Friday, May 31, 2013

so much to do!

I have been asked if not having a *teacher* would be a detriment when I got out into the work-force, and make working with a boss difficult. Most people who asked me this seemed to think that not having a teacher to practice taking direction from would mean I wouldn't be able to work for someone else. I always laughed this off - but I've been thinking about it more and more the last few weeks and thought it deserved a little bloggy attention.

Right now, I am working very hard to get my own private practice off the ground. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist intern, and I have two locations. One is in Los Alamitos, and one is in Arcadia. I just started at the one in Arcadia. I have two supervisors - in the therapy world, a supervisor is not a boss, but as someone who is willing to put their license on the line for you, meet with you weekly, and sign your paperwork. I also have two etsy sites, where I sell my jewelry. I have a job-with-a-boss as well, but at the moment I work from home.

It only recently occurred to me that all my life I have been striving to get to a place where I am my own boss. And I've always liked the bosses I've had. I am still friends with most of them, in fact. There was only one experience that I had a boss who I thought was sabotaging me. I was not the only person to have a really terrible experience with her, and I was lucky that several months later, she ended up leaving the company. So it's not that I can't get along with someone "in charge" of me - but it's just not how I want to work, long-term.

I like the idea of working for myself and have never been afraid of the fact that when you are your own boss, you don't get 8-5 hours and then leave the work at work. I always liked to throw myself into something, and would want the thing that made me money to be included in that. I want a flexible schedule, and to be able to use all the different tools I like to work with - get to design flyers, use social media, meet with people, and do art. Working for myself means getting to do more of what I'm good at, while finding resources to help with my weaknesses. I like this idea. I like being accountable to me, and frankly, I like being in charge.

Today, however, is a day where I am trying to take deep breaths and re-focus, because I am starting to get overwhelmed. I am realizing that getting my practice up and running also means there are no limits to what I can do - so there are NO LIMITS to what I am trying to do. So it's a lot. This morning, for example, I had all my paperwork scattered over the coffee table, my phone was ringing, and I have at least 15 tabs open on the computer. If I don't reach out and market myself, I won't get clients, and I won't succeed at having a private practice. I won't get a paycheck. It won't work. I suddenly got the other side of not having a boss. It's. Up. To. Me.

I love all the side-projects that come along with this business - I love making my website, making business cards, speaking at conferences - but it takes up a lot of time, and at the moment I don't really know which things are the most effective, so I am trying them all. I stay up late at night putting together blogs and email newsletters... it sort of reminds me of when I'd stay up all night collaging my journal or making a zine. Except I'm trying to make a living at this.

I am sure there is a connection between unschooling and my desires for my career and profession. I have a lot of drive and passion - fostered by my parents and the decision to unschool. I know how I work the best, again thanks to unschooling. I have high expectations for myself and a really supportive and responsive community to work within - thanks, unschoolers. I do not think that this connection is true for all unschoolers - because I know plenty who work for other companies very happily. I just know that I want a life full of projects that I get to decide how much energy I invest. Right now I am investing a lot of energy in a lot of things. Some of the things that give me the most energy have nothing to do with making money -- like the 30 Day Challenge Group I run on facebook, working with the board of HSC on their conference and newsletter, this blog!

So that's all for this post. No huge revelation or anything - just another glimpse into who I am, and some connections to unschooling.

Do you work for yourself? What are some things you've learned along the way? If you work for someone else, any stories to share on the topic?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Heritage Arts and Why I Love These Photos

Handmade earrings, available at - made by me!

a beautiful example of Sposto Photography's wedding work
Also happens to be a photo of my cousin and his new wife :)
A few days ago I had the wonderful experience of having a professional photographer take pictures of my handmade jewelry and accessories. Her name is Shauntelle, and her company is Sposto Photography

Although I have been following her blog and her posts on her facebook page, I was not anticipating just how beautiful the photos of my work would turn out. 

a mini-shop set up, just like I have when I sell at craft fairs and festivals

We did a little studio set up in her backyard

 along with 3 dogs and chickens... 

Bird and Zoe
That's a chicken.

I honestly walked in thinking she would take photos for about 20 minutes, and be done - since she was doing me a huge favor.
butterfly rings

But she made a list of all the types of photos she wanted to take, and spent a few hours on it. Even looking at photos on the back of her camera impressed me. 

Brand new earrings, I especially love my classic granny squares!

Crocheted bracelets
I love creating jewelry - I love creating the color combinations and the design. I think I have an eye for that type of work - which you would think would translate to photographing this work. Alas, it does not. 

Hair clips!
Watching Shaunie work was great - not only because I knew I would be getting wonderful photos from the experience, but because I learned a lot about how to create the visual I wanted. 

Big dangly heart earrings - one of my best sellers :)
She also had the equipment to really show the details - which is, of course, as the person spending hours crocheting these little details - one of the most important things. 
One of my favorite photos - simple, clean, and beautiful
She did such a good job showing every, loving stitch.

So if I haven't mentioned - go to her facebook page and click 'like' and visit her website. This is a shameless plug for Sposto Photography - because look at what she did for me. I am so amazed. 

Hey look! Those are my actual hands! Actually crocheting!
Here's a little more to why I think this is important: heritage arts are a link to our past. When I crochet, I feel connected through something really tactile to Laura Ingalls, who hated to sew sheet hems, to Anne Blythe (maiden name: Shirley) who knit 2 socks a day during WWI. When I take my crocheting out into the world, little kids come up to me every time and ask me what I'm doing. Teenagers tell me about how they used to watch their Grandmother knitting or crocheting. Everyone has a fond memory of someone in their life doing something with yarn. It's a thing that used to be a necessity, and is now an art form. I imagine it's what people who are good at gardening/farming feel like when they sit at their table and eat the food they grew - they could have bought that pasta sauce at the store, but instead they are intimately connected with the process and ingredients. It's the same for me - I am just amazed, sometimes, when I look at a bracelet or blanket that I've made that we can do that with string, with fiber from a plant or animal.

What do you do or make that makes you feel connected to your past? Tell me in the comments!
Some of my little owls - magnets and keychains

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dear Molly

Dear Molly,

Your mom told me that you wanted to try out community college in a few years. She asked me if I had any advice for you. I've been thinking, and thinking about it, and I finally decided just to write it here in a list.

