed with being in close proximity with other peoples’ faces. Frankly, it’s too much. No one has cleaned their pores in a year. Including me. 

I’m getting a lot of mental whiplash trying to wrap my head around everything. It feels like we’ve gone from “we’re all gonna contract a deadly virus and be hospitalized” to EVITE EVITE EVITE EVITE “Come to my house, we’re all gonna take turns licking a cake and then eat it! TOGETHER!” I went to the grocery store on 4th of July, and it was as if lock-down had started again, but instead of toilet paper, people were mass-buying hot dogs. There were so many illegal fireworks set off in my neighborhood from parties, my cat was traumatized and actually let me snuggle her for 30 seconds. (She hates me, I hate her, it works for us). I bet the area squirrels had a hard time, too. But don’t feel bad for them. Those little a-holes keep eating my baby pomegranates before they’re ripe AND JUST TAKING ONE BITE OUT OF THEM! Let the fruit grow up and eat them when they’re ripe at least, ya puff tails!

Before my birthday, in June, we went to San Diego, a few hours south of our house, just to test the “be around strange people” for a weekend. Little did I know Orange County, being a right-leaning area, was all the way in “let’s breathe on each other again!” territory. NO one was wearing masks. I felt like the dorky kid with braces who wore corrective shoes when I walked into a restaurant as the only one covered. *muffled* “Hi guyzzz can we order a pizzazz?!” 

The absolute worst part came when my kid wanted to go swimming at the hotel pool. We were just entering a large pool full of half-clothed strangers enjoying themselves, seems okay, right? But as I stepped into the water, it turned into a full-on horror movie. In slow motion I saw a person laugh and spittle fly out. A drip of sweat glided over a man’s very big Covid belly and dropped into the communal water. A child sneezed full on and snot dripped down and then they wiped it off into the pool. It was literally all I could do to not run screaming. My brother made it worse by lifting the drain cover and showing me what was caught in the pool filter. “Look at this pile of skin flakes!” I almost puked. Thanks bro! After splashing for ten minutes in a corner with the kiddo, far away from other humans, I drew the line at getting in the communal hot tub. “We aren’t gonna go in there and cook ourselves with strangers, baby. Let’s go get ice cream! AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, PLEASE LET’S LEAVE!” 

Sooo, wasn’t the BEST entry back into society. 

Since then, I’ve had a dinner, two lunches, a park meet-up and one single pool party with two other kids. All my closest friends. It was awesome to see them! I love them. But I literally winced when they hugged me, I couldn’t bring myself to eat off the snack table, and after five minutes of in-person socializing I felt like someone had drained my life force and turned me into one of those corn dolls you make in grade school for Thanksgiving. Dry, brittle and pretty weird looking. 

I knew I was an introvert, and that public interactions were draining rather than invigorating (read the wonderful book Quiet if you want more info on my self-diagnosis), but this is next level. And to be honest, I’m bummed about it! In theory, I’m excited, to get back to the world! I’d love to go on a work trip and meet fans and watch Law and Order in the hotel at night, but I’m worried about my general stamina, physically and mentally. Can I do a whole con without dodging around people’s hugs? Will my hypochondria flare up and make me feel like I’m getting cancer when I go through airline security again like it did during book tour? If I get con-crud, which I definitely will, is it just going to be a cold? Or am I going to be a vaccinated break through person and transmit Covid to my baby who is too young to be vaccinated, which is an actual, not-neurotic concern? 

Also I forget what sniffles feel like. They were bad, right?

I know slowly it’s gonna get better and I’ll get more comfortable with the world, day-by-day. I’m already feeling more comfortable going out and about. I got a facial last week and a woman smeared 15 layers of gunk on me and massaged my cheek bones for a half-hour and I didn’t have the impulse to shove her off the edge of a building, AND my pores are clean now, so that’s promising? But I’m gonna be gentle with myself and do this at the exact pace I’m comfortable with, and no faster. I don’t think this experience of moving from trauma to “normalcy” again, should be like ripping a bandaid off. It’s going to be unique to who we are, and the most important thing is being considerate of our own needs, and not forcing ourself to get out there just because other people are ready to play corn hole again! WE EACH need to be ready. To corn hole at our own pace. Even if there’s a taco truck involved. 

I just wanted to type “corn hole” and ”taco truck” in the same sentence. Snicker. 

So amongst all this summer revelry, with my birthday last week, so what did I do, you may ask? 

Well, I spent the morning writing in silence for a few hours, went to the mall by myself in the afternoon to buy myself a single new t-shirt, ordered some take-out gumbo for dinner to eat in the privacy of my home, and went to sleep at 10pm. 

Snuggling back into my world Covid comfort. Aaaaah. It was so VERY satisfying. 


INTERESTING LINKS:


PERSONAL LINKS (Also Interesting):

  • For the month of July I’m doing LIVE Felicitations! podcasts on my Twitch! Tuesday nights 7-9pm PST! July 13th I have special guests Jim Beaver, Sam Smith and Kim Rhodes! Tune in please!

  • Undressing The Witcher ep 4 is out!

  • The Dungeons of Nahuelbeuk is out on CONSOLES now! Play with me! (Er..my voiceover, lol).

  • For my birthday (thanks!) I released a cool “Don’t Pull My Aggro” mug. 20% of the proceeds are going to Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. International orders open soon.

  • I star in an episode of the adorable show, Owl House, July 10th on Disney Channel or on Hulu! Such a fun character!

  • Lastly, please subscribe to this newsletter so you get it in your inbox every week.


See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3

oxox

Felicia

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