If I knew then what I know now – Survey Responses

Part of our goal in undertaking this project is to learn about the lessons that people have taken from their own childhoods, and which parts of them they are bringing forward into their adult lives. For better or worse, we are shaped by the ways we grow up. One area that is often sigificantly impacted by our upbringing is how we approach dating and romance.

As part of our survey on family life, we asked the question “What do you wish your parents had told you before you started dating?”

Lots of respondents seemed to think it was for the best that their parents didn’t tell them much:

“I did not date until I was out of the house and living in my own space in part because I did not want to discuss sex, relationships, or contraception with them. I wanted to be 18 and able to go down to Planned Parenthood on my own, and have my own living space before I had any intimate relationships. I lost my virginity at 20 and I am glad I waited, both because I did not have to worry about the destructive influence of my family, and because waiting made me confident enough to have sex because I wanted to, not because a partner wanted me to.

Nothing, they are way too Conservative and prejudiced

I think they provided a very strong example of what not to do. I’m glad they didn’t tell me anything.

Plenty of others felt that they were given plenty of good advice. I counted all the one-word “nothing” answers in this category:

They didn’t miss anything. I felt prepared to the best of a 70’s childhood and 80’s teen years could be.

They told me some things and helped a bit.

They pretty much covered everything

The last group of answers, though, are my favorite. Not all of them are exactly heartwarming, but I think that’s to be expected. A few things people wish their parents had told them:

That there is lots of trial and error, that sex is good as long as you are being careful, that it doesn’t matter what kind of sexuality I end up having…

To take risks and explore. That mistakes happen and there’s lots of fish in the sea. That there’s no such thing as “the one”.

I could write a book about this! I wish they’d told me to listen to my feelings, to demand respect from boys, to use condoms, to allow myself to be the dominant/pursuer if that was my inclination, and that female orgasms exist and are just as important as male orgasms.

I don’t know if I would have heard it at the time, especially from my folks, but I needed to hear about how to pick partners instead of just going with whatever was happening.

Don’t take early dating too seriously. Until you are ready to marry (or establish other kinds of long-term relationships), don’t even think about entering such relationships. By ready, I mean being financially independent and in the workforce.

not to compromise my body with men- to really trust myself and say no and that THAT is totally okay. to this day, i am amazed by my female friends and how many of us share a common story of giving our bodies over out of confusion when that is something we really didn’t want to do. more empowerment.

I wish someone had told me dating didn’t have to look like my parents’ relationship while also not requiring me to completely avoid conflict.

This set of answers makes a lot of sense to me. Despite the huge importance that we place on romantic relationships, we seem to approach them as though they are entirely self-explanatory, or as if there is no skill development necessary to make the most of them. How can we change the attitude that one of the most important areas of our lives is one about which we rarely have conversations with our kids?


image courtesy hybrid nation

Layover: Boise

Captain’s log, Earth date 4 June 2013. We’ve landed in a strange and lovely place: Boise, Idaho; The Gem State!

My sister has lived in Boise for almost ten years. I’ve been here a handful of times; this is Carlos’s second visit, and Rockford’s first. We rolled into town about 8:30 pm Mountain Time, having left Yakima at 10:15 am Pacific. Our inaugural drive was long, and uneventful, just like we hoped for.

We stopped outside Pendelton, OR to stretch our legs and Carlos attempted to install an additional electrical outlet, at the rest area, like you do. We blew a fuse in the household electrical, discovered that our alignment is off, and saw a truck driver walk away from an accident that left skid marks all over both lanes of the highway and a dent in the guard rail. It was a pretty good drive.

When we arrived in Boise, my brother-in-law had made possibly the best ever incarnation of my favorite comfort food, I think we drank a beer, and then we slept, the sweet, glorious sleep of exhaustion. Today, familia del Rio took a walk down a tiny section of the Boise River Greenbelt, sat in the sun and fed Rockford his first hashbrowns. I wish we had longer to stay here – we’ll get one bike ride in on the Greenbelt, but we won’t get to see the Birds of Prey or visit the Basque Museum/Cultural Center, where my (and by extension, Carlos’s) love of a good kalimotxo was born.