1. Sit in the front of the class. This is advice college counselors will give you - apparently people who sit in the front get the best grades. People who sit in the front also get their questions answered, can hear things, are less distracted by an entire class in front of them, and it's easier to stay engaged. You can ask questions more conversationally if the teacher can hear you, as opposed to sitting far away. Some classrooms are huge - like auditoriums. Some are much smaller. I say get the best seat in the house, if you can. And be prepared for the fact that once people pick where they sit the first day, they mostly don't change it. It's a really weird phenomenon - so be aware of it, but have fun messing with it.

2. Talk to the teacher afterwards. Every teacher I have ever had was glad to talk to me about their subject after class ended. At a community college, a lot of the teacher you have will also be currently working in their field. They'll have loads of information and knowledge that there is no time to talk about in a class. Teachers are pretty limited, actually - they have to stick to getting information across to you that will come up in the tests - and tests are created using test banks that are created by the textbook publishers. So take advantage of the fact that you've got an expert sitting there every week who's just dying to impart more knowledge than what they've been told they have time for.

3. Take the classes you are interested in. I can't stress this enough. Especially if you are starting without any kind of external time pressure - if you don't want to graduate by a certain date with a certain degree, for example. Then start by taking the classes that just. sound. fun.

4. Take the classes that sound fun, but remember - college classes are academic based. Even if you are taking painting, ceramics, or automotive repair, there will be elements to the class that are textbook, test, and essay heavy. If you want to do only hands-on stuff, take classes through the city recreation program.

5. Be prepared about other students. I'm about to paint with a very broad brush here, so bear with me, understand there are exceptions, etc. Night classes have more older adults, folks who also work and are going to school to further their career, or switch careers. I found that they were my favorite. The students were more serious, more interesting, and the teachers gave far less busy work. The earlier day classes had students who were straight out of highschool, there was far more texting in class, more inane questions from the class, and was far more frustrating for me.

6. Do all the extra credit - it was always the best part. The fun little side projects. Beyond that, I always went with the philosophy that you get out of an experience what you put into it, so if I wanted to not be wasting my time... I'd do all the work to try to get out of it all I could.

7. Except, learn to prioritize - you have other things going on in your life? Remember who you are, you homeschooler, you. You get to decide. You always have options. It's easy to get caught up in wanting to have perfect scores, get the teacher to like you, look good to other students, represent homeschoolers... but you get to make choices about where you spend your time.

8. Drop classes. Seriously. You go into a class and don't like the teacher? Why waste time? Drop it. Every college calendar has a list of dates - dates you can drop classes before you'll get a "W" (supposedly a bad mark on your transcripts, but I've never heard of it reallllly making a difference in getting a job later on, or admittance to a university, which is all your transcripts will really be used for in the future), get your money back, or get a failing grade. It might cost you to drop it, so you have to weigh how much your future time is worth to you. As far as the grade goes - if you get below a D, you can always re-take the course to re-write that grade. And you can take it with a different teacher... Teachers get burned out teaching the same way students get burned out taking classes. Sometimes a lot worse - because the students move on to other classes, and the teachers stay, and teach the same class, over and over... Some teachers focus on tests, others focus on essays. You can be choosy. There are also a lot of community colleges (in CA at least), so even if there's only on teacher doing that thing at the closest location, there will be others.

9. Stick with the good teachers. If you find a teacher you like, take as much as you can from them. I really, truly think that the best thing I got from most of my college experience were the connections. Once I took a communication class and liked the teacher and ended up on the speech and debate team (which she coached) for two years, made friends, won trophies, practiced public speaking... I liked an English teacher I had so I took all the classes I could from him, including my first formal poetry class, which I dropped (due to not wanting to listen to other people's poetry) but I loved the textbook and it's on my bookshelf right now, and I read it all the time. I have so many stories like this. There are too many tired or bad teachers out there - keep the good ones!

10. Go on all the field trips - you'll get entrance to things cheaper than you can when you're not a student or with a group, like art museums and aquariums. You'll be exposed to stuff you would not have been before, and your teacher told you to go there for a reason - they find value in that place. So go, and then talk to your teacher about it later.

11. Figure out how you like to be organized. I messed with so many different calendars and organizational techniques for tracking classes and assignments. I learned a lot from that. Figure out what works for you, and you'll create a system that'll work for the rest of your life. I know I like pen to paper calendar, and I use sticky notes for lists. Other people use their google calendars. Whatever works for you.

12. Don't be alone on a college campus after dark. Make friends with the moms in the classes, they'll sit with you while you wait to be picked up.

13. Go to shows on campus. Cheap theater tickets, lots of fun. Also there will be art shows, museum openings, sports games, 5k's, fundraisers...

14. Even if you don't buy food there, most college cafe-type-things will have microwaves you can use. Different buildings will have really different vibes - some will have couches, good places to sit and read...

15. Be prepared for the "so are you some sort of genius, or something?" weirdly shaped question. You're young, and you look young, and people aren't afraid of pointing that out. I think lighthearted answers are better for getting out of it, but it's up to you.

16. Be more prepared for the weirdness that happens when you are suddenly the same age as everyone else and no one is asking you that question. It's a weird thing not to stand out, and to get to decide on your own if you want to talk about homeschooling or not.

17. Sell back your textbooks, except for the anthologies of creative writing. First off, they are heavy and take up a lot of space. Second off, information changes really fast these days. So much from my old textbooks isn't even TRUE anymore (anyone heard from Pluto, lately?). Third, what do those textbooks have that you can't find by googling? The creative writing books, however, I kept. I suppose I could also google those poets and authors, but I love having them on my shelves. Your thing might not be poetry.. but having met you, I don't think I'm leading you astray with this one.

18. Think about your life when you decide to sign up for classes. Remember it'll be 16-18 weeks of your life in a ROW. So do you really want to wake up at 8am 4 days a week? Do you really want to have to be on campus 5 days in a row? Think about the times of day you feel the most productive - do you want those hours to be taken up in a classroom? It's good to know these things about yourself and make decisions revolving around them. There will be times when you decide that the class is worth a sacrifice, such as that awesome, awesome printmaking class that you're dying to take but is all day Friday, and it might mean missing Girl Scouts this semester.

19. Tests. People always ask me if I felt like I was prepared for testing. I never understood what the big fuss was about. If you are unclear about the format of a test or what is going to be on it, or what materials you'll need - ask the teacher ahead of time. Even if it seems like you should know it - if you are wondering, other people in the class are wondering too. Scantrons (fill in the bubble tests) are pencils only, which drove me crazy, because I hate writing in pencil. A very small percentage of my classes used scantron tests, actually. The first test of any class will be the most nervewracking, because you don't know what the teacher is really like, yet. Some teachers will have weird ways of wording things.. little quirks that you'll figure out before the 2nd test. I am really sensitive to noises, like chewing or pen-clicking. That's hard for me, during tests - because it suddenly gets quiet and all I can hear are those other little noises. I combat that by chewing gum myself - somehow that helps. What else.. uhm, if you're sick, bring tissues, because you'll be looking down and gravity... you get it. The technique that always worked for me was to go through the test and fill out all the questions I was 100% sure about, and then go back and think about the others. Sometimes wording in later questions will remind you of an answer. I'm a fast test taker, I figure if I don't know it right away I am not going to remember it if I sit there for another half an hour. But you'll have to figure yourself out on that one.

20. Essay tests - teachers may give you paper, or ask you to use a blue book. I always, always ask if I can use a scrap piece of paper to write an outline first. Then I'd do bullet points on the outline, so I make sure I include everything I want to.

Well, Molly, I hope this helps. 20 pieces of random advice about going to a community college. If you have any other questions, let me know. I was 13 when I started, and transferred to CSULB when I was 20. I graduated, then went back for my Master's. I've got a lot of years of college advice in me!


Monday, May 20, 2013

I hope I stay idealistic

the cover of one of my blogs...late teens, I believe
I remember sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor - a dirty orange carpet with paint and ink stains, leftover from the '70s - with paper all around me. I'm not talking about one or two pieces of paper, I am talking about a thick mat of paper and paper scraps radiating out from where I was sitting in the center, scissors and magazines and photographs too. My back hurt from bending over my project. My legs were asleep from sitting there for so long. My eyelids heavy. The smell of rubber cement not even registering, anymore. It was about 4 in the morning - I had been sitting there since about noon, maybe earlier. I was working on a zine - a collection of writing, poetry, collage and photography that I would photocopy and mail out later. A zine was a one-sitting project for me, and later I could look at those folded pages and be transported to right there, that moment. It was an exhausting and exhaustive all-or-nothing project. Something that poured out of me, that sometimes I had to pull out, cut out, and glue back together. The later (or earlier) it got, the more haphazard my gluing became, the looser and more wild the content. Later, when I'd look back at it, these would be some of my favorite pages - the subconscious coming forward while my inner editor was asleep.

I remember this one night in particular, because somewhere around 4 in the morning my bedroom door creaked open, and my mom's face peeked in - squinty eyed with sleepiness. She smiled at me, sitting in that hurricane of a bedroom, and closed the door again. Ani Difranco played on in my CD player, and I went back to my zine.

the cover of one of my journals
Such a simple little moment. And moments like that happened so many times. I didn't think much of it then - at some point when I was finished I would groan as I stood up, dusting p
aper bits off my pants and hands, peel the rubber cement from my fingers, turn off the light and go to bed. I'd wake up late the next day to my newly birthed zine. I did this a lot. Nothing new, nothing special. Roya making something in her room, that's all.

Looking back on it, though, I think how special it really was. To have parents that understood what was happening during the night doing one thing for hours. To have parents who did not insist that I had stayed inside or sat still for too long, and made me go outside or change what I was doing. To have a mom who came to check on me and see if I was still up - not to interfere or judge, but to peek in on me, smile sweetly, and go back to bed, happy that I was happy. I remember that same day, hours earlier, she had peeked in and brought me a plate of apples with some peanut butter.

It matters - those moments. All those little moments, those sweet details of knowing that my parents are on my side. They add up to this - this larger philosophy of parenting and relationships and education. But the way I experienced it as their child was like this - a plate of apples, a smile at 4am from my mom, and working for hours on my zine.

Your turn. I'm sure you've had a moment or two like this with your kids today. Tell me about it in the comments?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Have you seen this boy?

Seen on the corner of Vermont st. Love my neighborhood!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I love crocheting. I've been crocheting since I was about 8 years old. I wish I could remember how I started - maybe my mom remembers. 

I call these my "unschooling mama" earrings
But I don't remember the learning process, I don't remember the person who I first saw doing it, I don't remember falling in love with yarn.

Emerald is going to be a color of 2013. Apparently.
 I remember many living history events where I would plant myself next to the woman carding wool, or using a spinning wheel - and just watch and watch and watch. I remember making friendship bracelets for the kids on my swim teams and girl scout troops. 

I started selling my handmade crocheted jewelry at a few craft fairs and at and - and then ignored it for a little while.
 I've recently decided to devote more time to it - and have been really enjoying the process. 

Bold, geometric shapes! Also in.
I've consulted with a few people who are successful on etsy, and realized that one of the most important things I need to do is to improve the photographs of my items.
I just make color combinations that make me happppyyy
I'd been using my smart phone to take all the pictures - I have it on me, it's easy to upload, and didn't really think that the quality of photo was that much different.

Today, though, I got out the Canon PowerShot A480 that I bought my husband a few years ago, and decided to give it a try. I used different layers of curtains to diffuse the light to try to minimize shadow and glare - and I was more or less successful.

I only had time to do a handful of earrings that I made this week - my goal is to get a good photo-taking set up, so that it's easy to stick a pair of earrings in and snap a few photos every day - take advantage of when the light is right, and it's not a huge production every time.

Another thing that I never really thought that much about were fashion trends. I've always been sort of oblivious - at some point I realized owls were in. Then I noticed that people are wearing a ton of neon. 
bright, sunshiney, spring and summer colors
But when you make fashion accessories, it's sort of important that you are aware of these trends at the beginning of their appearance, if not before. 

It also never really clicked for me that there are people out there who are making these decisions -and putting them down on paper, in blogs, and magazines. The information is there for the having. 

dealing with judgment

Someone who reads this blog asked me..
"If I say that I homeschooled my daughter, then I feel that they immediately judge her, not me. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that it's her right to present herself to people however she likes. For that reason, I don't usually bring up homeschooling with strangers. What do you think about this?"

My response:

It's really sweet and conscientious of you to try to let your daughter have some measure of control over who judges her. Growing up with my mom being the very vocal advocate for homeschooling that she was - in some cases, I did not have that option. Over the course of my life, I've gone back and forth about when I tell people what -- sometimes it's frustrating to have that hurdle to overcome everrry sinngggle tiiime I want to talk to someone...