When we come here, I always think, “oh, we’ll just pop in and out,” and somehow forget that I really enjoy spending time with my one and only sister and her really awesome partner. Today I’m regretting how long it took me to get on board with building out the van and launching. I REGRET WASTING TIME IN YAKIMA! I want to be wasting time in Boise instead, toodling around by the river with my cool family. Instead, we had a leisurely morning, and now we’re all working furiously. Tomorrow, we’re going to try to make it to Great Basin, a National Park neither of us has ever been to, and then on Thursday we’re headed into Las Vegas. I would not expect to be much in communication tomorrow, since it’s going to be a looooooooooong drive. And as sad as we are about the reason for it, we’re looking forward to some quality time with Carlos’s family.

Here’s hoping for some more thoroughly uneventful driving and beautiful scenery! We’ll see you on the flip side!


And we’re off!

WHY AM I SOOOO TIRED!?!? Oh, yeah, I’ve been up since 4, and we’re still not quite rolling.

The bikes are stowed, our belongings are all battened down, the dog is confused, the baby is confused, and everything is still kind of a huge mess here in Spitlerland.

But the show must go in, and so we shall! After a quick (I HOPE) stop at the RV store, we’ll be in Boise this evening. I’m already exhausted, and excited. See you all on the other side.

The Final Countdown

Cue up GOB’s entrance music:

Magic from jrk on Vimeo.

The Chinook is almost ready to launch!

All our bags sturdy storage boxes are mostly packed.

We have an agenda! At least, we have a specific agenda through the end of the first week of July:

View Larger Map

June 3: We launch! From Yakima, we’ll be heading to Boise, where we won’t stay long.
June 4: Southward! From Boise, we head down to Las Vegas for the memorial service of Carlos’s amazing grandmother. Sad times, but we are grateful to be able to celebrate her long and rich life with our family.
June 10: From Las Vegas, we head to San Francisco. We want to talk to people while we’re here! We expect a dinner and a lunch here, and then we’ll head north again.
June 11: Northward bound, we’ll stop… somewhere between SF and Portland.
June 12: Arrive in Portland! Pick up two of our favorite people from the airport! Spend the weekend back in the warm embrace of our alma mater. And attending a baby shower.
June 17: Reedie times are over, and we’ll be staying in Portland to spend some time talking to people/washing laundry/taking our baby and dog to bars. PLEASE MAKE PLANS WITH US!
June 19? 22?: This is going to be our Seattle stop. It’s going to be sadly short. MAKE PLANS WITH US!
June 27ish: From Seattle to Lake Tahoe, for Family Reunion. Our schedule after that is still TBD. We know we’ll be heading east to DC by the end of August, and we’re taking requests for visits between Tahoe and DC.

For now, that’s all I know for sure. Please send me an email (rose at grumpypie dot com) or send one to Carlos (carlos at grumpypie dot com) to make some arrangements with us. We absolutely cannot wait to see you.

Image courtesy US Navy

All work and no play

It feels weird to start another post of the subject of hobbies, but dudes, they’re important.

We’re at the point of really refining what gets to come with us in the Chinook, and it’s not going to be a whole lot. One thing that IS coming, though, is the Art Box. (Other Boxes of note: Dog Box, Tool Box, Office Box.) At first glance, I think the Art Box seems frivolous, like there’s something more important that could go into the space that it’ll take up.

But the thing is this: Art is important. It’s important culturally, and individually. I can’t thrive when I feel like I don’t produce anything. Working on creative projects helps keep the brain flexible, in the same way that riding a bike makes the body better able to do the work of carrying a baby.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I always read this as meaning that Jack was dull to be around; that having no fun outside of work meant that Jack couldn’t relate to other people. I still think that’s true, but it’s not the whole meaning. All work and no play makes Jack less sharp, less shiny, less bright.

I think that people who make a craft (rather than a “fine art”) as their creative output get a little more leeway from the judgment that “art’s not important.” My friend’s dad is a recreational cabinet maker; another friend has gotten deep into tailoring her own clothes; occasionally I finish a knitting project. These creative outputs tell other people that we’re “doing something” when we’re doing something creative.