There were also times of my life where I felt like representing homeschooling and talking about homeschooling was kind of my - greater purpose. So I did it, a lot. I wore the homeschooler badge in flashing neon on my head. I think what I've come down to now, though - is usually waiting a while. I don't shake someone's hand and say, "hello, I'm Roya the homeschooler ask me how" anymore. It's out there - in my bio's and blogs, and things. People can find it out pretty easily.

But I do not like feeling like I am held hostage by someone else wanting to talk about homeschooling if I don't feel like it. So I've gotten better at disengaging. I've gotten better at deciding if I have the energy right now. I've gotten better at saying "I'd love to talk to you more about it, but maybe we can arrange to do that later?" [edit: I would add that if you are worried about your children being in this position, talk to them about it before it happens. Chances are, I bet it's a much bigger deal to you than it is to them. If they are concerned, practice some of the phrases they can use to disengage. Prepare for situations where you think it's likely to happen. Be their advocate - step in and tell the other person that they don't want to have to talk about that here and now, if it does happen.]

I know my mom would never walk up to - say, our swim team and say "oh guess what girls, your friend Roya is a homeschooler" -- but neither did we try very hard not to talk about it. So, with some mishaps (although not that many, considering, and nothing irreparable) I figured it out.

Friday, May 17, 2013

really? no rules at ALL?!

When someone asks me about the rules I had growing up, I always feel the need to do a quick assessment of the person asking the question. I would answer different depending on who I was talking to. That made it hard to think about writing about rules - so I figured, why not just put a few of the possible answers? It will be like a choose your own adventure book - the question is at the top, and then you can find the response that fits where you are in your understanding of unschooling!

The question:
"Hi Roya. I just learned about your "unschooling" childhood. Did your parents really not have ANY rules for you at all? Not even about bedtime or food? Not even about TELEVISION??!"

If you only have about 2 minutes to read:
Really. It's true. Our parents did not dictate any rules - not even about tv, food, or bedtime. We turned out fine, and able to be self-disciplined, work, make money, graduate from college. We'll talk about it more sometime when you have time, but for now, rest assured in the knowledge that it's possible. I am living proof.

If you went to traditional school and your kids go/will go to traditional school, and unschooling is a foreign concept:
We did not have any rules. There was no predetermined (arbitrary) decisions about things like bedtimes or tv. We learned to respect our family's needs and boundaries, and yes, even state and federal laws, by discussion and cooperation. No rules. 

It's hard to talk about rules in the abstract. Let's pick an example. Television is a trigger one. We never had a rule about what to watch, or what time to turn the tv off, or how many hours a week, nothing like that. It's hard to believe, but it's true. There was plenty of natural regulation - we were busy doing lots of interesting things, including television watching. There are somethings I did not like (and still don't like) to watch, such as extreme gore or suspense. So I didn't watch those, and my parents would let me know if there was about to be a scene that included it, or they'd warn me ahead of time. We could watch at any time of the day, there was never a "tv and lights off" time in our house.
The Dodds and Sorooshians(/Dedeaux) at the Always Learning Live Symposium
in 2012, in NM. Right after an awesome talk about television.
Oh hey, look at those t-shirts. I see Buffy, Dr. Who...
But when my dad would go to bed, we had to turn down the volume. He had to sleep. We wanted to watch tv. The way to do it so everyone was happy was by volume control. Our parents never came and said "at 9:30pm you will turn the volume down to 24 and if you don't, I will make a bad thing happen" 

That's the thing about having a parent-mandated rule, such as "the tv goes off at 9:30pm." What happens when the kid decides to keep the tv on til 10? Or 9:31? Parents who feel the need to put rules onto their children also then feel the need to punish their children, or create consequences to ensure that their children follow these rules. I would venture to suggest that it's never about having the tv off at a certain time either - there's a reason you want the tv off. So go back to that bigger reason, and think more creatively about how to get what you really want. In our case, it was sleep for the other people in our house. It was about respecting my dad's need for sleep at a certain hour - not about the tv. The need for my dad to sleep is not arbitrary - and there's a real thing that happens if he doesn't get sleep. He's tired, he doesn't have a great day at work, he's upset or unhappy. We don't want that to happen. So there was no need for a rule at all.

But we're not perfect. There's been times when we've thoughtlessly been too loud. What happened was a few times my dad woke up and came out and said, "'s keeping me awake, and I have to get up early tomorrow." So we turned it down. Sometimes we experimented with headphones. Sometimes it meant changing what we were watching because it wasn't suited for quiet-viewing (I have learned that I can't watch certain comedians after my household has gone to sleep because I can't keep my laugh quiet.) My parents asked things of us, and as a household there were expectations.

 It works because my parents were making every effort to help us get what we wanted, to the best of their ability and the best of our family's functions. I knew that my parents wanted me to be able to watch whatever tv I wanted to. I knew that if I asked, they'd figure out a way - find those cordless headphones, buy netflix so I could watch it on my computer, wear ear plugs themselves - they'd be creative and tireless in their efforts to make their children happy. So it was simple, really. I'd just turn down the volume. I say, as a parent, make every effort to respect what your child wants and make it happen in every way you can, and they will respect you and your needs right back. 

If you think that unschooling means simply "more freedom and say yes:"
We had rules. Our house and state and country and society have rules. We might call them different things (and sometimes that matters) such as guidelines or boundaries, but we have them. To pretend we don't can be both rude and reckless. What's that phrase... "your freedom ends at the tip of my nose" meaning, that you can wave your arms wildly all you want, but the second you hit me... I think it's a little less black and white than that. I don't care just about my personal body, but the environment I'm in, too.

It's hard to talk about rules in the abstract. Let's pick an example. Television is a trigger one. We never had a rule about what to watch, or what time to turn the tv off, or how many hours a week, nothing like that. But when my dad would go to bed, we had to turn down the volume. He had to sleep. We wanted to watch tv. The way to do it so everyone was happy was by volume control. Our parents never came and said "at 9:30pm you will turn the volume down to 24 and if you don't, I will make a bad thing happen" (the thing with parents handing down rules is if you have them, you have stated or implied consequences of what will happen if you don't follow them. It's unavoidable). What happened was a few times my dad woke up and came out and said, "'s keeping me awake, and I have to get up early tomorrow." So we turned it down. Sometimes we experimented with headphones. Sometimes it meant changing what we were watching because it wasn't suited for quiet-viewing (I have learned that I can't watch certain comedians after my household has gone to sleep because I can't keep my laugh quiet.) My parents asked things of us, and as a household there were expectations.

 I've seen plenty of families who are working their way through to a greater understanding of unschooling who would have sleepless nights or unhappy parents, because they felt like they could not ask their children to stop watching tv at a loud volume at 2am because they were afraid of creating a rule. In this case, some of the family's needs are not getting met (sleep! It's an important one!) So where's the win? I say, as a parent, make every effort to respect what your child wants and make it happen in every way you can, and they will respect you and your needs right back. I knew that my parents wanted me to be able to watch whatever tv I wanted to. I knew that if I asked, they'd figure out a way - find those cordless headphones, buy netflix so I could watch it on my computer, wear ear plugs themselves - they'd be creative and tireless in their efforts to make their children happy. So it was simple, really. I'd just turn down the volume. 

It's okay to ask things of other people. It really worries me when I see unschoolers who don't want to ask anything of their children. I want my own kids to learn about asking things of their partners when they are adults, or about how to ask things of their coworkers. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dwight Schrute

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

Only in this case it's the Berlin Bear in Griffith Park, beets, and a pack of paper.

I love this place.

the details

I've been really enjoying writing this blog - the bits about being an unschooler, my childhood memories, and the fun things about living in this park. I went for a long walk yesterday through the neighborhood, and realized that when I am keeping this blog in mind I notice so many more little details than I might not have noticed before. Or maybe I would have noticed, but not stopped and taken the time to have a moment, or experience, or appreciation.

When I was little my Grandma got me a book called "Being a Naturalist." It had a dark green canvas-y cover, and I remember feeling reverent every time I touched it. It had big, beautiful photos of poppies and deer and forests, and suggestions on how to fully appreciate nature yourself. It talked about getting sketchbooks and colored pencils, about sitting still in one place... I know that for a little while after she gave me that book, I drew pictures of a lot of plants.

Not too long after that, I read Harriet the Spy for the first time. I was smitten. That was it. Although I had kept a journal since I was about 5 years old, this was the real beginning of Roya The Journalist. I carried a notebook around and wrote down the *specifics* of things that I saw - minute details, concrete and observable specifics.

When I was about 16 I read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones for the first time. I slept with it underneath my pillow for a long time after that. I'd read bits and pieces throughout the day as inspiration. She talked about writing specifics, too - writing for ten minutes without stopping, and using that exercise to really notice. Not "the coffee cup" but "the 5" mug with the large flat handle that fits my hands, has cerulean glaze with a raw bottom, that I bought at the Los Feliz farmer's market on Vermont St. on a Saturday that broke the record for heat that year, and I also bought raspberries..."

It's always a balance between the little details and the big picture. I've been thinking about that a lot as I write these blog posts - the big pictures are my unschooling principles, my relationship ideals, my vision of what I want my family and home to look like, who I am as an unschooler, crafter, wife, explorer, writer. The little details are - that day I first walked into Cypress College, what's currently on my knitting needles, the taste of the loquat I found on my walk yesterday. These pictures of the bark on tree trunks - that caught my eye as I was walking up Fern Dell.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

backyard guardian

Every once in a while my husband brings me home a present...

Deer skull found in the park - now guards our backyard. I had hoped it would help prevent my plants from being eaten by ground squirrels, but alas, my tomato plant got chomped on yesterday anyways.

Ah well. I have this guy looking out for me anyway.

and then a hero comes along...

I've been asked a lot about my college experiences. It's such a huge topic for me - I started when I was 13, and went on and on til I received my Master's at the age of 27. I took many breaks for traveling, etc. I took a lot of different types of classes. I had a lot of experiences with other students. So the big question "what was going to college for you like" will have to be broken down into a lot of smaller posts. Here is one of them.

It was August, 1998. I was 13 years old. I was about to take my first college class.

The weekend before I had been at the HSC conference in Sacramento - a huge and wonderful conference (possibly the largest homeschooling conference in the US?) where I had just met and fell in love with the people who would be my best friends for the next ten years. I was pumped on their energy and creativity. I had had one shy moment, at the Friday night dance (the conference was a Friday/Saturday/Sunday deal - so this dance was at the very beginning). I remember standing at the edge of the room feeling awkward and weird and shy and then realizing that I had total control. I decided right then to never be shy again. I walked to the middle of the room, met some folks, and then proceeded to have a life-changing weekend.

So with this fresh in my mind - this decision to never be shy again - I still asked my mom to walk me upstairs to where my first class was. My mom has taught at Cypress Community College for the past 29 years. Some of my very earliest memories are of being there. She's taught at other colleges too - college campuses were a very familiar and homey place to me. But I still wanted a little hand-holding. 

We went upstairs to the 3rd floor of the Fine Arts department, where I'd have my first class - beginning voice with Helena Decoro. I still remember the teacher's name, because - like with everything else I did at Cypress, I did it all the way. I took multiple classes from her, and moved on from that voice class to spending years in Vocal Eclipse - a vocal jazz ensemble. When we got upstairs I asked my mom to leave me there - I had just glimpsed the room we'd be in - a big stage, piano, microphone - and I remember thinking "oh, right. I can do this. I want to do this!" 

At the end of that semester I sang a Mariah Carey song (Hero. I was thirteen, after all.) with live musical accompaniment, onstage in front of an audience. I think I was taking another class, but I honestly can't remember what it was. The next semester I took the next level of voice, and added Psychology and English. After that, I was a full-time student at Cypress, taking as many units as they'd let me. 

I had mostly only good experiences with the other people in my classes. I had only one blatantly disrespectful "you are too young to be here" moment, and it was from another classmate in my Critical Thinking course. The teacher defended me, and told the other student that they were being rude. I left that class a little shaken, a little more aware of how other people might think, and went to the ceramics lab where I was engulfed in a community of people who got me. I've had many, many, many more experiences with people who mask downright rude judgements in the form of "I'm just wondering..." I honestly do not think some of them realized how rude they were being. I don't think being curious about this 13 year old in college, or asking questions about it was rude - but there are ways and ways to ask a person questions. I had one other time, when I had transferred to a university - and was on a wilderness kayaking expedition - where we were pulling in the kayaks for the day, and my background came up. Now remember - at this point I was the same age as everyone else, and so it was my choice to divulge or not divulge whether or not I homeschooled. I don't remember how it came up, but I do remember the kayak leads digging into my fingers as I pulled, wishing I could escape the conversation. There was one of me, and about 8 of them. I felt bullied. No one was asking anything to learn, they were asking pointed and accusatory questions to prove their own points. It was terribly disappointing, because I really liked this group of people. Also - I was on a wilderness expedition for three weeks with this group. I had to decide right then how I wanted the outcome, and make it happen myself. I could decide to call them out on some of the insulting things that were being said, or take a deep breath and preserve the rest of the expedition. I chose the expedition. Part of me still feels regret about that day, that I wish I could have broken out into some Aaron Sorkin-esque passionate speech, changed all of their minds as the music swelled, and we'd leave the kayaks sitting there while we walked arm in arm back to the campsite. I wonder if they left that experience thinking less of homeschoolers because I wasn't able to "defend" myself. I then wonder if they realize that I left thinking less of the 8 of them because I felt like I needed to defend myself against attackers.