Lately I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up on Saturday morning and putting on my trail boss pants, driving the men of the house outside to work in the yard. Part of it is necessity – five adults in one house gets to be overwhelming, and making the backyard habitable relieves some of the pressure of close quarters. It’s practical, too, beyond just necessary: clearing the ivy from the broken fence so it can be replaced, taking last years fallen leaves to the compost, reducing the number of hazards to both children and unprotected feet. But even beyond that, I do it because it enables me to force them to work on something good.

After days of hauling out leaves and unneeded branches and that stupid ivy, I dragged my dad out there after work one evening. “Come to the yard and let’s talk about your trees.”

“I don’t want to talk about the trees!” he said, as if that were even remotely true. But it didn’t matter, really. The trees are there because he planted them, because he needed them, and they still need him. So I dragged him out (that may be a little melodramatic, yes), and made him spend a few quiet minutes discovering what the yard has been up to while he’s been busy elsewhere. I showed him the tiny, perfect red maple seedlings hiding under the crab apple (RIP, crab apple). We talked about the trees after all.

I do the same thing to Joe – I drag him out of the house, into the sunshine, into the yard where he gets to climb and destroy things and find weird shaped pieces of wood. I drag him outside because it’s really hard to force someone to paint, but it’s easy to say “I need you to help me with some work.” “Come keep me company while I clean the garage, and oh, incidentally, let’s talk about art projects!”

I don’t think of myself as an artist, particularly not a good one, but I love nourishing the artist in other people. During an argument with Carlos, I told him, “What I want is for you to finish the ukulele you’re building me!” It wasn’t because I need that ukulele, but because I want him to spend time making art.

I want all of us to spend time making art, in ways that are appropriate to ourselves. We cannot go live our life on the road without bringing with us the tools to improve and maintain our souls. So we’ll bring fewer pairs of shoes or whatever, and make a little extra room for the screenprinting gear. It’s a trade that is entirely worth it to me.

Apropos: As I was writing this, a smart friend shared this video. I LOVE IT!

Watch Mayim Bialik: Blossoming To Science on PBS. See more from Secret Life of Scientists.

Sneaky Friday

Oh, hello again, Friday unproductiveness…

OK, look, it’s not actually true that I haven’t been productive this week, but I feel like the blog has very little to show for it. So let’s do a little run-down of where we’re at, shall we?

On Tuesday, Carlos and I borrowed my dad’s truck and drove to Summit/Waller, in what I sincerely hope will be my last-ever visit to the greater Puyallup area. The reason we drove there, on a grand roadtrip mini-adventure with our adorable baby? We went to look at (and ultimately, buy) a van. A Chinook! It’s diesel, from the 80’s, but good-diesel-from-the-80s, not terrible-experiments-in-diesel-from-the-80s. At first, I thought it had some serious cigarette smell, but it turns out that was just the guy we bought it from (ick). Once we took the weird

I’m not going to lie – it’s smaller than our first apartment, and older than half my siblings, and I’m totally in love. Carlos is in the process of pulling out the nasty shag carpeting covering much of the walls (why, people? Can anyone tell me?), so we can re-insulate and re-upholster. I’ve started the epic game of downsizing-tetris whose ultimate goal is to fit our most needed necessities into the van (as yet without a name), and minimize the amount of stuff we end up putting in storage.

On Tuesday, we also bought a Dahon, a rather-snazzy folding bike, which turned out to be not quite what I thought we were getting. Live and learn, I suppose. It’s still super cool, in any case.

Wednesday: house cleaning. This house takes a lot of cleaning. Five adults, one super baby, 150 lbs of pets, oy. I think I did other stuff, but all I remember is chasing Rock and fighting an epic fight against pet hair and dirty dishes.

Yesterday I wrote a thing that I’ll be sharing with you, but it’s still in a too-much-ranting state. It’s also a little high on the “esoteric polyamory problems” scale, though I think it’s a really important thing for us to talk about. It’s a response to some language that has been popping up with increasing frequency in the conversations that Carlos and I are having with other people about poly and I think it’s an opportunity for some disambiguation, and dismantling of no-longer-useful conceptions. For now, let’s let it suffice to say that I have lots of thoughts about how we talk about things, and some grumpiness about self-appointed spokespeople doing things poorly. (yeah, that’s vague. Sorry.)