Those two memories stand out, because they were pretty isolated events. I've talked about homeschooling and unschooling in almost every class I've ever been in. So let's see - 5 classes a semester, 3 semesters a year - say 15 classes a year, give and take a couple, til I was 27 - for 14 years - 30 people in each class... that's a lot of talking to people about homeschooling. I have never, not even once, had a teacher who said anything negative to me about being young in college. I have had teachers who have said positive things. Sometimes I talk about homeschooling and do not mention the unschooling thing - and let people come to the wrong conclusion about what it is that homeschooling looked like for me. It depended on how invested I felt - and if I wanted to get something else out of that moment other than yet another homeschooling talk. Other times, I have felt like it is my responsibility to represent this radically different and yet oh so sense-making idea to the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

splish splash

When I was 11, I spent a Saturday at the YMCA watching my cousin in her swim meet. I was mesmerized. I remember watching one person in particular, his dark brown skin against the turquoise water, and how his hands sliced through the surface - I thought that the way the body moves when it is swimming was the most beautiful thing.

The coach was kneeling next to the pool yelling encouragement. Everything was exciting. The flags were waving at the ends of the pool, there was constant splashing, yelling - I loved every bit of it.

That Monday, I went to my first swim team practice.

I had taught myself how to swim when I was little - I don't remember not knowing how to swim. And I had some swim lessons at the high school nearby. But I remember at this first practice, I couldn't make it the full 25 yards across the pool. I also remember actually dancing across the parking lot on the way to my mom's car afterwards - I was spinning and twirling, so excited. I was hooked. I was in the beginner lane with 4 or 5 other kids. Everyone was nice - and I wanted to be in the fast lane more than I wanted anything.

I also heard how people complained about butterfly, so I decided that would be mine. I worked, and worked, and worked on that stroke. I was determined. It's still my favorite. There is nothing quite so wonderful as making all the parts of your body work together in such a specific way to propel yourself through, up, over, and back down, into water. The mechanics of the stroke are amazing. It takes skill and strength. When it's done right, you can tell. It's beautiful to watch. It's beautiful to swim. It is the embodiment of hard work paying off.

I stayed on that swim team for a few years. Some of my favorite moments include spending whole weekends with this group of people, eating snack shack food on towels in the sun, swimming in a pool so crowded that you get kicked in the forehead by the person in front of you, recognizing the folks you were swimming with underwater by their swim suits, driving to meets together - there's a particular summer that has a soundtrack. I can be anywhere, and when I hear anything off of Tragic Kingdom I am suddenly awash in the smell of chlorine. I loved being on relay teams, I kept track of my personal records. I woke up at 5am for practice, went to the beach for open-water swim, and then back to the pool for the night practice. I had two suits I rotated, and just lived in them. We had parties, went to the movies, worked out together. We had sleepovers at the Y, where we huddled in the locker room playing hide and seek, spaghetti dinners, beach parties.

My sisters and I (I'm the oldest) on swim team #2
I helped set up swim meets, timed swimmers, sold snacks. I think watching how they were set up is part of what got me interested in event planning. I made personal records - talked to my coach about visualization and he gave me a book to read about positive thinking and motivation. The next meet was the best I ever had. I moved up in my age group, I won things, I never felt so good.

 I joined another swim team after the one I was first on disbanded when the coach got a better job for another club. After a little while, what I was doing with the Shakespeare theater group I was a part of started being more important, and I weaned from one to the other.

I still swim. I still think swimming done well is the most beautiful thing. I still crave water and love the smell of chlorine above most other smells. I still talk to a lot of the people I swam with on that first swim team. I still think about things that my coach taught us.

I wanted to write about this in this blog originally as a response to "the socialization question" that homeschoolers hear so frequently - but as I write, I'm realizing how much more there was to my swim team experience. Yes - I was on a team, with other people and had the chance to socialize. There were people I liked, and people I didn't like. If you want to focus on teamwork, just try being on a swim team - you spend 12+ hour days together at meets and swim maybe 4 minutes of it. You get up early. You spend time wet and cold. You deal with triumphs and failures. As a team you win things and lose, too. Individually - I think it's the first time in my life I could really start articulating intrinsic satisfaction. Why I would keep doing something that was so hard, over and over again. Although I didn't know the name for it, I experienced flow (another blog post),and other things so important to my well being. It all comes back around - my BA is in Recreation and Leisure Studies, where I focused more on event planning, leisure philosophy, flow, intrinsic and motivation --

So. To address the question I first thought I'd be answering - yes. I made friends. This is one example of how eveeeen a homeschooler can socialize. There are a lot of activities outside of school. Being on a swim team - sharing a similar interest, goals, and the bonding that happens when you're "in the trenches" together - I think it's a much more valuable experience than 40 folks all crammed into one room based only on age and geographic location. Being on a swim team is only one of a lot of examples just from my childhood that I can think of to address how we got our socializing on. More to come.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

mud puppy

I've been asked to write about some of my favorite memories of my childhood. I like this idea. I might think of a bigger, meaningful theme to thread them all together - but for now, here is a vignette, a little slice to illustrate the type of parents I had, the environment they created, the life we lead.
Getting hosed off in the backyard
One of my favorite memories is spending time in the backyard in my dad's garden with him. There was a plum tree in the garden, and underneath the branches was an old wooden worktable. I would climb the plum tree and look down on my dad's head, bent over the table while he - what? I don't even know, quite honestly. Sorted seeds? Wrote plant labels? I am not sure what he was doing at that table. I do remember the pencil he had there - an old pink and turquoise sparkly pencil that was about half the length it had once been. Sometime I would sit underneath the table, looking up. A lot of times I would drag over a bucket - about half as tall as I was, and load the dirt in. I'd add water, and stir. I remember looking at the bubbles I'd make in that mud, the little pieces of sticks or grass floating in the whirlpool I made by stirring.