And then, I took an awesome walk in the post-rain dusk with my sweet husband and our first/practice baby, Dita Lily, then we hung out in our van, talking about our feelings. Because that’s how we do. And I have this to say: I LOVE OUR VAN!

And now, as if by magic, it’s Friday, again! It keeps sneaking up on me. I totally meant to tell you about how much fun we had throwing a 60th birthday party for one of the best people ever, and show you some pictures of the wisteria arbor, and I’m overdue to share some baby pictures. Like last year, I’m just about to finish a sweater project, right in time for summer weather. And, you guys, THE WISTERIA ARBOR! I want to live under it forever. I want to get married under there, perhaps retroactively.

But for now, I’ll just say that I hope the sun is shining where you are! It’s beautiful here, and we’re going to make the most of it. Love you!

Being A Lover

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover..
A short sampling of ways to leave your be a lover:

You just slip out the back, Jack
(No need to make a scene – being a lover is not always about you.)

Make a new plan, Stan
(Be flexible! Change is constant, be ready for it.)

You don’t need to be coy, Roy
(Say what you mean. It’s easier on everyone.)

Just listen to me
(Be a learner! Take instruction.)

Hop on the bus, Gus
(Say yes to things! Also, go places!)

You don’t need to discuss much
(This may or may not be true, actually. Communication is important.)

Just drop off the key, Lee
(Know when to let go. Let someone else drive.)

And get yourself free
(Love shouldn’t be a cage. Practice nonattachment!)

You’ll notice, none of these ways have anything to do with makin’ love, as people’s parents say (do they even still say that?). For us here at Grumpy Pie (that is, Carlos and Rose), being a lover is not (only) about sex or romance. It’s about investing time and energy into the things that matter to us. Being a (classical) lover is about investing that time & energy into a romantic and/or sexual partner. Being a parent is also a way to be a lover: you give your kid time and energy and attention and thought. We give ours kitchen tools to play with and raspberries on his fat belly; maybe you give yours music lessons or tickle attacks. We think being a friend should get the same kind of attention. We chose our friends for many of the same reasons that we chose our paramours, although not by exactly the same criteria.

We believe there are as many ways to be a lover as there are relationships in which to do it. Thank you for supporting our plan to share them with you!

An upside to Jealousy

Jealousy is a funny thing. It can creep up on a person in sneaky and unexpected ways, but it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing when it shows up.

Carlos and I have been apart for a month. For a month, he’s been sleeping alone, while I’ve had the company of our wiggly, gassy baby and our wiggly, gassy dog.

He spent a month jealous of the time that I was getting to spend with our littles, of the warm embrace of family bed, and hands-on parenting. He wasn’t seething with jealousy, but he felt pain at missing out on the things that he loves, which is entirely reasonable.

While he was enduring that hardship, I was dealing with the flip side: during one lovely afternoon, my folks watched Rockford while I took a three hour nap. That nap was the longest I’ve slept alone in a bed since immediately post-partum. And let me tell you, that was some sweet, glorious sleep. I think the dog might have been in bed with me, but no human hands touched me while I was sleeping. I didn’t have a lingering eye on whether Rock was going to take a dive off the edge of the bed. It was, without question, some of the most restful sleep that I can remember having.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love co-sleeping, I love our baby, I love family bed. I am not unsupported. But while Carlos was jealous of my time with our family, I was jealous of the unencumbered, quiet sleep he was getting away from us.

I guess this is another of those “the grass is always greener” situations that come up all the time in relationships. I might be totally jealous of the things that I imagine when I look into your world, but I have no idea what it’s actually like to be in there, or what you see when you look out. Of course, that’s not always true – we can talk about things and gain some understanding and perspective. As we grow in relationships with people, we gain insight into their drives and needs and desires. Carlos didn’t have to tell me that he missed sleeping with us, and I wasn’t surprised when he did. He doesn’t get ‘touched out,’ but he knows what I mean when I talk to him about it.