Adding grout to a mosaic coffee table
just another way I love to get messy
On the first day of summer I had a tradition - I would make my bucket of mud, and drag it over to the back fence. I would then paint the back fence with mud - every bit of it. I remember watching the brown mud spill down my forearms as I lifted the paintbrush above me to paint.

Later, after I had exulted in the paint job I had done, I'd get hosed off by my dad, jump in the pool, eat watermelon, whatever else we would do on a summer evening. My dad would hose off the back fence. I remember the strongest feeling I had was satisfaction.

Basking in the sun and the mud at Glen Ivy Spa...
see, even grown-up Roya digs (haha, get it?) the mud!
Looking back on it, it makes sense to me that I did that, and loved it. I've always loved mud and getting messy. I've mentioned my love of ceramics here before, and later on I'd love clearing streams at the Nature Center, and making adobe at Rancho Los Cerritos Adobe Days. I also love thinking about my parents watching their 8, 9, 10 year old painting the back fence with mud. How glad I am they realized how much I was getting out of it. How they realized it was only mud, nothing permanent.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I Know I Don't Know Anything About...

Question from a reader:

Do you ever discover any gaps in your learning?

I liked this question a lot. It made me start thinking about allllll the things I know and allllll the things I don't know. Here are a few lists first, off the top of my head, in no particular order:

Some of the things I consider myself decently well-versed in (I would have something to add to a conversation):

  • current mental health practices
  • sea lions
  • native plant life of southern CA/Santa Monica Mountains
  • the work of Joss Whedon
  • ceramics
  • California history
  • Civil war fiction
  • California's college systems
  • Baha'i' culture
  • developmental disabilities
  • Alaska
  • fishing
  • volunteer management
  • pregnancy and fertility
  • raku
  • cooking
  • goal setting/accomplishing

Things I know more about than I would have thought because someone I talk to a lot is an expert:

  • fantasy football
  • wildlife fire fighting
  • backpacking
  • dog training
  • feminism
  • tv show structure/arcs
  • sororities
  • Deaf culture

I consider myself an expert in (10 years or 10,000 hours)

  • knitting
  • yarn
  • crocheting
  • mixed media art
  • event planning
  • journalling
  • unschooling
  • being an extrovert
  • reading English
Things I consider serious gaps in my knowledge (that I've run into in the past)
  • Geography - capitols, where in the world is...
  • Wiring and electricity
  • Car mechanics
  • The really big universe stuff like black holes and comets, etc.
  • The really tiny universe stuff like atoms and molecules
  • Re-upholstering furniture
  • Baking bread
  • Foreign languages
Things I know I can look up online really, really fast if I ever have a question about it:
  • Geography - capitols, where in the world is...
  • Wiring and electricity
  • Car mechanics
  • The really big universe stuff like black holes and comets, etc.
  • The really tiny universe stuff like atoms and molecules
  • Re-upholstering furniture
  • Baking bread
  • Foreign languages

Ahhh see what I did there? 

So to answer the original question - do I ever find gaps in my knowledge?

Yes! All the time! I have a ton of gaps in my learning. The universe is HUGE, I know a tiny, tiny fraction of information about it. I can't presume to know everything. I know for elementary school and high school they make lists of "what a 4th grader is supposed to know," etc. Is there a list like that for 28 year old's? What would be on that list? With the help of myself, my husband, my friends, my family, and the internet I have managed to survive this many years knowing exactly what I know right now. I live a mostly happy, mostly grateful, pretty darn comfortable life. I have a Master's degree, but I am realizing that the things I learned from that degree only made it onto 1 bullet point in my list (side bar: I can come up with a much bigger list of things I learned from getting my master's, but it's interesting to note that in a quick list of Things I Know it's not super featured). In any case - this happy, comfy person knows what she knows right now. So can I really say that there's anything I *should* have learned? Nope. And as it comes up, I'll learn it.

Over my life, I have made the conscious decision a lot of times to NOT pursue more information about certain topics, and to delve even deeper into others. Our lives are trade-offs. There's no way to know everything. So I think the most important thing to learn is how to learn, and how not to damage learning. That's why I put those last two lists. I know I don't have a great working knowledge of car mechanics - just the other day my husband was stunned that I didn't know how the emergency brake worked. So you know what? I learned. I probably would have learned sooner than age 28 if I lived in San Francisco or somewhere with hills, but I never have, so it never came up.

I remember being in a marine biology class making a connection and having that light-bulb aha moment, when suddenly a bigger connection was made - and I realized how little I knew about the ocean. I remember so clearly that moment when you learn just enough to know how little you know. I felt like I really was standing on the edge of the ocean, and I could suddenly see just how wide, just how deep, just how incredibly vast and enormous it was, and that there was no way I would ever know everything. That's a good feeling to have, every now and then. To realize how much more there is to learn. I don't remember being 2 years old, but I bet I had that feeling (just not so clearly articulated) over and over and over again. I remember when my picture of the world expanded from our neighborhood to include a few other cities. I remember that feeling of expansion. I like that feeling. [sidebar: husband just switched channels and is now watching a show about marine life on animal planet. Coincidence!]

I get that feeling still, when I am watching tv and I recognize an actor from another show, and I open up IMDB and look up their entire filmography. Then that leads to this leads to this leads to that... and more worlds open up, connections are made, and I feel small but strong and looking forward to more.

What do you consider yourself an expert in? Are there areas you know you "lack" information? Is there anything in these lists you'd like me to expand on in a future blog post? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Project List!

So I spend a lot of time working on all my projects... we moved not that long ago, and so a bunch of mine are still in boxes, slowly getting unpacked as I try to find yarn, needles, etc. Here's a list of some projects that I am currently in the middle of -- my hope is by listing them here, I'll actually get around to finishing them! I am really great at starting things...

1. Cathedral Windows Quilt, hand-sewn
2. Granny square earrings, crocheted

3. Granny square vest - crocheted, improvised pattern

4. Silk vest - it's on knitting needles right now, but I started over and am doing a crocheted shell stitch pattern
5. Pink crocheted skirt - picture to come!
6. Purple sock yarn beanie - picture to come!

7. About 4 pairs of socks, including the other half of this one

8. Ripple scarf, made with birthday yarn
9. knitting needle holder - wool, to be felted. Picture to come.
10. baby animal hats - all my friends are having babies. Time to make some gifts.