Often when we talk about jealousy, especially in romantic-partner relationships, there’s a feeling in the room that no good can ever come of it. Certainly no good comes from internalizing it and stewing, but we think there’s a strong case to be made for recognizing and talking about the feelings that come up in life. This is a small-stakes example – we were in this set of circumstances for a limited amount of time, and for specific reasons. Nonetheless, it presented Carlos and me with the opportunity to practice and refine one of the basic skills that keeps our relationship working – active, thoughtful communication. It’s not rocket science, but it is a tool, and like any tool you want to use, it needs to be kept sharp.

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You never can tell

Every single one of us carries some kind of front out into the world. It’s necessary; to go out with no barrier between your tender insides and the vicissitudes of the everyday world is no way to live. There is too much out there, both good and bad, and carrying at least a small piece of protection against the tides is a basic act of self-preservation.

Some of our shields are obvious, or near enough. With just enough knowledge about the bigger picture, it’s easy to see how an inscrutable expression and a biting tongue provide shelter for an ego that can’t weather any more wounds. The more you know about a person’s sore spots, the easier it is to see how they build their defenses.

For some of us, though, the fronts we build and carry with us are not obvious. To the outside observer, they often don’t look like defenses at all. It becomes easy to forget that the engaged and argumentative extrovert arguing art with a stranger at the bar is still a fragile soul out in the world.

I guess maybe there are people out there for whom this actually isn’t true. Maybe some of us really do walk the world with no fear, no uncertainty, no unresolved ache that can’t or won’t be soothed. I wish I could say I don’t envy them, but the truth is that I do, and it doesn’t matter. Every one of us has our own row to hoe, and while the grass may look greener from over here, there’s just no way for us to ever truly know what someone else’s experience is.

As I have made my way through this scary and liberating process of opening up my windows and airing out my (metaphorical) house, I have been incredibly touched by the number of people who have reached out to me. While I know, objectively, in my brain, that other people have been in the places I am, it can be easy to forget that. While showing you my pain doesn’t always feel to me like an act of love, the inverse is not true. When you let me see your struggle, when you say “me too,” I feel the love.

The thing that I keep learning and remembering every day through is process is this: everyone has troubles, and everyone deserves compassion. It is easy (for me, at least) to feel compassion for someone whose façade I recognize as a reflection of my own, but the other, tougher people in the world need that loving-kindness just as dearly, and often more so.

After the publication of some of our recent posts about depression, I (Rose) have gotten many kind words, and I thank you for them. Today, please look around you, and reach out to someone who seems invincible (hint: the other del Rio). I promise you, they need it.

50 Ways, 14 Days

Good Afternoon, oh loveliest of people!

Forty six days ago, Carlos and I told you that we are embarking on (yet another) grand adventure, one that is ultimately all about you.

In case you’re just joining us, Carlos and I are writing a book about love, in all the ways that we make and share and enact it. We know about the ways that we share our love with one another, and the people closest to us, but we know there are as many ways to be a lover as there are lovers. We want to shine some light on all the love that’s out there.

50-Ways To Be a Lover from Rose del Rio on Vimeo.

The support and excitement you have shown us has been tremendous. I have so many songs to write! And so many video calls to arrange! OMG HURRAY!

In even more “OMG HURRAY” news, Team del Rio will be reunited this week! I cannot tell you guys how much I’m looking forward to smelling my husband. Also, so many hugs! You may not know this, but Carlos gives the best hugs, and they are all mine (except the ones Rockford will be getting).

Anyway, what that means is that it’s almost time for us to start rolling! And time for us to close the gap on our funding! Luckily, it’s kind of a tiny little gap that we have left – just $435 $410!

In case you haven’t taken a moment to check out our project, let me tell you that there is a way that one person (!) could make this happen for us. Are you a super generous person who loves us? Do you want us to roll up to your house and make you dinner (while you play with our baby, probably)? Be Part Of The Adventure! You can do it!

In reality, though, you don’t have to be rolling in dough to make this happen for us. If you have a little bit to chip in, please do. Please continue to spread the word. Every $5, $10, $20 helps, and makes it possible for us to bring this adventure to the world.