11. Granny square curtains - about 150 of 500 squares made so far!
12. a bunch of coin purses and granny square bags - maybe 15 of them? Some are needle felted.
14. Granny Square Cushions - need to sew lining/backs and add the stuffing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The story of my very first job

When I was 13 years old I started taking classes at Cypress Community College. I can't remember what classes I took that first semester, except I remember Beginning Voice, because I remember walking through the 3rd floor to the room with the stage that first time - maybe because it was a room I would be spending a lot of time in, in the future.

That classroom was on the 3rd floor of the fine arts building. On the ground floor was the ceramics department. I was walking by one day, trying to find the bathroom - when I heard music coming from this room. I was drawn by the music - Bob Dylan, if I recall correctly. Something folksy, loud, and jangly. I peered in, through the doorway, and saw the most beautiful, vibrant, colorful and dynamic interior.

There was a big sign above a big, thick wooden desk that said "ceramics" in lots of colors, and had lights that flashed. There were murals on every wall. Lockers that were painted. Rows, and rows of wheels, each one painted also. The music was loud. People were laughing. Wheels were humming. It even smelled good, in that room.

I left the doorway, and continued on, determined to be a part of that room, one day.

I tried to get in the next semester, but it was full. The semester after that, I made it. I sat on a stool at the thick wooden table on the first day of classes, nervous and excited and anticipatory and just so thrilled to be there. Lots of the people gathered around the tables clearly already knew each other. I couldn't wait to know them too. I was the youngest by far - 14 years old. The oldest person in that room was 85 years old. I took notes in my journal while Char talked. Char, the instructor, was a very loud woman with a big booming voice, short, spiky silver hair, and bright collared shirts.

She had a lot of personal slogans/mission statements - rules to live by that she wanted us to live by too. She said that this room was our one place in the world that we could turn into our ideal community. But it was up to us. She called the first night of classes her 'WOW' day - the "weed out the wusses" day. This was the first time I had ever heard the phrase "no deposit, no return." She talked about how you get out of this class what you put into it. She made everyone contract for the grade they wanted, that first day, and outlined her expectations for each. She said that if you want to be exceptional, you have to do more, go above, go beyond. She said if you want a C in this class, you'll make the required 6 cups. If you want an A, make 30. I vowed to make 100.

And I did. I went through at least 8 times the amount of clay other beginner students went through. I made far more than a hundred cups that semester. I went to my own classes, 2 nights a week, and also the open lab all day on Fridays, and I started coming to the other classes too. The class had intermediate and advanced students all in the same time, so I spent a lot of time with the advanced students. When I was learning how to center, one advanced student would come up behind me and thump my clay off-center just as I got it perfect - he did that over, and over, and over again. I credit him with my ability to center so fast now.

Everything was a lesson - you "leave the clay like you would leave a hug" said Char. You don't want to pull away abruptly - you want to leave it slow, gently. She made us practice our artistic vocabulary - there was a large chart by the door with words like "dynamic! Vibrant! Energetic!" We had to read 1 book each semester - the choices were Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Ishmael, and the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. We ate together in that classroom. We celebrated. We mixed glazes and used power tools. We listened to Tom Waits, a lot.
this is a page from an old journal - a collection of photos of my friends from ceramics, with a light blue acrylic wash over the whole thing. I'm in the top row, the middle picture, with the black and silver superman shirt.

And at the end of every night, the shout would go around - that it was time to clean up. I took particular pride in the huge silver sinks that we dumped our clay water in. I emptied the scrap buckets, and used those big rough tile sponges to soak up every little piece of clay that ended up in the sink. That is one of my strongest memories - I can smell the clay, feel that sponge, even though I am sitting here in my living room right now. The whole time we were cleaning, I'd be singing. I would take requests from other students. We'd sing together, sometimes.

Char did not do tests. She had one oral exam at the end of each semester - it was set up like a game of the weakest link. Every once in a while she would get frustrated if she thought people weren't taking things seriously, and spring a pop quiz about glazes on us. After my first semester, she always exempted me. "She's only 14," Char would roar at the rest of the room, "but she's the only one who gets it 100%."

I took it very seriously. I worked hard. Stayed as late as I could, went as often as I could. I remember the day Char gave me one of the coveted lockers in the lab-tech section, I was beyond ecstatic. I painted it over that day.

There were 3 lab techs for the ceramics lab. Everyone helped, but they made sure glazes got mixed, kilns got loaded and unloaded, kiln shelves got cleaned, things like that. I wanted to be a lab tech. I made sure to spend a lot of time with them, asking what they were doing, following them, carrying things, helping. I wanted to learn, I wanted them to think highly of me, and I wanted to keep this room, this amazing community, going. When I was frustrated with what I was throwing, I'd get up and clean out the clay cage. I'd move items around on the shelves to make more room. I'd wipe off the top of the glaze buckets. It was our place, it was up to us to keep it going.

I took every ceramics class Cypress offered, and repeated each 4 times. I stayed in that classroom for years, until Char retired. That broke my heart, a little bit, which is a story for another day.

If anyone has a spare thousand dollars they'd like to send my way...
The point I am taking so long to get to in this post is that the first *real* job I ever had was at Laguna Clay Company. I wasn't looking for a job - I was 16, living at home, and happy with what I was doing. But one of the lab techs at Cypress worked at Laguna Clay, and asked me if I wanted the job. He said he could recommend me because he knew how hard I worked, from the Cypress studio. So a week later I filled out the paperwork and started working at Laguna Clay. I worked in the store - selling clay, glaze, kilns, and other ceramic supplies to customers. After a little while I started also working upstairs doing ordering for the companies buying bulk. I got to hang out in the glaze lab, where they were inventing new glazes. Because I was there, I got to help name the new (then) line of crystalline glazes. I loved to trouble-shoot with people when they'd bring in a failed project, about what went wrong and how to get the results they wanted. I loved stocking the shelves, even. Everything was covered in clay dust. I was surrounded by people who were living (and breathing...cough) everything ceramic, and I loved it.

I worked at LCC for years, eventually hiring another friend of mine from the Cypress ceramic studio too. I left that job when I had saved up enough money to go travel for months. Since then, they've closed the store, and only ship their products. A GT-800 Laguna Pacifica Wheel is still #1 on my wish list.

And everywhere I go I am reminded of it --
I took this picture while on a Caribbean cruise with my husband this year. We were in Jamaica - and lo and behold... there was a very familiar box.